Director’s Prize


Director: Chuck Workman


Cinema, or motion picture, is the art of moving images; a visual medium that tells stories and exposes reality.

Created in the dusk of the 19th century, cinema is the world’s most recent art form. It is also, by far, the world’s most complex, collaborative, and costly artistic expression.

At their inception, the first two versions of the film camera (the kinetograph and its European counterpart, the cinematograph) were used to record daily events such as a train arriving at a station and an elephant being electrocuted. Documentary filmmaking was then born and tremendously explored. Average men were instructed on how to use the recently-created camera and hired to undertake journeys around the globe and capture exotic images like the pyramids in Egypt and the waterfalls in Niagara.


"The question that is the title of subject of Chuck Workman’s documentary is one also implicitly raised by the Video Fest each year. Here it gets a more traditional going over, culling together new and old interviews from filmmaking titans and culling plenty of classic images from the cinematic canon to give an overview of the moving image’s various forms and tangents. As an exploration of nature of cinema, it never quite penetrates to the depths promised by borrowing the docs title from André Bazin’s seminal study, and various thoughts and theories taken from Bazin and other sources aren’t given their proper context or attention. But as an indulgence and fertilization is also a familiar symptom of cinephilia, and What is Cinema? does manage to serve up plenty of thoughtful tidbits."-D magazine

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