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The Conscience of Cinema

The Conscience of Cinema: The works of Joris Ivens 1926-1989 OPEN ACCESS

Series: Framing Film
Copyright Date: 2016
Pages: 500
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    The Conscience of Cinema
    Book Description:

    This volume provides fascinating insights into the deportation process as it is felt and understood by those subjected to it. The author presents a rich and innovative ethnography of deportation and deportability experienced by migrants convicted of criminal offenses in England and Wales.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-2525-6
    Subjects: Film Studies
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Table of Contents

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  1. ‘The next generation is sitting on the shoulder of the previous one’, Joris Ivens once said to a young filmmaker. Does this only apply to filmmakers or is it also true for film scholars?

    Since Ivens started filmmaking in 1927, six generations of film critics and film scholars have reflected on his films. From the beginning, the ancestors of serious film criticism, a product of the avant-garde movement, with people like L. J. Jordaan and Harry Alan Potamkin, recognised Ivens’s capacity for shaping a new kind of film with international exposure. In his famous essay, ‘The Work of Art in...

  2. Here, as we witness the vivid and tumultuous unfolding of a new century, comes a voice speaking to us from its past and its future. Tom Waugh’s dissertation on Joris Ivens has long been one of the great pillars of wisdom on my documentary book shelf. Completed in 1981 and published only by UMI (University Microfilms Inc.) in the minimalist form that mimicked the typed dissertation itself, this 636 page opus arrived as a galvanic harbinger of the great surge in documentary film that was to take place in the 1990s and beyond.

    Like Ivens himself, Waugh was there at...

  3. Introduction (pp. 25-48)

    The Conscience of Cinemais about a film mode that played that role throughout the world film industry of the 20thcentury. It is about an artist who pushed documentary to the limits of conscience for more than six decades.The Conscience of Cinemais a study, chronologically ordered, of the artistic career of Joris Ivens, the Dutch-born documentarist (1898-1989), following him through 77 years of filmmaking on every inhabited continent. Depending on who you talk to, Ivens was ‘one of the greatest documentary film artists, the peer of Robert Flaherty’, ‘one of the great classic directors’, ‘a man who...

  4. PART I
    • Joris Ivens’s first memoirs,The Camera and I, were recorded with the assistance of Jay Leyda between 1942 and 1944 and finalised by Leyda for their 1969 publication. Looking back in the enforced idleness and exile of wartime Hollywood, Ivens offered an almost idyllic account of his childhood, his Dutch and German education, and his coming of age as a filmmaker in Amsterdam in the late twenties.

      Before we endeavour to understand the Amsterdam cultural and social milieu into which the 28-year-old Ivens arrived in 1926 to take up the administration of the Amsterdam branch of his father’s photographic supply...

    • The production ofWij Bouwen(We are Building, 1930, Netherlands, 110-141) beginning in mid-1929 marks Ivens’s immersion in a set of production circumstances entirely different from those of the Amsterdam avant-garde milieu that had fostered his first three films. It was the start of a completely new phase in his career. Commissioned by the educational director of the Nederlandsche Bouwvak Arbeiders Bond, the Dutch construction workers’ union, the film was to serve the double purpose of celebrating the union’s tenth anniversary and to aid it in its recruitment drive. This was an early venture of Dutch unions in imitation of...

    • In July 1936 when General Franco launched his revolt against the Spanish Republic, Joris Ivens, the 38-year-old Dutch avant-gardist-turned-militant, was in Hollywood showing his films to film industry progressives – in fact 1200 of them packed into the Filmarte Theatre (James, 2005, 469 )! One year later, Ivens was in Hollywood again, this time officiating at the world premiere ofThe Spanish Earth(1937, USA) before a glittering cross section of the same community. A hasty, spontaneous response to the Spanish plight, directed by a Dutchman who spent only a few months in the US, this iconic 53-minute solidarity documentary was...

    • All of Ivens’s compromises onThe 400 Million(1939, USA, 53) had been unavailing – he had not made the film he had wanted to make on the subject he wished to address and the film he had made had failed to reach the right audience at the right moment. His despair is masked by the cheerful tone describing the ending of the film inCamera(Ivens, 1969, 180-183). Next time, he wrote his producer, he would work under conditions that must have seemed ideal: the ‘money sure’, ‘preparation on the spot’, a collective including a writer and a producer with...

  5. PART II
    • The Iron Curtain was already christened as such in March 1946, less than a year after the end of the War. The decade or so that Ivens spent east of it, based mostly in Prague, Warsaw, and East Berlin, was, although a frustrating one for him personally and creatively, more productive – and artistic – than some accounts might indicate. It is also undeniably key to hisoeuvreand legacy. If we need masterpieces, this period led to the production of a film that has often received that accolade,Das Lied der Ströme(also known by its official English titleSong of...

    • Several chapters of this book commence with Joris Ivens’s arrival in a city, whether New York City (Chapter 3), Prague (Chapter 5), Hanoi (Chapter 7), or Beijing (Chapter 8). A new place allowed Ivens to pursue a new phase in his career, where his work would move from renunciation to embrace, where it would take on the artistic character and political sensibility of the new setting – its space, its time, its culture, its governance and undercurrents of resistance, and its people. This chapter begins with an arrival in Paris in 1956. Although the 58-year-old Ivens had frequented Paris regularly since...

    • The very evening the victorious army of the Viet Minh entered Hanoi in 1954, the Vietnamese organisation of trade unions had organised as part of the victory celebrations a showing of Joris Ivens’s latest film,Das Lied der Ströme(Song of the Rivers, 1954, DDR, 90). Eleven years later, in the spring of 1965, the event was to be repeated; only this time, Joris Ivens himself was in attendance as guest of honour.

      1964 had been a year of frustration for Ivens: not only was theMistralproject still in question, but another project in Chile, sponsored by French television,...

    • China is the place – or at least the utopian cinematic China onscreen – where the career of the elder ‘Flying Dutchman’ and the career of the naive earthbound Canadian who has written this book first crossed paths. China is also the specific focus of this last chapter, or more precisely, Ivens’s two major China works of the last two decades of his career, produced in the 1970s and 1980s respectively, during the Cultural Revolution and during China’s gradual emergence as an economic powerhouse of neo-liberal capitalist globalisation. ThoughComment Yukong déplaça les montagnes(How Yukong Moved the Mountains, 1976, France, 718...

  6. In a stroke of programming inspiration, the New York Film Festival showedUne histoire de ventin 1989, preceded by Ivens’s short poetic city film, also about a natural element,Regen, completed 60 years earlier. The programmer wheels in me start spinning and I wonder what other felicitous pairings might be imagined?BorinageandAutour du pétrole? Nieuwe GrondenandDemain à Nanguila? BrandingandLied der Ströme, Powerandthe LandandLe Peuple et ses fusils? Powerandthe LandandThe Grapes of Wrath? KomsomolandDoctor Zhivago? BorinageandNorma Rae?Prolific genius that he was,...

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 International
This book is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 International.
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