Day 8 started with news of the death of Cuban filmmaker Julio García Espinosa whose 'For An Imperfect Cinema' is an essay I always loved. I remembered, re-reading it, how beautiful it is, how passionate and searching. For example:
"Imperfect cinema finds a new audience in those who struggle, and it finds its themes in their problems. For imperfect cinema, "lucid" people are the ones who think and feel and exist in a world which they can change. In spite of all the problems and difficulties, they are convinced that they can transform it in a revolutionary way. Imperfect cinema therefore has no need to struggle to create an "audience." On the contrary, it can be said that at present a greater audience exists for this kind of cinema than there are filmmakers able to supply that audience."
Part of Espinosa's text talks about film education as elitist and anti-democratic and this is something that despite it being my job I battle with. Particularly at the institution where I work and not helped by a re-ignition of the awareness of how much more is learned in the actual doing of it all. However, on the whole I feel that this filmmaker in residence pilot project is informed by the ideas of Espinosa and John Cassavetes, whose influence weighs heavy. I feel this not only in the content and aesthetics of Wilderness but in the almost stubborn belief I have had in this project as a way of creating opportunity for those who would not normally have it and also in creating a new way of making feature films that can exist outside formal industry structures and as such revel in a freedom of approach in terms of storytelling that doesn't have to conform. Time will tell on that score.
The dust is still settling on the project's production phase which is the key phase in terms of the investment and the potential legacy. From the student experiences that have been collected informally and through the project's blog it seems clear that the experience has been uniformly positive with a wide array of learning taking place. What has been most pleasing is how many students not only learned from the project but understood the unique opportunity they were being afforded. Most didn't take it for granted. Some definitely didn't make the most of the opportunity, choosing to ignore guidance and information that was being passed on and not paying attention to the entire culture and practice of a professional set but thankfully they were in the minority. Overall it was a really positive experience for me. It was great to spend nearly two weeks with a big group of students and for there to be relatively little ego or irresponsible emotion. It was a really nice group of people to work with, who worked hard and were fun to be around.