Amir Naderi – Davandeh AKA The Runner (1984)

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Amiro is a young boy who has lost his home during the war. He spends his days by working odd jobs, until he realizes that the only way that he can realize his dreams is by enrolling in school. In school, he has conflict with other students. Finally there is a competition to see who can say the whole alphabet in one breath.

The Runner won the main prize at the famous Three Continents Festival at Nantes in 1985. It is often compared to Truffaut’s The 400 Blows, but is even more anguished and intense.

It was one of the first Iranian films of the Revolutionary period to attract widespread acclaim abroad, several years before filmmakers like Abbas Kiarostami and Mohsen Makhmalbaf achieved international renown. Continue reading

Agnès Varda – Mur murs AKA Mural Murals (1981)

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After returning to Los Angeles from France in 1979, Agnès Varda created this kaleidoscopic documentary about the striking murals that decorate the city. Bursting with color and vitality, Mur Murs is as much an invigorating study of community and diversity as it is an essential catalog of unusual public art. Continue reading

Raoul Ruiz – Les divisions de la nature AKA The Divisions of Nature (1981)

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Synopsis:
Les divisions is a documentary about the Château de Chambord and the title comes from the Divisione of Johannes Scotus (Erigena), the ninth century Irish philosopher (who was a ‘realist’, although the film is more ‘nominalist’ in characterization of the castle which presents itself as a representation). I say that it is a representation, since it is neither practical for military purposes (too many doors), nor to live in (too many draughts), but only as pure representation. So for the commentary, I tried to imagine how a Renaissance philosopher would view it in a pastiche of a scholastic or gothic text, then a pastiche of Fichte’s Vocation of Man and finally a pastiche of Baudrillard.’
– Raoul Ruiz Continue reading

Lino Brocka – Cain at Abel (1982)

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Brothers Ellis (Christopher De Leon) and Loren (Philip Salvador) battle it out in a sibling rivalry of biblical proportions in this award-winning retelling of the Old Testament story. Controlling matriarch Señora Pina (Mona Lisa) blames eldest son Loren for her husband’s death and showers all her love on the younger Ellis. Tensions between the warring brothers increase as they grow into adulthood, culminating in a bloody confrontation.
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Lino Brocka – Orapronobis AKA Fight for Us (1989)

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Lino Brocka’s “Tatlo, Dalawa, Isa” (Three, Two, One, 1974) shows the filmmaker’s versatility in the short form, working with various writers.

The first segment, Tony Perez’s “Mga Hugis ng Pag-asa” (Faces of Hope) has Jay Ilagan play Noni, a drug addict struggling in a drug rehabilitation center. And while the segment is generally considered to be the weakest of the three, it does feature cinematographer Romy Vitug’s fine monochromatic camerawork, and the startling image of Ilagan being shaved of all his hair (a shockingly traumatic sight when I first saw it at the tender age of nine).
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Shinji Sômai – Shonben Rider AKA P.P. Rider (1983)

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P. P. Rider is a Japanese film dealing with three teenagers who set out to recover a kidnapped schoolmate. This capsule description, while accurate enough, makes the film sound rather like something Disney used to make to fill a couple spare weeks on his TV show. P. P. Rider isn’t that at all. It certainly wasn’t made for children.
Written by Leonard Schrader and his wife Chieko Schrader. Continue reading

Konstantin Lopushansky – Pisma myortvogo cheloveka AKA Letters from a Dead Man (1986)

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Letters from a Dead Man is another film that deals with the theme of the nuclear nightmare. It falls into a mini-genre of nuclear holocaust film along with others such as On the Beach (1959), Dr Strangelove or, How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Fail-Safe (1964), The War Game (1965) et al. But what makes Letters from a Dead Man unique in this case is that the treatment is one that comes from the opposite side of the Iron Curtain. Every single other treatment of the nuclear holocaust theme was made in the West and comes based on the speculation (or at least implication) of what would happen if the bombs falling were coming from the Soviet side; this is one which shows everything from the other perspective. In both cases though, the films are almost identical in their treatment of the subject matter and are certainly agreed upon what an horrific experience the nuclear holocaust would be. Letters perhaps comes without the sentimentalized approach of other contemporary views of the holocaust, as shown in The Day After (1983) and Testament (1983), which related the horrors to the effect on Middle America and the destruction of the family unit. Rather Letters comes closer to the celebrated pseudo-documentary The War Game in its almost unimaginably bleak depiction of the grim reality of a nuclear blast. Even more so it is most surprising to see a pre– i>glasnost film that comes from the heavily state-censored Soviet Union and yet manages to be so outspoken against the arms race and moreover rule by military. Continue reading