It's a conundrum that continues to puzzle me but a good film rarely provides a promising basis for a Q&A session. It may be that director and writer have answered all the questions the scenario throws up within the screenplay while other issues are best left for the audience's response.
I might give as an example Isabelle Czajka's Living On Love Alone (D'amour et d'eau fraîche), pictured, a painfully close-to-the bone depiction of a young woman struggling in the world of employment. In London it is showing exclusively at the lovely Ciné Lumière until the end of January, do try and catch it.
There may be a market for cinema's equivalent of a reading group, perhaps along the lines of London Film School's invite-only Speakeasy. In the meantime, the following types of questions should be banned from Q&A's:
- a) The so-specific-as-to-be-bizarre, usually asked by a student doing a thesis on an often entirely unrelated topic eg How would you say the representation of *insert subject here* in art influenced your portrayal of the central character? (Can you do my essay for me?)
- b) Rude putdowns. Thankfully this seems to be on the way out but for a while it became common to see a director who has given up their evening to publicise a film by graciously answering strangers' questions to be told that their movie is rubbish, that the interrogator has never liked the director's work and, in fact, the director is a disgrace to cinema. Some, like Julian Schnabel, seem to revel in this type of atmosphere, often deliberately trying to provoke his audience.
- c) The non-question, delivered by an audience member to show off his or her erudition on a particularly esoteric aspect of the film with little import for the majority of the audience. It's bloody minded but you can't help admire subjects who refuse to answer broad statements.
- d) The eulogy. I don't really mind the fan who genuinely wants to express their love and appreciation for a body of work but do throw in a question, otherwise you've wasted an opportunity for someone else.
- e) The opportunistic. I once saw someone at the BFI ask Tilda Swinton if she'd look at her script. Fair dos.