Film-Philosophy

Journal | Salon | Portal (ISSN 1466-4615)

Vol. 5 No. 30, October 2001

 

 

Martha P. Nochimson

New York Film Festival 2001

 

 

 

The New York Film Festival 2001 took place against a background of the horror and beauty, fear and hope, anger and love released into the air along with noxious columns of smoking dust and ash by the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11 by a group of terrorists. It was an inauspicious time to ask people to travel anywhere by air, and certainly to New York City. But, oddly, the festival was not marked by a sense of absence, but rather a consolidated presence. Many who were stranded at the Toronto Film Festival, in progress while the attack took place, did not let that experience stop them from attending the screenings in New York. The same was true of a large number of the directors represented. The organizers of the festival told us that, contrary to expectations, the directors asserted their absolute determination to attend *because* of the attack. They were moreover unusually eloquent and forthcoming in their responses to questions about their films at their Press Conferences. Sentimental it is not to assert that the onslaught of the preceding weeks brought out a counter response, a need to assert in the face of a horrible chasm of human remains, wrecked steel, and sharded glass the integrity of the human bond. In the words addressed to the terrorists by of one of the survivors of the agonizing flight down tens of flights of stairs in the World Trade Center: if you want to kill us, leave us alone; we will do that for ourselves. But if you want to make us stronger, attack us and we will band together.

 

By some ineffable serendipity, many of the entries in the festival themselves celebrated that spirit of human solidarity, which may be, as the above-quoted survivor implies, a flower of adversity. I will report here on a selection of ten of the Festival films, all, to use the title of Jean-Luc Godard's entry this year, in praise of love. None of the ten is predictable in its approach to love, a few are cold and skewed on the subject, and some are seriously troubling in the liberties they take for the sake of expression, but each is intensely centered on the fate of those energies that seek the other, either sensually and sexually, as a connection wrought by blood, or in the pride of fellowship or art.

 

The sweetness of love, its power to augment us and defy the limitations created by social conditions, is emphasized by four of the films I have chosen to highlight: _I'm Going Home_, directed by Manoel de Oliveira; _Warm Water Under a Red Bridge_, directed by Shohei Imamura; _Italian for Beginners_, directed by Lone Scherfig; and _Va Savoir_, directed by Jacques Rivette. With the exception of Scherfig, these are the visions of directors ripe with years of life and filmmaking, in their seventies and nineties. Scherfig, in her forties, is the first woman to produce a film certified by Dogme 95.

 

_I'm Going Home_ is the story of Gilbert Valence (Michel Piccoli), an actor of advancing years whose wife, daughter, and son-in-law are killed in an automobile accident, leaving him as the caretaker of his six year-old grandson, Serge (Jean Koeltgen). Despite the pathetic possibilities of this plot, _I'm Going Home_ dispenses with melodrama, and indeed drama. It is centered on Valence's relationship to time, rather than on the incidents in the story which are almost peripheral, showing up on the flow of moments that the old actor lives fully. The film is shot in the time-frame of an old man for whom neither the past nor the future is as central as the present. Unlike most portraits of old age, this one does not reference nostalgia for time past, lyrical close-ups of the eyes melting into flashbacks. Neither does it take Dylan Thomas's tack of fighting against the approach of death with fierce noise. Rather, it conveys a highly unusual, extraordinarily gratifying model of maturity as a ripeness that does indeed crown all.

 

Gilbert Valence is a man of the old school who confronts a culture hyped on drugs, almost meaningless in its storytelling, and ruled by an adolescent definition of manhood that substitutes kicks for experience. In contrast, Valence steadfastly refuses to be detoured from his immediate encounter with life itself. He learns of the tragic death of his beloved family as he comes off the stage from a performance of Ionesco's _Exit the King_, itself an (absurdist) portrayal of the death not only of a patriarch, but of the solipsistic power-hunger of patriarchy itself. By contrast, Valence validates the position of the patriarch as a true source of dignity and the kind of power that seeks not to dominate but to hold fast to integrity. Valence turns the tables on cliches about masculinity by rejecting the solipsism of the youth culture. He laughs off his agent's ridiculously earnest attempts to set him up in an affair with a woman young enough to be a granddaughter, making mockery of this callow understanding of what it means to continue to get fun out of life. He similarly rejects the agent's plan to star him in an action film completely inappropriate to his age or talents. Rather, he savors, and we do along with him, the fullness of earthly life sitting in a cafe with a newspaper and an expresso, playing with his grandson, and purchasing a beautiful new pair of shoes. He even plays own brief, real-life action drama when a stoned addict mugs him with a knife. But both Valence and the film maintain a clarity about the difference between fiction and life. There are neither heroics nor atrocity here. The violence is only a blip on Valence's screen, oddly flat when we think of how commercial film usually depicts the mayhem caused by narcotics. This pathetic, crazed young criminal astonishes Valence with his savagery but departs without inflicting injury once he is given money and the new shoes.

 

Valence gives in somewhat when he agrees to act the role of Buck Mulligan in an American production of a film of _Ulysses_, directed by John Crawford, a trendy American director played hilariously by John Malkovitch. Valence is three times the age of James Joyce's Buck Mulligan and can barely speak English, let alone with the requisite Irish accent, but Crawford is confidant that this can all be remedied with make-up and a wig. The disaster on the soundstage, as Valence attempts to follow Crawford's directions, is terminated abruptly when the old actor informs everyone that he is going home. As he stumbles through the streets back to his house, it is clear that Valence is dying, as his very young grandson realizes when he arrives. Yet the mood is radiantly elegiac, rather than somber. The filmic rhythms have taken us into Valence's sensibility and we have had the world in his time. Character at the most profound level, rather than action, has structured this film both by the director and by Michel Piccoli, who renders Valence with a depth of feeling that dispenses with surface pyrotechnics. He radiates the mellow joy of being alive that embraces both tragedy and happiness. Together de Oliveira and Piccoli explode Hollywood truisms about the natural subject of cinema being external rather than internal, young rather than old, plot rather than character-centered. Unfortunately this masterpiece by a master did not have a distributor by the time the press screenings at Lincoln Center were finished. One can only hope that this woeful situation has been or soon will be remedied.

 

_Warm Water Under a Red Bridge_ by Shohei Imamura is another work by a master, though not among his best. It is certainly a departure for this member of the Japanese New Wave whose previous films have tended toward the suffering realism of _Black Rain_, a story about survivors of Hiroshima, and _Vengeance is Mine_, sometimes compared with _In Cold Blood_. _Warm Water_ is a comedy of magic realism about Yosuke (Koji Yakusho), a man trapped in a dead-end marriage who meets Saeko (Misa Shimizu), a woman whose orgasms are every bit as ejaculatory as a man's, and then some.

 

Based on a novel by Yo Henmi, _Warm Water_ is apparently intended by Imamura to be a tribute to women; he believes that the 21st century will be the era of women. Imamura says he is fascinated by women's strength, what he calls their (our) 'repulsive power', but was not in New York to clarify this usage. My guess is that it refers to the power to repel rather than the condition of being repellent. In any case, Imamura's self-proclaimed feminist concerns don't hold up. The film recalls the question of the feminists of the 1980's: 'Is there a woman on this screen?' (Or a male fantasy?)

 

Yosuke is that familiar protagonist alienated by an inhumane materialist society obsessed by profit and loss, and it's all the fault of his wife. He has travelled away from his home to find a job, because his wife continually nags him about not having any money. This isn't a terrible loss to either of them since it is clearly an unhappy marriage. However, while the film clearly wants us to think of the wife as a shrew, it makes her guilty of nothing more than wanting a roof and food for the family, desires that are hard to repudiate on reflection. Nevertheless, the desire that permeates the film is Yosuke's desire to escape her, which he does to a town on the Noto Peninsula near the Sea of Japan. Seeking the golden treasure he has heard of in the ramblings of Taro (Kazuo Kitramura), a Falstaffian street person who dies sending Yosuke on his mission to find the treasure, he finds Saeko living near the red bridge, Taro's landmark that marks the spot for what Yosuke seeks. Yosuke doesn't find any golden lucre, but he hits paydirt when he finds Saeko, in the form of her unusual sexuality. Saeko's sexual urges hit her without regard to circumstances, driving her to kleptomania and to the forceful expulsion of gallons of water, dousing her and whatever is around her, running into the water under the red bridge outside her home and attracting schools of fish from the ocean. Ordinary women, who need food and lodging for their children need not apply; this is a male fantasy come true with bells and whistles. Saeko is the answer to the question, 'Why can't a woman be more like a man?', but not as Henry Higgins imagined it.

 

There are a number of plot complications which involve Saeko with some criminals and suggest to Yosuke that she may be quite promiscuous (mais non!). But after Yosuke dusts off his corporate, big city inauthenticity by working at sea with a crew of fishermen with basic needs, he is able to regain his faith in Saeko and in her mysterious orgasms. While the film is beautiful to look at and masterfully directed, it suggests anything but Imamura's 'era of the woman'. Rather it suggests an adolescent masturbatory fantasy, the inverse of de Oliveira's vision. It would have been fascinating to hear Imamura discuss Saeko, but he was unable to attend, leaving the audience with only his press notes about female repulsive power. What power was he associating with Saeko? She is the hapless victim of everything: her urges, a gang of criminals, and circumstantial evidence. She whines, oozes, and sprays until Yosuke makes up his mind to take control of her. This is somewhat irritating from a director so accomplished, particularly in the wake of social and cinematic dialogue that we keep hoping will lead our crafts people and artists to question such fantasies as they follow them through to their logical conclusions. It is, needless to say, being distributed -- by Cowboy.

 

_Italian for Beginners_ is a film of genuine sweetness, which envisions male and female along a rich spectrum of difference, with love as a natural glue, and connection as a mixed but necessary bag. It is so free of gender cliches -- scrambling traits mistakenly linked to sex among both men and women, like passivity and aggressiveness, selfishness and nurture, sexual activity and sexual receptivity -- that it is tempting to evoke the dreaded P-F word: post- feminist. Scherfig was not present at the Festival, but in her production notes distributed at the press screenings she claims identity with one of the important male characters. However, she says she loves them all, and it shows in the great tenderness for each one of them with which the film is suffused, despite their flaws and insufficiencies. Nor does the film really cry out to be understood in terms of the Dogme Manifesto, despite the prominent display of the Dogme certificate at the beginning of the film. One needs no manifesto to understand a real-world comedy, depicting its events in terms of the small, eccentric details of which all lives are made.

 

_Italian for Beginners_ is a multi-plot story, gathering its strands from what Scherfig calls a group of insecure singles who, as they embrace adulthood, form a family among friends, rather than from blood relations. In each case, the family connection is severely compromised by blood antagonisms. At the same time that the characters form a familial group, they are also in the process of separating into couples. Scherfig handles the multi-plot film with ease and fluidity, which she attributes to her background as a television writer.

 

Each of these young adults is at a difficult junction in life. Andeas (Anders W. Berthelsen) is a pastor who expects to shepherd a Copenhagen parish only briefly as it searches for a permanent replacement for the old pastor, who is in the process of having a nervous breakdown. He has just lost his wife to cancer. Olympia (Anette Stovelbaek) is a lonely, pretty woman who works in a bakery shop; she has a mild form of brain damage that causes her to be clumsy, probably because of foetal alcoholic syndrome caused by a self-centered mother who continues to dominate her life. Jorgen Mortensen (Peter Gantzler) is the manager of a local hotel who harbors a lonely crush on the charming, young Italian cook Guila (Sara Indrio Jensen) whom he is afraid to approach, but who also is attracted to him. Hal-Finn (Lars Kaalund) is a hyper-macho manager of the hotel restaurant. Handsome but manically overly aggressive in maintaining order in the restaurant, he has no problems with sex, but has had little luck maintaining relationships. Finally, Karen (Ann Eleonara Jorgensen) is a sensual, beautiful hairdresser who owns her own reasonably successful beauty shop, but has also been luckless in relationships, especially with her father who humiliates her constantly.

 

All six wind up in an Italian class at the local community center, only to have the teacher die suddenly of a heart attack. Unwilling to let go of what each intuitively feels is an important place to be, they stubbornly dig in their heels until Hal-Finn loses his job for yelling once too many times at the customers. Surprisingly he knows enough Italian to take over as the instructor. The class serves as a life-line for all of them; clearly they would not be able to hold on to each other any other way. When the plot threads of Karen and Olympia converge to reveal (to their mutual embarrassment) that they are sisters, and their mother dies, they use the money she has left to finance a trip to Italy for the class. There, the group comes together as a unit and a series of erotic encounters take place that will replace the loneliness of each character with a rich set of affiliations even after they return home. Most affecting about this weaving and interweaving of lives is how clearly we understand that we are not watching fated connections, but the stumbling, haphazard, inadvertence of life. False starts and false stops punctuate the events as the characters move blindly and hesitantly along, motivated by desires that may or may not be fulfilled.

 

Anyone who has read a Barbara Pym novel may find that _Italian for Beginners_ is very reminiscent of the Pym landscape of lonely, sweet eccentrics. But Scherfig creates what is very much a cinematic experience, with her fluid camera, her tender regard for the human face, and her innate sense of light and darkness in both the exterior and interior levels of human existence.

 

_Va Savoir_ is the masterpiece of this group of sweet tales of love. Like _I'm Going Home_, it charts the boundary between life and art, focusing on artists as the central protagonists, rather than the ordinary people we find in _Warm Water Under a Red Bridge_ and _Italian for Beginners_. But, unlike de Oliveira, Rivette envisions a very thin boundary indeed between illusion and reality. As he said at his press conference: 'Life is theatre and theatre is life'. All the characters in _Va Savoir_ (officially translated as 'Who Knows?' but perhaps better understood in spirit as 'Go Figure!') are poseurs playing out (funny, delightful) stock scenes with each other as they vie for love and money. Yet despite the confusion between illusion and reality, particularly when it comes to love, there is a great deal more to life than our personal and social stratagems. The film leaves the audience with a belief in the immanence of love, which takes us by surprise and will not let us control it. This faith is represented in the film by an inscription carved onto a ring that ironically is the focus of a scam being perpetrated by one of the characters who uses love for pecuniary gain: 'tempus fugit; amor manet'. Time flies, love remains.

 

The story of _Va Savoir_ smacks of French farce. Camille (Jean Balibar) and her lover Ugo (Sergio Castellitto) are acting in a production of Pirandello's _As You Desire Me_, of which Ugo is also the director. The production design is evocative of art nouveau and of Fascist Italy; Pirandello was, of course, a noteworthy self-proclaimed Fascist. The play is a dark mirror image of the film, a nasty blend of love, death, and money, while the film is a tender mixture of the same ingredients such that death is no more than a farcical alternative with a missed cue. There's a lot of desire running rampant in both _As You Desire Me_ and _Va Savoir_, but the film empties out the entire concept of the machinations of strategically motivated lust.

 

During the run of the play Camille and Ugo, a forty-ish couple, meet up with Camille's former lover Pierre (Jacques Bonaffe) and his new wife, Sonia (Marianne Basler). While Camille and Pierre threaten to relive old times, Ugo, searching for a lost Goldoni play called _Destiny of Venice_, meets up with a twenty-something named Do (Helene De Fougerolles), short for Dominique, the attractive young daughter of the woman in whose library the lost volume may be hidden. While she and Ugo skirt the suburbs of an affair, her brother Arthur, also twenty-something, who has an incestuous yen for her, makes sexual advances to Pierre's wife, Sonia, from whom he wants to steal a very valuable ring. As in French farces, the people combine and recombine with the mechanical rhythms of the permutations playing themselves out obsessively. By the end, it would seem that nobody wants what they think they want, they just want to want it. The major example of this is Ugo's refusal to take the original text of _Destiny of Venice_, offered to him by Do when they find it, covered with flour, lying around Do's kitchen. Similarly, Arthur, for all his scheming does not get Sonia's ring, even though it first appears that he has born it away. He doesn't care. There is a riotously funny/sinister duel between Ugo and Pierre over Camille that ends with no one either a winner or a loser. Conscious desire is almost the sign of delusion in this film. The real force of connection is mysterious, silent, and unawares, as it binds people together despite their frantic searches elsewhere with others.

 

The face of love can be picked out somewhere in the subtext of this light yet potent confection, which has an enduring faith in love and a mocking chuckle for infatuation. Can we know the difference? Yes, over time, which dissipates the chaff on the wings of false desire. What abides is composed of freedom, appropriateness, and simplicity. Although it looks like anything goes, in fact none of the apparently intense dalliances is what it seems. Pierre's desire for Camille implodes because it is too possessive. In one of the most comically compelling scenes of the movie, Pierre locks Camille in a closet to keep her from running away from him again. But, cela ne marche pas. She escapes from the closet with the inevitability of warm air rising, which is pretty much what she has to do to get away from Pierre's clutches. Arthur's desire for Sonia dissipates; it is too closely associated with larceny. Do's infatuation with Ugo is just that. She is a little girl yearning for the unattainable, older, already attached man. Ugo lusts for an unattainable work of art, that he releases instantly on finding it. At the end of all the potentially devastating 'fun and games', the couples are intact. Camille and Ugo and Sophia and Pierre remain. Go figure!

 

The bitterness of love compromised by false social values is emphasized in another group of three films from the festival: _Time Out_, directed by Laurent Cantet; _La Cienaga_, directed by Lucrezia Martel; and _Fat Girl_, directed by Catherine Breillat. These three all move their characters outside of the daily grind to impress on us the impossibility of escape. Alienating values have been marbled by society into the core of our being and re-circulate with a vengeance at precisely those times when we feel most free. _Time Out_ and _La Cienaga_ are the work of young directors in their thirties, _Fat Girl_ the work of a director in her early fifties. Each promises much in the way of artistry, but, in two of the three, less in the way of integrity.

 

_Time Out_ is the story of Vincent (Aurelian Recoing), a man who can neither make a place for himself in society nor live outside it. At the beginning of the film, we see Vincent calling his wife from a cell phone while he is on the road. Recoing, mildly reminiscent of James Gandolfini, the star of _The Sopranos_, with his receding hairline and paunch, presents Vincent as an equivocal figure, both personally dishevelled and professionally slick. He manipulates his wife into believing that business is keeping him from returning home, but clearly he is not at work. Rather he is at a rest stop on the highway observing children playing. The scene is set for child abuse, perhaps murder. But that is not what happens. Director Laurent Cantet plays with audience expectation in this manner throughout the film, creating in us an experience of the uncanny which pays off in unpredictable ways. This is Cantet's second feature film and it bodes well for the future. He may well be a master in the making.

 

Vincent has been fired, as we later discover, from a job that was clearly in middle corporate management, but the substance of his former employment never emerges. Ultimately, Vincent becomes a scam artist, creating the illusion that he represents major investment possibilities in Africa. He is remarkably successful in stimulating his friends and their friends to force large sums of money on him, money that will never see a return. But this is not simply a jolly adventure comparable to the caper films of the 1970s (_The Sting_, for example). Cantet has used his ability to create suspense toward a political end. The uncanny mood he creates renders frightening the economic structure of capitalism, as the insubstantiality of both the job Vincent has lost and the imaginary consulting business he has created reflect back on each other. If Vincent is lost in illusion, there is no rock on which society is built either.

 

The film is based on a true story, but it is altered significantly in one major and fascinating respect. In the true story, the man on whose character Vincent was based posed as a doctor for twenty years. Despite his lack of medical training he performed all the necessary medical duties and went undetected for two decades by his colleagues and his family. When he was unmasked, he killed himself, his wife and children, and his parents. In his press conference, Cantet explained that he had no interest in Vincent as a monster of that sort. Rather, he was taken with the idea of ordinary life, the man who cannot moor himself to ordinary expectations, but at the same time cannot cut free from them either. Vincent is also finally caught, but if his capture involves a kind of death, it is not the sensationalistic bloodbath of the real-life impostor. It is a kind of spiritual immolation caused by the power love has over the ordinary man.

 

Vincent loves his family: wife, children, and parents. Although he is absolutely miserable playing the paternal role, he allows himself to be rehabilitated once he is caught. For a while, his scam enterprises relieved his dread of not being able to live up to familial expectations, but at the end of the film Vincent is going to endure that terror for love. The final scene is a piece of impressive understatement that comprehends the uncanny situation of the ordinary working man. Vincent's influential father has gotten him an interview for an important, high paying job, which the Personnel Director describes for Vincent with the air of a man handing out gold bullion. Vincent makes all the right gestures, and gives all the right answers: he will get the job. But, as the camera moves into extreme close-up of his eyes, an aching deadness betrays the anguish of men behaving well. The feeling of fear generated by the film as Vincent takes us on a tour of his complex intentions to be free and connected at the same time is intended by Cantet to dynamite this supposedly 'happy ending'. This closure is a stunning minimalist achievement. Of course, a reading of the larger meaning in something so subtle as an expression in the eyes demands a sophistication from audiences that generally comes either from several viewings or from a willingness to follow directorial promptings, rather than the habits induced by a long history of ordinary suspense films that culminate in murder of the body rather than of the human spirit.

 

_La Cienaga_ is the story of two middle class Argentinian families also taking time out, here on vacation during the humid month of February in an ample but slovenly country house in a swampy area near the border of Bolivia. La Cienaga means swamp, and though Lucrecia Martel insisted at her press conference that in her film it had the connotation less of decay than of abundant life, decay is rampant in her film: in nature, in the house, in the family dynamics, and in the social situation, which is riddled with hardhearted prejudice toward Indians in general and in particular toward their servant girl.

 

The center of the decay is Mecha (Graciela Borges), the fifty-ish mother of the film's main family. Played by an actress associated by Argentinian audiences with elegance and sophistication, Borges confounds expectations as she turns in a bravura performance as a blowsy, sodden, alcoholic wreck of a woman married to a man who is her masculine counterpart. Between the two of them they neglect their teenage sons and daughter and their pre-pubescent son whose eye, wounded in a hunting accident, desperately needs an operation that Mecha in her continually drunken stupor cannot organize herself to arrange for. Mecha's cousin Tali (Mercedes Moran) is staying with Mecha and her family in the country house, along with her husband and children. Tali is a loving and responsible wife whose husband is equally committed to the family, but she is caught in the morass of Mecha's life by her family feeling for her cousin. The two of them endlessly discuss a trip to Bolivia where they believe they can buy clothes and school things for the children at much reduced prices. The trip never takes place. Nor does anyone but Mecha's daughter, a decent thoughtful girl, ever go to where there is supposed to be a sighting of the Virgin Mary that they endlessly speak of. Primarily, the families slothfully lie in their beds, or drink as they recline around a swimming pool filled with filthy water. The exception is Mecha's youngest son, who with his friend, runs around a swamp with a gun, shooting at virtually everything he sees, and sometimes setting his gun sights on his sister.

 

The foreboding of the disaster that eventually takes place at the end of the film comes from the wild gunplay and from the opening scene of the film in which an inebriated Mecha careens around the edge of the swimming pool retrieving glasses with red liquid in them but falls, as she is 'tidying up', pulverizing the glasses as she lands on top of them. He chest is lacerated by the shards. Dripping blood, she is too disoriented to allow herself to be taken to the hospital without causing all kinds of absurd delay, as for example, when she excoriates her Indian maid of all work in racist terms for bringing the wrong dress with which to cover her bathing suit. The chaos in which these characters are vacationing is delineated immediately in this opening poolside scene where recreation turns into degeneration. A fluid camera moves fitfully around the vacation space creating disorientation for the audience. The ugliness of the situation is emphasized by the camera's unstinting look at the stretch marks and flab of the women, and the skin imperfections of all the characters. There is further definition of impending calamity through the drum rolls of thunder that sound over the action of this grotesque pool party. But the atmosphere of self-indulgence and irresponsibility is never directly connected to the final scene in which an innocent dies. Rather Mecha and her crew stumble on while the youngest and most innocent of all the people in the house, Tali's baby son, breaks his neck in broad daylight, with nothing particular happening, as his responsible mother turns her back for a minute. He is in some way a casualty of the swamp, but Martel is unwilling to depict his demise in terms of ordinary, motivated narrative structure.

 

Martel paints an ugly picture of contemporary Argentinian family life in a society of lost traditions, as she writes in her presskit notes. She does so with cinematic virtuosity, but also by means of a number of cliches. Despite her innovative and accomplished camera and editing style, she has loaded Mecha and her family with a set of predictable characteristics. Of course, they will be not only lost but racist and ugly. Defining bad people through physical ugliness intrudes a startlingly shallow stereotype into what is clearly intended as a hip portrayal of social problems. The shallowness of this cliche is compounded by the complementary stereotype, the physical beauty of the 'good' people: Mecha's daughter and Tali's innocent little boy. Tali and her husband, who are much better people than Mecha and her husband are also, not co-incidentally, better looking. Moreover, the director herself evidences a certain callous disregard that smacks of Mecha's abuses in her use of animals in this film. During Martel's press conference, she casually narrated a production anecdote about how, for a scene in which several children are running around with guns, she and her crew pushed a live cow into the mud so that it could be trapped there as the children shoot at it. This is a dubious way to make a point about the disregard for life in these people. The cow is later seen as a corpse. Was it an effect created for the camera, or was the cow really killed in order that Martel might cast her stones? While many countries have enforced strict prohibitions against the capricious taking of animal life for such purposes, Argentina has not, and this will be an issue for many viewers. Martel makes it an issue herself by taking a harsh, uncompromising position in the depiction of her characters while permitting herself disturbingly unselfcritical selfindulgence.

 

Similarly, _Fat Girl_ is the work of a highly skilled director who takes a chillingly harsh stance on human imperfections and limitations while cutting a lot of slack for her own. In _Fat Girl_, two sisters, Anais (Anais Reboux), 12 years old, and Elena (Roxane Mesquida), 15 years old, are on vacation with their affluent parents. Anais is chubby, on the verge of sexuality, but somewhat daunted by its mysteries and keenly aware that boys do not find her as attractive as they do her exquisitely beautiful sister. Elena is already quite sexually active, but a virgin until she meets a handsome law student, Fernando (Libero De Rienzo). The sisters are very attached to each other despite their frequent bouts of annoyance and impatience, but Elena shows almost no sensitivity to her sister's awkward position as she conducts her sexual explorations, with Anais as the onlooker. True, the need to hide her behavior from her parents, and her parents' insistence that Elena take care of Anais, contributes to this situation, but this does not fully exonerate Elena who is aware of how painfully hard Anais takes being a captive audience of Elena's sexual exploits. Anais sobs as she is forced into the position of voyeur in her own bedroom or builds solacing fantasies. One of the most touching moments of Anais's fantasy life opens the film, when to escape from her sister's flirtations at a pool she speaks seductively to the railings as she swims in the pool, treating them as lovers competing for her favors. This charming sequence, according to Breillat's remarks during her press conference, was inspired by a real incident in Taormina, when the director witnessed a chubby little girl talking to herself in a swimming pool. Indeed, she credits this as the seed from which _Fat Girl_ germinated.

 

For three-quarters of the film, it seems to be an account of a summer of adolescent angst and discovery. Peripherally, we glimpse the girls' unsympathetic, too materialistic parents. But little is made of their self-centered behavior as they are deflected by their own concerns from noticing what is going on in the lives of their daughters. This is the kind of oblivion so commonly experienced by teenage children that it remains unremarkable until the father (Romain Goupil) becomes verbally abusive and stalks out of the summer house to return to his work in the city. Nevertheless, the parental behavior remains within the bounds of normal family dysfunction. Even when Elena foolishly gets involved too deeply with Fernando, who is clearly manipulating her for his own pleasure through the most obvious forms of sweet talk, which even Anais understands is completely inauthentic, the film retains the tone of a familiar, if cleverly produced, family comedy/drama. When the girls's mother (Arsinee Khanjian) discovers Elena's brief affair with Fernando, she packs up the girls abruptly and angrily drives them home, and the film turns toward the sinister with such force that it is as if someone had spliced the terminal segment of another film onto _Fat Girl_.

 

On the homeward trip, stylish shots of huge trucks create a visual sense of menace to the little car in which Anais, Elena, and their mother drive, as does the mother's increasing fatigue: an accident looms in their future. But instead, the mother pulls into a rest stop where she and the girls go to sleep in the car. A truck driver (Albert Goldberg) who pulls into the stop spots them, and before we know it he has slaughtered Elena and her mother with a hatchet and dragged Anais into the woods to rape her. There is an elliptical cut that suddenly produces a swarm of police with the murderer already in custody as Anais is escorted from the woods insisting that she was not raped. This sudden, discontinuous closure eclipses the odd, insightful previous scenes about growing up in the new millennium and thereby effectively destroys the film as an organic work.

 

In her press conference, Breillat shed light on her intentions, a disclosure that did nothing to resurrect her film out of the fragments to which it had been reduced, but rather intensified the sense of arbitrary ugliness with which she ended her film. Breillat contended that her work was metaphoric, a highly problematic claim given the realism of her presentation of characters and events. The only sense of metaphor, barely noticeable in the film, though clear in the press notes, is conveyed by the identification of everyone in the film, with the exception of the three principal young people, by their roles: mother, father, killer. But wait. The attack, according to Breillat, also has metaphoric motivation. With the exception of Anais, she said, the rest of the family is already dead, lost as they are in false feelings and false behavior. There is nothing true about them in Breillat's mind and the attack is only the realization of what is already the case. Moreover, to her way of thinking, Fernando's exploitation of Elena, by virtue of its falsehoods and betrayal of Elena's trust, is more of a rape than the truck driver's sexual attack on Anais, which is why Anais says, with justice as Breillat would have it, that she wasn't raped. She has already seen what real sexual deviance is. Or so the director says.

 

Breillat's position verges on the indefensible; it virtually aligns her reading of her work with the psychosis of Raskolnikov, the protagonist of _Crime and Punishment_, and with all other delusional claims for the *ubermensch*, complicit as she is with the image of savage murder of characters that she created because she finds them too materialistic and hypocritical. By these standards, how many of us deserve to live? Maybe not Breillat either, considering her hypocrisy. Her own less than honorable way of using at least one underage actor leaves her with much to answer for. According to Breillat, Anais Reboux, the child she used as her protagonist, is thirteen years old. In response to questions, the director denied that there was any problem in her exhibition in one humiliating scene after another of a chubby child who is unmercifully teased for being fat. She disclaimed any problem, even when it was pointed out that the actress has the same name as the scapegoated little girl. Breillat also brushed off the possibility of exploitation in using a child actor to play scenes confronting sexual issues that the actual child has only begun to deal with in her personal life. In addition, Breillat defended her use of Roxane Mesquida in extremely explicit sexual scenes, claiming that she is eighteen years old, and asserting that, although Mesquida was initially terrified of doing the scenes, afterward she told Breillat that 'it was the best day of her life'. Possibly, despite her much younger appearance, Mesquida was eighteen at the time the film was made, as the director claims, but even if this is true, such scenes are extremely difficult for older, more experienced actors and Breillat's insistence on what may be a more graphic display of sex acts than was needed is dubious indeed. Many may feel that, ironically, Breillat's exploitation of Reboux and Mesquida, as well as Libero de Rienzo, in the name of her own cinematic obsessions, places her rather explicitly as a confrere of the inauthentic middle class, against whom the director exacted such cruel revenge.

 

In contrast to the ruthless pillaging of life in order to make films, I offer the third and final group of films from the Festival that I am highlighting, four films expressing a love for making cinema as a mode of re-enforcing the core of our humanity: _Mulholland Drive_, directed by David Lynch; _Sobibor, October 14, 1943, 4pm_, directed by Claude Lanzmann; _Il Mio Viaggio in Italia_, directed by Martin Scorsese; and _Eloge de L'Amour_, directed by Jean-Luc Godard. Substantially different in their directions and aesthetics, they each praise love as a part of the process of filmic storytelling and they each grapple with the difficulties of insuring that it will remain a part of the process.

 

In _Mulholland Drive_, the centerpiece of the festival, director David Lynch shuttles the audience among numerous planes of reality in order to spare us the fate of the characters in the film, who are stripped of their hopes and dreams by being locked into a dehumanizing system of power relations. _Mulholland Drive_ is a multiplot narrative, the trajectory of which is determined by the failure of a crucial connection between two of the three primary narrative threads. Lynch mobilizes the distancing effects of comedy, dreamscapes, and visionary locations to help us to understand the nature of the crucial missed connection and how it is sabotaged by a monomaniacal power structure.

 

Two of the three primary narratives concern the multiple identities of two women. There is blonde and perky aspiring actress Betty Elms (Naomi Watts) -- who also appears in the film as a washed out depressive named Diane Selwyn. And there is 'Rita', the assumed name of a beautiful, dark, disoriented and shy amnesiac woman (Laura Elena Harring) -- whose second identity is a vampiric actress known as Camilla Rhodes. The third narrative concerns a man named Adam Kesher (Justin Theroux), a director whose name stays the same throughout, while his character alters considerably as the women change names and destinies. At first, Adam is a comic character, a likeable, earnest film director struggling to do his job according to his own lights; later in the film, after he capitulates to an intimidating criminal cartel, Adam is transformed into a hollow man, false as his feigned laughter, and coldly calculating in relationship to his films and personal life.

 

At the beginning of the film, Betty and 'Rita' meet soon after Betty arrives in Los Angeles to pursue a movie career and 'Rita' survives a terrible automobile accident. As Betty tries to help 'Rita' regain her identity, Adam battles a crew of seemingly comic Mafiosi types, whom he suddenly becomes aware are trying to control his film, for no discernible reason except to impose their power on him. They appear to know nothing about filmmaking but violently and persistently insist on the casting as the leading lady of this film one Camilla Rhodes, an actress who has no discernibly special talents. Comedy reveals its dark side when Adam is broken by the substantial intimidation he faces from the cartel, and that is the beginning of the end.

 

In the early stages of the film, Rhodes is blonde (Melissa George) and visible only on a photograph and on a soundstage as she auditions for Adam. (Yes, Camilla Rhodes too has two incarnations, a situation that leaves mysteriously and tantalizingly open whether Camilla is an alternate version of 'Rita' or 'Rita' is an alternate version of Rhodes.) Though Adam meets both versions of Rhodes, Adam never actually meets either 'Rita' or Betty, but there is a moment when he almost meets Betty, a moment that jumps out of _Mulholland Drive_ because it is depicted by a shot pattern of jump cuts and close-ups of their eyes as they feel the connection that they do not permit to happen. This is the visual and emotional core of the film. But it is about the death of emotion. Betty walks onto Adam's soundstage unexpectedly, just as his spirit is being crushed by the cartel as he submits to their casting choice. This is the moment when something full of promise becomes possible, the moment of true contact in a world of false relations that is part of every David Lynch film. Early in his career, Lynch celebrated the spontaneous, unforeseen arrival of that moment and the wonder of how his protagonists made themselves open to it (think of Sandy's arrival in Jeffrey's life in _Blue Velvet_). But in _Lost Highway_, and now in _Mulholland Drive_, the path evoked by the films' titles leads somewhere else, to the missed encounter or the embrace of a false moment. In Lynch's latest film, it is the failure to take the opportunity that is portrayed. Betty leaves and Adam sinks deeper into the morass of a bad choices.

 

The result of this 'un-moment', stymied by Adam's distracted attention to cartel pressure, is the identity transformations of Betty, 'Rita', and Adam. It is as though the film itself is conveying the process of disintegration wrought by Adam's fall through a stunning inversion of time and space. Such corruption as Adam has participated in is not one act but the seed of massive degeneration. After Adam and Betty don't meet (though we never know whether that meeting would have provoked important, fruitful personal or professional energy or both), the film's color desaturates producing rotted space, time turns in on itself, and all the characters become debased forms of their earlier selves. The axel of the turn is a sweetly funny sexual encounter between Betty and 'Rita'. It re-emerges when the degeneration of the world in which they live begins to pick up speed as a very nasty lesbian form of sado-masochism. Rita/Camilla plainly enjoys rejecting Betty/Diane by forcing her to deal with the 'new love', Adam, who in his new form seems to serve Rita/Camilla's penchant for causing pain and little else.

 

Also key to the transition is a strange, after hours dive called Club Silencio to which Rita takes Betty after they have sex. Club Silencio features the billowing red curtains of the Red Room that Lynch created while he worked on the Twin Peaks television series and his film _Fire Walk With Me_, and that are his sign of visionary space, here the toxic aspect of vision. The show presented at Club Silencio reveals the illusory nature of film, including the film we are in the process of watching. Sound seems to be emitted by the characters, but it is actually from another source; it is tape recorded. Character seem to be people, but in fact they are hollow constructs. After such knowledge, both the audience and Betty and 'Rita' lose the illusion, and Betty and 'Rita' disappear into a black void. Inauthentic creation is unstable and poisonous. Narratively and visually, entropic descent into death is the inevitable path of false creation. As the visuals descend into depleted colortones and the darkness of disappearance, so in the narrative death arrives. Betty's initial bright hopes have turned into something reprehensible, and she becomes responsible for the death of 'Rita'/Camilla and her own suicide.

 

During the five years I interviewed David Lynch for my book _The Passion of David Lynch_, he spoke often, if obliquely, about the difference between the higher and debased areas of the subconscious and the spectacular differences between what is created by each. In his press conference, although he spoke obliquely to the audience, Lynch told the assembled the same: 'Going against what you really believe kills many things'. Pragmatic business decisions that mediate what must never be compromised are routinely put to us as small compromises; not so says Lynch. They are the drive into the toxic area of the subconscious and toward unstable and murderous forms of creation. There is great love in _Mulholland Drive_ for the many things that are killed when Adam falls. As we are distanced by the film from the slide from hope into putrefaction because a moviemaker was co-opted, we rally toward the ideal because Lynch impresses us, and brilliantly, on every level of our being with the catastrophe of betraying it.

 

Claude Lanzmann's documentary _Sobibor, October 14, 1943, 4pm_ poses quite a different challenge. If Lynch understands that one cannot fully understand creative degeneration by means of a stable narrative structure (since that stability is a security blanket that smothers the shock of recognition), Lanzmann deals with the problem of speaking of outrageous evil through cinematic fiction or documentary. Narrative structure and emotionally exciting characters mediate our encounter with evil and shelter us from really confronting it. Even documentaries provide the beauty of the frame and the buffer of hindsight. The problem may well be insoluble, but, in _Sobibor_, Lanzmann, who already has made stunningly impressive attempts in _Shoah_, _Un Vivant Qui Passe_, and _Tsahal_ to deal with this oxymoronic dilemma about the need to express the inexpressible, tries again.

 

Lanzmann is not interested in sensational, gruesome, or gory details of the Holocaust, his chosen cinematic subject. In this, he renders obscene films like _Schindler's List_, which lick their lips over the sub rosa erotic thrills they take from the suffering of the millions of innocent victims of Nazism. In _Sobibor_, as in _Shoah_, Lanzmann makes us confront the ordinariness of the people involved, the events as the deeds of extremely unexceptional people; we know them all. The film is an extended interview with Yehuda Lerner, and, as in _Shoah_, there are no images of the death camps. The interview is rendered for the screen through the face of Lerner as he speaks in response to Lanzmann's offscreen voice, and pastoral landscapes of the Polish countryside where several concentration camps, including Sobibor, were previously located. Lanzmann seeks to elicit from Lerner details of the one successful uprising against the Nazis in a concentration camp. The only notable photograph contemporary to the events spoken of by Lerner shows a memorial tribute by a group of Nazis to the German soldiers killed by the inmates of the death camp.

 

Lerner is no larger-than-life Ari Ben Canaan, the hero of _Exodus_, and certainly no Paul Newman, who played the Jewish lion in the film. Learner is an unassuming, pleasant-faced Israeli, with a head of hair of which the Fonz would be proud, warm eyes, and a gentle smile, who narrates the events of Sobibor on the 14th of October at 4pm, in Hebrew, in tones far less dramatic than those often used to describe a baseball game. He had never killed anyone before he split the skull of a German officer with a small axe, as if he had done it every day of his life. And he has never killed anyone since, off a battlefield. His story defies the audience's impulse to escape into drama at the same time that it is so compelling that one cannot take his/her eyes off the face of this man, even though, for most viewers he speaks in an incomprehensible language.

 

Probably the Ben Canaan figure in Lerner's story is the late Alexander Petchersky, the young Russian army office who designed the plan, the details of which I will not reveal here, that led to the successful conquest of the camp. (I shamelessly confess my hope that this reservation of mine will spur potential audiences to see this remarkable film.) But I wonder whether Lanzmann would have wanted this brilliant military personage as a central figure, even had he been alive to interview. Likely, Lerner is a much more useful central intelligence, with his memories of resistance on his part that was no more and certainly no less that the abiding desire to live. Lerner was an adolescent at the time and not older than twenty when he was interned at Sobibor. He and a friend, separated from their families by Nazi deportation officers, had continually run away from the camps to which they were deported. Before he was sixteen, Lerner had escaped from eight concentration camps, little more than skin and bones because of the insufficient food given to anyone who was not performing what the Germans considered crucial services to the Reich. Lerner and his friend lived off the fields until they were re-captured and re-interned. At each new death camp the prisoners asked why they hadn't been shot or hung, which was the norm with escapees. Lerner's inability to answer this question, then or now, suggests again a rent in the fabric of Holocaust tales in general circulation, the distance between official policy and actual practice. Certainly there is no suggestion of compassion involved here, but rather the kind of capriciousness that led German officers to walk up indiscriminately behind prisoners in the first camp to which Lerner was sent and shoot them in the head, as if they were practising on tin cans to vent fleeting aggressions. But there is also great humanity sometimes, as when the Pole charged with switching the tracks for the prisoner train headed to Sobibor warned Lerner and the others in the box car, in the seconds that he had to speak to them, to run away, that they would be burned at the camp. The men in the train cars did not run, although there was a hole in the train floor that would have made it possible, because they didn't believe that people did that to other people. That was, for anyone who has forgotten how inconceivable the goals of the Nazis were for those in their clutches, as inconceivable as the intentions of hijackers who intended to crash a plane into the World Trade Center.

 

Lanzmann's insistence on depicting an event from the Holocaust as a situation full of the holes that appear in all our daily lives, rather than as the teleological unfolding of tightly structured events that Hollywood has made of such moments, is also inflected by the loose weave of multiple languages in which the conversation between Lanzmann and Lerner is carried out. Lerner speaks only Hebrew, Lanzmann only French. The translation between these languages is rendered for director and subject in a female voice. English subtitles have been added for both languages for American distribution. On occasion, the voices overlap and Lerner adds to his statement while the translator is working away in her melodic, precise diction. Almost immediately, it is evident that this linguistic scramble is part of the poetics of the film; Lanzmann could have found a much tidier more elegant way to deal with the language barrier. We are being asked to grapple with the capacity of language to convey almost inconceivable events.

 

And indeed, as Lerner tells his story, it is impossible to understand in any but the most detached way the dehumanization he endured in Sobibor. How can we really take in what it means for the German soldiers to have been utterly incapable of imagining an uprising, as Lerner very matter-of-factly states, because they bought into their own propaganda and deeply believed that their prisoners were subhuman? More importantly, we only begin to glean that there was once a time when this centered, poised teller of the tale could only barely hold on to enough faith in his own humanity to resist. Lerner is so incontrovertibly a point of our own empathy that we must begin, though we can only begin to imagine our own vulnerability to such circumstances. Lanzmann mentioned Sobibor in _Shoah_, but did not include in that film narration of its story in any detail because he felt it should not be merely an anecdote in any larger work. He has brilliantly succeeded in the film he has now dedicated to Sobibor, and not only because he has aired as many of the facts as he could find. Lanzmann's love of filmmaking has led him to eschew the easy worship of the medium that we find in Spielberg's _Schindler's List_, to probe its limitations, much as we saw in Lynch's passionate attempt to speak of a subject close to his heart in _Mulholland Drive_. Lanzmann has made us wonder at the difficulty of telling this story.

 

In Martin Scorsese's _Il Mio Viaggio in Italia_, we find something close to idolatry of the cinema. Scorsese inundates the audience with his euphoria about Italian films, primarily of the neo-realist era. _Viaggio_ is a very long documentary in which he quotes extensively from the films which he credits as the foundation of his career as a director. The title is a play on _Viaggio in Italia_ (1953), directed by Roberto Rossellini, starring Ingrid Bergman, one of the few films excerpted that make one wonder why it was included. However, I suppose he chose that title because the film is a love story, and Scorsese's _Viaggio_ is an unexpectedly unalloyed gush of praise from a filmmaker who has heretofore refused to take simple positions on his characters and stories. _Viaggio_ is an unabashed celebration of the love of ordinary life in Italian cinema, a combination of a journal of 'How I Became What I Am', and 'Martin Scorsese's Italian Film 101'.

 

Scorsese begins with, in some ways, the best part of his film, some fascinating, recently discovered home movies of his family shortly after they emigrated to the United States in the early 20th century. He uses them as a springboard from which to jump into the pleasure and ethnic pride his family took in Italian cinema, and how he was riveted to the television set in the late forties and early fifties watching the neo-realist masterpieces on local New York channels. He then gives a kind of lecture on Neo-Realism, quoting from Rossellini, DeSica, and Visconti, as if to say, 'I cannot say anything about their work that is as compelling as giving you a chance to see it'. He also, at times, gives a running commentary on what we are looking at. He begins with a banquet of some of the most powerfully felt films ever made: _Open City_, _Paisa_, _Umberto D_, Ossessione_, and _Senso_, primarily. At the end of his viaggio, he moves on to Italian films of the 1950's and 1960's, the work of Antonioni and Fellini. Some of these films, like _Paisa_, are not currently available in the United States, and the segment we see in _Viaggio_ is a beautifully restored piece of film; we are also shown the decaying film stock on which Scorsese originally saw the film. This restoration is a real boon to film enthusiasts. In his press conference, Scorsese spoke of plans underway to get these films into American theatres so we can see them again in their entirety.

 

This documentary provides an equivocal kind of pleasure. Most filmgoers have had little contact with the neo-realists lately and Scorsese's insistence that we confront them brings with it a rush of excitement. Days after, one is still muttering 'Flike', the name of Umberto D's little dog (anyone who has not seen this film should rush out and find it no matter what the cost and trouble), and shaking from the atrocities of _Open City_, and the memory of Anna Magnani's performance. Some filmgoers will not have had contact with Antonioni, who has been unaccountably marginalized in recent years, but most will have had easy access to Fellini. Still, glad as I am to have seen scenes from _Paisa_ and to be reminded of how glorious neo-realism is, it is hard to shake the feeling of unease about Scorsese's cheerleading. It will be most appropriate for audiences who know nothing about this period as a warm-up to a neo-realist film festival or more general revival. This is his Italian for Beginners.

 

Finally, Jean-Luc Godard is back on the festival circuit with _Eloge de l'amour_, and he's as enigmatic as ever. Up front, I must say that it is really impossible to give this film a satisfying review after only one screening. (I was fortunate enough to have seen _Mulholland Drive_ three times, or I would have had to say the same about that film.) But even after one viewing it is clear that Godard isn't praising love in any way that Hollywood would understand, as is also the case with Lynch and Lanzmann. In fact, in this film about a desire to make a film, Hollywood emissaries play the role of the villains thwarting that desire, as does the United States as a whole. In one of the best moments in the film, which sums up what it means to be an 'ugly' American, a tall, stunningly gorgeous African-American woman who works for a Hollywood studio gets out of a sports car that the protagonist tells her his grandfather designed. 'So what?' she says, flinging the car door shut and striding toward the house in which they will converse about a film narrating events in the life of a couple who were in the French resistance.

 

Plot? Yes, sort of. Edgar (Bruno Putzulu) wants to make a movie about the experiences of a couple who were active in the French Resistance during World War II. He meets many obstacles, many of them American. But it is also about the passage of time and the difficulties that creates, and the sustenance that comes from nature. It is about Edgar's sensibility, in other words, which is defined by the way he filters events and people as he goes about attempting to achieve his goal. Through Edgar, we see not only into the hazards of expression, but also the difficulties of maturation. Although Godard had indicated he would attend the Festival his work on his next film prevented him from being in New York. But unusually elaborate production notes were distributed at the press screening. These notes, lavishly illustrated with frames from _Eloge_, are almost as enigmatic as the film itself, but they do guide us toward the elements in the film that emphasize the complexity of becoming and representing an adult. In Godard's words:

 

'I had begun with a preposterous story and in the end I thought that I couldn't, one couldn't describe an adult. Adults only can be dealt with in story form. In the street, you don't say, there goes an adult. You say there goes Paul and there goes Fabienne or there goes a mad killer. You tell a story, with the others, young people and old people, there's no need to.'

 

Godard's reference point about the United States has been Los Angeles, which he has damned by calling it The Big Garage. Bad enough. In _Eloge_ he erases the United States entirely as a horrible illusion of a country. There is a set of running jokes in which the name of the country in which I write is reduced to nothingness. Everything is a set of united states, according to the joke; this film will not accept a United (capital U) States (capital S) as a place of any distinction or even existence. So Godard renders me a citizen of a nameless country. I can't be angry (I imagine he would prefer it if I were). The play on words is funny within the context of the film; though I can't help wondering what Godard would have done in this film had the attack on the World Trade Center taken place before he made it. It is unthinkable that Godard will ever give up his animus against what I continue to insist is the United States of America, but perhaps the joke might have been rendered more complex. The film could not very easily have been more so. I look forward to seeing it again, and possibly again. Through his many hatreds, Godard loves passionately and we always learn something new about filmmaking from this filmmaker who is independent in a way that Sundance Film Festival, the tepidly free-spirited handmaid of Hollywood, will never fathom.

 

The New York Film Festival 2001 exhibited some of the masters of contemporary filmmaking in their pride and prodigiousness. It also took on its customary role as a channel between the public and some directors who are only starting on a path that may or may not take them into richer and more expansive cinematic achievement. A powerful force for independence and for making manifest the invigorating internationalism of cinema that Jonathan Rosenbaum, in his latest book _Movie Wars_ fiercely demands be made more accessible, especially in the United States, the New York Film Festival continues to fill the void left by most commercial distributors, to be the broker for artists for whom love is more important than money. A bas le bottom line!

 

Mercy College, New York, USA

 

 

Copyright © _Film-Philosophy_ 2001

 

Martha P. Nochimson, 'New York Film Festival 2001', _Film-Philosophy_, vol. 5 no. 30, October 2001 <http://www.film-philosophy.com/vol5-2001/n30nochimson>.

 

 

 

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