By Mark Peranson

We interrupt our regularly scheduled depressed editor’s note to instead speak from a place of anger-tinged despondency. Usually at this late point in the editorial schedule I’m wracking my brain to think of something interesting to say, and would likely complain about the lack of interest in the unprecedented reviews of 190+ TIFF films we ran online at cinema-scope.com to start. (Please read them, we are darned proud of our efforts.) But what has transpired since the last issue was published and posted means this time around I’m having trouble concentrating on cinema, and don’t exactly know how to start. Though I frankly don’t want to go there, I’m compelled to address the slimy current reality—the shock still hasn’t worn off, and maybe it’ll help with my recurring headaches.

Thinking back to the days of the film festival, it truly was an easier time, when it was tolerable to make fun of one Donald J. Trump, a man whose wig bill could pay for our publication in perpetuity, as witnessed by the Twitter phenomenon that was Arthouse Trump (himself a Cinema Scope subscriber). But the soon-unmasked hardcore Clinton supporter David Johnson understandably stopped his tweets, while the liar-in-chief’s repulsive reality-show online shitstorm blathers on…Sad! For anyone who doubts the interrelationship between politics and an engaged form of the arts—that this is a Canadian magazine is irrelevant, as Trumpism is becoming a worldwide phenomenon—I would say imagine what this issue would have looked like had a couple of hundred thousand Midwesterners voted another way. Though Ken Jacobs’ now-timely reflection on his Reichstag 9/11 was already in the pipeline before November (same with the likeminded Cristi Puiu), in this alternate reality there would certainly be no contribution herein from New York Mets fan Roberto Minervini, whose film The Other Side—its cover image here is pretty symbolic—suddenly has become mandatory viewing.

The real winner of the election, when it comes to the film world, comes in a work which I decided not to delve into deeply in these pages, from a filmmaker we have featured often, because you can all find it yourselves online and watch it rather easily: Adam Curtis’ pre-election BBC tele-essay HyperNormalisation. In typically problematic yet entirely compelling, doom-laden fashion, Curtis situates the initial rise of Trump, his current-day appeal—thanks in no small part to Curtis’ pet bugaboo, the self-confirming bias of social media (certainly abetted by “fake news”)—and even the Trumpistas’ continued strategy of anarchic, perceptual distraction, taking after another master of the dark arts, Russian political advisor Vladislav Surkov. Recommended viewing with your racist uncles this holiday season.

With a bit more publicity, Curtis’ film could easily have entered all those Best of 2016 lists, which other magazines have, as usual, prematurely vomited out before the end of this year. And this time, I can’t blame them, because, as we all can agree, 2016 has been one hell of a disheartening year. You’ll have to wait until our next issue for the inevitable naming of Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann as the film of the year, which events have recast as a plea for tolerance and generational reconciliation, and which might be even more necessary as hate continues to surface and proliferate. (One can only imagine the popular response in North America when Toni Erdmann is actually released into cinemas on the eve of the inauguration.) Yet we’re prolonging 2016 until the actual end of this annus miserablis because (a) facts still matter and (b) even in the darkest of times you’ve got to have a little bit of hope. At any rate, I’ll be spending the last two weeks of the year on a desert island with no internet.

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From the Magazine

  • Issue 84 Table of Contents

    INTERVIEWS *The Act of Living: GianfrancThe Act of Living: Gianfranco Rosi on Notturnoo Rosi on Notturno By Mark Peranson*Reconstructing Violence: Nicolás Pereda on Fauna By More →

  • The Act of Living: Gianfranco Rosi on Notturno

    “The night scares me so much,” confesses a courageous Yazidi pre-teen girl to a therapist, remembering the period when she and her younger sister were captured by ISIS. Anyone who was seen crying would be killed, they were told; it turned out to be a vacant threat, but the sisters were still beaten, and now they are attempting to exorcise their memories by drawing pictures of them. Does it help? We never find out. More →

  • Reconstructing Violence: Nicolás Pereda on Fauna

    There’s a point in nearly every Nicolás Pereda film when the narrative is either reoriented or upended in some way. In the past this has occurred through bifurcations in story structure or via ruptures along a given film’s docufiction fault line. Pereda’s ninth feature, Fauna, extends this tradition, though its means of execution and conceptual ramifications represent something new for the 38-year-old Mexican-Canadian filmmaker. More →

  • I Lost It at the Movies: Charlie Kaufman’s Antkind and I’m Thinking of Ending Things

    “It’s all planned, but it isn’t thought out,” wrote Pauline Kael in her review of A Woman Under the Influence (1974), a nifty bit of critical jiu-jitsu turning John Cassavetes’ much-theorized—and, during Kael’s reign at The New Yorker, much-derided—technique of spontaneous improvisation within a dramatic framework against him. More →

  • Open Ticket: The Long, Strange Trip of Ulrike Ottinger

    One of the most surprising things about Ulrike Ottinger’s new documentary Paris Calligrammes is how accessible it is. Some cinephiles may be familiar with Ottinger based on an 11-year period of mostly fictional productions that were adjacent to the New German Cinema but, for various reasons, were never entirely subsumed within that rubric. Others are quite possibly more aware of her later work in documentary, in particular her commitment to a radical form of experimental ethnographic cinema. More →