Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub – Paul Cézanne im Gespräch mit Joachim Gasquet AKA Cézanne: Conversation with Joachim Gasquet (1989)

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Description: In 1989 Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet realized a film project that was commissioned by Virginie Herbin, director of the audiovisual department of the Musée d’Orsay. The film is based on Joachim Gasquet’s recollected and imagined dialogs with Cézanne, Ce qui m’a dit…(1921).

A montage comprising paintings by the artist, footage shot at the foot of Mont Sainte-Victoire and film scenes from both Jean Renoir’s Madame Bovary and the Straub’s The Death of Empedocles. The film is an homage to light, color, painting, nature, cinema and the terrible and glorious world of reality. Continue reading

Horst E. Brandt & Heinz Thiel – Heroin (1968)

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This East German movie was co-produced with studios in Hungary and Yugoslavia, with many interesting location shots (border checkpoint to West Berlin, the Gellert bath in Budapest, and more). The plot is about French drug dealers, who obtain heroin somewhere in the Middle East, and smuggle it in several steps to East Berlin, and from there to France (or so it appears), killing when necessary. The hero is an officer of East German customs, who with detective work, some masquerade, and occasional violent action ultimately unravels the whole network, of course with the support of the local customs departments. Continue reading

Georg Wilhelm Pabst – Das Bekenntnis der Ina Kahr AKA The Confession of Ina Kahr (1954)

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Synopsis:
‘Told in flashback, the film recounts the events leading up to the killing of good-for-nothing Curt Jurgens. Warned by her friends and relatives that Jurgens is a bad job, impulsive Ina Kahr marries him anyway. His ceaseless philandering and abuse wears away at Ina to the point that she contemplates poisoning her husband…’
– MRQE Continue reading

Wim Wenders – Die Gebrüder Skladanowsky AKA A Trick of the Light (1995)

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Quote:
“A Trick of Light” is a silly yet sporadically entertaining pseudo-documentary in which filmmaker Wim Wenders, along with the help of several film school students, tells the story of the Skladanowsky brothers – Max, Eugen, and Emil. In the late 1800s, the trio invented a method for projecting moving images which they called a Bioscope; unfortunately for the siblings, Auguste and Louis Lumière also emerged at around the same time with a similar – yet vastly superior – device called the Cinematographe. Wenders alternates between re-enacted footage of the brothers’ misadventures and an interview with Max’s 91-year-old daughter, with the former shot entirely on a vintage, hand-cranked camera (lending such sequences the feel of an authentic silent movie). It’s all very cute and watchable, though one can’t help but lament Wenders’ ill-advised decision to weave fictional elements into the interview footage (ie Max’s elderly daughter is interesting enough to ensure that such shenanigans ultimately come off as distracting and superfluous). Add to that the utterly interminable end credits (which go on for 20 minutes!), and you’ve got a film that’s admittedly not as bad as some of Wenders other efforts but disappointing nevertheless. Continue reading

Michael Obert – Song from the Forest (2014)

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SYNOPSIS
“In my memory, I retained such a dream-like impression of my stay in New York that I sometimes wondered if I had really been there.”
Louis Sarno

As a young man, US-born Louis Sarno heard a song on the radio that never let him out of its grasp. He followed the mysterious sounds back to the Central African rainforest, found his music with the Bayaka pygmies – and never came back. Today, 25 years later, Louis is a full member of this community of hunters and gatherers.
Louis has a son with a Bayaka woman, 13-year-old Samedi. As a baby, Samedi became seriously sick. As he lay dying, Louis held him the whole night and promised him: “If you survive, one day I will show you the world from which I came.” Now it is time to keep his promise, and so Louis travels with his son from the African rainforest to a different jungle made of concrete, glass and asphalt – to New York City.
Soon after their arrival, there is a first surprise: Samedi, who had never left the rainforest and does not speak a word of English is far more comfortable with the US than Louis. The rapprochement with the world that his father wanted to forget and that his son now wants to conquer is slow, quiet and not free from setbacks. Joined by the contrast between the rainforest and the urban US, the unequal couple grows ever closer on the road. Continue reading

Volker Schlöndorff – Baal (1970)

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Plot:
Baal explores the cult of the genius, an anti-heroic figure who chooses to be a social outcast and live on the fringe of bourgeois morality.

Quote:
Screening as part of the Masters & Restorations program at this year’s MIFF is Baal, writer/director Volker Schlöndorff’s television adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s play of the same name which features a rare leading performance by Schlöndorff’s contemporary in the German New Wave and master filmmaker Reiner Werner Fassbinder outside of his own films. After a single screening in 1970 it was removed from public release by Brecht’s widow, but 44 years later is making the rounds at film festivals thanks his granddaughter who has approved its release. And thankfully it was worth the wait, offering a rare treat for foreign film fans. Continue reading

Fred Kelemen – Verhängnis AKA Fate (1994)

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“The paths of people from various countries cross during the course of one night. They speak different languages, but they are fatefully bound together by the solitary quest for happiness and deliverance. Sloping paths are all that’s left for them in an age of lost perspectives, lost refuges and lost homelands. They sink deeper with every movement that should be liberating them. Every gesture of love becomes a gesture of humiliation. The desperate dance of their life has become a passionate dance of death.
In the centre of this centrifuge at the end of the millennium the Russian emigrant Valery and his lover Ljuba are turning around each other in a nocturnal round dance of desire and pain, hope and violence and the indestructible will to survive.” Continue reading