Cinema of Poverty: Independence and Simplicity in an Age of Abundance and Complexity

Knudsen, Erik (2010) Cinema of Poverty: Independence and Simplicity in an Age of Abundance and Complexity. Wide Screen, 2 (2). ISSN 1757-3920

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Over the past 25 years of writing, producing and directing, my aspirations as a creative artist in film have shifted from a paradigm in which the scale and scope of financial and human resources shaped not only the creative intentions of a project, but the very definition of what made something ‘cinematic’, to a new paradigm in which poverty - both in terms of resources and, more philosophically, in terms of artistic expression - has become one of the defining features of my artistic aspiration and my understanding of a new cinema. This development has interacted with parallel developments in technologies of production, distribution and exhibition, of a kind and scale I never envisaged when first embarking on a career in film, and has, for me, led to a kind of creative liberation which I am only now beginning to fully understand. Traditionally, human and financial resources have been considered essential for the production of quality, creative narrative films. In this article, I shall reflect on my own practice to explore how poverty can enhance the creative engagement with the medium and lead to the development of new and innovative approaches to, amongst other things, narrative imagery and, in so doing, explore how poverty can introduce new and original approaches to cinematic story-telling.

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