Louis Henderson – All That is Solid (2014)

A technographic study of e-recycling and neo-colonial mining filmed in the Agbogbloshie electronic waste ground in Accra and illegal gold mines of Ghana. The video constructs a mise-en-abyme as critique in order to dispel the capitalist myth of the immateriality of new technology — thus revealing the mineral weight with which the Cloud is grounded to its earthly origins. Continue reading

Petra Costa & Lea Glob – Olmo & the Seagull AKA Olmo e a Gaivota (2015)

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Olmo and the Seagull’ is a poetic and existential dive into an actress’s mind during the nine months of her pregnancy as she must confront her most fiery inner demons while trying to rewrite a new philosophy of life, identity and love. Underlying this hybrid film is mounting tension over what is real and what is enacted when one is performing one’s own life. (IMDb) Continue reading

Wim Wenders – Die Gebrüder Skladanowsky AKA A Trick of the Light (1995)

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“A Trick of Light” is a silly yet sporadically entertaining pseudo-documentary in which filmmaker Wim Wenders, along with the help of several film school students, tells the story of the Skladanowsky brothers – Max, Eugen, and Emil. In the late 1800s, the trio invented a method for projecting moving images which they called a Bioscope; unfortunately for the siblings, Auguste and Louis Lumière also emerged at around the same time with a similar – yet vastly superior – device called the Cinematographe. Wenders alternates between re-enacted footage of the brothers’ misadventures and an interview with Max’s 91-year-old daughter, with the former shot entirely on a vintage, hand-cranked camera (lending such sequences the feel of an authentic silent movie). It’s all very cute and watchable, though one can’t help but lament Wenders’ ill-advised decision to weave fictional elements into the interview footage (ie Max’s elderly daughter is interesting enough to ensure that such shenanigans ultimately come off as distracting and superfluous). Add to that the utterly interminable end credits (which go on for 20 minutes!), and you’ve got a film that’s admittedly not as bad as some of Wenders other efforts but disappointing nevertheless. Continue reading

Jonas Mekas – Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania (1972)

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After a twenty-seven year absence, Adolfas and his brother Jonas returned to their birthplace in Lithuania. They had left Lithuania as young men, destined for a German labor camp. Now they came home for a visit, Adolfas with his wife, the singer Pola Chapelle.

“The film consists of three parts. The first part is made up of footage I shot with my first Bolex, during my first years in America, mostly from 1950-1953. It shows me and my brother Adolfas, how we looked in those days; miscellaneous footage of immigrants in Brooklyn, picnicking, dancing, singing; the streets of Williamsburg. Continue reading

Yann Arthus-Bertrand – Home (2009)

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Description
The documentary chronicles the present day stance of the Earth, its climate and how we as the dominant species have long-term repercussions on its future. A theme expressed throughout the documentary is that of linkage; how all organisms and the Earth are linked in a “delicate but crucial” balance with each other, and how no organism can be self-sufficient.

Documentary with commentary by Glenn Close. In 200,000 years on earth humanity has upset the balance of the planet, established by nearly four billion years of evolution. The price to pay is high, but it’s too late to be a pessimist: humanity has barely ten years to reverse the trend, become aware of the full extent of its devastation of the Earth’s riches and change its patterns of consumption. Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s extraordinarily beautiful and moving film was made over three years, shot from the air in more than fifty countries. It is being screened all over the world on the same date, World Environment Day, to convince us all of our individual and collective responsibility towards the planet. Continue reading

Nicolas Rey – Les soviets plus l’électricité (2002) (DVD)

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This art-film is an imaginary documentary film about a man who sets off from Paris to Siberia in search of his father’s past: His father was a communist who had voluntarily gone from France to the Soviet Union to work on a big engineering project in Magadan. Now his adult son travels by train from Paris, through the Ukraine into the depths of Russia, in search of the values and ideas that had been so relevant to his father. The title of the film alludes to Lenin’s definition of communism: communism equals Soviets plus electricity. (Soviets are councils). Continue reading

Raoul Ruiz – El realismo socialista AKA Socialist Realism (1973)

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A people’s court dictates that a laborer kept some tools for himself and thus deserves derision. “But, can’t we improve?” he asks, without blushing, at the moment they decide his expulsion. The story of the laborer that becomes more and more conservative runs along with another one about a conservative publicist who thinks he can foresee a solution by embracing the revolutionary cause; and what relates both reverse paths is Raúl Ruiz’s systemic pleasure for paradoxes. El realismo socialista is not a politic film but a film about politics, rough and uncomfortable in its will to demolish mythologies at the time they were being generated. These 70s Ruiz is showing are not only not glorious, but he’s also guessing they never will be, almost prophesizing the end of that (fake) utopia, all in this film that works as a parallel story to the great Palomita blanca. Oscillating between documentary record and fiction –the concept key reveals itself, or closes the film’s door, towards the end–, and with a notorious use of improvisation, Ruiz seems to confirm what he once said: “The problem with an iron script is that it gets rusty”. Continue reading