Max Ophüls – De Mayerling à Sarajevo AKA From Mayerling to Sarajevo (1940)

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Synopsis:
In the late 1800’s, Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, falls for Sophie Chotek, a Czech countess. He’s already a problem to the Crown because of his political ideas; this love affair with someone not of royal blood breeches protocol. The Crown allows the union only after the couple agrees to a morganatic marriage. The emperor further neutralizes Franz by making him inspector general of the army, sending him afield for months at a time. In June of 1914, fearing for his safety, Sophie seeks permission to accompany Franz to Sarajevo; protocol dictates that no army troops attend Franz while she is present. An assassin strikes. Their deaths spark World War I.

— IMDb Continue reading

Jean-Luc Godard & Jean-Pierre Gorin – Tout va bien AKA Everything’s All Right [+extras] (1972)

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Synopsis:
Jean-Luc Godard dissects the structure of society, movies, love and revolution. He asks compelling questions: Can love survive a relationship? Can ideology survive revolution? He also looks at the French student riots of the 1960s with a critical eye, and ends up satirizing contemporary views of history. A battery of thoughts complete with criticism of modern society and movies. Continue reading

Michel Brault – Les Ordres AKA Orders (1974)

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Les ordres has been rated by critics as one of the best Canadian films ever made. It subtly blends fiction and documentary realism in a chilling portrait of what can happen to a liberal democracy when the state imposes its power.

In October 1970, when FLQ terrorists kidnapped a British diplomat and threatened to (and later did) murder a Quebec cabinet minister, Prime Minister Trudeau sanctioned the War Measures Act and sent the Canadian army into Montreal. Close to 500 ordinary citizens who had no connection to the terrorists were summarily arrested and held without charge. Continue reading

Ziga Virc – Houston, We Have a Problem! (2016)

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Cold War-era international intrigue, declassified top-secret documents, and a clandestine deal between John F. Kennedy and Yugoslavia’s president Josip Tito are just the tip of the iceberg in this absorbing directorial debut from filmmaker Žiga Virc. Blurring the lines between fact and fiction, Houston, We Have a Problem! explores the myth behind the origins of America’s race to be the first country to send a man to the moon, and a supposed multi-billion-dollar deal involving America’s purchase of Yugoslavia’s space program in the early 1960s. Continue reading

Andrzej Wajda – Czlowiek z zelaza AKA Man of Iron (1981)

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Quote:
Wajda’s remarkable sequel to Man of Marble welds newsreel footage of the Solidarity strike to fiction in a strong investigative drama. A disillusioned, vodka-sodden radio producer is bundled off to Gdansk in a black limousine. His mission: to smear one of the main activists – who also happens to be the son of the hapless ‘Marble’ worker-hero. But, tempered by bitter experience of the failed reforms of ’68 and ’70, these new men of iron are more durable than their fathers, not as easily smashed. Media cynicism, censorship and corruption are again dominant themes, this time anchored through the TV coverage of the strike, though the conclusion hints with guarded optimism at a possible rapprochement between workers and intelligentsia. An urgent, nervy narrative conveys all the exhilaration and bewilderment of finding oneself on the very crestline of crucial historical change; and for the viewer, all the retrospective melancholy of knowing that euphoria shattered by subsequent events. Continue reading

Bing Wang – He Fengming aka Fengming: A Chinese Memoir (2007)

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Robert Koehler wrote:
With virtually a single-camera set-up and absolute attention paid to a woman who survived the horrors of Mao’s China, Wang Bing continues his run as one of the world’s supreme doc filmmakers with “Fengming: A Chinese Memoir.” While his extraordinary epic, “West of the Tracks,” traced the destruction of a city’s industrial zone and the forced relocation of thousands of residents, new pic is scaled in opposite fashion–intimate, minimalist, nearly private, as former journalist and teacher He Fengming describes in vividly painful detail how her life in the revolution turned into a 30-year nightmare. Prospects point to specialized treatment at major fests, but vid is where pic will really stand the test of time. Continue reading