Introduction by the Director of the 63rd Mostra, Marco Müller

Marco MullerVenice 63. We are about to embark on a new adventure of the eyes, the parabolas of the planetary vision. And the “right” films, those singular and highly singular objects we cannot do without, will certainly be present. If we have drawn close to the desired result, it is because we have worked with passion: we knew that had two editions of “consolidation” behind us, and we could allow ourselves an edition that explored across a broad spectrum. Without any overambitious push forward. As reflective as possible (under the weight of over 1,400 feature films watched), we have sought to keep an eye as much on the style as on the till, trying not to lose our lucidity in the process. (Passion and lucidity: two terms that are as hard to combine as any). Perhaps we are all tired of overly complicated and cumbersome machines. An aesthetic gesture, the evidence of a poetics is worth more than any of them. So here in Venice we had to try to decide to which areas in cinema should give particular visibility. Tackling risks and trying new roads, experimenting the new without making a spectacle of it, diving into originality without hiding behind the very idea.

The pessimism of reason should lead us to declare that the time for festivals is coming to an end. Whether we like it or not, we must accept the fact that we will see many festivals continuing to brood over their own touristic and promotional original sin, that of being a window display and launch pad for the most visible, often most showy part of film-making. A sin to be remitted by providing a temporary surrogate for lacunae, for the lacks in the distribution and information circuits. The optimism of willingness, on the other hand, leads us to focus on a fracture, which in the past has perhaps been knowingly overlooked, among the most usual idea-festivals and  the philosophy in movement (it should be constantly be undergoing redefinition) of an (international) Festival of (cinematographic) Art. Not all the attempts at renewal are destined to fail: without hypothesising a palingenesis (it is not yet time for that), this “non-festival” of ours, the Venice Festival, might finally find some autonomous space, ephemeral perhaps but truly autonomous, a moment marking a break with the balances crystallised by conformity, vested interests (and lack of), and by the vice of habit. A point of breakage of customs, a starting point for knowledge and investigation, the vision and discussion of manifestations of bradeyism, stirrings and ferments which still, at irregular intervals, manage to invest the various ways of making films to the North, South, East and West.

Perhaps we have once more entered a phase in which the pleasure of going to the cinema is neither easy nor particularly natural. It remains something familiar, and yet already unrecognisable, like a necessity we discover to be actually luxury and mystery, and we can no longer satisfy it without accompanying it with curiosity as to its significance, and a search for this. On an immediate level, however, Venice 63 does not have many new answers. What has happened, nevertheless, is that the old ones are aligned like the fragments of an irregular drawing that might conceal a secret unity. Without making an idol of such an idea, it would be useful to “assemble” a philosophy thanks to works that speak by themselves: their choice and disposition would allow the philosophy of the current edition to filter through, instead of forcing it into a form made up of general concepts that would destroy every speculative horizon. So let’s explore these new singularities. Let’s not give up interpreting them. We might thus add to the critical selection some values to set against other values, and so take up a position. To “understand” a single film, it is not enough to see it, giving too much credit to the claimed universality of the images. Of course, seeing it as a whole, in our simulated seismography of the cinema of the future months can help. But what counts is stimulating an active operation on the part of the viewer. Within the rediscovery of shared situations. These are not tendential lines but derive from the unexpected result of the 2006 selections, from the highly unusual combination of works that seem only rarely to be relatable, of potentially interactive dynamics and of irremediably linked experiences. And this not so much for ideal bequests or shared cultural requirements by directors and producers, as for their capacity to generate revealing fractures and imbalances.

Today’s age is not just a period of cinema that is unable to manifest any other future than the simple extrapolation of the present – a time weighing down on us like a perennial, unchanged topicality. A cinema that is no longer able to build on its own memory.

The memory, for example, of a Roberto Rossellini (a precious centenary celebration), who at the end of the war, invented modern cinema with just three films, anticipating its official birth by over a decade. Rossellini was exemplary: he remained faithful to himself despite breaks and changes (he is wrongly accused of self-betrayal) in the development of a concept of cinema and of television, with which we have never come to terms. Because to call oneself truly into question, one must be able to contradict oneself. Questioning oneself to open the better. As we should do with the spectators at the 63rd Festival: continue to ask them, seeing the viewers as though they were a question instead of an answer. In order to find the way to transmit a sense of fever to them, as well as the eventual but unnecessary cure. Unnecessary because we sense that this year’s films, which will meet their first viewers here, are part of a cinema that is truly increasingly less toxic, which can no longer have need of an addicted viewer.