The San Francisco Film Festival gave a forum yesterday to theatre director, opera-creator and impresario Peter Sellars to deliver a “State of Cinema” address inside a large theatre at the Kabuki 8 plex. Sellars is a man who lives in his own mystical-energy field and within his own ecclesiastical realm, but who sees and shares everything from within it. It was a stirring, touching, soul-lifting thing to sit in the fourth row and just absorb every brilliant thought, whether you agreed with every last word or not.
Peter Sellars during yesterday afternoon’s speech at the Kabuki 8 — Sunday, 4.29.07, 4:35 pm
I recorded most of what he said, in two sessions. Here’s the second part. The sound is low and it would be best to listen with headphones, but this will give you an idea of what it was like.
What did Sellars say? That deliberately cruel and heartless things are inflicted upon the poor by the well-to-do, and that film is perhaps best considered as an agent of consciousness-raising and social change, and that art’s highest function is to prepare the public for what is possible, even if it may seem impossible at the time.
Sellars is professor of World Arts and Culture at U.C.L.A., where he teaches “Art as Social Action” and “Art as Moral Action.” Yesterday’s talk was an extension or expression of these themes.
At one point in discussing some institutional cruelty Sellars began to weep, and although I wasn’t feeling the moral outrage as acutely as he was I was moved by that fact that he was feeling it and then some — his emotionalism is one serious torch. Immense artistic accomplishments, worldwide respect, orange shirt, blue beads, spikey hair, Harvard education…the man is a trip.
Sellars talked a lot about the last year of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and what he was really consumed with as his life drew to a close, and that this was far more fascinating than the “frat-boy ” shenanigans that Milos Forman and Anthony Shaffer’s Amadeus depicted.
Again, here’s a 22-minute portion of what he said.