Heidi Trautmann

Heidi Trautmann Column 11 - Let’s talk about culture and Film Industry

Since I have talked to the German actress Jutta Hoffmann who came visiting Cyprus and whom I have met and written about her life story, the history of film making keeps turning in my head. Do you still remember the first film you saw? I do. It was Sindbad the Sailor, an American schmaltzy movie and I was 8 years old. The next film I used my pocket money for was a film about the youth of a saint, a girl who was stabbed to death and we watched all this blood spilling event in 3D, we had to wear 3D glasses, and I was twelve years old. The film industry is much older than I am; it all started in the late 1890s with the invention of the movie camera, before that there was the Camera Obscura which, in its principle of a chamber with a hole to catch the light, obviously goes back to Aristotle and even further back to a philosopher in China. Film industry has come a long way but they all had one thing in mind and that is entertainment of and exertion of influence on the masses. Prejudices are being nourished by the film industry. That is why film makers are feared and in authoritarian states films and film industry usually are strictly controlled; as it was the case in the former German Democratic Republic. Until the 1930s there was the silent film when an overdrawn mimicry and a sort of pantomime to translate simple themes to the audience was the normal way of making films. In times of war, film industry was supported by governments to produce propaganda films shown in newsreels, and movie films to romanticize military life and to stir up hatred against the enemy. Those films are still shown in some countries that want the hatred to be kept alive although it does in no way correspond to reality. Thank God people do travel a lot more and can form their own view. Besides the black sheep in the film making industry some very remarkable film movements have been realized, thus the musical films and music dance films, some films my favourites, history based films which will never be forgotten, Western films or as my husband calls them ‘horse operas’, great theatre and art films, films based on world literature, or just films around great actors and actresses; social films to denounce social injustices and abuses; films famous for their camera work and our beloved animation films. Just to name a few of my favourite ones in each category: High Noon, Dance films with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, The red Shoes, a ballet film; I married a witch by René Clair made in 1942, Children of Paradise; or later Out of Africa. Films that made history. The Jungle Book or new animation films such as Lord of the Rings. I cannot name them all. In Cyprus we have some very good film makers such as Derviş Zaim who has not only made great films on the recent history of Cyprus but also beautiful art films. The film Anahtar / The Key by Cemal Yildirim I had only seen last year and I was amazed by the quality of it; there are young film makers in Cyprus on both sides of the green line which have gained much recognition. Alas, visiting the regular big cinema theatres to watch films on a big screen, falls victim to television and as an undeniable piece of culture to our laziness, where we sit and consume so many bad taste films, often falling asleep in front of the set. Sure, you can buy or rent good films as videos, CDs, even download them, but it is still not the same as having an evening out at a big cinema theatre. In the old days of silent films you had a piano player doing the music according to the scene on the screen and at all times you had the sales girl with the box in front to sell candies and ice cream, or as in American cinemas the popcorn spender from which you can draw the amount you wish to carry in and… crunch crunch in all rows. Oh yes…and when we were young to hold hands with our friend…I mean you can still do it when you are older. That also is culture.

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