Thomas Heise – Vaterland AKA Fatherland (2002)

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“Vaterland” is a key work in Thomas Heise’s filmography. In the beginning a voice over reads the letters his father Wolfgang and his brother sent their family from a labour camp. When they were 19 they had been sentenced to a labour camp for so-called «jüdische Mischlinge», Jewish half-breed. The camp was located in Straguth, in the surroundings of Zerbst, State of Saxony-Anhalt. At the time of the shooting the village counted about 290 inhabitants. Maybe the most «Fordian» movie by Thomas Heise. Continue reading

Celine Danhier – Blank City (2010)

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Directed by French newcomer Celine Danhier, BLANK CITY captures the idiosyncratic, explosive energy of the “No Wave Cinema” and “Cinema of Transgression” movements. Stark and provocative, the films drew name and inspiration from the French New Wave, as well as Film Noir, and the works of Andy Warhol and John Waters. Filmmakers such as Jim Jarmusch, Eric Mitchell, Beth B, Charlie Ahearn, Lizzie Borden and Amos Poe showcased the city’s vibrant grit, and bore witness to the rising East Village art and rock scenes and the birth of hip hop. Short, long, color or black-and-white, their stripped-down films portrayed themes of alienation and dissonance with a raw and genuine spirit, at times with deadpan humor or blurring lines between fiction and reality. From Amos Poe’s enigmatic The FOREIGNER to James Nares’ comedic ROME 78 to Beth B & Scott B’s political BLACK BOX — the No Wave Movement was as varied as it was lively. Continue reading

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

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

Paul Mariano & Kurt Norton – These Amazing Shadows [+Extras] (2011)

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What do the films Casablanca, Blazing Saddles, and West Side Story have in common? Besides being popular, they have also been deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant,” by the Library of Congress and listed on the National Film Registry, a roll call of American cinema treasures.

For more than two decades, since the passage of the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, the Librarian of Congress [sic]–with input from the public and advice from the National Film Preservation Board–has selected 25 films every year to add to the Registry. The current list of 550 films includes selections from every genre: documentaries, home movies, Hollywood classics, avant-garde, newsreels, and silent films; and these movies tell us much about ourselves and the American experience–shining light on not just what we did, but what we thought, what we felt, what we imagined, what we aspired to…and the lies we told ourselves. Continue reading