H.A. Lettow & Ernst Schäfer – Geheimnis Tibet – The Enigma of Tibet (1943)

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In 1938 Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler sponsored an expedition to Tibet lead by several Nazi SS scientists to study the regions flora and fauna, and to take scientific measurements of the Earths magnetic fields. The expedition was also sent to find traces of the orgins of the “Aryan” race in Tibet which was where Himmler thought evidence of could be found. This film is a Nazi era documentary of that expedition. Continue reading

Rowan Lee Hartsuiker – Chandmani Sum (2009)

Mongolia. A place of many stories. Vast and endless steppes, mountains and deserts. Chinggis Khaan, symbol for The Land of the Blue Sky. But what exactly is the true face behind this least populated country of the world?

As an audio and visual experience this film brings you in the middle of a journey through Chandmani Sum, a small village in West Mongolia. Through the eyes of an anonymous person we witness an experimental view on the real life of Mongolian countryside.

–Rowan Lee Hartsuiker Continue reading

Philippe Falardeau – La Moitié Gauche Du Frigo AKA The Left-Hand Side of the Fridge (2000)

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Christophe, a 30-year-old unemployed engineer, gets a proposition by his roommate to do a documentary on his job searching. Amused by the idea, Christophe accepts to be filmed daily. But what was initially conceived as a short-term project stretches into months with tensions mounting as Christophe’s employment prospects diminish and Stephane turns the documentary into full-time work.

The Left-Hand Side of the Fridge is a funny and engaging look on how unemployment affects our lives.
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Kazuo Hara – Gokushiteki erosu: Renka 1974 aka Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974 (1974)

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An impressive documentary in which Kazuo Hara tackles an unusual and highly personal subject: his former girlfriend, Takeda Miyuki. In many ways this film feels like a home movie, with the eventual out of sync sound and the occasionally blurry cinematography. It is also, however, an impressive personal and subjective documentation of a relationship as well as an example of alternative lifestyles in 70’s Japan. During 3 years Kazuo Hara follows his ex-lover, a feminist, bisexual and independent woman. The most impressive parts come from the highly personal moments (and some could argue, for the voyeuristic pleasure of the spectator) such as when Miyuki is having a new relationship with a black American man and when she gives birth to his child, all alone in her bed. Even at a time today when the personal lives of many people are bared in all fronts, from internet to reality shows, this film still stands out. After all, there is a major difference to simply being shown someone else’s life for TV ratings and having it candidly discussed from a first person point of view. Continue reading

Vladimir Carvalho – O País de São Saruê AKA The Land Of São Saruê (1971)

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Plot Outline: Documentary about a region in Northeast Brazil, situated in an area subject to severe drought, and the evolution of its economic activities.

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The Land Of São Saruê, one of the most important Brazilian documentaries, was produced in 1970. It was banned by censorship until 1979 when it wasselected for the Brasilia Festival and wont the jury prize. The film, now restored, was hot in 16mm and then copied onto 35mm. The 16mm original has disappeared. The restoration was made using the extant 35mm internegative. The treatment given to the original sound generated a new re-equalized and remixed sound negative. Within the constraints of an optical restoration the restorers tired to eliminate imperfections caused by improper handling and storage. Due to the poor conditions of the original material some scenes couldn’t be totally restored. This optical restoration will enable such defects to be minimized through digital treatment in the future. Restoration was made from March 2003 through September 2004 by Francisco Sergio Moreira, under the supervision of the original director, Vlamidir Carvalho with Myrna Brandão and Carlos Augosto Brandão from the Brazilian Cinema Researchers’ Center. Continue reading