Abbas Fahdel – Homeland (Iraq Year Zero) (2015)

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What would you do if the world’s most fearsome military presence threatened to invade where you live? How does one even begin to prepare for that kind of assault? In “Homeland (Iraq Year Zero),” Baghdad-situated filmmaker Abbas Fahdel offers world audiences an extraordinary opportunity to identify with the “enemy” in the Iraq War — conveniently faceless in most Western coverage, but humanized here by members of Fahdel’s own family. Clocking in at nearly six hours and presented in what may feel like raw homevideo form, this transformative verite glimpse into the lives of everyday Iraqis demands both patience and empathy to sit through, but the reward is worth every second, as an extremely limited number of courageous programmers and curious audiences can attest. Continue reading

Werner Herzog – Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World (2016)

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“I think anyone who claims they know what’s going to happen to the internet is not worth listening to.” This summation of the way we understand and can predict the interconnectivity of the future seems an apposite way to begin a discussion of Werner Herzog’s expansive, nebulous investigation in Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World. The notion that we can’t really know anything is catnip for a director who revels in intricate philosophical enquiry. Audiences undoubtedly excited by the lip-smacking prospect of an intent documentary from the man who asked a journalist, baffled, whether Pokémon GO resulted in murder. Continue reading

Calum Waddell – Slice and Dice: The Slasher Film Forever (2012)

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From shadowlocked.com
Norman Bates once said “We all go a little crazy sometimes,” but never has this been truer than in the genre that spawned everybody’s favourite mother’s boy. I speak, of course, of the slasher film, the roots of which can arguably be traced back to Psycho (1960), Alfred Hitchcock’s monochrome masterpiece. Though there are cases for other films being the trigger point for the modern stalk and slash movie, notably Mario Bava’s Bay of Blood (1971), Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom (1960), and even the various celluloid incarnations of Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, all of which are put forward by the contributors in Calum Waddell and Naomi Holwill’s Slice and Dice: The Slasher Film Forever, it was Psycho that brought murder to the masses and opened the vein for what was to follow.Considering the popularity of the slasher movie over the subsequent four decades or so, it’s surprising that there hasn’t been a documentary like Slice and Dice before now, but like the pay off in a well plotted horror movie, it’s definitely been worth waiting for. Continue reading

Cordelia Dvorak – John Berger or The Art of Looking (2016)

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John Berger: The Art of Looking
BBC Four
Sun 6 Nov 2016
10.30pm-11.25pm

Art, politics and motorcycles – on the occasion of his 90th birthday John Berger or the Art of Looking is an intimate portrait of the writer and art critic whose ground-breaking work on seeing has shaped ourunderstanding of the concept for over five decades. The film explores how paintings become narratives and stories turn into images, and rarely does anybody demonstrate this as poignantly as Berger.

Berger lived and worked for decades in a small mountain village in the French Alps, where the nearness to nature, the world of the peasants and his motorcycle, which for him deals so much with presence, inspired his drawing and writing. Continue reading

Kirsten Johnson – Cameraperson (2016)

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A boxing match in Brooklyn; life in postwar Bosnia and Herzegovina; the daily routine of a Nigerian midwife; an intimate family moment at home: these scenes and others are woven into Cameraperson, a tapestry of footage collected over the twenty-five-year career of documentary cinematographer Kirsten Johnson.
Through a series of episodic juxtapositions, Johnson explores the relationships between image makers and their subjects, the tension between the objectivity and intervention of the camera, and the complex interaction of unfiltered reality and crafted narrative. A hybrid work that combines documentary, autobiography, and ethical inquiry, Cameraperson is both a moving glimpse into one filmmaker’s personal journey and a thoughtful examination of what it means to train a camera on the world.
Exposing her role behind the camera, Kirsten Johnson reaches into the vast trove of footage she has shot over decades around the world. What emerges is a visually bold memoir and a revelatory interrogation of the power of the camera. Continue reading

John Berger and Michael Silverblatt – Conversations 1 and 2 (2002)

John Berger is a storyteller, essayist, novelist, screenwriter, dramatist and critic, whose body of work embodies his concern for, in Geoff Dyer’s words, “the enduring mystery of great art and the lived experience of the oppressed.”

He is one of the most internationally influential writers of the last fifty years, who has explored the relationships between the individual and society, culture and politics and experience and expression in a series of novels, book works, essays, plays, films, photographic collaborations and performances, unmatched in their diversity, ambition and reach. His television series and book Ways of Seeing revolutionized the way that Fine Art is read and understood, while his engagement with European peasantry and migration in the fiction trilogy Into Their Labours and A Seventh Man stand as models of empathy and insight.

John Berger in conversation with Michael Silverblatt at Berger’s home, a working farm, in Quincy, Mieussy, France, October 2002. Silverblatt is the host of the radio interview program, Bookworm. Continue reading