Nitzan Ben Shaul

Professor of Film and Television Studies and former Acting Head of the Film and Television Department at Tel Aviv University. He received his PhD from the Cinema Studies Dept. at New York University. Nitzan has published extensively on film, television and new media in leading journals and has written several books including Film: The Key Concepts (Berg, 2007), Hyper-narrative Interactive Cinema: Problems and Solutions (Rodopi, 2008), and Cinema of Choice: Optional Thinking and Narrative Movies (Berghahn, 2012). He has received grants to carry out research projects related to the effects of computerization on film and television and was the co-creator and director of Turbulence (2009), a hyper-narrative interactive movie based on a novel model he developed. See Nitzan’s interview with UCSD senior Emilyn L. Edquilang.

Artist Interview

1. Why did you want to be a part of Filmatic Festival?

Because the Filmatic festival is a perfect fit for our interactive movie since one of its major goals specifically concerns the future of film going and film watching. While there are events focused on new media works, these are usually propelled by what can be described as mathematical rather than dramatic-narrative thinking. Our main concern is to enhance through interaction (rather than destroy) the cognitive-affective power of non-interactive movies, while encouraging in viewsers an optional thinking state of mind and a sense of choice stemming from the bifurcation of the narrative at dramatic interactive crossroads. We believe this could and should become one of the major film futures. The Filmatic festival is a unique event that could foster and help popularize this new film-form. It will also be an opportunity for us to see what is the state of the art.

2. What themes do you explore in your work?

A major formal-structural theme concerns the effects of interaction on depth of cognitive-psychological engagement with flowing audiovisual dramatic-narrative films. A major thematic concern of the interactive movie “Turbulence” is the power of love to propel a sense of free choice and indeterminism in life.

3. Who inspires you?

Akira Kurosawa’s film “Rashomon”; The cognitive-psychological theories of Arie Kruglanski, Edward Lorenz’s chaos theory, Niall Ferguson’s “Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals”.

4. What advice can you give to aspiring artists?

Exchange the traditional notion of a narrative’s strict and necessary composition and causality with that of compositional and narrative probability and indeterminism.

5. What are you listening to? …watching? …reading?

I often listen to Bob Dylan and Jazz music, I like watching complex narrative movies such as Tom Twyker’s “Run Lola Run” or Peter Howitt’s “Sliding Doors”, but also contemporary TV series that have attained a high level of artistic merit and narrative complexity as the Swedish-Danish TV series “The Bridge” (not the American version though). I am currently re-reading Jorge Luis Borges’ “The Garden of Forking Paths”.

6. If you could have one drink with one person, who would it be and what would you two be drinking?

A Bloody Mary with Che Guevara.

7. “Where is the future of digital media heading?”

Digital media has many possible futures. I would like it to forward “glocalized” artistic sensibilities, a personal and communal sense of choice and the notion that we can change and shape our future as individuals and as collectives.