Stories (and aesthetics) About Anonymous and Orphan Cinema
International seminar on amateur films and the concept of authorship
Based around the idea of anonymity and the exploration of film archives from this point of view, Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola has convened an international seminar on October 26, 27 and 28 on the amateur cinema, films “without names” and the concept of authorship entitled Stories (and aesthetics) About Anonymous and Orphan Cinema.
Anonymous cinema is not a rarity, but a common denominator in the majority of twentieth century film production. Anonymous cinema is, in the first instance, unsigned: home films, orphan films, industrial cinema, amateur films, incomplete or censored films, forgotten on shelves in an archive for political reasons or social contexts, the films of filmmakers who did not see themselves as authors or where the film institution decided not to consider them as such. Anonymous cinema is also cinema which, even though it has credits and even a copyright seal, contains moments from the lives of anonymous people: unknown eyes looking at the camera from a distant land. Films that do not feature stars, but fleeting faces.
The concept of authorship, first with the star system and then with the politique des auteurs (auteur theory), is inherent to the way in which the history and aesthetics of cinema have been interpreted. The mere mention of "cinema without names" (i.e., entirely anonymous) contradicts one of the essential categories of cinematic historiography and criticism. To the point that anonymity actually enables a new, subversive film category, specifically cinema without names, i.e. a type of cinema that is difficult to name, identify, classify and define, posing constant questions about royalties, silence and the history that we think we know. The category of filmic anonymity questions many of the clichés about cinema and makes it possible to use the original meaning of the term amateur, as someone who does not expect reward or recognition but freedom to explore the language of film.
The seminar, which is open to the general public, will bring together specialists, curators, visual artists, filmmakers and academics working on orphan films and secrets of the archives. All of the sessions are designed as mixed sessions and illustrated lectures with short screenings.