Friday, October 1, 2010

Creative Documentaries from Barcelona

As Director of The Catalan Center, I am pleased to welcome Mr. Gerwin Tamsma as guest blogger to open the semester by offering his view of the Master's in Creative Documentaries of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

This semester we are delighted to be offering a series of films produced in the framework of this M.A. program. We are honored to welcome the founder and director of the program, Professor Jordi Ball√≥, for the opening and closing of the series, to frame the mission of the program and discuss the films. In the following article, Mr. Tamsma, who focused on the UPF Masters in a "Signals" section of this year’s IFFR, tells us why these films are important.

Mary Ann Newman

The Master’s in Creative Documentary of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra at the Intersection of Genre and Technology

The films produced in the context of the Creative Documentary MA of Barcelona’s Universitat Pompeu Fabra are more than ‘just’ the impressive result of years of dedication of some of Spain and Catalonia’s most talented filmmakers. They represent the cutting edge of arguably the most important trends in cinema. This film series offers an overview of this program and its role in these developments.

Much, if not all, of the vitality in contemporary modern cinema in the last twenty years is related to two developments: the rise of digital technology, and the disappearance of fixed borders between fiction and documentary.

Modern recording technologies opened up affordable possibilities for filmmakers to shoot anytime and anywhere, uncovering a wide array of new subjects and aesthetics. This helped to establish a certain type of personal and hybrid filmmaking, one that allows creators to combine documentary research not only with the joy of experiment, the reason of essay, the emotions of social commitment and self-examination, but also with the fantasy of fiction, poetry, and re- enactment.

It is this type of cinema that is proposed, thought, and produced by the Master’s in Creative Documentaries of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Characteristically, the films are full of people and places familiar to the filmmakers: rarely is there a film without mothers, fathers, uncles, neighbors or friends. Though the settings are distinctly Catalan and certainly Spanish, the films are very cosmopolitan – like the city of Barcelona itself, one could say.

These films are almost the exact opposite of the fare we are offered in the multiplexes: they are too caringly and patiently made to become mainstream: too contemplative, too intimate, too obsessed with the passage of time, with finding the right form. And this is why I care for them.

Gerwin Tamsma

International Film Festival Rotterdam

Gerwin Tamsma is responsible for programming the International Film Festival Rotterdam’s feature films from China and Korea, Latin America and - in Europe - Belgium, Scandinavia, Spain and Portugal, and he also coordinates the ‘Bright Future’ section. Mr. Tamsma is part of the selection committee for the Tiger Awards competition, as well as the committee of the Hubert Bals Fund. He has curated retrospectives as well as special programs for the festival.