AUDITOIRE has been a one-man team for almost three years and a half now. Apart from my growing interest in film criticism and the local film culture in Manila, and of course for world cinema, I have decided to expand my reach and include another man in the team. I have always envisioned filmmaking, as well as film writing, to be a collaborative effort. Auditoire has been a common destination for world cinema lovers and a venue to look into unknown films from hidden territories around the world. And with such a large scope - imagine digging different cinematic gems from the farthest lands - I realized that my viewpoint is not enough.
A Brighter Summer Day (1991) ... for AUDITOIRE!
I needed a partner whose passion on world cinema is equivalent to or even greater than mine; a partner who always looks forward, who looks ahead of me since I will be focusing more on critical writing and investigations on the local film culture in my country. A partner that I can entrust my site with, to make it more substantial to its visions. I've considered some options as to make AUDITOIRE an online magazine, and invite not just one but a team of writers. But I figure this is not a top priority of mine right now. However, in the future, there will come a time that AUDITOIRE will transform itself into a new form. Hopefully this partnership might lead into that.
Who is the new administrator? Are you curious? Well, he has seen films more than me. He's a Filipino-Canadian and he lives in Ontario, Canada. We both love Un Chant d'Amour (1956) and we both lust for Brad Davis' hairy chest at Querelle (1982). We love Chris Marker and his film Sans Soleil (1983). He introduced me to a Brazilian revolutionary director, Glauber Rocha whose film The Age of the Earth (1980) has become one of my favorite films of all time. We both have a striking similarity in ideology, and a piquant attachment to Marxism, which both of us have differing interpretations of. He does not like coffee. He likes his breakfast done with omelet. He misses the Philippines and hopes to settle here in his 30s. And mind you, he considers himself a Marxist-feminist.
A Brighter Summer Day (1991): The new admin loves this film, and so do I.I am proud to announce Chris Eriz Sta. Maria as the new administrator of AUDITOIRE. For those of you who have no idea who he is, he is scorpiorising at Mubi.com. He now maintains a Tumblr site, The One-Legged Woman is Queen with a tagline from Isidore Isou's Venom and Eternity (1951):
It somehow approximates his love for films. His Tumblr site is a concoction of images, a sort of collected visual notes of his recently watched films or reblogged screenshots by his fellow tumblr friends.
"In his search for the unknown, he reached a special kind of love known as perversion."
What speaks most about his taste for films is his favorites list at MUBI.com. It has this concoction of movie titles unknown to many of us. Chris considers 1960s as the Golden Age of world cinema. He identifies many films both popular and uncommon to most cinephiles out there. In his 1960s list films like Pas de Deux (1968) by Canadian filmmaker, Norman McLean, the Italian Ermanno Olmi's Il Posto (1961) which is one of his all-time favorite films, and a film by Chilean director Jorgis Iven's ...A Valparaiso (1962) caught my eye. Other films like Very Nice, Very Nice (1961) by Arthus Lipsett, Andy Warhol's infamous Blow Job (1963), and Glauber Rocha's Entranced Earth (1967) are all "revolutionary" films in terms of ideology and style. Chris' choices for the best films of the 1960s are non-canonical - meaning, less Tarkovsky, less Bergman, less Antonioni. Most of his choices come from different parts of the world: Cuba, China, Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia among others. Chris advocates to give attention to films outside the canonical arthouse cinema. The films from canonical arthouse cinema are championed by many critics and film scholars. They comprise the large bulk of the film discourse visible in every magazine old and new.
I realized that Chris' advocacy is similar to what vaguely I envisioned Auditoire would be. Adding Chris as a co-author would expand the reach of the site, digging not only forgotten films from the farthest land but also making a new canon for these films. I interviewed Chris to shed light for this eponymous being at Mubi.com (see below)
AN INTERVIEW with Chris
The House is Black (1963): Forugh Farrokhzad's harrowing masterpiece about a leprosy pack and what its like to live.
Tell me about yourself. Who is Chris Sta. Maria?
I’m guessing this is not an existentialist question because, if it is, it’s also a question that I keep asking and can’t answer myself.
Without getting into much personal stuff and going into much detail, I am just A Man Asleep with Memories of Underdevelopment living in a Society of the Spectacle in the Century of the Self. That sounds just about right. Not good enough an answer? No? Eh, that’s fine for now. Film buffs will get that.
Memories of Underdevelopment (1968): One of the masterpieces of Cuban cinema directed by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea.
When did you start getting serious with films? What triggered your passion for cinema?
My passion for cinema probably started the first time I watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, four or five years ago. I thought, wow, films don’t have to be purely of entertainment value, and can also have artistic merits. It was the most rewarding cinematic experience I’ve had at the time, and, for quite a while, I thought no film could top that until of course I sought and discovered more films.
The getting-serious-with-films phase came at a later time, I’m guessing a year ago or so. It started when I joined TheAuteurs forum, now known as MUBI. Now I believe that films shouldn’t be consumed like mere products. You see, once a product’s been consumed, it’s forgotten and not needed anymore. It’s part of the capitalist process so they can get you to buy more than what’s necessary. Anyway, I digress. Films shouldn’t be treated like that. They aren’t merely spectacles either. They should be fully digested, taken in and continuously processed, from time and time again.
The Golden Thread (1965): Ritwik Ghatak's meditation of life, time and death.
You said MUBI.com helped you a lot in discovering more of cinema, how is this so?
Participation in the forum and in some of its annual film events, such as the World Cup, Directors’ Cup and As I Was Browsing The Auteurs Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty, got me to chat online with a lot of cinephiles, with even more eclectic tastes in films, books, etc. than I have, from all over the world, and to follow them in MUBI. This of course leads to film suggestions and discovering films I wouldn’t be able to find out about otherwise. And people’s personal lists and canons are way more helpful than consensual and critical lists of these so-called greatest films ever made.
Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (1991): Carax's love story about a blinding painter and a sedative addict.
What is cinema to you? What is your personal canon for cinema? Is your canon representative of world cinema?
I believe cinema is so pluralistic to be summarized in merely one sentence. Having certain expectations in films, particularly on what a film is supposed to be like, prevents people from accepting new and challenging ideas and approaches to films, so let’s just idealistically think of cinema’s possibilities being as vast and limitless as the sky. And in contrary to what a lot of people keep saying over and over again, cinema is not yet dead. It’s still a young artistic medium and I still believe it has a lot more to offer and explore.
My personal film canon is only an insignificantly tiny fraction of the great films around the world. It is merely a reflection of my most favourite films. It is still currently at 375 films and still counting. I plan to include (and exclude) more films as I keep watching more and more. There’s always never enough time and films. I don’t think my personal list is representative of world cinema, I don’t think anyone’s list will ever be, considering how we’ll always be ignorant of and oblivious to certain filmmakers and countries. But I still try to watch a lot of films from other countries, and, so far, I’ve been discovering a lot of cinematic gems from the old Soviet Union, Iran, Japan, Czechoslovakia and Brazil.
To check out my personal film canon: This Dream People Call Cinema
Death in the Land of Encantos (2007): One of Lav Diaz' masterpiece. A meditation on human suffering and the nation's suffering from the tyranny of the government.
What are you top 25 films? What criteria did you use in choosing top 25 favorites?
Again, I’ll just direct you to the list.
I just recently added Lav Diaz’s Death in the Land of Encantos in the list. Well, I can’t say I had specific criteria in deciding which films to include in my top favourites. I guess you can say I used my heart over mind in choosing these films. Of course, this limitation of 25 films also unfortunately excludes other films I also think so highly of so that’s why I think that my personal film canon is more helpful and more representative of my tastes, biases and knowledge in film. It’s not that I think these 25 films are flawless and perfect in the technical sense. Some of them may not seem quite polished, especially to those who just rigidly look at the films’ technical elements but I think these films both are aesthetically beautiful and have gotten great emotional/affective responses from me.
Sans Soleil (1985): Chris Maker's poetic film essay about memory, passage of time and life on Earth.
What do you think is a bad film for you?
What works in one film will not necessarily work in another film. What you found great in a certain film may not be present in another film but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the element absent in the other film makes it worse. For example, some films don’t require great emotional responses from their audience but that doesn’t presumptuously make those films bad. I know, such statements are pretty vague but there is no clear-cut assessment of what makes a bad film. It’s only a matter of watching the film, using various approaches.Ciao!
And as long as it does not think so lowly of its audience and sees its viewers as intellectual and critical beings, as long as it does not merely rely on sentimentality and cheap cinematic tricks to hide its lack of substance, as long as it has a genuine artistic and personal vision, a film can be properly critiqued, looked at and discussed about in intensely intellectual discourses among people who have different opinions about it.