We are currently witnessing a profound revolution in the way of relating to image technologies, which can only be compared to the popularization of television and video during the second half of the 20th century, or to the flourishing of cinema during the first half. As in previous revolutions, the way in which we design our living and social narratives was strongly shaken: in fact, it is through new digital technologies that, increasingly, we build our mirror, our place, our own individuality, be it through what we make public, or through the archive of intimacy.

The ongoing revolution has two interconnected valences: on the consumption side, we are witnessing the exponential proliferation of screens and media sources; on the production side, recording, surveillance and memory devices are also multiplying. Both aspects raise suspicions: there is talk today of excessive information, of trivialization and frivolity of images, and of the threat of a generalized panotic system. But the information can be filtered and the panotic system can offer a whole new experiential deposit, including in the field of art. In the panotic era, there is an unprecedented opportunity for the aestheticization of experience and life.

As is evident, this inflection cannot fail to undermine a certain asceticism of cinema, its languages ​​and its institutions. Videographic support has long ceased to be marginalized due to its functionalist status, having become one of the most characteristic supports of artistic postmodernity: the screens spread through the exhibition spaces, founding new modalities of art, becoming technological sculptures themselves; and even the most uncompromising use of these devices - with the typical amateur and voyeuristic style of so-called home videos - is continually appropriate and integrated in cinematographic academy, re-educating it.

But, above all, new ways of telling stories, new perspectives, new access to historically inaccessible areas have emerged. One of these areas, perhaps the most unsuspected of all, is that of the family, here understood not exactly as a thematic area but as a metaphor for intimacy. The family draws the last frontier of the private: it extends beyond sexuality and individuality, and can even expand into the form of a community, but always retains an aura of interdiction, of shock against otherness and publicity. This will perhaps result in the fascination that it so often arouses. On the one hand, we see its sacredness, its strength to decide identity and property; on the other hand, we see its natural erogeny, as an accessory to the voyeuristic look on the part of those who do not belong to the same domus, the same family space. In short, the erogenous is linked to the confrontation with intimacy (of others); and intimacy, in its broadest sense, converges with the concept of family.

It is this space of intimacy that today is continually being transgressed from within by the avalanche of new digital devices and networks. But it is not really a matter of warning here against the negligent permissiveness of contemporary societies, much less against a dystopian scenario of bankruptcy of intimacy: it will always find its own space, even if it has to remain in constant displacement. It is a question of walking on this dividing line between public and private, between otherness and identity. It is precisely the tension space of these dichotomies - today governed by a whole technological panoticotopy - that we need to observe and highlight here. But we must do it without our own gaze destroying the observed scenario. Now, a look so delicate, so respectful, can only be aesthetic.

In this panorama, the Family Film Project appears as a film festival focused on the border between public and private, between popular and intimate, between global and local, but also between mainstream and alternative, between the dominant and the precarious, or even between the performative (associated with fiction) and the documentary register (which tends to be associated with the real). By placing itself on the immense dividing line that crosses these tension zones, the Family Film Project aims to find points of contact, ways of integration and communication, but without ever surrendering to either side, without politicizing. The line that is intended to be followed is not the line of a conflict, nor is it a theoretical problem. It is not a matter, for example, of thinking about the threshold between documentary and fictional film, or of rethinking the status of independent productions and amateur videos vis-à-vis popular cinema and blockbuster. It is also not a matter of calling for the rescue of privacy and family values, much less of choosing them as concrete themes. The objective of this project will always be slightly backwards in relation to such objects and discussions, even if it also involves them and ends up asking for them. On the contrary, it is a question of giving space to that fertile area, increasingly fertile, where life merges with the experiential register, where the real is also performative and the performance is also real, where, in short, the most intimate can be seen without it destroying their intimacy.


Filipe Martins (September 2014)