PETER WATKINS - PUNISHMENT PARK (1972)
Over the year since the last festival we have been considering the way that the documentary form can be opened up by a questioning of both ‘documentary reality’ and the often naturalist forms that fiction films can take. A key proponent of this exploration of the tension between ‘reality’ and ‘fiction’ has been Peter Watkins. Peter has spent a lifetime working to undermine the way that the potentialities of cinema have been reduced by what he calls ‘The Monoform’ – a kind of generalized communication format that has increased its reach in this time of globalization. His film Punishment Park, set during the Vietnam War protests and the counter cultures that followed on from May ‘68, sees a ‘film crew’ documenting the trial and gladiatorial punishment of a group of young revolutionaries. Part newsreel, part actuality drama, part guerilla theatre, part dystopian documentary, Punishment Park elicited strong reaction on its release. Some denounced the film as ‘paranoid’ and as ‘blunt wrong headed sincerity’ whilst others saw in it an offer to filmgoers to develop their flexibility as viewers.
Peter Watkins website: http://pwatkins.mnsi.net/