FIRST STATEMENT. We have not yet seen the most important films of the twentieth century. The German films of the concentration camps, the Soviet films of the gulags (Solzhenitsyn did not think that they were ever shot, but that seems unlikely), the scientific films of the splitting of the atom, the films of the workers who, at the very end of the nineteenth century in Chicago, never left the factory where they worked but were hacked to pieces, like beasts in a slaughterhouse.
SECOND STATEMENT. The amnesia and neglect which covers the history of cinema in the twentieth century is due to multiple factors, among which – and this is not the most important point – is the role of film critics and historians. Most of them, appointed by the industry itself, are the press agents for industrial cinema, or they are merely content to make distinctions between good and bad product. A true history of cinema can only be established thanks to those pioneering spirits who have left the profitable terrain of the market and adventured into the unknown land of non-commercial cinema, whether that be scientific, artistic, pedagogic, or domestic. This patient and difficult work of reconstruction, for a film historian, will need to be undertaken from now on every day, daily. It is almost impossible to write the history of contemporary cinema. The means of creation are everywhere, as is the desire for images. Film production has nothing to do with industry, which is nothing more than its most obvious and mediocre aspect. Should we deplore and grieve for this situation? On the contrary!
For the contemporary historian of cinema, this realisation leads to numerous consequences that are theoretical and above all practical. The most immediate are to:
1. Abandon the terrain of industry which is better left to sociologists, psychoanalysts, economists, historians of technique, anthropologists of ritual and spectacle, and historians of cultural practices (among others).
2. Create an international network to begin collecting films, videos and catalogues of electronic images from the world of independent production.
3. Name this network ‘The Vogel Web’ in homage to Amos Vogel, one of the first programmers to decompartmentalise cinematic practices and list this type of film in his book (Film as a Subversive Art) including some that without him would have totally fallen into oblivion or remain unidentifiable.
The Vogel Web will
be characterised by the following attributes:
5. The maintenance of the collection sites for titles must not be conferred upon a single source, but must at least be doubled: by a national cinematheque, and by an even more independent association. The collection of information on the production of free images must itself be practised freely.
6. The creation of a network from the banks of material thus constituted will establish a synthesis.
7. Access to the Vogel Web by researchers, cinephiles, historians, filmmakers and anyone interested in the information thus collected and recollected will be open, free and unlimited.
8. The sites of the Vogel Web can perfect a collection formula allowing the listing of the most information possible on the films or tapes collected (authors, title, format, duration, places of production, description of content, commentaries, etc). But every listing must also be able to be left free and spontaneous, independent of administrative forms of identification.
9. The depositors will technically facilitate the collection of images and sounds made from the titles on the Vogel Web.
10. Information on independent production can be collected in a voluntary way by all interested parties: cooperatives, production houses, authors, laboratories, publishers, theatres, cinematheques, programmers, festivals, university departments ...
11. To facilitate access to the material, software for specific searches will be put in place. Searches can be conducted by author, title, duration, format, theme, and keyword. But software will also be available for iconographic and sonic searches by visual and aural motifs.
12. All commercialisation of this material concerning independent creation will be forbidden.
Translated from the French by Rouge.
© Nicole Brenez and Rouge 2004. Cannot be reprinted without permission of the author and editors of Rouge.