Meeting the Rebel Master of the World Cinema

IMG_2539 (1)
Peter Watkins and Moynul Alam Photo Credit: Vida Urbonavicius (Watkins’ wife)

Recently, Monash University Doctoral Researcher Moynul Alam (Moynul Shaon) had the rare opportunity to meet Peter Watkins, the rebel master of the World Cinema in central France. It has been a positive outcome of Moynul’s years of persuasion to meet the master.

Peter Watkins is well known as a vigorous critic of capitalism and commercial cinema. In his lifelong struggle against what he understands to be a repressive global politics and media, Watkins himself directed masterpieces such as The War Game (1965), Punishment Park (1971), Edvard Munch (1976), La Commune (2000) all of which played a significant role in constructing Documentary Cinema as a critical artistic apparatus. The Late critic Raymond Durgnat once asserted that Peter Watkins is as important as John Grierson in the development of Documentary as an individual genre. Interestingly, Australia, Melbourne and Monash University have all ad significant historical attachments to the making of his 14 hour long masterpiece The Journey (1983-86) which involved participants from different parts of the world.

Moynul Alam has been researching Peter Watkins cinema for the last half a decade or so at Monash University. He first completed his Post Graduate Diploma on Watkins’ films in 2010. And in 2011 commenced his PhD on Watkins’ latest production ‘La Commune’ (Topic: Revolution in Peter Watkins’ ‘La Commune’) under the supervision of Associate Professors Deane Williams, Adrian Martin and Dr Julia Vassilieva. ‘La Commune’ portrays -the vital but short- lived working class revolutionary event of Paris Commune in the year of 1871 and it’s subsequent bloody repression – in an innovative cinematic form and process.

As per Moynul’s view, “from the beginning of this scholarly journey at Monash University, Peter reassures me via his audiovisual work and written ideas that Cinema has the appropriate power to facilitate progressive change within the complex arena of politics … this long- sought crucial meeting solidifies further this very assertion and delivers me the required artistic strength and inspiration to continue the struggle that Peter and his contemporaries started in the middle of last century within the cinematic field for a just, equal and humane universe. I believe scholarship must have a progressive political goal and thanks to Monash University’s global infrastructure and endless intellectual support I will continue my research in an international setting and also to meet one of the most important Cineastes of our epoch.”

It is a great privilege for the Film, Media & Communication program, Monash University to share this important news with other researchers.