An Unfinished Cinema

(1) T’am e gilass [Taste of Cherry] (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997)

Originally, I thought that the lights went out in a movie theatre so that we could see the images on the screen better. Then I looked a little closer at the audience settling comfortably into the seats and saw that there was a much more important reason: the darkness allowed the members of the audience to isolate themselves from others and to be alone. They were both with others and distant from them.

When we reveal a film’s world to the members of an audience, they each learn to create their own world through the wealth of their own experience.

As a filmmaker, I rely on this creative intervention for, otherwise, the film and the audience will die together. Faultless stories that work perfectly have one major defect: they work too well to allow the audience to intervene.

It is a fact that films without a story are not very popular with audiences, yet a story also requires gaps, empty spaces like in a crossword puzzle, voids that it is up to the audience to fill in. Or, like a private detective in a thriller to discover.

I believe in a type of cinema that gives greater possibilities and time to its audience. A half-created cinema, an unfinished cinema that attains completion through the creative spirit of the audience, so resulting in hundreds of films. It belongs to the members of that audience and corresponds to their own world.

The world of each work, of each film recounts a new truth. In the darkened theatre, we give everyone the chance to dream and to express his dream freely. If art succeeds in changing things and proposing new ideas, it can only do so via the free creativity of the people we are addressing – each individual member of the audience.

Between the fabricated and ideal world of the artist and that of the person he addresses, there is a solid and permanent bond. Art allows the individual to create his truth according to his own wishes and criteria; it also allows him to reject other imposed truths. Art gives each artist and his audience the opportunity to have a more precise view of the truth concealed behind the pain and passion that ordinary people experience every day. A filmmaker’s commitment to attempting to change daily life can only reach fruition through the complicity of the audience. The latter is active only if the film creates a world full of contradictions and conflicts that the audience members are able to perceive. The formula is simple: there is a world that we consider real but not completely just.

This world is not the fruit of our minds and it does not suit us all that well but, through cinematic techniques, we create a world that is one hundred times more real and just than the one around us. This does not mean that our world gives a false image of justice but, on the contrary, it better highlights the contrasts that exist between our ideal world and the real world. In this world, we speak of hope, sorrow and passion.

The cinema is a window into our dreams and through which it is easier to recognize ourselves. Thanks to the knowledge and passion thus acquired, we transform life to the benefit of our dreams.

The cinema seat is of greater assistance than the analyst’s couch. Sitting in a cinema seat we are left to our own devices and this is perhaps the only place where we are so bound to and yet so distant from each other: that is the miracle of cinema.

In cinema’s next century, respect of the audience as an intelligent and constructive element is inevitable. To attain this, one must perhaps move away from the concept of the audience as the absolute master. The director must also be the audience of his own film.

For one hundred years, cinema has belonged to the filmmaker. Let us hope that now the time has come for us to implicate the audience in its second century.

(2) T’am e gilass [Taste of Cherry] (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997)

Text written for the centenary of cinema, distributed in December 1995 at the Odéon Theatre in Paris.


Image (1) and (2) from T’am e gilass [Taste of Cherry] (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997)

In Passage, Sabzian invites film critics, authors, filmmakers and spectators to send a text or fragment on cinema that left a lasting impression.
Pour Passage, Sabzian demande à des critiques de cinéma, auteurs, cinéastes et spectateurs un texte ou un fragment qui les a marqués.
In Passage vraagt Sabzian filmcritici, auteurs, filmmakers en toeschouwers naar een tekst of een fragment dat ooit een blijvende indruk op hen achterliet.
The Prisma section is a series of short reflections on cinema. A Prisma always has the same length – exactly 2000 characters – and is accompanied by one image. It is a short-distance exercise, a miniature text in which one detail or element is refracted into the spectrum of a larger idea or observation.
La rubrique Prisma est une série de courtes réflexions sur le cinéma. Tous les Prisma ont la même longueur – exactement 2000 caractères – et sont accompagnés d'une seule image. Exercices à courte distance, les Prisma consistent en un texte miniature dans lequel un détail ou élément se détache du spectre d'une penséée ou observation plus large.
De Prisma-rubriek is een reeks korte reflecties over cinema. Een Prisma heeft altijd dezelfde lengte – precies 2000 tekens – en wordt begeleid door één beeld. Een Prisma is een oefening op de korte afstand, een miniatuurtekst waarin één detail of element in het spectrum van een grotere gedachte of observatie breekt.