16 October 2014 19:00, Cinematek Brussels, in collaboration with Le P’tit Ciné. Loredana Bianconi in conversation with Stoffel Debuysere, preceded by a screening of Devenir (2004, video, color, French spoken, English subs, 80’)
“Je vais surtout vers les sujets muets – ou réduits au silence – de l’histoire. J’essaye d’écouter sans juger et de comprendre. Je me rends ouverte et disponible à la parole de l’autre pour alerter la mémoire, provoquer des réactions, des réflexions. C’est ma démarche militante.”
So many horizons have been closed down, so many dreams are being denied. In this era of consensus, with its effacing of public space and political inventiveness, the end of class struggle might be loudly trumpeted, but the gravediggers are still here, in the grip of austerity and redundancy, in the anonymity and invisibility of suburban sweatshops and overcrowded slums. They are, it is said, those left behind by progression and expansion, those who have been unable to pick the fruits of growth that have been offered by the dominant order, those who are unfortunate enough to be caught up in its crisis and find themselves having to pay for its cure. And the only remedy available, it is said, is an extension of what is on offer, that which has come to feel so natural that we are unable to imagine something different. The realpoliitk of the everyday no longer holds a place for erratic digressions or foolish utopias, which are anyway always, so history has ostensibly taught us, bound to collapse into cruel nightmares. By all appearances, “change” now means “adapt”, just like “revolt” means “consume”. Closed horizons, tilted dreams: this is the emotional landscape that is evoked in Devenir, a landscape alive with memories of hope and belonging that are put to the test of time, and capacities of resolve and commitment that are put to the test of experience. Just like in Do You Remember Revolution (1997, at show 18/10), a portrait of four former members of the Italian Red Brigades, Loredana Bianconi tries to re-engage with questions of rebellion and solidarity, in search of intensities and sensibilities that might still resonate today. How to go beyond the melancholic musings of lost futures and the nihilistic tendencies of our present? In Devenir, the account of a 45 year old woman looking for work tunes in to the state of predicament that is our own, the story of one opens out over the story of many, the intimate gives on to the political. What is proposed is not a sociological treatise nor a political pamphlet, but a sensible world that is reminiscent of all the struggles of everyday living, those countless “small epics” that bloom in the shade of great historical events, but at the same time can never be fully separated from them. And what is incited is not a sentiment of defeat, but rather a call for courage for all those who, like Bertold Brecht’s ‘Pirate Jenny’ whose words close the film, might not know where they are heading, but at least know they can’t stay in place.
In this Dissent! session we will discuss the work of Loredana Bianconi and more particularly the search to negotiate the tension between images that speak and words that make them speak, which is the subject of the film series ‘Donner de la voix (off)’ (16.10 – 30.11), an initiative of Le P’tit Ciné. Loredana Bianconi’s Do You Remember Revolution will be shown at Rideau de Bruxelles on 18 October, in connection with the premiere of the performance piece L’Embrasement.
How can the relation between cinema and politics be thought today? Between a cinema of politics and a politics of cinema, between politics as subject and as practice, between form and content? From Vertov’s cinematographic communism to the Dardenne brothers’ social realism, from Straub-Huillet’s Brechtian dialectics to the aesthetic-emancipatory figures of Pedro Costa, from Guy Debord’s radical anti-cinema to the mainstream pamphlets of Oliver Stone, the quest for cinematographic representations of political resistance has taken many different forms and strategies over the course of a century. The multiple choices and pathways that have gradually been adopted, constantly clash with the relationship between theory and practice, representation and action, awareness and mobilization, experience and change. Is cinema today regaining some of its old forces and promises? Are we once again confronted with the questions that Serge Daney asked a few decades ago? As the French film critic wrote: “How can political statements be presented cinematographically? And how can they be made positive?”. These issues are central in a series of conversations in which contemporary perspectives on the relationship between cinema and politics are explored.