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The "OUT" Manifesto: Cinema as the Art of Escape

5/06/18
photo: Natalia Kabanow
Kids Films at the 18th T-Mobile New Horizons IFF Films by Farhadi, Spike Lee, Garrone, Lee Chang-dong

To be OUT means to be OUTSIDE the mainstream, the dominant force.

Outside society, outside the system, outside the center of attention and the center of events. Someone can be pushed OUT for countless reasons, including their age, sex, beliefs, health, appearance or social status. You're beyond the norm, the canon, the model: you're OUT. On the other hand, when reality becomes unbearable, you can also leave of your own free will-moving outside the center of attention and the center of events, according to your own rules.

Being OUT also means maintaining your courage. Not being afraid to be guided by your own needs wherever you go, to try to find yourself and your place regardless of the circumstances or limitations, to pursue self-expression, to speak out. To live life your way, to breathe deeply. To feel, to take action, to experience life. To get along with yourself so that you can get along with others and be there for others. To see, to perceive and to create.

During the 18th New Horizons International Film Festival, we will take a look at-through a number of retrospectives-the artistic lives of several film outsiders. For Pedro Costa, being outside means not only focusing his camera on Lisbon's outskirts and its inhabitants but also the risk of creating on his own terms, beyond typical, expensive production formulas. Ildikó Enyedi was OUT for eighteen years, as that's how long she struggled with a series of projects that didn't come to fruition. Her film On Body and Soul, a Golden Bear winner in Berlin, tells the story of an impossible romance in an impossible place that finds fulfillment beyond: in the alternative reality of a dream. The underappreciated and practically unknown Portuguese poet and director João César Monteiro created a separate cinematic world for himself in which the character he plays-a profane, drunken, self-taught philosopher-finds a safe haven along with his cohort of outcasts. Far removed from fashionable trends and styles, Monteiro takes film beyond its limits, confronting us in Branca de Neve with a black screen on which-listening to dialogue in the background-we can project whatever our imagination desires. And finally, there's Nicolas Roeg: repeatedly pushed OUT by the bourgeois, conservative tastes of producers, distributors and critics who couldn't understand his innovation, who underestimated the invigorating power of his experiments, who couldn't decipher the dialogue that the director entered into along with his era, and who were, above all, afraid of a moral scandal.

Our review of the latest cinema from Iran is also a way out of Iran. No national culture fits completely within the political borders of the nation state. Contemporary Iranian culture is no exception. On the contrary, art created beyond the borders of the country by dissidents and political refugees has a special meaning in its discourse. But people immigrating to Iran have made an equally important contribution to independent Iranian cinema by trying to find ways to get past censorship in the country, on their own, in films created for private circulation.

In cinema, going beyond thus means not only treating film as an original statement, not only confronting the rules of the market, but also a commitment to the issues and the people appearing on-camera. OUT allows us to revise the beliefs that we stubbornly persist in believing, to exceed our limits, to go beyond our comfort zone (as Adina Pintile does in Touch Me Not, a controversial film dealing with the body and sexuality), to actively seek alternative ways of functioning (the female commune in Annika Berg's Team Hurricane is such an alternative microworld), not only in isolation but also as part of a community. It's also about finding a way out as a means of encountering other people, other ways of life, other groups, other values.

As you'll see at New Horizons, OUT brings us together.


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