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The Festival

Our Philosophy

Some decades ago, a group of young filmmakers – among them Jacques Rivette, Erich Rohmer, Jean-Luc Godard – held a round-table discussion of Alain Resnais's film 'Hiroshima Mon Amour'. An extract from their debate was published in Cahiers du Cinéma in July 1959. During their exchange of opinions, Godard asserted that "The tracking shot is a moral question". His sentence became emblematic for filmmakers and film researchers everywhere. Thereafter, it was no longer possible to separate cinematic form from content. As Godard pointed out, they are two sides of the same coin. Inherently, each shot has a heavy moral weight and so the filmmaker must take personal responsibility.

Over the past decades, Godard's sentence has sunk into obscurity. To an ever-growing extent, the contemporary international film industry is affected by the Hollywood approach, that sends its octopus-like tentacles in every direction. The last strongholds of resistance to Hollywood cinema are retreating and disintegrating. Those who do not toe the line of Hollywood's polished, efficient aesthetic are doomed to disappear or to be forgotten. The tracking shot has reached an extremely high level of virtuosity in present-day Hollywood; every Hollywood action movie boasts a stunning tracking shot, seen from above, which  raises spectators' adrenalin levels to a new pitch. Intoxicating speed and Western  escapism has reached its zenith - but where is the moral responsibility? With its arsenal of cinematic clichés, developed over the years, Hollywood has succeeded in hiding from us the most important cinematic element - the pure cinematic image, as Gilles Deleuze defines it.

The pure image is in fact the object that is stripped of all cinematic decorations that adorn it – left naked and exposed: it is a moment of cinematic grace created at a moment of temporarily lost control. A moment where the filmmaker stands frozen facing a reality more powerful than her; she can only observe the frame spread out before her, completely unable to react. It is a pure cinematic shot without its reverse shot, a cinematic shot that's no longer attributed to a specific individual, not to the film's protagonist nor to the director himself – but to cinema alone.

The Cinema South festival joins in the odyssey leading towards the pure image. For 360 days of the year we're on an almost impossible journey, and only once a year we rest a while and exchange impressions with film-lovers everywhere. We take a break to share our journey's experience with you, and we want to hear yours too. For five days, we lay our hiking staffs to one side, and delve into our backpacks for you. It's a sort of desert oasis for cinema…a place where many tribes gather for a defined period, to exchange travellers' tales. It's a carnival of film with no hierarchies, where a fledgling filmmaker can talk as an equal with experienced and long-established colleagues.

The Cinema South festival is held in southern Israel, located in one of the most charged and fascinating areas in the Middle East -  in the midst of townships of long-established immigrants from North Africa, who live alongside recent immigrants from Ethiopia and Caucasia, among Latin American moshavim and kibbutzim, communities of semi-nomadic Bedouin, and in close proximity to large Palestinian cities – Gaza and Rafiah. Within these triangular borders, we attempt to open the way for a new sort of film – different, bold, and aspiring. "South" here means far more than just geographic location – it's a cinematic worldview implemented in cinema that's impoverished in means, but rich in humanity. "The south" is a metaphor for creation taking place in a peripheral area, without inferiority complexes and with ambitions to spark off a critical dialogue with the hegemonic centre.

Cinema South believes in cinema which believes in people, wherever they are; it believes in cinema that tries to reveal human happiness - and its absence – in film that tries to expose the superfluous evils that people suffer from, as well as the production and distribution of those evils. And finally, we believe in direct contact with reality and the people who inhabit it, in the idea of Cesare Zavattini's "encounter camera". Cinema South strives to bring the individual back to the centre.

This festival is a direct extension of the Department of Film & TV at Sapir College. Among others, the vision of our department and the college calls for establishing a civil society in Israel, drawing together different groups of the population in Israel and Palestine, and hoping to create a culture that connects people.

We invite you to come and take part, free of charge, in our cinematic carnival in the South. Come and be thrilled, be moved to tears, and roar with laughter with us. Most of all, come and spend five mesmerizing days when we assume moral responsibility for the tracking shot…


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