Mexican film directed Alejandro G. Iñárritu has lambasted the current state of modern cinema, comparing it to a “whore that charges money”.

The director, producer, and screenwriter and the creator of such films as Babel, Birdman or The Revenant, was speaking at the Sarajevo Film Festival when he was drawn into a passionate debate about the direction of modern cinema.

Iñárritu, famously known for creating pictures around themes of the human condition, admitted that for many cinema is “an artistic form to express a personal view of the world” but conceded that for others “it’s just entertainment, for others it’s a medium to make money, an industry.” 

Referencing the heavy influence television, streaming platforms such as Netflix and general commercialisation fo cinema, Iñárritu went one step further and said that the platform of film has become “an orgy of interests that are in the same bed, with poetic principles but at the same time it’s also a whore that charges money,” as per Variety.

Iñárritu, who was growing more passionate while speaking at the film event, urged modern cinema and its filmmakers to challenge the direction of their art in other ways, to be “more mysterious, more impenetrable, more poetic, more soulful.” He added that new films need to offer more time of reflection and “much more contemplation, a little bit more patience.”

With acclaimed directors such as Steven Soderbergh, the Coen Brothers, Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo del Toro and Martin Scorsese all decided to work directly with the likes of HBO and Netflix, Iñárritu was reflective on the sense of urgency that the viewer is demanding and its effect on auteurs and filmmakers as a whole.

“The language is changing, the need of plot and narrative is so much that it’s starting to deform the way we can explore themes,” he said. “People are very impatient now, they are like: ‘Give me more. Kill somebody! Do something.’”

He continued: “[Films of the past] were exploring different ways of telling stories, trying to push language. Those have disappeared. Now it’s the big tentpoles… or the TV streaming experience.

“It is changing so fast that now the films have to immediately please the audience. They have to be global and they have to make a lot of money, so now they become a Coca-Cola commercial that has to please the world,” he said. “What will happen with the younger generations that will not be able to understand that a film can be poetic or impenetrable or mysterious?”

Clearly in reflective mood and with a glint in his eye on the golden age of cinema, Iñárritu attempted to remind young filmmakers that, “the first film should not be perfect. That’s the poetry, it’s human, there’s something clumsy there — that’s exactly what I like.”

With the desire to make a fast and perfect picture to satisfy the urgency is, in Iñárritu’s mind, removing a core essence of what makes cinema so great: “The dirt, that’s what really makes the voice of [a storyteller], and I don’t want to take that out, and the temptation is to take that out. I cannot do it because I like that so maybe I’m not a good producer. I like people to express themselves how they are, including the mistakes. That’s why I suffer, I find myself in a dilemma.”

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