What has happened to the cinematic fictions that set out to make sense of our times? That is to say: what has happened to fiction as the construction of both an arrangement of events and a relation of a referential world to alternative worlds? In accordance with the laws of verisimilitude and rationality that aim to make situations identifiable and intelligible, which also means acceptable and credible, fiction in cinema is commonly made up of calculated entanglements of recognition effects and effects of surprise that attest to the real, so that fiction is, in turn, attested by the real. How to break out of this circle of mutual attestation, which tends to get stuck in endless oscillations between the conforming familiar and the familiar nonconforming? Perhaps it is this sense of consensual sterility that has enkindled the recent intensification of fictions that no longer treat the real as something to attest to, but as something to attend to. No longer as an effect to be produced, but as a world of unnamed emotions and boundless virtualities to explore and prolong. Against the logic that is grounded in the ‘real of fiction’, where the unexpected is always already accounted for, these fictions look for the unexpected where it is not supposed to be, thereby calling into question the way in which things are commonly expected. We could call them ‘fictions of the real’.
Stoffel Debuysere is a Brussels-based researcher and curator of cinema and audiovisual arts. He has organised numerous film programmes in collaboration with a variety of organisations and institutions. He is a head programmer for the Courtisane collective and a lecturer in Critical Film Studies at the KASK School of Art, Ghent, where he recently obtained a PhD with the project Figures of Dissent (Cinema of Politics, Politics of Cinema).