Virpi Suutari – Eleganssi AKA Elegance (2016)

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Elegance is a short film about a group of Finnish men, and the style and elegance of hunting partridge and pheasant. The film’s protagonists are all wealthy men, for whom hunting is a treasured hobby, a passion and a way of life. The film unfolds in three acts on a scenic autumnal field. Meet the three businessmen: Nokia’s former CEO, Jorma Ollila, engineering company Kone Oy’s owner, Antti Herlin, and the charming narrator, Publishing Company Otava’s former CEO, Heikki A. Reenpää. His narration leads the viewer through hunting expeditions, creates the mood and introduces the people. Almost equally important are the gentlemens’ dogs: handsome pointers and setters, whose pedigrees, abilities and hunting prowess ultimately determine whether any birds are caught at all. Continue reading

Samuel M. Delgado, Helena Girón – Sin Dios ni Santa María AKA Neither God Nor Santa Maria (2015)

“Part ethnography, part mystic cinematic mirage, this beautiful and evocative portrait of Yé, a remote village on the island of Lanzarote, is a paradoxically opaque work of tactile pleasures. Shot on expired 16mm celluloid, the film makes a virtue of its degraded textures, granting its images of flora and fauna, coastal vistas and mountainous contours, the look of an excavated travelogue, with scratches and imperfections resonating on the soundtrack as ambient accompaniment to the vast topographical phenomena peering through the fog-shrouded atmosphere. Meanwhile, audio recordings made in the late-sixties by the ethnographer Luis Diego Cuscoy act as ominous narration, the voices relating stories of witchcraft and the occult that, over centuries, have taken on local legend. With an acute eye and ear for natural detail and speculative history, directors Samuel M. Delgado and Helena Girón have constructed both an oral diary and an archaeological account of a far-off land, all the more vivid for never quite coming into focus.” — Jordan Cronk, Fandor Continue reading

Alessio Rigo de Righi & Matteo Zoppis – Il solengo (2015)

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Synopsis:
Winner of DocLisboa’s 2015 Best International Film Award, Alessio Rigo de Righi and Matteo Zoppis’s documentary explores the life of Mario de Marcella, a man who lived alone in a cave for over 60 years, nicknamed “Il Solengo” (the lone boar that’s been cut off from his pack). No one knows for certain why he decided to become a hermit. Still, hunters from his home village (who would occasionally encounter him in the wilderness) offer conflicting reasons about his solitude through elaborate stories. The negative space created by his absence is filled with gorgeous imagery of the Italian countryside. Continue reading

Campbell X – Stud Life (2012)

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Stud Life takes the viewer into a slice of life of an urban gay scene where casual sex, and drug taking is not treated as deviant behaviour. Where gender is up for grabs but desire follows very strict rules. Where violence can be part of sex as well as random attacks on the street. JJ and Seb inhabit a world where white queers are familiar with Black street culture and reject the mainstream “G.A.Y” world. This is Stud Life. Continue reading

Nicolas Provost – L’envahisseur AKA The Invader (2011)

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Quote:
Belgium short filmmaker and visual artist Nicolas Provost brings his compelling and assured 2011 debut The Invader (L’envahisseur) to the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Acting as a refreshingly unbiased examination of illegal immigration and asylum seekers, Provost’s film is a surreal and demanding drama build around a sublime central performance by Issaka Sawadogo. Continue reading

Cecile B. Evans – Hyperlinks or it didn’t happen (2014)

Hyperlinks or it Didn’t Happen questions the identity of the mediated subject. “PHIL,” a “bad copy” of recently deceased actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, narrates a procession of bodies generated or augmented by computers. The most alluring among them is the Invisible Woman, who—like the anti-hero of Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel Invisible Man—is invisible not because of magic but because she is unseen. She is a metaphor for all the women in the film: Yowane Haku, the synthesized, holographic pop star developed in Japan; AGNES, the bot that Evans was recently commissioned to embed in the Serpentine Galleries’ website; the Computer Girls, programmers in the 1960s; and Evans herself—all of them under-recognized workers who maintain the system that oppresses them. Continue reading

Douglas McGrath – Becoming Mike Nichols (2016)

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Anyone who ever spent any time alone with Mike Nichols will tell you he was one of the most charming men who ever lived. I had that experience once, long ago, over a four-hour lunch. Thanks to HBO’s Becoming Mike Nichols, a splendid new documentary debuting on Monday night, everyone can have their own tête-a-tête. Most of this fine film is drawn from an extended conversation between Nichols and his good friend, theater director Jack O’Brien. Their talk took place in an empty – and then filled – Golden Theater, the Broadway venue where Nichols’ fame began, with An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May in 1960. The film is the product of a chance encounter between O’Brien and the writer Alex Witchel at a Manhattan dinner party in 2014. O’Brien told Witchel the celebrated director was looking frail and was never going to write a memoir. Wouldn’t it be great to capture his best memories before he was gone? Witchel repeated the idea to her husband, writer Frank Rich, who also happens to be an HBO executive. His bosses embraced the idea. O’Brien agreed to interview, Douglas McGrath was hired to direct, and within weeks they were off to the Golden. Four months later, Nichols died of a heart attack aged83. It was Nichols’ idea to do at least part of the interview in front of a live audience, and that makes his performance much more vivid than in any of his other filmed interviews. Continue reading