Noriaki Tsuchimoto – Minamata: Kanja-san to sono sekai AKA Minamata: The Victims and Their World (1971)

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Quote:
In the small town of Minamata in Kyushu, far from the metropolitan center, the fertilizer company Chisso built a factory to take advantage of cheap labor and commenced dumping mercury-filled wastewater into the nearby sea. Soon residents began exhibiting symptoms of a mysterious illness, a happening that would eventually develop into the worst case of environmental pollution in postwar Japan. Noriaki Tsuchimoto visits the patients and their families who sued Chisso and listens to their voices. His camera gently lifts the veil that had obscured them and reveals their reality. MINAMATA: THE VICTIMS AND THEIR WORLD is impressive in how it stands on the side of the patients, not only providing a collage of individual portraits, but also an understanding of the their everyday lives.

One of the monuments of Japanese documentary, MINAMATA: THE VICTIMS AND THEIR WORLD played at many international festivals, winning an award at Locarno. Continue reading

Helma Sanders-Brahms – Deutschland bleiche Mutter aka Germany, Pale Mother (1980)

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Quote:
In her film Germany, Pale Mother Sanders-Brahms depicts her childhood in Germany during and after WWII. In order to survive, mother (Lene) and child (Anna) form a self-sufficient bond which excludes the father when he returns from war. The film portrays a child’s resilience in the face of such war trauma as death, and, especially for girls, fear of assault. Anna emulates Lene’s ability to transcend suffering through her will to survive and through narrative, the focus of this paper. Lene’s reciting of the Grimms’ “The Robber Bridegroom” fairy tale, in which the heroine flees and defeats her potential assailant by telling her story, enables them to overcome their suffering as war victims and inspires Anna, the filmmaker, to narrate their story, to become the subject not the object of her life story, and to transcend the past. Postwar scenes depict the difficulty of returning to traditional family roles because of the father’s wartime absence and the resulting abuse from a disillusioned, frustrated husband/father, the postwar “enemy”. There is a role reversal in which Anna becomes the mother’s caretaker which reaches its climax in the final scene Continue reading

Leonid Gaidai – Ivan Vasilevich menyaet professiyu AKA Ivan Vasilyevich Changes Occupation (1973)

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Ivan Vasilyevich Changes Occupation

An unconventional comedy based on M. Bulgakov’s play, “Ivan Vassilevich,” when inventor, Timofeev builds a time machine, things go awry. Tsar Ivan the Terrible comes into the year 1973, while Ivan Bunsha, an apartment complex manager, and George Miloslavsky, a petty burglar, are transferred to 16th century Moscow accidentally. Continue reading

Gualtiero Jacopetti – Addio zio Tom aka Goodbye Uncle Tom (1971)

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Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco E. Prosperi, best-known for the groundbreaking shockumentary Mondo Cane, directed this bizarre and shocking look at slavery in America. Set in the deep South prior to the Civil War, Zio Tom finds Jacopetti and Prosperi travelling back in time aboard a helicopter to investigate the nuts and bolts of slavery as it happened in the United States prior to abolition. Along the way, the filmmakers go aboard a slave ship as frightened Africans are brought to America under inhuman conditions; they witness the dangerous and degrading process by which slaves were made ready for market; and they visit a “breeding farm” for slaves after laws prohibit the importation of slaves from abroad. Also included is a sermon from a preacher who argues for the moral and spiritual necessity of slavery (while another man speaks out against it strictly on grounds of economics and practicality); the contrasting thoughts of men and women on the matter of miscegenation; and an interview with an educated slave who feels his circumstances are better for him than conventional employment. Also shown is the brutal torture and punishment of slaves for any number of real or imagined grievances. Re-creating both the opulence and the ugliness of the Old South on a grand scale, Zio Tom concludes with present-day African-Americans reading The Confession of Nat Turner and contemplating violent overthrow of the white-dominated culture. Understandably controversial, Zio Tom received a very brief theatrical release in the United States under the title Farewell Uncle Tom, where it received an X rating from the MPAA despite being trimmed by approximately 20 minutes from its original Italian running time. Continue reading

Menahem Golan – Mivtsa Yonatan aka Entebbe: Operation Thunderbolt (1977)

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Plot Outline :
In July 1976, an Air France flight from Tel-Aviv to Paris via Athens was hijacked and forced to land in Entebbe, Uganda. The Jewish passengers were separated and held hostage in demand to release many terrorists held in Israeli prisons. After much debate, the Israeli government sent an elite commando unit to raid the airfield and release the hostages. The film is based on the true facts and follows the events since the flight’s takeoff and until the hostages’ return to Israel. Continue reading

Georgi Daneliya – Osenniy marafon AKA Autumn Marathon (1979)

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Synopsis:

A gentle, bittersweet tragicomedy, Autumn Marathon is about a middle-aged translator, Andrei Buzykin (Oleg Basilashvili), whose almost pathological niceness has trapped him in a seemingly endless series of awkward situations: his inability to turn anyone down has left him juggling a wife and mistress, on top of vast amounts of additional work usually done as unpaid favours for friends and students that’s constantly interfering with his own projects to the point where his career is put at risk.

And because he can’t bear to hurt anyone, he’s always taking the easy way out – which invariably means constructing a vast edifice of lies that he can’t possibly keep track of, which has the equally inevitable side-effect of turning a fundamentally decent if weak-willed man into what looks like the epitome of a philandering boor. Half the time, his excuses are entirely genuine – he really did help his Danish friend Bill Hansen (Norbert Kuchinke) at a drying-out clinic, and stayed up all night with his less talented colleague Varvara (Galina Volchek) to help her on a difficult translation, but this counts for little when he’s so widely disbelieved. The title refers to his regular early morning jogging sessions with Bill – again, he’d much rather be doing something else, like staying in bed, but how can he possibly say no? Continue reading