You have on your screen something that, even just a few short
months ago, I couldn't have imagined would exist: the debut
issue of The Film Journal.
This edition has been quite a labor of love, on the part of
myself and the great group of writers who came through for me
right out of the gate. But I'll thank them in a moment.
As I said, a little while ago, this was just a pipe dream.
I was working on my last website, a kind of entertainment site
that is common these days: one that wants to be all things to
all people. I'd been wanting, for quite some time now, to attempt
a more serious project, something that concerned itself more
with the culture of cinema than that of entertainment news and
box office reporting. I turned to a number of great publications.
Some I had been reading for quite a while (Sight
and Sound, Film
Comment, Filmmaker, Senses
of Cinema). Others I have only recently begun studying
Lights Film Journal, Millennium Film Journal, Cinema
What I had never noticed before in these publications, at least
not in any cognizant way, was the great sense of a kind of community.
As with any cultural art, there are opposing views to every
aspect of cinema. But within that disparity is a knowledge that
the art of motion pictures can only flourish through a serious
study and appreciation of the medium. The late, great Pauline
Kael always felt that critics could play a major role in shaping
the ways in which the cinema developed (read her seminal text,
I Lost it At the Movies). I don't know if we have that
broad of an appeal. Certainly, studio tastes are more effected
by test screening score sheets than reviews that come out of
press screenings. But I do believe that critics, writers, art-house
bookers, museum curators and other proponents and students of
cinema have the ability to broaden the spectrum of what is readily
available to the public. Just as in the days when general moviegoers
(albeit more progressive ones) were just as likely to see a
Fellini, Godard or Kurosawa film as one by Lucas, Spielberg
or Coppola, I believe audiences are primed to be exposed to
the likes of Wong Kar-Wai, Tsai Ming-liang, Kim Dae-sung, Claire
Denis, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Laurent Cantet...the list of noteworthy
contemporary filmmakers is long enough to fill several years'
worth of journal issues.
That, essentially, is why I decided to start The
Film Journal. There are certainly more well-known and
respected publications available right now. I recommend you
read all of them. Check out Gabe Klinger's 24
fps; regularly read the personal websites of The
Tobias and Time
Out New York's Mike
D'Angelo; and definitely subscribe to Sight
and Sound, Film
Comment, and Cinema
Scope and visit Senses
of Cinema and Bright
Lights Film Journal
on a regular basis. You can only further the cause of serious
film study by giving these publications your time and energy.
However, I also hope you will make The Film Journal one
of your permanent destinations. We plan on expanding into a
less freeform edition some time in the near future, but in the
meantime, I rather like the diversity of the pieces that we
have for you here in Issue 1. I hope you do, too.
I'd like to thank this issue's writers for not only morally
supporting the journal, but for giving us some really concise,
inventive pieces to come out of the gate with. Thank you so
much: Dr. Andrew C. Billings, Gerald Peary, Johnny DiLoretto,
Richard Armstrong, as well as the Drexel Theaters and the Wexner
Center for the Arts for providing meaningful cinematic experiences
in Central Ohio.
On a different note, there was to be a centerpiece on Method
Acting in this issue, but time constraints prevented us from
being able to develop it sufficiently. We hope to revive that
project in the near future. Other, more minor, segments have
been postponed as well ("Vampires in Film", "Children
and Violence in Film").
For now, I hope you enjoy the debut issue. In the July / August
issue, you can expect a larger number of reviews, more local
and international event coverage, and an in-depth focus on the
New Korean Cinema.
Richard A. Curnutte, Jr.
Editor, The Film Journal