Roger Ebert @ Chicago Sun-Times, September 25, 2005 wrote:
There is an astonishing sequence in Robert J. Flaherty’s “Nanook of the North” (1922) in which his hero, the Inuit hunter Nanook, hunts a seal. Flaherty shows the most exciting passage in one unbroken shot. Nanook knows that seals must breathe every 20 minutes, and keep an air hole open for themselves in the ice of the Arctic winter. He finds such a hole, barely big enough to be seen and is poised motionless above it with his harpoon until a seal rises to breathe. Then he strikes and holds onto the line as the seal plunges to escape.
There is a desperate tug of war. Nanook hauls the line 10 or 12 feet out of the hole, and then is dragged back, sliding across the ice, and pulls again, and again. We can’t see, but he must have the line tied to his body — to lose would be to drown. He desperately signals for his fellow hunters to help him, and we see them running across the ice with their dogs as he struggles to hold on. They arrive at last, and three or four of them pull on the line. The seal prevails. Nanook uses his knife to enlarge the hole, and the seal at last is revealed and killed. The hunters immediately strip it of its blubber and dine on its raw flesh.
Much has been sad about this documentary, before it’s been shown. Europe outside Italy has its view clear. How is Berlusconi possible? You meet this agent with Mussolini songs in his cell phone. You meet the paparazzi king who with a considerable amount of self irony calls himself a Robin Hood, who takes from the poor and gives to himself. You also meet the 26-year-old worker, still living with his mother, who wants to be famous, combining Ricky Martin songs with karate tricks.
What we are supposed to think is obvious, but who is to blame? Is it the TV viewers who let this happened or someone else? The hen or the egg once again. That’s the discussion which really ought to start from this film. (Stensson, from IMDB)
A man has been living for thirty years as a recluse in a forest in France. Alone, he hews out deep underground tunnels and galleries, which he decorates with his own engravings. They must withstand the planetary disaster that has been announced, and they must explain things, through their perceptive messages, to future inhabitants. The film recounts this experience as lived on the sidelines of modern society, affected as it is by human wretchedness and the loss, once and for all, of a perfect world.
Made entirely of Scottish film archive, a journey into our collective past, the film explores universal themes of love, loss, resistance, migration, work and play. Ordinary people, some long since dead, their names and identities largely forgotten, appear shimmering from the depth of the vaults to take a starring role.
Brilliantly edited together, these silent individuals become composite characters, who emerge to tell us their stories, given voice by King Creosote’s poetic music and lyrics. Continue reading
Take a compelling look at the point where religious fanaticism gives way to murderous intent as politically-minded filmmaker Pierre Rehov explores the mind and motivations of the contemporary Middle Eastern suicide bomber. Though interviews with both the families of successful suicide bombers and would-be suicide bombers who attempts to achieve martyrdom were somehow thwarted, Rehov probes his subjects to get answers that are often as surprising as they are shocking.
Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide
Banned until very recently, Arteche’s clandestine documentary chronicles a group of students’ movements in Mexico in 1968.
On July 22, 1968, two rival groups of male adolescent students fought each other in the Ciudadela neighbourhood of Mexico City; the next day the city government responded by sending policemen to stop the accompanying vandalism and to arrest the perpetrators. These riot police (granaderos) attacked the students so ferociously that protests were lodged. No one could have foreseen that both of these testosterone-driven events were the opening scene of the drama of the 1968 University-State conflict which climaxed in the Tlatelolco massacre.
Dominique Dubosc’s documentary film is a unique and unforgettable meditation which disrupts any separation between art and documentary filmmaking from the first frame and continues to surprise throughout.Using images (stills, video, landscapes, interviews, architectures) shot between 2001 and 2007, the director assembles a series of distinct chapters which move between impressionistic studies of unusual spaces and structures observed in the occupied Palestinian territories, to informal interviews in which the narratives of Palestinians in the West Bank are presented unadorned.