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Program Cinevara

Because we love films

Once again, I have to thank Fundatia9 for them opportunity to select films for their summer film series - Cinevara. Over the years I’ve been asked what was it that drew to film—what were those aspects that made me, from a pretty early age, want to devote so much of my life to watching, teaching, presenting and just thinking about films?  There were, I’m sure, many reasons, but if I could sum them up, I’d simply say “a thirst for adventure.” Not that life was that uninteresting in the particular corner of New York City in which I grew up, but nothing could match the boundless experiences of a trip to the movies. Although that adventure occasionally translated into being whisked off to distant worlds or ancient times, what most intrigued me was just watching how humans related to each other. The moment that someone fell in love, or realized that there was no way out. There was so much to learn, to experience, even from an average film.

As I grew older, and began to have more access to films from a wide range of cultures, I discovered that this fascination with just watching others in the world offered an even more remarkable experience the farther I got from my own cultural comfort zone. The great Hungarian film theorist Béla Bálasz once wrote that the great originality of the cinema was its singular ability to explore the richest, most ambiguous of all terrains, the human face, and it always seemed remarkable to me that through the camera’s lens I could feel the wonder and terror of a young boy as he watches a political hero arrested and later executed, or to follow the collapse of a middle-class home wracked by jealousy and desire.

I tried to make a selection that would offer a wide range of film styles and approaches from an equally wide selection of nations. No theme, idea, or set of techniques tie them together, other than a commitment that feels clear to me that the artists who made them are all using the medium to explore new areas of human experience, sometimes in bold innovative ways.

I hope you enjoy the selection.

Richard Peña, Professor of Film and Media Studies, Columbia University, Director Emeritus, New York Film Festival