Ben Rivers – Things (2014)

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Things is a travelogue in which the filmmaker leads himself and the viewer through a tour of the four seasons, without ever once setting foot across his doorstep – focusing on unexplored things inside his own four walls. A year-long journey through domestic surroundings that at the same time is a trip into imagination and collective memory – revealed in the collected fragments of images, film, objects and sounds, a bed, books and, observed through a window pane, a squirrel in the garden.

As the seasons change, parallels and associations are made with things previously seen; an intricate web of clues to a life, there for the viewer to unpick.

Commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella and Gareth Evans. Continue reading

Omar Amiralay – A Flood in Baath Country aka Al Toufan (2005)

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A highly controversial and beautifully crafted film on Syria’s dictatorship.
Omar Amiralay’s film about the dictatorship in Syria highlights the devastating effects of 35 years of autocratic Baath party rule on society. Thirty-four years ago, Amiralay was an admirer of the modernisation of his country and even made his first short essay-like documentary in praise of the Baath party’s new-built Euphrates River Dam. Today however, Amiralay regrets the naivety of his youth. Continue reading

Patricio Guzmán – El Botón de Nácar AKA The Pearl Button (2015)

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Synopsis
The ocean contains the history of all humanity. The sea holds all the voices of the earth and those that come from outer space. Water receives impetus from the stars and transmits it to living creatures. Water, the longest border in Chile, also holds the secret of two mysterious buttons which were found on its ocean floor. Chile, with its 2,670 miles of coastline and the largest archipelago in the world, presents a supernatural landscape. In it are volcanoes, mountains and glaciers. In it are the voices of the Patagonian Indigenous people, the first English sailors and also those of its political prisoners. Some say that water has memory. This film shows that it also has a voice. Continue reading

Jenni Olson – The Royal Road (2015)

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A cinematic essay in defense of remembering, The Royal Road offers up a primer on Junipero Serra’s Spanish colonization of California and the Mexican American War alongside intimate reflections on nostalgia, the pursuit of unavailable women, butch identity and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo — all against a contemplative backdrop of 16mm urban California landscapes, and featuring a voiceover cameo by Tony Kushner.
This bold, innovative film from acclaimed San Francisco filmmaker Jenni Olson combines rigorous historical research with lyrically written personal monologue and relates these seemingly disparate stories from an intimate, colloquial perspective to tell a one-of-a-kind California tale. Continue reading

Andrey Nekrasov – Bunt. Delo Litvinenko aka Poisoned by Polonium (2007)

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“If anything should happen to me, I beg you to show this tape to the whole world.” On November 23rd, 2006, these words, spoken on camera by exiled former KGB and FSB (post communist Russia’s dreaded new secret police) agent Alexander “Sasha” Litvinenko, became a gruesome self-fulfilling prophecy. After an agonizingly painful ordeal, Litvinenko succumbed to what was allegedly radiation poisoning from a lethal dose of toxic Polonium-210, surreptitiously slipped into his tea during a London meeting with two FSB ex-colleagues three weeks earlier. In Poisoned by Polonium: Continue reading