Scopophilia

Cleveland International Film Festival, March 27, 2010

We spent the weekend shoulder-to-shoulder with like-minded cinephiles, our collective gaze fixed on the lights flickering on the cave walls.

We watched a butcher in Jerusalem let trouble stir life into his cold bones, confining a nibble of vitality to be preserved forever in a meat locker and the icy waters of a nearby spring.

We watched Joseph Brodsky gazing back at the St. Petersburg of his youth: potatoes, paintings of nudes, shelves of books, his parents dancing after the war, an orchestra of musical instruments floating in the sky like clouds.

We watched a Croatian sniper try to dodge the trajectory of his own bullets while hunting down the traumatized Little Red Riding Hood he had fallen in love with through the scope of his rifle and nearly destroyed.

We watched a Mongolian folk singer search for the lyrics to a song hidden in the unrepeatable archives of fading human memory.

We watched Renaud Capuçon perform Gluck’s Orfeo Melody on a 1737 Guarnerius violin in the Paris subway from 7:57 a.m. to 7:57 p.m to mostly indifferent commuters a couple of days before playing the same piece to a sold-out auditorium in the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. Our hearts were collectively broken until a blind woman renewed our hope by venturing as close as possible to warm herself in the glow.

We watched, Juan Pujol Garcia, a double agent from Spain and his contrived network of spies convince the Nazis to prepare for an attack on Pas de Calais as the Allied Forces stormed the beaches of Normandy.

We watched art collectors, dealers, galleries, and auction houses enthusiastically inflate the value of contemporary art to staggering and unsustainable heights through secrecy, speculation, tax strategies, and cornering markets.

Cleveland International Film Festival