Borders, Bureaucracies, Bonkers: An Exchange

Michael Pattison, Neil Young

The following email exchange took place between 24 and 27 November 2014.


NY: I’ve been to 24 festivals so far this year, 23 of them in Europe, and so far the ‘national cinematography’ that seems most promising to me is that of Ukraine. Miroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s The Tribe (Plemya, 2014) and Sergei Loznitsa’s Maidan (2014) were two of the most significant ‘breakouts’ from Cannes, needless to say, but when I was in Odessa in the summer I saw a small handful of notable titles that are much more ‘under the radar’. Top of the pile: mid-length documentary Crepuscule by Slaboshpytskiy’s key Tribe collaborator Valentyn Vasyanovych, plus the shorts Fallen Leaves (Lystopad, Mariaa Kondakova, 2014) and the German-Ukraine co-production Balazher: The Corrections of Reality (Balazher. Korrekturen der Wirklichkeit, Lesia Kordonets, 2014). Three questions spring to mind. (1) Which country or countries keep catching your attention? (2) How comfortable are you with the idea of thinking about cinema in terms of nationalities? (3) What practical alternatives do we have?

MP: /.../ To answer your first question, then, I don’t tend to get excited by any specific national cinematography, mainly because I’m not well-versed enough in any nation’s history or culture other than my own—and I happen to think the UK’s film industry is in the fucking toilet. Or is it? As soon as I say stuff like that I think of exceptions...

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