Filmmakers vs. Tycoons review

:. Director: Carlos Benpar
:. Genre: Documentary
:. Running Time: 1:40
:. Year: 2006
:. Country: Spain


In Filmmakers vs. Tycoons, Spanish director Carlos Benpar drafts a documentarial manifesto aiming at defending the rights of artists against any alteration of their work.

Starting in the antiquity, and quickly going back to the art form that interests him the most, cinema, Benpar exhibits strong examples of works that were cut against nature as well as interviews with some emblematic directors, from Bernardo Bertolucci to the likes of Arthur Penn, Woody Allen, Sidney Pollack, Jules Dassin, Claude Chabrol and Bigas Luna. By looking at that list you'll immediately understand that you're in cinephile territory, as this film clearly targets cerebral film-lovers rather than popcorn aficionados — and this is exactly wherein lies the failure of this project, but I'll get back to that.

Should movies be cut by commercials, reformatted, edited for time or content against the will of their creators? The answer is of course no, and if you're a reader of this online magazine, you know this is exactly the kind of crusade we embrace — I would actually go as far as banning popcorn from theaters. The issue, as clearly explained by Benpar, lies in the definition of Author. While in France and obviously here at Plume Noire, we follow the auteurist theory, which states that the author of a film is the director. In the US the author can be the producer or the studios, while filmmakers are hired hands. As a result, unless you have final cut, your movie might end up disfigured on the small screen.

To orchestrate his demonstration, Benpar shows pretty amusing examples of films having been mutilated, one way or the other, and he uses interviews with eminent figures from world cinema to support his theory. But while the director's work is close to flawless in terms of ideas, even anticipating objections the audience might have, that's in the form that Filmmakers vs. Tycoons remarkably fails.

Clocking at 100mn, Filmmakers vs. Tycoons is redundant, sometime boring, even for somebody who reads Les Cahiers du Cinema. The interviews are too long, often rehashing the same ideas, and looking at old guys talking about the films they made back in the 50's isn't exactly the best way to pass the message to an audience fed with 21st Century fare. Aware of the dryness of his work, Benpar used a babe to convey his story, but this isn't enough to bring excitement to the subject.

But the biggest failure of this work is the fact that the director preaches to the wrong crowd. Do we — cinephiles — need to see Filmmakers vs. Tycoons to know that savaging somebody else's piece of art is bad? Of course not. What Benpar needs to do to get things changed is shove his work in the mouth of the masses fed with mainstream cinema, instead of addressing a handful of cinephiles like you and me. And by looking at the empty screening room where I saw this documentary, I'm sorry to say he won't appeal to a wide audience with names like Bertolucci and Dassin. What he needs is names like Eastwood, Spielberg, names that are popular enough to be heard and influence the current state of cinema.

  Fred Thom

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