As a documentarian cleans out the flat that belonged to his grandparents – both immigrants from Nazi Germany – he uncovers clues pointing to a complicated and shocking story. Continue reading
L.A. Times Review (exerpt):
By Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Plays Itself’
The metropolis is exposed in a clip-laden documentary about its role in cinema, classic and otherwise.
It is a remarkable work, quite likely the best documentary on the City of Angels ever made…
…Thom Andersen’s 2-hour, 49-minute “Los Angeles Plays Itself,” a cinematic essay/meditation and labor of love on how this city has been depicted on the screen. Smart, insightful, unapologetically idiosyncratic and bristling with provocative ideas, it’s as sprawling and multi-faceted, fascinating and frustrating as L.A. (an abbreviation Andersen despises) itself.
…the heart of “Los Angeles Plays Itself” (and the reason why a commercial release is problematic) is brilliant and extensive use of clips from a hoard of feature films.
Starting with a startling opening shot of distraught stripper Sugar Torch running on a downtown street, from Sam Fuller’s “Crimson Kimono,” through a closing segment on the black independent films “Bush Mama,” “Killer of Sheep” and “Bless Their Little Hearts,” Andersen serves up segments of more than 200 films, from 1913′s “A Muddy Romance” through 2001′s “Hanging Up.” Truly, as the voice-over read by fellow independent filmmaker Encke King suggests, this has to be the most photographed city in the world. Continue reading
Around the World with Orson Welles (1955) is a series of 26-minute TV documentaries, made for British television. Five of the episodes survive, and have been collected and released on a DVD. Welles compared the series to home movies. This is a bit misleading. There are travelogue sections shot silent, edited together with narration by Welles – segments that do resemble in form the average person’s vacation films of the era. But there are also extensive synch sound interviews with people Welles meets in his travels. These parts are a bit like a talk show, although they are generally set on locations where the person lives, rather than in a studio. In general, Welles resists “voice of authority” narration here, and tries to disguise his comments as elements of conversation with another character. Welles will also frequently show the camera, microphone, and the camera crews filming. It is part of the spectacle. Continue reading
A look at a rally to free Huey Newton. Continue reading
The indignados movement, known also as 15M, represents a unique phenomenon for our times: a transversal, transnational, transhistorical. It has brought back concepts and ideas that seemed to have been forgotten. This film is a journalistic period piece updated on the years of the international crisis, through the protesters’ voices, slogans, chants, where the only solution to the crumbling Spanish economy seems to be class warfare. – Festival Scope
With VERS MADRID Sylvain George makes a “newsreel” with the cinematic experiments in mind conducted by the likes of for example Robert Kramer, Jean-Luc Godard during the seventies. A newsreel which presents views, scenes, political moments of class struggle and revolution in Madrid in 2011, 2012, 2013. As a “newsreel experimental”, the film tries to present political and poetical experiments, but also shows new forms of life, implemented by generations which have remained too long in silence. Past and future meet in the present at Place Puerta del Sol, where they are constantly reinvented. —Joana Ribelle Continue reading
The phrase ‘Catching Out’ describes the act of hopping a freight train. In the documentary film “Catching Out,” the adventure begins on the porch of a grainer hurtling through the arid expanse of the Mojave Desert. The journey continues into the unconventional terrain of an American sub-culture. The film features a seasoned eco-activist named Lee, a young nomad named Jessica, and a tramp couple named Switch and Baby Girl. In three interwoven stories, “Catching Out” follows these contemporary trainhoppers as they navigate between the constraints of society and the freedom of the road.
In the opening sequence, as passing scenery floats and blurs across the horizon, Lee describes the visceral experience of hopping a train. Switch and Baby Girl enjoy the view through the door of an open boxcar. Jessica recounts the thrill of her first freight trip and asserts, “It changes your perspective completely.” Her boyfriend, Dan, recalls, “I just absolutely fell in love with the lifestyle and with the trains and with the misery that accompanies it all.” Continue reading