Nowadays we witness a profound revolution in the way we relate to image technologies. This is only comparable to the popularisation of television and video during the second half of the 20th century, or the blooming of cinema during the first half. As it happened in previous revolutions, the impact upon the way we design our living and social narratives is profound. In fact it is through new digital technologies that, more and more, we build our mirroring, our place, our own individuality, either by what we make public, or through the intimate archive.

The on-going revolution has two interconnected strengths: on the consumption side, there are the exponential multiplication of screens and media sources; on the production side there are the multiplication of recording devices, surveillance, memory. Both strengths arise mistrust – today one speaks about the excess of information, the trivialisation and levity of images, and also about a generalised panoptic system. However the information may be filtered and the panoptic system may offer a whole new experimental field, including the artistic one. In the panoptic era, there is an emerging new opportunity regarding life experience Aesthetics.

As it is evident, this drift in direction cannot help but to shake a certain asceticism of cinema, of its languages and institutions. The video medium is no longer marginalised by its functionalist status, actually becoming one of the most popular mediums in the artistic post-modernity. Screens have spread themselves around exhibition spaces, starting up new art forms. They have become technologic sculptures themselves, and even in their non-committal uses – the typical amateur and voyeuristic style from the so-called home videos – they have been continuously appropriated and integrated in the academic cinema, re-educating it.

Above all, new ways of telling stories, new looks, new access to historically inaccessible domains have emerged. One of these domains, perhaps the most unsuspected of all, is that of the family, here understood not properly 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 may even expand into the form of a community, but it always retains an aura of interdiction, of shock against alterity and publicity. This might explain the fascination family so often excites. On the one hand, we find its sacredness, its strength to deliberate identity and property; on the other side, we find its natural erogeny, as an invitation to the voyeuristic drive of those who do not belong to the same domus, to 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 is today continually being transgressed from within by the avalanche of new devices and digital networks. But it is not really a matter of warning here against a negligible permissiveness of contemporary societies, or against a dystopian scenario of bankruptcy of intimacy. Intimacy will always find its own space, even if it has to be kept in constant dislocation. Instead, it is a question of walking on this dividing line between public and private, between alterity and identity. It is precisely the tensional space of these dichotomies - today governed by a whole technological panoticotopia - that we care to observe and highlight. But we must do so without our own gaze destroying the observed scenario. A so delicate, so respectful approach can only be aesthetic.

In this context, the Family Film Project emerges as a film cycle focused on the public-private borderline, between the popular and the intimate, between the global and the local, but also the mainstream and the alternative, the dominant and the precarious, or between the performativity (associated with fiction) and the documentary record (which tends to associate with the real). By placing itself on the immense dividing line that crosses these tension zones, the Family Film Project seeks to find points of contact and communication, while never surrendering to either side, without politicizing itself. The line we are trying to tread is not the thread of a conflict, nor is it a theoretical problem. It is not a question, for example, of thinking about the threshold between the documentary and the fictional film, or rethinking the status of independent productions and amateur videos against popular cinema and blockbusters. Nor is it a question of appealing to the rescue of the values ​​of privacy and family, or choosing them as concrete themes. The purpose of this cycle will always be slightly retracted in relation to such objects and discussions, even if it also involves them and ends by requesting them. On the contrary, it is a question of giving space to this fertile area, increasingly fertile, where life merges with the experiential register, where the real is also performative and performance is also real, where, in short, the most intimate experience may show itself without its intimacy being lost. 

Filipe Martins