Catherine Grant, a Guardiã da Cinefilia Digital

Catherine Grant estudou Línguas Modernas e Literaturas (francesa e espanhola) na Universidade de Leeds (1982-1986) e fez um doutoramento nessa mesma faculdade sobre autoria e feminismo na ficção mexicana (1987-1991). Em 1991, foi professora na Universidade de Strathclyde em Glasgow e em 1998 fez um pós-doutoramento em Film Studies na Universidade de Kent. Aí, dedicou-se à investigação em vários temas ligados ao cinema, servindo como directora do Departamento de Film Studies entre 2003 e 2007. Em 2008, começou a dar aulas na Universidade de Sussex, onde presentemente ensina Film Studies. Nesse mesmo ano, criou o projecto online Film Studies for Free. Em 2011, lançou o fórum online, alojado no Vimeo, Audiovisualcy. Em 2012 fundou a revista a académica Reframe, na qual desempenha funções como editora.

Luís Mendonça [LM]: I think we live in very confused times. We talk about profound transformations and new possibilities; at the same time we talk about the death of cinema, the death of cinephilia. What do you think is, on the one hand, disappearing and, on the other hand, arising?

Carlos Natálio [CN]: In what way audiovisual essays reshaped the role of cinephilia and film criticism?

CN: Don’t you agree that audiovisual essays are turning film criticism more analytical?

CN: You have this website where you gather information in the field of film studies: Film Studies for Free. In spite of this easy access, is it right to think that film criticism lacks theoretical references today?

CN: I was also thinking about this question about the relationship with film criticism outside film studies. For instance, some years ago you had these great film critics that usually quoted in their texts, I don’t know, Marx or another important thinker. Today, we can also see that some of the critics that are writing online or in paper tend to go back a bit when it comes to quote or integrate in their thoughts on films those thinkers. They see film studies as something that is castrating the relationship with the movie.

LM: Normally audiovisual essays are a grouping of favorite moments or favorite films, authors, and performances. How can we place evaluation and taste, the main ingredients of some film criticism, in audiovisual essays?

CN: You wrote: «“Videographic film studies do seem to work, it seems to me, in exactly same “inter subjective” zone as that of written film analysis and criticism.» What are the main differences between videographic film studies and what you can do in film analysis in terms of writing?

LM: I wanted to talk about the readers. What do they benefit in their way of enjoying films from watching audiovisual essays?

CN: In your work do you start by having an idea and then you edit the movie or do you have the ideas while editing?

LM: I think that one of the main risks in doing audiovisual essays is having the images illustrating pre-established theoretical arguments or, even worse, these ideas imposing on the images. Do you agree with this? How can we avoid them?

CN: We’re wondering if you are concerned that your audiovisual essays should have a particular touch.

LM: You mention the importance of «juxtaposing audiovisual material» for comparing and analyzing. Some of your essays juxtapose sequences of different films, suggesting a kind of rhyme between the images. In what way are you trying to convey the idea that film history is mostly a history of variations?

CN: We were thinking about this potential of the audiovisual essay to compare and analyze, and to be a tool for pedagogical purposes. In what way do you think the same tool can be used to express more loose ties between films, having a more lyrical approach? Would this be still an essay in strict terms?

LM: Unlike some video essayists, you don’t have any problem of analyzing very recent films – I am thinking, for instance, of your work on Andrea Arnold or even the recent film by Todd Haynes, Carol. Do you think that film research should give a special attention to what’s being done at the present?

CN: In one of your essays, Uncanny Arrival at a Railway Station, you put in connection a scene of a train arriving at the station — that belongs to a film seen many times during childhood, The Railway Children — and the famous arrival of the train of the Lumière brothers that you only saw afterwards and was always «contaminated» by this prior viewing. How do you think audiovisual essays might contribute to reflect on the temporal dimensions of our reception of film and frequently destroying the most common chronology?

CN: There is this audiovisual essay where Adrian Martin and Cristina Álvarez López try to find Béla Tarr’s cinema in Repulsion by Polanski. What are your thoughts on this gesture? Is this more interesting as another way to compare films (analytical tools) or as a way to, while critically comparing, creating a third object?

LM: You have this forum where you gather different audiovisual essays. How can you define this Audiovisualcy project?

LM: Since the first essays that you received, what were the main changes?

CN: And for you, what have you learned as a video essayist from managing Audiovisualcy?

CN: I know that you brought some examples of some interesting audiovisual essays. But I would like to know if you think there are good and bad ways to do audiovisual essays.