To be out of place: Nouvelle Vague: the first kamikaze generation of cinema.

Jaime Akamine of the 2014 Talent Press reports from the panel "To be out of place: Nouvelle Vague: the first kamikaze generation of cinema" With the professional David Oubiña

With David Oubiña

To be out of place: Nouvelle Vague: the first kamikaze generation of cinema. by Jaime Akamine

They were not the first arrogant filmmakers in the history of cinema, but they were indeed the most provocative and were possibly decisive for its development. If radical films, independent and alive, today can move us, much of it is due to that peculiar applause for breaking the rules that those young Turks established during the fifties, under the emblem of the Nouvelle Vague. Like David Oubiña pointed out in his lecture at Talents Buenos Aires on the mythic group, there is no way that New Cinema, which began to develop in the sixties around the world, could have been possible without the explosive legacy of the men of Cahiers du Cinéma. The New German Cinema, the New American Cinema, the Cinema Novo in Brazil, the Generación del 60 in Argentina, and all other avant-garde cinemas are direct descendants of the Nouvelle Vague. All of these, in some way or another, were affected by its transgressive reality and desire for experimentation.

Through their fundamentalism and their spirit to tear to pieces the existent stylistic conventions, these French critics established a new cinematic cannon, but above all they imposed a more conscious way of appreciating and approaching film. As Godard noted: “To regularly go to film clubs and to the Cinémathèque was to already think about film. To write was to already make films given that, between writing and shooting, there is a quantitative, not qualitative difference. In other words, they renewed critical thinking as regards the formal procedures of films. How is a film made? Why does it work? What moral and aesthetic sense does it possess? These were the questions these theorists headed by Bazin formulated to dissect a film, at the same time adding a monumental analytical dimension to that way of writing and living films. In effect, with the establishment of their “politique des auteurs”, Truffaut and company discovered a war machine that not only laid the foundation for the French New Wave –and broke away with the filial bond that tied them to traditional filmmakers- but revealed the importance of critical practice for the vitality of cinema.

This evaluation is of special importance. There is in that exhaustive (and arrogant) perspective, a way of understanding film criticism as a means for deconstructing films, laying them bare, freeing them from the burden of artifice and makeup, reflecting intensively and looking for the truth that beats in them. For the Nouvelle Vague members, this was a very personal way of making films. In other words, they provided a deep sense to the act of thinking and writing about this art, by blurring the boundaries among creation, contemplation and analysis. That is why more than half a century later, the breakup they promoted is so paradigmatic as well as exciting. They, all of them kamikazes, were able to find in that breakup a way of resetting cinema.

Mariángela Martinez Restrepo Talent Press Coordinator BA

Clara Picasso Text translator