Archive for the ‘Venues’ Category

Dede (2017) **** Georgian Retrospective DOCLISBOA 2020

Dir.: Mariam Khatchvani; Cast: George Babluani, Nukri Khatchvani, Natia Vibliani, Girshel Chelidze; Georgia/Croatia/UK/Ireland/Netherlands/Qatar 2017, 97 min.

This first feature from Georgian documentarian Mariam Khatchvani is based on true events that took place at the outset of the Georgian Civil War in the remote mountainous community of Svaneti, far removed from the modern world. It pictures a patriarchal society where forced marriages, pride and tradition dictate the code of daily life. Dina is a young woman promised by her draconian grandfather to David, one of the soldiers returning from the war. Once a marriage arrangement is brokered by two families, failure to follow through on the commitment is unthinkable.

Khatchvani uses an evocative visual approach with minimal dialogue to tell the story of this woman essentially trapped by men. Gegi (Babluani) has just saved his best friend’s David’s life. Ironically this leaves David (N. Khtachvani) free to marry Dina (Vibliani). But in reality Gegi is in love with her – the two fell for each other, though their original meeting was so brief they never even exchanged names. When Dina reveals her true feelings to David, he simply replies: “you will marry me, even if you are unhappy for the rest of your life”. David then suggests Gegi join him for a hunting trip which ends in tragedy leaving this intelligent woman thwarted by the controlling men in her life.

DoP Mindia Esadze impresses with towering panoramas of the mountains, and the more domestic-based clashes between progress and tradition. Babluani is really convincing in her passionate fight for happiness, even though she hardly raises her voice. 

Khatchvani shows the backward life for Georgian women in a country where traditional Spiritualism and the Muslim faith both conspire against them, and men end arguments by simply stating: “a woman has no say in this matter”. The director is living proof that women can succeed – with this atmospheric arthouse indie made on a restricted budge. The feature leaves only one question: since both fatal accidents were shown off-camera, we are left wondering whether Girshel might have been the perpetrator in both cases. AS

SCREENING AT DOCLISBOA, GEORGIAN RETROSPECTIVE 2020 | AVAILABLE ON AMAZON VIDEO & PRIME, DVD (AMAZON) VIMEO ON DEMAND AND INDIEFLIX

 

Take Me Somewhere Nice (2019) *** MUBI

Dir: Ewa Sendijarevic | Drama | 91′

In her impressive debut feature, Ewa Sendijarevic takes a fresh and playfully cinematic approach to this semi-autobiographical expression of ‘positive experience of loneliness’ for the average multi-cultural person. To put it more simply, her central character Alma has grown up in Holland from Bosnian parentage and returns there to visit her father for the first time, with the gaze of an alien. Although this theme has been done before, most recently in a radical way by Jonathan Glazer in his mystery thriller Under The Skin, Take Me Somewhere Nice is a much more down to earth affair, enriched by its stunning visual approach and minimal dialogue. Alma is an Alice in Wonderland like character who goes on a Kafkaesque journey to visit her origins. She is accompanied by her cousin and his best friend, both from Bosnia, both unemployed and just as “care free” as Alma herself.

This triangle of characters represents a West-East European power balance between the privileged, and those left behind; the bitter and the opportunistic, the ones who would like to join the West and the ones who actively turn their back to it. This tension between the three bright young things occasionally becomes recklessly sexual, at other times gently attempts to forge a meaningful connection. Each frame completes the brightly coloured jigsaw of Alma’s eventful story, and even when it ventures into darker themes – a road kill incident and beach attack – still feels hopeful and energetic, in contrast to the clichéd portrayals of migrant misery and put-upon womanhood in the beleaguered Balkans.

Sometimes Sendijarevic inverts expectations, making us uncomfortable in a Brechtian way, and more acutely aware of traditional approaches the buzzy subject matter. TAKE ME SOMEWHERE NICE is also a film about using our contact with nature and the animal kingdom to celebrate being alive and being present in our world, wherever we lay our hats. Spirited performances and a lively colour palette make this journey fun and highly watchable. Sendijarevic believes in the Romantic – and laudable – idea that in “the moments we spend alone, preferably in nature, we can connect to our true selves in a spectacular way”. a sentiment that holds true now more that ever. A delightedly inventive and lively first feature. MT

NOW ON MUBI from 21 MAY 2020 | THE SPECIAL JURY AWARD WINNER | ROTTERDAM FILM FESTIVAL 2019 |

 

Henri-Georges Cluzot | Mubi

LA PRISONNIЀRE (1968)

Josée (Elizabeth Wiener) is the wife of an artist whose work is exhibited in Stan Hassler’s modern art gallery. Stan (Laurent Terzieff), impotent and depraved, satisfies himself by photographing women in humiliating poses. Josée is fascinated by the man and soon falls completely in love with him.

LE CORBEAU (1942)

A veritable masterpiece of French cinema, LE CORBEAU is a dark and subversive study of human nature starring Pierre Fresnay and Ginette Leclerc. A wave of hysteria sweeps the small provincial town of St. Robin when a series of poison-pen letters signed ‘Le Corbeau’ (The Raven) begin to appear, denouncing several prominent members of society. The slow trickle of sinister letters soon becomes a flood and no one is safe from their mysterious accusations. Upon its release in 1943, Le Corbeau was condemned by the political left and right and the church, and Clouzot was banned from filmmaking for two years.

QUAI DES ORFEVRES (1947)

A marriage that has fallen on hard times is further tested by the couple’s implication in a murder. Jenny Lamour (Suzy Delair) is a music hall chanteuse married to her pianist husband Maurice (Bernard Blier). Keen to get ahead, Jenny leaps at the chance when an ageing wealthy businessman (Charles Dullin) offers her the chance of some gigs.

However, when she agrees to a meeting at his home and he is found dead later in the evening – Maurice’s untamed jealousy is in the frame. A Maigret-esque detective, Antoine, played by Louis Jouvet, leaves no stone unturned in his exceedingly private investigations of the down-at-heel showbiz couple’s sad, tempestuous life.

MUBI | 14 April 2020 |  BLURAY, DVD AND DIGITAL | STUDIOCANAL

In Touch (2018) *** Kinoteka

Dir.: Pawel Ziemilski; Documentary; Poland/Iceland 2018, 61 min.

Pawel Ziemilski finds an ingenious way to tackle the timely topic of distance relationships in a challenging new documentary which won the main prize at IDFA in 2108.

Since the 1980s, the Polish town of Stare Juchy (Old Blood) has seen its population dwindling with most of the young moving to Iceland, of all places. Desperate to stay in touch, those left behind resort to electronic methods of communication. And Skype seems to be the most popular. But it’s not as simple as it seems. Gradually a different modus vivendi takes hold as the emigres adapt to their new environment, become influenced by the change of language and social set-up. Most of them will never return.

But In Touch goes beyond a study of citizens chatting to relatives and friends on a screen. Ziemilski records images of the landscape in both locations and then literally projects the footage via electronic means onto a vast canvass, a sort of moving art installation that keeps the communities in touch with each other, and their environment – rather like google Earth on a grandiose scale. Ziemilski can even project absent family members into a life-size Easter meal, or show a distant daughter painting her mother’s nails in another country. A goalkeeper on the Polish pitch tries to save shots not only from the Icelandic strikers, but also from opponents elsewhere. Sounds amazing? But – and it is a big but – the whole concept fails to convince because we never find out exactly who we’re dealing with, or how they feels about the situation. Brief, subjective, person-related information would have been so much more effective than just pictures: Greta putting her Icelandic co-workers down, telling her friend in Stare Juchy that she went for a job interview at the airport, and hoping she’ll get the job “since only Icelandic girls seem to be working there”.  

The sheer variety of these visual devices is extremely impressive, opening up new ways of enabling interaction by reconfiguring the conception of spaces, and exploring the topic in formally imaginative ways. But the concept is undermined by the plethora of sub-approaches, which often reduces the outcome as pure gimmickry.

All very imaginative in theory, but the human interaction feels impersonal and lacks real  intimacy. In Touch would work far better in the formal confines of an art gallery where visitors could drift in and out. As a cinematic experience it is often too limited by its formalism, which strangles the human touch. AS

Showing 24 March @ 8.30pm at the ICA as part of KINOTEKA | The Polish Film Festival in London, Kinoteka.org.uk

  

Robert Redford | Conversations with | Marrakech Film Festival 2019

Sometimes I ask myself what’s missing. What’s missing now is the dreams and enjoyment of my childhood, the sense of wonder”

When Robert Redford was growing up in small-town California it was wartime and there was no television back then, only radio. “The first movie I saw was a Walt Disney. The dream was to be able to walk to a neighbourhood theatre to see it on the big screen – I could hardly wait for the weekend. What I miss with all these screening services and advanced technology is the time when you would walk into that cinema, into the darkness with all the energy of all these people around you, and the magic was seeing things on the big screen”.

Talking during the ‘Marrakech Conversations with’ series at this year’s 18th edition, Redford looks frail but contemplative as he casts his mind back to his first cinema memories.  “The idea of being an actor was the sense of freedom, the freedom to act someone else. And if you were paying attention you would notice certain types of people. And you could embody these people and bring that forward as an art form. And acting is very much an art form”.

During his fifty years in the business, Redford has always tried to look forward, only looking back if it helped in the story telling. One of his favourite authors is Scott Fitzgerald and he had the pleasure in 1974 to be a part of that story with his film version of The Great Gatsby where he plays the Jay Gatsby in love with Mia Farrow’s Daisy. There’s a great line where Nick Carraway notices Gatsby’s great love of the past, when he’s discussing with Daisy after the big party. And she says: “Gatsby you can’t repeat the past. And Gatsby answers: “of course you can”.

Redford was a voracious reader as a young man. The writers that influenced him were Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway – ‘when he wasn’t being too macho’ – and J D Salinger. Many of the films he went on to direct look at the past of America. But he says: “When I think about my country, it’s hard not to be critical because during the war when I was about five years old, I remember the energy, when everyone was getting together for the greater good (to fight Fascism in Nazi Germany). We all came together in unison, in an act that would bind us together in something that was going to be good for our country. I didn’t really understand what that was, but it just felt good. That was my memory of the Second World War, that and the memory of going to the movie theatre, particularly if it was something by Walt Disney”. We are now in dark times and I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone reading the news that there’s a dark wind blowing through all the countries. And in America I see so many of our liberties threatened”.

The most important piece of advice he can give to young actors nowadays is to ‘pay attention’. ” You often hear the phrase: ‘God is in the details’, if that’s true then I myself should also be paying more attention. And so when I’m walking in my place in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I’m often so busy thinking ahead, that I don’t notice what is actually in front of me. And so I’d think the best advice it to see what you’ve actually got in front of you”.

Redford finds it sad when a lot of good directors don’t get attention. “Some directors work is very one-dimensional, it’s good but it’s always the same group of people, the same themes” One director who he feels was very side-lined was George Ray Hill. “he was all over the map, if you look at his biography, and I’m sad not many people have, he rises up to the top. If you think about Butch Cassidy, and you look at The Sting, he’s never really got much credit. It makes me kinda sad.”

When he was getting ready to make Butch Cassidy Redford had just come out of a comedy on the stage in New York. He was about 28 0r 29 and Paul Newman was the confirmed star of the film, all set to play The Sundance Kid, and Redford Butch Cassidy in account of his previous comedy role. But the part that interested him was actually The Sundance Kid. So he explained this to Ray Hill when they met in a bar in New York’s Third Avenue. He wanted to play the Kid based on his own experience and his sensibility of feeling like an outlaw for most of his life. Ray Hill knew Paul Newman very well, and he knew he was much more like Butch Cassidy – he was an upbeat guy. George Ray Hill appreciated the situation and turned it all around. Newman and Redford became close friends. At the time Paul Newman was highly considered, he was 42 whereas Redford was only 29. The studio didn’t really want Redford in the film and Ray Hill did. So finally Newman decided to support Redford and as a result he was always grateful to him. “Paul was always a cool guy, chewing gum and smoking cigarettes and he suited the part of Butch Cassidy, but what many critics missed was that in our following film The Sting the roles were completely reversed. In Butch Cassidy I played the cool guy, and he played the happy go lucky guy. In The Sting he was the cool guy and I was the happy go lucky guy. No one’s picked that up.”

When asked what he thought about Sydney Pollack’s maxim that “everything is political, even love” Redford raises a laugh. “Well you’ll have to ask Sydney about that, but you can’t because he’s dead”. Redford enjoyed a close friendship with Sydney Pollack. The two developed a mutual trust because they had both been actors, although Pollack worked best when he was in control. The relationship drifted apart when “Pollack realised he could not just be a director, he could be a mogul in control of a studio, and he started to drift out of that zone, and I don’t think he was entirely happy but it had a lot to do with growing up in a Mid Western town and from under-privilege. He was aiming very high and I think he saw his way forward as being in control of everything”.

In Sydney Pollack’s political thriller Three Days of the Condor (1975) Redford plays a CIA character who is trying and get to the truth when he finds all his co-workers dead on returning to his office. His character Turner asks: “Who can we trust to get to the truth? There’s a story to telling the truth. But is it a true story?. I’m not so sure”. Nowadays it’s getting more difficult to get the truth everywhere in the world”. You have to trust your faith and your instincts. But you don’t really know. Who can you really trust?. Three Days ends with a question, rather than an answer. And that’s very relevant still today. Originally adapted from James Grady’s book Six Days of the Condor, when asked why the film had been renamed Three Days of the Condor he replies: “it was about budget”. Also cutting down the time frame, tightened the tension.

In The Company You Keep (2012) trust and the search for the truth are also central themes. The bottom line here is again: “Who can you really trust to give you the truth. Someone isn’t telling the truth and you have to find out who and why?

Redford claims to be very focused on being socially conscious. And by this he means being aware of what’s going on on the political front. He very much believes in questioning the truth and firmly relies on good journalism to do so – The New York Times is a trusted source – as a way of providing a counterbalance to politicians and leaders who are often spinning their own story. Being socially aware for him is all about questioning the truth and what’s out there. In The Company he plays a character who firmly questions the truth and is prepared to be flexible in that goal, whereas his co-star Julie Christie plays a radical who actually hides from the truth hoping it will change. Their feisty dynamic provides the dramatic grist a story about investigative journalism set during the 1970s.

So what does freedom mean to Robert Redford? When scoping it out he comes up with the counterintuitive position that freedom often fails to offer a better alternative. “if you take the position that you have to get away from anything you’re given, you might be losing something really valuable”. There’s a great deal of dramatic potential to be mined from seeking the truth. And this premise has driven many of his films as a director.

In Lions for Lambs (2007) Redford explores the aftermath of Afghanistan through three stories involving those affected. One is an angry young student played by Andrew Garfield. “Are young people more self-centred and less engaged politically than the older generation were in their day? Redford ponders: “Many of them are angry. But if you assume – as Andy Garfield’s character did that being sceptical or convinced that everything is corrupt is a very one note position, but it doesn’t actually make it the truth. The truth is actually more complicated than that: Being radical is actually being very narrow-minded. Life is not just one dimension”. And the tension between Garfield’s narrow-minded character and the professor mines that dramatic tension through the movie.”

Although Redford describes himself as being more political during the Vietnam war years, he then became more self-absorbed when he got back to his acting career. But the art form of directing makes a worthy subject of politics and he started to re-engage when he started making films. “Art in a broad sense is a useful way to criticise society and maintain a balance between the power base. Art provides another point of view to correct extremes and pioneer a way forward for the truth”.

When Redford saw a documentary made by D A Pennebaker, known for his cinema verite approach to filmmaking, this inspired him in directing his own films. “They went inside their subject matter with the camera, rather than simply observing it from the outside, bringing some real dramatic tension to the form”. And so this was the approach Redford adopted when he started filming. When asked if he finds it easier to direct or act, Redford claims it all comes down to control. Also working as an artist sketching people he met on his travels in Europe helped tremendously to shape his filmmaking projects. “At that time there was a great deal of anger towards America and so I ceased to engage with people and used my sketchbook as a companion and to storyboard ideas and ‘get in the picture. being on the outside looking in and also on the inside”.

Robert Redford has now started to move back into sketching and drawing and away from filmmaking, but makes an acute observation on his change of direction:. “The trouble with retiring is that you should never announce it, otherwise people start saying – Oh could you just do this, or could you just do that – you should just retire”. However he is still working on a project which was has been in development for a few years. “It’s called 109 East Palace ” and it’s about an address in New Mexico where the atomic bomb was developed, and Oppenheimer was behind it. So I thought it was just such a great story, about the inventor of the atomic bomb. But because he was a Communist and this was the McCarthy era during the 1950s, everything was very extreme and right wing. Although Oppenheimer was a hero,  they (the authorities) went after him. What interests me is how quickly things can change because of the political climate”. He’s still deciding how he wants to approach the endeavour. “I believe in risk, and I believe that not taking a risk is a risk. It’s the only thing that pushes you forward. Because you don’t know where that going to lead you. Otherwise you will become stagnant. But it’s important to study the reasons why you want to pursue the risky strategy”. He also enjoys a challenge playing a character who is not popular and whose point of view is isolated from the mainstream “because it involves really committing to the role, and seeing it forward successfully. If you are going to play a part, you really have to inhabit that character, and it’s a risk because you can get lost.”

Robert Redford has never considered himself a Hollywood actor. “I grew up in Los Angeles, I didn’t grow up in Hollywood and I’ve never had that much regard for Hollywood. I wanted to be a serious actor and that started in New York in the theatre and I wanted to see where that led, and it led me back to Los Angeles as a filmmaker”.

When he decided to set up Sundance his goal was very simple: “Celebrating people who don’t get celebrated. Celebrating people who are either being ignored or undiscovered. Who deserve to be discovered. When I started Sundance back in the 1980s there were hundreds of independent films but they had no traction, there was no real category. It was still just mainstream films. Because I was in the mainstream I was very tuned into the idea of being independent. I was in the studio system but there was a whole world out there and I wanted to give it a chance. I wanted to support independent film with this non-profit institute called Sundance to support the stories and talent out there. ”

Robert Redford CONVERSATIONS WITH | MARRAKECH FILM FESTIVAL 2019 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sole (2019) ***

Dir: Carlo Sironi | Italy, Drama 90′

For some a baby is a prized goal in life while others can use their fertility to make some cash on the side. This is the premise in this spare but topical drama from new Italian director Carlo Sironi. It centres on a heavily pregnant Polish girl (Lena/Sandra Drzymalska) who agrees to sell her offspring to a desperate childless Italian couple, splitting the proceeds of the fee with their nephew Ermanno (Claudio Segaluscio) who poses as the biological father of the baby. Surrogacy is still illegal in Italy.

The director steers well clear of melodrama or sentimentality in this rather austere feature that keeps a tight control of its plot-line, playing its cards close to its chest: Ermanno and Lena make for a morose couple who barely rub along in their relationship of convenience, although things improve slightly with the impending birth giving Ermanno a new aim in life, a welcome break from his state of hopelessness.

Ermanno is certainly a contemporary character, a buttoned down anger simmers behind his poker faced demeanour. It’s a thoughtful performance from non-pro Segaluscio, whereas Drzymalska is more accepting of her situation, inured to the pain she has clearly suffered in the past and quietly pleased to be prized rather than put down in her new role. But when the chips are down and Lena realises her baby is just a porn in her struggle to survive, the emotional meltdown is palpable. MT

Marrakech Film Festival 2019 | IN COMPETITION

 

Babel Film Festival 2019 | Cagliari, Sardinia

 

The Sardinians have come up with a novel idea for a film festival. Babel focuses on ethnic minorities, and in particular linguistic ones.

Film is all about cultural exchange. Babel hopes to enrich and enliven the global debate with some marginal cinematic experiences, connecting the mainstream world with communities struggling to survive, not only physically, but culturally.

The programme offers a diverse array of documentaries, fiction features and shorts, and contributions from the world of theatre and music mining a wealth of minority languages since the dawn of time.

Now celebrating its sixth biennale edition the Babel Film Festival hopes to roll out festivities in an annual event making the Sardinian capital city of Cagliari a place for enlightened discussion and cultural exchange. Cineastes and industry professional can visit and get to know this exotic source of creativity featuring a diversity of minority languages, including dialects, slang and more. Lesser known languages are not just about communication on a basic everyday level, they are complex methods of expression in their own right, allowing speakers the freedom to wax lyrical with a nuanced and poetic vision of the world they live in.

BABEL FILM FESTIVAL | 2 -7 DECEMBER 2019

Locarno International Film Festival 2019

New artistic director Lili Hinstin unveils her eclectic mix of films for the 72nd Locarno Film Festival which runs from 7 until 17 August in its luxurious lakeside location. Locarno is known for its edgy profile and this year will be no different: Films by established auteurs Koji Fukada, Asif Kapadia, Kiyoshi Kurosawa will screen alongside an inventive array of undiscovered newcomers and sophomore cinema in a selection that embraces traditional stories and more experimental and avantgarde fare.

Hinstin takes over from Carlo Chatrian, who served as artistic director of Locarno since 2013 and now returns to the Berlinale. Hinstin is the 13th artistic director of the Locarno Festival since it was founded in 1946 and is only the event’s second female artistic director following on from Irene Bignardi (2000-5).

The largest open air cinema space in Europe, the Piazza Grande, will welcome up to 8,000 viewers for 19 full-length, 2 short films, and 6 Crazy Midnight, a total 11 world premieres. The magnificent state of the art Grand Rex cinema will pay host to this year’s Retrospective BLACK LIGHT conceived by Greg de Cuir Jr. showcasing international 20th century black cinema with stars such as Pam Grier, Ousmane Sembene, Spike Lee and Euzhan Palcy who will introduce his restored print of Rue Cases-Negres.

There will be another chance to see Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Luebbe DeBoer’s Sundance breakout Greener Grass and Kapadia’s Cannes documentary Maradona, along with the Joseph Gordon-Levitt-starring hijack thriller-drama 7500, Carice Van Houten-starring Instinct, and British comedian Simon Bird’s directorial debut Days Of The Bagnold Summer. Making its world premiere is also the  intriguing Italian horror feature The Nest from Roberto de Feo whose 2010 short film Ice Scream was one of the most awarded worldwide during the year of its launch.

Films in the main competition vying for the Golden Leopard include the latest crop of South American stories: The Fever from Brazilian director Maya Da-Rin sees a disillusioned man hovering between reality and a dreamlike existence; from Argentina Maura Delpero’s Hogar (Home) is set in present day Buenos Aires where two homeless teenagers are bringing up their kids in a religious institution run by Italian nuns. Icelandic director Runar Runarsson (Sparrows) will be there with his latest Echo. The first ever Locarno competition film in Gallego entitled Longa Noite (Endless Night) is a second surreal feature from Spanish director Eloy Enciso; and previous Golden Leopard winner Pedro Costa (Horse Money) is back with a Cape Verdean set drama Vitalina Varela. Activist and award-winning animator Mina Mileva and her Bulgarian co-director Vesela Kazakova have filmed their realist drama Cat in the Wall in Peckham, London. It follows the trials and tribulations of a mother and her daughter.

This year’s Cineasti del Presenti, a sidebar dedicated to original and Avantgarde cinema, includes works from acclaimed actress Jeanne Balibar – Merveilles à Montfermeil, and Elsa Kremser and Levin Peter’s Space Dogs explores the work of Laika, the first canine astronaut. Matjaz Ivanisin’s debut drama Oroslan shows how traditional mourning rituals help to heal the community’s grief in a village in Slovenia. From the magical midsummers of American teenagers in Tyler Taormina’s Ham on Rye to Klaudia Reynicke’s surreal female-centric drama Love me Tender– these are just some of the films in a programme full of daring inventiveness.

The President of the main competition jury will be Catherine Breillat, and she is joined by this year’s guests: Mathieu Amalric, Bi Gan, Bong Joon-ho, Denis Cote, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Maren Ade, Jake Perlin, Bi Gan, Aline Schmid, Alba Rohrwacher, Hilary Swank and Bela Tarr and John Waters whose will receive a Leopard of Honour for his daring, outrageous, often hilarious work: “Somehow I became respectable…What the hell has happened!”

LOCARNO FILM FESTIVAL 2019 | 7 -17 AUGUST 2019

 

Korean Film Nights | Love Without Boundaries

Korean Film Nights continue with a second season for 2019 ‘Love Without Boundaries’ – a programme of titles exploring Korean cinema’s bold exploration of romantic relationships existing on society’s margins.

Love, in its many guises, has always been a central concern in cinema. From the long-established vision presented in Hollywood studio pictures to the local dialect of any national cinema, romance has always had a place on film. Outside of cinema’s mainstream however, many exemplary filmmakers have long strove to represent a range of transgressive love stories in their work, bucking the idealised view codified in typical cinema fare. Delving deep into the key works from Korean cinema that have pushed against socially-accepted views of love and relationships, our season seeks to offer a snapshot into a diverse range of people and attitudes not typically seen on screens.

Comprised of six unique works from some of Korean cinema’s boldest voices from the past two decades (plus one remarkable early feature from 1956), our season explores representations of love located on the fringes of the cinematic landscape of their time. Challenging preconceived notions of what love should be, these films push up against societal views of what’s considered ‘normal’ to depict a variety of romantic relationships and the powerful human emotions they elicit. Encompassing taboo-busting depictions of same-sex romances and other marginalised individuals, the season offers a range of perspectives on bold, challenging subjects, offering a rare fully-realised and compassionate vision of people struggling for acceptance.

In our current social climate, past norms concerning gender, sexual orientation, and race, are increasingly being questioned and we’re seeing a sustained fight for diversity and inclusion in the film industry, both behind the camera and in front of it. ‘Love Without Boundaries’ aims to show how Korean filmmakers have pushed against societal norms by giving voice to characters who are not out to change the world, but are trying to live their lives and embrace their passions as best they can.

A Girl at my Door 도희야 / Thursday 4th July, 7pm / KCCUK

Screened in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes in 2014, July Jung’s directorial debut follows lesbian police officer Young-nam (Bae Doona, The Host) after she is stationed to a quiet provincial town following a personal scandal.

No Regret 후회하지 않아 / Thursday 11th July, 7pm / KCCUK

Regarded as the first South Korean feature from an openly gay filmmaker, No Regret follows the complicated love and working life of a young man after he heads to Seoul and finds work at a factory and as a ‘taeri’- a designated driver for wealthy patrons after a night of drinking.

The Hand of Fate 운명의 손 / Thursday 18th July, 7pm / KCCUK

This melodramatic spy-thriller utilises a visually striking, film-noir style, and acts not only as anti-communist propaganda, but also as a commentary on the shifting roles and expectations of Korean women.

Love Without Boundaries: Shorts Night / Thursday 25th July, 6:30pm / Birkbeck Cinema

Love Without Boundaries presents Queer Love: Loving Outside the Mainstream, a night of short films, revolving around a strong central theme of LGBTQ+ struggles within South Korea.

Wanee & Junah 와니와 준하 / Thursday 1st August, 7pm / KCCUK

Wanee is a disenchanted animator living in the city with her scriptwriter boyfriend Junah, but cracks begin to show in their outwardly peaceful relationship when childhood friend So-yang visits in this taboo-breaking forbidden love drama.

Oasis 오아시스 / Thursday 8th August, 7pm / KCCUK

Burning director Lee Chang-dong won Venice’s Silver Lion for his challenging portrayal of the relationship between a woman with cerebral palsy (Moon So-ri, Little Forest) and a man (Sul Kyung-gu, Memoir of a Murderer) fresh out of jail for manslaughter.

Information supplied by the Korean Cultural Centre | Screenings take place at the Korean Cultural Centre UK and Birkbeck Cinema and are free to attend. More info here

 

Karlovy Vary Film Festival | 28 June – 6 July 2019

Set in the peaceful charm of the former Bohemia, Karlovy Vary was once known as Marienbad. The annual Film Festival is one of the oldest and most prestigious in the World dating back to 1946. It is backed by the Ministry of Culture and hosted by the Grand Hotel Pupp. But most of the screenings take place in the Brutalist concrete Hotel Thermal which has now become somewhat of an iconic tribute to the country’s years under Communism. 

The 54th edition has unveiled the first competition titles in the Official Selection, East of the West and Documentary sections. Twelve films with compete for coveted Crystal Globe – 10 world premieres and two international premieres.

Cambodian-born, UK director Hong Khaou will be there to present his follow-up to the rather delicate LGBTQ drama  debut Lilting, (2014). Monsoon stars Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) whose return to Vietnam is a stressful homecoming. Chinese director Zhai Yixiange’s Mosaic Portrait also joins the line-up along with a psychological drama Lara from German director Jan Ole Gerster and Martha Stephens’ black and white coming of age 1960s-set drama To the Stars. Slovenia’s Damjan Kozole, who won Best Director 2016 for Nightlife, returns with Half-Sister; and the competition also features a Chilean comedy Sci-fi from Felipe Ríos The Man From The Future and a Spanish drama from Jonas Trueba’s August Virgin. Patrick is the first film from Belgium’s Tim Mielants in a comedy drama starring Jan Bijvoet (Embrace of the Serpent). Turkey’s Kivanc Sezer’s La Belle Indifference adds more fun to the competition line-up.

OFFICIAL SELECTION – COMPETITION

The Father (Bul-Gre) – World premiere
Director: Kristina Grozeva, Petar Valchanov

Patrick / Patrick (Bel) – World premiere
Director: Tim Mielants

The Man from the Future (Chi) – World premiere
Director: Felipe Ríos

La Belle Indifference (Tur) – World premiere
Director: Kıvanç Sezer

Lara (Ger) – World premiere
Director: Jan Ole Gerster

Mosaic Portrait (Chi) – World premiere
Director: Yixiang Zhai

Monsoon (UK) – World premiere
Director: Hong Khaou

Let There Be Light (Slo-Cze) – World premiere
Director: Marko Škop

Ode to Nothing (Phi) – International premiere
Director: Dwein Baltazar

Half-Sister (Slo-Mac-Ser-Cro) – World premiere
Director: Damjan Kozole

To the Stars (USA) – International premiere
Director: Martha Stephens

The August Virgin (Spa) – World premiere
Director: Jonás Trueba

EAST OF THE WEST

The East of the West brings the creme de la creme of East European films to the wooded Czech town and its usually very strong with some promising debut. This year opens with a Kosovan feature debut from Lendita Zeqiraj. Highlights this year include Ukrainian director Antonio Lukich’s  My Thoughts Are Silent, Kosovo director Lendita Zeqiraj’s female centric drama, Aga’s House, and Serhat Karassian’s Turkish prison drama, Passed by Censor.

Last Visit (Sau) – World premiere
Director: Abdulmohsen Aldhabaan

Arrest (Rom) – International premiere
Director: Andrei Cohn

The Bull (Rus) – International premiere
Director: Boris Akopov

Passed by Censor (Tur) – International premiere
Director: Serhat Karaaslan

Silent Days (Slo-Cze) – World premiere
Director: Pavol Pekarčík

Mamonga (Ser-Bos-Mon) – World premiere
Director: Stefan Malešević

My Thoughts Are Silent (Ukr) – World premiere
Director: Antonio Lukich

Nova Lituania (Lit) – World premiere
Director: Karolis Kaupinis

Aga’s House (Kos-Cro-Fra-Alb) – World premiere
Director: Lendita Zeqiraj

Scandinavian Silence (Est-Fra-Bel) – European premiere
Director: Martti Helde

A Certain Kind of Silence (Cze-Net-Lat) – World premiere
Director: Michal Hogenauer

Zizotek (Gre) – World premiere
Director: Vardis Marinakis

DOCUMENTARY FILMS – COMPETITION

The 11-strong documentary strand features eight world premieres. Highlights will include Spoon (of the plastic variety) from Latvian filmmaker Laila Pakalnina; Over The Hills from award-winning Czech documentarian Martin Mareček (Solar Eclipse). and Todd Douglas Miller’s Apollo 11 with archive footage from Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong.

17 Blocks (USA) – European premiere
Director: Davy Rothbart

Apollo 11 (USA) – Czech premiere
Director: Todd Douglas Miller

The Fading Village (China) – World premiere
Director: Liu Feifang

Over the Hills (Cze) – World premiere
Director: Martin Mareček

Up to Down (Ita) – World premiere
Director: Nazareno Manuel Nicoletti

In the Arms of Morpheus (Net) – World premiere
Director: Marc Schmidt

Spoon (Lat, Nor, Lit) – World premiere
Director: Laila Pakalniņa

Confucian Dream (Chi) – European premiere
Director: Mijie Li

Projectionist (Ukr-Pol) – World premiere
Director: Yuriy Shylov

The Last Autumn (Ice) – World premiere
Director: Yrsa Roca Fannberg

Immortal (Est-Lat) – World premiere
Director: Ksenia Okhapkina

Official Selection – Out of Competition

Mystify: Michael Hutchence (Aus) – European premiere
Director: Richard Lowenstein

Old-Timers (Cze) – World premiere
Director: Martin Dušek, Ondřej Provazník

The True Adventures of Wolfboy (USA) – World premiere
Director: Martin Krejčí

Special Events

The Sleepers (Cze) – World premiere
Director: Ivan Zachariáš

Forman vs. Forman (Cze-Fra)
Director: Helena Třeštíková, Jakub Hejna

Jiří Suchý – Tackling Life with Ease (Cze) – World premiere
Director: Olga Sommerová

The Downfall of the Secluded Berhof (Cze)
Director: Jiří Svoboda

Karlovy Vary INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2019 | 28 JUNE – 7 JULY 2019 

Edinburgh Film Festival 2019 – New Films

Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) is taking place between 19th and 30th June. This year the Festival will screen around 121 new features, including 18 feature film World Premieres from across the globe.

This year the focus is Spain and there will be a particular emphasis on genre films from women directors from around the world, ranging from gothic romance and Western chills through to science fiction and old-fashioned horror. All this set alongside a tribute to French filmmaker Agnès Varda, a woman who has inspired generations of directors.

There will be guests including one of Britain’s most successful directors, Danny Boyle, award-winning actor and producer Jack Lowden, British documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield and Scottish writer, director and actor Pollyanna McIntosh who also brings her latest film, Darlin’ to this year’s EIFF, and director, actor, writer and producer Icíar Bollaín. 

The festival will screen the world premiere of Adrian Noble’s Mrs Lowry & Son, starring Timothy Spall as the iconic painter L S Lowry, and Vanessa Redgrave. The Black Forest described as a ‘love letter to Europe’ from writer-director Ruth Platt; and coming-of-age supernatural love story Carmilla from director Emily Harris.

The EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVES strand features: Elfar Adalsteins’ End of Sentence where a bickering father and son from America take a road trip in Ireland; The Emperor of Paris starring Vincent Cassel will receive its UK Premiere at the Festival alongside Rudolph Herzog’s amusing How to Fake a War starring Katherine Parkinson and Aniara, an epic science-fiction drama about a passenger spaceship lost in the void, as well as titles including Barbara Vekarić’s Aleksi from Croatia; Susanne Heinrich’s Aren’t You Happy? from Germany and Swiss psychological drama Cronofobia. Audiences can also look forward to the return of France’s favourite Gaul in Asterix: The Secret of the Magic Potion.

This year’s WORLD PERSPECTIVES strand offers audiences an exciting and challenging array of new works by talented filmmakers from around the world. Highlights include: the World Premieres of Astronaut, starring Richard Dreyfuss as a lonely widower who dreams of a trip to space and Rodrigo Guerrero’s Venezia. Australian cinema features prominently this year with the acclaimed Acute Misfortune, a striking, brilliant and unconventional portrait of one of Australia’s most acclaimed and idiosyncratic painters, Adam Cullen; Other highlights include two South Korean action-adventure masterclasses in the form of Unstoppable and box office smash Extreme Job.

This year’s DOCUMENTARIES programme reflects the ability of documentary film to amaze, inspire, challenge, provoke and fascinate audiences, offering them the unique chance to travel the world and see strange and unusual sights. Strand highlights include:Memory: The Origins of Alien, a fascinating documentary about the making of Alien from the very beginning; This Changes Everything which examines the problems faced by women filmmakers and features interviews with Hollywood greats including Geena Davis, Meryl Streep, Natalie Portman, Taraji P. Henson, Reese Witherspoon and Cate Blanchett; Loopers: The Caddie’s Long Walk narrated by former caddie Bill Murray and Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, from Nick Broomfield, giving audiences an insight into Leonard Cohen’s love affair with Marianne Ihlen. 

This year’s retrospective strand entitled ONCE UPON A TIME IN SPAIN, will explore Spain’s rich cinematic history through three strands: A Retrospective Celebration of Modern Spanish Cinema; A Retrospective Selection of Cult Spanish Cinema and an in-depth celebration of the work of legendary Spanish writer, actor and filmmaker, Icíar Bollaín. Designed to begin where the retrospective ends, FOCUS ON SPAIN features a selection of brand new Spanish cinema by some of the country’s most promising directors. Highlights include: Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles from Salvador Simó, an accomplished and fitting homage to the great master of surrealist cinema; the directorial debut from Nicolás Pacheco Cages and gripping sci-fi thriller h0us3 from Manolo Munguía, inspired by the mysterious ‘insurance files’ famously employed by Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. 

The Festival will screen a number of films by the late great Agnès Varda across a retrospective strand entitled THE FEATURES OF AGNÈS and Varda by Agnès, her final film which will be introduced by Honorary Patron Mark Cousins.

Audiences can look forward to a whistle-stop tour of the latest ideas and techniques being explored in the world of animated film in the International Animation selection, as part of the Festival’s annual dedicated ANIMATION strand, as well as a screening of an anthology of anime shorts from the Japanese Studio Ponoc – the anticipated successor to Studio Ghibli – in association with Scotland Loves Anime.

If the weather holds there will be a free open-air cinema event, Film Fest in the City with Edinburgh Live, at St Andrew Square Garden, running from Friday 14th to Sunday 16th June 2019.

EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL | 19-30 JUNE 2019 

 

Beyond your Wildest Dreams: Entertainment cinema during the Weimar years

BFI Southbank and various venues nationwide will mark the centenary of the Weimar Republic with a major two-month season running from Wednesday 1 MaySunday 30 June; BEYOND YOUR WILDEST DREAMS: WEIMAR CINEMA 1919-1933 celebrates a ground-breaking era of German cinema showcasing the extraordinary diversity of styles and genres in Weimar cinema, which conjured surreal visions in the sparkling musicals Heaven on Earth (Reinhold Schünzel, Alfred Schirokauer, 1927) and A Blonde Dream (below, Paul Martin, 1932) and gender-bending farces such as I Don’t Want to Be a Man (Ernst Lubitsch, 1918).

“Ein blonder Traum”
D 1932
Lilian Harvey

In this first foray into the Weimar era we will try to analyse the mainly escapist features of the period, leaving out the prestige projects of Lang and G.W. Pabst, covered in Rudi Suskind’s comprehensive documentary From Caligari to Hitler, and have a look at the B-features which were part and parcel of the growing film industry in Germany, leading to a rapid rise of new cinemas, particularly in the urban centres. Director/producer Joe May, who gave Fritz Lang his big break (before also emigrating to Hollywood) was not only was responsible for mega-productions like Das Indische Grabmal, but, among the 88 features he directed, were small comedies like Veritas Vincit (1918), in which transmigration of the spirit is used, to tell a love story. E.A. Dupont’s Varieté (1925) was a celebration of the music-hall, but was not modern at all: it sounded more like an epilogue than a resume. Karl-Heinz Martin’s From Morning to Midnight (1920) was in contrast a very expressionistic film. Set in Japan, it tells the story of a bank teller, who uses the money he steals on sex-workers, before committing suicide. The Love Letters of the Countess S. (Henrik Galeen, 1924) was typical for a series of films, which dealt with love affairs at aristocratic courts. Comedy of the Heart by Rochus Gliese (1924), also falls in the category ‘scandalous love affairs of the monarchs’. Blitzzug der Liebe (1925) directed by Johannes Gunter might not be well known, but its narrative is very typical for the genre: Fred loves Lizzy, but does not want to marry her. Lizzy makes him jealous, by asking the gigolo Charley to court her. But Charley is in love with the dancer Kitty, who is fancied by Fred. A double wedding solves all problems. Max Reichmann’s Manege (1927) is a sort of minor variation of Varieté , set in the world of the circus. Dupont again is responsible for Moulin Rouge (1928), one of many Varieté  remakes. Ein Walzertraum (1925) by Ludwig Berger and War of the Waltz 1933) by the same director, are, like Two Hearts in Walzertune (1932) by Geza von Bolvary part of many features shot in Vienna, featuring the music of the Strauss family. Karl Grune’s Arabella (1925) is a rather more intriguing endeavour showing the life of the titular horse from its own POV. The Erich Pommer production of Melody of the Heart (Hanns Schwarz, 1929) was one of the first sound features; DoP Karl Hoffmann lamented: “Poor camera! No more of your graceful movements. Chained again”. Even the grim reality of unemployment featured in comedies such as The Three from the Unemployment Office (1932) directed by Eugen Thiele, a plagiarism of his more famous The Three from the Petrol Station (1930). Director Karl Hartl, who would later be a standard bearer of the Nazi regime, showed potential in The countess of Monte Christo (1932), in which a poor film extra (Brigitte Helm) is mistaken for the star, having a great time at a luxury hotel. The final mention should go to Hans Albers, the action man of the German cinema, his career lasting from the Weimar era, via Goebbels and the III. Reich to the post WWII cinema in the Federal Republic: he starred in four Erich Pommer films: FPI Doesn’t Answer, a U-Boot Sci-fi adventure directed by Karl Hartl and scripted by Curt Siodmak and based on his novel of the title; Monte Carlo Madness (Hanns Scharz, 1931), Quick ( 1932, directed by Robert Siodmak, who would soon emigrate) stars Albert as a womanising clown and The Victor (Hans Hinrich/Paul Martin, 1932), where Albers rather ordinary telegraphist develops into a fearless hero. AS

BEYOND YOUR WILDEST DREAMS: WEIMAR CINEMA 1919-1933

 

Nuestras Madres (2019) *** Semaine de la Critique 2019

Dir: Cesar Dias | Guatemala/Bel/France | 75′  | World Premiere | Competition Feature Film

Guatemalan filmmaker Cesar Diaz is known for his documentary Why Do Humans Burn? (2010) commemorating the massacre of 32 Guatemalan civilians during the country’s 1980s Civil War, and his work on Jayro Bustamente’s multi award-winning drama Ixcanul (2015).

Diaz returns to the subject of civil war in his debut drama Nuestras Madres that screens in the Semaine de la Critique sidebar during Cannes Film Festival 2019. During the first ten years of the civil war, the victims of the state-sponsored terror were primarily students, workers, professionals, and opposition figures, but in the last years they were thousands of mostly rural Mayan farmers. More than 450 Maya villages were destroyed and over 1 million people became refugees, or were displaced within Guatemala. Diaz sets his drama against the backdrop of the ongoing trial of the military officers accused of inciting unrest and causing the death of these ordinary villagers. As testimonials pour in from neighbouring villages, Ernesto (Armando Espitia/Heli), a young anthropologist at the Forensic Foundation in Guatemala City, is tasked with taking statements from the victim’s families and identifying people who have gone missing. But when an old lady’s turns up, claiming to have lost her husband Mateo, Ernesto thinks he has found a lead that will allow him to find his own father, a Marxist guerillero who disappeared during the war and who has never been put to rest. His fight for the truth is vehemently apposed by his boss at the Foundation, who wants the past to stay in the past. But it also helps Ernesto to grow closer to his mother (Emma Dib). Part ethnographical study, part drama Nuestras Madres is set in and around the country’s magnificent mountain and volcanic countryside (Guatemala has 37 volcanos, of which 3 are active), Nuestras Madres is a straightforward but affecting story about the plight of thousands of Guatemalans who went missing, and whose story has never been told. MT

SEMAINE DE LA CRITIQUE | 21 May 2019 | Cannes Film Festival 2019 

Cannes 2019 – Final additions…

COMPETITION SCREENINGS 

Thierry Fremaux hinted that there may be final additions to the official line-up and here they are – with his comments.

Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood – Quentin Tarantino (2 hrs 45)

“We were afraid the film would not be ready, as it wouldn’t be ready until late July, but Quentin Tarantino, who has not left the editing room in four months, is a real, loyal and punctual child of Cannes! He’ll definitely be at Cannes this year, as he was  Inglourious Basterds,  – 25 years after the Palme d’or for Pulp Fiction – with a finished film screened in 35mm and his cast in tow (Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt). His film is a love letter to the Hollywood of his childhood, a rock music tour of 1969, and an ode to cinema as a whole.

He added: “In addition to thanking Quentin and his crew for spending days and nights in the editing room, the Festival wants to give special thanks to the teams at Sony Pictures, who made all of this possible.”

Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo by Abdellatif Kechiche (4 hrs)

French-Tunisian director Abdellatif Kechiche returns to Cannes with the Intermezzo of Mektoub, my Love six years after his Palme d’or with La Vie d’Adèle (Blue Is the Warmest Color). The groundwork for this saga storytelling and extraordinary portrait of French youth in the 90s was laid in his Canto Uno, and it will be a pleasure to see its cast again.”

MIDNIGHT SCREENING

Lux Æterna by Gaspar Noé (50 min)

“Two actresses, Béatrice Dalle and Charlotte Gainsbourg, are on a film set telling stories about witches – but that’s not all. Lux Æterna is also an essay on cinema, the love of film, and on-set hysterics. It’s a brilliant fast-paced medium-length film for Gaspar Noé’s return – an unexpected one until recently – to the Official Selection, for a film that the Selection Committee watched at the last minute and which will be shown in a Midnight Screening as hyped as it is mysterious.”

UN CERTAIN REGARD

La famosa invasione degli orsi in Sicilia by Lorenzo Mattotti (1 hr 22)

“Adapted from Dino Buzzati’s children’s book, this animated film by illustrator and comic book author Lorenzo Mattotti is a visual extravaganza, whose graphic ingenuity and colour work will delight much wider audiences than the fans of the Italian master. With Italian voices by Toni Servillo, Antonio Albanese, and Andrea Camilleri, and French voices by Leïla Bekthi, Arthur Dupont, and Jean-Claude Carrière. Like the other Un Certain Regard film in animation Les Hirondelles de Kaboul (The Swallows of Kabul) by Zabou Breitman and Eléa Gobbé-Mevellec, La famosa invasione degli orsi in Sicilia will also be competing next June at the acclaimed Annecy International Animated Film Festival.”

Odnazhdy v Trubchevske by Larissa Sadilova (1h30)

“Russian filmmaker Larissa Sadilova, who already directed six features, hadn’t shot a film in several years. She is back with this “chronicle from the village of Troubtchevsk”, evoking the feelings of love in the contemporary Russian countryside, shooting characters played by her formidable actors with refined direction and a gentle eye. Women aspirations, their patience, the courage that has to be displayed towards an always illusory emancipation, desire, frustration, and a certain sense of immemorial fatalism are all examined, acutely and without weight. It will be the first time the Festival de Cannes welcomes Larissa Sadilova.”

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

Chicuarotes by Gael García Bernal (1 hr 35)

“A full-fledged member of Mexico’s exceptionally talented generation, a first-rate actor in films by Iñárritu and Cuarón, Gael García Bernal, along with Diego Luna, is a devotee of Cannes, where he was on the Jury in 2014. Chicuarotes is the actor’s second feature film where he takes a deep dive into Mexican society with a story about teenagers that is an affectionate portrayal, continuing in Mexican cinema’s tradition to pay homage to its eternal country, film after film.”

La Cordillera de los sueños by Patricio Guzmán (1 hr 24)

“Patricio Guzmán left Chile more than 40 years ago when the military dictatorship took over the democratically-elected government, but he never stopped thinking about a country, a culture, and a place on the map that he never forgot. After covering the North in Nostalgia for the Light and the South in The Pearl Button, his shots get up-close with what he calls “the vast revealing backbone of Chile’s past and recent history.” La Cordillera de los sueños is a visual poem, an historical inquiry, a cinematographic essay, and magnificent personal exercise in soul-searching.”

Ice on Fire by Leila Conners (1 hr 38)

“In 2007, Leila Conners screened The 11th Hour at Cannes, a hard-hitting documentary about climate change produced by Leonardo DiCaprio. The Festival screens conflict documentaries as part of a strong and proud tradition, like it also did with An Inconvenient Truth by Davis Guggenheim, which won an Oscar and earned Al Gore a Nobel Peace Prize. Twelve years later as the alarm bells are still multiplying all around the world (and more!), Leila Conners and Leonardo DiCaprio teamed up again on the same topic to make a film with an eloquent title: Ice on Fire. ”

5B by Dan Krauss (1 hr 33)

“In the 1980s, only a number and letter were used to designate a ward at San Francisco General Hospital, the first in the country to treat patients with AIDS. While a portion of society saw these patients as pariahs, the male and female caregivers in 5B chose a different route. This film is their story.

Directed by Dan Krauss, 5B is a film about a past that questions our present. It will be distributed in the United States, all around the world, and in France, which in October will be hosting the world conference for all fund-raisers donating money over the next three years to fight HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria. U2 singer Bono has been a fervent champion of the cause – and of this film, which he will be coming to Cannes to support.”

CANNES FILM FESTIVAL | 14 – 25 MAY 2019 

Stanley Kubrick Retrospective: Art and Film 2019

Stanley Kubrick, one of the greatest film makers of the 20th century, spent most of his later life working in England where he raised a family in the Hertfordshire town of Childwickbury, between St Albans and Harpenden, 35 minutes drive North of London. It was in the Norfolk Broads and Beckton, in the East End that he created the Vietnam scenes for Full Metal Jacket (1987), an orbiting space station for 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and Dr Strangelove’s war room (1964). 

BFI KUBRICK RETRO  

Throughout April and May 2019 the BFI will present, in partnership with The Design Museum, Kensington, a definitive Stanley Kubrick season at BFI Southbank. The season will offer audiences the opportunity to experience masterpieces such as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Barry Lyndon (1975) and The Shining (1980) on the big screen as Kubrick intended, with screenings being presented on 35mm wherever possible. The season will also delve deep into the director’s oeuvre with a playful and diverse programme of events, revealing why Kubrick is considered one of the most influential filmmakers of all time, and his style has given rise to the new entry in the Oxford Dictionary: “Kubrickian” meaning painstakingly perfectionist.

Stanley Kubrick was most inventive in his introduction of revolutionary devices to his filmmaking, such as the camera lens designed for NASA to shoot by candlelight. His fascination with all aspects of design and architecture influenced every stage of all his films. He worked with many key designers of his generation, from Hardy Amies to Saul Bass, Eliot Noyes and Ken Adam.

KENSINGTON EXHIBITION 

The exhibition, which has already travelled round Europe, is supported by Kubrick’s brother-in-law and executive producer on many of his films, Jan Harlan. The two first collaborated on Kubrick’s unrealised film project Napoleon in 1969, which has become known as the greatest movie never made, and will shortly form the subject of a made for TV documentary inspired by Steven Spielberg and directed Cary Fukunaga (Bond 2025).

Kubrick was as demanding on his actors as he was on himself. After playing Barry Lyndon’s hapless stepson in the 1975 epic drama English actor Leon Vitali went to work as his assistant for some 30 years and his story is told in Tony Zierra’s informative 2017 documentary Filmworker

The exhibition at Kensington’s Design Museum features scripts, costumes, films and props and provides a fascinating counterpoint to the BFI’s film retrospective, which takes place from April to May what it has called the “definitive Stanley Kubrick season” showing his films in 35mm, using projectors. There will also be a new print of A Clockwork Orange. MT

Kubrick’s feature films:

Fear and Desire (1953)

Killer’s Kiss (1955);

The Killing (1956)

Paths of Glory (1957)

Spartacus (1960)

Lolita (1962)

Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Barry Lyndon (1975)

The Shining (1980)

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Stanley Kubrick: the Exhibition | Kensington Design Museum 26 April-17 September 2019.

British Transport Films | Blu-ray release 2019

What could be more romantic than a train journey? Even if it feels more like a boys own adventure, as many of these British Transport films do. Escaping into the unknown with a promise of excitement and discovery – or just a trip back in time to revisit childhood holidays in the 1960s and 1970s, where the English landscape stretched far and wide from the window of the pullman out of Waterloo, or even Paddington, and not an anorak in sight! 

This year celebrates the 70th anniversary of the British Transport Films with twenty one films representing the cream of the celebrated BTF collection.

Classics including John Schlesinger’s Terminus (1961)and Railways forever! (1970) John Betjeman’s eulogy to his favourite form of transport, have been newly digitally remastered on 2k, while Geoffrey Jones’s legendary homage to progress, Rail (1967), has been restored in 4K by the BFI National Archive.

British Transport Films was established in 1949 to focus a spotlight on transport as a nationalised undertaking. Over a period of more than 35 years, BTF produced an unrivalled documentary film legacy for generations of film and transport enthusiasts.

The Films (disc 1)

Farmer Moving South (1952)

Train Time (1952)

This is York  (1953)

Elizabethan Express (1954)

Snowdrift at Bleath Gill (1955)

Any Man’s Kingdom (1956)

Fully Fitted Freight (1957)

Every Valley (1957)

A Future on the Rail (1957)

Between the Tides (1958)

Disc 2

A Letter for Wales (1960)

They Take the High Road (1960)

Blue Pullman (1960)

Terminus (1961)

The Third Sam (1962)

Rail (1967)

Railways For Ever! (1970)

The Scene from Melbury House (1972)

Wires Over the Border (1974)

Locomotion (1975)

Overture: One-Two-Five (1978)

This collection will be launched with a special screening at BFI Southbank. Moving Millions: British Transport Films Blu-ray Launch + Q&A takes place on Tuesday 14 May at 18:00 in NFT1. It will be introduced by BFI Curator of Non-Fiction, Steve Foxon and followed by a Q&A with special guests. This event is also part of the Department for Transport’s Centenary.

https://whatson.bfi.org.uk/Online/movingmillionsbritishtransportplusqanda

 

 

Cannes Classics 2019

The 25 years of La Cité de la peur, a Midnight Screening of The Shining presented by Alfonso Cuarón, the 50 years of the mythical Easy Rider in the company of Peter Fonda, Luis Buñuel in the spotlight with three films, the attendance of Lina Wertmüller, the Grand Prix of 1951 Vittorio De Sica’s Miracle in Milan, a final salute to Milos Forman, the first Japanese animated film in color, the World Cinema Project and the Film Foundation of Martin Scorsese, documentaries about cinema and History, masterpieces known and rare films in restored version from countries rarely honored, this is the new edition of Cannes Classics—the first section dedicated to heritage cinema ever created in a major festival.  

 The majority of the films will be screened at Buñuel Theater, Salle du 60e or at the Cinéma de la Plage, all presented by major players in the film heritage: directors, artists or restoration managers.

The 50 years of the mythical Easy Rider

Presented half a century ago on the Croisette, in Competition at the Festival de Cannes, the film won the Prize for a first work. Co-writer, co-producer and lead actor, Peter Fonda will be in Cannes at the invitation of the Festival to celebrate this anniversary.
Easy Rider (1969, 1h35, USA) by Dennis Hopper

Restored in 4K by Sony Pictures Entertainment in collaboration with Cineteca di Bologna. Restored from the 35mm Original Picture Negative and 35mm Black and White Separation Masters. 4K scanning and digital image restoration by Immagine Ritrovata. Audio restoration from the 35mm Original 3-track Magnetic Master by Chace Audio and Deluxe Audio. Color grading, picture conform, additional image restoration and DCP by Roundabout Entertainment. Colorist: Sheri Eisenberg. Restoration supervised by Grover Crisp.

Midnight Screening of The Shining 

The ultimate horror film for an event screening presented by Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón.
The Shining by Stanley Kubrick (1980, 2h26, UK / USA)

A Presentation of Warner Bros. The 4K remastering was done using a new 4K scan of the original 35mm camera negative. The mastering was done at Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging, and the color grading was done by Janet Wilson, with supervision from Stanley Kubrick’s former personal assistant Leon Vitali.

The 50 years ofLa Cité de la peur

The cult comedy of comic group Les Nuls will be screened at Cannes Classics au Cinéma de la Plage upon the occasion of the 4K restoration of the film for its 25th anniversary with Alain Chabat, Chantal Lauby and Dominique Farrugia in attendance.
La Cité de la peur, une comédie familiale (1994, 1h39, France) by Alain Berbérian

Presented by Studiocanal. A restoration by Studiocanal and TF1 Studio . 4K scanning 16bits from the original negative 35mm on Lasergraphics director. The pre-calibration was done in a projection room equipped by a 4k projector 4k Christie Laser by Pascal Bousquet and additional work of filtering, dusting was done to compensate the imperfection due to the age of the film. Optical illusion composited on DI on Flame to remain close to the quality of the original negative. Calibration validated by Laurent Dailland, director of photography. Original digital sound was used without modification. Work of remastering done by VDM Laboratory.

Luis Buñuel in the spotlight with three films

Three films by Mexican director and screenwriter, with Spanish origin, will be shown this year.
Los Olvidados (The Young and the Damned) (1950, 1h20, Mexico) by Luis Buñuel

Presented by the World Cinema Project. Restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project at L’Immagine Ritrovata in collaboration with Fundación Televisa, Cineteca Nacional Mexico, and Filmoteca de la UNAM. Restoration funding provided by The Material World Foundation.

Nazarín (1958, 1h34, Mexico) by Luis Buñuel

Presented by Cineteca Nacional Mexico. 3K Scan and 3K Digital Restoration from the original 35mm image negative (preserved by Televisa) and prints positive materials from Cineteca Nacional. Restoration made and financed by Cineteca Nacional Mexico. Mastered in 2K for Digital Projection.

L’Âge d’or (The Golden Age) (1930, 1h, France) by Luis Buñuel

Presented by La Cinemathèque française. A 4K restoration of The Golden Age was done by la Cinemathèque française and le Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Experimental cinema’s department, at Hiventy Laboratory for the image and at L.E. Diapason’s studio for the sound, using the original nitrate negative, original sound and safety elements.

Tribute to Lina Wertmüller

The first woman director ever nominated as a director at the Academy Awards in 1977 for Pasqualino Settebellezze, Lina Wertmüller will introduce the film with lead actor Giancarlo Giannini in attendance.
Pasqualino Settebellezze (Seven Beauties) (1975, 1h56, Italy) by Lina Wertmüller

Presented by Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia – Cineteca Nazionale. Restored by Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia – Cineteca Nazionale with the support of Genoma Films and Deisa Ebano from the original 35mm picture and optical soundtrack negative made available by RTI S.p.A. Digital scanning and restoration work carried out by Cinema Communications in Rome.

The 1951 “Palme d’or”

The Palme d’or was created in 1955 but the Grand Prix awarded to Miracle in Milan by Vittorio De Sica was the equivalent.
Miracolo a Milano (Miracle in Milan) (1951, 1h40, Italy) by Vittorio De Sica

Presented by Cineteca di Bologna. Restored by Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna and Compass Film, in collaboration with Mediaset, Infinity TV, Artur Cohn, Films sans frontières and Variety Communications at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory. 4K Scan and Digital Restoration from the original 35mm camera negative and a vintage dupe positive. Colour grading supervised by DoP Luca Bigazzi.

Milos Forman

A devotee of the Festival de Cannes, a former President of the Jury, a director with several lives, Milos Forman passed away one year ago. The restoration of his second film and a documentary will give us the opportunity to pay our tribute and remember him.
Lásky jedné plavovlásky (Loves of a Blonde) (1965, 1h21, Czech Republic) by Milos Forman

A presentation of the Národní filmový archiv, Prague. 4K digital restoration based on the original camera done by the Universal Production Partners and Soundsquare in Prague, 2019. The donors of this project were Mrs. Milada Kučerová and Mr. Eduard Kučera. Restored in partnership with the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival and the Czech Film Fund. French distribution: Carlotta Films.

Forman vs. Forman (Czech Republic / France, 1h17) by Helena Trestikova and Jakub Hejna

Presented by  Negativ Film Productions, Alegria Productions, Czech Television, ARTE. A powerful documentary that recounts with emotion the career of director Milos Forman, from the Czech New Wave to Hollywood. Oscars, politics and political upheavals for a life in the service of cinema.

All the restored films of Cannes Classics 2019

Toniby Jean Renoir (1934, 1h22, France)

Presented by Gaumont. First digital restoration in 4K presented by Gaumont with the support of the CNC. Restoration done by L’image retrouvée in Bologna and Paris.

Le Ciel est à vous (1943, 1h45, France) by Jean Grémillon

Presented by TF1 Studio. Restaured version in 4K using two intermediate and a duplicate done by TF1 studio, with the support of the CNC and Coin de Mire cinéma. Digital and photochimical work done by L21 laboratory.

Moulin Rouge (1952, 1h59, UK) by John Huston 

Presented and restored by The Film Foundation in collaboration with Park Circus, Romulus Films and MGM with additional funding provided by the Franco-American Cultural Fund, a unique partnership between the Directors Guild of America (DGA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Société des Auteurs, Compositeurs et Editeurs de Musique (SACEM), and the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW).   Restored from the 35mm Original Nitrate 3-Strip Technicolor Negative. 4K scanning, color grading, digital image restoration and film recording by Cineric, Inc., New York. Colorist: Daniel DeVincent. Audio restoration by Chace Audio. Restoration Consultant: Grover Crisp.

Kanal (They Loved Life) (1957, 1h34, Poland) by Andrzej Wajda

Presented by Malavida, in association with Kdr. Scanned, calibrated and restored in 4K under the artistic supervision of Andrzej Wajda and Jerzy Wójcik, second DOP, and regular collaborator of Wajda (Ashes and Diamonds) and one of the greatest Polish DOP. Technical supervision: Waldermar Makula. 4k Scan from the original negative, image and sound. Producted by Studio Filmowe Kadr with the participation of  Filmoteka Narodowa. French distribution: Malavida. International Sales: Studio Filmowe Kadr.

Hu shi ri ji (Diary of a Nurse) (1957, 1h37, China) by Tao Jin

Presented by IQIYI et New Ipicture Media co., ltd (NIPM). 4K Scan and 3K Digital Restoration from the original 35mm print positive materials mastered in 2K. Restoration financed by IQIYI & NIPM, and made by L’Immagine Ritrovata (Italy) and Laser Digital Film SRL (Italy).

Hakujaden (The White Snake Enchantress) (1958, 1h18, Japan) by Taiji Yabushita

Presented by  Toei Animation Company, ltd., Toei company, ltd. et and National Archive of Japan. The project celebrates the 100th year anniversary for the birth of Japan animation and 60th anniversary for the original theatrical release in 1958.
4K scan and restoration from the original negative, 35mm print, tape materials, and animation cels by Toei lab tech co., ltd. et Toei digital center are carried out. The restored data is stored in 2K.

125 Rue Montmartre (1959, 1h25, France) by Gilles Grangier

Presented by Pathé. 4K Scan and 2k restoration, using the original safety negative (negative image, intermediate and negative optique sound) Work done by Eclair laboratory for the image and L.E Diapason (Léon Rousseau) for the sound part. Restored with the support of the Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée (CNC).

A tanú (The Witness) (1969, 1h52, Hongrie) by Péter Bacsó

The original uncensored  version presented by the Hungarian National Film Fund – Film Archive. The film was restored in 4K using the original camera negative and outtakes, the only existing uncensored positive print and the original magnetic sound. The restoration was carried out at the Hungarian Filmlab. The digital colour grading was supervised by Tamás Andor (HSC, Hungarian Society of Cinematographers).

Tetri karavani (The White Caravan) (1964, 1h37, Georgia) by Eldar Shengelaia and Tamaz Meliava

Presented by Georgian National Film Center. 4K Scan from 35mm, digital restoration (color, grading, stabilization). Restoration financed by the Georgian National Film Center, the restoration made by National Archives of Georgia.

Director Eldar Shengelaia in attendance.

Plogoff, des pierres contre des fusilsby Nicole Le Garrec (1980, 1h48, France)

Presented by Ciaofilm. Restored in 2k from the original negative 16mm image. Sound restoration from the 16mm magnetic. Work done by Hiventy laboratory  under the supervision of Ciaofilm and Pascale Le Garrec, with the help of the CNC, Région Bretagne and the Cinemathèque de Bretagne. Distributed by Next Film Distribution.

Director Nicole Le Garrec in attendance.

Caméra d’Afrique  (20 Years of African Cinema) by Férid Boughedir (1983, 1h38, Tunisia / France)

Presented by the CNC. Restoration: Laboratory of the CNC. 2K scan from the original 16mm image negative. Sound restoration : Hiventy. This movie fits into the restoration scheme initiated by L’Institut français and the CNC, supervised by the commitee for the African cinematographic heritage. Right-holders: Marsa film. French Distribution: Les Films du Losange.

Director Férid Boughedir in attendance. 

Dao ma zei (The Horse Thief ) (1986, 1h28, China) by Tian Zhuangzhuang and Peicheng Pan

Presented by Xi’An Film Studio. 4K Scan and 4K 48 fps digital restoration from the 35mm original camera negative. Restoration financed and made by China Film Archive.

Director Tian Zhuangzhuang  and Cinematographer Hou Yong in attendance. 

The Doors (1991, 2h20, USA) by Oliver Stone

Presented by Studiocanal, in partnership with Paramount, Lionsgate and Imagine Ritrovatta. Restored in 4k, initiated and supervised by Oliver Stone from the original negative, scanned in 4k 16 bits on ARRISCAN at Fotokem US. Restoration managed by Imagine Ritrovatta in Italy. Calibrated work supervised by Oliver Stone. Immersive soundtrack thanks to the Atmos mix created by Formosa Group, Hollywood, under the supervision of Dolby and original mixers of the film Wylie Stateman and Lon Bender. The movie can be seen in 7.1 and 5.1. Remastered 4K now available in 4K Cinema, UHD Dolby Vision and Atmos.

Documentaries

Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound (USA, 1h34) by Midge Costin

Presented by Dogwoof and Cinetic Media.

The biggest directors and artists make us immerse in the history and impact of sound in cinema: Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Barbra Streisand, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Patty Jenkins, Robert Redford, Ryan Coogler, David Lynch, Sofia Coppola, Christopher Nolan, Ang Lee, Walter Murch. A rich, fascinating and essential documentary.

Les Silences de Johnny (55mn, France) by Pierre-William Glenn

Presented by les films du Phœnix  in coproduction with Ciné+.

A personal and moving portrait of actor Johnny Hallyday by great cinematographer, director and friend of Johnny’s Pierre-William Glenn.

La Passione di Anna Magnani(1h, Italy / France) by Enrico Cerasuolo

Presented by les Films du Poisson and Zenit Arti Audiovisive.

The destiny of legendary actress Anna Magnani through archive footage, often unpublished. To dive into the history of Italian cinema.

Cinecittà – I mestieri del cinema Bernardo Bertolucci (Italy, 55mn) by Mario Sesti

Presented by Erma Pictures in collaboration with Cinecittà Luce.

A presentation of Erma Pictures in collaboration with Cinecittà Luce.

The last interview of the Master Bertolucci who recalls his work with precision, delicacy and philosophy. A movie lesson.

CANNES FILM FESTIVAL 2019 | 15-25 May 2019

 

Steel Country (2018) ****

Dir.: Simon Fellows; Cast: Andrew Scott, Bronagh Waugh, Denise Gough, Christa Beth Campbell, Andrew Masset; UK 2018, 90 min.

This taut UK thriller, also known as A Dark Place was filmed in the US, where autistic Donald turns detective to find out the fate of a little boy who has supposedly drowned. Not so much a who-done-it, but an atmospheric journey into America’s dark heartland, where time seems to have stood still for the last half century.

In small-town Pennsylvania, Donald (Scott) drives a garbage truck with his colleague (Bronagh Waugh). Alcoholism has ruined the family, destroying his father and leaving him to care for his God-fearing wheelchair-bound mother. Donald is a decent guy but totally immature and unable to move on from his ex-partner  (Gough). When a local boy is found drowned in a nearby creek, Donald suspects foul play. The sheriff and his officials try to keep him off the case, but Donald is stubborn. He digs up the boy’s body and takes it to Pittsburgh to an old school friend who is now a forensic pathologist school. It turns out that the boy was molested and Donald thinks about taking revenge on the main suspect, the boy’s paediatrician, Dr. Pomorowski (Masset). His ex does not take him seriously, and even his eleven-year-old daughter Wendy (Campbell) is unimpressed by his concern and just wants to talk about the Pittsburgh Steelers, an American Football team.

This is very much Jim Thompson territory: the red-neck shabbiness, the corrupt police and the emotionally regressed anti-hero living in in a world of his own and disregarding the rules because the outside world means nothing to him. Thompson’s world of the middle 1970’s is everywhere, reflected in DoP Marcel Zyskind’s brilliant images, and brings to mind Seidelmann’s 1975 picture Child of Rage. Not much has changed in this neglected backwater, a world of dead-end jobs and alcoholism, where sexuality is as perverted as the pervasive power structure of state and police. The garbage truck Donald is driving is a clear metaphor for this fragmented society, held together by greed and a virulent, aggressive fear of everyone not deemed to be part of the claustrophobic set-up. Violence seems to be the only way out of any conflict. Steel County is a little gem, a perfect B-picture, perhaps destined to be a cult classic. MT

OUT ON 19 April NATIONWIDE

  

Passion – Between Revolt and Resignation (2019) **** Visions du Reel 2019

Dir.: Christian Labhart; Documentary; Switzerland 2019, 80 min.

Christian Labhart was only fifteen in 1968 but he dreamt of changing the world. And that society would transcend into a utopia of human brotherhood. Fifty years later he reflects on episodes from his own life, trying to understand how they fit—if they do at all—with the major changes of the world. And what happened to his Marxist pretensions?.

Told in chapters to the music of Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion, and quotes from Brecht, Kafka and Guy Debord among others, Labhard feels his dreams have come to nothing.  Starting with police forces guarding the G20 meeting in Hamburg in 2017, Labhart remembers how he demonstrated against the Vietnam War back in 1968, and swore he would never end up like his bourgeois parents. But contemporary images of the glitzy entertainment world show examples of what Guy Dbord calls “the empire of modern passivity”; alienation and fragmentation having replaced human interaction.

Labhard goes back to 1977 with the protests against nuclear power stations, the rise of violence with the Baader-Meinhof Group; Ulrike Meinhof describing four years in solitary confinement as “akin to being in a house of mirrors, the skin being torn off, and even visits leaving no trace”. Only the once weekly bath gave some relief. In 1980, Labhart was disillusioned with the way things were going, and so with some friends he moved to the countryside, “where they were very tired from work”, but still could not make a living.

After Chernobyl, Labhart and his wife abandoned their farm to become teachers, job-sharing making it possible to rear two kids who then became the entire focus of their lives. After the fall of the wall in 1989, the director visits Bulgaria, his images of deserted communist party buildings are akin to the relics from ‘Planet of the Apes’: the remains of a culture long lost. With communism dead in the water, Labhart reflect, along with the poet Dorothee Sölle: “This cannot have been all”.

The fall of the Twin Towers in 2001 finds the director in a rather sanguine mood in his home in the leafy suburbs: the kids have given the couple a new outlook in life. Starting out as a filmmaker, he asks: “Can I change reality by representing it?” Then quoting Arundhati Roy “How deep shall we dig, to find the courage to dream”.  The big cities are full of impressive but austere architecture, a built environment of post-industrial waste. The Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2008 falls at a time when the children leave home – Labhart is bereft.

Across five continents he still tries to find a way out of the capitalist jungle that has swallowed up his world. Global warming, war, overconsumption, refugee crises, inequality. Between Revolt and Resignation grows more or more despondent anew conflicts explode nearly every day. In a chapter about Poetry and Uprising, Franco Bifo Berardi is quoted “is useless to burn down a bank, as financial power is not in the physical building, but in the abstract connections between numbers and algorithms.” The chapter about 2011-2015 is entitled “What to be done?” and features the Syria War and the Arab Spring which brings to mind the director’s feelings in 1968.

After this, everything starts to break down, with brutal images in a Buenos Aires slaughter house, ads for Land Rovers, claiming that “Real Life is the greatest adventure”. The closing line is from Brecht “What an age, when to speak of trees is almost a crime. But how can I eat and drink, when my food is snatched from the hungry?”

Whilst Labhart ends on a defensive note “I don’t question the goal, only because we have not reached it”. Puo Corradi and Simon Guy Fässler’s visuals tell a different story: the planet has become the image of a society hellbent on self-destruction. Labhart’s essay is very much a long goodbye to hope. AS

 

VISIONS DU REEL | 5 -13 APRIL 2019

When They Left (2019) *** Visions du Reel 2019

Dir: Veronica Haro Abril | Doc, Ecuador, 61′

In When They Left Veronica Haro Abril tells the story of a dying community in her native village of Plazuela, Ecuador. A series of pithy, melancholy but evocative reminiscences recall a once vibrant mountainside community. But Abril discovers something else in its place.

These gentle old folk are serene and positive about their lives as they go about their daily tasks to maintain self-sufficiency. Lucrecia collects lemons and harvests her potato crop in the orchard:  “I don’t have time to be sad. We love the this place. I don’t know about the people who come from the outside, but for me it’s beautiful”. And she’s right. Abril’s film very much connects  to the global narrative of human survival for remote communities conveying the peace and tranquility of a simple but socially connected place where the villagers are still very much in contact with their family. In some ways the young have lost out by leaving their elders to go the city. They may gain in some ways, but they miss out on the counsel and experience of the older members of the family. For the older generation, the animals are their new ‘children’ offering them produce in return for care. There’s so much to be recommended about village life and these people are never lonely because they have each other to talk through their worries and health concerns. Consolacion and her dog look forward to the arrival of the ice-cream van. 33cents for a scoop of freshly made blackberry seems a reasonable treat. Another tends to her bees with her friend ‘mammita’ donning their makeshift outfits, their hands are left bare. And the honey is fragrant and plentiful. The final act sees them preparing for a musical get-together. The men playing their instruments, and dressed in traditional garb, the women dancing.

Set on the widescreen and in intimate close-up, Abril’s elegant framing, long takes and limpid visuals make this a relaxing and calming experience, the ambient sound of birds and the soft breeze in the trees is pleasant and invigorating. In the end When They Left is not about loss or sadness but about the intense calm that togetherness brings once life’s struggles are over, reflecting the wisdom and serenity of a life well lived for a philosophical generation who have a great deal to teach us in many ways. MT.

VISIONS DU RÉEL | 3 – 13 APRIL 2019 | NYON SWITZERLAND

Kiruna – A Brand New World (2019) **** Visions du Reel 2019

Dir: Greta Stocklassova | DoP: Stanislav Adam | Doc, Czech Rep, 87′

 

Love Express: The Disappearance of Walerian Borowyck (2018)

Dir: Kuba Mikurda | Wri: Marcin Kubawski, Kuba Mikurda |

Love Express. The Disappearance of Walerian Borowczyk by debut documentarian and academic Kuba Mikurda explores the career of the Polish controversial cult filmmaker who rose to international recognition during the 1970s with his erotic arthouse fare. A brilliant opening sees Borowczyk accused of being “a complete pervert” by his French interviewer. His smart rejoinder is that everyone indulges in subversive thoughts but he gives them life in his films.

Mikurda captures the Avantgarde weirdness of it all by patching together clips from the Polish surrealist’s films interpolated by the emotive musings from other filmmaking luminaries – the late Andrzej Wajda, Terry Gilliam, Patrice Leconte, Slavoj Zizek, Neil Jordan, Bertrand Bonello and Mark Cousins are overlaid by pithy quotes and comments made by Mr B himself who is now considered one of the 20th century’s most significant animators and auteurs. Several call him naive: Lisbeth Hummel (who appeared in The Beast) and Cherry Porter who also claims he became less lyrical about women in his later years. British critic Peter Bradshaw admits to being totally bemused by his stuff as a teenager back in the 1970s, but also confesses they were very male films: men were both the filmmakers, and the consumers – well done Peter!.

The cult classic clips include many of the maverick filmmaker’s best known features and Mikurda and his writer Kubawski divide these into chapters devoted to Goto, Island of Love (1968), Immoral Tales (1974) and The Beast (1975), accompanied by Stefan Wesolowski’s fricative occasional score, which gives the piece a scattergun rhythm.

And although they all have a great deal of interesting observations to make, the talking heads take up the lion’s share of the film rather than the great man himself who remains an enigmatic figure, although open-faced and amiable enough, speaking perfect French in a TV interview back in 1984. We learn nothing of his early life in Poland and the relationships that shaped him and his self-imposed exile from his homeland?. This background could have informed his delicately drawn erotic films with their distinct cultural and historical flavour.

Naturally the segment on Sylvia Kristel and Emmanuelle V (1986) gets a great deal of screen time with worthwhile input from the film’s co-director Thierry Bazin (who claims Mr B only ate potatoes during their daily lunches together). But this feature also marked his gradual decline, dealt with rather abruptly as the doc runs out of steam.

So Mikurda’s debut is a welcome attempt to shed light on the intriguing world of Walerian Borowczyk leaving ample room for more insight, particularly from a female point of view. MT

NEW EUROPE FILM SALES

 

A Clockwork Orange (1971) 4K restoration

Dir.: Stanley Kubrick; Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Warren Clark, James Marcus, Michael Tarn, Adrienne Corri, Carl Duering, Miriam Karlin, Michael Gover, Anthony Sharp; UK/US 1971, 136 min.

Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Anthony Burgess’s 1962 decline-of-civilisation novel, A Clockwork Orange, remains a chilling, thrilling and unsettling cinematic vision of nihilistic violence and social control.

The brutal socio-political satire was a big success for Kubrick taking £618K at the UK box office on its opening weekend in January 1972. Burgess’s oeuvre of over thirty novels is overshadowed by A Clockwork Orange. The author claimed writing was merely a “jeu d’esprit, just for money, finishing the novel in three weeks”. But during WWII his first wife Lynne had been raped by American soldiers, which led to a miscarriage.

Set in a futuristic Britain, teenager Alex DeLarge (McDowell) is the leader of a teenage quartet called the ‘Droogs’. Brutal and psychopathic, they enjoy wreaking havoc after school. Alex is the gang-leader keeping Dim (Clarke), Georgie (Marcus) and Pete (Tarn) under the cosh: disobedience is immediately repressed with violence. After a fight with a rival gang, they break into the Hertfordshire home of writer Alexander (Magee), reducing him to a cripple and raping his wife Mary (Corrie) while warbling “Singing in the Rain”.

Next day, Alex, a keen Beethoven fan who lives with his parents in a garish high-rise, plays truant from school. Later the Droog break into the house of “Catlady” (Karlin), a yoga freak, who Alex kills with the bust of his beloved Ludwig. Arrested and imprisoned in a masterfully performed series of scenes demonstrating just how draconian the authorities were back then, Alex is offered the chance of submitting himself to a new-fangled therapy “the Ludovico treatment”, which aims to ‘reset’ his mind, making him averse to violence and sex. The therapy has the desired effect. But in one of the films, selected by Dr. Brodsky (Duering), Beethoven’s Ninth is played, making Alex feel nauseous when he hears the music. After a demonstration by the Interior Minister (Sharp), during which Alex faints at the sight of a naked woman, he is released. But his parents do not want him back, they have rented his room to a male lodger, who now fulfils their parenting needs. So Alex is forced onto the streets for a touch of his own medicine.

Attacked by an old hobo, whom he had punched up in his Droog days, he is saved by two policemen – Dim and Georgie. They drive him into the countryside, beat him senseless and leave him for dead. Half-crazed, Alex finds himself once again on the doorstep of Mr. Alexander’s house, who is wheelchair-bound, and widowed. Strangely, Alexander does not recognise Alex without his Droog outfit, instead he publishes articles in his defence, claiming he is a victim of the government’s inhuman treatment. But when he hears Alex crooning that same song of the original attack, his trauma resurfaces and he finds a way of getting his own back by playing Beethoven’s music. Alex jumps out of the window. The fall resets the therapy, and soon Alex returns to his evil ways.

The minister promises to help, accusing Alexander of cruelty, and uses Alex in his campaign to quieten down critics of his government. Alex wakes up in a hospital with broken bones. While undergoing a series of psychological tests, Alex finds he no longer abhors sex and violence. The Minister arrives and apologises to Alex, offfering to take care of him and get him a job in return for his cooperation with his election campaign and counter-offensive. As a sign of goodwill, the Minister brings in a stereo system playing Beethoven’s Ninth. Alex then contemplates violence and has vivid thoughts of having sex with a woman in front of an approving crowd, and thinks to himself, “I was cured, all right!”

So what is the message behind A Clockwork Orange? Obviously it’s a film open to individual interpretation but there a few clear themes running through the narrative: crime and retribution; personal responsibility; the nature of forgiveness.

DoP John Alcott widescreen images, using frog eye lenses, show the bad taste of the 1970s aesthetics in all its glory, presenting us with a dystopia of mind-blowing crassness. McDowell is the prince of darkness, his long false eyelashes giving him a satanic look. With gang violence erupting in Britain on a large scale – Kubrick himself received death threats and asked Warner Brothers to withdraw the film from circulation for  good. One victim of this ban was the famous repertoire cinema “Scala” in Pentonville Road, which showed A Clockwork Orange in 1993 and had to close the same year for good, after rising rents and the prohibitive legal costs of Kubrick’s legal team led to insolvency. AS

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE | 4K RESTORATION | IN CINEMAS from 17 September 2021

 

 

 

Long Time No Sea (2018) **** Taiwan Film Festival UK 2019

Dir: Heather Tsui | Drama | Taiwan, 93′

This stunning family film blends drama with an ethnological portrait of the indigenous Tao people who have lived on Orchid Island, Taiwan for nearly a century. Long Time No Sea has a convincing ring to it because it’s based on the real life experience of director Heather Tsui whose strong message very much connects with the narrative of survival for small traditional communities all over the world, while also bringing a lightness of touch.

What makes this story of a young teacher who arrives from the city so appealing is its vibrant cinematography and engaging way of putting across the challenges facing these people in a low-key and delicately drawn way, and through preparations for a dance competition which both informative and entertaining. The cast of mostly non-professionals from the Tao community add authenticity to the mix. We watch them at play and at work in the gloriously scenic settings, although it’s a pity that girls seem more or less absent from proceedings.

The story revolves around Manawei (Zhong Jia-jin) who lives with his strict but loving grandmother (Feng Ying-li). It’s traditional in the Far East for parents to work abroad for financial reasons, and this is the case here. Manawei’s father (Ou Lu) has a job on the mainland, so the boy often feels lonely and slightly deprived in comparison with the other kids. Shang He-huang plays the attractive teacher Chung-hsun, who is looking for experience before he moves on to a more senior role. He immediately hits it off with the boy, and when he learns about the bonus offered to teachers willing to coach kids for the national dance competition in Kaohsiung, he pricks up his ears. And soon there’s a love interest coming his way in the shape of Chin-yi (Zhang Ling), a local radio host.

Tsui’s script mines the dramatic potential of the competition but never feels  sentimental or overwrought. The underwater scenes are impressive, particularly  touching is the one where Manawei dives with his father into the Love River and is transported to Orchid Island. Occasional music from award-winning composer Cincin Lee and traditional Tao folklore songs make this impressive debut a memorable experience MT.

TAIWAN FILM FESTIVAL UK 3 – 14 APRIL 2019

 

 

At Eternity’s Gate (2018) Netflix

Dir: Julian Schnabel | Cast: Willem Defoe, Oscar Isaac | US Drama | 111’

Julian Schnabel’s training as an artist informs another of his portraits of creativity like Basquiat, Reinaldo Arenas and Jean Dominique Bauby. With At Eternity’s Gate he turns his camera on the tragedy of Vincent van Gogh with this luminous vision of the artist’s final days in Provence.

There have been many broad brush insights into the painter’s troubled life recorders on the big screen; the most recent, Loving Vincent (2017) attempted a living painted drama of the Dutchman, while Van Gogh: A New Way of Seeing (2015) explored the prodigious correspondence with his brother Theo. The reason to see this one is Willem Dafoe’s fabulous fleshing out of the artist in his febrile, sun-drenched final days after the breakdown of his fraught friendship with Gauguin (an unremarkable Oscar Isaac).

Schnabel captures the glowering intensity of Van Gogh’s desperate descent in paranoia but also portrays the artist as a gentle introvert who was as much misunderstood as maligned by the petit parochialism of his Provençal neighbours.

Benoit Delhomme’s hand-held camera hovers around feverishly and vivid yellow predominates. Intense and intimate close-ups pan out into flaming widescreen vistas vibrating in the summer heat. The worst element is Tatiana Lisovskaya’s screeching score that will make you run for the exit. It over-eggs the already over-baked picture of dismay and despair..

Jean Claude Carriere writes with Schnabel and Louise Kugelberg (the latter also his co-editor) to sketch out the broad strokes of the narrative which opens in Paris in the late 1880s where van Gogh is an already an outsider amongst the Artistes Independents du jour. His financier and brother Theo (a well-cast Rupert Friend) cannot sell his avant-garde works, Vincent opining: “God made me a painter for people who are not born yet”. Only Gauguin appreciates his talent but the two are incompatible as housemates. 

“Go south, Vincent,” Gauguin tells him when van Gogh complains of rainy skies and fog, whereupon he moves to Arles where he discovers his yen for landscapes which glow and shimmer in the heat as Delhomme’s visuals capture the textures of roots, earth, leaves as well as the soft windswept pastures. We feel for Vincent when a schoolteacher (Anne Consigny) openly mocks his work in front of her kids, and after a violent outburst he is sent away from the town, admitting his fear of going mad – but it could be that he just hates people and prefers solitude, which is understandable amongst these cackling idiots.

With Gauguin he enjoys a companionable time until success takes him to Paris whereupon van Gogh starts to unravel emotionally with the famous ear incident. A doctor (Vladimir Consigny) suggests some therapy, that merely confines the artist to a straitjacket. Ironically this comes at the same time as an influential Paris art critic praises his work as uniquely sensual. Meanwhile a priest (Mads Mikkelsen in thoughtful mode) damns his vision and calls his work ugly. 

This sensuous re-imagining of the artist’s final days belongs to Dafoe whose craggy features and piercing blue eyes convey a lost and melancholy soul whose  sensitivity and artistic genius have now made him a household name . MT

NOW ON NETFLIX. TRAILER courtesy of Curzon Cinemas | VENICE FILM FESTIVAL 2018 Winner Best Actor: Willem Dafoe

London Turkish Film Week | 24-30 April 2019

London Turkish Film Week is back for a second year running in the luxurious surroundings of the Regent Street Cinema and various other well-known venues across the capital. From 24 -30 April a selection of recent dramas and documentaries will be accompanied by talks and a chance to meet the directors and cast.

Turkish cinema is known for its captivating widescreen dramas that reflect the cultural diversity and magnificent scenery of a vibrant nation that stretches from Europe to Asia.

The festival opens with Can Ulkay’s epic TURKISH ICE CREAM (2018) a rousing, rather clichéd melodrama inspired by real events that took place in a small Australian town in 1915 during the Gallipoli landings. Two Turkish nationals are trying to get back to their homeland with their families. Seen from a Turkish point of view – and naturally depicting the Allied Forces as inveterate baddies – the brutal action scenes depict the futility of war, from both sides. The emphasis here is on action rather than characterisation: so although nearly everyone dies, we don’t really care, as we never got to know them in the first place. Carrying on the war theme there is CICERO (2018) a drama based on Ilyas Bazna, one of the most famous WWII spies who worked for Nazi Germany while employed as a butler to the British Ambassador, Hughe Montgomery Knatchbull Hughessen, in neutral Turkey during the mid 1940s.

The Golden Tulip winner 2017 YELLOW HEAT (Sari Sicak) sees an immigrant family desperate to survive in their traditional farm amid encroaching industrialisation. The multi-award winning drama YOZGAT BLUES (2013), set in small town Anatolia, is one to watch for its outstanding performances and smouldering cinematography. Banu Sivaci’s THE PIGEON (main image) won best director at Sofia Film Festival 2018 and is another impressive arthouse tale of a boy finding peace with the animal kingdom, away from the dystopian world in small-town Adana, Southern Turkey. And finally MURTAZA another beautifully crafted and resonant parable about the importance of traditional values in the mountains of Malatya.

Other features and shorts reflect the usual Turkish themes of town versus country, tradition versus the modern world, and the role of women in enlightened society. Another highlight will be Ahmet Boyacioglu’s latest film THE SMELL OF MONEY a tense and startling exposé of financial corruption in contemporary Turkey. And last but not least, a panel of industry professionals will debate the future of the big screen At the Flicks of Netflix? at the Regent Street Cinema on 26th April.

LONDON TURKISH FILM WEEK | 24 – 30 APRIL 2019

The Snatch Thief (2018)

Wri/Dir.: Agustin Toscano; Cast: Sergio Prina, Daniel Elis, Leon Zelarrayan, Liliana Juarez, Camila Plaate, Pila Benitez Vibart; Argentina, Uruguay, France 2018,  Drama, 93 min.

Set in his home town of Tucuman in northern Argentina, Agustin Toscano’s twisty tale of a thief and his victim is spiked with mordant humour.

Social services have broken down in this poverty stricken town, the police are on strike, and Miguel (Prina) is at the end of his tether. His six-year old son Leon (Zelarrayan) lives with his mother Antonella (Plaate), waiting for child support. So Miguel and his friend Colorao (Elias) turn to crime, out of sheer desperation, using Miguel’s motorbike for a snatch-job. But their victim clings on to her bag and is dragged along for several minutes, behind them. Leaving her for dead the two run off and split the money. But Miguel feels bad and decides to visit the woman in hospital, finding her identity card in the stolen purse. Elena is alive – just, but has lost her memory. Posing as a nephew Miguel inveigles himself into her life in an clever conceit that Toscano pulls off with aplomb, his convincing plot-line playing on its plausible characters caught in a folie à deux: Miguel is a master of avoiding responsibility and Elena uses him, fully aware of his guilt. The pair make an odd couple, driving the plot forward with their intransigence and childish temper tantrums. In a way, they are both kids living in a world of wishful thinking.

DoP Arauco Hernandez Holz handheld camera searches the dark interior of Elena’s flat for every source of light, but somehow it always stays dark – like the murky world of the crime-fuelled encounter. Toscano manages a last twist – ending his humanistic play on a high note. A strong cast and imaginative direction of this simple but never simplistic storyline proves once again that a low budget need not stand in the way of a really gripping drama.  

THE SNATCH THIEF | BEST FILM, FIRST PRIZE | BERGAMO FILM MEETING 2019 | UBI BANCA

 

 

 

Wall (2017) ***

Dir.: Cam Christiansen; Documentary/Animation with David Hare, Elliot Levey, Nayef Rashad; Canada 2017, 82 min.

When Canadian producer David Christensen listened to David Hare’a 2009 Podcast Wall, a monologue about Israel building a wall between them and Palestine, he knew that animator Cam Christiansen would be the right person to tackle the project. The result, a mixture of 3D motion capture technology, documentary and hand drawn animation, is an aesthetically stunning portrait of the 708 km long wall, so far amounting to 4 Billion US dollars since building began in 2002. The political and human cost cannot be put into figures, and Hare’s script does not always allow us to come to terms with the numerous contradictions.   

Hare, who wore a Lycra suit for his first outing as an actor at the Pinewood Studios where the motion-capture footage was shot; is – symbolically – accompanied by the English/Israeli actor Elliot Levey and his Palestinian counterpart Nayef Rashad. Levey wants to stage a co-operation, something Palestinians are not fond of, because it would legitimise the status quo between Israel and Palestine. Hare visits the Israeli novelist David Grossman, who is critical of his state’s policies, but admits that there must be a place where Jews feel safe. Driving along the monstrous wall from Jerusalem to Ramallah and Nablus, we see the damage the continuous war has done. Nablus, once the trading centre of Palestine, is a ghost city. The most famous cafe, where guests once fought for one of the 500 places, is a ghostly place where Hare and his friends are the only customers. Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian administration has had better luck: mainly because it is one of the few places not mentioned in the scriptures of the main religions in the area. We learn that Hamas is not popular, they have won elections because the PLO is totally corrupt. Then there is the story of a man who has worked as in informer for the Israelis. Hamas, imprisoning him, then invented an innovative form of torture: on the wall of the cell, they have drawn a picture of a bicycle, asking the prisoner to fetch it, or risk torture. The journey is always interrupted by senseless controls by the Israeli forces, whilst a parallel road, fifty years in the future, will be reserved for cars with Israeli number plates, the traffic flowing uninterrupted. And the settlements, some even unlawful under Israeli law, overlook the West Bank in a very menacing way. But, the wall has stopped eighty percent of Palestinian terror acts in Israel. At the end, the black-and-white transforms into the colourful graffiti on the wall – not unlike those on the Berlin Wall.       

Whilst the aesthetics are brilliant, the political agenda is questionable – but perhaps, this is only to be expected. Nearly seventy years of permanent war has destroyed any kind of hope. For Israel, this means the most powerful military force in the region has no influence on the state of mind of its citizens: Grossman mentions that most Israelis feel vey insecure. Perhaps the repressed diaspora thinking has returned, but whatever the arguments on both sides, the founding father of Israel, Theodor Herzl, did not envisage a Sparta in the desert.  AS

WALL opens MARCH 1st | BERTHA DOCHOUSE | 6pm screening Q&A |Cam Christiansen

Starring Barbara Stanwyck | Retrospective | BFI 2019 | February – March

The STARRING BARBARA STANWYCK season offers a chance to see one of Hollywood’s most successful and memorable actors of all time, whose career spanned more than four decades. The season will include an extended run of Preston Sturges’ hilarious comedy The Lady Eve (1941), also released in selected cinemas by the BFI on Friday 15 February. During March, the season will highlight the breadth and depth of Stanwyck’s characters, whether in classics or in less familiar, rarely screened titles.

Diva, grande dame and femme fatale, Stanwyck adapted to any genre, be it comedy, melodrama or thriller. Her natural wit and raw emotion was particularly resonant in her Westerns, where she played  resourceful, confident women holding their own in a male-dominated world. The BFI are screening 3 examples in March. Her first western Annie Oakley (George Stevens, 1935) was based on the life of ‘Little Miss Sureshot,’ one of the most famous sharpshooters in American history; Stanwyck oozes confidence in her portrayal of the determined and spirited protagonist. Cecil B. DeMille brought a characteristically epic sense of scale to the western with Union Pacific (1939), about the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad. Mixed in with the historical elements is a love triangle between a troubleshooter, a gambler, and a train engineer’s daughter played by Stanwyck. The director was mesmerised by her performance, and she became one of his favourite stars. In Forty Guns (Samuel Fuller, 1957), a late-career highlight for Stanwyck, she portrays a wealthy landowner exerting influence over an Arizonian township by commanding a staff of 40 men. Beautifully shot and packed with psychosexual subtext and directed with bravura, Samuel Fuller’s western influenced a generation of filmmakers, including Godard.

In the delightful screwball-mystery-romance The Mad Miss Manton (Leigh Jason, 1938), a scatty but canny heiress (Stanwyck), whose claims to have discovered a murder are dismissed by the police, enlists a working-class journalist to help prove her case. Ball of Fire (Howard Hawks, 1941), follows a nightclub dancer who needs to lie low, and a house shared by eight professors provides the ideal hideout. Inspired by the story of Snow White and boasting razor-sharp dialogue and perfect Hawksian comic timing, Ball of Fire is another classic screwball comedy. Written by a master of screwball – Preston Sturges – Remember the Night (Mitchell Leisen, 1940) sees a New York attorney (Fred MacMurray) take pity on a shoplifter he’s prosecuting. He gets her out on bail and invites her to his family home for Christmas – which somewhat complicates their relationship. There is genuine chemistry between Stanwyck and MacMurray in their first film together, an amusing and affecting blend of courtroom drama, road movie and romance. The pair reunited for another tale of adulterous temptation There’s Always Tomorrow (Douglas Sirk, 1955); he’s a toy manufacturer feeling neglected by his family, and she is the ex-employee whose return to Pasadena reignites illicit passions. Forbidden (Frank Capra, 1932) sees her playing a librarian falling for an unobtainable man.

Barbara Stanwyck, Adolphe Menjou, Ralph Bellamy, Dorothy Peterson

Two more Frank Capra films will screen in March – in The Miracle Woman (1931) Stanwyck plays a minister’s daughter who, following the death of her father,  teams up with a conman to stage evangelical shows in which she performs ‘miracles’. Meanwhile Meet John Doe (1941) sees her play a journalist who invents a story about a tramp planning to commit suicide in protest of the state of the world. The resulting interest forces her paper to get someone to fit the role and the man they find (Gary Cooper) instantly becomes a celebrity – and a political pawn. Completing the season will be screenings of Sorry, Wrong Number (Anatole Litvak, 1948), a noir thriller adapted by Lucille Fletcher from her acclaimed radio play, focusing on a wealthy, rather complacent, bedridden woman who overhears a conversation involving a planned murder. (All images are strictly the property of the BFI, and not to be copied)

SCREENING AT THE BFI, SOUTHBANK | FEBRUARY – MARCH 2019 | BFI WEBSITE

Cinema Made in Italy 2019 |

CINEMA MADE IN ITALY is back in London to kick off the Spring with the latest crop of Italian films. The 9th edition takes place at Cine Lumiere and is supported by Istituto Luce Cinecitta and the Italian Cultural Institute.

LORO ****

Director: Paolo Sorrentino Cast: Toni Servillo, Elena Sofia Ricci, Riccardo Scamarcio, Kasia Smutniak, Euridice Axen, Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Roberto De Francesco, Dario Cantarelli, Anna Bonaiuto | 150′

Paolo Sorrentino’s savage political satire is a powerful portrait of controversial Italian public figure Silvio Berlusconi and his inner circle. | UK release date: 19 April 2019

EUFORIA ***

Director: Valeria Golino | Cast: Riccardo Scamarcio, Valerio Mastandrea, Isabella Ferrari, Valentina Cervi, Jasmine Trinca, Francesco Borgese, Francesco Pellegrino, Andrea Germani, Marzia Ubaldi | 120′

Valeria Golino’s second film as a director explores brotherly love through two very different siblings. It stars her on/off partner Riccardo Scamarcio as one of two brothers brought together through adversity when one falls dangerously ill. Matteo is a man of means in central Rome, Ettore is a primary teacher in their provincial hometown. Beautifully photographed in the eternal city, Euforia ultimate predictability is rescued by the strength of its dynamic performances.

RICORDI? ***

Director: Valerio Mieli | Cast: Luca Marinelli, Linda Caridi, Giovanni Anzaldo, Camilla Diana, Anna Manuelli, Eliana Bosi, David Brandon, Benedetta Cimatti, Andrea Pennacchi, 106′

After success with her debut Ten Winters this touching love story explores the ups and downs of this emotional journey for two young lovers Luca Marinelli and Linda Caridi.

LUCIA’S GRACE (Troppa Grazia) ***

Director: Gianni Zanasi | Cast: Alba Rohrwacher, Elio Germano, Hadas Yaron, Giuseppe Battiston, Carlotta Natoli, Thomas Trabacchi, Daniele De Angelis, Rosa Vannucci, Elisa Di Eusanio, Davide Strava | 110′ 

Alba Rohrwacher blazes through this upbeat ecumenical drama that sees single working mother Lucia juggling her life between motherhood, an emotionally exhausting romance, and her work as a land surveyor. When she discovers that an ambitious new building project will have devastating effects on the locale, she debates whether to challenge the project when up pops a mysterious woman, claiming to be the Madonna and offering to support Lucia in flagging up her concerns, and suggesting the construction of a church as an alternative. This whimsical affair offers cheap laughs as an alternative to trusting its strong psychological elements, but Vladan Radovic’s lively camerawork and a strong cast carry it through in the end.   

THE GUEST (L’Ospite) ****

Director: Duccio Chiarini | Cast: Daniele Parisi, Silvia D’Amico, Anna Bellato, Federica Victoria Caiozzo aka Thony, Milvia Marigliano, Daniele Natali, Guglielmo Favilli : 96′

Sofa-surfing is the theme of this coming of age drama about the ups and downs of modern day love and commitment phobia. Guido (Daniele Parisi) is a 38-year-old academic who is writing a pot-boiler on Italo Calvino. But his girlfriend girlfriend (Silvia D’Amico) is having none of it, and puts an end to their flagging relationship forcing him to out of his cosy existence to face some uncomfortable truths through the experiences of lodging with his friends and family. Insightful and enjoyable  .

THE MAN WHO BOUGHT THE MOON ( L’Uomo che compró la Luna) ***

Director: Paolo Zucca |Cast: Jacopo Cullin, Stefano Fresi, Francesco Pannofino, Benito Urgu, Lazar Ristovski, Angela Molina |  103′

This off the wall spy-themed buddy movie from Sardinia stars Jacopo Cullin as a secret agent tasked with investigating a claim that one of his compatriots has bought the Moon as a gift for his girlfriend. Teaming up with his fellow Sardinian Badore (Benito Ugo) the pair set off to infiltrate the Sardinian community and investigate the ludicrous idea in a surefire but engagingly silly caper.

WHEREVER YOU ARE (Ovunque Proteggemi) ***

Director: Bonifacio Angius |Cast: Alessandro Gazale, Francesca Niedda, Antonio Angius, Anna Ferruzzo, Gavino Ruda, Mario Olivieri | 94′

Bonifacio Angius won the Junior Jury Award at Locarno for Perfidia (2014) and returns with this impressively perceptive drama about a middle-aged ‘mammalone’ with a drinking problem. Burning a hole in his mother’s pocket with his failed singing career, he has a mental breakdown and is taken to hospital, where he meets Francesca (Francesca Niedda), a young mother with drug issues. The two fall madly in love and set off on an eventful odyssey to redeem each other by reclaiming Francesca’s daughter who has been taken in to care. 

NOTTI MAGICHE ****

Director: Paolo Virzì |Cast: Mauro Lamantia, Giovanni Toscano, Irene Vetere, Giancarlo Giannini, Eugenio Marinelli, Marina Rocco, Paolo Sassanelli, Roberto Herlitzka, Regina Orioli, Andrea Roncato, Giulio Scarpati, Simona Marchini, Annalisa Arena, Ornella Muti, Jalil Lespert, Paolo Bonacelli | 125 ‘minutes

Ornella Muti makes a welcome return in Paolo Virzi’s playfully affectionate black comedy that explores the mysterious drowning of a film producer in the River Tiber. The main suspects are three young aspiring scriptwriters, and their outlandishly spirited alibis form the basis of an entertaining exploration that takes us back to the golden years of Italian cinema and a moving and magical trip through the backstreet of Rome

THE CONFORMIST (Il Conformista) *****

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci | Cast: Jean-Louis Tritignant, Stefania Sandrelli, Gastone Moschin, Enzo Tarascio, Fosco Giachetti, José Quaglio, Yvonne Sanson | 118′

A wonderful chance to see this classic cult thriller adapted from a novel by Alberto Moravia. Set in 1938, it tells the story of an aristocratic would-be fascist who is sent to Paris to murder his former, anti-fascist philosophy tutor. Jean-Louis Tritignant is supremely sinister in the role of Marcello Clerici, whose demeanour is an eternal reminder of the banality of evil. It was an instant hit when it was released in 1970, and some say it is one of the most poetic and influential films ever made, beloved by film-makers the world over.

WE’LL BE YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL (Saremo Giovani e Bellissimi) ***

Director: Letizia Lamartire | 92 minutes)

In the early 1990s, 18-year-old Isabella (Barbora Bobulova) was a pop star. Two decades later she’s still on the road singing the same old songs with her son Bruno (Piavani) on guitar. But nothing can last for ever and soon the ties that bind will also unravel in this bittersweet and often poignantly moving musical love story.

CINEMA MADE IN ITALY | LONDON 2019 | 26 FEBRUARY – 3 MARCH

 

Sundance Film Festival | Award and Winners 2019

Sundance announced its awards last night after ten extraordinary days of the latest independent cinema. Taking place each January in Park City, snowy Utah, the festival is the premier showcase for U.S. and international independent film, presenting dramatic and documentary feature-length films from emerging and established artists, innovative short films, filmmaker forums. The Festival brings together the most original storytellers known to mankind. In his closing speech President and Founder Robert Redford commented: “At this critical moment, it’s more necessary than ever to support independent voices, to watch and listen to the stories they tell.” Over half the films shown were directed by women and 23 prizes were awarded across the board including one film from a director identifying as LGBTQI+

This year’s jurors, invited in recognition of their accomplishments in the arts were Desiree Akhavan, Damien Chazelle, Dennis Lim, Phyllis Nagy, Tessa Thompson, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Yance Ford, Rachel Grady, Jeff Orlowski, Alissa Wilkinson, Jane Campion, Charles Gillibert, Ciro Guerra, Maite Alberdi, Nico Marzano, Véréna Paravel, Young Jean Lee, Carter Smith, Sheila Vand, and Laurie Anderson.

The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary/China | Dirs: Nanfu Wang/Jialing Zhang,

 photo by Nanfu Wang.

ONE CHILD NATION After becoming a mother, a filmmaker uncovers the untold history of China’s one-child policy and the generations of parents and children forever shaped by this social experiment.

The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic/USA | Dir/Wri Chinonye Chukwu

 

photo by Eric Branco

CLEMENCY: Years of carrying out death row executions have taken a toll on prison warden Bernadine Williams. As she prepares to execute another inmate, Bernadine must confront the psychological and emotional demons her job creates, ultimately connecting her to the man she is sanctioned to kill. Cast: Alfre Woodard, Aldis Hodge, Richard Schiff, Wendell Pierce, Richard Gunn, Danielle Brooks.

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary: Dirs: Tamara Kotevska, Ljubomir Stefanov | Macedonia

HONEYLAND – When nomadic beekeepers break Honeyland’s basic rule (take half of the honey, but leave half to the bees), the last female bee hunter in Europe must save the bees and restore natural balance.

The Souvenir| photo by Agatha A. Nitecka.

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic | UK | Dir/wri: Joanna Hogg

THE SOUVENIR: A shy film student begins finding her voice as an artist while navigating a turbulent courtship with a charismatic but untrustworthy man. She defies her protective mother and concerned friends as she slips deeper and deeper into an intense, emotionally fraught relationship which comes dangerously close to destroying her dreams. Cast: Honor Swinton Byrne, Tom Burke, Tilda Swinton.

The Audience Award: U.S. Documentary, | USA  Dir: Rachel Lears:

KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE — A young bartender in the Bronx, a coal miner’s daughter in West Virginia, a grieving mother in Nevada and a registered nurse in Missouri build a movement of insurgent candidates challenging powerful incumbents in Congress. One of their races will become the most shocking political upset in recent American history. Cast: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic, U.S.A. Dir/Wri: Paul Downs

BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON — A woman living in New York takes control of her life – one city block at a time. Cast: Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Lil Rel Howery, Micah Stock, Alice Lee.

The Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary/Austria: Dir: Richard Ladkan

SEA OF SHADOWS/Austria – The vaquita, the world’s smallest whale, is near extinction as its habitat is destroyed by Mexican cartels and Chinese mafia, who harvest the swim bladder of the totoaba fish, the “cocaine of the sea.” Environmental activists, Mexican navy and undercover investigators are fighting back against this illegal multimillion-dollar business.

The Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic/Denmark Dir: May el-Toukhy

QUEEN OF HEARTS — A woman jeopardises both her career and her family when she seduces her teenage stepson and is forced to make an irreversible decision with fatal consequences. Cast: Trine Dyrholm, Gustav Lindh, Magnus Krepper.

 

The Audience Award: NEXT, Alex Rivera, Cristina Ibarra

THE INFILTRATORS / U.S.A. (Directors: , Screenwriters: — A rag-tag group of undocumented youth – Dreamers – deliberately get detained by Border Patrol in order to infiltrate a shadowy, for-profit detention center. Cast: Maynor Alvarado, Manuel Uriza, Chelsea Rendon, Juan Gabriel Pareja, Vik Sahay.

The Directing Award: U.S. Documentary | USA Dirs: Steven Bognar and Julia

AMERICAN FACTORY  — In post-industrial Ohio, a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant, hiring two thousand blue-collar Americans. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America.

The Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic U.S.A. Dirs: Joe Talbot, Screenwriters: Joe Talbot,

THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO — Jimmie Fails dreams of reclaiming the Victorian home his grandfather built in the heart of San Francisco. Joined on his quest by his best friend Mont, Jimmie searches for belonging in a rapidly changing city that seems to have left them behind.

The Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary NOR | Dir: Mads Brüggerwas

 photo by Tore Vollan.

Cold Case Hammarskjöld / Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Belgium — Danish director Mads Brügger and Swedish private investigator Göran Bjorkdahl are trying to solve the mysterious death of Dag Hammarskjold. As their investigation closes in, they discover a crime far worse than killing the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

The Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic | Spain (Dir/Wri: Lucía Garibaldi,

THE SHARKS / Uruguay, Argentina – While a rumour about the presence of sharks in a small beach town distracts residents, 15-year-old Rosina begins to feel an instinct to shorten the distance between her body and Joselo’s. Cast: Romina Bentancur, Federico Morosini, Fabián Arenillas, Valeria Lois, Antonella Aquistapache.

The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic USA | Dir: Pippa Blanco

SHARE— After discovering a disturbing video from a night she doesn’t remember, sixteen-year-old Mandy must try to figure out what happened and how to navigate the escalating fallout. Cast: Rhianne Barreto, Charlie Plummer, Poorna Jagannathan, J.C. MacKenzie, Nick Galitzine, Lovie Simone.

U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Moral Urgency| USA | Dir: Jacqueline Olive

ALWAYS IN SEASON — When 17-year-old Lennon Lacy is found hanging from a swing set in rural North Carolina in 2014, his mother’s search for justice and reconciliation begins as the trauma of more than a century of lynching African Americans bleeds into the present.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Emerging Filmmaker USA : Liza Mandelup

JAWLINE — The film follows 16-year-old Austyn Tester, a rising star in the live-broadcast ecosystem who built his following on wide-eyed optimism and teen girl lust, as he tries to escape a dead-end life in rural Tennessee.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Editing USA : Todd Douglas Miller

APOLLO 11 — A purely archival reconstruction of humanity’s first trip to another world, featuring never-before-seen 70mm footage and never-before-heard audio from the mission.

U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Cinematography | U.S.A. Dir: Luke Lorentzen

MIDNIGHT FAMILY / Mexico/DOC — In Mexico City’s wealthiest neighbourhoods, the Ochoa family runs a private ambulance, competing with other for-profit EMTs for patients in need of urgent help. As they try to make a living in this cutthroat industry, they struggle to keep their financial needs from compromising the people in their care.

SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2019 | 23 JANUARY – 3 FEBRUARY 2019

Young Picasso (2019) ****

Dir: Phil Grabsky | Doc | 90′

 

In the autumn of 1907 a young Spanish artist showed his Parisian friends a new painting. So horrified were they that he rolled it up and didn’t show it again until 1937. The artist was Pablo Picasso.

 

Picasso’s formative years are the focus of Phil Grabsky’s latest artist profile for Exhibition on Screen. Enlived by paintings and interviews with museum curators and experts, The Young Picasso has the benefit of the painter’s grandson Olivier Widmaier Picasso as a talking head, giving his impressions of the legend. The straightforward linear approach chronicles Picasso’s formative years from childhood to adulthood in a well-paced, absorbing and informative biopic that shows how the painter’s focus was the future, and his raison d’être was to be highly original.

 

Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born into a close family in the Andalucian city of Malaga in 1881, but he would live in Barcelona, La Coruna and Paris during his lifetime, and those places very much informed his work. Somehow he never forgot the intense light of Southern Spain. In the final part of the 19th century Malaga was a city divided between the upper bourgeoisie and the working classes, a place where industry was falling behind its counterparts in the rest of Spain. But it was also an intensely artistic place and Picasso absorbed all those local influences along with the city’s rich and unique combination of Christian, Arabic and Jewish culture. His father Don Jose taught painting and was his son’s guiding light.  Picasso sketched from an early age and produced his first work ‘Twilight in the Port of Malaga”, aged 7.  Just before his tenth birthday, the family moved to La Coruna on the Atlantic Coast and this is where he began painting with oils. Although the family were to live in the Northern city for only 3 years, the stay was a major influence on his career, and here he would give up his main studies to focus on art, and particularly portraiture. His father soon abandoned his own interest in painting and gave Pablo all his brushes, and the boy began to sell his work from a small shop in the city centre, Calle Mayor.

 

But the heart of the art scene was really Barcelona. And so in his teenage years Picasso gravitated towards the Catalan capital where his talents broadened with contemplative works like “An Evening At Home” and a self portrait created in 1896. Although his canvasses “Science and Charity” (1897) and ‘The First Communion’ (1896) showed Picasso’s ability to paint in a formal traditional style, he soon started to develop a more eclectic and inventive bias once in Barcelona. This was a reflection not only of his own nature but also of the more exotic and even seamy side of life that the Catalan capital represented. He continued to perfect his technique for painting limbs and physical characteristics, and despite his small stature he was able to paint some quite large canvasses. Soon his family sent him to San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid where he discovered the Prado with classic artists such as Valasquez and Goya. But he soon found his way back to Barcelona. There politics soon entered the arena as he mixed with a lively community of young artists, and in February 1900 he made a breakthrough sharing an exhibition with the painters Ramon Casas and Rusinol. And it was his association with these artists that took him to Paris. His essentially realist style was in flux with works such as “Lola, the artist’s Sister” in the studio in 1900 when he was only 18. In the Autumn of that year one of his paintings was accepted for a Paris exhibition and he fetched up there at an artistically transformative time, with Montmartre already a Spanish artist colony in the capital. This was the first time Picasso really struggled in life, but he was ready to show his metal and finally to give his creativity and curiosity full rein. He dropped his father’s name Ruiz, and took his mother’s. Yo Picasso was born. A natty dresser he always wore matching underwear and socks and often a top hat. This was an exciting time to be in the city and the local galleries were full of Toulouse Lautrec and other new artists, and local society was richly dressed and passionate. “La Moulin de la Galette” (1900) and “The Dwarf”  (1901) both echoed the dream-like works of Klimt and Lautrec with dazzling tones of turquoise, red and green. Work became less focused on Spanish subjects and more on the local bourgeoisie at play. Impressionism entered the fray in the Vollard Gallery where many of his works were painted on cardboard. Money was tight as a 19 year old, and he lived an intense experience to make his way forward, sharing a small studio with his colleague Carles Casagemas (Germaine, at Night c1901). But they fell out over a woman called Germaine. Casagemas tried to shoot her dead in a bar but he ended up just killing himself, a tragedy which fuelled Picasso’s blue period hghlighted by works such as “Two Women in a Bar” (1902) and “Mother and Child” (1902), The symbolic work “The Tragedy/La Vie” serves as an allegory for both life and love. It was painted in Barcelona but very much looks back to his time in Paris with Casagemas . This was one of his first artistic periods that saw him search for an identity, symbolically dealing with themes such as death and poverty. He re-interprets his sources in a very personal way. During the blue period, Picasso dealt with serious themes but also small works that contained erotic subjects in local bars.

 

Picasso was an arch misogynist and has his first serious relationship was with Fernande Olivier when he moved in Spring 1904 to his new studio in Bateau Lavoir. He was – according to her – sweet, intelligent but also extremely jealous. He also had an ambivalence that made him charismatic. He would work late into the evening and night but resented his reliance on other people for money. His pink period (not much ‘pink’ but more referencing his love of the Circus) lasted roughly from 1904-06 and was epitomised in “Acrobat and the Harlequin” (1905) but he soon started to feel more positive about making money with works such as “Boy Leading a Horse”. He portrayed himself as the Harlequin and began a friendship with the French poet Apollinaire. In Spring 1906 he went to Spain to the remote Catalan village of Gosol with Fernande where he painted “The Harem” in 1906. This kicked off his geometric style and “Nude with a Pitcher” followed . At this point his work moves away from a representational approach and focuses on the subject itself. It was also during this time that he started work on the “Demoiselles d’Avignon” (1907). Picasso claims “painting is not an aesthetic process, it’s a form of magic that interposes itself between us and the universe”. His present was a result of the past. This period he called called Primitivism. He wanted to create a new type of art. Fernande Olivier comments:”Picasso presented us with a way of the world which did not conform to what we had grown to expect of it” His faces became masks – aggressively stylised and ambitious – like nothing ever seen before. His next painting was a brothel scene involving 5 women and 2 men. The spectator becomes the voyeur but also involved in the scene. The figures are actually starring back and engaging with the viewer in an alarming and unprecedented way. Paradoxically, they are neither Misses but nor in Avignon. The title refers to a street in Barcelona where Picasso visited a brothel. The name is likely to have been given by a dealer later on in a bid to put a positive spin on the picture. “Les Demoiselles” was revolutionary, incorporating primitive non-Western elements in a traditional form of classic Venus. It represents a turning point in modern art and ushers in Cubism. But his friends hated it. In 1916 – a decade later – the painting was considered a success. Picasso had finally arrived at his objective. He was 35. MT

 

THE YOUNG PICASSO IS RELEASED through EXHIBITION ON SCREEN ON 5 FEBRUARY 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

God of the Piano (2019) Digital release

Dir: Itay Til: Cast: Naama Pries, Ron Bitterman, Shimon Mimran, Andy Levi | Drama | Israel 80′

Anat is a young woman who will let nothing get in her way, least of all accidents of nature, in this tightly-scripted and quietly chilling first feature from Israeli director Itay Tal. Prepare to be shaken and stirred.

This study of obsession brings to mind the so-called ‘tiger’ mothers who are so focused on achieving their goals, the well-being of their family is secondary, as long as everything goes according to plan. Sadly these women often come from high-performing backgrounds themselves, and such is the case with pregnant concert pianist Anat (a superbly slick Naama Pries from Laila in Haifa), whose waters break while she’s on stage.

Anat ignores this call of nature until the end of her piece, the liquid slowly pooling round her feet. But when she discovers her chortling baby has hearing difficulties, she takes the sinister step of swapping him over with another child in the hospital birthing room.

Control freaks have been vividly portrayed in arthouse cinema of late, recent examples are Calin Peter Netzer’s Golden Bear winner Child’s Pose (2013) where a mother does her utmost to change the course of law for her son. Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher (2016) also reworks this thorny theme with a similar cold visual aesthetic and unlikeable central character. In fact, Tal’s film is full of unpleasant types, cyphers whose means to an end makes them frighteningly real in these success-focused times.

Anat’s family are all accomplished musicians including her new son Idam, who plays like a professional pianist from the early scenes – despite his lack of genetic connection with the rest of the family. Her son’s music career gradually becomes the focus of Anat’s days, coaching him as he learns to compose and perform. Even sex with her husband goes out of the window (she is seen half-heartedly pleasuring him with her hands) as she transfers her amorous efforts to composer Shimon Mimran – the only character here with charisma – who gamely offers to help the boy with his composing.

Sex with Mimran seems to satisfy Anat more than anything else in her life: it’s as if she’s finally been fed after starving for years. But rather than trusting her intuition and taking things further with this interesting man, Anat suppresses her own needs and rushes off to promote her son to the next stage of his career.

Alarm bells ring when the local hearing-impaired centre tries to get in touch, Anat eradicating any further communication from them, even visiting the clinic to make sure they strike Idam’s records from their books. Anat’s father is a fiercely competitive man and his reaction to Idam’s talent is quite chilling: rather than encouraging the boy he seethes with anger at Idam’s perfect performance of a piece he wrote at the same age. Although we cannot like Anat’s character, we start to understand her motivations, and the strain she’s under to compete in this unforgiving family environment. A slick and enjoyable thriller and a brilliant debut from Itay Tal. MT

NOW ON iTUNES AMAZON VUDU FANDANGO ON DEMAND DVD | ROTTERDAM FILM FESTIVAL PREMIERE | Big Screen Competition 2019 

 

The Seven Last Words (2019) *** IFFR Rotterdam 2019

Dir.: Kaveh Nabatian, Ariane Lorrain, Sophie Goyette, Juan Andres Arango Garcia, Sophie Deraspe, Karl Lemieux, Caroline Monnert; Canada/Columbia/Haiti/Iran/USA 2018, 73 min.

Canadian filmmaker Kaveh Nabatian has always believed that music and film are inextricably linked: they form a unit, and he illustrates the point with this essay film. The seven chapters are underpinned by the music of The Seven Last Words of our Saviour on the Cross (1787) by Joseph Haydn, played by the Callino Quartet. 

Forgiveness; Salvation; Family; Abandonment; Distress; Triumph and Life after Death all relate to Jesus’ words in his last hours. The chapters are aesthetically very different, reaching from Fiction; Documentary; Experimenta; Magic Realism to a matter of fact conventional narrative. Perhaps most impressive is Distress, a mixture of on on-screen writing and theatrical pantomime. The walls are blood red, naked people pose in front of the dripping blood, and furniture is positioned in front of the walls as in an exhibition. Water is an element common to some essays: in the prologue a woman climbs into a plane which then soars into the sky over the ocean. She later opens the cabin door and jumps out, flying over the water like a bird, her white clothes making her look like a dove. In Triumph we see the same configuration: a boy at the sea front, a woman under water with doves flying above them. Haydn’s music carries The Seven Last Words, its dominance is the connection between the very diverse chapters which leave the interpretation to the audience. The remarkable images shock, inspire and amaze. A cinematic and meditative piece of filmmaking.

ROTTERDAM INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL | BRIGHT FUTURE PROGRAMME | 23 JANUARY – 3 FEBRUARY 2019

Sundance Film Festival | 24 January – 3 February 2019

In Park City Utah, ROBERT REDFORD and his programmer John Cooper set the indie film agenda for 2019 with an array of provocative new titles. This year’s selection has the latest documentaries from Alex Gibney and Kim Longinotto (Shootin the Mafia). There will be biopics about Harvey Weinstein, Stieg Larsson (Millennium Trilogy), designer Halston, and tragic actor Anton Yelchin. English director Joanna Hogg’s latest drama The Souvenir will compete in the World Dramatic section, and Shia LeBoeuf’s scripting debut Honey Boy will compete in the US Dramatic section.
PREMIERES 2019 | D R A M A T I C 

After The Wedding

Isabel (Michelle Williams) has dedicated her life to working with the children in an orphanage in Calcutta. Theresa (Julianne Moore)…
Dir/Writer: Bart Freundlich

Animals

Would-be writer Laura (Holliday Grainger) and her free-spirited bestie Tyler (Alia Shawkat) share a messy Dublin apartment and a hearty…
Director Sophie Hyde Writer Emma Jane Unsworth

Blinded by the Light

1987, Margaret Thatcher’s England. Javed, a 16-year-old British Pakistani boy, lives in the town of Luton. His father’s recent job…
Director Gurinder Chadha, Writer Sarfraz Manzoor, Gurinder Chadha, Paul Mayeda Berges

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

1969. Ted (Zac Efron) is crazy-handsome, smart, charismatic, affectionate. And cautious single mother Liz Koepfler (Lily Collins) ultimately cannot resist…
Director Joe Berlinger. Screenwriter Michael Werwie

I Am Mother

Shortly after humanity’s extinction, in a high-tech bunker deep beneath the earth’s surface, a robot named Mother commences her protocol….
Director Grant Sputore, Screenwriter Michael Lloyd Green

Late Night

Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson) is a pioneer and legendary host on the late-night talk-show circuit. When she’s accused of being…
Director Nisha Ganatra. Screenwriter Mindy Kaling

Official Secrets

Based on the book , tells the true story of British secret-service officer Katharine Gun, who during the immediate run-up…
Director Gavin Hood, Screenwriter Sara Bernstein, Gregory Bernstein, Gavin Hood

Paddleton

An unlikely bromance between two misfit neighbors becomes an unexpectedly emotional journey when one of them is diagnosed with terminal…
Director Alex Lehmann. Screenwriter Alex Lehmann, Mark Duplass

Photograph

Rafi works as a street photographer in frenzied Mumbai, snapping improvised portraits for tourists at the city’s landmarks. When his…
Director Ritesh Batra. Screenwriter Ritesh Batra

Relive

Los Angeles detective Jack Radcliff fields a distressed phone call from his niece Ashley and rushes to the rescue—only to…
Director Jacob Estes Screenwriter Jacob Estes, Drew Daywalt

Sonja – The White Swan

Before there were the Ice Capades, there was Sonja Henie. In 1936, Henie has three Olympic gold medals and ten…
Director Anne Sewitsky. Screenwriter Mette Marit Bølstad, Andreas Markusson

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Young William Kamkwamba lives with his family in rural Malawi, where he attends school regularly and shows great aptitude for…
Director Chiwetel Ejiofor Screenwriter Chiwetel Ejiofor

The Mustang

Roman Coleman (Matthias Schoenaerts) is a tightly wound convict fresh out of solitary confinement at a maximum security prison in…
Director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre. Screenwriter Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, Mona Fastvold, Brock Norman Brock

The Report

Senate staffer Daniel Jones is assigned the daunting task of leading an investigation into the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program….
Director Scott Z. Burns. Screenwriter Scott Z. Burns

The Sunlit Night

Summer is off to a terrible start for Frances (Jenny Slate). Her art project fails, her boyfriend unceremoniously kicks her…
Director David Wnendt. Screenwriter Rebecca Dinerstein

The Tomorrow Man

Retiree Ed Hemsler (John Lithgow) spends his quiet days watching the news, checking internet forums, and preparing for the end…
Director Noble Jones. Screenwriter Noble Jones

Top End Wedding

Lauren and Ned are engaged. They are in love. And they have just ten days to find Lauren’s mother (who…
Director Wayne Blair. Screenwriter Joshua Tyler, Miranda Tapsell

Troop Zero

Nine-year-old oddball Christmas Flint (Mckenna Grace) is obsessed with space and making contact with the aliens of the universe. When…
Directors Bert&Bertie. Screenwriter Lucy Alibar

Velvet Buzzsaw

In the cutthroat world of fine-art trading and representation, up-and-coming agent Josephina (Zawe Ashton) stumbles across a secret weapon: hundreds…
Director Dan Gilroy. Screenwriter Dan Gilroy
PREMIERES 2019 | D O C U M E N T A R Y
The Brink / U.S.A. (Director: Alison Klayman, Producer: Marie Therese Guirgis) — Now unconstrained by an official White House post, Steve Bannon is free to peddle influence as a perceived kingmaker with a direct line to the President. After anointing himself leader of the “populist movement,” he travels around the U.S. and the world spreading his hard-line anti-immigration message. World Premiere
ASK DR RUTH (2019) 

Don’t let her small status fool you. She may be under five feet tall but Holocaust survivor Dr Ruth Westheimer is a force to be reckoned with, as chronicled by Ryan White in his documentary portrait of the noteworthy sex therapist.

Dir: Ryan White.

Halston

Fashion designed Halston combined talent, notoriety and sheer gorgeousness to become a legend. From humble beginnings in Des Moines, Iowa this doc explores his meteoric rise to fame.

Dir: Frederic Tcheng

 Love, Antosha

Prolific young actor Anton Yelchin was wise beyond his years and influenced around him to strive for more.

Dir: Garret Price

Marianne & Leonard

Is a beautiful yet tragic love story between Leonard Cohen and his Norwegian muse Marianne Ihlen.

Dir: Nick Broomfield

 Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen

In the 1970s Merata Mita broke through barriers of race, class and gender.

Dir/writer: Hepi Mita

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool

Using words from Miles Davis’ Autobiography, Stanley Nelson’s biopic offers insight into our understanding of the legendary musician.

Dir: Stanley Nelson

 Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Mollu Ivins

With razor-sharp wit, outspoken journalist and firecracker Molly Ivins took on the good-old-boy corruption in the political establishment

Dir: Janice Engel. Writer: Janice Engel, Monique Zavistovski

The Great Hack

Have you ever filled out an online survey? Do you wonder why you received ads for products

Dir: Karim Amer, Jehane Noujam Wri: Erin Barnett, Pedro Kos, Karim Amer

The Inventor: Out for blood in Silicon Valley

Elizabeth Holmes arrived in Silicon Valley with a revolutionary medical invention. She called it “the Edison”

Director: Alex Gibney

 Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am

After a stint as an editor early in her career, this American writer got the measure of publishing.

Dir: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

 Untouchable

The inside story of the meteoric rise and monstrous fall of movie titan Harvey Weinstein is laid bare.

Dir: Ursula Macfarlane

Words from a Bear

When N Scott Momaday won the 1969 Pulitzer Prize, it marked one of the first major acknowledgements of Native America.

COMPETITION TITLES | U S   D R A M A T I C

Before You Know It

Stage manager Rachel Gurner still lives in her childhood apartment—along with her off-kilter actress sister, Jackie; eccentric playwright father Mel;…
Director Hannah Pearl Utt. Screenwriters Hannah Pearl Utt, Jen Tullock

Big Time Adolescence

It’s funny: humans have been growing up for a really long time, but somehow we still suck at it. Just…
Director Jason Orley. Screenwriter Jason Orley

Brittany Runs A Marathon

Brittany Forgler is a funny, likeable, 27-year-old hot mess of a New Yorker whose trashy nightclub adventures and early-morning walks…
Director Paul Downs Colaizzo. Screenwriter Paul Downs Colaizzo

Clemency

How do you salvage your marriage when you are struggling to salvage your soul, your sense of self, and your…
Director Chinonye Chukwu. Screenwriter Chinonye Chukwu

Hala

Hala is her father’s pride and joy. Dutiful and academically gifted, she skillfully navigates both her social life as a…
Director Minhal Baig. Screenwriter Minhal Baig

Honey Boy

When 12-year-old Otis starts to find success as a child television star in Hollywood, his ex-rodeo-clown father returns to serve…
Director Alma Har’el. Screenwriter Shia LaBeouf

Imaginary Order

For Cathy, life as she’s always known it seems to be slipping away. Her sense of significance is crumbling as…
Director Debra Eisenstadt. Screenwriter Debra Eisenstadt

Luce

It’s been ten years since Amy and Peter Edgar (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth) adopted their son from war-torn Eritrea,…
Director Julius Onah. Screenwriter JC Lee, Julius Onah

Ms. Purple

In the dark karaoke rooms of Los Angeles’s Koreatown stripmalls, Kasie works as a girl, a young hostess paid to…
Director Justin Chon. Screenwriter Justin Chon, Chris Dinh

Native Son

Bigger “Big” Thomas, a young African American man, lives with his mother and siblings in Chicago. Half-heartedly involved with a…
Director Rashid Johnson. Screenwriter Suzan-Lori Parks

Share

After a night of partying, high-school sophomore Mandy discovers that a series of cell-phone videos of her—half-dressed and semiconscious—have gone…
Director Pippa Bianca. Screenwriter Pippa Bianco

The Farewell

After learning their beloved matriarch has terminal lung cancer, a family opts not to tell her about the diagnosis, instead…
Director Lulu Wang. Screenwriter Lulu Wang

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Jimmie Fails has one hope in life: to reclaim the majestic Victorian house his grandfather built. Every week, Jimmie and…
Director Joe Talbot. Screenwriter Joe Talbot, Rob Richert

Them That Follow

In the rugged wilderness of Appalachia, the members of an isolated community of Pentecostal snake handlers led by Pastor Lemuel…
Director Britt Poulton, Dan Madison Savage. Screenwriter Britt Poulton, Dan Madison Savage

The Sound of Silence

A self-taught scientist, Peter (Peter Sarsgaard) works in New York as a “house tuner”—a unique, highly specialized profession he’s invented….
Director Michael Tyburski. Screenwriter Ben Nabors, Michael Tyburski

To The Stars

In a god-fearing small town in 1960s Oklahoma, bespectacled and reclusive teen Iris endures the booze-induced antics of her mother…
Director Martha Stephens. Screenwriter Shannon Bradley-Colleary
US   D O C U M E N T A R Y  

Always in Season

Claudia Lacy wants answers. When her 17-year-old son, Lennon, was found hanging from a swing set in Bladenboro, North Carolina,…
Director Jacqueline Olive

American Factory

In 2014, a Chinese billionaire opened a Fuyao factory in a shuttered General Motors plant in Dayton, Ohio. For thousands…
Director Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert

APOLLO 11

NASA’s vaults open for the first time to spill this exquisite, never-before seen audio and 70 mm film footage of…
Director Todd Douglas Miller

Bedlam

is the first major documentary to explore the crisis in care of severely mentally-ill citizens. Set in Los Angeles,…
Director Kenneth Paul Rosenberg

David Crosby: Remember My Name

We’re all acquainted with archetypal rock bio-doc tropes: the unexpected rise to stardom, calamitous love affairs, a descent into drugs,…
Director A.J. Eaton

Hail Satan?

What kind of religious expression should be permitted in a secular nation? Holy hell, something is brewing! Just a few…
Director Penny Lane

Jawline

Austyn Tester—handsome and 17—feels oppressed by the confines of life in his small hometown in Tennessee. But in the online-streaming…
Director Liza Mandelup

Knock Down the House

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a young, bold Puerto Rican bartender from the Bronx, works double shifts to save her family’s home from…
Director Rachel Lears

Midnight Family

With striking vérité camerawork, drops us directly into the frenetic nighttime emergency ecosystem of Mexico City. In the midst of…
Director Luke Lorentzen

Mike Wallace Is Here

Deemed the “enemy of the people” by our current president, journalism in America is on the chopping block. Lies, fake…
Director Avi Belkin

Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements

Irene Taylor Brodsky builds on her powerful first feature (Audience Award winner at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival) by delving…
Director Irene Taylor Brodsky

One Child Nation

In order to expose rampant human-rights abuses, filmmaker Nanfu Wang fearlessly confronted Chinese government agents in her 2016 Sundance Film…
Director Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang

Pahokee

Four high-school students, Na’Kerria, Jocabed, Junior, and BJ, embark on their senior year in Pahokee, a small Florida town on…
Director Ivete Lucas, Patrick Bresnan

TIGERLAND

In the span of only a handful of generations, the tiger has been transformed from a venerated creature with a…
Director Ross Kauffman

Untitled Amazing Johnathan Documentary

It begins as a documentary about “The Amazing Johnathan,” a uniquely deranged magician who built a career out of shock…
Director Ben Berman

Where’s My Roy Cohn?

Roy Cohn personified the dark arts of twentieth-century American politics, turning empty vessels into dangerous demagogues—from Senator Joseph McCarthy to…
Director Matt Tyrnauer
WORLD CINEMA   D R A M A T I C 

Dirty God

After a vicious acid attack leaves half her body covered in scars, Jade (Vicky Knight) must come to terms with…
Director Sacha Polak. Screenwriter Sacha Polak, Susanne Farrell

Divine Love

In the Brazil of 2027, where raves celebrate God’s love and drive-through spiritual-advice booths have become the norm, Joana holds…
Director Gabriel Mascaro
Screenwriter Gabriel Mascaro, Rachel Daisy Ellis, Esdras Bezerra, Lucas ParaÍzo

Dolce Fine Giornata

Maria Linde, a free-spirited, Jewish Polish Nobel Prize winner, lives in Tuscany surrounded by warmth and chaos in her family’s…
Director Jacek Borcuch. Screenwriter Jacek Borcuch, Szczepan Twardoch

Judy & Punch

In the rough-and-tumble town of Seaside (nowhere near the sea), villagers flock to Punch and Judy’s marionette theatre. Though Punch…
Director Mirrah Foulkes. Screenwriter Mirrah Foulkes

Koko-di Koko-da

Three years after their daughter Maja’s eighth birthday was interrupted by sudden tragedy, Elin and Tobias embark on a mirthless…
Director Johannes Nyholm. Screenwriter Johannes Nyholm

Monos

Belonging to a rebel group called “the Organization,” a ragtag band of child soldiers, brandishing guns and war names like…
Director Alejandro Landes. Screenwriter Alejandro Landes, Alexis Dos Santos

Queen of Hearts

Anne, a successful lawyer, lives in a beautiful modernist home with her two daughters and physician husband, Peter. Yet when…
Director May el-Toukhy. Screenwriter Maren Louise Käehne, May el-Toukhy

The Last Tree

Femi, a British boy of Nigerian heritage, enjoys a happy childhood in Lincolnshire, where he is raised by doting foster-mother…
Director Shola Amo. Screenwriter Shola Amoo

The Sharks

Rosina ticks away the days of a restless summer in her sleepy beachside town until she sights an ominous dorsal…
Director Lucía Garibaldi, Screenwriter Lucía Garibaldi

The Souvenir

Between script pitches and camera setups, Julie hosts a film-school cohort party where she meets a mysterious man named Anthony….
Director Joanna Hogg. Screenwriter Joanna Hogg

This is not Berlin

As Mexico anticipates the 1986 World Cup, 17-year-old Carlos is less interested in soccer and more interested in listening to…
Director Hari Sama. Screenwriter Rodrigo Ordóñez, Hari Sama, Max Zunino

WE ARE LITTLE ZOMBIES

One sunny day, four young strangers—Hikari, Ikuko, Ishi, and Takemura—meet by chance at a crematorium. They have all recently lost…
Director Makoto Nagahisa. Screenwriter Makoto Nagahisa
WORLD CINEMA.  D O C U M E N T A R Y

Advocate

Israeli human-rights lawyer Lea Tsemel is a force that won’t be deterred. Having defended Palestinians against a host of criminal…
Director Rachel Leah Jones, Philippe Bellaïche

Cold Case Hammarskjöld

In 1961, United Nations secretary-general Dag Hammarskjöld’s plane mysteriously crashed, killing Hammarskjöld and most of the crew. . It’s understood…
Director Mads Brügger

Gaza

Facing the serene Mediterranean Sea, 17-year-old Karma Khaial stands at the water’s edge and senses freedom. But in Gaza, the…
Director Garry Keane, Andrew McConnell

Honeyland

In a deserted Macedonian village, Hatidze, a 50-something woman in a bright yellow blouse and green headscarf, trudges up a…
Director Ljubomir Stefanov, Tamara Kotevska

Lapü

On a windy night in the Colombian desert, a young Wayúu woman named Doris sleeps in her hammock and dreams…
Dirs Juan Pablo Polanco, César Alejandro Jaimes. Writers Juan Pablo Polanco, César Alejandro Jaimes, María Canela Reyes

Midnight Traveler

In 2015, after Hassan Fazili’s documentary aired on Afghan national television, the Taliban assassinated the film’s main subject and put…
Director Hassan Fazili. Writer Emelie Mahdavian

Sea of Shadows

The Sea of Cortez is facing total collapse because of a war at sea. Mexican drug cartels have discovered the…
Director Richard Ladkani

Shooting the Mafia

In the streets of Sicily, beautiful, gutsy Letizia Battaglia pointed her camera straight into the heart of the Mafia that…
Director Kim Longinotto

Stieg Larsson – The Man Who Played With Fire

Since his untimely death, Stieg Larsson has become one of the world’s most famous authors. His Millennium Trilogy— and its…
Director Henrik Georgsson. Screenwriter Henrik Georgsson

The Disappearance of My Mother

Benedetta Barzini is a revered Italian model who shattered stereotypes by becoming a journalist and professor and gained notoriety by…
Director Beniamino Barrese. Screenwriter Beniamino Barrese

The Edge of Democracy

Once a nation crippled by military dictatorship, Brazil found its democratic footing in 1985 and then, in 2002, elected a…
Director Petra Costa. Screenwriter Petra Costa

The Magic Life of V

Wizards, magic spells, and heroic sword battles are just fantasy for some, but for Veera they’re a meaningful part of…
Director Tonislav Hristov. Screenwriter Tonislav Hristov, Kaarle Aho
SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL | 24 JANUARY – 3 FEBRUARY 2019 | PROGRAMME COURTESY OF THE SUNDANCE INSTITUTE 

King of Thieves (2018) *** Home Ent release

Dir: James Marsh | Cast: Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent, Tom Courtenay, Paul Whitehouse, Michael Gambon, Ray Winstone, Charlie Cox | UK Thriller |

James Marsh casts the diamond geezers of British acting as perps who bring their woes and their wiles to the table in planning their final felony – that actually took place over the Easter weekend in 2017. Joe Penhall’s script pieces together newspaper footage to provide a convincing account of a caper that’s more plodding than racy, often over-emphasising its veteran credentials in a narrative that focuses on settling scores rather than offering thrills. Michaels Caine and Gambon are certainly entertaining to watch, with Paul Whitehouse pulling off a comedy performance to remember. But Jim Broadbent is the real revelation as a sardonic softy whose sheep’s clothing disguises him as the real wolf of the pack. MT

OUT ON DIGITAL DOWNLOAD ON 14 January 2019 | BLURAY/DVD 21 January 2019

 

 

 

Nae Pasaran (2018) ****

Dir.: Felipe Bustos Sierra; Documentary with John Keenan, Bob Fulton, Robert Sommerville, Stuart Barrie; UK 2018, 93 min.

After Pinochet’s Army and Air Force bombed the Presidential Palace of La Moneda in Santiago de Chile overthrowing the Allende’s government on 11.9.1973, the General started a regime of terror, torture and mass murder. But the planes employed to bomb the seat of Government were infact British-made Hawke Hunters, maintained in a factory in East Kilbride, near Glasgow. When engineers discovered, in March 1974, that four jet engines were due to repaired and sent back to Chile, they took action.

Apart from some CGI docu-drama, Sierra and DoP Peter Keith stay on a very human level with those that took part; and there’s dry humour in the animation sequences. Engineers John Keenan, Bob Fulton, Robert Sommerville and Stuart Barrie wrote ‘Blacked’ on the engines and started a protest. But they were aware of the full impact of their actions until Felipe Bustos Sierra, a Belgian born son of Chilean emigrants, took a closer look. After a short film of the subject in 2014, his debut feature documentary tells a harrowing, but moving story. In London, like in many European cities, big demonstrations against the military Junta were being held, and Allende’s widow Hortensia Bussi spoke to a big crowd in Trafalgar Square. British Doctor Sheila looked after Allende supporters in hiding. She was captured by the army and tortured in the notorious Villa Grimaldi near Santiago.

After her release in 1975, the human rights infringements in Chile came to light, and made the four Scotts even more adamant about keeping the engines in the East Kilbride factory. What they did not know then, was that their actions had real repercussions on two levels. Firstly through the broadcast radio media that reached the prisoners in the Chilean camps camps. One of them, Dr. Arturo Jiron Vargas (1928-2014) was on the staff in La Moneda during the day of the overthrow. And he tells how they stayed with Allende until the end. Then the soldiers made them lay down on the ground in front of the palace, and given to believe that military tanks would roll over them. Vargas ended up in one of these camps where women were raped by dogs and mock executions were a daily event. The action (or better the non-action) of the Glasgow Four was a sign for Vargas and the prisoners, that they had not been abandoned.

Sierra also interviewed General Fernando Rojas Vender, a retired General and commander in-Chief of the Chilean Air Force under Pinochet. He is still proud of the precision bombing of the Palace by the Hunter Hawks but disappointed that he could not actively participate, since he was in control of ground forces. Before he became a General, Vender was a squadron leader of the Hawker Hunter planes, and he knows every detail. After September 1973, Vender was in charge of the operation to re-patriate the planes to Europe, a big problem, since they were not made to fly long distances. Soon Chile was involved in a border conflict with Argentina, and Vender had only three planes available. He admits that the four men in Glasgow were greatly responsible for the lack of numbers. When he was told by Sierra that the protest in East Kilbride was started by a Christian, Vender hit the roof: “somebody put this idea in his head, like with the Islamists today, they all behave like animals”.

In 2015, Keenan, Fulton and Summerville received the Order of Commander of the Republic of Chile, the highest decoration of the country, from the Chilean ambassador in London. Their four-year long boycott not only gave hope to the prisoners of the Pinochet regime, but hampered the efficiency of the Chilean Air Force. One of the engines involved, rotting away in Chile, was sent back to East Kilbride via ship, and greeted by the four. It will now continue its fight with the Scottish weather. AS

NATIONWIDE and at the ICA

 

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) **** Restoration

Dir.: Frank Capra; Cast: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Henry Travers; USA 1946; 130 min.

Director/co-writer Frank Capra wanted foremost “to combat atheism” when he filmed Philip Van Doren’s 1939 novella The Greatest Gift in 1946. Later he acknowledged “the feature developed a life of its own”, becoming everyone’s favourite Christmas movie since about 1976. But on its release, critics were rather unkind – on top of it, RKO lost half a million dollars at the box office. Bosley Crowther of the NYT wrote: “the weakness of this picture is the sentimentality of it—its illusory concept of life. Mr. Capra’s nice people are charming, his smalltown is a beguiling place, and his pattern for solving problems is most optimistic and facile. But somehow, they all resemble theatrical attitudes, rather than average realities.”

Nevertheless Frank Capra’s films always have a basis in reality and a moral tale to tell and despite the schmaltz, the reason this film is so universally popular, especially during the holiday season it that it endorses the important facts of life that we know are worth remembering: Don’t give up; Appreciate what you have – you could lose it, and loved-ones are more important that material riches (yes, this is a difficult one!)

In the small town of Bedford Falls George Baily (Stewart) lives with his wife Mary (Reed) and their three children. George not only saved his brother Harry from drowning as a child, he also worked hard for the community and has spent his entire life sacrifices himself for others in a job he’s never enjoyed doing. But it’s only when he nearly loses his life, that he really learns to appreciate again.

As usual, the eventual cast was a long way from the original proposals: Before Stewart, Henry Fonda and Cary Grant where considered to play George, whilst Jean Arthur and Ginger Rogers were also in the running before Donna Reed got the part. In her autobiography Rogers wrote her refusal of the Mary role might be “foolish, you say?”

On the 89 acre set of the RKO ranch in Encino, dogs, cats and pigeons roamed freely. The Main Street was 300 yards long, the equivalent of three city blocks. At the Oscars in 1946, William Whyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives swept the board, winning Best Picture (Samuel Goldwyn), Best Director for Whyler, Best Actor for Fredrick March and Best Editor for William Hornbeck. 

It’s a Wonderful Life won in the technical category, due to the success of Russell Shearman. who invented a new method to produce artificial snow. Until then, this ‘snow’ consisted of cornflakes, coloured in white. But the crunching noise of the actors walking on the flakes, made re-dubbing of these scenes necessary. Shearman used water, soap flakes, foamite and sugar, to save the re-dubbing. DoPs were Capra regular Joseph Walker and the (then) very young Joseph Biroc, who finished his long and outstanding career for Wim Wenders’ Hammett in 1982.

The last word should go to the FBI who wrote a memo after the premiere along these lines: “With regard to the picture It’s a Wonderful Life, the film represented rather obvious attempts to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as a ‘scrooge-type’ so that he would be the most hated man in the picture. This, according to sources, is a common trick used by Communists”. Indeed. AS

NATIONWIDE and all over Europe from 30 November 2018

JOY (2018) **** Marrakech International Film Festival 2018 | Winner Etoile d’Or

Dir.: Sudabeh Mortezai; Cast: Joy Anwulika Alphonsus, Precious Mariam Sanusi, Angela Ekeleme Pius, Jane Okoh; Austria 2018, 100 min.

German born writer/director Sudabeh Mortezai (Macondo) spent her youth in Vienna and Teheran before studying film at UCLA. Her second feature is centred around Nigerian women sold by their families as sex-workers to Europe. In the prologue, we see the local shaman performing the ‘Juju’ ritual on one of these young women: the victims have to leave an intimate part of themselves behind so they don’t run away, and send money home regularly.

We meet Joy (Alphonsus) on a dark night in Vienna where she is soliciting. Next to her stands young Precious (Sanusi), who has just arrived from Nigeria and does not want to sell her body, in order to pay back Madame (Pius), whom she owes 60,000 Euros. Back in the flat where the girls live in cramped  conditions, Madame holds Joy responsible for Precious’ attitude and tells her that her debt will increase if she doesn’t encourage the young girl to work harder. For good measure, Precious is than raped by two men, her cries of help going unanswered. The brutal treatment makes Precious fall into line and she becomes the highest earner of the group. Madame expresses her thanks by selling her for a profit to Italian pimps. 

Meanwhile Joy and Precious are continually pestered by their families to send more money home. Joy’s family ‘invents’ a fake illnesses so her clients will take pity and pay her extra.  And Precious’ mother asks her to sleep with more more men: “Can you imagine, the woman who gave birth to me wants me to do do that!” Joy, who has a daughter Chioma (Okoh), for whose upkeep she pays a nanny, is sent with Precious to the Italian border, keeping her passport. Precious asks her many times to relinquish the passport, so that she can escape. But Joy is well aware that Madame’s vengeance would be be grim, and she reminds Precious: “This is a game of survival of the fittest. I would kill you if I needed to. Do not trust me!”. Her calculation proves right when Madame ‘releases’ her, which is not so generous as it looks since new and younger girls have arrived from Nigeria.

The director takes a detached approach throughout. The gruesome details of the women’s suffering – Joy is bleeding heavily after being raped by three men, but Madame does not allow her to seek medical help. The whole circle of violence, starting in Nigeria is repeated over and over again, because the authorities in Austria want Joy to testify against Madame, but won’t grant her immediate asylum.

JOY explores a real and continuous nightmare that is happening all the time, in nearly every European city. Shot starkly by DoP Clemens Hufnagl, mostly at night, the few interior scenes reveal the misery and fear that haunts women daily. A depressing but worthwhile film that won the Etoile d’Or at this year’s MARRAKECH FILM FESTIVAL. MT

MARRAKECH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL | WINNER GOLDEN STAR MARRAKECH | WINNER LONDON FILM FESTIVAL 2108

 

Marrakech Film Festival 2018 | Conversations with….

To celebrate the 17th edition – 30 November to 8 December – MARRAKECH FILM FESTIVAL has introduced an interactive new talk series.

CONVERSATION WITH is an initiative that offers a space for expression, exchange and reflection with screen legends and film luminaries:

Martin Scorsese (b.1942, US)

Director, writer, actor and producer is one of the most influential directors working today and also one of the most generous in his support of talented emerging filmmakers. In a multi-award winning career spanning nearly 60 years his work has been inspired by his early life growing up with Italian parents in New York City in crime dramas such as Mean Streets (1973), Taxi Driver (1976) and Goodfellas (1990), and his own religious faith as in Silence (2016) and The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). He has captured the spirit of legends such as boxing supremo JakeLaMotta in Raging Bull (1980), Howard Hughes in The Aviator (2004) and the Dalai Lama in Kundun (1997). His animated feature Hugo (2011) was dedicated to his daughter Francesca. His thriller Cape Fear (1991) has one of the most frightening performances in film history courtesy of his long time collaborator Robert De Niro (Max Cady) and Shutter Island (2010) that was his stylistic tribute to both Out of the Past (1947) and Vertigo (1958). His other regular collaborators have been Leo DiCaprio and Bernhard Herrmann who created iconic scores for Taxi Driver and Cape Fear. His latest crime drama The Irishman based on the death of Jimmy Hoffa, is shortly to be released on Netflix.

Guillermo Del Toro (b. 1964, Mexico)

Del Toro started making programmes for Mexican TV before he directed and produced his first feature film Dona Herlinda and Her Son (1986) at the age of 21. Learning his make-up techniques from The Exorcist’s Dick Smith he got his first break in 1993 with Cronos which went on to win the FIPRESCI prize at Cannes. Since then he has won two Oscars in 2018 for The Shape of Water, a remake of Jack Arnold’s Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). He is currently working on a documentary about the filmmaker Michael Mann.

Cristian Mungiu (b. 1968, Romania)

Screenwriter, director and producer Cristian Mungiu rose to international fame in 2007 with his bleak drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days that shocked audiences with its raw depiction of backstreet abortion in communist Romania. He was the first Romanian director to win the Palme d’Or. Since then he has made a series of films exposing moral degradation in Romanian society. Beyond the Hills (2012) won his Best Screenplay at Cannes in year of its release, and his thorny depiction of family life Graduation followed four years later winning his Best Director at Cannes 2016 (ex aequo with Olivier Assayas for Personal Shopper). 

Yousry Nasrallah (b.1952, Egypt)

Born into a Coptic Christian family in Cairo, Nasrallah started his career as a film critic in Beirut in the late 1970s, soon becoming assistant  to Youssef Chahine whose company Mirs would go on to produce his films that focus on Socialism, Islamic fundamentalism and expatriation. His award-winning debut Summer Thefts (1985) was described as “the only non-ideological film on Nasserism in Egypt”. El Medina (1999) describes the struggle for creative realisation of a young Egyptian actor and After the Battle competed for the Palme d’Or in 2012.

Agnes Varda (b.1928 Belgium) 

Director, writer and photographer Agnes Varda has made over 50 films in her celebrated career. She was born in Belgium but moved to France as a baby before settling in Paris where she eventually married Jacques Demy and became one of the protagonists of the French New Wave with her feature debut La Point Courte (1951). She went on to make a series of award-winning dramas focusing on life and love: Cleo de 5 a 7 (1962), Le Bonheur (1965); L’une chante, l’autre pas (1977) and Jacquot de Nantes (1991) a biopic drama dedicated to her husband. Her latest documentary Faces Places (2017) is a rural ride through France.

Robert De Niro. (b. 1943, US)

One of the greatest actors of all time, Robert De Niro grew up in Manhattan where he launched his acting career in Brian De Palma’s The Wedding Party at the age of 26. By 1974 he had won the New York Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor in Bang the Drum Slowly, the National Society of Film Critic for Mean Streets, and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for The Godfather, Part II. In 1980 he won his second Oscar, as Best Actor, for Raging Bull.

De Niro’s next project will be Netflix’s The Irishman in which he stars and is producing with Martin Scorsese, for their ninth collaboration. In 2009, De Niro received the Kennedy Center Honor for his distinguished acting and the Stanley Kubrick Award from the BAFTA Britannia Awards. De Niro was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 2011 Golden Globe Awards. He served as the jury president of the 64th Cannes Film Festival.

De Niro is also known for his Tribeca Production company and the Tribeca Film Festival, which he founded with Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff. Through Tribeca Productions, De Niro has developed projects on which he has served as producer, director and actor. Tribeca’s A Bronx Tale in 1993 marked De Niro’s directorial debut. De Niro also directed The Good Shepherd in 2006.

During the interview De Niro confessed to not liking smoking on set. And has never had trouble keeping his personal life, personal. “Don’t bring your drama to the set, put it into your performance”.

https://vimeo.com/303947159/d498bda114

Cannes Film Festival Creative Director Thierry Fremaux.

Thierry Fremaux has come a long way since joining the Lumiere Institute in Lyon. The Fast-talking artistic force behind Cannes also directs, along with (president) Bertrand Tavernier, the Lyon-based Lumiere Festival that each year celebrates the vitality of classic film (restored films, retrospectives and tributes). Fremaux has even made a film about the brothers (LUMIERE 2016). who were the first filmmakers with their ground-breaking invention, the cinematograph. The legendary brothers not only invented the technique of making film, but also the art and the way of bringing people together in a theatre. Thierry explains how the aim of the Lumiere Festival was to connect the past with the present – as digital internet platforms, and mobile phones now compete with the classic way of crafting films. To be ‘healthy’ with contemporary cinema we have to look to the past, and that is why Lumiere came about – back in 2009

As artistic director at Cannes his work is much more difficult than it was 30 years ago, not simply because of the volume of films presented to the festival (the team selects the line-up down from over 1800 films) but also the sheer variety. And if Cannes misses a potential new auteur then this becomes a big deal – not just a small faux pas. As he explains: “Cannes is an international festival set in France and we try to embrace the ever-widening variety of film from across every continent. In the 1990s film noir was being re-invented in Hong Kong by Phil Joanou (State of Grace), inspired by Pierre Melville. Each time a young filmmaker makes a breakout hit – the spotlight will be on him, and we can’t afford to miss that”. “Pan’s Labyrinth came as a big shock to many festival goers, as it was the kind of style that had never really been invited before, and it really surprised people about the way forward we were taking – also with animation and with documentary”. Most films “choose” Thierry rather than the other way round, as passionate filmmaking eventually shows through, as much as talent. But certain films will never be right for the competition. “You have to ask the question – is it good or not for the film to be in Cannes. Also is it suitable for the audience – or for the press – we have in Cannes”. 

At the moment Thierry works with a group of 8, sometimes 10 people to make the final Cannes selection (equally split by gender). “The culture of making films is not that same for a man as for a woman so gender equality is absolutely vital as we move to 2020. This year’s Cannes selection was criticised but we have a duty to put new names on the map. And we have to adapt Cannes for the future and to make it comfortable for the audience and the press”. Clearly there will more changes, but Thierry assures us that they will be for the better. MT

MARRAKECH FILM FESTIVAL | 30 NOVEMBER – 8 DECEMBER 2018 | INTERVIEW AT THE MAMOUNIA HOTEL POOLSIDE, MARRAKECH 2018

 

 

Pajaros de Verano (2018) **** Marrakech Film Festival 2018

Dir: Ciro Guerra |Dir/Prod: Cristina Gallego | Drama | Colombia | Cast: | Carmina  Martínez, Jhon Narváez, José Acosta, José Vicente Cotes, Juan Martínez, Natalia Reyes | 110’

Embrace of the Serpent (2015) was the first Colombian feature to be nominated for an Oscar© and won Ciro Guerra the Art Cinema award at Directors’ Fortnight. The Bogota born director returns with his fourth and most ambitious film today PAJAROS DE VERANO (Birds of Passage) that explores the origins of the Colombian drug trade through this epic yet spiritual  multi-layered story about an indigenous Wayuu family of farmers turned drug-traffickers become involved in the booming business of selling marijuana to the American youth in the 1970s. But from a tiny seed of discontent passion and honour collide, and a fratricidal war breaks out that will put their lives, culture and ancestral traditions at stake.

Working this time in colour with his DoP David Gallego, Guerra creates a fabulous sense of place in the arid windswept plains of Colombia’s Guajira desert, where a deep unsettling feeling continually pervades the heady atmosphere with Leonardo Heiblum’s ground-breaking ominous soundscape.

Embrace of the Serpent writer Jacques Vidal and co-scripter Maria Camila Arias structure the story around five songs: Wild Grass 1968, The Tombs 1971, Prosperity 1979, The War 1980 and Limbo following the age-old traditional rags to riches and then tragedy formula. That said, this is an inventive and refreshingly original film whose poetic nature is continually punctuated by episodes of brutal violence and down to earth characters echoing recent South American fare such as Lucrecia Martel’s Zama, and Lisandro Alonso’s Jauja, and anchoring Birds firmly in historical reality despite its lyrical and often dreamlike folkloric overtones.

In this strongly matriarchal set-up, themes of capitalism vie with those of spirituality showing how both can breed antagonism if left unchecked, and this is eventually what transpires when male machismo and greed topples this delicate human society with tragedy and loss the inevitable outcome. Occasionally marred by uneven pacing BIRDS OF PASSAGE is nevertheless a startling achievement marking out Ciro Guerra and his co-director Cristina Gallego as growing talents on the South American scene. MT

 

MARRAKECH FILM FESTIVAL 2018

 

Ça C’est l’Amour (2018) *** Marrakech Film Festival 2018

Dir.: Claire Burger; Cast: Bouli Lanners, Sarah Henochsberg, Justine Lacroix, Cecile Remy-Boutang, Celia Mayer; France/Belgium 2018, 98 min.

Claire Burger joint project Party Girl won the Camera d’Or in 2014. Her debut as solo director is another passionate family story, but this one suffers from thematic over-loading and a certain lack of structure, despite a fine central performance from Bouli Lanners. Just as the French title implies – “That is what love is” – Burger shows true love in all its forms: from the obsessive and  possessive to the pre-sexual, always reminding us, that none of these is ideal.   

Set in Forbach, northern France, where the Belgian filmmaker spend her formative years, this starts off as the usual dysfunctional family affair. Working in local government Lanners is a bumptious father to daughters Nikki (Henochsberg) and Frida (Laxroix). His regular spates with his long-suffering wife Armelle (Remy-Boutang) who works in the theatre, finally prove too much  and she walks out suddenly, leaving Mario in the lurch. Nikki is seventeen, and ready to fly the nest – despite Mario’s severe reservations. Nikki keeps boyfriend Nazim at a distance – after a kiss she tells him “not to get any ideas”. Tomboy Frida, the younger, wants to be ‘Daddy’s girl’ but also leave home for good. She has a more complicated relationship: girl friend Alex (Mayer), might be more experienced in love, but she can be a pain in the neck for Frida, who wants total acceptance. Mario is unable to come to terms with living without Armelle, following her to the theatre and making it clear that he expects her go come back. Meanwhile, his relationship with his daughters deteriorates. Clearly something will have to give, not only in the lives of these Belgians – but also in the film’s running time. There is really too much going on in her over-stuffed narrative where marginal characters are introduced – and incidents at Mario’s workspace spiral out of control. Real Love simply runs out of space. The inter-familiar conflicts, as presented in first act are just about enough. Burger somehow fails to find a structure to do justice to her main characters. That said, there’s plenty of humour to save this from veering into a dire lecture about role models. Lanners excels in the comedy moments – the same goes for Henochsberg and Lacroix, the latter leaving the strongest impression on the feature. Burger’s error’s are mostly due to her lack of experience: we can certainly look forward to more from her in future.

SCREENING DURING MARRAKECH FILM FESTIVAL 2018

     

Filmuforia GUIDE TO INDIE AND ARTHOUSE CINEMAS | London Area

IMG_3814BACKYARD CINEMA at MERCATO METROPOLITANO is the latest immersive cinema space where its scene shifting theme has now found a permanent home in the Elephant & Castle venue. From now on the ambiance transform seasonally and the latest incarnation is Miami Beach with its own beach bar with delicious Italian fare to feast on. To feel the sand between your toes, flip-flops are provided. MERCATO METROPOLITANO is at Elephant and Castle. The full film programme is here.

ARTHOUSE CROUCH END, 159  Tottenham Lane N8 9BT

An intimate child-friendly venue (ever been locked in with a two-year old tantrum) that offers all the latest arthouse films just around the corner for Crouch End and Stroud Green dwellers.  Membership scheme available.

GREENWICH PICTUREHOUSE, 180 Greenwich High Road Greenwich London SE10 8NN

Showing all the latest indie and arthouse fare – Box Office Number: 0871 902 5732 (calls cost 13p per minute plus your telephone company’s access charge). Membership scheme available
Email: greenwich@picturehouses.co.uk General Manager:

Curzon AldgateDesigned for the modern filmgoer, CURZON ALDGATE is a new four-screen cinema in London’s culturally vibrant East End. Curzon will bring their renowned programming to the venue – ranging from the best of Hollywood to critically acclaimed independent cinema from all over the world. Curzon Cult Membership is now available £350, buys free tickets for a year!

bar-2-v2THE EXHIBIT | BALHAM | 12 BALHAM STATION ROAD | SW12 8SG| An arts venue with an American bar and restaurant here for your entertainment. From art-house to retro films, weekend comedy to life drawing classes and art exhibitions, in an ever-changing revolving programme.

The Exhibit has a state-of-the-art cinema with 12 sofas for two and great cocktails, bottomless brunch (clearly guaranteed not to add to your bottom). There are flexible spaces available to hire and even Speed Dating for those who prefer to meet face to face.

Also on offer: New Year’s Eve Champagne and Glitter Party and a selection of Christmas-themed films.

THE EVERYMAN KINGS CROSS | Handyside Street | London N1

Independent group The Everyman bijou cinema opens in the heart of the 67-acre King’s Cross estate in mid July 2016 with three screens in an office building known as R7 and locate adjacent to the University of the Arts London.

The Everyman Cinema now includes 16 venues, ranging from the iconic 100-year-old Screen on the Green to the latest space in Crossrail Place, Canary Wharf. This latest boutique venue will offer the service of food and drink and an auteur-driven selection of the latest releases together with more mainstream fare and exclusive live events. (photo: Nunzio Prenna ).

Regent Street CinemaTHE REGENT STREET CINEMA | Regent Street | London W1

The Regent Street Cinema was re-opened by the University of Westminster in May 2015, reinstating one of the most historic cinemas in Britain to its former grandeur. Built in 1848, the cinema showcased the Lumière brothers’ Cinematographe to a paying audience, and , as the curtain fell, British cinema was born. After serving as a lecture theatre by the university since 1980, it was restored into a working cinema featuring a state-of-the-art auditorium as well as an inclusive space for learning. The cinema is one of the few in the country to show 16mm and 35mm film, as well as the latest in 4K digital film. You can also experience double bills, world cinema and classic movies in its classic environment.

A fully stocked bar offers spirits, wines and snacks and caters for more filling alternatives (coming soon) to keep you going through the double bills. The cinema is also available for hire and private screenings. Listings information here.

IMG_4169THE ELECTRIC CINEMA, BIRMINGHAM | Britain second largest city Birmingham, is home to THE ELECTRIC CINEMA, the UK’s oldest working cinema and also one of its most cosy and comfortable. Opening its doors in 1909, an era when most people were without electricity at home, the mysterious invisible power source graced the picture house with an exotic allure and silent films were accompanied by a live piano score. Sound arrived in 1930 and the cinema showed news reels from Pathe and British Movietone. The first to shoot and edit its own regional news, the Cinema was revamped by Birmingham businessman Joseph Cohen, who owned 50 other cinemas during his heyday with Jacey Cinema. IMG_4170Today THE ELECTRIC CINEMA offers the latest indie and mainstream fare. The current manager Tom Lawes added a second screen and a basement recording studio. Relax in its leather sofas and velvet armchairs and enjoy screenings every day of the year (except Christmas Day). Enjoy the Art Deco Bar which serves a variety of craft beers, wines and champagne that you can drink during the screening along with homemade cakes, snacks and ice cream sourced from local independent suppliers – our favourite flavour Honeycomb toffee.

Cinema-1246A pioneering partnership between Goldsmiths, University of London and Curzon Cinemas is to bring full-time cinema to Lewisham after a gap of 15 years. CURZON GOLDSMITHS will show films to the public on weekday evenings and all day at weekends. The revamped screening facilities in the Richard Hoggart Building will be used for teaching during weekdays, with the facility available for exclusive use by Goldsmiths students and staff until 6pm Monday to Friday.

The cinema on the university’s New Cross campus is due to open at the end of January 2016. Programming at the 101-seat venue which includes space for two wheelchair users will follow Curzon’s mix of the best in cinema from across the globe as well as documentary and special director Q&As.

FullSizeRenderTHE CURZON SCREEN AT HAM YARD HOTEL | SOHO W1

A 2015 newcomer to the INDEPENDENT CINEMA GUIDE is this latest Curzon Screen at Ham Yard Hotel, in the heart of Soho, W1. The hotel is independently run by a British couple as part of the Firmdale Hotel Group and lavishly decorated with contemporary artworks, completing the cool vibe. Enjoy cocktails or the latest in international cuisine before going down to the comfortable cinema, a state-of-the-art affair, which features Dolby sound and an XpanD Digital 3D capable screen. The latest releases, selected from CURZON’s eclectic brand of international arthouse titles and cult classics, ensure that cineastes will not be disappointed. Ham Yard Hotel’s colourful Dive Bar is open exclusively to Curzon cinema ticket holders for pre- and post-film drinks. No membership required, just turn up at the door. image

THE ELECTRIC CINEMA- Shoreditch (Formerly the AUBIN CINEMA) 

Run in conjunction with Shoreditch House private members’ club, the Electric Cinema provides an unrivalled level of comfort and style for up to 45 cinema-goers offering a broad range of quality mainstream and art house films and features popular titles that are critically acclaimed. A venue for popular events including the. ukfilmfestival.com

Aubin

CATERING – Shoreditch House has a comprehensive bar and gourmet restaurant.
SEATING/COMFORT – seats 45- Velvet sofas and chairs with plumped cushions!
TECHNICALS – 35mm film projection. Sky HD, DVD, BluRay video projection. DigiBeta, HD-D5, HDCAM-SR, HDCAM, DVCAM, HDDV. All aspect ratios. Dolby.
DESIGN – Converted warehouse completely and stylishly modernized.
TICKETS – By phone or online The Box Office is open Monday to Saturday 3pm – 10pm and Sunday 11am-9pm.
SPECIALS  – Classic cinema events and monthly ticket giveaways by Twitter.
Map and Directions
Box Office: 0845 604 8486
http://www.aubincinema.com/about/booking-info/

BirkbeckTHE BIRKBECK CINEMA

41 Gordon Square, London WC1H OPD

The Birkbeck is a hidden gem.  Tucked away in the basement of number 41, Gordon Square, Bloomsbury, the area affords ample parking for evening and weekend screenings and with 70 seats, the cinema has recently hosted the OPEN CITY DOCS FEST and is also available for hire.

CURZON BLOOMSBURY  BRUNSWICK CENTRE, BLOOMSBURY, WC1  

141028_386_Renders

Boasting a fabulous minimalist refurbishment by architect Takero Shimazaki with furniture by Eileen Grey, the newly-named Curzon Bloomsbury is increasing from 2 screens to 6. Part of the Curzon group, which includes Curzon’s Mayfair, Soho, Ham Yard, Chelsea, and Richmond, this state of the art complex will continue to showcase quality arthouse fare as a popular choice for cineastes wanting to avoid the West End. Situated in the revamped Brunswick Centre, opposite Russell Square tube. 6 new screens include the RENOIR of 149 seats, LUMIERE (30 seats); MINEMA (28 seats); PHOENIX (28 seats); Plaza (30 seats); BERTHA DOCHOUSE (55 seats) dedicated to documentaries. The more bijoux screens are ideal for private event hire, but avoid the aisle seats in the Phoenix if you are sensitive to overhead lighting.

FullSizeRenderCATERING: Bar at Level 1 accommodating up to 148 guests. Additional bars on the lower levers. SEATING/COMFORT – Comfortable grey velvet reclining seating.

TECHNICALS – Dolby Atmos; 4K HD video projection, DVD, data, mini DV All aspect ratios. Spotlight. Radio microphone..

SPECIALS – Q & As, Bertha DocDays, Met Opera Live, Opera and Ballet screened and Special Previews. Also sells a good selection of arthouse DVD/blu.
The Brunswick, London, WC1N 1AW Map; Tube: Russell Square
Recorded Information and Booking Line: 0330 500 1331

CINE LUMIÈRE – SOUTH KENSINGTON

CINE

Part of the Institut Français, with its beautiful Deco design, opened in 1939 in the heart of South Kensington, round the corner from the Natural History Museum and the V&A. An airy marble foyer and sweeping staircase up to the cinema.

CAFE – As you might expect with a French cinema complex, the café is probably the best of any arthouse cinema you might visit, although it is also pricey. Les Salons can hold 60 people seated, for functions.

TECHNICALS – 241 seats. 35mm film projection. 2K HD video projection. Beta SP and, DVD, laptops. All aspect ratios. Spotlight. Mixing desk. Cabled microphones. The Mediatheque can cater for 80.

P1020884DESIGN – Improvements to the accessibility of the Institut français’ 17 Queensberry Place site are ongoing. Access to the ground floor foyer/reception/bistro is by ramp; the library and cinema on the first floor can now be accessed by lift..

TICKETS – £1.50 ontop for online ticket bookings, unless a member of the Institute. Tube: South Kensington Station. Box Office: 020 7871 3515

SHORTWAVE  – BERMONDSEYShortwave

Independent cinema and café based in Bermondsey Square, just off the Tower Bridge Road, screening arthouse, classic and indie film, as well as championing emerging film talent. Cinema opened in April 2009. ‘Shortwave’ itself launched in 1999, with the objective of promoting emerging film and video artists using events.

Shortwave

CATERING – Café and bar, supplies fresh local cakes and snacks. Organic Fairtrade coffee, tea, etc. Alcohol licence. Free wireless Internet. Outside seating.
SEATING/COMFORT – modern auditorium, red velvet seating.
TECHNICALS – 52 seats. 35mm film projection. Surround Sound and HD projection.
DESIGN – Modern build. Fully disabled access.
SPECIALS – Outdoor Cinema in the Aylesbury Estate, Walworth, managing the Bermondsey Street Festival and the Elephant and Castle Arts Festival ‘Elefest’, curates the Portobello Film & Video Arts Festival.

10 Bermondsey Square
London SE1 3UN

TRICYCLE CINEMA - THE BAR TRICYCLE CINEMA – KILBURN

Open seven days a week, the Tricycle not only offers an independent 300 seat cinema and also a unique 235 seat theatre, bar and café, plus three rehearsal spaces that are often used for our community and education work, Tricycle shows, or external hires.CATERING – Fully licensed bar and café. Caribbean food available pre-screening.

SEATING/COMFORT – 300 seat comfortable cinema.
TECHNICALS – 251 seats. 35mm film projection. 2K HD video projection.
DESIGN – Modern build, fully accessible.
TICKETS – £0.50 fee per online ticket
SPECIALS – Parent and baby Screenings, family screenings, Q& A’s with notable directors and actors, LFF, Images of Black Women Film Festival, UK Jewish Film Festival, DocHouse and the Kilburn Film Festival, Portuguese. 269 Kilburn High Road, London NW6 7JR; Nearest tube: Kilburn (Jubilee Line)Nearest overground: BrondesburyBox office: 020 7328 1000

RITZY – BRIXTON  Brixton Oval, Coldharbour Lane, SW2 1JG, UK

In the livewire centre of Brixton and part of the PICTUREHOUSE group that includes Picturehouses in Clapham, Stratford, Hackney, Greenwich and The Gate in Notting Hill. The building originally opened in 1911 and has gone through several incarnations, before its current one, now a multiscreen, with an additional space for live performances.
A mix of mainstream, Bollywood, classic and arthouse film.

RitzyCATERING – Upstairs bar open 7 days a week with a range of cuisine made by onsite chefs. Exterior seating is provided in the large open air bar in the square.

SEATING/COMFORT – 5 screens, seating 52, 111,113, 181 and 352. Adequate seating.
TECHNICALS – 35mm film projection. HD video projection. DCP, DVD/BluRay, BetaSP, Laptop. Mono, Dolby and Dolby SR. All aspect ratios. Two event rooms for hire.
DESIGN – Start of the Twentieth Century, a handsome, prominent building now restored to its original looks.
TICKETS – online or by phone- 0871 902 5739 (10p a minute from a landline)
SPECIALS – Part of the local community, music, film and venue hire. Kids Club, Autism-friendly, Education, Toddler time, Live broadcasts from the National Theatre, Met Opera, and ROH/Bolshoi Ballet productions.

THE TROXY, 490 Commercial Road, London E1 Troxy interior

Host to the EAST END FILM FESTIVAL 2013, The Troxy originally opened as a grand cinema in 1933 and was designed to seat an audience of 3520 people. In those days, it showed at the the latest films and featured a floodlit organ which rose from the orchestra pit during the interval, playing hits of the era. the Troxy Wurlitzer is currently undergoing extensive renovation and will soon be re-instated to complete the retro feel of this indie locale.

Regularly hosting stars such as Gracie Fields, Clark Gable and Petula Clark, the first film screened was King Kong and after a run of The Siege of Sydney Street the cinema closed its doors in 1960.The Troxy staff even sprayed perfume during showings to make the cinema-goers feel good. The first film shown was King Kong. The last, in 1960, was “The Siege of Sydney Street”.

The building remained empty and unused for almost three years until 1963, when a tenant was found and the London Opera Centre was created here. Run by the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the Troxy was used for rehearsals on an extended stage which was an exact size of the Royal Opera House stage. In the 1980s, TROXY became Mecca Bingo, where bingo was held seven days a week, two sessions a day. With the advent of online gambling, Mecca decided to close the operation in 2005.
The current owners, Ashburn Estates, have restored the venue as much as possible to its original glory, whilst incorporating the needs of today’s event requirements. TROXY is now deemed to be London’s most versatile venue, hosting anything from live concerts to company conferences, from indoor sports to weddings film festivals.

For all information regarding tickets please contact: 0844 888 0440 and general inquiries 0207 790 9000.

THE LEXI – KENSAL RISE 194b Chamberlayne Road, Kensal Rise, NW10 3JU (map)

A small but perfectly formed informal cinema that often screen one-offs, classic movies and special interest films.

The Lexi Cinema Located in a smart Church conversation, it’s an intimate space with 75  comfortable seats and individuals armchairs and boasts a unique light sculpture by Bruce Munro.  Staffed by an enthusiastic team of volunteers and a small core management team.  Carin Von Drehle is especially helpful and happy to help with any enquiries.

100% of The Lexi’s profits go towards improving the quality of life for the mixed-race people of Lynedoch ECO charity village in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
CATERING – Fully licensed bar. Works with a selection of local caterers to bespoke any event planned.
SEATING/COMFORT – hugely comfortable mixture includes individual chairs.
TECHNICALS – @60 seats. 35mm film projection. 2K HD video projection. Beta SP and Digibeta, DVD, data, mini DV All aspect ratios. Spotlight. Radio microphone. State of the art sound projection.
DESIGN – Small modern space in church conversion.
TICKETS – £1.50 on phone bookings 0871 7042069. Discounts for over 60’s, students and members.
(lines open 9.30am – 8.30pm)
SPECIALS – Valentine Soiree, Kids Club, Parent and Baby, Singalong, outdoor screenings, Easter events, live by satellite, Q&A.

Rich MixRICHMIX – CINEMA AND ARTS CENTRE – Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch E1 6LA

Rich Mix is a charity and social enterprise that offers a variety of activities from film to live music, theatre and comedy to the East London area. All profits are re-cycled back into the community, nurturing new and local talent. It offers five floors of creativity and no less than three state-of-the-art digital cinema screens showing main releases and indie and arthouse world film.

RICH MIX is open from 9am to 11pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 11pm on weekends and the nearest Mainline station is Shoreditch High Street, on the East London Line or Mainline stations at Liverpool Street, Bethnal Green or Aldgate East.

Screen 1THE HARINGEY INDIE

The Haringey Independent Cinema is more of a voluntary cinema club held at the end of each month at the Park View School in West Green Road, London N15.  Doors open at 7pm and the film starts at 7.15pm.  Tickets are £4/£3 (concessions) and there is an informal invitation to drinks afterwards at KK McCool’s Pub to discuss the film and socialise and meet new people in the area.

The idea is to screen intelligent and thought-provoking features and documentaries sometimes inviting those involved in the project to come along for a chat or Q&A session.

Haringey Independent Cinema is organised by local residents and supported by Haringey Trades Union Council, Woodlands Park Residents’ Association, Chestnuts Northside Residents’ Association and Haringey Solidarity Group.

Other details are available on www.haringey.org.uk/hic/

THE BARBICAN  CITY Barbican 2&3, Beech Street, EC2Y 8AE |Barbican 1, Level 2, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS

Two brand new screens (2 and 3) separate to the main event off Beech Street, replete with Camera Café and Bar add a new dimension to the huge and varied complex that is the Barbican Centre, containing as it does theatre spaces, Concert Hall and conference capability, bookshop, library and cafes. There’s an amazing wall composed of film photos and images which allows you to scan information about films portrayed on to your mobile phone.

Silk Street

CATERING – Spacious modern café bar on Beech Street complements the other cafes and restaurant in the main complex on Silk Street, with lakeside seating. Sandwiches, daily specials including soup of the day, salads, savoury tart and a hot dish. Everything made on site. Opening hours Mon – Fri: 8am – 10.30pm, Sat & Sun 10am – 10.30pm
SEATING/COMFORT – Very comfortable fitted seats.
TECHNICALS – Cinema 1- 280 seats. 35mm film projection. 2K HD video projection. Beta SP and Digibeta, DVD, All aspect ratios. Microphone. Dolby SR.
DESIGN – The new cinemas have only just opened as a new build. Full disabled access.
TICKETS – online or by phone. Monday Madness- super deals. Also Orange Wednesdays. Membership offers 20% off films and priority booking.
SPECIALS – Framed Film Club for kids, Silent Film and Live Music Series, Wonder on Film, A Grammar of Subversion, Family films, Met Opera Live, Marcel Duchamp dancing, Architecture on Film, Q&A’s.  Barbican film enquiries film@barbican.org.uk

ELECTRIC CINEMA – NOTTING HILL, 191 Portobello Road, W11 2ED 

FIrst opened in 1910 and one of the first buildings in Britain designed specifically for motion picture showing by Gerald Seymour Valentin in the Edwardian Baroque style. It’s said that the notorious murderer John Christie (1899-1953) worked there as a projectionist. Hands down one of the most comfortable, even hedonistic seating experiences in London, if not the country. Showing mostly indie and avantgarde arthouse fare, The Electric is a sumptuous affair that needs to be experienced at least once. It also houses the upstairs private members’ club ELECTRIC HOUSE.

Electric Cinema, Notting Hill

CATERING – open half an hour prior to screenings, the bar offers snacks, cocktails, wine, beer and champagne.
SEATING/COMFORT – Sixty-five leather armchairs with footstools and side tables offer unparalleled comfort. In addition there are three 2-seater sofas at the rear of the theatre and six double beds in the front row providing a unique cinema experience. Individual cashmere blankets complete the picture.
TECHNICALS – 35mm film projection. Sky HD, DVD, BluRay video projection. DigiBeta, HD-D5, HDCAM-SR, HDCAM, DVCAM, HDDV.
DESIGN – Purpose built in 1911, beautiful inside and out.
TICKETS – Online or by phone, up until an hour before performance starts.
SPECIALS – Kids Club, Electric Scream, Membership discounts.

Phoenix CinemaPHOENIX CINEMA – EAST FINCHLEY, 52 High Road, London N2 9PJ

Built in 1910, the Phoenix is the second oldest continuously-running cinema in Britain and redolent of the Electric in Notting Hill. A truly gorgeous cinema with traditional red velvet seating and the open, vaulted ceiling means no pillars. Unlike modern multi-screens, the best seats are in the middle of the auditorium. Atmospheric and beautiful, it’s run by a trust for the community and has a very active fan-base.

CATERING – The café bar is open from 11am every Monday-Saturday and from 1pm Sundays, serving simple breakfasts and a range of homemade meals and cakes.d a SEATING/COMFORT – Proper old-school red velvet reclined seats.TECHNICALS – 255 seats. 35mm film projection. HD video projection. Beta SP and Digibeta, DVD. All aspect ratios.DESIGN –Full disabled access and four wheelchair spaces.
TICKETS – 0208 444 6789 www.phoenix.co.uk
SPECIALS – NT Live, Ballet from Moscow, Classic films, Q&A’s, Membership benefits.

watermans-art-centreWATERMANS  BRENTFORD, 40 High Street, TW8 0DS
Box Office: +44 (0)20 8232 1010

Another component of the Picturehouses Group. A comprehensive Arts and Community Centre, overlooking the River Brent, containing cinema, theatre, meeting rooms, restaurant and ample parking. Makes an effort to be inclusive to Black and Minority ethnic cultures.

CATERING – River Terrace Café bar with wi-fi, comfy sofas with river views, teas, coffees, cakes and pastries, as well as tapas. Outdoor seating. Tandoori restaurant.
SEATING/COMFORT –
TECHNICALS – 239 seats. 35mm film projection. HD video projection. Beta SP and Digibeta, DVD, All aspect ratios.
DESIGN – Purpose built structure, wheelchair accessible.
TICKETS – Friend Concessions, Student and Child concessions. Online booking.
SPECIALS – Discounts for Friends of Watermans, Deals on film and food on Tuesdays. Comprehensive community programs. Parent and Baby screenings, Kids screenings, exhibitions, live events.

RIO CINEMA – DALSTON, HACKNEY Rio Cinema

One of the last remaining cinemas over in the Hackney/Dalston area, the Rio stands as a reminder of times past, with the 1930’s façade still intact and a splendid art deco interior. Re-opened in 1999, after substantial refurbishment and new seats, the Rio plays an active role in the community and has taken on the Turkish, Kurdish, Spanish and Gay and Lesbian Film Festivals in recent years.

CATERING – foyer café during normal cinema opening hours. Usual stuff, plus coffee, herbal teas and a licensed bar for beer and wine.
SEATING/COMFORT – 560 seater, very comfortable.
TECHNICALS – 35mm film projection. Sky HD, DVD, BluRay video projection. DigiBeta, HD-D5, HDCAM-SR, HDCAM, DVCAM, HDDV. All aspect ratios. Dolby.
DESIGN – Stylish atmospheric, with the original 1930’s exterior design, but state of the art interior. Three permanent wheelchair spaces available.
SPECIALS  Parents & Babies Club, most Tues and Thurs. Saturday Morning Picture Club and Playcentre matinees. Midweek Classic Matinees. Friends of the Rio membership deals also available.

CURZON MAYFAIR | 38 Curzon Street, London, W1. Booking Line: 0330 500 1331

Mayfair Curz

Re-opened in 1966 subsequent to a rebuild, the original 560 seater was converted to two screens in 2002. In the heart of Mayfair, the Curzon Mayfair was voted in the top twenty cinemas in London and has been an arthouse and Indie venue since it opened in the 1930’s. Even now, it still plays host to a dozen or so Premiers annually. Celebrating 75 years in 2009, Mayfair is the heart of Curzon Cinemas with a rich cinematic history and a dedicated audience of film enthusiasts.

CATERING – Licensed bar and screens. Bar has 120 capacity, free wifi. Shop sells DVD and Blu-Ray.
SEATING/COMFORT – Screen One has 311 seats with 2 wheelchair spaces. Newly upholstered with more legroom than many cinemas. Has two Royal Boxes for hire.
Screen Two- 101 seats.
TECHNICALS – 35mm film projection, 2K HD Video projection from HD (Quvis server system) Beta SP and digibeta,DVD, Data, Mini DV. All aspect ratios. Spotlight. Raked stage. Wired microphones and PA. Lectern. Data and mic connection from auditorium or projection box. Full disabled access. Air conditioned
DESIGN – Grade II listed. The bar, foyer and Screen 1 have wheelchair access. An infrared loop system is in both Screen 1 and 2 for the hard of hearing.
SPECIALS –  Curzon Q&A’s, DocDays, Met Opera Live, Opera & Ballet, Special Previews, Human Rights Watch FF, Rendezvous with French cinema, Kinoteka Polish FF. Membership.

ROXY – SOUTHWARK | 128-132 Borough High Street, London SE1 1LB

Roxy

Roxy was created to bring together cutting-edge digital screenings with high quality drinks & food available throughout all screenings.  All public screenings are over-18s only.

CATERING –Caters food-wise for around 100. To book, phone 020 7407 4057 or email bookings@roxybarandscreen.com SEATING/COMFORT – 100 seater. TECHNICALS – Panasonic HD projector, a 4m wide cinema screen and a Yamaha 5.1 pro-theatre surround sound system.  DESIGN – Modern, urban and fully accessible. SPECIALS  – Membership offers discount and priority booking. Also screens live sports events. See website for details. Book your party on a Friday or Saturday night and they’ll give you a bottle of Prosecco too! See here for more info. Phone:- 020 7407 4057Email:- bookings@roxybarandscreen.com   

GENESIS -STEPNEY  | 93 – 95 Mile End Road
Whitechapel,
London
E1 4UJ

Stands on a site used for entertainment purposes for over 150 years. The first building on the site opened about 1848 as the Eagle public house, a pub cum music hall. This gave way to Lusby’s Summer and Winter Garden which was later renamed Lusby’s Music Hall. Demolished and rebuilt in 1939 and subsequently modernised and split into five screens and a bar area. Great coffee and pastries.

Genesis CATERING – Fully licensed bar.
SEATING/COMFORT – Five screens offer from 575 through to 100 seating capacity. Modern, utilitarian design.
TECHNICALS – 35mm film projection. Digital projection. Dolby. Radio microphone.
DESIGN – Art deco exterior but modern inside.
TICKETS – Online or by phone. See below. Call 020 7780 2000.

PHOENIX – OXFORD PICTUREHOUSE | 0871 902 573657  Oxford, Oxfordshire County OX2, UK

photo-2

Originally built in 1913, In 1970 it was taken over by Star Entertainments Ltd. and converted into Studios One and Two. Following another change of ownership it was renamed the Phoenix Cinema and in 1989 it became the first cinema to be owned and run by the newly formed City Screen Limited. A final addition of the roof-top bar in the 1990s brought the cinema to its current configuration.
CATERING – Fully licensed bar.
SEATING/COMFORT – Two screens, 198 and 98 seaters.
TECHNICALS – 35mm film projection. Digital projection. All aspect ratios. Dolby.
DESIGN – Both auditoria are accessible to customers with limited mobility including wheelchair users. Please note wheelchair spaces are limited. The first floor bar is Not accessible. Advisable to call in advance.
TICKETS – Online or by phone telephone lines are open from 9.30am – 8.30pm, seven days a week. Please call  0871 902 5736 (calls cost 10p a minute from a BT landline). Booking fee applies.

UnknownWILTON’S – TOWER HAMLETS  

Wilton’s is the world’s oldest surviving Grand Music Hall and London’s best kept secret. This stunning and atmospheric building houses a programme of imaginative, diverse and distinct entertainment including theatre, music, comedy, cinema and cabaret. See website for what’s on.

CATERING – The Mahogany bar- fully licensed bar and venue. The Green Room Bar. Lunchtime Kitchen.
SEATING/COMFORT – variable, freestanding chairs, rather than upholstered seats.
TECHNICALS – 35mm film projection. Digital projection. Dolby.
DESIGN – Unique, beautiful original music hall, must be visited at least once to experience.
TICKETS – Online or phone, Enquiries & Box Office 020 7702 2789 Monday – Friday (excluding bank holidays) 12pm – 11pm
Saturday 5pm – 11pm
Serving cocktails upstairs Tuesday – Saturday 6pm – 11pm

PRINCE CHARLES – West End | 020 74943654 | 7 Leicester Place

Right in the heart of the West End in Leicester Place, a firm favourite with the arthouse indie crowd, often serving up arthouse films once they have completed a release, so a good chance to catch up on something you missed, if you keep an eye on what’s coming up.

The Prince Charles

CATERING – Fully licensed and comprehensive bar.
SEATING/COMFORT – Two screens- 285 and 104.
TECHNICALS – 35mm film projection. digital projection. All aspect ratios. Dolby.
TICKETS – Online or by phone, https://www.jack-roe.co.uk/TaposWebSales/Main/prilon/start
SPECIALS  – Marathons (eg Alien), retrospectives and trilogies (e.g. Die Hard, Terminator, Singalongs (e.g. Sound Of Music, Rocky Horror).
www.princecharlescinema.com

The Rex BerkhamstedTHE REX – BERKHAMSTED | 

High St (Three Close Lane)
 Berkhamstead
 HP4 2HD

The Rex has one huge screen set in a glorious 1938 art-deco proscenium with the sharpest film projection and clearest non-booming sound anywhere in the world. Serves up mainstream as well as arthouse fare.

CATERING – Selection of food and drink, with bars upstairs and downstairs open throughout the film.
SEATING/COMFORT – Throughout, its seating is big and soft. It has been called luxurious. It is better. It is civilized. It reminds us of what we have long stopped expecting from public buildings.
TECHNICALS – 35mm film projection. Digital projection. All aspect ratios. Dolby.
DESIGN – Disabled Access is from the High Street. There is a gate to the right of the white apartment block (The Gatsby stands far left). The gate is opened 45 minutes before the start time of the film, but if you find it locked please call our admin line: 01442 877999.

THE HORSE HOSPITAL – BLOOMSBURY | (0)20 7833 3644

Horse Hospital Cinema

Built in 1797 as stabling for cabby’s sick horses, The Horse Hospital is a unique Grade II listed venue providing space for avantegarde and underground media since 1993.

Situated on the lower ground floor, the stable room offers a convivial and unusual environment with its horse ramp entrance, tethering rings, cast iron pillars and amazing cobbled floor.  Clients have included the BFI, Birkbeck, Central St Martins, Fashion in Film Festival, Slingshot Films, The Italian Film Society amongst others.

CATERING – Organised by function
SEATING/COMFORT – freestanding chairs.
TECHNICALS – video/digital projection.
DESIGN – Built in 1797 as stabling for cabby’s sick horses, The Horse Hospital is now a unique Grade II listed arts venue situated in an unspoilt mews in the heart of Bloomsbury,

THE OLD RED LION THEATRE CINEMA CLUB – Islington’s local indie cinema in the heart of the local shopping thoroughfare.

Seats: The seats are long wooden benches with padded tops and backs.

Technical capabilities: We are capable of showing Blu-ray and regular DVD content. Our screen is big for the space so you’ve a great view from wherever you’re sitting.
Catering: We aim to be selling Ice Cream, Crisps and Retro sweets. We’re also a pub so downstairs in the bar there’s all the beer you can drink!
location: We’re located at 418 St John Street EC1V 4NJ, very close to Angel Tube station. The building is called the Old Red Lion Theatre Pub
specials: All tickets are £6.50 and there is no booking fee through our sales host.
Tickets can be bought here: http://www.oldredliontheatre.co.uk/cinema-club.htm or by calling 0844 412 4307
JW3 CULTURAL, ARTS AND COMMUNITY CENTRE, FINCHLEY ROAD, LONDON NW3

BLAKE_EZRA_JW3_CINEMA_03 copyJW3’s comfy seats, intimate feel as a 60-seater and wonderful café, bar and restaurant – ZEST opened to rave reviews in September 2013.  The original programming is also a big selling point of the  cinema.image (15)

 

 

Partnered with UK Jewish Film to show 6 screenings of Jewish and Israeli films from all round the world, JW3 also shows new releases and run a number of film clubs on Monday evenings including: Comedy Film Club in partnership with LOCO (London Comedy Film Festival), Artists’ Film Salon for filmmakers and artists working with artists’ moving image and the Foodies Film Club with special edible cinema experiences.

For listings visit the JW3 website

THE ART HOUSE CROUCH END, 159A TOTTENHAM LANE, LONDON N8 9BT  banner4

The former Salvation Army Hall (Music Palace) in Crouch End, North London is being transformed into a dynamic new cultural venue called ArtHouse. Crouch-Enders George Georgiou, Sam Neophytou and Tom Barrie are on a mission to put Crouch End firmly on the cultural map.

The cinema will have two state of the art screens totaling approx 190 seats. Run in association with Curzon, we will show a mix of mainstream, foreign and ArtHouse films, including live streams of classic theatre, opera and ballet from world renowned companies as well as regular director Q&As, documentary events and special events.

SAFFRON SCREEN, Audley End Road, Saffron Walden, Essex CB11 4UH

Saffron Screen is an independent not for profit cinema showing mainstream and art house fare and streaming international cultural events. with a view to entertaining, educating and creating a welcoming experience for the local community. SAFFRON also provides full accessibility for the physically and visually impaired.  For the full  Programme click the link.

CURZON VICTORIA

A welcome addition to this poorly served area of London, cinema-wise. The CURZON VICTORIA opened at the end of 2014. Indulge yourselves with carefully selected wines, local beers and spirits in their brand new luxury lounge bars before enjoying five state-of-the-art screens with Sony 4K projection and 3D.

CLOSE-UP FILM CENTRE

This Shoreditch-based cinema club is open daily from 12-10pm so check it out.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE YOUR CINEMA SCREEN TO BE FEATURED IN THIS GUIDE, PLEASE CONTACT US @filmuforia OR ON THE CONTACT SHEET ON THE HOME PAGE

Forgotten Soldier (2018) UK Jewish Film Festival 2018

Dir.: Lucile Smith; Documentary, narrated by Zoe Wannamaker; UK 2018, 69 min.

This debut feature documentary by Lucile Smith tries to uncover the life of Salomon Jacob ‘Sally’ Noach, who saved at least 600 Jews and other prisoners of the Nazis in occupied France, masquerading as a Dutch Consul. His children, Lady Irene Hatter and Jacques Noach travel to Europe and the USA, to speak with survivors and their children about the role their father played in their liberation.

‘Sally’ Noach was born in the Dutch town of Zutphen in 1909. Early on in his life, he showed great initiative, leaving school at twelve, to work in the hotel business. At the age of 28 he had his own car, working in tandem with his father as a travelling salesman. When war broke out, he was in Brussels, whilst his family stayed in the Netherlands. After the German occupation of France in 1940, he took the train to Paris, starting a chaotic journey which left him and his refugee travellers, mainly Jewish, stranded after four days in the Pyrenean village of St. Julien. Even though Noach helped to organise this ‘refugee camp’, it was clear that the little village could never sustain such an influx of refugees. So he went to Toulouse to the Dutch consulate, making friends and connections, before moving to Lyon, which was ‘the capital of Refugees’. Working as an interpreter for the Dutch consulate official Paul Marx, with the German Military Tribunal. He had also met German Camp commanders, and after forging identity papers, he went to the camps demanding the release of all Dutch prisoners – even freeing numbers of other nationalities. But his greatest coup was the ‘liberation’ of prisoners from the ‘Iris’ stadium at the outskirts of Lyon in 1942. When Klaus Barbie arrived in Lyon in the same year, to start the deportation from the Drancy camp to Auschwitz, Noach left and arrived in London in 1943. He was received by members of the Dutch Government in Exile, and the Queen, but his name had been blackened: he was suspected of being a profiteer in Lyon’s Black Market – since that was the only place refugees could trade, being excluded from all other avenues. Noach married, had three children and moved back to the Netherlands, where he was active in the carpet trade, never talking to his family about his experiences in WWII. Posthumously he was awarded the highest Dutch honour in 1981, only a year after his death at the age of 70.

This is a succinct and well-made documentary, but Lady Irene’s travels to meet survivors and learn about her father’s endeavours suffers from a bit of grandstanding by Irene, who rather overplays herself into the foreground. Some clumsy scenes and transitions could have been avoided by a more seasoned director. Surely, ‘Sally’ Noach himself, an adventurous man of no-nonsense, would have agreed.AS

SCREENING DURING UK JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL 

AS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UK JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL 2018

Core of the World (2018) **** Russian Film Week 2018

Dir: Natalia Meshchaninova | Drama | Russia, Lithuania | 123′

Best known for her debut The Hope Factory, Natalia Meshchaninova’s award-winning sophomore feature is an acutely observed and thoughtfully performed story of emotional disorder that unfolds in a remote dog-breeding facility in Russia.

Writing again with Boris Khlebnikov (they co-scripted Arrhythmia) and her real life partner Stepan Devonin, who also plays Egor, this latest drama combines tenderness, regret and yearning in a troubled vet who finds his animals easier to live with than his co-workers. Egor breeds special hunting dogs (Alabais, also known as Central Asian Shepherd dogs) using domesticated foxes in their training. He is empathetic rather than sentimental towards the animals in his care.

Devonin’s training as a vet informs his role as Egor and he brings a tenderness but clear focus as Egor. When he learns that his mother has died of heart problems related to alcohol abuse, it becomes abundantly clear that there are issues with his childhood relationship. And when his aunt arrives uninvited with a bunch of his mother’s photography, Egor brazenly tells her to “fuck off” a stance that flies in the face of his previously rather quiet and thoughtful behaviour. His troubled personality issues will soon surface in abundance, although rather late in the story. Clearly Egor has escaped into his work in this peaceful forest location, where he tends a dog who has just been brutally mauled with extreme dedication. He is also keen to ingratiate himself with his tough and overbearing boss Nikolai (Dmitriy Podnozov) who has been running the family training facility for several generations.
The dog-training involves the dogs chasing down small wooden tunnels – representing real burrows – where the dogs come into contact with the foxes and a tussle takes place, confirming the canine’s suitability for hunting. Although neither animal appears to come off any the worse for their order, the practice has attracted negative attention from the animal rights brigade who arrive at the gates to protest. Nikolai tells them: “go away children”.
Meanwhile, Egor starts to have feelings for Nikolai’s daughter Dasha (Yana Sekste) who shares the family house with  her son Ivan (a strong debut from Vitya Ovodkov), There are humorous exchanges and they all seem to rub along very well, and Egor continues to tend his injured dog Belka, patiently teaching her how to swim in the nearby far-flowing river. Alhtough he’s clearly able to communicate affectionately with his dogs, Egor has real problems handling his relationship with Dasha but his feelings are palpable and he is clearly drawn to her physically. And although Nikolai seems to rule the roost, Egor’s latent anger eventually rears up again when he’s  pushed to the limits. And it’s the animal activist who finally set the cat amongst the pigeons in a very well-thought out and imaginative plotline that has tragic consequences. MT
CORE OF THE WORLD won the Grand Prix and Best actor awards at the Kinotavr festival in Sochi, and is now screening during RUSSIAN FILM WEEK 2018
https://youtu.be/6dCINvqGnuk

 

Hamada (2018) *** IDFA 2018

Dir.: Eloy Dominguez Seren; Documentary; Sweden/Germany/Norway 2018, 88min.

Director-writer Eloy Dominguez Seren (No Cow on the Ice) raises the profile of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic in this vibrantly passionate documentary shot mainly in the Tindouf refugee Camp in Algeria.

In 1975, when Franco was on his last legs, Spain gave up some North African colonies, and Morocco (300 000 citizens entered the old colony) and Mauritania claimed the territory. However, they did not concede self-government to the Sahrawis, as they were mandated by the UN. The resulting conflict between Morocco and the refugees in their own country lasted for over forty years, with Morocco bombing the Sahrawis with Napalm in 1976, causing a humanitarian crisis as the homeless and afflicted fled to Algeria.

HAMADA follows teenagers Sidahmed and Zaara in their fruitless search for work in the self-governed camp. Sidemeh is rather a restless young. He makes some money repairing cars and radios but finds the work unsatisfying. He also lacks patience, and efforts to teach Zaara to drive soon run out of steam. He’d really like to emigrate to Spain, like everyone in the camp. But this seems like a pipe-dream and none of the others have managed to get a Visa, and Spain does not recognise the SADR or his passport. Zaara can’t get a stable job either and has no qualifications, although she is certainly better educated than Sidameh, who only knows one European country (Spain). Zaara seems more intelligent.

So Sidameh starts to plan an illegal passage to Spain, with his friend Tasalam. Meanwhile the more down to earth Zaara focuses on a potential marriage partner chatting things through with her friends. Both girls are emancipated, and expect their future husbands to leave them in peace, to live their own lives. Zaara still wants to be taught to drive, seeing this as a vital asset in the job market. Sidameh finally sells his car to finance his passage to Spain. When he eventually sets off, the convoy of cars he is travelling in, gets stuck in the desert. And the grass is far from green when he reaches his destination. Homeless and without any proper qualifications, contacts or viable work skills he seems surprises that he is treated with disdain.  Instead of focuses on his own failings, he blames his racial identity: “people make you feel inferior, just because you are an Arab”. Clearly the grass wasn’t greener. Zaara has a better and more philosophical frame of mind and soon finds this leads her to improve her chances of success. And with the help of her kind friend Tasalam, she even learns to drive.

Seren’s observational study certainly succeeds in bringing this forgotten conflict to our attention, letting the teenagers speak for themselves. The local climate and primitive conditions make life tough and extremely challenging. Sidameh is seen rebuilding a house for a family of eight, whose home has collapsed during the rainy season. Spain becomes a much longed for dream destination and their all obsess about finding this ‘Holy Grail’.  But these down-trodden people also reflect on their past: when one of them finds a fishing rod in an abandoned house, it soon emerges that the Sahrawis once made a living from fishing, before being forced into the central plains of the arid desert. MT

WORLD PREMIERE | IDFA 2018 | 15 NOVEMBER 2018

Suspiria (2018) ***

Dir.: Luca Guadagnino, Cast: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth, Cloe Grace Moretz, Lutz Ebersdorf; USA/Italy 2018, 152 min.

Luca Guadagnino follows his much praised Call Me By Your Name with a rather confused and overloaded vision of Dario Argento’s horror classic, using the original script by Argento and Daria Nicoldi, re-written by David Kajganich (A Bigger Splash). 

Unfortunately the Kajganich has added new material, setting the narrative in Berlin at the height of the Baader Meinhof crisis. A running time of 152 minutes also tests the audience severely.

In the dank Autumn of 1977, Susie Bannian (Johnson) arrives from Ohio at the famous Dance School TANZ, near the Wall in West Berlin. There is an unsettling atmosphere at the academy, the two leading teachers Blanc (a luminously sinuous Swinton) and Markos are fighting for supremacy, the conflict a battle of life and death. Susie soon becomes the lead dancer, relegating Patricia (Moretz) and Sara (Goth) to the lower echelons of the troupe.

When dancers start to disappear, the sinister infighting turns more and more bloody. Enter Dr. Joseph Klemperer (Swinton in a miraculous double act spoof), a relict from WWII, who is still searching for his Jewish wife sent to the Concentration Camp Teresienstadt, where she was killed. The psychiatrist feels deep guilt over her death. As the nastiness at the Academy unfurls, a Witches’ Coven is uncovered and Klemperer’s role becomes more and more murky – in tune with this muddled affair. 

DoP Sayonbhu Mukdeeprom creates magnificently macabre images, but in the long run this is not enough to save Suspiria from emerging an awkward mixture of two films, both competing for our attention. The acting is also mixed, with Swinton being head and shoulders above the rest (quite literally) in achieving visionary eminence. In the end the German history lesson loses out to the horror strand, but the brake comes too late. A needless remake where less would have been so much more. AS

NOW ON RELEASE NATIONWIDE FROM 16 NOVEMBER | VENICE FILM FESTIVAL 2018

Russian Film Week 2018

Russian Film Week is back for the third year running. From 25 November to 2 December the event will take place in London at BFI Southbank, Regent Street Cinema, Curzon Mayfair and Empire Leicester Square before heading to Edinburgh, Cambridge and Oxford.

The eight-day festival celebrates a selection of award-winning new dramas, documentaries and shorts, bridging the gap between Russian cinematography and the West with the aim of building bridges rather than enforcing tensions. The festival will culminate in the Golden Unicorn Awards. This year’s selection has certainly upped its game and comes thoroughly recommended. Particularly worth seeing is Rashomon re-make THE BOTTOMLESS BAG, a magical mystery drama, in black and white.

Russian Film Week opens with Avdotya Smirnova’s prize-winning historical drama THE STORY OF AN APPOINTMENT (prize for Best Script at Russia’s main national film festival Kinotavr). Based on real life events, it follows an episode from Leo Tolstoy’s life. The opening night will be held at the largest screen in the UK – Empire IMAX Leicester Square.

Other seasonal highlights include Kirill Serebrennikovэ’s Cannes awarded biographical film LETO (Summer) and SOBIBOR, Russia’s foreign-language film Oscar submission 2018. The film is the debut feature for actor-turned-director Konstantin Khabensky, and focuses on events in the titular Nazi extermination camp during 1943. The film also stars Christopher Lambert and Karl Frenzel. Danila Kozlovsky, known for his role in BBC series McMafia (2018) and numerous Russian blockbusters, will present his debut project, sports drama TRENER (‘Coach’).

The festival c Golden Unicorn Awards ceremony, including the Best Foreign Film About Russia. British actor Brian Cox will head up the jury. The awards ceremony is in aid of Natalia Vodianova’s Naked Heart Foundation.

Russian Film Week and the Golden Unicorn was founded in 2016 by Filip Perkon with a group of volunteers on a non-profit basis. From 2017 the festival supported by the Russian Ministry of Culture, Synergy University, and the BFI.

RUSSIAN FILM WEEK 2018 | 25 NOVEMBER – 2 DECEMBER 2018

Death of a Poetess (2017) **** UK Jewish Film Festival 2018

Dir.: Efrat Mishori, Dana Goldberg; Cast: Smira Saraya, Evgenia Dodina, Y. Goldberg; Israel 2018, 77 min.

Poet Efrat Mishori and filmmaker Dana Goldberg’s DEATH OF A POETESS is a hauntingly realistic but depressing portrait of their vision of Israel today. On Tel Aviv’s fabulous beachside two women meet. One has planned her own suicide,  the other one will soon be the victim of a prejudiced police force, who take a dim view of the local Arab population. The bottom line is that this could be any European capital.

Lenny Sadeh (Dodina) is in her fifties and may have lost a daughter. She is adamant about ending her life. She has written some poetry, for the first time in her life, and gives the titular manuscript to a publisher. She then orders a white bathrobe, and makes sure it is in the shop on the chosen day: “There’s no tomorrow” she tells the assistant, who urges her to reflect on her decision. She then takes a taxi to the beach, where she meets Yasmin (Saraya), a young Arab nurse, who happens to be a lesbian, taking a night off from her elderly husband and young daughter. The women talk. Sensing that something is wrong, the nurse follows her into the bathroom, where Lenny has left her ring and other valuables. Yasmin than walks outside, and sees Sadeh heading for the water.

The title is the film’s intended spoiler. The interactions of Lenny’s last day are intercut with a diabolic police interrogation of Yasmin, by an Israeli investigator (Y. Goldberg), who, like the taxi driver, plays himself. We only hear the policeman’s voice, which makes the atmosphere even more frightening. He insists that Yasmin murdered Lenny for the diamond ring, and does not believe a word Yasmin says in her defence. Finally, Yasmin succumbs, telling him that she murdered for greed; she even makes up the details of the murder; even though, in the next scene, her forced confession is refuted.

DoP Asi Oren has conjured up melancholic black-and-white images of Tel Aviv, his close-ups in the interrogation room are masterful, and the doom-laden atmosphere remains til the final scene. Dodina and Saraya are brilliant, they have much more in common the culture that divides them. The directors show a vision of Israeli society not unlike that of Germany during Fascism: greedy and deceitful. The policemen play on these prejudices. A sad lament on daily life in the State of Israel, a tiny Jewish country surrounding by a mass of Muslim nations. And they are fiercely protective of the only place they can call their home. AS

UK JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL 2018 | 8-22 NOVEMBER 2018

    

Budapest Noir (2017) *** UK Jewish Film Festival 2018

Dir.: Eva Gardos; Cast: Krisztian Kolovratnik, Reka Tenki, Janos Kulka, Adel Kovats, Franziska Töröcsik; Hungary 2017, 94 min.

Veteran director Eva Gardos (An American Rhapsody) serves up a slick but conventional noir spoof that offers decent entertainment despite its cliche-ridden script. There are too many holes in the narrative, the brothel scenes are voyeuristic, and without any knowledge of the complex Hungarian history of the era, audiences will find it hard to understand what’s going on. But BUDAPEST NOIR looks simply stunning and serves as a perceptive study of Hungarian fascism and Anti-Semitism.

In October 1936, Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Gömbös, had died of cancer in Munich. His body was received in Budapest with full military honours (Gömbös had boasted about his fascist credentials). Crime reporter Zsigmond Gordon (Kolovratnik) meets an enigmatic young woman in a restaurant, who tells the waiter that the journalist will pick up her bill. When he finds her note to him, promising to pay back the money, the womanising journalist’s interest is aroused – only to discover her murdered a few days later. But when her body then disappears from the morgue, Gordon makes his own inquiries against the advice of the authorities. He finds out that the girl in question, Fanny (Töröcsik), is the daughter of Andras Szöllosy, a wealthy Jewish coffee importer with links to the government. He converted to Catholicism, and started a lucrative business with Nazi Germany. Helped by his on/off girl friend Krisztina (Tenki), a photographer who had just had an assignment in a German camp (sic), Gordon finds out that Fanny’s father had driven his daughter into prostitution, forbidding her to see her Jewish boyfriend, because of his fears for her future. But after Fanny had become pregnant in a high-class brothel, her situation deteriorated. And when Gordon finally catches up with Fanny’s parents, he mother Irma (Kovats) reacts dramatically.

Sad to say, Hungarian Fascists were as brutal as their Germans counterparts. The ruling Regent, Admiral Horthy, felt superior to Hitler, who had spent a decade in a dosshouse. Gömbös, Horthy’s Prime Minister, wanted two nations to be more closely allied, whilst Horthy only supported Hitler without reservations after the outbreak of WWII, when Hungarian troops fought on the side of the Axis.

It is ironic that Horthy was deposed by Hitler when it came to the deportation of the 400 000 Hungarian Jews in 1944 – it turned out that the Hungarian fascists (Pfeilkreuzler) and the population as a whole, did not share Horthy’s reservation, they enthusiatiscally assisted the Germans to send the Jews to the death camps.

There are scenes of open Anti-Semitism in Budapest Noir: in one scene, a bar singer croons a song composed by a Jew, and some Anti-Semites in the audience attack him. Gordon stops them, but the real fighter is his Krisztina, who leaves him for London, to show her death camp images in an exhibition “because over there are people who really care”. The Szöllosy’s family history is typical for Jews of the region: many had converted to Catholicism, trying to deny their Jewish heritage, and, like Fanny’s father, would marry their offspring to anybody but a Jew. Gordon represents the cynical by-stander, who is only after a good story, he does not mind taking a beating, but is totally non-committed on a personal and political level. Strangely enough, Budapest Noir is – in spite of its obvious faults – a mirror of a society where the points for the future genocide are being put in place. AS

SCREENING DURING UK JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL 2018 |

The Accountant of Auschwitz (2018) Netflix

Dir.: Matthew Shoychet; Documentary; Canada 2018, 80 min.

Oskar Gröning, known as the accountant of Auschwitz, lived out a peaceful existence in his hometown of Lüneburg in Lower Saxony for 70 years  – unperturbed by guilt or singled out for his actions as an active member of the SS of Auschwitz. He would eventually get his comeuppance in 2015.

In his debut documentary Canadian director/writer Matthew Shoychet chronicles the 2015 trial against Gröning, featuring testimonies from the defendant himself and the surviving victims and the last living judge from the Nuremberg trial and Holocaust deniers.

Born in 1921 into a nationalist family, Oskar Gröning was unremarkable but seized the opportunity of a lifetime when he joined the SS during the Second World War. Employed at Auschwitz, he was responsible for overseeing all the artefacts stolen from Jewish internees as soon as they arrived at the Polish camp. The goods trains would turn up laden with their human cargo and Gröning would be present and correct on the infamous “Rampe”, where Dr. Joseph Mengele, the Angel of Death prepared to make the macabre decision as to who would be gassed immediately, or who could be of some use as a worker for a limited period. Gröning witnessed some gruesome events: when a mother turned up with her suitcase hiding a her baby, the child’s crying gave them both away to the guards and both were immediately executed. “The crying stopped” was all Gröning had to say.

But the survivors’ reactions could not have been more different: Bill Glied (who died in 2018) even considered that a certain form of justice had been done. But Eva Morez, who survived the deadly twin experiments of Joseph Mengele (together with her sister Miriam), expressed extreme gratitude to Gröning, offering him a hug.

Benjamin Ferenc, Judge at the Nuremberg Trials, explains why the outcome of this trial is so important and why there should never be a statute of limitations for genocide. He explains how the German justice systems had absolutely no vested interest in prosecuting SS men and other guards who kept the concentration camps going. Sure, they were little cogs in the death machine, but without them, it would have ground to a halt.

The SS had around 800, 000 men in 1945. And although it was declared a “Criminal Association” only around 200,000 the members were vetted,  a mere of these 6000 prosecuted, with just 124 life sentence given out. The judges had a vested interest in making sure the whole affair was kept low-key, lest they themselves be implicated. In the end Oskar Gröning was found guilty and sentenced to four years’ imprisonment as an accessory to murder in thousands of cases. He lost all his appeals but died before he started his sentence in 2018.

The Accountant makes for sobering viewing: once again it shows how the huge majority of German civilians of the time actively supported the concentration camps by keeping ‘schtum’ and shielding those involved in the atrocities. Even today films like Luke HOlland’s Final Account (2020) show how Germans turned a blind eye to the Holocaust, some actively condoning it. AS

NOW ON NETFLIX.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside Mossad: Imperfect Spies *** (2018)

Dir: Duki Dror | Doc Israel | 90′ 2018

Mossad (the National Intelligence Service of Israel) has long been regarded as Gold Standard among spy networks in a world that continues to be fascinated by international espionage. Since the First World World spies have been glamourised and vilified. Their tales have spawned a rich vein of cinema from Noir dramas to documentaries and TV series, the most recent and spine-chilling KILLING EVE has enthralled BBC audiences nationwide.

Here, award-winning documentarian Duki Dror steps behind the secret curtain to unveil insider stories from former Mossad agents – some of them as recent as last year. But it’s important to remember that nowadays these functionaries lead quite normal lives aside from their intelligence activities. And although often viewed as exciting a great deal of their work is routine and procedural – like most people they respond with relish to share their stories of adventure and derring-do.

What emerges here is both intriguing and unsettling. Back in 1960 Mossad rose to the public’s attention when an agency team led by former intelligence officer and politician Rafi Eitan, now 91, captured Nazi arch villain Adolf Eichmann and put him on trial in Israel to answer for his Holocaust crimes in a court of Law. Naturally, no-one objected to the move. But since those glory day, Mossad has simply dispatched a number of high profile terrorists considered a threat to the national interest, without a fair trial. This spirit taking the Law into their own hands has been echoed in the recent events in Salisbury, where a former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter were famously poisoned on British soil, purportedly by the Russian themselves. Meanwhile, Eitan reveals an incident where an one of his compatriots was discovered to have been selling secrets to an enemy Arab country. He was kidnapped, assassinated, and his body was dropped over from a place somewhere in the Mediterranean. Another Mossad leader, Zvi Zamir also confesses with relish his time spent in service. He also refers to The Gatekeepers (2012) another documentary highlighting the activities of Israel’s other intelligence agency Shin Bet,, who famously failed to protect the Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin who was assassinated by right-winger Yigal Amir.

Scripted by Yossi Melman and Chen Shelach (both from Zero Days) Inside the Mossad is an engrossing and succinctly made human interest story. MT

SCREENING DURING UK JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL 2018 | 8 – 27 NOVEMBER 2018

For Vagina’s Sake (2017) London Korean Film Festival 2018 ***

Dir: Kim Bo-ram | S. Korean Doc | 73′

FOR VAGINA’S SAKE takes a coyly humorous approach to a bodily function that happens to half the world’s population. A woman will lose over 10 litres of blood during her reproductive years. And while in North East Asia menstruation is still often seen as an embarrassing occurrence, Dutch women treat periods much more pragmatically according to this worthwhile but rather scatty South Korean documentary debut from Kim Bo-ram.

Boram has certainly done her research and uncovered a wealth of information about this vital bodily function, uncovering startling facts from the Dark Ages and followed it through with up to date political developments. It’s a shame then that her film is hamstrung by its choppy editing, flipping backwards and forward and flitting around like a butterfly on heat, it eventually becomes exasperating in the final scenes. It’s also focused almost entirely on women in their twenties and early thirties in Holland and South Korea.

A dinner discussion in Holland reveals that young Dutch woman go for basic applicator-free protection, while in South Korea some are still scared to insert a tampon (afraid that it may get lost) in a country where periods are still taboo and anatomical ignorance is frankly shocking. We then meet an 80 year old Korean woman whose first period came after she marred at 18, and who then went on to produce five or six daughters. In those days sanitary towels consisted of natural cotton balls wrapped in cotton material. Tied with strings round the woman’s waste they often fell down, causing horrific embarrassment. And this humiliation and fear connected with staining a public seat or losing a pad in the street is still a woman’s worst nightmare today.

There follows a potted historical and religious background which verges on the macabre (if not downright misogynistic). We learn than ancient Japan women were thrown into communal pits of menstrual blood and allowed to drown, whereas in China those who gave birth would apparently go to Hell (?). Menstrual blood was considered a puny female attempt at producing sperm.

The second part of the documentary focuses on politics developments and taxes that apply to feminine hygiene products, with a discussion on the contemporary developments in sustainable protection (material pads, sea-foam, and an overlong diatribe about the menstrual cup and its advantages.

691471968.jpg

For Vagina’s Sake uses a mixture of interviews and delicately-drawn animations to put its information across and is both subjective and observational. Graphic images dovetail with lighter more frivolous hand-draughted visuals. Fast-paced and fluffy and rather than serious and analytical – the film becomes more inspirational and empowering for its contributors as it presses on. Certainly a worthwhile film to show to teenagers and students from all nationalities who may be suffering in silence, rather than learning about a shared and very natural female experience. MT

SCREENING DURING THE London Korean FILM FESTIVAL 2018

Microhabitat (2017) **** London Korean Film Festival 2018

Dir.: Jeon Go-woon; Cast: Esom, Ahn jae-hong, Choi Deok-moon, Kang Jin-ah, Kim kuk-hee, Kim Jae-hwa, Lee Sung wook; South Korea 2017, 104 min.

Jeon Go-woon’s spirited road movie sees a city girl determined to keep her independence while her friends cow-tow to tradition in contemporary Seoul. The original title ‘Little Princess’ better describes this thoughtful story of materialism versus spiritualism.

Miso (a brilliant Lee Som) may be getting on a bit, but can’t afford to heat her tiny studio flat, on her salary as a housemaid. When the rent goes up together with the price of cigarettes, she makes a dramatic decision: to move out and indulge in her favourite brand of whisky, and to keep on smoking. But what price freedom? Her boyfriend Hans-sol (jae-hong) lives in a male-only dormitory, so she can’t go there – they even have to give up having sex. Schlepping around with her belongings, like a bag lady, Miso asks her former band members for help. First off is ambitious office worker Moon-yeong (Jin-ah). She is curt and unapologetic: “I am too irritable to lie with someone”. Next is former vocalist Roki-i (Deok-moon), who now lives with his old-fashioned parents. His mother is keen on the idea. Clearly Miso is the just the right match for her son: “she can clean, and that’s all a woman needs to do”. Roki-i’s certainly keen on Miso. But she can’t deal with being hemmed in with his family, so once again it’s time to move on. The next port of call is her girlfriend Hyeon-jeong (Kuk-hee) whose husband tells his wife “to shut up and cook”. And so it goes on.

Go-woon’s refreshing debut is very much a riff on the traditional versus the modern way of South Korean life. It contemplates the difficulties and isolation of the spiritual way of life, in contrast to the more easier and socially acceptable option of materialism. Freedom may be more nourishing for the soul, but is tough on the body: It’s all very well following your heart in your twenties, but the process becomes tougher as the years go by, and when old age looms around the corner. Esom’s former band-members had their flings with music in their twenties, but they have given up on an inner life, swapping it for opportunism – with different degrees of success.

DoP Tae-soo Kim’s images of Seoul are just breathtaking: the city glitters at night, but during daytime it looks rather drab –  just like Miso’s former friends. Shot in fifteen days, with a rather loose script – Go-woon wanted to convey the humour and absurdity during of the shoot. Microhabitat is a little gem: fast moving yet imbued with gentle insight. This intimate picture of a woman’s determination to follow her dreams at all costs is full of humour and irony. AS

MICROHABITAT OPENED THE LONDON KOREAN FILM FESTIVAL 2018

    

  

London Korean Film Festival 2018

Launching its 13th edition, the London Korean Film Festival (LKFF2018) is back with a full programme of films and special events at various arthouse cinemas in the London area. 
Korea is regularly in the world news cycle of late due to some tense international political machinations. This year’s festival moves from this global outlook to an intimate view of the day-to-day lives and struggles of ordinary people. The Regent Street cinema will play host to this year’s Gala Premiere 1 November with Microhabitat Jeon Go-woon’s award-winning drama that follows the trials and tribulations of a female city worker in Seoul. There will also be a chance to see The Return that premiered at Rotterdam Film Festival 2018, and Hong Sang-soo’s Locarno 2018 Best Actor winner Hotel By the River. 
Celebrating its 13th Anniversary LKFF runs from 1- 14 November in London before taking highlights around the country with its annual UK Tour, the festival will feature an in-depth Special Focus entitled A Slice of Everyday Life, along with an exciting mix of UK and International premieres, guests and events across a diverse set of strands; Cinema Now, Women’s Voices, Indie Firepower, Contemporary Classics, Artists Video, Animation and Shorts.

KOREAN FILM FESTIVAL 2018 | PROGRAMME 

Artes Mundi 8 Award | National Museum Cardiff

THE NATIONAL MUSEUM in Cardiff is playing host to the UK’s largest international art prize Artes Mundi. From the 26 October until 24 February 2019 the exhibition showcases the five finalists competing for this coveted award.

Thai auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul has joined the list with his latest work INVISIBILITY, a short film melding cinema with contemporary art and riffing on the signature themes that permeated Cemetery of Splendour (2016) and his 2006 debut Syndromes and a Century. Also short-listed for this year’s Artes Mundi award is French-Moroccan artist and filmmaker, Bouchra Khalili. Her short film Twenty-Two Hours took part in this year’s BFI London Film Festival. 

In Twenty-Two Hours, Bouchra Khalili (left) considers how celebrated French writer Jean Genet was invited by the Black Panther Party to secretly visit them in in the U.S in 1970. The film features Doug Miranda, a former prominent member of the Black Panther Party. Echoing BlacKKKlansman, the film questions how we might transmit the historical voice of resistance into the present.

This year’s selection has been distilled from over 450 entries, from 86 countries. The judging committee includes Anthony Shapland, creative director of Cardiff’s g39 gallery. Artes Mundi is a charity founded in 2002.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apichatpong’s work deals with memory, personal politics, and social issues in his native Thailand. With over 40 films under his belt, and still only 48, he is a Cannes Film Festival regular, where he won the Palme d’Or in 2010 for his fantasy drama Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, and the Jury prize for Tropical Malady in 2004. Cemetery of Splendour (2015/above) was selected to World premiere in the arthouse Un Certain Regard sidebar, and his love story Blissfully Yours won the UCR award in 2002. His surreal and enigmatic open-ended outings evoke the essence of his homeland through mysterious narratives that often remain unsolved, and are best savoured rather than explained. These fables often have a political undercurrent that we can take or leave, depending on our mood. The past and the present co-exist, and while the focus is general Thai history and folklore, the features have a universal quality exploring love and loss, tradition and the supernatural. His rich reveries explore dreams, nature, and sexuality, alongside Western perceptions of Asia. His recent outing Ten Years in Thailand (2018) is a collaboration between three of his compatriots, and premiered during this year’s Sitges – Catalonia Film Festival.

Experimental in nature, Mysterious Object at Noon (2000) is a film of captivating beauty that blends facts and fiction in a story passed from one person to another, Blissfully Yours (2002)is a languid affair that sees two illegal Burmese immigrants enjoys a leisurely afternoon at a remote rural backwater, in the politically charged location between Thailand and Myanmar). One of them is suffering from the after affects of hiding from the authorities in a septic tank. Tropical Malady (2004) sees a love affair gently blossom in the twilight zone between reality and the spirit world, and Uncle Boonmee (2010) also deals in this dreamlike world when a dying man communes with his family, past and present, roaming to the north of Thailand where spends his final days in the birthplace of his first life. Syndromes and a Century (2006) and psychic drama Cemetery of Splendour (2016) both deal with patients and their carers in a rural hospital setting in lush jungle. Bangkok and a countryside clinic is also the backdrop to the unconsummated love story Syndromes and a Century, one of  Weerasethakul’s more accessible films. Music plays a vital role in his features. More often than not, his lulling melodies and soft refrains complement the dreamlike narratives that ask us to abandon ourselves to reverie – and go with the flow. In Mekong Hotel (2012) guitar music accompanies a shifting tale of fact and fiction between a vampire and her daughter in a hotel situated by the Mekong River. Ambient sound in also a used to recreate the intensely sensuous nature of the early scenes of Syndromes and a Century. Traditional folks songs also feature in this autobiographical work that explores the director’s early days at home with his medic parents.

Moroccan-French artist Bouchra Khalili works with film, video and mixed media. Her focus is on ethnic and political minorities examining the complex relationship between the individual and the community. She is also a Professor of Contemporary Art at The Oslo National Art Academy and a founding member of La Cinematheque de Tanger, an artist-run non-profit organisation based in Tangiers, Morocco. She was the recipient of the Radcliffe Institute Fellowship from Harvard University (2017-2018). Her latest film installation is Twenty-Two Hours (2018).

The three other short-listed artists are: Anna Boghiguian, Otobong Nkanga and Trevor Paglen. The prize will be awarded in January 2019.

NATIONAL MUSEUM CARDIFF | 26 OCTOBER – 24 JANUARY 2019  ARTES MUNDI

 

 

Made in Prague | Czech Cinema 100th Anniversary

This October marks the 100th year anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia. The celebrations begin with an opening night gala screening of Jan S. Kolár’s silent epic St Wenceslas from 1929; accompanied by a musical ensemble specialising in medieval polyphony.

The 22nd MADE IN PRAGUE Festival showcases the best of contemporary Czech cinema cherry picked from international film festivals’ circuit. It features Barefoot by the Oscar-winning director Jan “Kolya” Sverak; Insects, the legendary filmmaker Jan Svankmajer’s swansong; the UK premiere of Martin Sulik’s drama The Interpreter starring the Oscar-winning director of Closely Observed Trains Jiri Menzel and German star of Toni Erdmann Peter Simonischek, fresh from the 2018 Berlinale. Also screening will be Olmo Omerzu’s Winter Flies, winner of the 2018 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Director’s Prize. Complemented by Vit Klusak’s The White World According to Daliborek, a hilarious stylised documentary portrait of a Czech neo-nazi, and Cervena, Olga Sommerova’s portrait of a vivacious 92-year-old world famous opera singer, the mixture of fiction and documentaries with accompanying debates and Q&A showcases the best of Czech cinema mapping the country’s past and current achievements.

MADE IN PRAGUE | Czech Centre London and other venues across the city, including the Barbican, Design Museum, Regent Street Cinema, Tate Modern, UCL, plus others.

 

Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988) Viennale 2021

Dir: Terence Davies | UK Drama | 83′

Davies’s epic, musical celebration of the working class evokes a late 40s to late 50s cultural space. This was  soon to be replaced by more individualist post 1963 space where there existed, in certain areas of Liverpool, communal values and social cohesion. All that celebration of feeling (Distant Voices, Still Lives is a visceral and passionate work) comes hurtling back with vivid memories of a lost culture. It wasn’t all good, nor that bad, just considerably more honest and trusting. A lot of life was regimented, ordered and repressive yet authority had still managed to resist the effects of intense commercialisation. 

By 1988 we could look back wistfully at the better, and more authentic, aspects of those far distant voices and still lives – with “still” meaning organically centred or fixed by memory – and wonder what the film was saying about us in the present. By the eighties some of us sensed that society had become a hard and rapaciously driven market culture. 

Now in 2018 we can more thoughtfully analyse, to the point of mourning, the family and neighbourhood values that Distant Voices, Still Lives both celebrates and critiques. Those values may be now corroded, or even lost to us (Brexit is looming) but such a deep expression of the communal found perhaps its greatest, and most un-patronising, expression in Terence Davies’s eloquent film. Alongside such British films as Powell’s A Canterbury Tale, Losey’s The Servant and Anderson’s If…it’s a masterpiece and a landmark picture about English identity, class, aspiration, emotion and power. 

There is no linear narrative. The story is simple. A family’s reaction to a tyrannical father (brilliantly played by Pete Postlethwaite.). His death. The mourning. New life for the family as they grow up, marry and have children. The celebration of that fact. Growing old. The vicissitudes of extended family life where patterns of domestic abuse are dolefully repeated. Things forgiven. Put up with. Then, from the women, the fighting back. Whilst the men remain both complacent and shaken.

The film consists of two parts with the Still Lives section being filmed two years after the Distant Lives half. It’s a cyclic memory film indebted to Alain Resnais (minus the cerebral) and with a warmth that we get from Jean Renoir (all the performances of Distant Voices, Still Lives feel more ‘lived’ than acted.) Impressions, fragments, epiphanies, words and gestures are rigorously bonded by two musical soundtracks. 

We have the music of popular culture, such as O Mein Papa, Love is a Many Splendid Thing, blues, classical art and folk song (O Waly Waly) Vaughan Williams’s 3rd symphony, choral music, radio comedy and the shipping forecast amongst others.

That eclectic line-up functions as both counterpoint and relief to the song repertoire of ordinary people at home or in pubs singing their hearts out. Such popular songs as Taking a Chance on Love, I Love the Ladies and Dreamboat. Yet not just hearts but also minds are revealed as Terence Davies skilfully uses song with a dualism to both masquerade and expose his characters’ thoughts. 

Take the moment when actor Angela Walsh sings her solo “I Wanna be Around to pick up the pieces when somebody breaks your heart” it’s especially affecting when you realise she is unhappily married. None of the community singing ever becomes mannered or sentimental. Its pitch-perfect delivery keeps delving into character motivation – raw, soulful and compassionate utterances: collective and individual needs are voiced and move the film’s people on, in time and space, through beautifully shot and composed scenes. (Interestingly the fierce father never gets to sing with a group. His only lone singing moment is when he’s shown cleaning the coat of a pony in a barn, watched by a secret audience – his children when very young.) The musical genres of opera, operetta and the MGM musical (adored by Davies) giving his film the structure of a hybrid, autobiographical ballad. And complementing this extended song (both joyful and heartbreaking) are some masterly tracking shots.

One breathtaking example is one where a daughter weeps for her dead father and the camera moves along into darkness, followed by lit candles and the Catholic family together celebrating Christmas. States of death, belief, innocence and forgiveness are effortlessly trailed in front of you like a cine-poem (Terence Davies greatly admires T. S. Eliot.) Watching it again I thought of the working class voices of the pub scene in The Waste Land and flash forwarded to Davies’s 2008 Liverpool documentary Of Time and The City where Davies himself reads excerpts from Four Quartets as his camera tracks over the waterfront’s Royal Liver building at night.

I return to the year and month the film was released – September 1988. My father died aged 79 in May of that year. I wrote a short film script about him. It was called A Box of Swan and was accepted and broadcast on BBC2 in October 1990. Pete Postlethwaite was cast in the film as the older son having to deal with the funeral arrangements of his father. 

My own real father wasn’t like the violent man portrayed by Postlethwaite in Distant Voices, Still Lives. But when I witnessed the domestic violence depicted in Davies’s film I thought of my long dead Uncle Harry. He was a morbidly religious man and did what the father did in the film – beat his daughter and wife with a broom in the coal cellar. I thought of my poor Aunt Edie. And not just how art, as the cliché goes, imitates life but can tighten your memory’s hold on the cruelty of real actions. 

Yet cinema can also have a powerful redemptive charge. And Davies’s courageous film is of that high order of filmmaking. I don’t know if he knows, along with Eliot, the poetry of W.B.Yeats but the working class rituals and habits of Distant Voices, Still Lives make me think of lines from his poem A Prayer for my Daughter.

                                  “How but in custom and ceremony 

                                    Are innocence and beauty born?” 

You don’t have to know any of this poetry to appreciate the film, for it has its moving and cinematic own. And is, without me really needing to say, wonderfully acted by all concerned, a technical triumph (now beautifully re-mastered) very sad, very funny and resolutely affirmative – once seen it’s unforgettable. Alan Price©2018     

TERENCE DAVIES RETROSPECTIVE | VIENNALE 2021 | 21-31 OCTOBER

Austrian Films at the BFI London Film Festival 2018

 

 

AUSTRIAN FILMS BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL

Austrian cinema is always a worthwhile presence at the BFI London Film Festival, and this year is no exception with Sudabeh Mortezai’s streetwise drama JOY featuring in the main competition.

JOY (2018) Tuesday 16 & Wednesday 17 October

Sudabeh Mortezai (Macondo, LFF 2014) presents a vital and hugely affecting drama that tackles the vicious cycle of sex trafficking in modern Europe.

ANGELO (2018) Wednesday 17 & Thursday 18 October

The powerful story of Angelo Soliman, a forced Europeanised African who makes his way through Viennese society in the early 18th century without ever belonging.

STYX (2018) Thursday 11 & Saturday 13 October

A professional woman’s solo sailing journey turns into a deadly serious ethical dilemma in this unusual and taut political allegory. (*Germany-Austria co-production)

TWENTY-TWO HOURS  (2018) Tuesday 16 October

Bouchra Khalili’s meditation on revolutionary histories considers the poet Jean Genet’s secret 1970 visit to the United States at the invitation of the Black Panther Party. *Germany-USA-Norway-Austria co-production Screened in conjunction with PROMISED LANDS, directed by Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa. Austria-Germany-Uganda 2018. 19min

YOMEDDINE (2018) Thursday 18, Saturday 20 & Sunday 21 October

Egyptian filmmaker A.B. Shawky makes his feature debut with this utterly unique road movie which charts the friendship between a leper and a young orphan. *Egypt-Austria co-production

BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL 2018 | 10-21 OCTOBER 2018 

The Good Girls | Las Ninas Bien (2018)** Toronto Film Festival 2018

Dir.: Alejandra Marquez Abella; Cast: Ilse Salas, Flavio Medina, Paulina Gaitan; Mexico 2018, 93 min.

Alejandra Marquez Abella structurally flawed sophomore feature is an anthropologist’s dream: based on characters by Guadelupe Loaeza, a group of bitchy, upper-middle class Mexican wives who fight over the best caterer at the crowning of their entire existence: having Julio Iglesias for dinner. Led on by lead Sofia, the rest are mere cyphers and the episodic structure doesn’t help in keeping viewers engaged for the ninety minutes.

Sofia (Salas), loathes her South-American heritage: and sending her three children off to summer camp, she warns them “don’t hang out with Mexicans”. A European background is really all she and her competitors crave for. Sofia’s parties are real productions, and she seems to have married her husband Fernando (Medina) largely  because of his family’s Spanish heritage. Everything is a competition for Sofia, the smallest detail could lead to a loss of face amid her rivals. But we are in the early Eighties and the Mexican Peso suddenly bottoms out. As Sofia and her circle rely on imported goods, this is a major catastrophe. So when credit cards get refused politely and the servants don’t get paid, doom is imminent. To make matters worse, Sofia’s only real competitor, noveau-riche Ana Paula (Gaitan), is still quids in. Her default-position is resigned acceptance, but with the Peso tumbling further, even this seems to be too much.

Salas is always brilliant, cool and contained, she carries the film as much as she is able to. DoP Daniela Ludlow succeeds in conjuring up this lush environment of petty mini-me’s in meltdown, always keeps everything close and personal, despite the widescreen format. As a chickflick study of vanity and self-deceit this would be brilliant – as a feature it lacks emotional depth and an absorbing dramatic arc. AS

TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL | 6 – 16 SEPTEMBER 2018
 

Venice Film Festival 2018 | La Biennale

Alberto Barbera has announced a stunning line-up of highly anticipated new features and documentaries in celebration of this year’s 71st edition of Venice Film Festival which takes place on the Lido from 28 August until 8 September 2018. 30% of this year’s films are made by women which sounds more positive. Obviously the festival can only programme films offered for screening.

The festival kicks off on the 28th with a remastered 1920 version of THE GOLEM – HOW HE CAME TO BE (ab0ve) complete with musical accompaniment. This year’s festival opening film is Damien Chazelle’s biopic of Neil Armstrong FIRST MAN. There are 21 features and documentaries in the main competition which boasts the latest films from Olivier Assayas (a publishing drama DOUBLE LIVES stars Juliette Binoche), Jacques Audiard (THE SISTERS BROTHERS), Joel and Ethan Coen’s 6-part Western THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS, Brady Corbet’smusical drama VOX LUX; Alfonso Cuaron with ROMA; Luca Guadagnino’s SUSPIRIA sees Tilda Swinton playing 3 parts; Mike Leigh (PETERLOO), Yorgos Lanthimos with an 18th drama entitled THE FAVOURITE; Carlos Reygadas joins from his usual Cannes slot; and Julian Schnabel will present AT ETERNITY’S GATE a drama attempting to get inside the head of Vincent Van Gogh. Not to mention Laszlo Nemes’ Budapest WW1 drama NAPSZÁLLTA, a much awaited second feature and follow up to his Oscar winning Son of Saul.

The out of competition selection is equally exciting and thematically rich. There is Bradley Cooper’s directing debut A STAR IS BORN (left), Charles Manson-themed CHARLIE SAYS from Mary Herron; Amos Gitai’s A TRAMWAY IN JERUSALEM, and Zhang Yimou’s YING (SHADOW). And those whose enjoyed S Craig Zahler’s dynamite Brawl in Cell Block 99 will be pleased to hear that his DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE adds Mel Gibson to the previous cast of Jennifer Carpenter and Vince Vaughn. There will be an historic epic set in the time of the French Revolution: UN PEUPLE ET SON ROI features Gaspart Ulliel and Denis Lavant (who also stars in Rick Alverson’s Golden Lion hopeful THE MOUNTAIN) , and Amir Naderi’s MAGIC LANTERN which has the wonderful English talents of Jacqueline Bisset. And talking of England, Mike Leigh’s much gloated over historical epic PETERLOO finally makes it to the competition line-up

Documentary-wise there’s plenty to enjoy: Amos Gitai’s brief but timely A LETTER TO A FRIEND IN GAZA; Francesco Patierno’s CAMORRA which explores the infamous Italian organisation; Frederick Wiseman this time plunders Monrovia, Indiana for his source material; multi-award winning Russian documentarian Viktor Kossalkovsky will present his latest water-themed work AQUARELA; Ukrainian Sergei Loznitsa’s film for this year’s festival is PROCESS (he’s the Ukrainian answer to Michael Winterbottom in terms of his prodigious output) this time focusing on the myriad lies surrounding Stalinism.

Out of Competition there are also blasts from the past including a hitherto unseen drama directed and co-written by Orson Welles and his pal Oja Kodar, starring Peter Bogdanovich and John Huston; and Bosnian director Emir Kusturica is back after his rocky time On The Milky Road with EL PEPE, UNA VIDA SUPREMA. 

And Malaysian auteur Tsai Ming-liang also makes a welcome return to Venice with his drama YOUR FACE. A multi-award winning talent on the Lido, his 2013 Stray Dogs won the Special Grand Jury Prize and Vive l’Amour roared away with the Golden Lion in 1994 (jointly with Milcho Manchevski’s Pred dozhdot).

Venice has a been a pioneer of 3D and VR since the screening of GRAVITY which opened the festival in 2013 amid much mal-functioning of 3D glasses at the press screening, and this year’s VR features include an excerpt from David Whelan’s 1943: BERLIN BLITZ which will be released ithis Autumn. This VR showcase experience is an accurate retelling of the events which happened inside a Lancaster bomber during one of the most well documented missions of World War II using original cockpit audio recorded 75 years ago. The endeavour is expected to be released on the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Oculus Go, Google Daydream, Samsung Gear VR and Windows Mixed Reality platforms. MT

VENICE FILM FESTIVAL 2018 | 28 AUGUST – 9 SEPTEMBER 2018 

 

 

 

Maeve (1981) Mubi

Dir.: Pat Murphy; Cast: Mary Jackson, Trudy Kelly, John Keegan, Mark Mulholland, Brid Brennan, Liam Doyle; UK/Ireland/Australia 1981, 110 min.

Irish feminist filmmaker Pat Murphy is a unique voice in a male-dominated industry, rather like her titular heroine Maeve. Born in 1958, Pat has so far directed three features: Anne Devlin (1984); Nora (2000) and Tana Bana (2010), and one feature-length documentary. Challenging aesthetically and politically, her debut Maeve is an uncompromising piece of filmmaking with a rather enigmatic storyline.

Set during the ‘Troubles’, twenty-year old Maeve Sweeney (Jackson) has been working in London and goes back to her family home in Belfast for a holiday with her parents, Martin (Mulholland) and Eileen (Kelly), and younger sister Roisin (Brennan). Many of the issues with her boyfriend Liam (Keegan) will be played out to the full during the course of the narrative which jumps between past and the present where we first meet young Maeve in 1980. Feminism is all the rage in London where Maeve has got used to the new sense of freedom. Being back in Ulster with its provincial way of life and traditional attitudes take her back to her upbringing, and not always in a good way. Her sister is extremely conventional, and Liam and her parents keep to their traditional ways, embracing the ongoing Republican struggle. In a key scene, Maeve and Liam are looking down on Belfast from a hill, discussing female liberation and the past. Liam takes a Republican view and does not want to live in a country dominated by British rule. But Maeve disagrees: “You are talking about a false memory… the way you want to remember excludes me, I get remembered out of existence.” To which Liam retorts “But it’s better than living no history at all.”

A family outing does not help Maeve to identify with the Celtic mythology of supremacy, and in a pub she challenges Liam’s hard-core Provisional friends. But everything here is fragmented – her family have had to leave their original home in a Protestant district. But the “Troubles” are very much a part of life: Roisin is stopped after dark by British patrols, telling her sister about a near-rape by an occupying soldier. And the rumbling sound of gunfire is audible most nights.

Murphy tries to unpack her feelings rationally, but she sometimes fails to show how social memory and action are often concealed behind the myths and false memory of the past and present. Maeve’s newly found feminism is at odds with her heritage, and this romanticised struggle for the past is sometimes just an idealised way of returning to the comfort it gave then. It’s a storyline that very much resonates with the UK today, although without the violence.

The director challenges the ‘male gaze’ with a long, non-voyeuristic shot of the naked bodies of Maeve and her sister, inviting the audience to question traditional forms of degrading female bodies as objects of lust. DoP Robert Smith uses light to show the demarcation line between Maeve and the ones she has left behind. Overall Maeve is a very brave undertaking, even though melodrama and political history does not always sit in harmony. But Mary Jackson keeps everything together with a brilliant performance that combines fighting spirit and melancholic recognition of a Northern Irish reality which no longer makes her feel at home, or at ease.

NOW ON MUBI | Blu-ray, iTunes and Amazon Prime and the BFI 

The Eyes of Orson Welles (2018)

Dir: Mark Cousins | Doc | UK |

Devotees of the great Orson Welles will be delighted by another in-depth look into the world of the charismatic legend Orson Welles by British director Mark Cousins who shares photos, drawings and paintings that add another dimension to our existing knowledge of the Hollywood maverick’s talents to amuse. 

THE EYES OF ORSON WELLES plays out like a person to person love letter to narrated by its director director Mark Cousins, in his lilting Belfast burr, bringing him up to date on how the world has changed since his departure on 10 October 1985 at the age of only 70.

Orson Welles was not just an actor, director and writer known for his wide-ranging films, plays and creative endeavours, but a pioneering maverick who wasn’t afraid to stand apart from the crowd and champion his  ideals. He was a towering figure both physically and intellectually, so much so that  J Edgar Hoover added him to the US security list.

This is not the first time Cousins has adopted this style for his documentaries: What Is This Film Called Love? and I Am Belfast are similarly crafted and mark him out to be an engaging writer who 2017 book The Story Of Looking, The Eyes Of Orson Welles is a also epistolary in style. Initially commanding there are times when his didactic, stentorian tone feels a little too heavy-going and you long for a lighter touch to the way he engages enthusiastically with his subject.

But this must undoubtedly be one of the most encyclopaedic films – possibly the defiinitive biopic of the master as Cousins embarks with the blessing of Beatrice (Welles third daughter by Dolores del Rio) on a peripatetic odyssey enriched with photos, paintings – even Christmas cards – and archival footage charting Welles’ birthplace in Wisconsin in 1915 and on to Ireland, Paris, Morocco and Spain to mention a few countries visited in his lifetime

Orson may have been outspoken but he was also generous and public-spirited and took great interest in charity work and espoused old-fashioned ideas of chivalry – in common with the  character of Don Quixote (his unfinished film commenced shooting in 1957 but never came to fruition); he was a natural in his performances as Winston Churchill, Louis XVII, Michelangelo, Benjamin Franklin, Emperor Justinian and other great minds and leaders .

This is a mammoth undertaking which Cousins pulls off with his customary aplomb as he delves deeper and deeper into the life, loves and singular visual style of this intriguing genius. But in a sense there is a feeling that he only scratches the surface in just short of two hours.

Daughter Beatrice Welles makes her presence known but never outstays her welcome which seems to add a dimension that could have been more thoroughly explored. MT

NOW SCREENING AT DOCHOUSE COURTESY OF DOGWOOF AND OTHER VENUES NATIONWIDE FROM 17 AUGUST 2018

The Guest (2018) ***

Dir.: Duccio Chiarini; Cast: Daniele Parisi, Sylvia d’Amico, Mivia Marigliano, Sergio Peirattini, Daniele Natali, Thony, Anna Bellato; Italy 2018, 93 min.

Duccio Chiarini’s portrait of Italian middle-class malaise is familiar all over Western Europe. Thirtysomethings show a depressing lack of commitment – particularly the men. What starts as a romcom rapidly dives into melancholy meditation on modern life.

We meet wannabe write and occasional substitute teacher Guido (Parisi), naked between the legs of his girl friend Chiara (d’Amico). Clearly copulation has taken place, and Guido is looking for the burst condom. After finding it, Guido votes they should go for a baby, rather than the ‘morning after’ pill – knowing full well that Chiara is opposed to the idea: ”I have to have done something with my life before having a child”. And it’s true, neither of them has a good job, despite Chiara’s two MAs, her stint as a tour guide, and Guido’s book on Calvino, which is still waiting for publication. Nothing seems to work in their relationship either: the car is broken down, but there’s no money to repair it. And Guido’s mother (Marigliano) is still buying his underwear, as Chiara points out, although he’s pushing forty. Chiara is considering a decent offer in Canada but is unsure how to broach the topic.  And this is the beginning of the end of their relationship, because Guido suspects that Chiara is seeing another man.

The focus then changes to Guido, who becomes the hero: sofa-surfing with his parents and various friends, and stalking Chiara in the meantime. His mates aren’t faring any better. Dario (Natali) has fallen in love with another woman and is about to leave girl friend Roberta (Thony), a cardiologist. “We met via Tinder”, is Dario’s lame excuse, telling Guido to have a look at Chiara’s emails. Pietro and the pregnant Lucia (Bellato), are more negative than happy about their baby, and Lucia is competing with Guido for a literary grant. This is modern life, according to Guido’s mother: “You throw away, we mend”.

Guido and his generation see relationships and careers as transient. Self-obsessed, the men in particular, fail to grow up or even learn from their mistakes. Chiarini is an insightful observer, and DoP Baris Ozbicer’s camera finds always new angles for the emotional distress of the protagonists. Overall, the feature is more entertaining than philosophical, the director too well-meaning to produce anything with sharp edges. AS

LOCARNO FILM FESTIVAL 2018

 

 

The Producers (1968) | Bluray

Dir: Mel Brooks | Cast: Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Estelle Winwood | US Comedy | 90′

Mel Brooks’ debut feature is a flagrant  New York Jewish comedy so gross it is actually hilarious and hammy in the extreme – in the best tradition of American Burlesque. Set in Broadway is stars Zero Mostel as Max Bialystock a failing theatre producer forced to flatter a series of rich widows in order to finance his plays. When timid accountant Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder) is brought in to do his books, he inadvertently reveals to Bialystock that under the right circumstances, a producer could make more money with a flop than a hit. So Bialystock cajoles Bloom into helping him achieve this end and together they come up with what they consider to be a sure-fire disaster waiting to happen – a musical version of Adolf and Eva’s love story entitled ‘Springtime For Hitler’. 

Directed by legendary filmmaker Mel Brooks (Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles), and starring Zero Mostel (The Front), Gene Wilder (Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory) and Estelle Winwood (Murder By Death), The Producers was adapted for Broadway in 2001, starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, and went on to win a record 12 Tony Awards.

THE PRODUCERS new 4k restoration from the original negative screens nationwide on August 5 2018 in celebration of the film’s 50th anniversary. The Oscar-winning feature will also include a very special Mel Brooks introduction from Turner Classic Movies. MT

The Producers will be released in UK cinemas for one day only on August 5th, and then on DVD/Blu-ray/EST on September 10th 

Leo McCarey Retrospective | Locarno International Film Festival 2018

Although Leo McCarey (1898-1969) was feted during his career winning three Oscars and nominated for a further 36(!), he seems to have fallen out of fashion. Today he is remembered for just three features: The Marx Brother’s vehicle Duck Soup (1933), An Affair to Remember (1957), actually a remake of his superior Love Affair from 1937, and the The Awful Truth. To my knowledge, there are no book length biographies currently in print, rather odd, if you consider that McCarey directed 23 sound features. This year’s Locarno Film Festival offers a welcome opportunity to enjoy his work in a lavish retrospective dedicated to this Hollywood great.

After High School McCarey actually started out as a prize fighter before bowing to the will of his father and studying law at USC. Enterprisingly he then took over a copper mine, but the venture went bankrupt and his career as a lawyer also faltered. He next turned his hand to song-writing but athough he composed over a thousand songs during his lifetime, he would have been unable to make a living from it. Then in 1919 came his lucky break as assistant to Tod Browning at Universal. Later joining the Hal Roach Studio, he made it from gag man to Vice President. But more importantly, he was to pair Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in these ventures. McCarey checkered life experiences provide rich material for his films: Bing Crosby would play a failed songwriter in Love Affair, there is boxing content both in The Milky Way (1936) and The Bells of St. Mary (1945). Whilst liking “a little bit of the fairy tale” in his films, McCarey became a director of features just as the sound system was launching, giving him the opportunity to work with stars early on in his career. And there was always a steely side of reality imbedded in his escapist endeavours: The Kid from Spain (1932) with Eddie Cantor, Belle of the Nineties (1934) with Mae West, Six of a Kind (1934) with WC Fields and Milky Way with Harold Lloyd.

Often criticised for being ‘a director of great moments’, McCarey made it to the big times as a serious filmmaker in 1935 with Ruggles of Red Cap. Charles Laughton plays a British butler who has to serve two American ‘Nouveau Riche’ social climbers when his master ‘loses’ him in a card game. Ruggles is a blueprint for what would follow: the absurd interactions of protagonists who either try to help or undermine each other, but always with the same result: chaos.

In 1937 McCarey won his first Oscar for The Awful Truth. It stars Irene Dunne and Gary Grant (his first great success; he actually had a cunning resemblance to McCarey), as a separated couple, who try to help each other, finding a new partner, but only succeeding only in sabotaging their best efforts. It says a lot about McCarey, that he “would have rather won for Make Way for Tomorrow, shot in the same year. Make Way is the story of Lucy Cooper (Beulah Bondi) and her husband Barkley (Victor Moore) who find out on the day of their family re-union that their house is foreclosed. They move in with their middle-aged children, but separately: Mum with son George, Barkley with daughter Cora. This is, in spite of the observant humour, a real tragedy, and would inspire the great Japanese director Ozu for his Tokyo Story.

After winning his second and third Oscars for Going my Way (Best Original Script and Best Director), the story of a popular Irish priest Chuck O’Malley (Crosby), who is more interested in boxing and songs than the lecturing; Good Sam in 1948 marked the beginning of his decline. Between 1948 and his death in 1969 McCarey would only direct five more features: alcohol, drugs and illnesses taking their toll. Somehow the humanist got lost in the perfidious way of Un-American-House Committee witch hunts. My Son John (1952) is the sob story of a mother who discovers that her titular son John (Robert Walker, who died before shooting was complete), is a communist. Not much better is The Devil Never Sleeps (aka Satan Never Sleeps), his last feature from 1962 where a native Christian missionary woman in China is raped by a communist soldier, who later recants his ideology and helps her to flee the country.

Whilst McCarey’s detractors are entitled to point out that he is by no means an auteur in the sense of Hitchcock or even Capra (with whom he shares many parallels), this was mainly due to his to the width and charming versatility of McCarey’s career which started out in slapstick and in ended in social commentary. To McCarey images are mostly secondary; rhythm and sound dominate throughout his oeuvre. But the themes and motifs feature throughout make him unique in the canon of the American cinema. AS

LEO McCAREY RETROSPECTIVE | LOCARNO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2018 

The Absence of Love | Antonioni Retrospective 2019

Humans are intruders in the film world of Michelangelo Antonioni: they destroy the harmony of nature and society. Only when they act in solidarity with their fellow man do they have a chance to become part of something meaningful.

GENTE DEL PO (1943-47), shot not far from where Visconti was filming Ossessione, this is a short documentary, but in spite of its neo-realistic moorings, it is at the same time a personal statement: an effort to comprehend the world via the moving image. Not the other way round. Antonioni’s realism does not attempt to show anything natural, humane, dramatic, and particularly not anything like an idea, a thesis. Just memory forms the model for his art. Memory as images like photos, paintings, writing – they form the basis of his later work – an adventure, where the audience peels off the many layers, like off an onion: a painting, more than once painted over.

On the face of it Antonioni’s debut feature, Chronaca Du Un Amore (1950) is a film noir, like Visconti’s first opus Ossessione. The dominant feelings that would run through all his films are already in place – emotional neglect, alienation, existential angst and loneliness. Set in the director’s birthplace of Ferrara the drama follows ex-lovers Paola and Guido and their desire to do away with Paola’s rich husband Enrico Fontana. This is no crime of passion, because Paola and Guido are unable to make it as a couple  – but what they can do is profit from Fontana’s death. Life in the city is a reflection of the conspirators state of mind. Their neuroses is felt in the chaotic streets and the frenetic buzz of the cafes. The surreal urban jungle is a one of the main themes of Antonioni’s opus. And he observes his main protagonists when they area lone and in the dramatic scenes, creating an elliptical structure with these two dynamics points: action and echo. As Wenders said: “The strength of American Cinema is a forward focus, European cinema paints ellipses”.

I VINTI (1952) is set in three different countries (Italy, France and the UK), exploring the lives of three young criminals who steal not out of material necessity, but just for fun. But their crimes are and the involvement of the Police is just a backdrop to Antonioni’s main focus: his protagonists’ daily lives. As the crimes recede more and more into the background, the investigations peter out – shades of L’ Avventura and Blow Up.

In LE AMICHE (1955) Antonioni finds the structure for his features, seemingly overpopulated with couples and friends – who are all busy, but play a secondary role to their environment, in this case Turin. Clelia has come to open a designer shop and soon meets up with four other young women, all much wealthier than she is. Their changing couplings with men end tragically. Set between Clelia’s arrival in Turin and her leaving for Rome, LE AMICHE is a kaleidoscope of human frailty, in which the audience is waiting for something to happen, some sort of boy meets girl story, but when something really happens, it takes second place to the main thrust of the narrative and we become as disorientated as the characters themselves. Antonioni does not tell a story with a beginning and an end, he informs us, that the world can exist without stories. Because there is so much more to see in the city of Turin, as there will be in Rome: Clelia is only the messenger, sent out by Antonioni to be a traveller, not a story teller. She is his archetypal heroine.

Aldo, the central protagonist in IL GRIDO (1956/7) is the most untypical of all Antonioni heroes: he has been expelled from paradise, after his wife has left him. Refusing to really let himself go he sticks to his environment, travelling with his daughter in the Po Valley. Leaving his home town and looking back over a life dominated by the factory chimney, it is his past history which has forced him to leave. He becomes more and more marginalised: an outsider. And even when living near the river in a derelict hut, he becomes a victim of the environment – the same landscape, seasons and time he spent there. El Grido ends tragically, because Aldo (unlike most other Antonioni heroes) insists on keeping to his past: he does not want to cross the bridges which are metaphorically there to be crossed. And Aldo’s titular outcry becomes a good-bye, even though he is back home. Il Grido is also Antonioni’s return to neo-realism, another contradiction, because he was never really part of it.

L’AVVENTURA (1960) has four main protagonists, three of are human, but are dwarfed by the third – Liscia Bianca, a rocky island in the Mediterranean See. A group of wealthy Italians visit the island but when they want to lead they discover that one of their Anna is missing. Her boyfriend Sandro starts to look around , but soon becomes more interested in Claudia, Anna’s best friend. When they all leave, without having found Anna, Claudia and Sandro are ready to start a new life together. Antonioni is often compared with Brecht. In common with the German playwright, the characters he refuses to dramatise the narrative. Brecht’s actors do not identify with their roles and the audience is not drawn into the play, but left outside to observe. The same goes for Antonioni. Antonioni’s skill is that he first introduces time scale and environment, before developing the narrative, via the actions and words of the protagonists. The island’s waves provide the feature’s ambient score. The fragility of the emotions comes out in the way the protagonists talk –  but mostly they are at cross-purposes. The overall impression is not that of a modern film with sound, but of a very sad silent movie. At Cannes in 1960, the feature was mercilessly jeered at the premiere, but won the Grand Prix nevertheless – a rare case of the jury being ahead of the public.

In LA NOTTE (1960) allows us to share a day in the company of the writer Giovanni and his wife Lydia. When their friend dies in a hospital, they realise that their own love for each other has also been dead for quite a while. Antonioni uses his characters like figures on a chess board. They are real, but at the same time cyphers. He does not tell their story, but follows their movements from one place to an another. There is no interconnection between them and their environment. They have lost all feeling for themselves, others and the outside world. Their world is cold and threatening. Antonioni offers no irony or pity. He is the surgeon at the operating table, and his view is that of the camera: mostly skewed over-head shots. It is impossible to love La Notte. Whilst Antonioni was the first director of the modern era, he is also its most vicious critic.

When L’ECLISSE (1962) starts in the morning, it feels somehow like a continuation of La Notte. Before Vittoria (Vitti) ends her relationship with Francisco, she arranges a new Stilleben behind an empty picture frame. Next stop is Piero (Delon), a stockbroker. Vittoria is like Wenders’ Alice in the City: a child in a world of grown-ups, repelled by their emotional coldness. Piero, very much a child of this world, is all glib superficiality, his friend’s remark “long live the façade” sums it all up. The lengthy panorama shots show very little empathy with the eternal city, the more silent ones seem to convey a ghost town populated by worker ants, dwarfed by huge buildings. The music only sets in after the half way point of the film. The couple’s last rendezvous is symbolic for everything Antonioni ever wanted to show us: none of the two shows up, we watch the space where they were supposed to meet for several minutes. L’Eclisse will lead without much transition to Deserto Rosso, where Monica Vitti is Guiliana, wandering the streets, getting lost in a fog on a very unlovable planet.

DESERTO ROSSO (1963/4)

Guiliana: “I dreamt, I was laying in my bed, and the bed was moving. And when I looked, I saw that I was sinking in quicksand”. Guiliana’s world is threatening, everything is out of scale, the buildings in a nearby industrial estate are unbelievably tall. The machines in the factories, the steel island in the sea, and the silhouettes of the people around her are all closing in. We travel with her from this industrial quarter of Ravenna to Ferrara. She is never still, and by the end she is in front of a factory gate. In Deserto Rosso objects become blurred, they seem to be alive, making their way independently. The camera never leaves Guiliana during her nightmare, and we experience the world through Guiliana’s eyes: “It is, as if I had tears in my eyes”. 

In her son’s bedroom she sees his toy robot, the eyes alight. She switches it off – but this is the only action she is allowed to master successfully. There is always fog between her and everybody else, even her lover Corrado is “on the other side”.  Roland Barthes called Antonioni “the artist of the body, the opposite of others, who are the priests of art”. For once, Antonioni is at one with the body of his protagonist: Guiliana’s body is not like the many others, she will never get lost.

BLOW UP (1966)

A film to be seen only see once – and never again, in case you suffer the same fate as Thomas’ photos: Blow Up. Antonioni to Moravia: “All my films before this are works of intuition, this one is a work of the head.” Everything is calculated, the incidents are planned, the story is driven by an elaborate design. The drama, which is anything but, is a drama, perfectly executed. Herbie Hancock, the Yardbirds, the beat clubs, the marihuana parties, Big Ben and the sports car with radiophone, the Arabs and the nuns, the beatniks on the streets: everything is like swinging London in the Sixties: a head idea. Blow Up is Antonioni’s most successful feature at the box office – but not one of his best.

ZABRISKIE POINT (1969/70)

Given Cart Blanche by MGM, Antonioni produced a feature in praise of American Cinema. Zabriskie Point sees the birth of American Cinema from Death Valley. Antonioni has to repeat this dream for himself. But he had to invent his own Mount Rushmore, his Monument Valley, to make a film about the country in his own image. A car and a plane meet in the desert. The woman driver and the pilot recognise each other immediately. The copulation scene in the sand is a metaphor for the simultaneousness of the act, when longing and fulfilment, greed and satisfaction are superimposed. Then the unbelievable total destruction: the end of civilisation; Antonioni synchronises both events, a miracle of topography and choreography. This is Antonioni’s dream: the birth of a poem.

The TV feature MISTERO Di OBERWLAD (1979) and  IDENTIFICAZIONE DI UNA DONNA (1982) added nothing to Antonioni’s masterful oeuvre. After a massive stroke in 1985, left him without speech and partly paralysed there was BEYOND THE CLOUDS (1995), a collaboration with Wim Wenders, and Antonioni’s segment of EROS (2004). AS

ANTONIONI RETRO: THE ABSENCE OF LOVE | BFI JANUARY 2019 

 

 

It’s Vegas Baby! – top spots for cinephiles in Las Vegas

165225_1807628397431_6593811_nGambling isn’t the only reason to visit Nevada’s stunning resort. Also a haven for moviegoers, LAST VEGAS may tempt you to visit the exciting city for the magnificent array of cinemas screening the latest in American cinema: from mainstream to cult classic and art house fare. Urbane cinefiles see the city differently than most: as a cornucopia of historical venues where films were shot over the years.  Fans of cult casino and gangster films, flock to Vegas to visit the iconic places where films have been shot almost en masse in the city of lights and casinos. LAST VEGAS was filmed here but let’s take a look at some other top spots for film fans.

165172_1807622037272_4196702_n

Circus Circus

For film fans who want to catch a glimpse of one of the most recognizable filming locations in Las Vegas, Circus Circus is an essential stop. The entrance appeared in the James Bond movie, Diamonds are Forever, and an exterior shot appears in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. To the dismay of many Hunter S. Thompson fans, the iconic merry-go-round bar at Circus Circus that garnered a spot in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas has closed. To be accurate though, this was not the bar that actually appeared in the film, as Circus Circus did not give permission to film there.Riviera copy

Riviera Hotel and Casino

Since Las Vegas is a popular and exciting location to shoot films, some hotels have turned up in multiple films over the years. Also a location appearing in Austin Powers and Diamonds are Forever, Riviera Hotel and Casino has been seen in Martin Scorsese’s Casino, the 1960 Ocean’s Eleven and the campy 90′s dancer-drama classic Showgirls. The outside of the Riviera Hotel and Casino is a highly recognisable spot for sightseeing film geeks.

Tropicana copyTropicana Las Vegas

The millions of fans who loved cult classic, The Godfather trilogy should recognise the Tropicana in Las Vegas as Michael Corleone’s Las Vegas casino business and the location where many of the Las Vegas scenes in the movie were filmed. The Godfather utilised both the inside and the outside of the hotel extensively, but it was only referenced and not shown in the final versions of the second and third films of the franchise.

The Neon Museum Boneyard

With an ongoing theme of appearing briefly in the background of a multitude of films including, Mars Attacks!, the Neon Museum Boneyard is essentially where the vibrant neon signs of Las Vegas are put out to rest. The museum also appears in the upcoming film LAST VEGAS.  Although the Neon Boneyard is not open to the public, dedicated film buffs can make reservations for the guided tour for only $15.

The Bellagio Resort and Casino  Bellagio copy

The Bellagio, as all movie buffs should know, stars alongside Brad Pitt and George Clooney in the 2001 remake of Ocean’s Eleven. The movie’s casino scenes were shot right on the Bellagio’s casino floor! Although the vault shown in the movie wasn’t the real one, most other scenes purporting the casino are real. If you would like to dine at the table where George and Julie shared a meal in one of the most famous scenes of the movie, it was shot in the Bellagio Picasso restaurant—book table 24 if you want to re-live that experience. The luxury hotel also made an appearance in the 2007 sequel, Ocean’s Thirteen.  The Bellagio has also been the location for romantic comedies such as Lucky You and What Happens in Vegas and made a fleeting appearance in The Hangover.

167142_1807639277703_4441803_n

MGM Grand Hotel and Casino

Being the second largest hotel in the world by number of rooms and the largest hotel resort complex in the United States, the MGM Grand Last Vegas is featured in a multitude of movies. Film officionados will recognise the casino resort in movies such as Ocean’s Eleven, Vegas Vacation, and The Great White Hype. In addition, the MGM Grand’s Wizard of Oz theme is referenced in the film Swingers. With its Hollywood history, the MGM attracts film buffs worldwide.

The Aria Resort and Casino

Since the opening of the new modern style hotel in 2009, The Aria has been a popular location for films. The resort’s luxury suite is featured in Louis Leterrier’s 2013 film Now You See Me and LAST VEGAS (2013), where it appears as the venue for the bachelor party hosted by Morgan Freeman’s character, Archie. MT

WE FLEW TO LAS VEGAS COURTESY OF VIRGIN AIRLINES

 

 

 

Copenhagen Architectural Film Festival 2016 |10 – 20 March 2016

CAFx_mailbanner_2016COPENHAGEN ARCHITECTURAL FILM FESTIVAL is back for its third year. From 10-20 March 2016, Denmark is host to the biggest architecture film festival in the world, taking place in three cities: Copenhagen, Aarhus and Aalborg.

Amongst a selection of well-known classics and recent releases, the festival will be screening some lesser known treats:

01_IL-CAPO-STILL-600x400FOUR SHORT FILMS on Architecture, landscape and film history:

Yuri Ancarani’s work at the Venice Biennale IL CAPO plays with the extraction of marble as a kind of theatrical choreography. In SLEEPING DISTRICT Tinne Zenner creates a cinematic correspondence with moody images while John Skoogs latest work SHADOWLAND goes on excavation in Hollywood’s topography. Eva Kolcze uncover the architectural brutalism and binds its concrete buildings with 16mm film materiality of ALL THAT IS SOLID.

Il CAPO | YURI Ancarani | 2010 | 15 min.
SLEEPING DISTRICT | Tinne ZENNER | 2014 | 11 min.
SHADOWLAND | JOHN SKOOG | 2014 | 15 min.
ALL THAT IS SOLID | EVA KOLCZE | 2014 | 16 min.

TELOS_ProdStill_01-600x400TELOS: THE FANTASTIC WORLD OF EUGENE TSSUI (2014) 

Can architecture be a piece of nature? Meet an limitless resistance architect.

EUGENE TSUI is a radical visionary. Among his projects are The Ultima Tower, a proposal for a three-kilometer high skyscraper in the shape of an inverted spinning top and room for a million residents. Tsui indtænker its highly speculative architecture in great cosmetic mo-ecological contexts where as a contemporary surrealist inspired by natural forms. In trying to build a more sustainable architecture, which he calls ‘biological design’. Kyung Lee directs, writes and films this amusing biography of an eccentric and visionary architect.

ad35d36b53f48aac538e5cc67a8180cb-600x400ANNABELLE SELDORFF, ODILE DECQ, FARSHID MOUSSAVI, KATHRYN GUSTAFSON AND MARIANNE MCKENNA. Five different architects with only their gender in common. Does female architecture have defining feature and how is distinguished from that designed by men. A series of shorts about architecture’s sexual peculiarities – or lack thereof.

The display is introduced by architect and associate professor at KADK, Merete Ahnfeldt-Mollerup who b.la. will put the film in relation to architectural education, where more and more women are trained and equalizes the subject’s gender imbalance inside .

BUNGALOW (2002) 84min

Starring Trine Dyrholm, who has just won a Silver Bear for Best Actress at Berlinale 2016, BUNGALOW is  Ulrich Kohler’s psychogeographical exploration of alienated mid-European youth seen through the eyes of a German soldier who goes AWOL one summer during hostilities.

CONCRETELOVEBOHMFAMILY-CMYK-1-600x400

CONCRETE LOVE  Recorded over several years, a documentary exploring the life of the 95-year-old winner of the Pritzker Prize, Gottfried Böhm and his architecture obsessed family. Filmed by his son and architect Paul Böhm, who will lead a Q&A after the screening.

Grand Theatre, Wednesday. 03.09 pm. 19:00 (opening film)

Grand Theatre, Friday. 03.11 pm. 16:40

Cinematheque, Wednesday. 3.16 pm. 21:15

COUNTING (2015)

Jem Cohen takes his camera on an whimsical tour of an urban voyage in this essay film which offers an amusing voyeuristic take on the street life in 15 towns from New York City, Istanbul, Moscow, Cairo and Porto to London.

SONGS FROM THE SECOND FLOOR (2000)

Another urban symphony that examines, through a drama of interconnecting characters, human vulnerability and our basic need for companionship and connection in the increasingly-alienating urban communities we inhabit.  Roy Andersson writes and directs. MT

FULL FESTIVAL PROGRAMME

Made in Britain (1982) | Screening | Book Launch |Exhibition

Director: Alan Clarke     Writer: David Leland

Cast: Tim Roth, Terry Richards, Bill Stewart, Eric Richard, Sean Chapman

76min  TV Crime Drama

“They fuck you up, your Mum and Dad” is the general theme of this made for TV Britflick by Liverpudlian filmmaker Alan Clarke, best known for his cinema verité features that erupted on the eighties film scene, focusing on a recalcitrant British Working class youth, particularly: SCUM; RITA, SUE AND BOB TOO and MADE IN BRITAIN which launched the career of Tim Roth.

Roth plays Trevor, a disreputable teenage skinhead who scours the sink estate with a swastika emblazoned on his forehead, shouting ‘Wankers’ to any well-dressed walkers-by. Trevor has no truck for decorum of any kind and spews a livid anger on every aspect of his life. Very much a character piece, the trenchant narrative is jerked forward by Clarke’s peripatetic hand-held camera relying on Roth to deliver – and once he gets the bit between his teeth there’s no holding him back. Early eighties Britain under Thatcher is caricatured here as a soulless concrete industrial wasteland enmired by cuts in the public services and a faceless bureaucracy. Nigel Farage would be proud. MT

noxnglnq3eTO ACCOMPANY THE SCREENING CURATOR, TOBY MOTT and DITTO PRESS announce the launch of SKINHEAD – AN ARCHIVE, a landmark new publication and exhibition exploring one of the most controversial, misunderstood and radical subcultures. Designed by Jamie Reid and published by Ditto, with printed material curated by Toby Mott, the book examines this multi-faceted culture through the filter of printed material, zines, posters and films. The book is divided into sub-sections looking at the original iteration of skinhead, the fascist interpretation, the socialist counterpoint, queer skinhead culture, exploitation literature, skin girls, and everything in between.

nova4lnq3e

SKINHEAD – AN ARCHIVE reflects the powerful aesthetic sensibility of the movement, featuring thoughtful use of Risograph and offset printing to reproduce the rough immediacy of the original material. The book features an exclusive font design, developed and adapted from a skinhead article in a 1980s issue of Penthouse, which will be available to download in the Ditto store. Alongside a wealth of unseen visual material, the book will contain texts from writers with unique experience of the culture, including Bruce LaBruce and Garry Bushell.

The exhibition to accompany the launch of the book will further bring these ideas to life, showcasing all the original source material from The Mott Collection. As a part of this exhibition, celebrated menswear designer Martine Rose will showcase new work responding to the subject material, helping to put skinhead culture into a contemporary context

MADE IN BRITAIN will be screening on 17th December 2014 7pm – 9pm, DITTO GALLERY, Ditto Press, N1 5TY LONDON

TICKETS HERE AT 80s prices 

now2klnq3eSkinhead: An Archive – EXHIBITION 

Ditto Press
4 Benyon Road
London N1 5TY

BOOK LAUNCH on the 11th December –

Exhibition runs from 11th December until 22nd January 2015

 

 

4 Reasons to visit the 10th London Spanish Film Festival 2014

The 10th London Spanish film festival kicks off on 25 September with a varied programme of events in the Cine Lumiere and Instituto Cervantes. Here is a selection of films we recommend:

stella-cadente-sm STELLA CADENTE | Falling Star

Dir: Luis Minarro, with Lorenzo Balducci, Alex Batllori, Alex Brendemuhl, Gonzalo Cunil, Lola Duenas | 105 min | Spanish with Subt

STELLA CADENTE is as timely as it is flippant. Though historical periods are seldom fully analogous, Spain once again finds itself in political and economic disorder, and Miñarro’s film had its first of two public screenings at Edinburgh just days after the ascension to the Spanish throne by Felipe Carlos, following father Juan’s recent abdication. Even at an unjustifiably lengthy 110 minutes, though, STELLA CADENTE eschews the greater intricacies of its historical backdrop. For the most part, it’s instead an unfussily light-hearted affair, featuring musical interludes, tripod-fixed longueurs, matter-of-fact homoerotic desire and the incongruous minutiae of a rococo social class that doesn’t know what to do with itself.

Wed 1 Oct | 8.30pm | £10 |

10000-noches-en-ninguna-parte-sm10.000 NOCHES EN NINGUNA PARTE | 10,000 Nights Nowhere

Dir. Ramón Salazar, with Andrés Gertrúdix, Susi Sánchez, Lola Dueñas, Najwa Nimri | Spain | 2014 | col | 113 min | cert. 16 | In Spanish with English subtitles

In this high voltage, emotional roller-coaster, a young man tries to escape his deepest fears (and his mother) by making a journey to Paris and Berlin.. Beautifully shot, Salazar’s film experiments with narrative, cinematography, improvisation and script. Indeed, he does everything he can to create a unique experience. A wonderful, engaging film, free of any label.

Mon 29 Sep | 8.30pm | £10, conc. £8

dioses-y-perros-smDIOSES Y PERROS | Dioses y perros

Dir. David Marqués and Rafa Montesinos, with Hugo Silva, Megan Montaner, Juan Codina and Elio González | Spain | 2014 | 84 min| In Spanish with English subtitles

Pasca works as a boxing sparrer in an effort to earn some money, having abandoned his promising boxing career when the car he was driving crashed and killed his parents and left his brother in a wheelchair. Daily life is a painful existence, finding small jobs, earning a bit of money, getting his old friends out of trouble, and taking care of his brother. Dioses y perros is a film about facing our fears, getting on in life, finding and accepting love… and, ultimately, about hope.

Followed by a Q&A with actor Hugo Silva and director David Marqués

Wed 1 Oct | 6.30pm | £10, conc. £8

the-food-guide-to-love-smTHE FOOD GUIDE TO LOVE | Amor en su punto

Dir. Dominic Harari and Teresa Pelegri, with Richard Coyle, Leonor Watling, Ciara Bailey and Michelle Beamish | Spain/Ireland | 2013 | 91 min | In English

Richard Coyle plays Oliver Byrne, the ultimate foodie, and The Food Guide to Love, is his ultimate book about food. A connoisseur of fine dining, Oliver became a major success in Ireland thanks to his approach to food writing and his emphasis on the sensual aspect of food. His love life, however, is not as stable as his career, and he has serious problems maintaining relationships. That is, until he meets the Spanish Bibiana… A delicious romantic comedy about love, dreams and mistakes, with some spicy ingredients.

Followed by a Q&A with the directors and actress Leonor Watling

Fri 3 Oct | 8.30pm | £10, conc. £8

10TH LONDON SPANISH FILM FESTIVAL 2014 RUNS FROM 25 SEPTEMBER UNTIL 5 OCTOBER 2014

 

Swallows and Amazons (1974) – DVD re-release

1913-3 copyWatching Arthur Ransome’s children’s classic “Swallows and Amazons” makes you realise just how much the world has changed, even since the seventies, when Claude Whatham’s screen adaptation was made. Those simple summer days of innocent childhood adventure now seem almost otherworldly forty years later, somehow summing up the quintessence of Britishness.

A group of children go on a summer escapade with their mother (that classic feminine icon of Englishness,Virginia McKenna) where they sail off to an island in the Lake District and pretend to be pirates. Here the story is set in 1929 and Virginia’s husband is an Officer away in the Navy. The children:John, Susan, Titty and Roger (Simon West, Suzanna Hamilton, Sophie Neville and Stephen Grendon) take their family dinghy ‘Swallow’ and set off to an uninhabited island in the Cumbrian lake district. But when they get there, they discover a rival gang (the two Blackett sisters) are also exploring Wild Cat Island and so the holiday adventure begins, not with computer but a real experience. swallows_3 copy

Claude Whatham’s adaptation stays faithful to the original with its simple and uncomplicated narrative structure and fictional characters such as an old pirate Uncle Jim (Ronald Fraser) who rather hams things up in contrast to the naturalistic performances of the others that feel almost unscripted thanks to clever writing on the part of David Wood.  So although the piece feels dated there’s considerable charm, nostalgia and fun to be had for all ages in a story where kids let their imaginations run wild to create their own incredible world of adventure. MT

OUT ON DVD/BLU 4th August 2014 WITH A NEW RESTORATION SCREENING AT HASTINGS PIRATE DAY, THE ELECTRIC PALACE CINEMA ON 20 JULY 2014.

.

Sundance London 25 – 27 April 2014

20148109_1SUNDANCE LONDON is a great way to catch up on the latest US indie titles hot off the runway from Sundance Utah and brought to you by the lovely Robert Redford.  Conveniently, it all takes place under one roof at the O2 Centre which is just a hop away on the Jubilee Line from the centre of town.  Plenty of cafes and bars nearby if you fancy a bite to eat and there are music events too, so it’s not just a paradise for cinephiles. We covered SUNDANCE UTAH in detail but here’s a round-up of the films we particularly recommend amongst the 20 titles offered.  Booking opens on 28th March, so get your skates on!

image004BLUE RUIN — A mysterious outsider’s quiet life turns upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance.  In a US version of LEON, he fights back at the men who have ruined his life. Director and Writer Jeremy Saulnier hasn’t quite got the caché of Luc Besson but you can’t have everything and this indie thriller is every bit as stylish and moody. Cast: Macon Blair, Amy Hargreaves, Sidné Anderson, Devin Ratray, Kevin Kolack.

THE CASE AGAINST 8 : Shot over five years, this newsworthy documentary picks up on the same-sex marriage theme, exploring the case to overturn California’s ban, it follows a motley crew of campaigners in their fight for justice.  Sundance US Documentary Winner for Directing.

_FINDINGFELA copyFINDING FELA : the indefatigable, award-winning Alex Gibney (Silence in the House of God) is at it again with this musical documentary about  Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who created the musical movement Afrobeat and used it as a political forum to oppose the Nigerian dictatorship and advocate for the rights of oppressed people. This is the story of his life, music, and political importance. In conjunction with the film, there’s a free performance from Dele Sosimi, one of the original members of Fela Kuti’s bank, with an Afrobeat orchestra on Sunday, 27 April.

_TRIPTOITALY copyTHE TRIP TO ITALY: Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon head off to the continent for a fun-filled epicurean outing to search out the finest wines known to humanity and delicious food too.  Not to be confused with the BBC2 series that starts on April 4th.

KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER: (Director: David Zellner, Screenwriters: David Zellner, Nathan Zellner) — The dark humour of this  Coen Brothers-style drama has a strange appeal it also stars one of the writers Nathan Zellner as a decent guy who helps a doltish Japanese woman,  convinced that a satchel of money buried in a fictional film is, in fact, real.  Leaving her structured life in Tokyo for the frozen Minnesota wilderness, she comes across people even weirder than herself, in her quest for the pot of gold. Cast: Rinko Kikuchi. Winner of a U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Musical Score at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. UK Premiere

 

LITTLE ACCIDENTS (Director and screenwriter: Sara Colangelo) — In a small American coal town living in the shadow of a recent mining accident, the disappearance of a teenage boy draws three people together—a surviving miner, the lonely wife of a mine executive, and a local boy—in a web of secrets. Cast: Elizabeth Banks, Boyd Holbrook, Chloë Sevigny, Jacob Lofland, Josh Lucas. International Premiere

FOR THE FULL PROGRAMME CHECK OUT THE WEBSITE.  SUNDANCE LONDON 25 -27 APRIL 2014

Ealing Music & Film Valentine Festival 12-16 February

By popular demand, Ealing Music & Film Valentine Festival returns in 2014 to light up February’s dark days with a programme to celebrate the rich and varied music, film and dance heritage of one of London’s most culturally enriched boroughs.

jr_337_efmm_nadeem_2000 copy

The excellent film slate follows this years dance theme with one of the BFI’s top ten British films of all time, the Oscar winning THE RED SHOES from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and Tony Palmer’s MARGOT. There will also be a screening in association with the Ealing Classic Cinema Club of the Ealing Studios-made satirical comedy THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT starring Alec Guinness. Ealing Studios will once again be throwing open its doors to the public for tours.

Full Programme

Copyright © 2022 Filmuforia