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The Universal Clock - The Resistance of Peter Watkins

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In this age of infotainment, documentaries are very much in vogue with television audiences seeking authenticity. But now documentary filmmaking also finds itself constrained by the imperatives of television. The chief culprit is the so-called "universal clock," a straitjacket that imposes theme and running-time restrictions according to globalized market demands. Searching for resistance to this trend, director Geoff Bowie goes to Paris, where filmmaker Peter Watkins, a fellow foe of spreading standardization, is shooting La Commune, a six-hour film on the insurrection that shook the French capital in 1871. As a stark counterpoint, Bowie also takes his camera to MIPTV in Cannes, the international television market where industry strategists adjust their famous clock to meet the dictates of globalization. In this context, how can truly universal human values--values that are actually shared by, not just imposed on, people around the world--be given their rightful place? Perhaps by reviving the spirit of resistance that drove the rebellious Communards of 1871, as suggested by that permanent rebel, the great Peter Watkins.

2001, 76 min 26 s