Drama

Ousmane Sembene – Emitaï AKA God of Thunder (1971)

As World War II is going on in Europe, a conflict arises between the French and the Diola-speaking tribe of Africa, prompting the village women to organize their men to sit beneath a tree to pray. Read More »

Martin Ritt – The Outrage (1964)

Brooklyn Academy of Music writes:
Kurosawa’s Rashomon is transposed to the American Wild West as four participants in a rape and murder—including a Mexican bandit (Newman), the dead man (Harvey), and his wife (Bloom)—give differing accounts of what occurred. Featuring a dynamite supporting cast that includes Edward G. Robinson and William Shatner, The Outrage is lent a haunted, nightmarish atmosphere thanks to James Wong Howe’s psychologically charged camerawork. Read More »

François Leterrier – Un roi sans divertissement AKA A King Without Distraction (1963)

In the nineteenth century, a young police captain, Langlois, is sent to a remote snow-covered village to investigate the disappearance of a girl. He is helped in his investigation by a local magistrate, who is convinced that the murderer is an ordinary man who has killed merely to relieve his boredom. When he finally confronts the killer, Langlois becomes aware of his own identity and discovers that he too has the impulse to take the lives of others… Read More »

Jules Dassin – Up Tight! (1968)

Synopsis:
“Uptight” is an updated remake of John Ford’s 1935 film, “The Informer”. Dublin becomes the Cleveland ghetto and the Irish Republicans are replaced by black revolutionary fighters. Days after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Tank Williams (Julian Mayfield) is an unemployed and itinerant steelworker who turns over his militant friend, Johnny Wells (Max Julien) to the police for $1,000 reward, resulting in an underground all-points bulletin to exact vengeance on the squealer. Legendary director, Jules Dassin’s unrelenting directional pace is complemented by the driving score of Booker T. Jones. The stellar cast includes Raymond St. Jacques, Ruby Dee, Roscoe Lee Browne, and Frank Silvera. Read More »

Tony Gatlif – Vengo (2000)

Synopsis
The vibrancy of gypsy life has been brought to the fore on film by Tony Gatlif, himself of gypsy heritage. Galtif has covered much European territory with films such as his much-loved Gadjo Dilo (1997). Vengo tells a romantically tragic tale of vendetta and sacrifice for family, which is the closest to home of all; it tells of the Andalusian gypsies of southern Spain – Gatlif’s own background. Read More »

Josef von Sternberg – The Salvation Hunters (1925)

Synopsis
Often described as “the first American independent film”, von Sternberg’s The Salvation Hunters is an austere and obscurely naturalist drama about “humans who crawl near the floor.”

“It’s hard now to appreciate the bomb-shell that Sternberg’s first feature must have been in Hollywood at the time: its slow pace, its lyrical pessimism, and its strong emphasis on the psychological over the physical set it far apart from anything that the American cinema had produced” (Tony Rayns, Time Out Film Guide). Shot for less than five thousand dollars in the span of three weeks, the groundbreaking Salvation Hunters announced the emergence of a major new talent, even if audiences of the day didn’t quite know what to make of its grimy settings, glum tone, and overt symbolizing. Read More »

Nien-Jen Wu – Duo sang AKA A Borrowed Life (1994)

Director Wu Nien-Jen’s autobiographical portrait of his father and the family conflict that develops around him, set against the background of dramatic political change in Taiwan.

Sega, a coal-miner who grew up in the years of Japanese colonial rule over Taiwan, is more strongly attracted to Japanese identity and culture than to the Mainland Chinese model imposed after the Kuomintang takeover in 1945. His son Wen-Jian on the other hand, typically for his generation, has a natural allegiance to Chinese culture. He is baffled by and impatient with his father’s fondness for the Japanese, a bafflement intensified by the harshly negative portrayal of Japanese imperialist ambitions and wartime atrocities he is exposed to at school. Read More »