Please watch the video essay before reading the accompanying text below.
“Encounters” is a work concerned with movies, mobility, and memory.
I first encountered the New Argentine Cinema in 2001, at a film festival in either San Francisco or New York. I can’t remember which, nor can I be certain which of these films I saw first. I knew little of Argentina at that time, but I liked what I saw and heard. I attended a number of film festivals that year, excited to discover that several young directors from the country were producing striking debut features. Since then, I’ve studied the New Argentine Cinema in great depth--devoting a chapter of my dissertation to a case study on the movement--and traveled to the country several times.
Anne Friedberg has written of the nagging theoretical tangle of cinematic mobility that the cinema provides “a virtual mobility for its spectators, producing the illusion of transport to other places and times, but [does] so within the confines of a frame.” I have frequently felt mired in the tension between cinema’s transportive capacity and the fixed but privileged nature of my viewing position.
This piece asks you to consider these films differently--not as exemplary of a national cinema, but as part of a transnational festival cinema of decontextualization. Film festivals--through their programming of new waves and new cinemas like the Nuevo cine Argentino--allow us to travel. But when we are taken to places with which we are largely unfamiliar, we often misunderstand what we see.
I undertook the making of this video essay as part of a process of harnessing my fading memories of cinematic encounters more than a decade old. It is not intended to offer definitive answers, but to raise questions--to serve as a point of departure for reflections on the structures of film circulation that brought me, and so many others, to study the medium.
This video was produced out of the “Scholarship in Sound and Image” workshop at Middlebury College, June 2015, as funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities Office of Digital Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Anne Friedberg, “Urban mobility and cinematic visuality: the screens of Los Angeles - endless cinema or private telematics,”Journal of Visual Culture1, no. 2 (August 2002): 183-204.