Cinema Futures (2016)

Cinema Futures
Director: Michael Palm
Writer: Michael Palm
Seen on: 15.5.2017

“Plot”:
In this documentary, Palm tackles the question of analogue versus digital filmmaking, interviewing experts in archiving and technology as well as filmmakers and artists like Martin ScorseseChristopher NolanApichatpong Weerasethakul and Tacita Dean.

Personally, I’m a fan of digital film and I never really understood why people get so obsessed with analogue film. After having seen this documentary, I still don’t really understand it, but nevertheless, it allowed me to consider new aspects about the issue.

Film being such a young artform, the question of archiving is only just becoming virulent – especially since so much film is produced by now. What do you keep? How do you store it? How can you make sure that there’s no disintegration? How can you make sure that the form it’s stored in remains readable/playable/viewable? Those are important questions that only appear easy to answer on the surface level. And Palm devotes them a lot of time in his film.

The documentary does lack a bit of structure or a red thread, at times becoming a little jumpy. What feels consistently present throughout the film, though, is a certain nostalgia for analogue film. This is especially apparent when it comes to the artists interviewed who are all in favor of shooting on film, not digitally. What is lacking, though, is an explanation: what makes analogue film so superior? The only one who gives actual arguments in that regard is Tacita Dean who states that the physicality of the material makes a difference in both the production process and the endproduct. That I can understand.

Unfortunately – but not very surprisingly, given the lack of women in the film in general and the fact that most women interviewed are not interviewed as experts – Dean doesn’t get a lot of attention in the film. And so the question of why not working digitally (since archiving is complicated for both digital and analogue films) remains unsatisfactorily answered. Since it lies at the heart of the film, that is a pity.

The film also has lengths that make it a little tiring. Since there is a lot of interesting stuff in it in any case, I do recommend watching it – but maybe at home where you can take little breaks when things become too long.

Summarizing: Flawed, but interesting.

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