This blog is the product of many things, but chief among them, it is the realization of a vision my mentor has spent his life culminating. Mr. Jonathan Rosenbaum, avid and accomplished film critic of the Chicago Reader for over 20 years, and his lifetime ambition to bring cinema of the world to the masses. He laments the prosciutto slice of cinema that the bigwigs and corporations get in front of our faces, and strives to bring arthouse works and global pieces to the average movie consumer.
I took Mr. Rosenbaum’s “World Cinema of the 1960s” class at the University of Chicago in 2012. I am now working through his book, Movie Wars: How Hollywood and the Media Limit What Movies We Can See.
This blog is in honor of Mr. Rosenbaum, his amazing body of work educating and empowering the average movie-goer with choices and awareness of world cinema. This is my attempt to make his efforts a reality alive in my world.
- Jonathan Rosenbaum
A second inspiration that inspired this journal was Ann Morgan’s blog, “A year of reading the world: 196 countries, countless stories.” I was introduced to her blog through a BBC podcast, which I cannot locate, but here is a BBC writeup. She read one book from every country around the world in order to expand her awareness of global conditions.
My geography education is limited, but I try to expand it daily with media such as BBC Global News podcasts. I love Morgan’s blog because, rather than arbitrarily learning country names and cultures, she lived a country’s story firsthand through a writer’s voice.
Along the way, she gained a worldwide network of friends who helped her find works in less developed countries where writings weren’t readily available or translated. Together, they traveled around the world learning obscure stories from even more obscure countries. I assume that I will have even more difficulty finding films from such countries, but I hope to also have help along with way.
I’m a huge fan of TED Talks. The talk that jumpstarted this project was delivered by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, titled, “Your Elusive Creative Genius.” In essence, she both urged us to show up for the creative process. Make time for your subconscious to flow through you. Myself, a stunted writer who beats herself up for consuming mass culture more than contributing to it, I thought, “what better way than a blog to meet my spirit muse?”
My favorite reading as an undergraduate was a paper called, “Shitty Rough Drafts.” I believe it was by Anne Lamott, though I’ve had trouble locating the paper. It was all about the writing process and how your soul should pour out, allowing for space for the creative intellect, without worrying about punctuation, spelling, etc. Who knows what could arrive?
Likewise, a friend of mine recommended that I read The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. Cameron maintains that creative expression is our natural inclination. The book helps artists rid themselves of mind clutter, giving way to the creative mind with exercises like a daily journal of freewriting and artist “dates” where once a month you find a cultural, art event to attend.
This journey is my attempt to bring these inspirations together by documenting my viewings of a film from every country around the world. The project will be easy at first, as I already have many countries represented on my watchlist. But, as I go on, I’m sure I will need help finding films representative of more obscure countries where movie-making is not a common leisure.
I invite any and all of you to join me in this journey: by watching a film with me, contributing a film idea, commenting on a post (as I would prefer this to be a conversation,) or by starting your own project. And please tell me about your journeys, share your stories and together let our spirits breathe life into the world and cinema.