Monday, July 22, 2013

Positif by Actes Sud

Since the main reason Anglophone cinephile's don't know about Positif is because of its language barrier, which has led to its physical and editorial marginalization (cf. Positif's North American reception), I've decided to try to ameliorate this situation at Toronto Film Review by discussing it more. The following is a translation of Positif's unsigned description, which is really good and accurate, from its publishers Actes Sud's webpage. - D.D.

This is the story of a group of peers from diverse backgrounds who, united by their love of the seventh art, meet every Sunday for three hours, for the last sixty years, to discuss the latest news about cinema, among other things.They determine the content of the next issue of the magazine, read texts that were sent to them from potential guest contributors, and develop future projects. Positif has no chief-editor, the writers are not paid and decisions are made by a committee, composed of members representing different generation of writers who have succeeded each other, since its inception all of the way to its more recent arrivals. This coexistence of generations creates a perpetual dialogue, lively and sometimes contradictory, which makes Positif a magazine that we can truly say has a "spirit" or "tone" that has evolved with its new writers, rather than replacing one group by the direction of an other. This decentralized operation, "eccentric", has probably something to do with the fact that the magazine was not born in Paris but in a smaller city. In this case it is Lyon, where its founder, Bernard Chardère, will later create the Institut Lumière, which is now the current co-editor of Positif with Actes Sud!

Today our editorial policy in terms of artistic curiosity, historical information and critical analysis is motivated by a strong reaction to the promotional hype and to the steady space reduction allocated to film criticism in the press general. For us, a sharp appreciation of aesthetics is more compelling, especially compared to other newspapers that have turned their cultural pages into more or less open commentaries, dictated by the "market" and its "targets", about the performance of films at the box-office. In recent years, the landscape of film periodicals has changed dramatically. Magazines prefer zapping, short capsule reviews, the "people" profiles, and business or financial information. At the same time, there has been the development of more advanced research publications, theoretical or historical, often remarkable, but for a scholarly readership. 

Positif, a monthly film magazine that is available in kiosks and specialty book stores as well as libraries, persists still in the midst of all of the hazards of the publishing world, to proclaim itself a "movie magazine" against all odds, just like it did during its infancy and perhaps in a more singular way. With the breakout of information on the internet and the new ways of distributing movies, we feel more than ever the need for well-informed choices, as a way to sort through this continuous stream of images.

Being published jointly by the Institut Lumière and Actes Sud, Positif confirms its shift not only geographical, but also "moral", vis-à-vis a way of thinking that is necessarily Parisian and culturally correct. Independence is our keyword, and we are confident that there will always be new battles to fight for the cinema that we love. That is why this joint publication is both a sign of a homecoming and a faith in the future.  

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