As we are all aware, this year has been a tough and strange one for everyone and needless to say, for us also, regarding all the film festivals organisation. As we write, we are still uncertain about a potential second wave of the virus. Rather than waiting for everything to be clearer before programming the films in the different cinemas, we have decided to organize our festival in the same way as in previous years, that is to say, ten days of screenings during which audiences gather, debate and are inspired by the hundred or so films screened.
Nevertheless, we could not ignore the upheaval that was the lockdown and which resulted in the cancellation or postponement of a number of festivals. Lockdown has also led to thousands of films being put online, which was sometimes difficult to follow, by film libraries, archives, production companies and filmmakers around the world, not to mention the sharing of everyone’s personal hard drives. In view of that, we can no longer have a preference over one or the other; that is, cinema in theaters versus cinema at home, but rather to connect both experiences and to think about these two modes of screening together.
While conserving the usual format of the festival, we have added a new section dedicated to the online screening of the international competition films which will take place simultaneously with the screenings at the Grand Action cinema. The screening will thus be broadcasted live, on a televisual mode, to allow the largest number of people, especially those who cannot travel here, to attend (part of) the festival.
For our physical screenings we wanted to question and put forth the danger of the cinema space, and more generally the collective viewing space. This is why some screenings will take place in venues differing from cinema theater, whether it be in a private home, in the open air, in a park, in galleries overlooking the street, or in threatened cinema venues such as La Clef Revival to which we give our full support.
In order to create a link between physical and virtual spectators, we have decided to set up a website especially dedicated to this edition of the festival, for audiences to navigate between the online screenings and those that will be site-specific enabling everyone to consult the entire program.
Then arrose the question of language of access for our festival program: if the festival is partly accessible online, at least the textual information about the films should be accessible to the greatest number, i.e. in a language other than French or English, the hegemonic language used in film festivals. Thus, a an entire section of the site will be accessible in other languages, if only to reference films in other alphabets, films that are already fragile due to their low economy.
This linguistic question is directly related to this year’s theme of the festival, which is separate from the competition, and which will not be visible online. Titled Dialects, cacolects, atypical uses of speech, it will explore several approaches that experimental cinema has taken in order to address the question of language practices, vocal cords, speech, and the spoken word. The dialect of the title refers to a language which doesn’t hold a social or institutional recognition like that of a national language. This could parallel the predicament of experimental cinema in relation to industrial cinema. Cacolect, a portmanteau made up for this year’s festival, refers to ways of speaking that are neither standardized nor accepted. The cacolect is about going towards a true physical liberation of speech, of language.
This festival edition will therefore defend the not-so-proper language, that which is not taken seriously by those who only focus on the well-written and well-spoken language. The purpose of the cacolect is not only to be heard by those who are not open to this language, but rather to show others who do not speak accurately that there are others like themselves who produce, make speeches, perhaps inadequately expressed and awkwardly articulated, but which are nonetheless worthy productions.
Of course, an artists’ bad-language is not judged as harshly as is one outside the field of art, where the consequences can be more serious. This is also an opportunity to think about the social role of cinema, especially experimental cinema, as a cinema that is supposed to “speak incorrectly” : can it help legitimize another voice, make each person’s linguistic insecurities a rare force?
By questioning the social impact of experimental cinema, we move considerably away from theoretical approaches about “cinema as a language”, which has little to do with linguistics, and we would then be more interested in ways in which cinema has been able to get hold of everyday language behavior which we use when we leave the cinema, in our workplace, at home, etc: in short, speech as it is banally used.
Thus, in the course of the screenings and the articles proposed within this theme, we will explore the vicissitudes of language highlighted by editing, the art of conversation in and about cinema, the beginnings of speech, the re-appropriation of language by marginalized communities, the experiences of recording speech and the invention of new languages.
Let’s connect with our inner cacolect during this 22nd edition that we, Collectif Jeune Cinéma team, wish you full of discoveries, stimulation, and debates.