30 Years Trafic
A magazine is needed which would conduct traffic, as it were, among these singular figures and alien landscapes, unfilmed before, engines of war and wildernesses too “full of an inner life of their own”. – Serge Daney
This month, the French filmmagazine Trafic celebrates its 120th issue and thirty years of existence. Sadly, it also signals the end of a long cycle, this winter’s edition will be the last. Thirty years ago, Trafic arrived in a time when the world of cinema was in troubled waters. “What can resist?” , asked Serge Daney on its opening pages. “What can withstand the market, the media, fear, cynicism, stupidity, indignity?” It was Daney whose efforts and drive led to the magazine’s inception. He left an inextinguishable mark on the magazine's identity and its future course of action. In his words, Trafic was to be concerned with finding and tracing ways to “live with images” and creating a counterbalance to traditional ways of writing on cinema. Unfortunately, Daney would only live to see very few of the first issues, missing the newly formed magazine's further development. Luckily he was not alone in this endeavour. The magazine’s co-founder Jean-Claude Biette and editorial board, which included Raymond Bellour, Patrice Rollet and Sylvie Pierre Ulmann (later also Jacques Bontemps and Marcos Uzal) took up the work after his death.
Over the years numerous critics, filmmakers, philosophers and writers have articulated answers to Daney’s plea for resistance, which is even more pertinent today, each exploring the relation between writing and cinema differently. “In a magazine bereft of images”, wrote Raymond Bellour, “the desire to write” always took precedence. What mattered most was showing the possibility “to think and write images.” A line from a poem by Ezra Pound graces the last issue's front cover, reading: “What thou lovest well remains”. Undoubtedly, Trafic’s presence will endure, even after its official closure.