Documentary

Heinz Emigholz – Loos Ornamental (2008)

Heinz Emigholz-Loos Ornamental / Photography and Beyond – Part 13 (2008)

The film shows 27 still-existing buildings and interiors by Austrian architect Adolf Loos (1870–1933) in order of their construction. Adolf Loos was one of the pioneers of European Modernist architecture. His vehement turn against ornamentation on buildings triggered a controversy in architectural theory. The development of his “spatial plan” launched a new way of thinking about spaces to be built. His houses, furniture for shops and apartments, facades, and monuments were built between 1899 and 1931. They were filmed in 2006 in Vienna, Lower Austria, Prague, Brno, Pilsen, Nachod, and Paris in their present surroundings. Read More »

Saeed Al Batal & Ghiath Ayoub – Still Recording (2018)

In 2011, Saeed and Milad decide to leave Damascus for Douma (in Eastern Ghouta) to take part in the Syrian revolution. Events move fast: Douma is liberated by the rebels, the revolutionary enthusiasm spreads among the young, then comes war, siege, famine… They filmed life in Douma for more than four years, from the initial euphoria to the distress and disenchantment that settled in over the years. Read More »

Noriaki Tsuchimoto – Document Rojo AKA On the Road: The Document (1964)

In 1963, Japan was in the midst of its long period of high economic growth and Tokyo was busy revamping its urban infrastructure. When most were celebrating the economic expansion, Noriaki Tsuchimoto focused his analytical gaze on the life of one taxi driver. What he saw were miserable and unhealthy labor conditions, a Tokyo littered with traffic jams and construction work, a city where traffic accidents were multiplying and pedestrians unsafe. Coupling the tense visuals with impressive music, Tsuchimoto likens this supposedly new Tokyo to a skeletal wreck. Read More »

Santiago Álvarez – LBJ (1968)

LBJ is deservedly one of Alvarez’s best known shorts, a stunning piece of visual and musical montage using found materials, reaching a high pitch of satire Alvarez seems to have reserved for President Johnson. The film contains three main sections, with a prologue and an epilogue. The sections correspond to the three letters of Johnson’s initials. Alvarez uses them to stand for Luther as in Martin Luther King, Bob as in Robert Kennedy, and Jack or John, his brother. It’s a bold play on the strange coincidence that the corpses of these three men littered Johnson’s ascent. The film steers pretty close to libel, so to speak, in linking Johnson to the assassinations, but this is not the point…. What Alvarez does is to portray Johnson’s presidency as the culmination of a whole history of socio-political corruption, not of individual presidential corruption of a kind that was yet to come. Read More »

Reinhard Wulf – Amerikanische Landschaften – Unterwegs mit James Benning AKA James Benning: Circling the Image (2003)

Synopsis:
The American filmmaker James Benning has been one of the outstanding exponents of the structural film since the mid-1970s. Bennings artistic position has been strongly influenced by mathematics and by the creativity of mathematical thinking. With his new project 13 Lakes, James Benning goes one step further towards reducing things to a minimum. The film focuses on thirteen large American lakes (including Salton Sea, Lake Powell, and Lake Michigan) along with their geographical and historical relationship to the landscape. This documentary film was occasioned by 13 Lakes, and was shot in California, Arizona, and Utah. It accompanies the artist for a week as he searches for locations and as he films the first two shots for his own film. Read More »

Nanni Moretti – La cosa (1990)

From: Cinema On Cinema: Self-reflexive Memories in Recent Italian History Films, by Tiziana Ferrero-Regis
Nanni Moretti’s documentary, La cosa (The Thing, 1990), represents the painful transformation of the PCI (Italian Communist Party) through the voices of the party’s members who met throughout Italy to discuss the changes proposed by the PCI’s leadership. From the confronting debates depicted in La cosa, the re-evocation of the history of the Italian Left and of its founding principles emerge as a background, creating a nostalgic longing for a style of politics that had disappeared in Italy. Read More »

Peter von Bagh – Helsinki, ikuisesti AKA Helsinki, Forever (2008)

Probably writer-director Peter von Bagh’s masterpiece in the documentary genre, a personal love letter to the city of Helsinki as it once was and as it might have been, taking the form of a collage of film clips, photographs, paintings, song and music fragments, quotations from Finnish writers and von Bagh’s own musings, read by himself and the actors Erja Manto and Sulevi Peltola. A real treat, not to be missed by any fan of Finnish cinema or the “city symphony” genre. Read More »