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The Radical Cinema and its Double: On Vertigo (Vol. 1, No. 7, 1997)

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Microsoft Word - 21Sicinski.docx Film-Philosophy 2.1 1998 Michael Sicinski The Radical Cinema and its Double Vertigo A Film and TV magazine by and for film-makers and audiences vol. 1 no. 7, Autumn 1997 ISSN 0968-7904 As just about everyone in touch with trends in the film world knows by now, the American Film Institute recently issued a list, compiled by dubious 'experts' in the field of 'the movies', of the '100 Greatest American Movies of All Time'. This effort, and its subsidiary television and videotape marketing tie-ins, has been thoroughly and justifiably attacked by critics of every stripe, and I have no intention of expending another syllable on what is only the most recent of Hollywood's seemingly endless, utterly transparent gestures towards maintaining its global hegemony. However, one point which I have not seen raised thus far in relation to the AFI's feel- good, jingoistic must-see list (with the exception of a piece by Jonathan Rosenbaum in the Chicago Reader) is how a cursory comparison of the United States with other nations serves to expose the relative poverty of state-supported film culture which the AFI feebly represents. An unsystematic, informal survey: -- A major world film festival like Rotterdam mounts a mid-career retrospective of the films of Ernie Gehr, while Sundance obediently lauds the slacker of the month. -- Last week's movie listings on the BBC included a broadcast of Alain Resnais's still- unreleased two-part film Smoking/No Smoking. -- Australia's state-owned Special Broadcasting Service offers viewers 'Eat Carpet', a weekly series of experimental shorts and rarely screened early work by Godard, Fassbinder, Herzog and Egoyan. Meanwhile, PBS, with the occasional exception of a daring documentary on its 'P.O.V.' series, shies away from most topics likely to brush Congress against the grain, and seldom commissions or airs formally adventurous film work. (Su Friedrich's superb Hide a

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