Joshua Oppenheimer – The Entire History of the Louisiana Purchase (1998)

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“In Louisiana Purchase I wanted to examine the whole question of historical memory, the making of history…”
— Joshua Oppenheimer

The Entire History of the Louisiana Purchase is an imaginative and innovative film essay which combines faux and real documentary with lyrical fiction to paint a monstrous yet beautiful portrait of America at the end of the millennium. With unflinching originality, the film meditates humorously on faith, myth, scapegoats, the idea of the alien, the end of the world, and the beginnings of redemption…. Oppenheimer’s monstrous yet charming ‘history of my country’ is written by a poet, sweet and dark, joyous as the wet rats who save themselves from drowning in the film’s last sequence…. It opens a genre of film as revelatory and intelligent dream, stimulant of social memory, and means for re-examining the relationship between fact and fiction, historical truth and social myth.
– Dusan Makavejev, May 1997 Continue reading

Joshua Oppenheimer & Nish Saran – Hugh (1996)

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Hugh is the earliest demonstration of Oppenheimer’s key thesis that hate and extremism are not necessarily disruptive forces – they can be thoroughly bedded into society. The titular subject is an elderly man who makes furniture, teaches children to play the piano and is hailed by his friends as one of the most generous people you’ll ever meet. He also goes into town with his car plastered in sandwich boards and preaches about how homosexuality will destroy civilisation…
Hugh is ten minutes long, but has the complexity and nuance of a feature film, and as a bonus is shot in gorgeous high-contrast black-and-white reminiscent of Marc Singer’s excellent 2000 documentary cult classic Dark Days.
– Graham Williamson 2016 Continue reading

Ranjan Palit – In Camera (2010)

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In this meditative and strident overview of the career of Ranjan Palit, award-winning documentary cameraman, the filmmaker himself shows us the images and questions that have haunted him throughout his 25-year career. Celebrated for films that document the struggles of powerless people to save their homes and ancestral traditions, Palit still questions the good he has done for them and wonders if he’s merely turned their lives into images and then memories that are destined to be forgotten. Continue reading

Shambhavi Kaul – Night Noon (2014)

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Amidst desert landscapes and splendid ocean views, a dog and a parrot appear. They emphasise the cosmic rhythm of day and night.

Amidst desert landscapes and splendid ocean views, a dog and a parrot appear. They emphasise the cosmic rhythm of day and night. Departing from Zabriskie Point, the film surreptitiously crosses over into Mexico, its creative geography never far from our cinematic memory. Continue reading

Oldrich Lipský – Happy End (1967)

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Delightfully witty and with a Kafkaesque spin, Oldřich Lipský‘s brilliant film Happy End (1967) is a quirky little gem from the archives of cinematic history. Crafted with unrelenting precision and grace, Stastny Konec (to give it its Czech name) really gives its audience a taste of the bleak humour renowned by Czech comedy. Without spoiling too much, the film concerns the wondrous (or tragic) life-story of the kind-hearted (or vengeful) butcher Bedrich Frydrych (Vladmír Mensík), his various ups and downs with his wife Julie (Jaroslava Obermaierová) and the tribulations of a surreal existence in reverse. Continue reading

Hans Richter – Dadascope (1961)

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Dadascope is a comprehensive portrait of the Dada movement with its specific techniques of sound and visual clash, word puns, chess, dice and other games of chance. Richter stated, “There is no story, no psychological implication except such as the onlooker puts into the imagery. But it is not accidental either, more a poetry of images built with and upon associations. In other words the film allows itself the freedom to play upon the scale of film possibilities, freedom for which Dada always stood – and still stands.” Continue reading

Marcel Hanoun – Le printemps (1971)

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One could only enumerate the elements to let the film tell itself. And this is besides one possible purpose of Hanoun here. Just let things communicate between themselves without the coercition of usual continuums (space and time) and let’s see and feel what happens. Yet there are clues given, relations but they are separated when one could await a close editing and vice versa. There seems to have two worlds, cinematographic worlds I mean : B&W and colour and things circulate from one world to another, people too…

But let’s just enumerate
Continue reading