Monday, 25 July 2016

Old buildings and short films

On a recent afternoon paseo around Vinaròs town centre today, I came across a historic site I don't remember seeing before, and today re-visited it with my camera. A square surrounded by modern blocks of flats has a number of tall palms and a few other unusual trees, but their enclosure is the site of a seventeenth century Franciscan convent, dating back to 1662, of which only fragments of the building remain. The entire ground plan, cloister, domestic buildings, sanctuary has been neatly delineated using low walls and paved areas. It creates a park with a unique story. I wonder if children in the local barrio school learn about it in class?
Not far off, in another large open space enclosed by modern blocks of flats is another old building, a large mansion in its own grounds. It's closed up and looks neglected, and there's no name plate or information panel to say what it is or who it belongs to. It's probably over a century old, and could be older. If it belonged to the town, there'd be a notice on it to say so. There's a small notice that indicates a security company looks after it, and there's a TV aerial attached to a chimney suggesting it's been in use as a private house. It's an intriguing mystery.

I often walk past the 'Casa Membrillera' when I'm in town. It's the 17th century merchant's house restored and turned into a museum by the Fundación Caixa Vinaròs, and has a varied programme of cultural events and exhibitions all year round. Publicity banners on the front of the building an neighbouring lamp posts are announcing a festival this week.
At first, I struggled to imagine what 'Curtmetratges' meant, guessing it was a Catalan rather than a Castilian word. Then I noticed the info-graphic on the banner, suggesting cleverly that it's a movie festival. When I checked later, I was able to confirm that this week there is indeed a festival of short films going on. It's not something I know much about, although I'm aware of the immense number and variety of works now made, both by artists as part of art installations, and by others wanting to make a video essay or poem on a theme that interests them. All of this has become easier and cheaper to achieve over the past fifteen years or so, due to digital video camera and editing technologies, now so readily available on most devices you can buy.

I can certainly see the attraction of this new medium, but have resisted the temptation to move over from stills photography, into video storytelling. I'm like to share my photos, draw attention to the many delightful things I see, and I enjoy the challenge of captioning Instagram photos posted to my account. But, it's a bit like all those ideas I have for writing books that come to nothing, stalled by the devil's advocate question 'Who's interested in what you have to say?'

Sometimes I feel it's just vanity to imagine there's an audience for my personal contribution out there. After forty nine years preaching to diminishing numbers of listeners, it's not so much my ideas that matter, but the effort made to explain the Bible and Christian doctrine, relating it to everyday life. Most of that is familiar to audiences rather than original, just helping people to keep thinking about these things, and praying as best they can. If that sounds pessimistic, it's not meant to. You can but respond to what comes in your direction, and be ready for anything.

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