Animus is an online film magazine based in London, UK, and turned towards the future. New issues are published monthly, each featuring six essays guaranteed to cut through the noise and be worth your time, published all at once for you to read at your leisure.
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Cinema is a young art, and one that is constantly being shaped and reshaped by many factors: technology, historical events, wider cultural trends and so on. But none is more influential in dictating the shape of cinema than commerce. The pandemic that began in 2020 has only confirmed the importance of the economic aspects of cinema not only in Hollywood, but also across the world, in any country where films are made, sold or screened, in theatres or online.
Left to develop along these economic lines alone, cinema would risk existing only as a tool for those with the most money to use as they please, to sell their own products, to broadcast their ideas, to promote the very world that has made them rich.
But while cinema, like all works of creation, is never entirely free from money concerns, it is also an art, a place for ideas and imagination, for things which exist if not outside then alongside the material world of money and goods. Cinema is an art, and it deserves to be treated as such.
In a world where it is becoming harder to think of cinema as art, it is also harder to write about it that way. In this unhealthy production system and industry, films are not (only) works of art, but most of all investments which work to sustain (and sell) the status quo. To write negatively about any of these films therefore isn’t perceived as a discussion of art and its possibilities, but as an attack on an entire system that those in power naturally hope can live on for as long as possible.
Animus means spirit and drive, but also conflict. To write about cinema as an art means to ask more of films, and therefore to ruffle some feathers in a context where doing so isn’t just frowned upon, but also unsustainable for the great majority of film journalists. As we all know, the rich and powerful are also getting their hands on a growing number of magazines and film outlets, which therefore cannot afford to publish negative reviews of any films produced within that system. To do so remains a privilege, only afforded to the few independent outlets which have so far managed to avoid being absorbed into the system. Yet even they are not completely free. In an industry where small outlets and small filmmakers alike lack resources, each is forced to rely on the other for support. For an independent outlet to negatively review one of the few independent films that actually gets made (not a small feat) is therefore considered unsupportive, unfair, and even rude. Whether it sustains the system established by the rich and powerful, or supports the few filmmakers working outside of it, most film writing in outlets of all calibre is therefore reduced to PR work. In these circumstances, discussing cinema as an artform is an unsustainable, obsolete and irrelevant practice.
After years of seeing film criticism slowly but surely crumble, film writers lose sight of their work’s real purpose, and corporate entities endanger our understanding of art itself, the pandemic brutally brought home the fact that the situation would never improve on its own, and that the rich would never relent their power-grabbing ways. Animus was largely born out of a desire to do something about the current dire state of film criticism anyway; to take matters into my own hands in whatever way I could. But it also slowly grew out of a belief which I always felt, but struggled to put into words before. In these past months, as few new films were released and even fewer were being made, cinema lived on through the older films we watched, of course. But more crucially, it lived on through the films we imagined in our heads — when the ones we saw surprised us, disappointed us, or even left us completely cold, when we read about a film we’d never seen, or at night when we dreamed. Whether theatres are open or closed, cinema can always live on in our minds, if we let it.
Animus is a magazine with a specific idea of what cinema could and should be, one that is rooted in an engagement with cinema as an art of form, ideas, and imagination — therefore as an art which, while building on its past and in a state of constant becoming, is always turned towards the future. As long as it can be imagined, cinema will never end.
Elena Lazic, editor
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