I can believe in anything, as long as it is incredible.
As if its originality and value were not reason enough to admire the Independent Film Show, there is also something else: the opportunity to experience the unexpected. A chance of enchantment, in a particular space, render it exemplary, ideal. Not passively seated before a picture, but getting into the heart of a work, passing through it with the sensation of falling inside a vision - we perceive the transits, we hear the whispers, we interrupt the silences, we undergo the perceptive shock of it all.
These are partial glimpses, yet ones also open to completeness, complex yet carefully articulated, energetic but also balanced: equal oxymorons. Loves, passions, ideas, sensations, desires. We live the experience in a magma of feeling, memory, the gaseous states of perception which enfold, orientate, direct.
Here, the cultural tensions which mark our existence flower. From the beginning they will leave happy trails, which with time consolidate themselves in the memory. Unconnected traces of the worlds in which we have moved will linger, yet our hypothesis remains, splinters of buildings and structures, works and objects. Tiles from exploded mosaics, glimmers of broken mirrors, frames of identifiable films. Possible words to decipher, details to trace back to their unknown contexts.
A dynamic which does not hide tensions, however, but rather productively tries to gain benefit from them. In building its ubi consistam, the Independent Film Show knows how to answer some needs, introducing different elements which have made them practical. As if it had worked, in a psychoanalytic sense, on movement and condensation: if the world is in pieces, it gives itself to seeing like this, provided that fragments appear like raw-plugs able to tidy, if reality stimulates senses, that excite them, provided that it can follow them at an accessible rhythm.
The pedagogic work of the film season IFS has educated us to a way of seeing formally, yet also to an overall understanding, in which analysis mixes with the sentimental and ideological content of those images. A kind of syncopated pathway, that which Einstein called the pathway of the eye: the alternation of points of view such as angle shots, width and particular rhythm, the extreme solicitation of the potential of the technology, which must be able to ensure flexibility and the ability to penetrate the critical eye in the depths of representation. Who follows films faces not reality but images which evoke it, the viewer re-elaborates, using his/her perception to put together the filmic stimuli and at the same time deliberately suspends her/his disbelief.
The nature of things is their birth, with certain times and certain guises.
The significance of Giambattista Vico’s New Science, which constantly drives the process of understanding (specifically figurative facts), for a poetics such as that of the Independent Film Show, where reality is history in a process of constant revelation, finds a useful materialisation of guises in their own times in experimental cinema. And the conception of time, which in its qualitative changeability is released by every determinism, modelling itself on Henri Bergson’s durée réelle, is in strong agreement with the malleability of filmic sequences.
It would hardly seem logical to reduce to words that which the annual Independent Film Show produces as a subject - our inveterate habit of proceeding per verba, as if faced with a written text, in which certain moments are synthesised, makes many critical intuitions appear much more clearly evident. The filmic texts of the Independent, on the other hand, bring this to light.
The basic idea is that the films which Raffaella Morra’s enthusiasm and talent leads her to show are manifestations of a visual language (graphic and figurative, like the verbal one), a language which can be not only word-expression but also word-concept-action, and takes on the function of an autonomous metalanguage, capable of the ability to interpret which is usually attributed to verbal communication. In this gymnastics of prose, the films, making the most of their own features of dynamic and rhythmic visuality, locate themselves as a critical occurrence of time on time which pertains to the organisation and formal reading of the surface of the figurative text, and also explains the historical genesis of the creative act, an act drawn on and included, only unravelling as a process to be followed in its articulation: connections and manifestations of artistic doing.
That there are many trends in the practice of experimental film-making is known. For the organic connection with the general conception of visual language and for the awareness of the possibilities offered by the cinematographic medium, this is original, cryptic, and complex. Moving from dramatisation or narrativisation, to the creative act which makes a film the pretext for an aesthetically autonomous work, to the possibility of using the cine camera to isolate details and get much closer to them, as a way of working with pure visibility in the psychological and formalist variants.
But what does the specific quality of this seventh art consist of? In the speed of the sequence of images? Not exclusively, claims Thomas Draschan, but in the impossibility of sufficiently following the level of artistic representation, this elusive quality lies in the process of intellectual appropriation and the way the material is interiorised. This is similar to the point of view expressed by Fred Camper, a question of light in time, meaningful spaces, frame after frame, expressive and unique, in which the iconic can even reach a certain state of pseudo-narration. For Xavier Garcia Bardon, present at the fourth and fifth IFS, they are “…improvised forms, secret correspondences, ludic approaches, personal reinventions of the machinery: the parallel history of experimental cinema is that of the free forms projected here...”. It is a cyclical story of highs and lows, as Katia Rossini has written, the experimental cinema is above all a state of mind which can be true only to itself, motivated by personal choices, not imposed by fashion or standardised canons. The possibilities are infinite, from the use of the painted film, essential for Peter Kubelka, to the pioneers of found footage Gianikian and Ricci Lucchi, to expanded cinema, right up to the digital.
What is the secret of this seventh art? What is the secret of its force of attraction? It is necessary to look for this secret, I think, in that special capacity of cinema to represent solitude.
Those of us who know the alphabet marks of the Independent Film Show know what joys and pressures are closed in this toning of colour, a sad dissolution, a bitter silence, a white noise, between the edges of an incessant whisper: that which first appears a mere tautology is instead the result of a revelation, of an authentic experiential shock. The exact opposite of the distracted, ordinary glance which is content to stay in surfaces. Spectators without a safety net, we find ourselves immersed in the landscape we scrutinise, we share its destiny, settle up with the embarrassment of the vastness of the external world which loses its weight, space, time, its causality and re-covers itself with the forms of our conscience.
We observe these films and continue to touch the real, which allows itself to be transformed into something other, slipping away, melting between our fingers. We fix the films, we keep a relationship with the world and reflect on our loss. We hold the real, and in the same moment our directorial eye leaves the horizon of our experience and disappears.
What sticks out from these evanescent, radiant images is precisely their splendour and its dismissal, the exaltation and the privation. That is, gripping onto something and losing it, conquest and disappearance, in a game which realises itself before our eyes and in which, in the discomfort of an amber solitude, we are taken.
A delicious game. Reserved for only a few.