Conversations behind the movie camera

CINEMA: Through long-form conversations, Pamela Cohn offers a global collection of discussions on film and video as an essential medium for conveying the world's most urgent concerns.

Astra Zoldnere
Zoldnere is a Latvian film director, curator and publicist. She is a regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
Published date: May 16, 2020
Lucid Dreaming: Conversations with 29 Filmmakers
Author: Pamela Cohn
OR Books,

Lucid Dreaming consists of art journalist Pamela Cohn’s conversations with 29 documentary and experimental filmmakers. The author gives a voice to fascinating, unique artists who deserve more attention but are relatively unknown to general audiences. Pamela manages to both engage in revealing discussions about filmmaking and capture the intimate atmosphere in which the interviews took place.

While reading the book, one is immersed in a collective discussion. Suddenly all these voices matter – Pamela’s descriptions, the filmmakers’ statements, their cinematic expressions, and the authors they quote. Different words and images meet to complement, challenge, and provoke each other. Although I can’t mention every filmmaker’s name or their fascinating works in this article, I will address three fundamental questions that all of them are occupied with – who speaks, about what, and how.

Multiple voices

In 1975, British film theoretician Laura Mulvey created the term «male gaze», which means that the audience watches from the male point of view. Since then, the question of who is observing who has become crucial in film theory. The first interview in Cohn’s book is with the legendary American filmmaker Barbara Hammer, who passed away last year. The queer artist’s work has always entered intimate territories and offered her a special way of seeing. While making Synch Touch (1981), she even took the camera in bed with her. Other women are offering their versions of «female gaze» as well. Finnish-Egyptian filmmaker and performance artist Samira Elagoz has created several works dealing with this question. In some of her films she deliberately chooses to observe only men. However, she doesn’t just offer a reverse version of «male gaze», but asks men to actively participate in the creation.

Lucid Dreaming introduces us to «black gaze», «indigenous …

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