The idea of “Imperfect Cinema” as an aesthetic suited to political struggle was first put forward by the Cuban director Julio García Espinosa. Here “Imperfect” does not mean bad, rather is rather an aesthetic and political choice. It is cinema made on the run, with more passion than precision, films made to communicate political ideas and to unravel the dynamics and contradictions of the issues they dealt with in order to spark debate and deepen political struggle. Imperfect because they are made in the midst of struggle where dynamics are constantly changing. Film makers must be a part of political struggle if they are to understand and contribute to it through their works and so films must often be made quickly if they are to be relevant as an intervention. There is also an aesthetic imperative behind imperfection. Many documentaries simply insert new content into an established and tired form with the result that the audience is alienated from the subject of the film. The film becomes a self contained object which the audience passively consumes. They do not recognise themselves or their lives in the film because it has severed its ties to the world beyond itself in order to become a commodity.
For film to act as an effective intervention in the political moment it must adopt a dialectical position in its relation to the audience. It must present problems and pose questions as much as offering analysis.It should seek to make sense of the political situation but should be presented as part of a dialog rather than something of and for itself. Meaning must be created collectively and so if the film is to contribute to a project of consciousness raising it must not divorce itself from its audience through a formal rigidity and technical perfection which leaves no room for ambiguity, debate and, there for, agency.
The aim of this blog is to establish the ways in which film can play this role in practice through a consideration of the ways in which film is being used practically in political movements around the world as well as looking critically at my own film projects.