Wrapping paper and runaway object, dear to the hearts of cinephiles since the critic Serge Daney, in the company of the filmmaker Jean-Claude Biette, had launched it in 1991, the review Traffic features a two-sided ad in the summary of its one hundred and twentieth issue and its thirty years of existence. In the first part, two 260 pages of text, three times the usual dose, enough to spend the winter in good company and under the happy sign, borrowed from the poet Ezra Pound, of “What you love remains.” To the illustration of which some 40 film writers have freely lent themselves.
On the other hand, the sentence also sounds like a fallback operated in bad weather. Firmly supported throughout its demanding adventure by the publisher Paul Otchakovsky-Laurens in his POL house, the review began to rock very strongly after the latter’s death in 2018. The reduction of the cinephile battalions, and within them readers of the review, associated with the crisis generated by the Covid-19 pandemic, does not encourage the parent company, Gallimard, majority shareholder of POL since 2003, to the largesse dispensed in better times.
The decision was therefore taken to stop the machines, to abandon the quarterly periodicity, and to switch to the “almanac” format, of which this number 120 is the first copy, that is to say the last produced under the direction of historical members of the editorial board, such as Sylvie Pierre and Patrice Rollet. It is up to the writer and critic Raymond Bellour, surrounded by a few newcomers, to continue the adventure.
“Living with images”
We can, of course, regret the affectionate phrase, wonder about what led it to such a low water, weep, while we are there, with the same sob, the death of the review and that of the movie theater. The time lends itself to it. But we deign to remember that the atmosphere which presided over his birth was not frankly more cheerful. Dark prophet of the death of cinema, himself condemned by AIDS, who died a year later, in 1992, Serge Daney created this review in the manner of a testamentary gesture.
“Trafic” cultivates a freedom to think about cinema without obligation of illustration or topicality, without the prerogative of specialization
It was not less about celebrating the life of images and that of the spirit: ” Traffic wants to find, retrace, even invent the paths that allow us to better know, from today, how to live with images. “ And we took it, all the same, for thirty years of ultimately quite joyful thought. We can bet that the almanac – would it be addressed to 200 hundred readers – will cultivate this joy. And this freedom, as well, to think about cinema without obligation of illustration or topicality, without prerogative of specialization, critics, filmmakers, writers, philosophers simply meeting around the emotion of cinema and the gesture of writing, therefore of thought, which is measured against it.
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