RUS

THEORETICAL DISCUSSION: PAVEL PECHONKIN. TIME IN THE DOCUMENTARY

It is interesting to speak on the topic which is declared a little bit provocative in the name of our festival - "new documentary". We must all the same decide - if it exists or not. That's why in the program I claimed the report "Axioms and theorems of documentary." But fortunately the reports and speeches went on another direction. At the end even now in lobby definitions and some new formulas appear. At the very beginning when an idea came to organize a conference, the task was formulated in such a way: to define terms. Then we understood that it is extraordinarily complicated, that this task is impossible to fulfill. There was also a desire to give a certain definition of the documentary. It appeared also to be a very complicated task. We were trying to comprehend - why do such tasks seem feasible? - and came to the conclusion that the cinema terminology as the language of art has not been quite absolutely worked out, that is the task of the next century. We are now at the beginning of the way and that's why we have a lot of problems and, thanks God, we are trying to solve them. Films that we have seen and our discussions allow to speak about serious optimistic sprouts that, in the long run, we'll come to a definition of a documentary.

And now I simply acquaint you with some theses. They don't make a well-composed system, they are only some notes that have appeared in the time of film reviews and discussions and supported by arguments which are read out from famous books. I as a person, who has had some practice, will speak about my meditations on the topic of the new documentary.

Thus, I begin to make my "marginal notes" public. When I began thinking over the process going on, some general ideas came to me which are interesting to list because the talk about this has already taken place. Thus: an attempt to speak about art with the help of the language of science is too special and doomed to failure. But any model - it is a method to learn the whole. And here are some quotations from an American scientist Thomas Manro: "Attempts to analyse and describe, classify a work of art scientifically may be called an aesthetic morphology and classified as a branch of aesthetics. Method of naturalistic aesthetics borrowed in the principle from scientific knowledge must coordinate

1) with semantics and semiotics;

2) with logics of the science;

3) with theory of information;

4) with cybernetics".

Being still in a rudimentary, speculative stage, from the point or view of aesthetics, these branches of knowledge as Manro believes can contribute to solving some separate tasks: understanding communicative functions of art, possibilities to create mechanically, studying peculiarities of creative process. It seems that it is very important to learn to analyse a film, one cannot find such analysis in critical magazines, all the more in newspapers and in public opinions.

To synthesize data obtained from different sources it is necessary to prepare specialists thoroughly on the basis of such educational program where the edifice of art, philosophy and other sciences will organically enter aesthetics, cinemacritics, terminology and interpretation of film. For me, the actuality of the conference lies in the fact that the absence of the modern model of the aesthetic conception of a film analyses hinder the dialogue between practical workers and theorists. It involves the film critics in clan trials and leads to bad taste that is characteristic even of many respectful magazines.

Among many trends and ways of creating fruitful models for analysis moving pictures on the screen, today I would rather choose those which characterize cinema:

1. As a temporary art. I say on the spot, that the cinema

            and documentary in particular is art. I do not put

            a question to discuss whether a documentary is publicism,

            a journalistic genre. I consider a documentary to be art.

2. Dramatically formulated sequence of specific audiovisual

            images.

3. As a myth.

Any of these trends seem to me quite fruitful having serious terminological basis in the works of the most prominent scientists. The necessity to move simultaneously in different directions, that is the creation of different models appear, in my opinion, from the complexity of tasks facing us. Cinema as an audiovisual means of communication has the attributes of all classical arts. Working out terms, the system of analysis of the latter lasted thousands of years. The structuralistic attempts in the 50 - 60ies were expressed by Jean Mitri who spoke "about impossibility to make a grammar of the film, as all grammars are based on fixation and singularity of conventional signs. All attempts in this direction invariably failed. And all pretensions to use grammar testify about the ignorance of artistic and semiotic attributes of moving images.

Averting ready-made signs, cinematography does not suppose any a priori rules of grammar. Even syntactical rules must be always critically analyzed as they can be referred to some particular aesthetics or stylistics but not to the rules of cinema speech in its totality".

Today hundred years later after the appearance of the cinema we bear a resemblance to an ancient hunter who has heard a sound of a bow-string for the first time and thought of an emotional effect of this act.

I named three models on which it seems to me we can work very fruitfully, but there might be some others. These are only those three to which we came arranging the festival and considering this topic.

Thus, cinema as temporary art.

I shall not speak about other models because I have not been working them out.

Thus we have two pillars: Vertov and Flaherty. I want to cite D. Vertov's quotation, capacious, interesting: "The element of the art movement is intervals (transition from one movement to another) but not the movements themselves. They lead to movement, to kinetic solution. The organization of movement is reorganization of its elements, that is intervals in phrases. We are in search of cinema programs. Long live dynamic geometry!" This is a manifesto of montage cinema. He arranged a film as music.

In 10 years after the article "Imprinted Time" Andrei Tarkovsky said the following: "In the light of my present considerations about the possibilities and peculiarities of cinematography as art it is very important for me that the plot of the script meet the demands of the unity of time, place and action on the principles of classicism. Earlier it seemed to me interesting to use fully comprehensive possibilities of montage of both the chronicles and other temporal layers such as dreams and bustle of events putting the characters before unexpected trials and questions. Now I would like to have no time gap in montage gluings. I want time and it's continuation to appear and exist inside of a snap, and montage gluings would mean the continuation of action and nothing more that there was no time muddle and they should not fulfill the function of selection and organization of dramatic time".

When we were discussing the festival program, we for a long time could not come to one and the same conclusion how to arrange it. And I issued a provocative leaflet and sent it by fax to Moscow, Saint-Petersburg: "The task of the conference, which takes place in the frames of the festival "Flaherty-95" may be formulated as follows: an attempt to come to unity on the terminology and defining the genre of documentary. In our opinion, the main question which ought to be put to solve this task is the time in the cinema and in temporary arts in general. Hence, we suggest introducing four definitions of time in the reports, they seem to make an interesting model to analyse temporary arts:

1. Linear time - time of Euclidean space, the fourth co-ordinate according to Einstein.

Linear time at little speeds are subordinated to Newton laws of mechanics, it consists of minutes, seconds, hours and so forth.

2. Unlined time, that is subjective time. The term of unlined time has come into being by an analogy with unlined uneuclidean geometry, this term has the meaning which will be disclosed in future in the process of creating the indivisible theory of the field. At present the term "unlined time" means emotional time, the peculiarities of a psychophysical contact of a man with the world.

Unlined time is identical with socium and is its essence. The relation between linear and unlined is similar to the relation between the socium and God. Temporary arts are indulged in the transmission of unlined time to linear through the following mediation: screen, sound, language.

The laws of the drama have direct attitude to unlined time. All space of unlined time consists of an endless quantity of dramatic codes. A code is a conventional definition. A code is the smallest unit identical with all others of longer duration in space of unlined time.

A code of maximum duration is equal to the man's life. A code of minimum duration is an instant. Every moment of the man's life takes an endless quantity of dramaturgy codes, each of them is on different stages of the development of drama action. We suggest introducing a constant - a duration of the man's life and analyse the time of life duration as a key to meditations about the time in the cinema. As the man is mortal, then death and birth are absolute.

3. Screen time is the time of transmission of unlined time to linear. Time, defined by the continuationof the film.

I think that the subject of a documentary is the time of the character's life unfolded on the screen according to the drama laws. It is very important to note the time scale. I mean the map of linear time and the time of the character's life as a dramatic code. A screen time is not equal to the time of the character's life. Usually the screen time comprises a day, a month, even years of the character's life. Let's call the time in which the character is shown while the film is being shot as real time. A film having a claim on a documentary, in my opinion, must have an identity of real and screen time as one to one (1:1). In other words the author of the film does not only select real time but also transmits unlined time to screen time.

An attempt "to drive away an author" from a documentary seems to be a general but not the only way of the development of the documentary. A document is a notion, the major part of semantics of which is defined by the time. A document is a means of keeping information, it is an evidence of past lives, an attempt to understand time in all its diversity of meanings.

A producer of a documentary, in my opinion, can exist in two substances. The first is a producer who selects the material to be transmitted in future. His relations with the character (the personage of a documentary) can be expressed by one phrase: "To press the button in time".

The second: the producer is the author. The producer announces himself a documentary character and creates without thinking about "cleanness" of a document. In this meaning such a producer may be called not a documentary producer, but a producer of a feature film.

All the films that we've seen at this festival, I would rather call feature films. The term "new documentary" was put in the name of the festival by reason of its extreme proximity to feature films. Time scale - one to one (1:1) is in the film "Ten minutes older", where the time of the character is identical with the screen time. This film may be called a manifesto. The author's time, I would rather call Vertov, it is non-existing unlined time which is in full conformity with the author's conception. For me a documentary is a film where the author must be of less importance. This principle is both ethical and aesthetical. Because the model of Hollywood films with the development of computer technology will lead to creation of virtual reality in which a man will be psychologically defenseless in this imaginative world as well as in the real world. A documentary, in the long run, will take in this process clear and natural position. And a documentary hero will take his position in the film as a real hero. As a documentary hero, first of all. And it is clear that Hollywood model is an imaginative virtual world, the second model when a documentary hero lives real life and for that becomes interesting. The technology of the producer's work is a matter of profession on the shooting site and we have discussed it today. I would like to finish with the formula "new documentary" is a cinema which strives for the time scale one to one (1:1).

S. Muratov:

I want to clear up. You spoke about three types of time: linear, unlined and screen time. And you gave an example of linear time "Ten minutes older".

P. Pechonkin:

No, that's the film in the scale 1:1. The fact is, that in the space of un linear time exists the time of the hero's life and life time of the author simultaneously. It is a complicated interconnection, the more so it is not properly worked out and painfully touching. It is clear that the life time of the character and the screen time in the scale 1:1 is a vector of a new documentary. Unlined time is a dramatic code. It is life time which may be observed on the plane of the linear and screen time.

Muratov:

"Ten minutes older" is a manifesto of a new documentary.

Pechonkin:

Yes, this is a manifesto where there is no author, the author becomes a selector that is there are no montage joints, it is an ideal variant.

Khanutin:

Pasha, does not it seem to you that your documentary on the scale 1:1 we constantly watch on TV in the program for example: "What? Where? When?" or "The field of wonders" without any montage joints during half an hour we are watching how some men and women try to answer some questions. I can say that they become "Ten minutes older". What's the difference?

Pechonkin:

From the very beginning I said that a documentary is art with all eternal questions.

Khanutin:

I think it is necessary to correlate our films not with Hollywood which is very far from us but with the TV films, they are our real adversary and opponent.

Pechonkin:

This is the theme of a totally different conversation - the correlation of a documentary and TV.

Gurevich:

May I ask you another question? You proclaimed a documentary to be an art. Alpha of any kind of art is a personal view of the world. The creator's view of this second world. You drive out this creator, I'm citing you here:"The less of the author - the better". I'd like to ask you how to accomplish something we consider an art with the time scale one to one (1:1) without even a montage gluing.

Pechonkin:

On your question I'd reply: "Driving out the author as driving out the demon".

Gurevitch:

Yes, you cannot drive out the demon, I have already spoken that there is a selection at the moment of shooting.

Pechonkin:

Absolutely. I fully agree with you.

Gurevitch:

Either gluing or moving camera and absence of gluing.

Pechonkin:

Fully agree. There is no end to perfection.

Gurevitch:

That's clear

Pechonkin:

There is no doubt that the author is present not as a gluer of space-time but as a man who works with the hero. He introduces the hero to us, a separate part of his life which is an uncut block of marble. A producer, as an artist, cutsout what is unnecessary.

Anchugov:

Developing this thought we can struggle not only with gluing but also where to direct a camera.

Pechonkin:

Yes, but we are not given another chance. We have a camera, we speak in the frames of a film. Why not?

Muratov:

And what about Arthur Peleshan?

Pechonkin:

Arthur Peleshan, according to his model of analysis I refer to the best fruit of Vertov's trend of cinema.

Remark:

But it is all old cinema?

Pechonkin:

Why? Everything is developing. Why old? Nothing old exists. New is forgotten old.

Remark:

This is news, which is always fresh.

Pechonkin:

Yes

Remark:

Well, what must we specially define the new art for?

Pechonkin:

It is a polemic device. And a new documentary is well forgotten old but new at the present stage, it is actual to the present conditions of life and producing. May be the next festival "Flaherty-96" will be called "old documentary or "neorealism".

Remark:

The newest.

Remark:

Unvirtual

Vladimir Jarmochenko:

About temporary reality. What was said about the correlation of screen time and real, shooting time, one to one - it is a brilliant result and we all are striving for this. All shifts of camera and gluing are effective. This effect should be used very cautiously. I can illustrate this by my film "Ivanovskaya gorka". A man is lying on the sofa. The point of shooting practically was not changed in the flat. Directly from the unmovable foot I allowed myself to use panorama at people. It is an elementary glance, psychologically motivated, a man wanted to look and looked, it seems I am working with the spectator's eyes. For me such sequences where a common time of the character's life and screen time must be as much as possible, but I to my regret, cannot in my intentions foresee and I was obliged to transfer to effects, to gluing. And so a new time begins, the theory of editing etc. But it must come out from the fact that gluing is the effect, change of the view of the camera.

Remark:

Must it be understood that editing, foreshortening, gluing is our wretchedness but not our power.

Yarmochenko:

Precisely so. It is the author's view, but the real world ruins. In my opinion a documentary is when a spectator believes in the reality of what is happening on the screen. If there is even a slight doubt, it is already science-fiction, fiction or circus, TV and set of effects, We must use as less conventionalities and tricks as possible in a documentary. Here are the conventionalities of a documentary: a hall, a film, a cinemaprojector and that's enough. There is no need to over-stress oneself creating new conventionalities.