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Text of Richard Conte, president of the jury of the 2015 AVIFF

De definition of the cinema

The films we’re going to talk about can’t be easily defined. They’re unique because they don’t correspond to any definitions the reviews would like to use. In fact, you recognize these films when you watch them but it’s not possible “à priori” to determine their meaning or the “genre” they belong to.

Of course films on art and artists exist and they’re often precious documents to understand the works, their story or their philosophy; but there are also many other films which are works of art, different from what you can see on screens ( at the cinema or on TV ), short films documentaries, cartoon films, video clips and so on..

As you can understand, it’s easier to say what these films are not rather than what they are exactly.

In that case, the viewer will “travel” between contemporary art and the cinema, documentaries and fiction, experimental cinema and artistic videos. He will feel like escaping normative classifications.

As Harold Rosenberg wrote*: if everything an artist does is art and if everything can be art, then the definition of art becomes uncertain. The work of art can’t be linked to any genre in particular.

Isn’t it the same situation for the cinema, in our digital era when the differences between cinema and video, professionals and amateurs tend to disappear. ?

However let’s find out clues among almost 2000 films, from all over the world which can been seen on video platforms installed this year by the organizer of the 2015 Art Film Festival in Cannes. You’ll find many narrative short stories, cartoon films, documentaries, but also a few “electron libres” playing with the viewer’s hypnotic feeling ( difficult to feel on a small screen as it requires immersion means ), video performances ( not many but very important in contemporary art ), a few remarkable artistic documentaries plus queer fiction parodies sometimes even difficult to classify as such.

Because of their singularity the Jury has eventually selected 27 films participating in a de definition of the cinema

But everyone knows that a festival selection is like a signal for future candidates. That’s why we really hope that artists and film makers will join this festival ( for example advanced students from European schools of art and universities )

But this year’s jury has decided to do even more by risking to present fifteen films off competition, to show what would be in his point of view another cinema ( Raymond Bellour )

The future will tell us if we were right to think so.

For a few years we’ve known that there’s now a new paradigm like a creative promise positioned between contemporary art one the one hand and cinemas on the other hand.


Richard Conte

* Harold Rosenberg, La dé-définition de l’art, éditions Jacqueline Chambon, 1992


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