Raoul Ruiz – De grands événements et des gens ordinaires AKA Of Great Events and Ordinary People (1979)

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In 1978, Ruiz was commissioned to make a television documentary about the French elections from the viewpoint of a Chilean exile in the 11th arrondissement. But, contrary to the producers’ expectation, the Left lost. Ruiz seized on this anti-climax to make a documentary about nothing except itself – a film whose central subject is forever lost in digression and ‘dispersal’, harking back to his Chilean experiments of the ’60s. It is the best, and certainly the funniest, of self-reflexive deconstructions of the documentary form. Ruiz drolly exaggerates every hare-brained convention of TV reportage, from shot/reverse shot ‘suture’ and talking-head experts to establishing shots and vox pops (narrator’s note to himself: “Include street interviews ad absurdum”.) Every fragment of reality (e.g. polling booths on voting day) comes through the lens as a pre-fabricated televisual cliché. And, as always, Ruiz detonates his own auteur status.As an essay-film, Great Events contains many echoes – and a cheeky critique – of the sophisticated political filmmaking of Chris Marker. But Ruiz increasingly spices up the lesson with surreal elaborations – such as progressively shorter re-edits of the entire film, avant-garde decentrings of image and sound, and crazy runs of ‘secondary elements’ such as particular colours, angles and gestures. Continue reading

Zabou Breitman – No et moi AKA No and Me (2010)

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Lou has few friends and her mother’s addiction to tranquillisers increases her feeling of isolation. For a school project, she must prepare a presentation on homelessness. At the Gare d’Austerlitz she comes across a homeless girl who calls herself No because this is what everyone says to her. In return for a drink, No agrees to let Lou interview her. No reveals that she is 18 and has spent her whole life in care. Lou is moved by No’s story and begins to see her as a friend. When No disappears, Lou sets out to look for her, convinced that they both need each other… Continue reading

Evangelia Kranioti – Exotica, Erotica, Etc. (2015)

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” Sailors are like terrorists. They arrive in ports with a bomb called love and throw it. And do you know what happens? The bomb explodes when they go away and they never come back, destroying the hearts of all the girls in the neighborhood. How strange – To love somebody who pays you…” Continue reading

Manuel Pradal – A Crime (2006)

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The devastated life of a man haunted by the unsolved murder of his beloved wife is strangely complicated by the mysterious neighbor who loves him from afar in a dark noir thriller directed by Manuel Pradal and starring Norman Reedus, Emmanuelle Béart and Harvey Keitel. Vincent (Reedus)’ wife has suffered a most brutal fate, and these days the once happy New Yorker is but a frozen shell of his former self. Vincent is not a man unloved, however, because although he may currently be unaware of her feelings for him, his neighbor Alice (Béart) knows in her heart that she and Vincent were meant to be together. All that needs to happen to make Vincent recognize her love is for the grieving widower to finally be liberated from his tragic past; and Alice is willing to go to any lengths necessary in order to make this happen. If Vincent was finally to find the man responsible for his wife’s death, he could finally be free to open his heart to Alice. When Alice hails a cab driven by lonely New York soul Roger (Keitel), the gears of the scheming woman’s elaborate plan are slowly set into motion despite the ignorance of both the naïve cabbie, and the somber object of her delusional affections. Continue reading

Raymond Depardon – 8e étage (2014)

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On the eighth floor, Raymond Depardon filmed a minute of silence with eight personalities who worked for the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art: David Lynch, Patti Smith, William Eggleston, Takeshi Kitano, Ron Mueck, Jean Michel Alberola, Agnes Varda and Misha Gromov. Continue reading

Raymond Depardon – Chasseurs et chamans (2003)

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During his stay in the Yanomami village of Watoriki with the anthropologist Bruce Albert, the French documentary filmmaker and photographer Raymond Depardon filmed in parallel a group of hunters and a group of Yanomami shamans in order to highlight – without having to explain – the close interdependence between the Shamanic metaphysics and the traditional knowledge of the forest. Continue reading

Mauro Herce – Dead Slow Ahead (2015)

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For over two months, Mauro Herce and his crew travelled aboard the freighter My Fair Lady, shooting 14-16 hours a day as it made it laborious journey from Ukraine to New Orleans. Blurring the lines between documentary and fiction, Dead Slow Ahead detaches itself from reality in favour of setting a science fiction, dystopian tone. Welding disparate images and foreboding sounds from deep within the labyrinthine corridors of the ship, Herce has transformed what could have been a dull documentation of life aboard the ship and imbued it with an otherworldly sense of wonder. Continue reading