NOTES TOWARDS A
METAPHYSICAL CINEMA MANIFESTO
Sometimes it is difficult to know if you have died. We have woken up to our own
death. The death of cinema. Who are the undertakers? We know the finger points to
that peddler of dreams. Hollywood tells us we are alive, although we sense our own
death. It wedded us to story telling as God, and the God squeezed out our life.
But, there can be life after death.
We call our filmmaking metaphysical cinema. This expresses our rejection of
classical story telling that merely serves the dream machine function. ‘Story’ in this
sense is a dangerous force, since the audience becomes a passive consumer of the
cinema, which shrinks and reduces its potentiality. It ends up as any other industry
product. The so-called narrative keeps being interrupted by the voice of propaganda,
the voice of the pseudo objective mass media, and by the alienated individual status of
Narrative is important to us, but its function is negative. Metaphysical cinema wants
to reveal a world beyond narrative. Our method is this —instead of looking at the
object in the scene, we look to the shadow it casts. The shadow is the more basic
reality: the emotional vision is written on those shadows.
Time and space in fragments, point of view: call this the fabric that makes up
narrative reality. Metaphysical cinema is about the transformation of narrative reality.
It uses narrative as a tool, not as an end. The psychological attitude that is revealed in
classical narrative is that story is destiny. That story-telling is everything, that we as
humans are defined by our stories, and our identity is given by story. This is close to
the enticing but fatal idea that identity is given by history. We - the Metaphysical
Syndicate - say no to this kind of empire of the story. We say no to storyboarding
where a voice is no longer a subjective voice; where a voice ends up as a non-reflective, unexamined manipulation of a God’s Eye view.
You might ask—has this not been done before? Of course, it has been done partially,
and in various ways. In the 50s and 60s, European cinema explored this visual
potentiality, but it stopped in the 80s when the industrialized cinema of Hollywood
came to dominate the global business.
So what do we support? We – the syndicate -- support a mosaic, reflective, plural-voice narrative. This is born from a post-industry mode of production, from a world
of broken fragments of memory and recounting. Therefore, amongst the dust of the
production power of mainstream cinema industry, our innovation is a cinema which:
1. is guerilla in style, not hiding our humble financial status. We refuse the producer-managerial production structure and studio professionalism. We embrace
amateur cinema and the author.
2. takes in and uses all kinds of materials – documentary and TV footage,
fictional conventions, text, home video, photos, tape recording, archives. We
use all those possibilities in weaving our new narratives.
3. constructs its own comrade-based independent distribution network – through
internet, film festivals, educational circuits, street events, bars, cafes, any
venue where the Hollywood cinema doesn’t have final control of the product.
4. promotes a cinema of non-perfection. We do not want a mediocre perfection or
technical perfection. We prefer a provocative and fresh cinema with ‘mistakes’. The
mistake is unavoidable, so we incorporate it with cautiousness and a spirit of self-criticism.
Finally, in contrast to the mode of operation of Hollywood – in which the viewer
enters and is swallowed by the dream -- our cinema is the awakening of a lucid
dream. A controlled abandon, a sober pandemonium, our vision is that of a crazed
honesty falling headfirst into reality. The syndicate costs nothing except for the
energy of those who chose to make the journey.
Written by Xiaolu GUO, Steve BARKER and Metaphysical Cinema Syndicate - 2010
This manifesto was written during the making of 'A Proof of Cubic Love' in London, Angkor Wat,
Tasmanian and Tian Mu Mountain