José Luis Guerín – Tren de sombras AKA Train of Shadows (1997)

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Ostensibly framed as a restoration of a degraded found film recovered some 70 years after the sudden and unexplained death of its creator, a Parisian attorney and amateur filmmaker named Gérard Fleury at a lake in the village of Le Thuit in Normandy, Tren de sombras (Train of Shadows) is a dense, sensual, and richly textured exposition of José Luis Guerín’s recurring preoccupations: the nature and subjectivity of the image-gaze, the permeable borders between truth and fiction, the role of architecture (and landscape) as palimpsest of hidden histories. By placing the discovery of Fleury’s last shot footage of his home and family within the context of the ambiguity surrounding the circumstances of his death after a seemingly innocuous scouting trip early one morning to find suitable lighting conditions to incorporate into his home movie, the found film becomes both a curious artifact of the early days of cinema in its informally staged performances that suggest the whimsical, created illusions of Georges Méliès (in a performance of dancing ties and magic tricks), and also a non-fiction, historical record that can be deconstructed, reconstituted, and re-analyzed to glean further information into the real-life mystery. Continue reading

Francesco Dongiovanni – Anapeson (2015)

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The Casino del Duca is an ancient palazzo, a cross between a palace and a manor farm, located in San Basilio, near Taranto. For two thousand years it was the beating heart of an entire region, as well as the focal point of the most important estate in Apulia. And today it’s nothing: marred, destroyed, and forgotten. But above all, this film looks at time, at its legacies and ruins. The story of the Swiss traveler from the 18TH century evinces the contrast between its past splendor and current decay, deriving from a distracted modernity dominated by ugliness. History as a vestige and as death. Continue reading

Jean-Luc Godard – Grandeur et décadence d’un petit commerce de cinéma (1986)

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Synopsis
The director Gaspard Bazin is preparing a new feature film. For now, he is still in the casting and financing stages. He’s asking the help of Jean Almereyda, a producer once fashionable but now at low ebb, who has more and more difficulties to raise cash for his company. His wife, Eurydice, dreams of being a movie star. Between the two men, a perverse game is starting, Almereyda wishing to please his wife, but the unrepentant seducer reputation of Bazin holds him to require a part for Eurydice… Continue reading

Jocelyn Saab – Kanya Ya Ma Kan, Beyrouth AKA Once Upon a Time in Beirut (1995)

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“This reflexive voyage into a celluloid Beirut becomes the key to finding out to which Beirut one is returning, and to point to the new Beirut one wishes for the future.” – Ella Shohat and Robert Stam, Cineaste

Distraught over Beirut’s destruction, Yasmine and Leila embark on a journey in search of its past. Their possession of two rare, unreleased film reels lands them an encounter with Monsieur Farouk, a reclusive film connoisseur.

Through the magic of cinema, the three of them go back in time on a mythical and history-laden tour of the city. Here the movie shines with images of Beirut from the large-scale American studio efforts of the 1970’s to the Beirut of the 1960’s as seen through the lenses of Arab filmmakers, to the French-directed films of the 1930s. Once Upon a Time: Beirut offers an enchanting look at one of the Middle East’s most complex and beautiful cities. Continue reading

Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit – Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy (2013)

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from Pan Asian Film Festival 2014
(page link)
Portraying a character struggling to make sense of her life as it threatens to spin out of control, Nawapol’s brilliant second film creates an inventive narrative of an uncontrollable life through a brilliantly modern artistic concept: to adapt a Twitter stream into a fictional film.

The director used 410 real Tweets from an anonymous girl as a springboard to create a fantasy world of a contemporary Asian teenager, and the results are funny and strange, a conflation of modern Thai teenage life, Wes Anderson-esque humour, and the possibilities for escape offered by the digital world. Continue reading

Franco Piavoli – Nostos: Il Ritorno AKA Nostos: The Return [+Extras] (1990)

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Synopsis
At the end of the war, Odysseus, the wandering hero, with his companions begins his sail back home to the Mediterranean. The conclusion of his adventure is delayed by many natural obstacles and he takes an internal journey of fleeting memories of his childhood, his parents, love for a beautiful girl, nostalgia for the past, regret for what he did, and the deep silence that envelops everything. He confronts the most terrible loneliness following a shipwreck in which all the comrades perish. Continue reading

Irm Sommer & Ed Sommer – Hedonistic Communication (1970)

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HEDONISTIC COMMUNICATION / IRM ED SOMMER / KONTAKTE / ICH DU UND ICH is the title of this super obscure experimental short film including also explicit sex.
Very raw and primitive, it features a great soundtrack made of amazing psychedelic abstract electronic music (the song is “I Of IV” by electronic music pioneer Pauline Oliveros), which is probably what makes this short some kind of mesmerizing experience.
We can only suppose the short is german, since the only information besides the title is the name of the “actors” involved, and they sound german (F. Scherz, Gabi Kaa, Hartmut Kaa).
Continue reading