Monthly Archives: November 2017

Nacionalne medijske politike, (tudi filmske), v globaliziranem svetu – National media policies in the globalized world

A propos globalisation, I once wrote somewhere. “As we have managed to survive electrification, we may very well survive globalisation too”. This may be an inside pun for those of us, fortunate enough to have survived noble but dangerous experiment of communism, which a bearded gentleman once described as “socialism with electricity.” Yet I am convinced that the sentence hints at an appropriate approach to globalisation problem. Anyway, this was my preconception, or maybe a hypothesis on the subject of “national visions” prior to my chairing the conference in Ebeltoft. The hypothesis was not taken out of thin air, of course. Rather I drew such conclusions knowing the film situation in Slovenia well, and knowing also, that the situation elsewhere is not fundamentally different.
What should one not do in order to understand the problem of national cinemas in a globalized world, and thus maybe have a slight chance to influence its impact on us? One should not polarise one’s attitude about it. One should not present the issue as “for” and “against.” Not surprisingly it polarising is exactly what is taking place, framing the issue as globalisation versus almost everything else in our world. The pros are preaching gospel of progress, the possibilities of globalisation to make everybody rich and happy – how many times has this not happened since the steam engine – and the anti’s, the luddites, warn for all the disastrous consequences of globalisation. In my mind both lines of arguments are right. But both also draw wrong conclusions.
History informs us that the promises of the optimists have never been fulfilled, and that phenomena such as globalisation have ultimately always served a small minority, and damaged the vast majority of men. Now, we know that the gap between the rich and the poor countries in the world is growing, and there is not even a utopian idea about how to do something about it! This gap is as much about culture as it is about anything else.
The crucial question then remains, can we avoid globalisation? To my mind we cannot, since it is a political and economic process based on technological change. The trains made the first world war an efficient industrial slaughterhouse. We must admit, though, that trains fulfilled other functions too. If our forefathers had stopped the development of heavy industry, they might have stopped a war. But Mr. Lud and his followers were wrong, not necessarily in principle, but because on that there was never any choice.
The situation is similar in our area. Regarding the prospect of national cinemas and other media, we are either pros or anti. Here also we are engaged in useless fights, since we will not be given the choice. The world media market, especially cinema, has, as we know, been globalized for a long time. It is probably a good indicator of how globalisation will be for other areas. The almost total domination of the globalized “Hollywood” film industry (which is in fact super-national and is not the American cinema!) on the world market is an undisputed fact. Yet neither globalized Hollywood or the USA are to be blamed for this. They are only pursuing their best interests in a market economy. It is we, (the rest of the world), who are not doing the same, so we are responsible for our own failures. This is so, in spite of the fact that this globalized Hollywood domination is not solely the result of the superiority of whatever kind of product. The U.S. government, is of course helpful in giving a highly profitable segment of its economy and public relations, (soft power), assistance. Rightly so. The enhancement of trade is one of the roles of governments. Our governments should follow their example.
Cinema and audio-visual media are, as we know, highly profitable economic activities. In the coming world – that is here already! – of the informational economy (and culture), the audio-visual sector will play a pivotal role. But cinema and audio-visual media are also providers of popular and more serious culture, and thus play many other important non-economic roles. Popular culture is an increasingly important instrument of socialisation, personal, cultural, ethnical, political, sexual … So it is legitimate to insist that certain part of the “market cake” should be reserved for local, national, regional culture, primarily for cultural, but also for other reasons. What is culturally functional for US audiences is not necessarily also functional for the audiences of the rest of the world, and the present media market is surely not so fair, that we can naively claim that the audiences are freely making their own choice and buying the product of that choice.
If it is the case that this segment of mass culture fulfills an important public interest, it is fair to demand that media market should be regulated by that public interest. On that basis, nations have every reason to resist the attempts of the American government to include the audiovisual media under the rubric of “free trade” and to eliminate the public interest, as a reason to regulate this particular market. As it says on the Ingmar Bergman’s puppet theatre in his film Fanny and Alexander: This is not for entertainment only!
The crucial question is: are or are not films, as mass culture products, solely entertainment commodities? The answer is, of course, that they are more than just commodities. Then we may conclude that we need national (or regional, or local), films (visions), and in order to have them, we need national (or local, or regional) film policy.
Let us not delude ourselves into believing the national might not be the most important aspect, even if it is the case that other identities may transcend national ones. Even if national identity necessarily is of a minor, and sometimes questionable importance, it is only the state that may still have the necessary power to implement appropriate film policy, as part of a national cultural policy. We should keep in mind that we are contesting powerful multi- and supra-national corporations, often assisted by the only remaining super power state.
Nations will assert their interest only if they have a clearly articulated political will to do that. Who can articulate that will? Who can lobby for it? I think that I am not exaggerating if I say that it is us, critics `and scholars, film makers and film teachers who have the responsibility do that. Who else is there?
The Ebeltoft conference was highly informative to me, because it more-or-less clearly demonstrated the place of national cinemas between the ever present threat of the globalized “Hollywood” industry and its own aesthetic, cultural, local, national or regional ambitions. It emerged clearly, I hope, that the formula of a universal story for global audiences serves perfectly globalized Hollywood’s legitimate goal of making money.
Film as expression and a moulder of local, regional or national culture (vision), film as art, is surely not global in the Hollywood sense. It is global in a different way.. It becomes global and universal only on the level of artistic quality. The history of film art does not consist of globalized Hollywood product designed for a universal market. In fact such products are as a rule ignored by history of film art, eliminated from it. What becomes film history and thus truly global and universal, are films as expressions of local (regional, national) culture, including American, with high, and therefore universal aesthetic quality.
Such cinema needs protection. There is no doubt about that. The question is only what kind of protection. Here there is a difference between the American, or perhaps English- speaking independent producer and director and others. American independent producers or directors can gamble on being chosen by a major global distributor. Others can’t, so they will likely get protection from the state, not necessarily in the form of subsidies, but surely by some kind of special conditions imposed on the market. The fact that protection can also spoil film makers by removing their concern for the audience, does not change the core argument. There are some examples of effective film policies in the world: Denmark, especially at this very moment, and other Scandinavian states, Ireland, Australia, France, Canada, for example. … There are many unfortunate examples of no film policy, of what of happens if the a totally free market prevails. There are so many that it is of no use even to mention them.
It was interesting to see during Ebeltoft interventions how we are influenced in our attitude towards national “visions” in the context of global according to our place and power on the world cinema market. Americans seem to be, by and large, supporters of free and unrestricted market, and that goes even for US independent producers. Consequently they do not feel much for “national visions” either. Europeans are more in favour of the national cinemas and regulated markets. Indians are happy with their domination of domestic cinema on the home market and do not find the subject relevant or pressing. They have do deal with the same problem within India itself, where Bollywood in India plays the role of globalized Hollywood in the world. Ibero- Americans on the contrary, see the issue of national culture and with it national film as a highly pressing matter. In their minds globalisation, also in the film area, is perceived as just another form of (also cultural) colonisation.
By and large I believe the conference has suggested some extremely important issues to reflect (and act)upon.
Igor Koršič
Ljubljana, Decembe 2000
(published in CILECT news)

P.S. Žal ni nihče v Sloveniji poslušal key note speakerja v Ebeltoftu na Danskem leta 2000. (Nihče v Sloveniji tudi ni podprl njegove aktivne vloge v mednarodnem prostoru, čeprav je deset let, dokler se ni utrudil, brez domače podpore ostal v upravnem odboru CILECT, in pridobil za Slovenjo nekaj deset tisoč $ in pripadajočega ugleda). Pri nas sta med tem bila v modi ( v Financah in Sobotni prilogi) Mičo Mrkaić in Samo Rugelj. Sicer bi v Sloveniji danes (2017) lahko imeli popolnoma drugačno medijsko politiko in kulturo.

Globalni napad na svobodo medijev in samoodločbo narodov – Global attack on freedom of media and national selfdetermination

Svetovni mediji in organizacije za zaščito človekovih pravic molčijo, medtem ko poteka ukinjanje svobode medijev v ZDA in Rusiji. Najprej so ZDA prisilile ruski mediji v ZDA kot sta RT in Sputnik da se prijavita kot tuja agenta. To pomeni, da bodo morali redno oddajati finančna poročila in svoje novice opramljali disclaimerji, deklaracijami, da je medij tuji agent. Pri tem so uporabili zakon iz leta 1938, ko bil uporabljen zadnjikrat proti nacistični Nemčiji. Med medanrodnimi televizijami RT izstopa po kvaliteti, uravnoteženosti in objektivnosti. RT zaposljuje vrsto vrhunskih novinarjev iz ZDA in VB, kot je Larry King. Na RT redno nastopajo politiki in vrhunski strokovnjaki iz vseh koncev sveta. Utemljitev za ta ukrep so očitki ameriških obveščevalnih služb, da televizija vnaša razdor v ameriško družbo in dvom v njihov demokratični sistem, saj poročajo o problemih: o rasizmu, o nasilju, o težavah z volitvami … Rusija se je odzvala z recipročnim ukrepom, vendar mora najprej sprejeti nove zakone, ki jim bo take ukrepe omogočila.

Tudi samoodločba narodov je na udaru. Po dogajanju v Kataloniji je kitajsko zunanje ministrstvo izrazilo zadovoljstvo, saj je očitno, da suverenost držav in nedotakljivost mednarodnih meja pridobivata na veljavi.


Podpora Kataloniji na AVAAZ, Proclamation on Katalonia and democracy on AVAAZ

Dogajajo se čudne stvari. To proklamacijo DSP so na AVAAZ nekako zamrznili. Začel sem sumiti, da smo ovirani od kakšne druge agencije, denimo East Stratcoma? Celo Guardian je objavil poročilo o tem, da poročanje mednarodnih ruskih medijev v EU povezujejo z ruskim vmešavanjem. Nihče ne pove, da je tako razmišljanje nezaslišano. Da postavlja pod vprašaj svobodo medijev, to sveto osnovno načelo demokracije. Ne pristali smo na logki resničnih novic (naših news) in lažnih (njihovih). Guardian poroča, da se ne strinjajo vsi v EU, zamolči kdo se ne, ne zaradi svobode medijev, ampak zaradi želje po umirjanju odnosov z Rusijo zaradi trgovski interesov. Ruska mednarodna televzija, mimogrede odlična, se mora prijaviti v ZDA kot tuji agent, v skladu z zakonom oporabljnenim za naci Nemčijo leta 1939. Kaj se vendar dogaja? Ža zdavnaj bi morali zvoniti vsi alarmi na tej in oni strani Atlantika. Dogaja se pa nasprotno, rusko histerijo nenehoma napihuje liberalna stran, clo vsi satirični šovi, ne pa denimo Foxnews.


Proclamation for Catalonia and Europe

We Slovene writers and other workers in culture are asking the people, the citizens of EU states, to support our demand that our elected governments as well as unelected EU bureaucrats stop insisting that the freedom of Catalans is an internal matter for Spain. Such repressive constitutionalism legitimizes and even encourages the use of force by the Spanish state against the people of Catalonia and thus fuels civil war.

To pretend that constitutions are above human rights is a denial of the basic European and universal human values upon which democracies of European Union are built.

Catalans cannot hope for support for their democratic aspirations from the EU as it currently is. European history is a disgraceful history of betrayals. From selling Czechoslovakia to Hitler in Munich to preaching to the besieged Bosnians in Sarajevo to negotiate with Milošević, Europe has learned nothing. Therefore we need a different Europe and different EU. A Europe with a memory, one that will learn from the mistakes of the past, in order to unconditionally defend freedom and democracy for everyone for the future.

The free Catalan culture that is developing in accordance with the self‐determination of the Catalan people cannot be an internal matter. Culture and language are part of the irreplaceable and precious human heritage and cultural diversity of the world. This heritage in all its diversity should be protected in the interest of humankind.

We are asking the people, the citizens of EU states, to demand that our elected representatives stop claiming in our name that the conflict between Catalan elected representatives and the Catalans that voted in the referendum on October 1 for the independence of Catalonia and the Spanish state should be resolved in accordance with the Spanish constitution. The rights of expression and self‐determination come before any constitution. These rights are above any state, super state, capital, military or any other vested interest.

The Europe of regions has long been talked about. Existing national states are not god given. For a number of reasons, more EU will inevitably sooner or later produce more
Catalonias all over the continent. We demand that our elected representatives and unelected EU bureaucrats take this process they themselves are generating into account and act accordingly.

EU bureaucrats should for example stop making pronouncements on the number of EU states to their liking and other similarly scandalous and inappropriate statements. Being unelected, they have no mandate to express anything other than what EU states authorize.

We are therefore asking the people, citizens of EU states, to unconditionally demand that our elected governments and unelected EU bureaucrats condemn every use of violence against the citizens and noncitizens of EU states that are peacefully exercising their inalienable right of self expression. And this includes holding referendums for independence.

We are asking the people, citizens of EU, states to demand that our elected governments and unelected EU bureaucrats stop ignoring our basic rights and explicitly or implicitly

endorsing the use of any kind of violence and intimidation of citizens peacefully expressing their fundamental rights. Nobody should beat us for expressing our thoughts and the right to self‐determination.

We are asking the people, citizens of EU states, to support the independence of Catalonia, when the majority of the people of Catalonia vote for it. The Spanish and other EU states, our elected representatives, as well as unelected EU bureaucrats, must respect the right of Catalans as well as other peoples of Europe to decide on their own future.

We are asking the people, citizens of EU states, to support Catalonia in order to help the European Union to respect its own fundamental values.

Ljubljana, November 4, 2017

Slovene writers and other workers in culture