Ferzan Ozpetek – Harem suaré (1999)

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Plot Synopsis by Gönül Dönmez-Colin

Following the success of Hamam, Turkey-born, Italy-based Ferzan Ozpetek delivers another exotic film that delves into the traditions of his origin. Once again, the exotic city of Istanbul is the place of intrigue. But, unlike Hamam, which was a contemporary story, Harem Suare takes place at the turn of the century in the last days of the Ottoman Empire. The locale of this ornate story of love, power, and fear is the magnificent Yildiz Palace, where Sultan Abdulhamit whiles away the time listening to the finale of La Traviata as rebellions rage all over the country. The Sultan cannot stand unhappy endings, so he has asked Safiye, his favorite concubine, who is Italian, to rewrite the libretto so that Violetta does not die. Nadir, one of the black eunuchs, has plans for Safiye, whom he thinks should become the official wife. Nadir’s plans take a different turn when he and Safiye fall in love. In the harem, which is isolated from the rest of the world, life goes on with its plots and subplots, loyalties and betrayals, happiness and tragedies as if time did not exist. The story is told from the point of view of Safiye, concentrating more on human relations than on palace politics. The director plays with mirror images to reflect the two faces of personalities and the complexities of intercultural relations. Mythology is blended with sexuality, emphasizing the delicate nuances of language. The exotic element is not abused and historical details are used sparingly and only when necessary. Acting by young French actress Marie Gillain, who plays Safiye, and Lucia Bose, who plays her in old age, as well as Alex Descas as the eunuch Nadir and famous Turkish actor Haluk Bilginer as Sultan Abdulhamid are all commendable. 52nd Cannes Film Festival, 1999. Continue reading

Peter Delpeut – Diva Dolorosa (1999)

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Quote:

“A rarity-packed treat for opera and silent-film buffs!”
– Variety

In this mesmerizing collage of silent Italian melodrama, found-footage filmmaker Peter Delpeut (Lyrical Nitrate) affectionately captures the spirit of the World War One-era cinema diva. In all-but-lost gems such as La donna nuda (1914), and Tigre reale (1916), superstars such as Lyda Borelli and Pina Menichelli portrayed heroines teetering dangerously between defiant indulgence in sexual passion and hysterical remorse at their own cruelties. Delpeut’s inventive celebration of Black Romanticism is both striking and heartbreaking in its composition —a beautifully woven narrative of tempted fate and self-torment, elegantly guided by Loek Dikker’s original score. Zeitgeist Films is proud to present Delpeut’s stunningly experimental work in all its heaving bosomed, luridly tinted glory. Continue reading

Jay Rosenblatt – The Smell of Burning Ants (1994)

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Winner of 23 Awards

“…a profoundly disturbing and imaginative work.”
–Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times

The Smell of Burning Ants is a haunting documentary on the pains of growing up male. It explores the inner and outer cruelties that boys perpetrate and endure. The film provokes the viewer to reflect on how our society can deprive boys of wholeness.

Through formative events of a boy’s life, we come to understand the ways in which men can become emotionally disconnected and alienated from their feminine side. The common dismissal that “boys will be boys” evolves into the chilling realization that boys frequently become angry, destructive and emotionally disabled men. The Smell of Burning Ants illustrates how boys are socialized by fear, power and shame. The film is a catalyst for discussion and an opportunity to begin the process of healing the wounds of childhood. Continue reading

David Lynch – Lost Highway (1997)

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Description: When Fred Madison finds a video tape on his doorstep that shows the interior of his house, he’s convinced that someone has broken in and calls the police. Things get really complicated when he finds another videotape showing him killing his wife, and the police arrest him because his wife really was murdered! Then he disappears from the prison and we start watching the life of a young man who works in a garage… Continue reading

Baltasar Kormákur – 101 Reykjavík (2000)

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Hlynur is the ultimate slacker. He sleeps all day, drinks all night and fails to maintain any kind of sensible relationship with members of the opposite sex – except for his mother whose home he still lives in. Life is pretty simple in a depressing and dull sort of a way until Hlynur sleeps with a beautiful Spanish houseguest (the wonderful Abril) who it then transpires is his mother’s lesbian lover… Continue reading

Various – LUST: 12 SEXY SHORT [+Extras] (1998 – 2003)

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Lust: 12 sexy short brings to light a wide range of cutting-edge films from 8 different countries that takes a humoristic look at the search for pleasure. It’s a discovery of a wide range of low-budget film-making styles that strolls us through a frenetic world that begins with sex for some and ends in separations for others. These films portray experiences that dissolve into a blurry vision of love. Lust is an incomplete inventory – who could pretend otherwise !! – of the different strategies of attack and defense within the permanent struggle against loneliness. Lust shows us a world where although the rules are simple, the winner never adheres to them. (-Lowave) Continue reading

Gaspar Noé – Sodomites (1998)

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Iconoclastic indie filmmaker Gaspar Noe is as soft-spoken as his films are abrasive. The force behind the short film “Carne” (1991) and “I Stand Alone” (1998) — two visually explosive and delectably warped odes to the ordinary madness of a misunderstood horse butcher — Noe writes, directs, produces, shoots and edits films so distinctive that his films have already developed cult followings.

As part of a French government initiative to promote the use of condoms through graphic depictions of their proper use, Noe made the short “Sodomites” and handled camera duties on Hadzihalilovic’s “Good Boys Use Condoms.” Continue reading