Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

26 October, 2009

How We Are Watching Foreign Films

Today I found a blog post called "Wisconsin Book Festival v. Film Festival" which was remarkably ill-informed, littered with unfair comparisons, and, generally speaking, ridiculous.

The author, a gentleman named Chris, compares to the two festivals and pronounces the former to be superior.

How much for this literary escape? $2 for parking. The event was free. And that’s what I love about the Wisconsin Book Festival. I’ve seen great authors and gotten introduced to some great regional literature. And it’s all free.

That’s in direct opposition to the other big annual arts festival in Madison, the Wisconsin Film Festival. I also enjoy the WFF, but the events charge. I know films are more expensive products and may have to charge to make up for the expense, but I don’t get that. The book festival brings the authors in front of you (unless they’re dead). I’ve never seen a filmmaker or actor (Though, I’m told a few are there.).

Read this line again: "I know films are more expensive products and may have to charge to make up for the expense, but I don’t get that." What part of "more expensive" is so elusive of comprehension, Mr. Chris? What a whiner. Sorry, Chief, but the world doesn't owe you free festivals.

Just because you've never seen a filmmaker or actor at the film festival doesn't mean that they don't appear. Here's my review of one such occasion and here's another.

But perhaps the most ridiculous claim is this:

A good portion of their programming this past year was foreign, and most of the films were at least imports into the Midwest. I’m not a big believer in bringing the world to someone’s doorstep. Travel costs have dropped thanks to the great recession, and people who want to see the world should do it first hand.

If you believe that this recession means that everyone is able to afford to take months off from work and travel the globe, then you are an idiot. Perhaps Chris is independently wealthy but many people aren't. Most of us can't throw the kids in cryogenic suspension for a few months as we trot the globe spending tens of thousands of dollars. Some of us have to work for a living, support children, and are finding our salaries being slashed and/or being forced to go on furloughs. Does he think the only thing the recession is affecting is the airline industry and that everyone else is enjoying the riches of Croesus? If experiencing something for yourself instead of via art is so important to Chris, then why his hard-on for the local and regional at the book festival? It's is a thousand times easier to experience these things for oneself considering their proximity so why is he choosing to experience regional art in a lecture hall when he can jump in a car or on a bus and go experience it for himself?

In addition, the idea that watching foreign films is simply about having the world "brought to your doorstep" is ridiculous. People watch foreign films for many of the same reasons they watch domestic films. For example, to enjoy a good story. Does Chris think all the foreign films at the festival are just the equivalent of National Geographic specials? Watching a film like Los cronocrímenes (Time Crimes) as I did a couple years ago at the fest can be no more an act of cultural anthropology than watching a Transformers movie.

Sure, viewers might be able to glean a bit about a foreign land from watching films produced abroad, but I'm sure most folks would love to be able to head to every country that has a film shown at the festival. This just isn't possible except in Chris' la-la land where people are able to discharge their responsibilities on a whim and can travel at will in a deep recession.

Chris needs to take a class on aesthetics.
|| Palmer, 11:19 AM


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