Second part of the interview of Vanessa Lien F. Bianchi. Here she talks more about cinema and the future, how we can find a new market and also how we can support independent filmmakers. Kindly click here for the first part.
People especially in Kerala are debating about political correctness now. Since film is a medium that influences the society deeply, films should be politically correct in all sense. What do you think?
Well, in a way, I already answered 😉 My first priority in life is to keep my freedom and my independence safe. I do not see how I can interfere in another person’s freedom. To answer specifically to the power of this medium, like everything, it has the power we give it. If we, as a community, don’t care about it, then it has no power. Let’s talk about influence then: in several studies we observe that the most important influence, despite all government world wide programs, is family. More than influence, cinema is very often an echo of our societies, and sometimes it is really disturbing for us. But expecting filmmakers to bring about a change to our society is like expecting a wildlife photographer to change the landscape. It is like being mistaken about the target.
What is your definition of political correctness? I don’t like censorship, or control. But I do appreciate giving safe space and representation for all the members of our society, all genders, all languages, all religions and so on. I’m not sure whether this can be called political rightness. It is something more like respect, kindness, curiosity, attentive listening, and the kind of values which help us to live together, I guess.
Good films should be promoted irrespective of its language and region. Foreign films are not much popular here except for a minority. How can we rectify this?
Do what I do in France with Indian films? (Serious call: if you are looking for a curator regarding French and European films in Kerala, I would be glad to come and join the team!)
Most of the people here perceive film as a medium of entertainment, alone. Don’t you think that it is much more, considering its ability to bring changes to the society. How do you think a film can change a society?
Honestly, if I want to learn something, I will go to the library instead. I ask myself every morning, how can I work towards the betterment of my society. I never ask somebody else to do it. Films are a source of entertainment, and we need not be ashamed of it.
Who is your favourite actor/actress/writer/director from the Malayalam industry?
Malayalam film industry has attracted me a lot, but I feel I have not seen enough films to have a personal favourite. Malayalam films are almost impossible to find here, in France. Let’s say Fahad Faasil, Lijo Jose Pellissery. I have no name but I noticed a very good job in scriptwriting in Malayalam films.
Can you point out the peculiarities of Indian films, which makes it different from its foreign language counterparts?
Ouch! This is almost impossible to answer shortly. Let’s focus on Indian cinema and its pros: the enthusiasm I often observe in filmmaking, the cinematic life despite all social issues, the special and strong bond between cinema and popular culture, the huge emotional impact, the space given to music, the rhythm, the importance of local, living cultures, the diversity and the creative wealth. Coming to the cons of it: the subtle fixation with Satyajit Ray for example, as though good films were impossible after them. I feel that it is very discouraging for the whole film industry. What is the point of being ambitious if somebody takes you back to the ideal past?
In this 21st century, is it valid to say that films reflect the culture of a region? Aren’t films a global medium portraying all kinds of cultures?
Of course it is still valid in 21st century! And this is definitely a strong point I observe in Indian film industries. For instance, when I start watching a Tamil film, I am able to notice how different it is, from a Hindi film, in the first ten minutes itself. I’m not talking about the language, of course. First of all, even in an entirely different cultural or geographical space, a film affects you, because it achieves a universality. This is an effect we observe in all kinds of art. The ability to belong to a specific culture, although reaching people beyond borders. Secondly, even if we are in a globalized world, strong, alive regional cultures are a necessity. Humans belong to the Earth as a whole, but our local cultural roots are equally important for us to feel secure.
Cinema can be a global medium, but each film is unique. It is the expression of a filmmaker, a scriptwriter, a production house and a collective product. Some are more subjective than the others. What we need to do is to sustain them, and support them to reach the audience. Very often, I hear that there are too many films and filmmakers, but that is not true. There will never be too much of art, or too many artists. In our world, we are surrounded by such vain concepts as rentability, competition, injunctions for everything. Amidst this, I feel good when I meet people who have a unique vision, who take risks, who tries to do things in a different way, and I think cinema has a lot of potential for this. Few centuries ago, in France, some critics were already saying that there were too many writers and too many bad books. A century later, you observe that only a few of them stood the test of time. It is the same thing with films. All we need to do is support it to reach the audience and then, they will decide how to perceive it.
I am concerned with this task alone, to support as many films as possible, and make them reach the audience.