Janet Bergstrom – Murnau’s 4 Devils: Traces of a Lost Film (2003)

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One of the cinema’s Holy Grails, Murnau’s lost Four Devils (1928) starred Janet Gaynor, fresh from Sunrise, in a circus drama set in Paris. In this 40-minute documentary, UCLA film scholar Bergstrom reconstructs the film through stills, set blueprints, and production drawings. Continue reading

Gary Tarn – Black Sun (2005)

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Brief synopsis :
(www.britfilms.com)

Tragically blinded in a random street mugging, Hugues de Montalembert defied expectation and continued to travel the world, alone. In Black Sun film-maker and composer Gary Tarn constructs a poetic meditation on an extraordinary life without vision.

Description
(by kamera.co.uk)

Black Sun documents the artist’s will to live a full life, free of fear and impediment. Opening with aerial shots of New York, Montalembert describes the violent events that left him sightless. As he does, identifiable images meld together into a palette of colours, finally becoming little more than a spectrum of lights, slowly dimming, until we are left with the ‘dark honey’ glow that Montalembart tells us he has lived with for the last twenty-eight years. He candidly describes his refusal to go through the motions that doctors told him were the steps to his recovery – nervous breakdown, acceptance of disability, rehabilitation and adapting to a new life full of restrictions – instead setting out his own plan, which would see him travel alone to Indonesia within 18 months of the attack. From there he journeyed to Bali, where he began to write down his experiences. The resulting book became an international bestseller. Since then, Montalembert has continued to travel and write.
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Abel Ferrara – Mulberry St. (2010)

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Synopsis

In this film, Bronx-born director Abel Ferrara energetically documents Manhattan’s Little Italy during the famed San Gennaro feast. As Ferrara explains, the feast “brings all the characters out.” He introduces viewers to Butchie the Hat, Cha Cha, Baby John, and others, who reminisce about the pre-Giuliani feast as prepare for the annual “invasion” of tourists. Actors and musicians including Danny Aiello and Matthew Modine make appearances. Continue reading

Gerhard Benedikt Friedl – Hat Wolff von Amerongen Konkursdelikte begangen? aka Did Wolff von Amerongen Commit Bankruptcy Offenses? (2004)

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The most remarkable discovery in recent German-language cinema: Gerhard Friedl’s first feature is a hypnotic visual puzzle at the interface of documentary, essay film and pulp fiction. On the soundtrack: an unflinchingly ‘objective’ account of the labyrinthine genealogies, criminal involvements and afflictions of Germany’s economic leaders in the 20th century. On the screen: pans and tracking shots through European financial centres, production sites and landscapes. The sheer depth and crispness of these images is a treat in itself; a transformation into cinégénie of what artists like Candida Höfer or Jeff Wall have done by means of still photography. At times, image and sound are aligned, at others they just miss each other. They invariably suggest correlations. Paranoia? Irony? Can the prosaic, criminal state of affairs of a modern economy be depicted at all? Pierre Rissient, the French film historian, puts the film where it belongs: “Fritz Lang would have loved it!” Continue reading

Ben Hopkins – 37 Uses For A Dead Sheep (2006)

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portrait of the Kirghiz tribe, living a quasi-Iron Age existence in one of the remotest places on earth.

37 Uses For A Dead Sheep is a documentary with a sense of humour. However, as he recounts the eventful history of Central Asian tribe the Pamir Kirghiz, director Ben Hopkins stays on the right side of Borat-style ethnic mockery, treating his subjects with affection and esteem. He also turns a few of them into film stars in a range of reconstructions that entertainingly reveal the community’s journey over the last century or so.

Evocative title, that. Could the film itself possibly match it? Director Ben Hopkins finds the Pamir Kirghiz, a small Central-Asian tribe now living in eastern Turkey, and works together with them to craft a fleet-footed, intriguingly pomo documentary about this little-known group of nomads. Hopkins uses the tribes people to reenact moments from their history (shot in grainy 16mm), then shoots himself shooting them, then interviews them about it, while intercutting it all with images of their life today, in a village the Turkish government pretty much settled just for them. Oh yeah, there’s also a framing device in which the director talks to an old Kirghiz man about—you guessed it—all the things they can do with a dead sheep. It’s all very meta, but once Hopkins reveals the odd backstory of this people, pingponging between the Great Powers (Russia, China, the U.K.) who controlled their homeland at various times, it’s hard to think of a more appropriate approach to this material. The result is an inventive look at some truly unwitting victims of history’s relentless, unforgiving march. Continue reading

Ingo Niermann & Erick Niedling – The Future of Art (2011)

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A film that came with a book in the same name, The Future of Art; A manual.
The film contains documentary and interviews on acclaimed artists about the direction of art towards the future.

with:

Marina Abramovic
Thomas Bayrle
Olaf Breuning
Genesis and lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge
Olafur Elaisson
Harald Falckenberg
Boris Groys
Damien Hirst
Gregor Jansen
Terence Koh
Gabriel Von Loebell
Marcos Lutyens
Philomene Magers
Antje Majewski
Hans Ulrich Obrist
Thomas Olbricht
Friedrich Petzel
Tobias Rehberger
Hans Georg Wagner
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François Reichenbach & Frédéric Rossif – Portrait: Orson Welles (1968)

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A famous French documentary director has chosen to match his talents with those of a powerful subject who talks on his youth, his formative years, his life and work. Reichenbach on Welles on Welles, one might say.

These recollections help to explain something of the creative processes of film making, comparing the behaviour of Welles the director and Welles the man. Orson at home, Orson interviewed at the Cannes Festival, Orson shooting a scene with Jeanne Moreau… Orson in portrait. No less. (MIFF) Continue reading