Sohrab Shahid Saless – Yek Etefagh sadeh AKA A Simple Event (1973) (DVD)

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Sohrab Shahid-Saless was born in Tehran in 1943 and lived in Tehran. He studied film in Vienna and Paris. After returning to Iran, he first worked for the Ministry of Arts and Culture, where he made 22 films. In 1976, he left Iran for Germany, where he worked as a filmmaker until 1991, then moving to Chicago. He died in Washington DC in June 1998.

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In his first feature, the milestone film A Simple Event (1973), he describes the everyday life of a ten-year-old boy living in a small town with an ill mother and a father struggling to make a living smuggling fish. Continue reading

Joyce Wieland – Cat Food (1967)

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Cat Food
Canada / 13:30 min. / 1967
sound / color

“In Catfood Wieland shows a cat devouring fish after fish for some ten minutes. There seems to be no repetition of shots, but the imagery is so consistent throughout–shot of the fish, the cat eating, his paw clawing, another fish, the cat eating, etc.–that it is just possible the shots are recurrent. There is no question that Wieland has a unique talent.”- P Adams Sitney, Film Culture

“A cat eats its methodical way through a polymorphous fish. The projector devours the ribbon of film at the same rate, methodically. The lay of Grimnir mentions a wild boar whose magical flesh was nightly devoured by the heroes of Valhalla, and miraculously regenerated next morning in the kitchen. The fish in Wieland’s film, and the miraculous flesh of the film itself, are reconstructed on the rewinds to be devoured again. Here is a dionysian metaphor, old as the West, of immense strength. Once we see that the fish is the protagonist of the action, this metaphor reverberates to incandescence in the mind.” – Hollis Frampton Continue reading

Pere Portabella – Umbracle (1970)

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Pere Portabella (b. 1929, Barcelona) is a veteran Spanish filmmaker whose narrative features—rich in interludes, plot diversions, atmosphere, and unexpected synchronies between sight and sound—limn the avant-garde and expand the expressive potential of cinema. Portabella, who began his cinematic career as a producer of fiction films implicitly critical of General Francisco Franco, had his passport revoked when Luis Buñuel’s Viridiana (1961), which he helped to make, “embarrassed” Spain at the Cannes Film Festival in 1962. When democracy returned to Spain, Portabella served as a senator in the Catalan government. However, throughout his various careers, Portabella continued to make cinema, investigating meaning in the moving image and flexing the notion of genre—particularly for horror films, fantasy films, and thrillers. Continue reading

Robert Downey Sr. – Moment to Moment (1975)

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Also known as TWO TONS OF TURQUOISE TO TAOS TONIGHT, and even as JIVE, this is a movie you’ve most likely never seen. Highly personal and at the same time completely illogical, this cacophonous comedy has virtually no semblance of a storyline or plot. The great Elsie Downey, the director’s then-wife and the mother of his children (who are featured prominently throughout), drives the film with her boisterous performance in what may very well be more than 10 roles. Shot and edited piecemeal over a few years, MOMENT TO MOMENT is a collage of everything from staged scenes to home movies, and features a soundtrack by the legendary Jack Nietszche and David Sanborn. No matter what you call it, this film is surely Downey at his most avant-garde and absurd.—Anthology Film Archives. Continue reading

Chantal Akerman – Les Années 80 AKA The Eighties (1983)

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Another Masterpiece by Chantal Akerman, 18 November 2009
10/10
Author: kubrick2899 from Concord, North Carolina

THE EIGHTIES marks the turning point in Chantal Akerman’s career. It stands as the end of her more experimental films of previous years and as the beginning of her more mainstream efforts of later years. The bulk of the film consists of auditions and rehearsals for a musical. In the final act, we get to see some segments of that musical. It’s a wholly original and brilliant motion picture experience. Like most of Akerman’s films, though, it’s not for everyone. Her films are experiences for those who aren’t into mainstream cinema. The songs in the film are catchy and unforgettable, and it’s a special treat to see Akerman herself pop in a few times and give the performers some direction. The only downside of this film is that it’s only available on an old VHS. The Criterion Collection has gotten a hold on her earlier films; maybe some day they’ll get a hold of this one, as well. Another interesting aspect to this film is that it serves as a prelude to her next feature film, GOLDEN EIGHTIES or WINDOW SHOPPING. Continue reading