Hi-Red Center Shelter Plan, 1964
In a conversation with Maciej Drygas included in this issue, the Polish filmmaker explains that he has cut out the word "interview" from his personal dictionary. A lecturer at the National Film School in in Łódź, he keeps telling his students: "Don't use the word interview. When you meet a person, meet them for a conversation, not an interview." What is crucial to remember when talking to someone, Drygas says, is "the ability to listen to them patiently." There is no script, there are no pre-formulated questions either, all one should do is take some time and "follow a person's history."
Drygas' conviction encapsulates the essence of this issue, an issue composed of conversations only. Quite literally, but also structurally in the form of themed sections, concerning historical, political and practical questions around cinema as well as the concept of archiving and distributing independent underground, experimental and avant-garde films. And part of the fascination that derives from this selection of conversational encounters, interviews and Q&As lies in the fact that the filmmakers respond to and connect with each other, in ways that are inspirational, genuine and sometimes unexpected. They may be years or worlds apart, they may not know each other personally, but they have learned from and encouraged each other in their exploration of cinema and the role of the moving image within aesthetics, politics and history. And it may be that the "conversation" is what lies in between, the space in the middle of pose and spontaneity, constraints and freedom, performance and life.
There are other conversations that very much stand on their own but, we hope, will spark more dialogue and questions in the future, such as the Q&A with Palestinian/Israeli co-directors Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi about their documentary 5 Broken Cameras (2011), or an extended interview with Chilean director Patricio Guzmán, in which he talks in riveting detail about and beyond his documentary trilogy The Battle Of Chile (La batalla de Chile, 1975-1978) leading up to his latest film Nostalgia For The Light (Nostalgia de la Luz, 2011). In a similar vein, Claude Lanzmann revisits his nine-and-a-half hour documentary Shoah (1985). With the preparation and filming process lasting nearly twelve years, Lanzmann shows extensive conversations with survivors and witnesses of the Shoah, crafting what is widely regarded as a masterwork of commemorative culture.
But we should let the filmmakers, artists and curators in this issue speak for themselves. Vertigo would like to thank all its contributors, both asking and answering questions, for making this issue possible.