What is a film curator?

Short text written for Wuxia publication, Oslo, 2015 :

What is a film curator? The simple answer is the person who chooses the films to be shown, in what order, when and how often. For me most of it is guess work and intuition, trying to string together a collection of small jewels, some of which I have never seen, and hoping the thread doesn’t break.

I only started this endeavor because I thought that an important area in film seemed neglected within the Norwegian art and film institutions. I am no trained curator, and do not approach this in any academic way. I try to have a casual approach where some links between films are not blatant and some are a surprise (to myself as much as the audience).

I operate more as a fan and fellow artist, trying to match works within a single programme (most artists work is short …). I have certain personal rules about total duration and number of films in a single programme, this stems from being at numerous film festivals/events and witnessing many screenings badly thought out regarding arrangement, length and context.

Call me old-fashioned but I am firm believer in the idea of the cinema. I refer here to a comfortable, dark, sound-insulated space with the best possible arrangement of screen, projector, speakers and audience – all of which should be of good standard. I have seen so many horrendous examples of badly displayed film art –including in some of Oslo’s most revered art institutions – it makes me mad to see a piece intended for one aspect ratio to be tortured (stretched or squashed) or be shown in full daylight/spotlight with audio bleeding from other works in the same space or through a thin partition wall; much better not to show it at all … A film intended to be shown in a cinema should be given that right.

We see the same film in completely different ways depending on place and context. In a cinema we make an unwritten contract with the filmmaker to give an amount of our time and concentration and to allow her/his output to unfold before us. We are prepared to endure, for the film to change momentum, for the changes to happen. We are comfortable, we are undistracted, we are in the best possible environment to witness this event.

At the Cinematek, Oslo, in the Lillebil auditorium ‘The Dream That Kicks’ has one of the best possible situations for screening artists work (on whichever format, film, video or digital) , time and time again I have been told by visiting artists and programmers that they have never seen (or heard) the work presented so well. This is what cinematheques are there for, long may they continue.