James Monaco

I was pleased and honored to learn that the Siegen University student film awards honor Film verstehen.

When the book first appeared thirty years ago there were few reliable introductions to the subject of film. My intent was to give people the tools to understand how the language of film operates. Our audience then was mainly viewers of film – consumers, not producers. (After all the English title was How to „Read“ a Film, not How to „Make“ a Film.) But even then we could see a dramatically more democratic future for the medium.
Back then, nearly all the film or television that you saw was produced by professionals and distributed only by large, authorized companies and institutions.
Yet in the late 1970s, a few amateurs had discovered the new technology of videocassettes, the first personal computers had gone on sale, and the first computer networks were being born. The elements were in place: It was only a matter of time and technology.
Now, a generation later the media world is radically different. These changes have often been referred to as the „second Gutenberg revolution,“ but indeed we’ve gone much farther. Gutenberg’s invention freed readers, encouraging literacy. But production was still controlled by a few. As the American journalist A. J. Liebling aptly put it half a century ago: „Freedom of the Press belongs to those who own one!“
Our own media revolution extends that freedom to all: Now, not only can anyone make a film, anyone can publish it, making it available to the world — in seconds, via the internet.
Now all of us are producers as well as consumers; film is less a show and more of a conversation among equals.
That’s why organizations like medialab and festivals like this one are increasingly important. I’m proud to have played a small part and wish you well!