The Cineaste Interviews 2, Filmmakers On The Art And Politics Of The Cinema


BOOK REVIEW by Willard Manus

THE CINEASTE INTERVIEWS 2, FILMMAKERS ON THE ART AND POLITICS OF THE CINEMA, edited by Gary Crowdus & Dan Georgakas, is a collection of the probing interviews for which the film magazine Cineaste is noted. The first book in the series, published back in 1983, contained interviews with such 60s and 70s luminaries as Costas Gravas, Andrew Sarris and Rainer Fassbinder. Vol. Two's interviewees include Fred Zinneman, Oliver Stone, Susan Sarandon, Spike Lee, Robert Redford, Tim Robbins and Mike Leigh, to name but a few.

The emphasis is on the aesthetic and political issues that dominate contemporary cinema. Topics deal with "the making of quality films, independent productions, forms of censorship, sexist imagery, and representations of race and ethnicity."

Here are some sample quotes from the book:

Mike Leigh, on the audience's need to "identify" with a character. "Some people need that. What we're mostly talking about here is what people feel safe with. People like to know where they are, or they like to persade themselves that they know where they are. You don't have to know where you are, actually. You go away and discover after a period, by gestation."

Cuban filmmaker Tomas G. Alea, on the question of "revolutionary watchfulness" in his country: "There has always been revolutionary watchfulness. It increases during critical periods, at other times it is less, but there has always been a sense that surveillance and control are necessary. At times there is a real reason to have revolutionary watchfulness, but at other times it may be a pretext to commit certain excesses. It has always represented a threat to the counterrevolution--more particularly in earlier revolutionary times than now--so surveillance is something real. But at times it has become exaggerated and really bothersome. It has dampened people's activities and made their lives impossible. The best way to counter this problem is, first of all, to become aware that this is an aberration, and then to make fun of it a bit."

(Smyrna Press, $29.95 hdbnd, $17;95 ppk. Call 201-617-7247 or visit