By José Sarmiento Hinojosa
8 super 8, the whimsical title, chosen mainly for its graphic qualities: two reels, one of top of the other, the symbol of infinity in vertical. 8 as a parentheses containing that “super”, almost a joke.
8mm filmmaking can often be seen as an act of resistance. When Jonas Mekas unveils the hundreds of boxes with Super 8 reels that haven’t even been developed yet in his workshop, we are witness of an act of defiance, an act that stands up before what this unit of “eye-brain” can’t perpetuate. The primal stance of the moving image as footage, and the ever romantic quality of the material as a canvas of an art that is now decades old, has allowed thousands of artists to go back and forth and almost resurrect the format after years of crisis. To work with 8mm is indeed, an act of resistance. This is not an abuse of nostalgia, or an stubborn refusal to abandon a format that may seem obsolete after the technological advance and the advent of 4K, HD, Iphones, GoPros, etc. If hundreds of filmmakers vouch for the validity of the Super 8 format after all these years, it’s for its unique quality, an image born from the amateur act of registering our surroundings, an image whose properties share this amateur spirit: mostly handheld, not always brilliantly developed, scratched, burnt, etc. This unique visual cosmos has been inhabited over and over, and for the past eight years, its spirit has been celebrated by the (S8) Peripheral Cinema Festival (Mostra de Cinema Periferico).
And it’s from the hands of the (S8) organizers and collaborators, that 8 super 8 has come to be: Both an indelible document of love, and a manifesto for the persistence of a work which refuses to leave behind the insuperable qualities of light and touch, 8 super 8 es a unique book-object, a testimony of eight years of work through the words and images of a vast numbers of collaborators. The fantastic bilingual edition, courtesy of editor Elena Duque, is a thing to marvel at: thirty eight artists working or related with the format, leave their impressions, memories, photographs, stories and documents in 150 pages of an exquisite printing. The book is accompanied by a series of portraits in Super 8 of the collaborators in the book, and everything is nicely wrapped up in a vintage mail envelope. The book, as Super 8 itself, feels both amateur and experimental, and its special charm comes from this quality.
And only in a document of love such as this can one find things like the images of Marcos Bertoni “cineminha”, or Guy Sherwin’s Super 8 performance, mapped in drawings, or Pablo Marín quotations, from Adorno to Shakespeare, and the fantastic manifesto of George Kuchar: “Yes, 8mm is a tool of defense in this society of mechanized corruption, because through 8mm and its puny size we become closer to the dimensions of the atom. (…) The inner beauty of the world will be revealed while at the same time the film-maker will crack and eventually commit suicide”
There is something to say about the attitude from which many of this auteurs have developed an interest and love for the format. There seems to be a clear intention of perpetual motion, a sense of being in a community that is set to change the rules of the game, to change the world, as it seems, and do it from what seems the most fragile, most insignificant piece of material available. There’s much truth in Kuchar words when he says the puny size of 8mm is closer to the atom: it seems, perhaps, that 8mm is closer to the basis of life, to the beginnings, to something that is very primal and close to the human soul. Helga Fanderel says “The small movie camera is a good instrument to “make music for the eyes” transforming fragments of real life into a cinematic form of existence”, and this work, this way of living is translated into the many words and images inhabiting this precious book. The DVD (which couldn’t have been a 8mm reel for logistic reasons) is further testimony of it.
A gorgeous document of sorts, 8super8 is vital in its exploration, reminiscence and resistance. A document for the future, from the heart.
8super8 por Elena Duque
A publication by (S8) Mostra de Cinema Periférico
2017, 150 Pages
Dep. Legal C 809-2017