Magdalena Szymków – Mój dom AKA My House Without Me (2012)

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Two women, one house. An intimate story about a Pole and a German placed by war on enemy sides and their parallel lives accidentally brought together.

The film reflects on the concepts of invaders, victim, guilt and forgiveness. It confronts different experiences and their paradoxical similarities. It deals with the controversial subject of the post-war accountings.

The visual narration is flowing, guided by memories and archives. Traditional documentation confronts experimental use of archival footage in the cinematic impression about displacement. Continue reading

John Berger and Susan Sontag – To Tell A Story [Voices] (1983)

““Somebody dies,” says John Berger. “It’s not just a question of tact that one then says, well, perhaps it is possible to tell that story,” but “it’s because, after that death, one can read that life. The life becomes readable.” His interlocutor, a certain Susan Sontag, interjects: “A person who dies at 37 is not the same as a person who dies at 77.” True, he replies, “but it can be somebody who dies at 90. The life becomes readable to the storyteller, to the writer. Then she or he can begin to write.” Berger, the consummate storyteller as well as thinker about stories, left behind these and millions of other memorable words, spoken and written, when he yesterday passed away at age 90 himself. Continue reading

Johan van der Keuken – To Sang Fotostudio + Leven met je ogen aka Living with your eyes (1997)

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Description: Those familiar with van der Keuken’s films are aware of his extraordinary capacity to observe with a camera, to make the everyday magical and to slowly reveal the marvelous complexity of individuals’ lives. In his captivating new short, the delightful van der Keuken focuses on photography, in particular the extraordinary figure of a Chinese immigrant portrait photographer. A man of great authority, To Sang poses his various clients, all of whom work on the same street, with a precise sense of what constitutes a good photograph. He “directs” his clients into old- fashioned poses with a deft series of gestures: a Pakistani daughter stands between her visiting mother and father, a Kurdish son with his parents, a Surinamese travel agent sits alone. For van der Keuken, these photographs are “dream images,” more revealing of illusions and role-playing than reality. To Sang Fotostudio is not only a reflexive meditation on what an image is but also a complex portrait of a colorful, diverse neighborhood. Continue reading

Johan van der Keuken – De Weg naar het Zuiden AKA The Way South (1981)

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The coronation of Queen Beatrix on the eve of May Day in 1980 provides a salient point of departure for Johan van der Keuken’s The Way South, a cultural interrogation into the intertwined sociopolitical landscape of immigration, dislocation, underprivilege, and class division. Continuing on the prevailing theme of economic disparity between the continental north and south (in such essay films as Diary, The White Castle, and the The New Ice Age), van der Keuken encounters his first destination within a short distance from his home in Amsterdam, where a unused office building on Kinker Street has been converted to a communal squat by activists (who see their action as a pragmatic solution to the affordable housing shortage by making use of existing real estate that would otherwise remain unoccupied). Facing an imminent siege by riot police to force their eviction, the squatters discuss the logistics of their staged resistance, from rounding up volunteers for round the clock sentry duty to guard the main entrance, to installing reinforcing screens in order to thwart a surprise intrusion from unsecured windows. Intercutting a shot of the activists protesting in the street with footage of a public rally celebrating the country’s liberation in 1945, van der Keuken presents the activists’ defiant expression of freedom within the irony of self-imprisonment that reveals their idealistic act of resistance. Continue reading

Manoel de Oliveira – O Pão AKA Bread [Short Version] (1959)

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Each day, a man must work around the clock to produce and acquire bread: throwing the seeds into earth, helping the breeding of the corn, the corn’s recolt, transport to the mills, manipulation of the flour into actual bread, transport to a variety of locations and consumers. Continue reading

Robert Fischer & Wilfried Reichart – The Mysteries of Paris: Jacques Rivette’s Out 1 Revisited (2015)

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There’s little doubt that, for the serious cinephile, the home video event of this fall will be the the release of Jacques Rivette’s magnum opus OUT 1 (1971) on blu-ray and DVD in three territories: Carlotta Films and Carlotta US will kick off on November 18 in France and the USA respectively, with Arrow Films in the UK following suit on November 30. All three dual-format editions will feature a brand-new Fiction Factory documentary: THE MYSTERIES OF PARIS: JACQUES RIVETTE’S »OUT 1« REVISITED, conceived and directed by Robert Fischer and Wilfried Reichart. Continue reading