Paul Cox, Australian film-maker, shares his contrasting views on Snowden and Hollywood ‘hegemony.’
Paul Cox’s films are not known for making political statements. His deeply personal explorations in the medium are nowhere close to the sloganeering which is the hallmark of ‘political’ films. But there are times when he can’t keep quiet, like when the United States of America hounded out whistleblower Edward Snowden and when the Detroit museum decided to sell a few of its paintings when faced with bankruptcy.
The Australian film-maker, who just wrapped up his latest film Force of Destiny, an Indo-Australian co-production, spoke to The Hindu about his political views and about the need to fight the Hollywood hegemony. The semi-autobiographical film, partly shot in Kerala, is about an artist’s fight with liver cancer and his love affair with an Indian woman.
“I think Snowden is a very important and courageous young man, to speak against this amazing lack of transparency. Why are there so many secrets in the world? Who are these people who want to keep it all wrapped up? Are they more special than you and I? These things make me very angry. Especially after my fight with cancer, I have become more outspoken. I am also so much more forgiving, but at the same time more dangerous, because I have faced my own death and come back.” “When Detroit art gallery intended to sell three of their famous paintings, two of Van Gogh and one of Diego Rivera, I made a very big comment about it which became controversial. They were selling paintings to raise money. People had no idea how much we need art. It gives us body and soul, it gives us an identity. You know, to go bankrupt is bad enough, but to go morally bankrupt is well, scandalous. But many thought that I shouldn’t be commenting on these things.”
Mr. Cox, who has made low budget films his USP, is one of the strongest critics of Hollywood and the influence of the big studios. When asked about his well-publicised disregard for maverick film-maker Quentin Tarantino, he narrated a story of his meeting a group of South African students.
“There were 20 young brilliant African girls and boys. I asked them all which their favourite film was. Instead of saying Persona or Seventh Seal, a majority of them said Pulp Fiction. I spent two days reconditioning, or rather brainwashing them. There was a woman who used to clean the windows there. I asked her to narrate her life story to them and she went on tell an incredible story to them. I told them, that is your story, not the ones marketed by Hollywood. That was one of the happiest moments of my life, when they responded positively to it.”
So how does he think anyone can fight this ‘hegemony’?
“The only way you can challenge is to do whatever you are doing as well as you possibly can, and have a conscience. Because, you cannot bribe the conscience of the world, said Trotsky a long time ago, and I believe that is true.”