A 2012 Berlinale Spectacle Machine Round-up, and an eye for Talent Campus Reality Upgrades


Without having seen many films this year at the 62nd Berlinale, our brief glimpses into the sausage-making of the grand entertainment industry had us muttering all kinds of cynical and barbed attacks upon the red-carpeted Spectacle machine. But today, we were reminded that as far as film industry festivals go, Berlinale has to rank as one of the more tactical. The jury led by Mike Leigh awarded the Hungarian Bence Fliegauf’s Csak a szél (Just the Wind) a Silver Bear, in some attempt to steer European consciousness towards some meaningful defense of human rights and dignity.

We had just gone the day before to see Bela Tarr and Bence F. presenting “Magyarorszag 2011″, 11 shorts by Hungarian directors, to address the dire situation of Hungary ( and it’s cultural institutions under seige ) under the miasmic rule of Victor Orban and his neo-lib implanted cronies. Aside from the realworld implications of this, we were informed during the Q+A that apparently Hungary’s National Film Board and its public funds have been handed over to a man who produces Rambo and Terminator films. But what these kinds of changes means for human lives ( especially in regards to Roma citizens ) on a day-to-day basis is far far uglier than what goes on in the film business, as we got a provocative glimpse of in the shorts.

And the truth is, and as Bela Tarr openly divulged when he said he doesn’t believe anymore in film changing the world, festivals and the much-touted and bankrolled artworlds do not have all that much new to offer humanity as tools and resource to reconstruct a civil society after so much hyper-capitalist disease ravages the body politic. They, the film worlds, are generally still so caught up in keeping the viral star games thriving, and keeping the faith in the shiny “avatar-celeb-systems” alive.

And Yet there are all sorts of nourishing energies to be found inbetween the screen-lines. One example being the concept behind The Talent Campus. One of the best programs in the brief history of commercial film festivals for nurturing emerging artists (and media ninjas) to evolve… and perhaps keep pace with today’s social challenges.

But even here, there’s so much that needs upgrading if we take for real the epic crossroads humanity faces at this point in time. Perhaps one small anecdote will reveal the systemic problems and what’s at stake.

This year Riyuchi Sakamoto was the artist to lead the Campus Composers competition, and one of the guests to be honored at the HAU1 Theater for his unusual career in film and music. Sakamoto is not your average star material; he is a veteran explorer, who might one moment take on some epic art film soundtrack, and dive into the experimental underground compositions the next. But what is less known is that since the nineties he has been prone to take on eco-activist causes.

And this year he got involved in Funahashi Atsushi’s “Nuclear Nation” documentary, which focuses on the refugees of Futaba, the community which was home to the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant. A town which was flattened by the tsunami; And what is as yet still not officially acknowledged, rendered uninhabitable for … a THOUSAND years !!?

The oddest thing about this Berlinale environment + the Talent Campus business, is that this was hardly discussed, as Riyuchi was led by Peter Cowie (and a dulled audience)  into reminiscing about his historical collaborations with other film art celebrities, from David Bowie, Oshima, Peter O’Toole, Bertolucci, etc.

Let’s face it, when we’re talking about one of the world’s largest metropolises sitting on the edge of a new ( and far worse ) Chernobyl, should anyone really care about the charming and quaint conversations with producer Jeremy Thomas about film arts !!? Wouldn’t it be a priority to hear what an intelligent, sensitive and socially-conscious Tokyo native thinks about the future of Japan hanging at the very edge of the nuclear precipice ??! *


{ still from Just The Wind }

But exactly this cultural infantilism is what an educational arts campus should begin to remedy ! But it is not clear at all that it is up to the task !

Couldn’t a Talent Campus begin to make this shift to a tactical platform, to a convergence of awaking talents for brainstorming planetary solutions…  collectively… to begin playing For Real ?!! And whenever possible, to play outside the rules of the entertainment industry ?!!

Xtra Notes:

* He needed a little prodding, but when asked about Fukishima and the rising activism in Japan,  Sakamoto quoted Adorno at the Berlinale Talent campus: ” To write a poem after Auschwitz is barbaric … and i think to remain silent after Fukushima is barabaric. “

(An XLterrestrial analyst said: ” We got some very interesting lo-budget, DIY docs about Fukushima this year for the grassroots Globale Festival, revealing a rising consciousness + Finally a protest movement building momentum in Japan. Do you think that there might be an opportunity to shift from the highly escapist arts/culture in japan to confronting urgent social issues ?”  … the above was a part of his response.)

( Bertolucci wasn’t really that much of a topic at HAU that night, but we need to rant … )

After having seen Bertolucci’s embarassingly disengaged take, if not outright betrayal, of France’s “orgasm of history” (Rene Vienet) in 1968, with his film called The Dreamers (2003), at a DIY Freiluft Kino in Neukoelln screening last summer, we must protest any festival’s uncritical fawning over this ridiculous poser Marxist, which was a little too much to bear, given the contexts we depict above. And given that, in the year of its making in 2002/2003, a bloodbath was just beginning in the Middle East, and the Berlusconi-Sarkozy-Bush brands of empire were all on the rise. Do we really have time to endure a cowardly fart’s self-indulgent erotic distractions (bordering on historic revisionism) ?! Passionate and wild students in 1968-Paris believed it was time to set another course, and Bertolucci honors them by making a dreamy nostalgic hard-on for a menage a trois and brother-sister incest.  Fuck off, Spectacle-maker !

And finally some rough sketched constructive bits, with an eye for Campus / Education upgrades:

1. Look, we don’t wish to show any extreme disrespect to a hard-working Peter Cowie, but if he can’t engage on this level, and in political realms, he should really step aside ! Perhaps he has some skills and film history knowledge that is of value in some other format, but Talent Campus really needs some people to wake us ALL up, to push those borders, to go where the film arts needs to get tactical, to unveil all the exploitation and BS-sides of the entertainment industry, and to move against the grain.

2. The most useful thing we can do with celebrity energy + presence in these contexts is to get them behind some serious emerging talents, who are taking real risks, like in the case of the film Nuclear Nation + Sakamoto ( which by the way had nothing to do with Talent Campus, but as Funahashi said later at HAU2 , because  he had already met the composer before in New York ). Connecting the makers with the resources that connected celebrities have access to.

3. A Real Campus needs to be a No-Go zone for vapid celebrity schmooze fests, and corporate advertisers as much as possible.

4. For many years now, the complex topic is not about the production of important films, but about how to make media relevant again in an age of information overload, how to go beyond information uploads and downloads, and how to find more ways to transform the making ( and /or the sharing films, and nicht glotzen ) of film into a -political- action itself (from the ol’ Godard).

to be cont.

One Response to “A 2012 Berlinale Spectacle Machine Round-up, and an eye for Talent Campus Reality Upgrades”

  1. pod Says:

    hmm, comments were accidentally closed. If you have any … feel free…. and if you have any constructive tips for radicalizing a “Talent Campus” … ??