I attended the first handful of projects that were pitched at the Baltic Sea Forum. Before I had to leave back to Copenhagen. Again I heard a sentence that is often expressed at pitching sessions by the commissioning editors present. Those who represent US, the audience. Here it comes, this time passed to a Lithuanian project about the late writer Jurga Ivanauskaitė: The project is too artistic for me. Those were the words.
Too artistic for whom? For the commissioning editor and his/her personal taste or for the viewers? What a patronising attitude! And what is meant by “too artistic”? In this case the trailer that was shown included some reconstructions, some tableaux that should give us the audience some idea of a stylistical approach. Call it a personal handwriting. Nothing unusual, just a bit different from the mainstream but enough to scare some of the television people. Not all of them, fortunately, the representative from Estonian television liked the clip and dared to mention that the film could also be good for festivals.
Which pissed off the representatives from BBC and DR, who expressed their disrespect for “festival films”, i.e.for them are films for the happy few. Two comments to this: Well, this is just another confirmation that public television is run by the journalistic, mainstream approach, that programmes which are a bit different do not stand a chance. And that – with other words – you can forget all documentaries with artistic ambitions. Understandable it is that the audience feels that it is underestimated and choose to go to festivals instead. Which they do in big amounts, in full cinema halls that – added up – very often grap a bigger audience than the one that watches television.
Art and televison? Forget about it, except for some few exceptions.
Photo: Jurga Ivanauskaitė.