The Resistance

by Alonso Díaz de la Vega

Film criticism wasn’t my dream. My dream was to make films —it still is— yet I do not treat my current profession as a step towards filmmaking, but as an independent exercise of imagination. Criticism is not, as many have deemed it, the ranting of the frustrated and the unaccomplished; it is rather a stand against triviality and irrelevance.

Alonso Díaz de la Vega

The human sense of importance is, of course, absurd, since it is artificial, but it is nonetheless our guiding light and it derives from truth, which exists outside our perceptions. Art tries to recreate reality in order not to apprehend, but to express truth, and criticism is the means to ensure the works which excel through their beauty and their truthfulness are experienced and preserved as the memory of our societies, but most of all of our humanity.

In “War and Peace,” Tolstoy mocks the notion of human qualities changing over time. I believe he’s right. Slaves, wars, and dogmas still exist, albeit in a more civilized manner in some countries; in a prehistoric manner in the rest. Love, compassion, solidarity, still exist as well, as civilised as ever. For many centuries literature was a glimpse into the depths of human experience. As functional illiteracy rises due to a culture surrounded by white noise, cinema has become our means to understand one another. Language is turning towards the visual and the oral in what Marshal McLuhan called the retribalization of the world. The remaking of superhero films is proof of this. It is comparable not in quality but in tendency to the retelling of Greek myths by ancient dramatists. The role of the modern film critic is to thresh through the endless straw of film production to find worth.

This task is not easy. Capitalist culture has turned everything into a commodity and criticism is nearing irrelevance. The revenue generated by innumerable sequels and insignificant films evidences the trends that our societies prefer and, in this secular age, hallow. Fortunately there is a resistance to please the masses in certain sectors. I am proud to be part of a Mexican generation that is creating new platforms like FLICC, that is trying to build a self-funded film industry. Webpages like Butaca Ancha and FILME offer a chance to young critics, and initiatives like the Cineteca Nacional’s Film Criticism Contest are linking us and turning us into a considerable strength against the consumerist culture. We shall fight.