Courtesy of Luke Buckmaster in Crikey and Richard Watts at ArtsHub, Richard Wolstencroft, the fascist director of the Melbourne Underground Film Festival, has lashed out at critics — and declared that some of his best friends are, indeed, black.
**UPDATED** – Ferocious film politics: ex-MUFF volunteer launches smear campaign against festival director
September 7, 2010
Richard Wolstencroft, director [of] the Melbourne Underground Film Festival (MUFF), has responded to a series of questions in relation to this blog post, which was originally published last Thursday (September 2) and focused on an online smear campaign against him conducted by an ex-MUFF volunteer with some heavy accusations and a big axe to grind. The original post is, unedited, below…
Mud-slinging mars a successful MUFF
September 6, 2010
The Melbourne Underground Film Festival (MUFF), which closed on August 29 with a successful screening of the banned film L.A. Zombie by Canadian shock auteur Bruce LaBruce – the second screening of the film at the festival – has been the subject of a vituperative attack by an individual believed to be a MUFF ex-volunteer…
(NB. Luke also writes about film for Spookmag, one of the media sponsors of MUFF. ArtsHub, for which Richard writes, was established by The Dramatic Group P/L. The Group also established another MUFF sponsor: ScreenHub.)
The blog at the centre of the controversy is titled Richard Wolstencroft’s Unconcealedness: “A collection of damning quotes from the “Aristocratic Fascist” and director of the Melbourne Underground Film Festival, taken from Facebook and elsewhere.” The (unauthorised) collection basically confirms what Richard has already repeatedly informed The World of regarding his political views: he’s a fascist. Only, the quotes express his enthusiasm for the subject rather more crudely than it has been elsewhere.
A rather amusing sample of his deathless prose:
…the Nazis only wanted a united Europe like the EU, anyway, in essence. They were a little excesses [sic]. But that can be forgiven now given some historical distance. WW2 was a pointless civil war brought on by British arrogance. Hitler would have protected the British Empire and it would exist in a greater glory to this day if he had been allowed to. In the end England has lost everything and parts of London now resemble Afghanistan. Some [v]ictory!
Wolstencroft is no stranger to controversy, and actively cultivates it. In this sense, he’s a provocateur — one whose actions can readily be understood as having fairly crass, commercial, and therefore otherwise unremarkable motivations. Michelle Griffin writes (Bad reputation, The Age, June 26, 2004):
Wolstencroft, 35, has been infuriating Melburnians for more than a decade, since he founded The Hellfire Club, the fashionable S&M club, back in 1992, under his rather bland pseudonym, Richard Masters.
For years, he was the public face of the leather and lace-up crowd, generating headlines with calls to loosen pornography laws, and ill-advised plans for Nazi dress-up nights. (Ultimately cancelled after protests.)
Wolstencroft’s adherence to some form of revitalised fascism, however, does not seem to have been adopted simply for its effect but, rather, is the product of considered, and serious, reflection.
In 2003, the slogan for the festival, then in its fourth year, was ‘This time it’s political’. (See also : Scribblings: Richard’s Fascist Flirtation, The Review, August 2003.) Wolstencroft elaborated upon the meaning of ‘politics’ and his own perspective in his Director’s statement, declaring himself to be a ‘fascist’, albeit ‘transcendental’: “Transcendental fascism as a concept interests me because it is transcendental.” (Wolstencroft failed to add that transcendental fascism, as a giant hedgehog named Spiny Norman, scares him.)
Later, Wolstencroft declared that “I… have invented a political theory known as Transcendental Fascism, a non-racist regenerated form of fascism”.
A kinder, gentler fascism.
Wolstencroft the New Inventor references the Nazi philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), who “subtly” — perhaps too subtly — “attempted to bring both the University and… the [Nazi] party under the umbrella of his thought”. According to Wolstencroft, Heidegger’s fascism was ‘transcendental’: non-racist, non-sexist and rational (and therefore well-equipped to fight metaphysical and religious quackery): Wolstencroft’s phantasy is of “a second Greek epoch”, not the sordid fascism “of Bush, Sharon, Blair” et. al.. Further:
A new conception of fascism will take into account the inherent paradoxes of its nature and dialogue and interact with other political philosophies worthy of integration like Anarchism, Socialism and conceptions of justice, equality, liberty and autonomy. One of my philosophy professors said this theory sounded nothing at all like fascism, and I replied “good”. But why the moniker fascism at all? What is that line from Salo, “We fascists are the only true anarchists” that haunts me? Well I believe fascism to be about the brute application of power and that all politics is inherently fascist in nature. Why transcendental then? Because in the name of Sex, I want to change and temper this brute fact but still retain the only force possible to truly fight the oppressive status quo! A paradox, of course, like the fact that there are beings rather than nothing.
The 2003 MUFF program included a number of films emanating from the Institute for Historical Review/Noontide Press, a US-based group and publisher which specialises in Holocaust denial. The one which caused the most controversy featured British Nazi historian David Irving (1938–). Barred from entering Australia, his banning prompted the 1993 speech which forms the basis of the film. It’s described by MUFF as follows:
- The Search for Truth in History
David Irving’s address, recorded in 1993 following his ban from visiting Australia, is his response to this outlandish state of affairs. This session will hopefully include a live post screening phone hook up with David Irving in the USA so he can speak directly with an Australian audience and answer questions. Stay tuned as we ‘go over the top’ and fight censorship for real.
And by the IHR:
- Here is the famed British [h]istorian’s witty brilliant response to the Australian government’s 1993 order banning him from the country, and the organized Jewish campaign behind it. Irving is at his dynamic best here as he describes the world-wide efforts to prosecute, ban and censor him, and explains the evidence that convinced him that there were no “gassings” at Auschwitz. A moving testimony to a great historian’s commitment to historical truth and freedom of speech.
The great historian’s commitment to historical truth is usefully examined in Roni Stauber’s ‘From Revisionism to Holocaust Denial – David Irving as a Case Study’ (July 25, 2000).
Wolstencroft arranged for the screening of three other films produced and distributed by IHR/Noontide at the 2003 MUFF, each edited versions of speeches delivered at one of a number of gatherings organised by the Institute. Aside from Irving, the speeches were by French Holocaust denialist Robert Faurisson, some bloke called Said Arikat (The Israel-Palestine Conflict: A Palestinian Perspective, from the 14th IHR Conference, 2002), and Akira Kawachi, a Japanese fella inspired by US Holocaust revisionists’ “dedication to objectivity and historical truth” to redress the presumed bias of US historians when it comes to examining the Japanese role in WWII and subsequent US occupation.
- My Revisionist Method
[From the 13th IHR Conference, 2000]
The man who made revisionism a household word in his native France goes back to his own revisionist beginnings, and then to the frontiers of revisionism today, in this lecture. Professor Faurisson recounts how his youthful studies in Greek and Latin, followed by his celebrated deciphering of the meaning of such difficult modern poets as Rimbaud and Lautréaumont, guided him to his revisionist method: simple, “nuts and bolts,” free of pedantry, going to the centre of things.
- The man who made revisionism a household word in his native France goes back to his own revisionist beginnings, and then to the frontiers of revisionism today, in this sparkling lecture. Professor Faurisson recounts how his youthful studies in Greek and Latin, followed by his celebrated deciphering of the meaning of such difficult modern poets as Rimbaud and Lautréaumont, guided him to his revisionist method: simple, “nuts and bolts,” free of pedantry, going to the center of things. Faurisson reveals how his “No holes, no Holocaust!” challenge springs directly from this method, shares amusing details from his conversation with Deborah Lipstadt, and updates on the Anne Frank “diary” in an unforgettable performance.
- The Influence of America’s Postwar Occupation on Today’s Japan
[From the 10th IHR conference, October 1990]
Hiroshima survivor, career diplomat, and scholar of international affairs Akira Kawachi discusses the influence of America’s post war occupation on today’s Japan. With rare frankness, Professor Kawachi blasts the one-sided history of World War II imposed by the occupiers, and pays tribute to the spirit and search for objectivity and historical truth.
- The Influence of America’s Postwar Occupation on Today’s Japan
Hiroshima survivor, career diplomat, and scholar of international affairs Kohchi discusses the influence of America’s postwar occupation on today’s Japan. With rare frankness for a Japanese, Professor Kawachi blasts the one-sided history of World War II imposed by the occupiers, and pays tribute to American revisionists’ dedication to objectivity and historical truth.
In 2004, MUFF, against the wishes of the filmmakers, screened a Crass ‘double feature’ (@ FFour (F4), aka New Guernica) — presumably as a result of Wolstencroft’s being “driven to make a significant contribution to the cultural enrichment of the community by illustrating the vibrancy, vitality and enthusiasm of the free-thinking, alternative, independent filmmaking scene in Australia and overseas”.
Or maybe not.
Apart from his role as director of MUFF and impresario of a kinky nightclub for yuppies, Wolstencroft has also made a few films: Bloodlust (1992), Pearls Before Swine (1999) and, most recently, The Beautiful and Damned (2008). Indeed, it was the exclusion of his 1999 film from the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) that prompted Wolstencroft to establish MUFF. I’m not sure precisely why MIFF decided not to program his film, but based on the handful of critical responses to it, it seems that it was because the film was shit.
Be that as it may, Wolstencroft’s swinish film *ed the US alt.noise merchant Boyd Rice in the role of ‘Daniel’, a hitman-of-wood. Like his director friend, Rice is a bit of a boofhead, whose flirtations with fascism have occasionally resulted in his experiencing some minor career difficulties, but which have otherwise proven to merely confirm — in the minds of his fans at least — his status as a courageous and iconoclastic artiste. Thus according to Mute, Rice is “one of the most consistently influential and contentious characters of the last 30 years of American counterculture”.
On fascism, see : George Orwell, ‘What is Fascism?’ (1944); Chip Berlet, ‘Fascism: An Essay’ (1992); Umberto Eco, ‘Ur-Fascism’ (1995); Roger Griffin, ‘The palingenetic core of generic fascist ideology’ (2003 PDF); | On post-WWII fascism, see : Kevin Coogan, Dreamer Of The Day: Francis Parker Yockey And The Post-War Fascist International (Autonomedia, 1999).