Nineteen Hopes for an Activist Cinema

By Jem Cohen


1. That it tells me something I don’t know and questions as much as it answers.

2. That it holds a mirror to the broken world.

3. That it takes a new shape, somehow unlike that of the movies before it, especially those within its own genre.

4. That it not dehumanise or take cheap shots.

5. That it comes as a shock, even if the shock is that of discomfort or joy.

6. That it not look like a music video, or smell like an advertisement.

7. That it is somehow mysterious, ambiguous, strange.

8. That it is somehow funny.

9. That it inspires me to rage.

10. That it inspires me towards peace.

11. That it not be guided by the Hollywood Commandments (Film as a Business, Movies as Commodities, Worship of Celebrity and Spectacle, Life in three Predictable Acts).

12. That it is more than propaganda.

13. That it avoids sentimentality.

14. That it speaks truth to power.

15. That it speaks truth to the powerless.

16. That it picks at the scabs of history.

17. That it makes me want to get to work.

18. That it strives for honesty.

19. That it blows my mind.

Jem Cohen is a filmmaker. This text is taken from the programme for his festival Fusebox, at Ghent in 2005.