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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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

Gaston Biraben – Cautiva aka Captive (2003)

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“Cautiva” features a solid performance by 23-year-old Barbara Lombardo that goes a long way in making up for the telenovela script.

Lombardo, who had small role in “The Motorcycle Diaries,” is amazingly believable as Cristina, a teenager who discovers that the man and woman who raised her are not her real parents.

Cristina’s biological parents were among the 30,000 Argentines who “disappeared” under the military dictatorship that ruled the country in the 1970s. She was born in prison on the day Argentina won the World Cup in 1978. Continue reading

Risto Jarva – Työmiehen päiväkirja aka The Diary of a Worker (1967)

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Following passages selectively translated from Risto Jarva Society’s website:

Risto Jarva was a central director in the Finnish New Wave. His career is one of the most extensive and important in the history of Finnish cinema, even though he died in a car accident at the age of 43.

Risto Jarva was a humanist and an engineer within one person. The focus of his work is on the human between society and nature. In his feature films and short documentaries he mapped dominant and alternative ways of life, without forgetting neither history nor the future. That’s why his movies are both subjective and objective evidence of the way Finland was in the years 1962-1977. Continue reading

Oriane Brun-Moschetti – Salut et fraternité : les images selon René Vautier AKA Images According to René Vautier (2015)

“Each of René Vautier’s films is a pamphlet, a shield for the oppressed and the victims of history, a little war machine in the service of justice. And like weapons in a resistance movement, they are used, exchanged, lent, discarded, destroyed, lost or hidden away and sometimes long forgotten in their cache. In that respect, each of René’s films is an individual case, an episode in what is probably the most noble and romantic story in the history of cinema. Scarred as these films may be, their beauty is genuine, not only in the plastic and stylistic senses, but also in the sense of a cinema raised to the fullness of its necessity and powers. His cinema mobilizes a precise, wide-ranging conception of the rights and duties of images: documenting, telling the truth, doing justice, dialoguing with other images and information, contradicting, counter-attacking, convincing. Continue reading