THE INDIAN FILMMAKER Mira Nair—one of the most imaginative, vibrant, and humane directors—told me recently that she sees two frontiers in the spiritual evolution of cinema. Her dream chimes with the notion that the stories we tell don’t just shape our lives, but in some senses actually become them.
The guy in the airplane seat in front of me blowing up pixelated images of Middle Eastern desertscapes is but one reminder of how the boundaries between self and story and “reality” are collapsing. Of course, technology permits us to tell more humane stories too, and to connect across distances as vast as continents. And there are signs of hope as more films seem to challenge the idea that threats must be ended by titanic force. Even some blockbusters depict human vulnerability, or conversation across lines of difference. It is these areas in which Mira Nair invites a deeper response.
She would like to see more balance regarding the action/spandex spectacles in which oppression (or sometimes merely disagreement) is typically confronted—without damaging consequences—by firepower, and those in which imagination plays more of a role in conflict resolution. In other words, fewer films in which things are “fixed” by blowing stuff up.