Curators’ Statement: Love


image Still_4_KIND_HEARTS_2022__Olivia_Rochette__Gerard-Jan_Claes.jpg

Love. To love. To be loved. 
To experience through love.
To film from the position of love.

For the RPFF tenth anniversary edition we invite you to explore together what it means to know from love; to understand through love. We want to know how a discourse of love can contribute to the discussion on the uncertain times we are experiencing.

At the age of 34, Friedrich Nietzsche’s father, a cheerful, accomplished musician who was well respected in the community, fell ill with an undiagnosed disease and died a slow and painful death. A few months after the burial, Friedrich’s younger brother, Joseph, developed similar symptoms of painful headaches, blindness, dementia and passed away soon after. Friedrich would reflect on these experiences and consider the nature of evil. Why do bad things happen to pious people? How does Christian love square with such pain and suffering?

For Nietzsche, Christian logic encourages suffering in this life with the expectation of being rewarded in another life. Love comes across as transactional, an investment that one makes in order to receive love at a later time. His opposition to Christian thought was informed by his reading of Ancient Greek philosophy, specifically Dyonisian religion and the tragedy genre. The Dyonisian approach is associated with embracing suffering, rather than reasoning it away, in the service of creating great art. The artist identifies their unique voice, individuality, and inspiration through their struggle and pain. Along the way, the artist develops a love for themselves, for others, and for the world. To be in love with the world is to not be afraid of it. Love is an invitation to embrace our complicated individualities and develop through them.

The relevance of Nietzsche’s approach to our times may be difficult to grasp given the insistence of contemporary modern discourse to focus on power relations, conflict, subjects vs objects, nature vs culture, good vs evil, fake vs real. However, the idea of love as a transcendent principle can be found in other traditions as well. Caribbean cosmologies, such as Santería and Vodún, Buddhist and Hindu traditions, as well as European paganism highlight the interactive quality of life and do not represent love as the product of a transaction. In these traditions, love is articulated as an enabler, the source of creative action, the force that motivates life beyond divisions of self and others.

The idea of love as the enabler of effective collective action is present amongst some of the most successful political campaigns of the 20th Century. For Gandhi, “power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent than the one derived from fear of punishment”. Martin Luther King, Jr. described love as the “heartbeat of the moral cosmos”. For Nelson Mandela, “love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite”. These political struggles have become associated with articulating a programme that transcends binary markers of difference and otherness and make a case for promoting the conditions in which autonomy, justice and dignity were possible. These movements side-step the temptation to replace one mode of violence with another, as in the Leninist position. Instead, they work from an embodied experience and value reconciliation over resentment and revenge.

In the context of this programme, Love describes an existential condition in relation to the world. To be in love with the world means to recognise the creative agency in every individual. To love describes an urge to embark on a creative project with another. In this mode, the Other remains inexplicable and opaque, because the goal is not to know the Other, but to bring attention to it. Along the way, the lovers experience a new awareness and a new realisation of the world as if seeing everything for the first time.

The films in this programme speak to a transcendent view of love, where love is found everywhere in everyone. As if it were a physical entity, not an abstraction, that motivates life, that speaks to the unity of the creative process, of how we are all implicated in each other. We suggest that speaking about cinema from a position of love emphasises the quality of the relationships that generated the film, rather than its technology or the market. In this regard, our expectation is to have a discussion that focuses on the process of creating cinema and, by extension, contribute to a discussion on the creative process and our place in the world.

Photo: Kind Hearts, Gerard-Jan Claes, Olivia Rochette

Published: 05.05.2023.

Back to publications