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(en) Media, A revolution in cinema?

Date Fri, 24 Nov 2006 06:55:49 +0200

What is anarchist cinema? "It's not necessarily films made and produced by
anarchists - some of which can be very boring indeed," says Stuart Christie, the
man behind the newly launched Anarchist Film Channel. "It also includes lots of
anti-authoritarian films made by non-anarchists."
The idea behind the internet channel, which operates on a tiny budget from a
house in Hastings, is to make available, for free, films - both features and
documentaries - that embody anarchist themes and ideas. Christie, best known for
serving time in Madrid in the 1960s for an unsuccessful plot to assassinate
General Franco, and then later in the 1970s for standing trial - and being
acquitted - as an alleged member of the Angry Brigade, says he wants to correct
the general impression given of anarchists in movies.

"Hollywood and the mainstream film industry tends to depict anarchists as flaky,
obsessive, rabid, demonic, repellent stereotypes - such as Hitchcock's The
Secret Agent or The Man Who Knew Too Much," said Christie. "If they are
presented sympathetically, it is done so usually in an Ealing comedy sort of way
with bumbling, ineffectual, endearing dreamers - caricatures such as Alastair
Sim and John Chandos in The Green Man. It's film I like, but that has possibly
more to do with the fact that John Chandos, who plays Sim's sidekick, a
Glaswegian anarchist, was a dear, but unlikely, friend of mine."

Christie suggests that Lady L, with Paul Newman and Sophia Loren, and Sergio
Leone's A Fistful of Dynamite, with Rod Steiger and James Coburn, both
trivialised anarchism. On the other hand, Lindsay Anderson's If ... would
qualify as embodying the ideals of anarchism, he reckons, although such films
will not be available on the channel for copyright reasons.

"One film that also particularly impressed me was José Luis Cuerda's Butterfly's
Tongue (Lengua de las Mariposas), which is about the relationship between a
young boy and his anarchist teacher, possibly modelled on Francisco
Ferrer-Guardia, the anarchist educationalist murdered in Barcelona in 1909,"
Christie says.

The aim is to provide a range of films, with Russian, Italian, Spanish and
Catalan versions available with subtitles. The channel's current catalogue
includes Choisy le Roi, Red Years, Black Years, El Grupo Primero de Mayo,
Franco's Dead and The Will of the People. Christie hopes to add films as they
become available and build up a substantial archive with money coming from
people who might want to advertise on the site, which is found at

Christie is not content with running a little free internet film library,
however. He has dreams of what he describes as "free global-local internet TV.
If I were the likes of Tony Blair, Rupert Murdoch, or Ted Turner, I would be
afraid right now, very afraid. When it really takes off in the next few years,
the established mainstream media and its almost total control over the mass of
the population will just fly out of the window. It will do for them what the
invention of the telephone did for message-carrying pigeons."

And with the new generation of high resolution video cameras, Christie believes
that he can envisage a day in the not-too-distant future when it will be
possible to make a Hollywood-quality feature film and distribute it on the
internet for a total cost of about £5,000. Which would surely spell the end of
the screen of anarchist as a crazed fanatic with quietly fizzing bomb under
their arm.
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