Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is a hero in Latin America for his willingness to stand up to the United States (both the government and the private sector) and his desire to use the nation’s petroleum resources as a tool to bring a better way of life to the working class under his rule. But Chavez’s policies have made him many enemies in North America, and in the American news media (especially conservative outlets such as Fox News), Chavez has been demonized for his rejection of U.S. policy, his pro-socialist stance, and his openly combative stance toward George W. Bush. Are either of these extremes an accurate portrait of the real Hugo Chavez? Filmmaker Oliver Stone presents a portrait of Chavez the politician and Chavez the man in his documentary South of the Border, which is built around a series of in-depth interviews Stone conducted with the Venezuelan president. Stone also includes interviews with a number of other major Latin American leaders, among them Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner, Brazil’s Lula da Silva, and Cuba’s Raul Castro. South of the Border was an official selection at the 2009 Venice International Film Festival.- by Mark Deming Continue reading
Filmed on the Iran/Afghanistan border, KANDAHAR is a semi-documentary style movie that chronicles the perilous journey undertaken by an expatriate female journalist, Nafas, to reach the city of Kandahar, where she hopes to rescue her sister from committing suicide during an impending eclipse. However, Nafas’s odyssey is really little more than a device to lift the veil on the poverty and hardship of life in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
Through a series of vignettes, the movie succeeds beautifully in revealing insights that are both fascinating and harrowing. It is almost impossible to imagine a culture so far removed from the relatively comfortable life enjoyed by more ‘civilised’ nations. Young boys rock back and forth, reciting the Koran while learning to become Mullahs, pausing only to recite the meaning and purpose of the sabre and semi-automatic machine gun when prompted by their teacher; young girls have lessons in how to resist the temptation to pick up possibly booby-trapped dolls; a doctor treats his female patient by speaking to them via children as they sit either side of a makeshift screen, and conducts his examinations through a small hole in the screen; the threat and consequences of land-mines pervade everybody’s life, and year-long waits for prosthetic legs are commonplace, so that prosthetics become a black-market currency. Continue reading
“Pasolini Pa* Palestine is an attempt to repeat Pasolini’s trip to Palestine in his film, Seeking Locations in Palestine for The Gospel According to Matthew (1963). It adapts his script into a route map superimposed on the current landscape, creating contradictions and breaks between the visual and the audible, the expected and the real. The video explores the question of repetition. For Heidegger Wiederholung ‘repetition, retrieval’ is one of the terms he uses for the appropriate attitude toward the past. “By the repetition of a basic problem we understand the disclosure of its original, so far hidden possibilities.” The project ventures a conversation and a dialogue with Pasolini, especially his ‘Poem for the Third World’. Discutere ‘to smash to pieces’ is the Latin source of dialogue, discussion. The piece does not criticize Pasolini, but reveals unnoticed possibilities in his thought and works back to the ‘experiences’ that inspired it.” (Ayreen Anastas) Continue reading
Late in this documentary about film critic Roger Ebert, the subject himself e-mails director Steve James from the hospital to insist that a difficult conversation with his wife Chaz be captured for the movie. After all, he writes, “This is not only your film.”
The correspondence underscores how this filmic profile is also a kind of a self-portrait by Ebert. It shares a title with the critic’s 2011 memoir, passages of which are lifted to narrate his rise from precocious tabloid reviewer to unlikely celebrity to national treasure. And while it’s too candid about Ebert’s ego, petulance, and late-career critical softening to be called hagiography, that very frankness does harmonize with the critic’s own eleventh-hour turn toward full and fearless disclosure. He came out as alcoholic in 2009, used his blog to inform readers of his health issues (which rendered him unable to speak in 2006), and here thrills to James’s documenting of his most painful medical ordeals.
L’aliénation mentale filmée en Lozère, à l’hôpital psychiatrique de Saint-Alban : constat sur les malades eux-mêmes et sur la patiente rééducation de leur cerveau par les psychiatres.
« C’est un film sur l’impossibilité de montrer la folie, explique Mario Ruspoli dans un entretien accordé au Monde en 1962. Cependant, il est possible de faire passer derrière le miroir, d’utiliser comme tremplin, comme moyen de communication, l’angoisse, qui est le dénominateur commun entre le malade, le médecin et le public. Seul, ce dénominateur commun d’angoisse nous fait pénétrer à l’intérieur du monde de la folie. » Claude Mauriac confirme ces propos : « Parmi les malades non délirants dont la pensée demeure cohérente, les raseurs restent les raseurs. D’où des longueurs. Les autres, les enterrés vifs, font à l’arrière-plan les mêmes gestes toujours recommencés et, toute fraternité oubliée, nous avons peur, parce que nous nous sentons en danger. » Le documentariste explique ses méthodes : « Nous avons mis peu à peu notre technique au point et nous avons utilisé une équipe de trois extrêmement mobile qui permet de filmer en courant, le cas échéant : un cameraman, un homme pour la mise au point, un preneur de son. Pour les interviews dans les fermes, j’ai pensé que si on prenait un interviewer de l’extérieur, les paysans ne diraient rien ; je suis donc arrivé avec des gens du milieu : un docteur, un curé, un instituteur agricole itinérant. L’important, c’est que les gens s’habituent à vous, qu’ils vous connaissent, qu’ils aient de l’estime, de l’amitié pour vous. Il faut les mettre en confiance, il faut qu’ils sachent que vous n’allez pas les trahir, les ridiculiser, les fausser pour leur faire servir une thèse dans le style Mondo Cane. Il faut que les réalisateurs aient une fantastique conscience professionnelle. »
Jodorowsky’s Dune is a 2013 American documentary film directed by Frank Pavich. The film explores Chilean-French director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s unsuccessful attempt to adapt and film Frank Herbert’s 1965 science fiction novel Dune in the mid-1970s.
To Baltimore locals, the 12 O’Clock Boys are hooligans – a group of urban dirt-bikers that perform death-defying stunts at excessive speeds through traffic and impressively evade the hamstrung police, who must adhere to a no-chase policy to maintain public safety. Yet they are heroes to Pug, a bright, young adolescent living in the city’s dangerous Westside neighborhood with his charismatic mother Coco, extended family, and a menagerie of animals to which he tends in his long-standing hope to be a veterinarian. Yet as his obsession with the 12 O’Clock Boys grows, his desire to join the bikers begins eclipsing everything else in his life, much to Coco’s dismay. Filled with stunningly kinetic footage that puts the viewer on up-close ride-alongs with the bikers, 12 O’CLOCK BOYS provides a compelling and personal story of a young boy and his dangerous, thrilling dream. (c) Oscilloscope Continue reading