MUMBAI: The American Film Institute (AFI)
has announced the year's AFI Moments of Significance.
These seven noteworthy events were determined
to have had an impact on the world of the moving
image during the year.
first moment is the Writers Guild of America
(WGA) strike. The ongoing digital revolution
has upended conventional economic models, and
uncertainty abounds when attempting to project
how an audience will receive its storytelling
in the years to come and how creators will be
paid for their work.
On 5 November 2007, the 12,000-plus members
of the WGA went on strike against the Alliance
of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
Though the strike is itself traumatic, it is
but a part of a larger paradigm shift. At best,
it may be a defining event in shaping the future.
AFI says that it looks forward to the day when
a new business model will form, and an artist's
work will rise above the numbers and continue
to inform and inspire.
The second moment was the fact that Ingmar Bergman
and Michelangelo Antonioni, two of the world's
most influential filmmakers, passed away on
Bergman directed more than 50 films in a career
that spanned 40 years. Classics like The Seventh
Seal, Wild Strawberries explore religion, death
and existentialism with honesty and eloquence.
Antonioni's career also spanned more than 40
years, with landmark films like La Notte
and The Passenger, each marked by the
director's innovative approach to narrative
third event was Apple's iPhone. Apple's unveiling
of the iPhone sparked a cultural frenzy. In
addition to operating as a phone, camera and
computer, the user-friendly iPhone allows consumers
to stream and download television programs and
movies. Overnight, the iPhone became a symbol
of a public that demands its content where they
want it and when they want it.
fourth event was a cultural spasm created by
the war on terror. 2007 marked a year when American
film artists responded to the war in an attempt
to create order out of chaos. Though it was
largely difficult to find an audience for their
stories, filmmakers marched forward in a struggle
to understand -- to ask questions -- to demand
Films like In The Valley Of Elah, Lions
For Lambs, Charlie Wilson's War and
A Mighty Heart wrestled with the war directly.
And this emotional quandary carried into the
core of other films as well -- the dark brutality
of two of the best films of the year There
Will Be Blood and No Country For Old
Men, and the moral questions raised by Michael
Clayton also reflect America's bruised and
The AFI notes that no other American war has
inspired this deep a cinematic expression while
the conflict is still taking place. Films released
during World War II were supportive of the war
effort, but movies dealing with the emotional,
psychological and societal impact of that war,
and also Korea and Vietnam, weren't produced
until years after they had ended.
Part of this new immediacy is due to the accessibility
of information from the front line. Whether
from an embedded journalist or an Iraqi citizen
posting photos on the Internet, news about the
war is plentiful, direct and personal, arriving
virtually the same day it happens. Given these
images and information, filmmakers are driven
to make sense of it all here and now and project
their stories across America and around the
On the TV side a major event was Discovery's
which has been hailed as being a landmark show
in high definition. The AFI says that this show
illuminated the power of television as a unifying
force in the global community.
Over five years in the making the show captured
images from more than 60 countries and over
200 locations. From the forests of Eastern Russia
to the Gomantong Caves in Borneo to a volcanic
mountain chain at the bottom of the Atlantic
Ocean, this epic visual document captured some
of the world's most remote and awe-inspiring
locations and brought them into the living room.
That the series came to life in high definition
crystallised a moment in the public appreciation
for this welcome and wondrous technology.
Another event was news getting more tabloid
in nature. 2007 marked a year when traditional
news became subsumed by coverage of material
normally relegated to tabloid magazines.
Coverage of Paris, Nicole, Lindsay, Britney,
O.J. and Anna Nicole often eclipsed news on
the war, an economy in turmoil or topics of
international scope or scale.
Websites like TMZ.com and PerezHilton.com attracted
devoted audiences, with TMZ even spawning a
half-hour television version of its Internet
activity. These types of sites are fueled by
the ubiquity of cell phone cameras and other
recording devices that empower a "citizen
paparazzi" who are aggressive and eager
partners in helping to tear down pop idols.
America's cultural obsession with scandal is
not a new trend, but in 2007 the tide turned,
and the nation began to drown in a sea of celebrity.