Jonathan Perel Introduces His Film "Corporate Accountability"

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"For me, cinema should be a tool to question and modify the world, to propose and try to build alternative ways of imagining the world."

By Jonathan Perel

Jonathan Perel's Corporate Accountability is showing exclusively on MUBI starting October 13, 2021 in the series Undiscovered.

Corporate Accountability is a film based on a book that was published by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. It describes how 25 companies helped the dictatorship in the repression and disappearance of its own workers. Being the state of Argentina the one publishing the book is very important, because it’s not that the film is making a selection or investigating these companies, but the government itself.

Although the book is available online, very few printed copies exist, and it’s not really well-known. With the film I want to make the book visible, and to create an image for it. An image that will connect the past with the present. To show these same companies today, in most of the cases still working and fuming smoke out of their chimneys. To try to understand the dictatorship not only in terms of politics, but also as an economic plan.

In many of my films I am asked something like, "Why not give more information?" But I make a very conscious and difficult effort to give as little information as possible, while always trying to make sure this information is enough for the audience to understand. The problem is that cinema usually does the work for the audience, facilitating the process for them. And I don’t believe in this kind of cinema. I prefer a film that gives the audience space to work together in the construction of the meaning. The information is out there, and the work should continue after the film is over. Of course, this implies accepting that the meaning of a film is multiple and open, and there is no way a work of art can deliver a message transparently to its audience. But many filmmakers still want to secure a meaning for their films. This is cinema as entertainment, which I am not interested in. For me, cinema should be a tool to question and modify the world, to propose and try to build alternative ways of imagining the world. But entertainment is here to maintain the state of things, to keep the profits as they are now.

Usually my films are about constructing and completing a series. In this particular one it was more important than ever before, that the series has to be completed. I needed to shoot all the factories mentioned in the book, to make the film as close to it as possible. I couldn’t afford to have one of them missing, because it wasn’t me or the film deciding which ones to include. It’s the book that is making the selection of companies.

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