12th March 2009

Spring break and I’m back in Europe. Eurostar again and my usual Paris meetings. There’s an unusual one too. In the summer 2007 my London Consortium colleague Marko Daniel asked me to give a talk at Tate Modern about some new video art that they were exhibiting. I agreed for collegial reasons but with a slightly sinking heart for the vast majority of video art simply uses the vast resources of this new palatte without any attempt to turn those resources into images. Amongst the dross, however, was some real gold. A short film, called Rapport, which took for its subject matter a neuro-linguistic programming seminar for senior German executives. If you wanted a picture of how individual narcissism is harnessed to corporate ambition to create the economic world in which we now live, Rapport is a key text and I devoted most of my Tate lecture to it.
A year later I got an e-mail from the artist asking me to come to Portugal to see her latest work and to teach a short course at the Gulbenkian. Insofar as I had imagined the author I had imagined an intellectually intense German but Filipa Cesar,as I discovered ,may live and work in Germany but she is an exuberant and witty Latin. We so enjoyed lecturing together that we have arranged to meet to see if we might construct some joint projects.
Filipa is a world-class flirt and , like all directors, totally unscrupulous when it comes to getting her films made. She still harbours ambitions to get me to produce her films. By the end of the day, however, I think she has come to believe my repeated protestations that I am no longer a producer. A producer is simply someone who has or has access to money. For nearly two decades I was such a person but no longer. Even more important I no longer wish to be. The endless stress of producing, so energizing for so many years, is now simply tedious and tiring.
The only thing that I miss from producing is the editing and I would love to find a way of teaching a course on editing. We talk a great deal about this and Filipa shows me a wonderful Pedro Costa film which shows the Straubs at work at an editing table.
The one unrealized film ambition is to work on a genre movie. If I no longer wish to produce one I do occasionally think I would like to try writing one. I tell Filipa this with some trepidation. She receives this news neutrally. “ and the most successful genre is romantic comedy”. Filipa looks at me with withering contempt “ Do you like romantic comedies?” “eerr no” We decide to think about thrillers.


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