On 20.07. the New Horizons Film Festival started in Wrocław. The festival runs until 30.07. The good thing is that it takes place all over the city. But also on the Internet (once you rent a film). Here (external link) is more information.
The Outgaze Film Festival will take place this year from 01.04 – 30.04. The organizing team also includes Maja Holzinger, whose film we have briefly reviewed here.
But. Online you can watch some of the films from the festival. A very external link. Here: https://watch.eventive.org/fr/outgazefilmfestival/play/64120e062abfea00e5291b66
Punk | Stucturalism | Phenomenology | A movie
1. Anthropological structuralism
Gilles Deleuze once said that structuralism precisely compares structures and then tries to draw conclusions. We can compare a table with a chair and find that both are square. We can likewise compare South African Amapiano music with European house and find that the beats are similar. If in the case of Amapiano we can still trace the origin, the comparison of the tables and chairs is… empty.
But even if we traced the history of the Amapiano, it did not tell us anything about the music itself, its use, and why it is also very popular in Kenya.
Anthropological structuralism (to describe it simply) does not compare tables but cultural phenomena, and cultural practices with each other. We can then see that the people of Siberia move in very similar ways to the Sioux when they dance. We can also compare the hat fashion of 70 years in Uganda with that in Denmark. We may even find something astonishing. The question is, what does it bring us?
Structuralism constantly forgot the context. Or, as Deleuze put it, error. Whereas I wouldn’t talk about errors in cultural adaptations. Even if many punks invoked the purity of their movement to distinguish themselves from the others.
In his essay “The Assault on Culture,” Stewart Home describes punk as a rather short-lived subculture of Britain’s big cities. Inspired by the so-called skinhead novels, punk remains a movement without great intellectual pretensions. Basically, punk can be compared to the subculture of soccer fans.
It was only much later that Class War found punk as a means of anarchist expression. But by then punk was long dead. Perhaps the Oi! movement was the last remnant of punk. However, Oi! was more of a primitive male culture that was primarily about drinking beer. Or, as “Exploited” put it, about “sex and violence”.
I can’t remember who said it. A Japanese phenomenologist described the phenomenon of the epistemic horizon (not only him, but here we find a nice reflection on how Europeans – in the sense of Viveiros the Castro Europeans – react to the unknown).
We can also say that our brain reacts like this. In any case, when we see the unknown, we try to infer the known.
And here is an anthropological reflection. Europeans (and I still do not mean only the inhabitants of Europe) always try to compare all cultural phenomena with their own culture. The reason for this may be that Europeans are convinced of the superiority of their culture (wrongly, the European culture is rather primitive).
In other words, when Europeans see people with a mohawk hairstyle, dressed in leather jackets and boots on other ends of the world, they immediately think of one thing. They must be punks. The idea of comparing contexts doesn’t even occur to them. They name a cultural phenomenon, a cultural practice after their own, rather boring “culture” and call what they see: Punk.
4. Cultural appropriation
The people of Yucatan have adopted some of the religious practices of the Nahuatl for themselves. There has even been a discussion as to whether the proverbial aggressiveness of the Quiche did not originate with the Nahuatl. I do not want to have that discussion here. What interests me is the fact that when cultural practices are adopted from another culture, there is always a shift. An error.
If we understand punk as drinking beer, making music, and “No Future,” it doesn’t automatically mean that everyone who does that is also a punk. With adaptations of cultural practices, there are always shifts, changes, precisely, adaptations to one’s own culture, to one’s own context.
It is rather difficult for an average European to understand this context, to think about it.
Can we speak of the same practice in the case of a cultural adaptation, in the case of similarities?
Theoretically, I could adopt the rites of the Masai. It will not only make me a Maasai. It has no meaning because I probably wouldn’t think about the context. By the way, it is similar to yoga in Europe (which, free from any spiritual practice, rather reminds of stretching exercises). People are happy to do yoga. In truth, they practice stretching exercises with adapted intellectual, European superstructure.
5. Punk in Myanmar
Is there punk in Myanmar? Of course not. It is rather wishful thinking on the part of the protagonist. In fact, the youth in Myanmar, in the city of Yangon, have adopted elements of what we would call Oi Punk. Without all the context of the Oi movement.
On the other hand, we can’t say for sure. But if we use Western glasses, if we put the movement in Myanmar in a context, like the protagonist of the film, we destroy the movement and its beauty. And only see something European again. Another H&M store or Mcdonalds’.
The film brilliantly illustrates the inability of different cultures to understand each other. On the one hand, we have a director trying to get money for a film about the “punks” in Myanmar. We see little of the punks themselves.
However, she is always running as if against the wall. The various attempts to get into Myanmar do not succeed.
Street Punx are a wonderful, ideal metaphor for the fact that we may never understand other cultures. In the end, the film’s protagonist is more concerned with herself and money than with the “punks” and their culture. She sees them through the screen of the PC in countless Skype phone calls. She cannot get closer to them. The screen is the end of possibilities.
It is a very important film that reminds us that we, the Europeans, should worry about the other parts of the world rather than thinking about ourselves and our problems. It is a mirror that, held up by Maja Holzinger, shows us the ridiculousness of what we call “European culture”.
In the end, no one will travel to Myanmar. That’s good. After all, it was we, Europeans, who bloodily exploited Myanmar, imposed our culture, and then, left it poor. It is good that now we do not want to explain to Myanmar people their own cultural adaptation.
Here (external link) you can read more about the movie.
And. It’s not a movie about Africa. But I thought African dancers would fit here.
The Polish Film Festival has ended. Unfortunately. But. Next year in September, when you are in Gdynia, you can see some exciting movies. Here (external link) you´ll get some more information.
The Film Fest in Hamburg starts on September 29. Here (external link) you can get more information. Unfortunately (there is always an, unfortunately, this fall) we have not been able to find any information about a streaming option.
Tomorrow starts the Konfrontacje Filmowe. An old festival that has disappeared from the world for a while. But sometimes festivals behave, like the hölderlinian ghosts. They come back again and again. And come this time from 09.09 in 18 Polish cities. And show current films. More here (external link). In Polish.
Perspectives. Archetypes. And movies
Yu Miao grew up in China before coming to study cinema in France. In 2020 she graduated from the directing department of La Fémis, the French national film school. Now living in Paris, she works in cinema as a director and screenwriter. In addition to film, she also practices photography.
I guess it´s too easy to say, it´s about perspective. It’s about the way Yu Miao shows us society. About how she shows society. But also not this our society. Because then we would have to talk about perspective again. So…
It is about our perspective of perspectives. Europeans do await, that people from outside of Europe watch us with… yeah… their own perspective. It has something to do with Plato and his idea of “ontology”. In our understanding, ontology is something bounded. Like a bubble, where some of us do live. And the others are outside.
This fact is well described by Viveiros de Castro and his sentence, that our ontology will never be understood by others. How wrong such a description is, is Yu Miao´s perspective in her work.
It is even not a foreign perspective. It is an international view. A perspective without a homeland. A placeless perspective. Deleuze would call it „nomadic“.
Perspectives has also something to do with archetypes. But when we say „archetypes“ we mostly think about Carl Gustav Jung and his idea of archetypes. Also because character archetypes are used in movies. It’s a very structuralistic idea. Where we compare character, how people act and react, and what they do in some situations. The idea of structuralism leads us to anthropology. Where not only people, and characters, but whole cultures and societies are compared.
But there is also a different idea of archetypes. And this perspective shows us Yu Miao in her movies. Her archetypes are… human. Human in a way how we can compare all of us. Human in a humanistic (and yes, anthropological) way. Human in a place, where we all are human. Besides our cultures, our languages, our beliefs. Call ist universalism. But it is more about searching for how we all are. A search for what makes a human a human.
I would say, those archetypes I can find in Yu Miao´s work are we. Are ordinary people in their life as humans. And they give me the feeling that we all are very similar. Since differences between us disappear, since the borders are blurred, we see what unites us more than what divides us as humans, I would prefer not to define it as structuralistic nor as post structuralistic idea.
Not necessarily scenes. Places. Are there also universal places? Places that exist beyond Foucault’s theory of heterotopias? Yes. There are such places. Those are, let us say, international places. Usually, there is a huge critique on such places. When we see cities across Europe, when we see how Nairobi, Sydney, and Warsaw do seem like the same place, with all their coffees, shops, and Starbucks, we will see how capitalism destroys identity. And so-called international places become a neoliberal nightmare.
In Yu Miao’s films, we can see another form of international places. And here we come back to the idea of perspective. To the idea of the perspective of perspectives. Because the places where Yu Miao places her films are… universal. But universal in the same way that her view of society is neither Western nor Eastern nor anything else. They are places that I would describe in human terms. Places inhabited by us. By human beings. Places that don’t allow for classification into one perspective, places also that are neither structuralist nor post-structuralist. Perhaps they are nomadic places. Places that move with the humans who inhabit them.
It is always very difficult to describe the work of an artist. Especially since most critiques boil down to a structuralist practice. In which the critic tries to work out commonalities. It is perhaps more interesting to note differences. Or something completely different. Every artist is looking for something in his work. Several films, books, and tracks are always a search for something.
What is Yu Miao looking for in her films?
On the one hand, they are fragments. Perhaps some that escape our attention. Perhaps they are hidden fragments of the realities of our lives. Scenes that we experience but do not perceive. Through the focus, it reveals not only the scenes themselves but also the absurd aspects of our lives. It sounds like a specifically French model, but there is more to it. In “24’58 on the Way to Dulpokanova” it is the dialogues, in “Escape” it is the signs (also a semiotic work in a certain sense). In “The Elusive Joy of Labor” is again about gestures. Perhaps more than that.
At the same time, and I find this very exciting, she is looking for a narrative. For a narrative form of expression. And in each of the films, no matter how different they may be, you see the narrative. Yes, also tension.
Soon we will discuss and describe Yu Miao’s individual films here.
Wait for the article or go to a cinema in your neighbourhood.
The Krass Kultur Crash Festival (external link) takes place this year in Kampnagel from 27.04 – 08.05 (we know, we are a little bit late, we are always late). On 04.05. you can also watch the Movie This Rain Will Never Stop by Alina Gorlova during the festival. We will report if we go there.
Ab Dienstag, dem 01.06.2021 bis 06.06.2021 findet das 21. Japanische Filmfestival Nippon Connection. Wo? Online. Hier der (externe) Link zu der Veranstaltung: https://nipponconnection.com/de/start/.
Es gibt unzählige Filme zu sehen. Manche weltweit, andere nur in DE. Auf der Seite des Veranstalters wird die Verfügbarkeit angegeben.
Das Kurzfilmfestival Hamburg findet (fast) gleichzeitig statt: vom 01.06. – 07.06. Ok. Einen Tag länger.
Und, damit die Parallelität eine weitere Parallelität erhält, läuft das Festival online und im Open Space. Hier geht es zum externen Link: https://festival.shortfilm.com