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Saturday, 23 March 2013

Alexander Rastorguev's Natural Cinema Manifesto GUEST POST BY ANNA NIEMAN

Alexander Rastorguev.

NATURAL CINEMA (Translated by Anna Nieman).

Alexander Rastorguev is a documentary director with degrees in both philosophy and theater. His influence within the Russian documentary scene matches that of Pavel Kostomarov with whom he has often worked (wait for the second guest post to be published in a few days). Rastorguev's award-winning two-hour documentary “Wild, Wild Beach”(2005) is a powerful mosaic that lays out the sunburned humanity in all its unvarnished glory. Along with his earlier film “Clean Thursday”(2003), it’s a direct precursor to the current projects.

Anna Nieman is an independent film scholar, specializing in Soviet and Russian cinema. She graduated from VGIK in 1995 with a degree in Film Studies. Currently at work on her thesis, “Man of War: Films of Aleksey Balabanov in the Context of Post-war Russian Cinema”. Anna’s articles have appeared in “Art of Film”, “Caravan Magazine”, “Odnako” and

This is the first of two guest posts by Anna Nieman: a translation of one of the most important film manifestos of recent years. Watch out here in a few days time for an interview that she conducted with both Aleksandr Rastorguev and Pavel Kostomarov. This manifesto was originally published in A year later another statement this time co-authored with Kostomarov, was published on

Published with permission Seance Magazine (copyright)

The copyright of this translation belongs to Anna Nieman.

Consumed has been the air
in which
a little boy


was seduced by the authorship, out of those who are still around, of two great dudes:
They both live
 in the realm of guilt
on behalf of their world. The true, big grief of culpability.
From this almost divine feeling arises their reality.
It bears the moral imperative of communion.
 the communion
it brings forth
their personal Being.
Alongside they make their stand.
It’s not crowded there, I think.



 is a waste plant
documentary filmmakers are cloned to the specifications of TV networks. It’s an ideological affront to the entire film community in the form of a public auto-fellatio.
Manufacturing filmmakers with the scope and talents to fit a certain slot - a logical approach of the self-satisfying system.
Someone must
service the traffic between the Kremlin,
money and the communal trough.

“Actual Cinema”

the digital freedom with its digi-communism.
There it is, our time has come.
We can do more,
we can make it more honest.
We can make it about today.
the kindest ones are running to the old ladies for their tears,
the cleverest ones to Belye Stolby for Stalin,
the most talented ones to formalism for the extraneous,
and all together to the rigged out mannequins of the glamour revolution.
So where is that bitch, Reality?
Ain’t the bitch of kin to anyone?
Distrusting themselves, their own hearing and voice.
Not one of them is screaming, by Tarkovsky:

“I can speak!”

My God, if He exists, is a suffering God. And He begins with a new paragraph.
For you it’s all a run on sentence: eat, shit, love...
But I like it like that, because a moo-moo is better, then the silence of the lambs.
Monosyllabic and gleeful.

“Real Cinema”

Is already enslaved by its own aesthetic.
“Real Cinema” is trying to pin the tail of reality to the simulacra
of billboards. Change the vector. Not “real”, not “actual”,



Body of Pain

In The Pathology of Russian Mind it says: “The body of pain is the center of universal objectivity”.
The birth of the objective world occurs within the space of Naïve.
It occurs in the face of the pain, out of the pain and through the pain,
it is found (meaning: finds itself) around it.
beyond the pain,
but has its center in it.
Positioned in the realm of non-pondering authenticity.
Next to the center, nearby, just as Heideggers man is positioned
in the neighborhood of Being, being-alongside.
Similarly, the universal objectivity is located alongside with pain.
The pain itself being the guarantee of the authenticity.

Taking care of authenticity

The sphere of being - the language, the body of pain - the center of universal objectivity.

Existence and pain

A man coexisting with, but not recognising his proximity to them: is the shepherd of being.
The possessor of the pre-subjective corporeality.
The bearer of pain. Only with pain can one enter the house of being.
The pain is the means through which the truth of Being is revealed to a man.
“Standing in the lumen of the truth of Being” demands pain and in itself is pain.
Pain is a necessary condition for a human.


Could cinema be a useless
and hollow business?
Could it be yet another surrogate for the rhetoric and ideology?
Could this realm of humanity be surrounded to:
- that blabbering ideological lip-service;
- that biological kitchen enlightenment;
- that socialised adaptive fornication in mechanical hands of the power

which have so thoroughly and completely obscured the rare sparks of poetry and truth in documentary cinema.

NATURAL CINEMA - is a cine-novel

Its artistic basis:
an experiment of the pure aesthetics
and total anthropology.
Its core methodology - “the essential action” .
It alone makes up the dramatic fabric of a film.
Its pathos is -
an experiment of pure aesthetic
looking into the face of humanity,
humanity looking into its own face.
the realm of freedom -
the realm of a ledger of anthropological and moral experience.
From the catalog of pain to the threshold of truth.

The essential action

demands to be balanced and resolved within the fabric and geometry of its essence.
Thus arises the Hero.
The genuine hero presents himself under the guises of a “superhero” of comic books and fairy tales, and myths.
The hero is defined by the action toward the world - his happening - the feat. The feat in the form of discoveries, adventures, crimes, teachings - biography turned destiny. The hyper-meaning of the feat - sacrifice.
The energy of the sacrifice  is the energy of the action.
The text of the essential action is always a technical explication.
A draft.
Technology of a miracle.
Non-fiction cinema meaning NATURAL CINEMA
as it is with anything natural its cause is within itself.
In contrast to everything unnatural, i.e. something that defines itself through something else.
Natural cinema as
speaking from authenticity,
unfolding of authenticity
in its unquestioning of marks/forms.
Natural Cinema


an active
anti-cultural venture,
(in existential sense)
objectification of objectivity
through humanising of a human
with the pain of the existential truth.

The body of pain prohibits

the Culture with its cult of the symbol.

The symbol whose embodiment lies
beyond the limits of authenticity
and the reality that it emulates.
The Symbol whose embodiment consists of a void, of the essential inability to be filled and the evasiveness of “what-ness”.
The truth of human existence
the sour belch of the culture
are impossible to combine under one roster.
The culture that forces a man from his home bound path.

Of the mission of


one should speak in the spirit of Kants moral (sic) imperative
any action must be directed at a man as the goal, and not as the means.
The icon and the collegiality were “killed” by the book (that’s from Hugo); the book was moved aside by the theater, and then auteur cinema; which in turn, was enslaved by the technology and money.
And the only answer to
the spiritual demand of the epoch
shall be the natural cinema alone
- the cinema that doesn’t root in the chronics, but becomes it;
- the cinema whose interest has moved from the chewing zebras and dancing tribesmen
to the active
mining of the new moral experience,
to destroying of the artificial horizon of the culture.
The only possible strategy of such movement - is a strategy of the obscene, asocial.
The strategy of destruction.
Strategy of pain.

Art is war

-with stability of self-organizing social structures;
- with the stultifying political correctness;
- with the social complacency.
Art is
the fundamental
- with the existing context of mass media;
- with any current
for them
The goals of art should
oppose the goals of authority.

there are no reasons for fairness, equality, brotherhood and such.
For happiness.
“Anti-humanism” of existence itself, its indivisibility for evil, for “nothingness”, the outlying of its truth, and that “standing in the  lumen of the existential truth”
demand the refusal:
from the conventional ethics;
from the socialised pseudo-morality;
from the societal ideologemes.
Following Adorno we must add to our strategical arsenal “scouring the art from the unconscious impulses of the social requests”.

Art must be made the source of anxiety and discomfort.
Art must be made the weapon of social war.
Of course, it’s only a strategy.

Because, aside from humanity, art, just like beauty, has no other goal.



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