Sunday, October 25, 2009

WINGED DISTANCE / SIGHTLESS MEASURE: ROBERT BEAVERS ON….

It's difficult not to associate Robert Beavers's creative sensibility with Greece, not only the ochre-toned landscapes of the films he constructed on his rocky and beloved island Hydra, but the pantheonic influence of its ancient capricious gods. Apollo is there, of course, soteriologically dispensing and relieving disease and angling in on rays of light to focus affection or affliction on the skin of men. Eros is there holding the world’s molecular manifestation together through the binding gravity of desire and tactility. And Narcissus in a glade of echoes and shadows indulges his penchant for self-reflexivity. Yet, somehow the mythic personage I most associate with Beavers—especially with regard to his public presentations—is that of the purposely elusive Proteus.

When P. Adams Sitney writes in
Eyes Upside Down: Visionary Filmmakers and the Heritage of Emerson (Oxford University Press, 2008:351) that "the filmmaker has taken pains to avoid so literal an interpretation", I smile to myself not so much for the comment's specificity, as for its conjuration of the essential mytheme of Proteus: that he can foretell the future, but will change his shape to avoid having to do so; answering only to someone who is capable of capturing him.

Faced with the broken statue of Apollo, Rainer Maria Rilke concluded: "You must change your life." Commensurately, to grasp Robert Beavers' answers, you must be awake and attentive and prepared to change your life.

Anaïs Nin once wrote that writing allows an individual to savor life twice. This is undoubtedly the manic impulse behind my compulsive transcriptions of film events. Especially with regard to Robert Beavers, transcribing the many Q&A sessions conducted during his two-week residency in the San Francisco Bay Area has afforded the opportunity to track how frequently (if not skillfully) Beavers slips away from the grasp of a spectator's literal question by responding indirectly, often elliptically. Direct answers would nowhere near the mutable, flexible, adaptable and versatile truths offered by his indirect responses that feel to be just beyond your grasp. There is a profound and—referencing yet one more Greek—tantalizing wisdom to his indirection.

Like the strong-shouldered stonemason with his red chisel shaping the stones to build a wall, this entry has been cobbled together from Robert Beavers's generous encounters with his audiences during the two-week period (October 8-20, 2009) in which his films were shown at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the Pacific Film Archive, in partnership with the San Francisco Cinematheque. I’ve tried to somewhat follow the intended chronology of the films. Where similar questions elicited slightly dissimilar responses, I have conflated same for clarity. Mine is not a construction fixed with mortar but more of a xerolithye in the Greek countryside: a wall constructed from piling stones upon each other. Feel free to carry a stone away for your own construction.

On the Films That Influenced Him
To Become A Filmmaker

[San Francisco Cinematheque Executive Director Jonathan Marlow mentioned that it had been somewhat disorienting to see Robert Beavers in one of Tom Chomont’s early films, to which Beavers wryly quipped that it would have been disorienting for him as well. He confirmed that Chomont’s film, along with Gregory Markopoulos’s Eros O Basileus—another film in which he was the featured subject—were both made during his late teens in New York.]

It was these New York filmmakers who made me a filmmaker. I grew up watching films on television and—because of my generation—in the small town south of Boston where I lived, we still had five cinemas when I was a child. I went to the cinema two or three times a week and saw first runs of Douglas Sirk’s films; they impressed me. But those classic American films would never have made me a filmmaker. It was Markopoulos and silent films that made me a filmmaker.

During that period in New York when I had the opportunity to see films at the Museum of Modern Art and the Cinematheque, they were showing a lot of silent films. For instance, I saw—almost immediately after my arrival in New York—a retrospective of Fritz Lang's silent films at the Filmmaker's Cinematheque. That impressed me greatly because I had never seen what appeared to be such a slow film as Die Nibelungen: Siegfried and Kriemhild's Revenge. It awakened me. It's a kind of threshold. You wonder, "What is it?" It gives you time to think. Those films were really important, as were Abel Gance, and of course Dreyer and Stroheim. That experience of silent film has stayed with me. I am a filmmaker because of the so-called New American Cinema and silent film.

Also, there were the repertory houses that existed in New York at that time, such as the Bleecker Street Cinema, which I went to most frequently and which was owned by the documentary filmmaker Lionel Rogosin; he kept it going. I looked carefully and was going to cinematheques often for a certain number of years then somehow I reached a point where—because I was moving so much—it wasn't possible. But in Brussels they had great films and I had the opportunity during one month to see all the films of Mizoguchi.

On First Encountering Greece

So many responses and developments are unconscious. Basically, there was a euphoria in encountering Greece. I still think of Greece as the country with the nature most suitable for youth. It was, of course, a wonderful piece of good luck.

On the European Avant-Garde Scene

There was a lot of 16mm work in England, Germany, even Italy and Austria, and France also (though I was not as aware of it). I remember in 1968 I went to a European meeting of about 300 filmmakers in Munich.

[P. Adams Sitney recalled that 1968 was, in fact, the high point of the European avant-garde film movement: "It was enthusiastic and at its most optimistic. There was a sense that something enormous was about to happen. Historically, this happens every now and then; but, it takes the very persistent, those willing to starve, to keep it going after a couple of years. There were filmmaker cooperatives in virtually every capital of Europe but they collapsed after a couple of years."]

On Using Framing Masks As a Focusing Device

All of my early films use a series of different spaces, which are created by the camera. For color, I am using the space between the film and the lens. In other words, I am actually placing color inside the camera and this has a particular organic quality. It breathes in a special way because it is not in front of the lens. It is behind the lens and in front of the aperture. I use this very narrow space and place a compendium in front of the camera. A compendium is a small box, almost like a theater space, a mini-theater in front of the lens. The compendium is where these masking shapes are being placed. I use two parts of the compendium, the front and the back. So within this space you have the camera, the filter slot for some colors, in front of the camera the compendium box, and both the mattes and other filters in this box. As a young filmmaker, I was crazy for all these different spaces between the filmmaker and the figures who were in the films or the locations. The movement of the focus back and forth with a voice, for instance, suggests something of the breathing of focus, and the breathing of the voice.

This could all be sustained only as long as I felt connected to it; but, there is a danger in this playfulness. As I watch the films now, I think, "What are the qualities?" The qualities are a young filmmaker's fascination with technique, his intellect, and the confusion of psyche and eroticism, all of these together as a unity. Then there's the searching for order through the filmmaking. All of that has a strength as long as it does not become a manner. That's why From the Notebook Of… is almost the last time, for instance, that I use filters. I am returning to filters a little bit in my present filmmaking; but, I found at a certain point you have to stop some things; you can’t continue with everything. It’s important to know what still has a life.

On the Rectangular Mask in Still Light

This is balanced between formal and psychological concerns. Of course, in Diminished Frame it has a different meaning than it does in relation to the face in Still Light. If the rectangular mask is in front of a view of a city, it has a more architectural connection in some ways. It's always playing with the film frame itself and in certain moments, minimally, just beginning to think about a placement of sound. Often in this period—which may be a little overdone—I was interested in a sense of breath in focus. In this square in the middle of the frame, this is more active perhaps.

On Finding the Rhythm to Editing

When I think of rhythm, I think that the rhythm is already germinating in the filming. Or rather, that there is one part of the rhythm that is created in the filming—whether it’s the turning of the lens or the camera movements or whatever elements are done during the filming—these create a rhythm, which is then defined more carefully when it’s combined with other elements. Finding the rhythm is a process that begins at the onset of filming and—because in recent years I'm filming over longer periods—it means I'm also considering making decisions during the filming and seeing parts of the filming as I continue, then reaching a certain point when I know that the film that I have is completed. Then I either decide to edit or to leave the material until I know how to edit it. But when I'm editing, I’m already usually thinking about sound or have already recorded sound. I do tend to edit the image first. Except there is one film where the sound came first; a film in two parts in which the sounds I created for the first part then generated the images of the second part. But in most instances I edit the image first. On some occasions I have re-edited the sound and then re-edit the image after I've approached the sound. It's back and forth.

On Improvised Composition

[A young woman commented that Beavers’ films felt like improvised music; even as she was aware that his films were tightly structured and measured.]

It's both. First of all, I have been editing since I was 16 years old. It's something that gives me a lot of pleasure, even when it's difficult. Someone asked me the other night about the rhythm in my editing and I said the rhythm begins in the filming. And I am quite improvisational in my filming. Really. You would be surprised. Compared to what you are seeing. My editing creates certain qualities which do not suggest that. The rhythm is already evolving in the filming. When I am looking at my rushes—so-called rushes—I'm looking at my footage and I am editing by remembering the image and looking at one frame of it; but, I'm not using an editing table where I would be seeing the moving image. I am editing by hand with rewinds and I am checking sometimes. I will put what I have taped together through a projector but I am also editing by my developed physical sense of the length, which is not the same thing as the time of seeing the image. That's a kind of speculative element, a chance element also, or I’m relying on what I know.

On Where Chance Enters His Edited Constructions

There is a great deal of chance to what I'm doing. I can try to sum it up by saying that I leave almost everything open until the film is completed. Somehow, From the Notebook Of… shows you how I make films. For instance, there is a notebook for every film that I have made. It begins with some notes that are made before I begin filming and it continues until the film is finished. Then there happens to also be a notebook when I re-edit it. These notes serve a number of purposes. They allow me to think through, to speculate, and they allow me to hold the continuity of what I am doing. Those are the two purposes. Because I am leaving the final form of the film until it is finished and allow myself to develop any possible new element while I am in the process of making the film, that is the chance. You don't see that in the surface of the film because that's my choice; that's the kind of filmmaker I am. It's my background that I want to create a form that I think will go into the future. This is the way I do it. Other filmmakers, other artists, would have other means to think about this; but, this is how I have done it.

While I am looking at my films—because this is an occasion for me to reflect and, at this particular moment, to bring the films into connection with what I am holding up—for me, that is interesting; but, I see in almost each film (or I hope I'm seeing this) that I am taking a step forward and taking a step backward at the same time in different ways and on different levels. Sometimes it is a formal step forward whereas the step backward is in content. I’ve known this for a long time. It used to be that in these years I would often make two films in a year. In each of those films there was a repetition in the first one and something new in the second, but still using something from the earlier one.

There is a constellation of concerns that have fed me almost since the beginning of my filmmaking to the present. For instance, there were a couple of notes in From the Notebook Of… where I thought, "My goodness. That's what I've written in the notebook that I'm writing right now" and one of those is shadows. I have always been fascinated by the richness of light and shadow and the idea of moving between constant points. In one way, I'm not a great traveler; I am circling between a certain number of fixed points. Of course, the relation to Greece is constant and other points are coming out and become more at certain points and certain times. But it's all being seen with the same eye.

You've probably had this experience yourself if you've gone to a museum and suddenly a painter allows you to see something that you've never seen and then you walk out of the museum and suddenly you're seeing everything with that eye that he or she has given you. That's a wonderful thing.

On How He Felt Returning To the Films
To Edit Them For the Cycle

It varied. It was interesting on a number of levels. I felt that with this kind of filmmaking—filmmakers whose work is being self-produced—they have this possibility to go back to a film that they've made and decide, perhaps, something could be done better. I was urged by what I had seen in my early work that it could not be seen the way it was. The films were too long. The sound was very much that of a younger filmmaker, an aggressive sound. I had the possibility to go back to my earlier films and work on them, which film directors in other areas of film wouldn't be able to do. I took the time. I took 10 years to work on the sound of these feature films. During that period, I didn't film much because I was so involved with re-editing the earlier films. This re-editing also freed me from all the lengths. Some of the early films I reduced to one third of their original length.

On the other side, an early work has an energy from the filmmaker at a certain age and I hope that in most cases I didn't damage that. In some cases, I looked at the early version, then looked at the late version, and—even though it was one third the length—it was somehow the same! All of those things I learned in the process of this re-edit. I drifted into it actually. I began by doing one or two films and that led to my having to work on the third. But now it's done. Now I'm finished. All of the early versions, however, are in certain archives where they are protected.

[P. Adams Sitney has suggested we might "read 'chance', as so many American artists have, as a near synonym for its apparent opposite, Necessity." (2008:360)]

On the Unity of Human Beings

I had read a short text by poet William Butler Yeats and he was describing how he was in the audience at a political gathering. He listened to the people who were speaking and he wrote that they said everything that he would have said. This idea of the basic unity of human beings, that we experience—I don't know, what should I say?—98%, or at least 90% somehow the same; this was a diametrical change in my filmmaking because all of my earlier work was based on the opposite. There is a central figure in many of my early films which is an isolated figure.

Having looked very carefully at paintings in Florence, somehow there's a connection between the seriousness of what the image can represent, and what it can contain at this level, within this idea of the unity of human beings. That's the basis. And the object. I had edited all of the early films by measuring numbers. It was like composing a musical score in which I balanced the numbers. Superimposed images and phrases were all measured very carefully, very quickly. With this reverse thought, I tried to film each object thinking through the editing while I was filming, choosing the image and thinking of the image from one to the next.

On The Count of Days and Palinode

The context is different because it is Zurich for both films and I am encountering a different social and psychological geography than in Greece or Brussels. Again, the abstraction is developing in relation to isolated individuals so there are these two levels: an isolated individual at the center of the film—in one case a writer, in the other an elderly singer. There is this curious relation between the way I try to represent the psyche of these individuals and the abstraction of color and other elements in the film.

On the Critic in Still Light

Filming Nigel Gosling in Still Light is probably one of the few times I’ve filmed someone who represents the critical archetype. However, my filming of the singer also has some of this to a smaller degree. I did film Gosling in opposition, but only on one level. I was probably more engaged with the idea of placing my images in the corners of his room. This was also the only time I expressed my fascination with re-filming projection, up until the film that I'm working on right now. But it really was a youthful reaction to a different environment. I was fascinated in my first visit to London by such a person and he really was good-humored, actually making fun of himself in a way. All he said at the time was, "I should have brushed my hair differently." His inclusion in Still Light is really a youthful response to such a personality. Still, there are points he is making that have an interest.

Also, to create a different perspective. I have always been so frontal, in Diminished Frame, in Palinode, and in Still Light, very central and frontal in composition and suddenly I thought, "Yes, but for the critic I will go into the corners as opposed to frontal and use this perspective with the corner that has fascinated me also. This corner idea and the critic has some interest to it."

On From the Notebook Of…, Ruskin,
and The Hedge Theater

All three films have a source of inspiration which involves three individuals who are, for me, very important sources. That would be the Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci for the first film; [John Ruskin's] The Stones of Venice and a second book Unto This Last for Ruskin's thoughts; and then the architect [Francesco] Borromini for the third film.

The Stones of Venice was given to me as a very young student by an elderly woman who was important in my life. She must have given me an edition that was given to her, perhaps, by her parents. I had this book from her and, at a certain point, I read it. It's curious because—in that particular case—I followed very carefully locations that he mentions in the book. I even followed drawings that he did; the watercolors that he did to illustrate it. The edition that was given to me was illustrated by his own illustrations. The black and white in the film comes from seeing these illustrations. Ruskin was an early photographer also so I thought I would try to relate the quality of the filming to the period in which he was in Venice and to that period of photography.

Then I chose something which is a little more difficult. I filmed in color at times of the day that you're not supposed to film in color: very early in the morning and towards dusk. Then the processes of film added something also, meaning that film ages and so forth. Developing also. You're always at the mercy of the laboratory that develops your material. With film, everything is so precarious. Ruskin was restored by a film lab in New York. They helped to make it possible. I paid for half and they covered the other half.

On Meeting Ernie Gehr

After I made From the Notebook Of… and The Painting, I went to New York in 1972 and I met Ernie Gehr. We walked around New York for hours and hours after I had shown him Notebook and he had shown me Reverberation (1969). Coming from these different directions—he from the non-editing school at that time, and I from the editing—we still became friends.

On Perceptions of Violence in Work Done

There are two groups of people in how they react to Work Done. One is the spectator who finds that it is violent and the others are the ones who don't and who find it more about the processes of making. There is a quality of what I'm doing—also maybe even in the way the book is moved from vertical to horizontal—that's a certain psychic element of violence and strength that I am dealing with within myself. When I am making the film, however, I am not thinking of violence.

On How Ruskin Moves Away From
From the Notebook Of….

To move away from, yes. And of course I didn't use filters in Ruskin and I'm showing much more of the text that I'm actually following and reading, of the book that I'm not showing. In From the Notebook Of… I'm involved much more with my own notes. In both films these are individual artists: one a very great artist and one a kind of prophetic critic and social reformer. I always had the idea that I would not make a film by trying to show these individuals directly, but to show my involvement with them. My films are a kind of homage to these people; but, I'm not trying to usurp what their body of work presents in its finest form. I'm simply trying to make use of what inspires me.

On The Role of the London Intersection in Ruskin

It's just one location in London. The film is built out of these three locations: the Venetian locations, the Alpine location, and this place in London. The text that is the foundation under the film is constantly making a parallel between what was modern London then and Venice. For me, I am using it as a point of chance. The movement of the traffic and the rhythm that I am creating by the movement of the lens is constantly a matter of chance and how much I am measuring these lengths of the traffic.

In The Painting, the original editing of that film was modular in the sense that I would choose a length for the image that came from the painting, and then I would make double the length of the traffic location. It's an exact measure. The painting is in the middle and the pieces of broken glass are the shortest units. It was one, two, three. Each time I chose a length for the painting, the glass was half of that and the traffic site was twice as long. When I re-edited, those measures are still there but they are not as strict. I added other elements. I added the footage from the room and I did not keep this order so strictly.

On Knowing When to End A Film

That's a challenge. For instance, in Pitcher of Colored Light I edited the image and then I showed it to someone and decided some points were not right so I eliminated five minutes after I thought the film was finished. I even took off the first image and then—when I was editing the sound—I had to stop the mixing of the sound with the editing because I realized that I needed one more sound before the next to last image. I stopped, went to where I was living, and recorded that sound. The patience that is necessary is a key element to know that—until the very last moment—one doesn’t know when one has to decide. One has to be capable of stopping until one knows. The general point of how long something should be is something I think about all the time and my way of thinking about that changes because that's one of the key questions for any filmmaker.

On Variations of Pattern

This is central. It has to do with music, but not modern music so much. When I think of the central question of pattern, repetition, and so forth, I think of Scarlatti and Handel or Mozart and how diametrically opposite results can be created. This is also true of film. It's such a subtle thing but film can very suddenly slide into its opposite. That answers the greater question I tried to answer of how to know the length of a film—this point of how much and when to stop?—in relation to these questions. In The Ground, for instance, the elements are limited. How do you express difference with the same elements? I'm thinking more in poetic terms than musical terms. Quite frankly, I'm thinking in cinematic terms, which have their own ways of developing because it has so much to do with light.

When I use the idea of the phrase, one very important element is color. There are moments in my films where the entire edited phrase is developed out of variations on the color. That is sometimes a key to the emotional value.

On Texture

I am constantly gaining nourishment from textures; but, not textures simply shown in themselves. I'm using textures to create rhymes and as one element that I'm bringing into relation with other elements; but, strong on sensuous qualities of the film image and sound, trying to keep these elements alive and inspired on that level, and then in relation to certain emotions. These emotions are kept close to the sensuous qualities. They are not being brought to the spectator in a dramatic way. I'm trying to stay as close as I can to these sensuous qualities in the medium.

On Inferred Autobiography In Sotiros

First of all, of course I am drawing from my own experience; but, I've always felt that I built the films from my own experience but didn't want to limit the emotions that I wanted to express through the images to biographical facts. That is why I tried to create a special voice in Sotiros, which is both an "I" and a "he" within—you could say—the same pronoun. The "he"—whether it's one or two—and this dialogue that I am creating, which is an unspoken dialogue, is both personal and impersonal. For myself, I have always been able to reach something that is more personal by keeping it impersonal.

Sotiros is one of a number of films that is dealing with a kind of secret language, which is also open. It's open but still there's a secret to it. That's what I wanted to touch in the film. I am still interested in and still searching for what the connections are between all the elements of the human psyche and not wanting to limit them. Even other points of what might have been called—and which is a very old-fashioned word—"fate"; an intuitive touching of this. That's what connects me to the Greek also; but, not only.

The entire development of the film and of my own life at that moment was touched upon hearing those fragments from Alban Berg's Wozzeck on the radio while I was editing. At all of those different levels I have tried to bring them into a form. When I watched the film again in San Francisco, I thought how the film elements that I'm trying to use to express and to hold the film together are so at an angle. Also the editing form: the curious movements where you have these static images and suddenly they move at the edges. This is all related. The power that is then given to this single image. At the same time, for instance, the blind man who is standing and begging or the fellow in the village who is perhaps drunk and dancing around: these are elements within this voice for the whole film.

On the Importance of Location for The Ground

It became important. Because it is the same location that you see in the very first short film Winged Dialogue. I began with a relation to death and asceticism. There were a number of sources for The Ground. When I am making a film, I take some notes. Sometimes I see something that interests me. For instance, there was an exhibition in Switzerland about asceticism and there was something about St. Jerome. I had always been fascinated by Da Vinci's one painting he did in the Vatican that's unfinished—it's a drawing—of St. Jerome. I must have seen that at a very early age. But in this exhibition there was also an unusual lithograph or drawing by the artist Redon of a centaur. The centaur is lying against some rocks looking at a cloud. It was so extraordinary to see this very large horse-man looking at a cloud. That's why I included the close-up of the cloud in my film and, perhaps also, the hooves.

There are two films I've made on that island Hydra. Also Still Light. When I was watching them, I was thinking this is still one of the places that I hold most dear.

On Working With His Mother For Pitcher of Colored Light

The film was made over a number of visits [to my mother's home]. Even though I edited the film as if you are seeing one cycle of the year, it was actually filmed over a number of years. The only time I was able to film was when I was in the States. I am very attached to the region that I grew up in. Of course, filming one's parent is a challenge. It's a very difficult thing to do. During the period when I was filming, I had burning questions about how to do it, what was appropriate, what was not. I must say my mother helped me simply by ignoring me, in the sense of finding it completely natural that I was there and not worrying about what I was doing. She pushed aside the fact that the film might be a public film. She actually has allergies so there are no animals living in the house; but, she is still living in the house. She's not seen the film because at this period she was actually losing her eyesight.

On Self-Distribution

"Self-distributing" is the reality of the present situation. It's complicated. It's the history of my involvement with Gregory Markopoulos, the removal of the films from distribution, and the vision of a place in which the films would be shown; that people should come to this place to see this work. Self-distributing is also a reaction or response to the position of the kind of filmmaker that I am and how to present the work in the way that I want it presented and how to develop the public for this work. It is the position of a filmmaker who is neither taking a direction that is developing now in an art context nor within a normal theatrical context. I am interested in developing the film-event as the best event for the moving image. What context or what form it will take, I am involved with. That's why—when it's described as self-distribution—it has a vision behind it and it also has to do with the fact that I've built up a small archive from which this work is being distributed. My vision towards the future is to see how this body of work will find its final home, where it will be, and how to bring it to a future generation. All of that is mixed together. It's a wonderful fact that the work is all together, complete with the documentation and papers for the work, and that it hasn't been crushed by commercial pressures. My vision is how to give this and that's what I'm still working on. The question also for me is technological support and how to create a balance between what can be done with other technology without harming my objective, which is the film-event.

On Presentation

For my kind of filmmaking and for the filmmakers who tend to work the way I do, we are not part of the more recent development in the art galleries and, of course, we are not part of the cinemas. That's quite clear. That has a possibility—if one has the strength to realize it—to create film-events that are as much in harmony with the film as possible; either the individual film or the body of work. This can be done in various ways; but, one existential choice by Markopoulos and myself was to create the site of Temenos in the Peloponnese. I must say this was Gregory's choice. It was combined with the idea to remove his work from everywhere else and to show it only at that site. That's a strong and decisive choice. It had to do also with his not printing the films he was making in the last 15 years of his life.

This location, and the screenings that have already taken place there—and which I hope will continue—I believe have a nourishing value in the sense that they can strengthen other individuals, perhaps not even just filmmakers but other creative individuals to be in such a location and to feel both the extraordinary nature and the clarity and serenity of the work, to draw from that possibilities for their own processes. This freedom that can exist also has to do with the fact that this location is cut off from the normal economic advanced world. In some way we are taking advantage of what still exists from an archaic society.

As I have continued and as I have tried to learn from my own existence and Markopoulos's very special personality and struggle, I saw that for this type of filmmaking there probably had to develop a unity between the filming, the preservation and restoration, the printing, and the event. This unity is what—within the concept of Temenos—has personal worth. When you believe in someone else's work and you want it to not be lost but to be realized, this is an added incentive. But of course that's only one side. There's also the other side of how complex everything is, how one moves into the future, and how so much is unpredictable, and how no one is here to fulfill the objectives that should be fulfilled by the individual himself. This extraordinary speculative development for film is a treasure for all of us. I hope to bring it to a point where it can be given into the future to the next generation.

Another point in this is how to not make it too exclusive? You could say this is an egotistical development and I don't want to stand there alone. We had 250 guests in 2008. There is the incredible obstacle that you have to pay for your travel; but, once you are there, once you reach the airport in Athens, there is practically no expense. In both events I organized, the governor of the region provided buses that transported participants from the airport to the host village, the village gave a wonderful banquet, and bed and board each day cost about 20 Euros.

On Temenos

The intention of Temenos was to create a place where the films in the archive Markopoulos was creating that had been intended at a certain point only to be shown at one site would be shown at that site and that people should travel to that site to see the work. It actually makes most sense for his final work, which was so long. The idea was linked to Greece because of the background of the films; but, also, my own idea was to build upon that intention. It's part of the same intention but my perspective on it is that such a location—and there are places in the United States that could be put to the same purpose—which is to remove people from the pressures they are under and to put them in a context which gives them strength through the film viewing. It could be specifically for young filmmakers or young artists but really it's for everyone. But in the case of young filmmakers or young artists, I was thinking—because I had visited some art schools—I know the kind of pressure they're under, partly from the family where the parents have a responsibility to think of how their child who wants to be an artist will live. By this, there is a pressure put on the young person.

I have thought that these kinds of projections in such a location, if you have this experience at a certain age, it has a great worth. I'm thinking of this in connection to my own experience, which was not to have this viewing experience but to live in a certain way and to have someone who said to me: "Just do the work and don't worry about the costs. They will be somehow finagled." It's important to have this kind of fanatic development or support. Obviously the San Francisco Cinematheque and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts are committed to this work and—without these very small groups—there would be no possibility because of the larger context and the larger institutions which do not have the commitment. We can find a place in larger institutions, but it is always somehow compromised. This is the balance that always has to be struck; but, it’s possible. So that's something about how the films were intended to be shown.

Even the event that I do in Greece, I have created an event which takes place once every four years and it is for three days, perhaps a little longer, and people come from great distances. In recent years they have seen the films I am printing of Markoupolos that were never printed in his lifetime. It's a wonderful occasion that brings a very special group of people together. They, of course, have a tremendous cost to travel but this location in the Peloponnese has extraordinary qualities and is still very poor. It's in the mountains. A room costs, maximum, $20; a meal, perhaps, $6. The projections are given free and the publication that we do is also given free.

2 comments:

Mitsos said...

Thank you for taking the time to transcribe all these comments! Highly appreciated...

Maya said...

You're most welcome, Mitsos. I trust some of these comments speak to you.