Gramsci’s Notebooks


The official spot of the 24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival. Director: Mike Hoolboom
 

My friend Francesca says that taking pictures is as important as water rights or a homeland for the Palestinians. She talks about a new contract that would stop anyone from making a picture until you’ve been there six months. I guess it would stop the news from looking like it was made by tourists.

How would the world appear if every face and street corner was also a picture of home?

I want to follow her advice, but not before making one last trip. I guess I’m not quite ready for utopia.

Sometimes you have to travel around the world in order to see where you are. I haven’t been able to get out of bed in weeks, paralyzed with depression. Perhaps it was time to visit my dead Italian friend to look for answers.

Insert Title Here

It turns out the great Italian writer Antonio Gramsci was also a jogger. He even wrote a book about it, though most prefer his prison notebooks. He said, “I run in a void. Or maybe I should put it the other way: I run in order to acquire a void."

Gramsci was often asked what he thought about as he ran. He wrote, “Usually the people who ask have never run long distances themselves. I always ponder the question. What exactly do I think about when I'm running? To be honest, I don't have a clue."

Scene 1: Faces

Gramsci asks us to look closely into every face. What he is looking for is fear because fear is the beginning of a culture. Every self doubt and hate crime, the name of every country, wherever there is a boss or king, or a voice raised against a different race, gender or species, it all begins with here, in the place where fear lives. 

The face is the primal scene of the class struggle. Perhaps by dedicating ourselves to the close-up, we might find the beginnings of a new society.

Scene 2: Ghost 

Because Gramsci’s spine was crooked he was hunchbacked and grew to a height of only five feet. He became a journalist and then an organizer for workers. He saw that the ruling class no longer needed guns, the media would do that for them. Common sense, it seems, was the sharpest weapon of all. He started the Communist party in Italy, knowing we would need different kinds of relationships.

Scene 3: Sunset

I need your love so badly, I love you so madly

But I don't stand a ghost of a chance with you

Scene 4: Blinds

The end of my old life began with a single, tiny mistake: my partner, making a left-hand turn, forgot to signal. The car accident… My partner got a concussion that left him needing constant care. I maxed myself out – physically, emotionally, financially. When my partner recovered, he left.

I became homeless for a short time, and then turned into a dog. How did Gramsci put it? The old world is dying, while the new struggles to be born.

Scene 5: Waves 

vo: Gramsci was arrested for thinking out loud and spent the rest of his life in prison. He had convulsions, vomited blood, and suffered headaches so violent he beat his head against the walls of his cell. He dreamed that the movements of swans would model a new human society. The state had ruined his body but not his analysis of power, which he poured into 20 notebooks. 

He dreamed of the ocean.
 


Mike Hoolboom (1959) is a leading figure of Canadian experimental filmmaking. He is the author of a novel and a number of books on experimental cinematography. In his personal and essay films, he works primarily with “stolen footage”. His films appear regularly at the Ji.hlava IDFF. In 2003 the festival held a retrospective of his work and his film called Fascinations made such a strong impression that the Ji.hlava's  experimental festival section adopted its name. Mike Hoolboom was the author of the Ji.hlava festival´s spot in 2020. „The nun is Romy Cola, an artist who has a special interest in crossing over, stepping into forbidden zones, singing where others fear to tread. Who else could I ask to appear as a nun?,“ says Hoolboom about his spot.




2.20DOK.REVUE
14. 12. 2020


from current issue:

New releaseShooting About KunderaDocumentarian Miloslav Šmídmajer describes the process of making a documentary about Milan Kundera with the working title “Milan Kundera: From the Joke to Insignificance.” Miloslav ŠmídmajerThemeNest in the bedroomPeter Hames, well-known British film historian and author of the book The Czechoslovak New Wave sent his remembrance to Karel Vachek to our magazine.Peter HamesThemeNever stop laughingPaolo Benzi, the Italian film producer and founder of the independent film production company Okta Film, describes for dok.revue how he met famous Czech documentary filmmaker Karel Vachek, who passed away last year. Paolo Benzi is also the main tutor of the Emerging producers in Ji.hlava IDFF.Paolo BenziThemeBehold, if the river is turbulent he is not frightenedIn this English issue of dok.revue we have collected some remembrances to Karel Vachek, the respected Czech documentarist who died in December 2020 at the age of 80. One of the contributors is Olaf Möller, a well-known film theorist and critic collaborating with many renowned film magazines (Film Comment or Sight & Sound), film museums and festivals (e.g. Il Cinema Ritrovato or International Film Festival Rotterdam).Olaf MöllerThemeEvery human being should get to wear comfy shoesThe Czech documentarist Karel Vachek was a chairperson of the jury at Yamagata international documentary film festival (YIDFF) in 2009. The board member of YIDFF and the former director of this festival, Asako Fujioka, has a remembrance of him smoking his pipe and going to the mountains with Japanese poet and filmmaker Yoshimasu Gozo to recite poetry to the skies.Asako FujiokaThemeLike the dog on the beach...American film historian Alice Lovejoy writes her remembrance of Karel Vachek, the remarkable Czech documentarist to whom we dedicate this English issue of dok.revue.Alice LovejoySportPandemic as an opportunityJi.hlava's Emerging Producers discuss the opportunity that can emerge from crisisSteve RickinsonInterviewThe times of lifelong careers are overAn interview with documentarian Jindřich Andrš, whose film A New Shift won the Czech competition section Czech Joy at Ji.hlava IDFF2020.Vojtěch KočárníkInterviewGoing to the Polish Turf with Our Own TeamInterview with documentary filmmakers Filip Remunda and Vít Klusák about their latest joint film project Once Upon a Time in Poland that shows how religion and faith are misused in contemporary Poland for mass manipulation and political purposes. The film‘s Czech premiere was held as part of the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival 2020.Kamila BoháčkováIntroductionDok.revue 1.21This issue is dedicated to the doyen of Czech documentary filmmaking Karel VachekKamila Boháčková