Ryszard Bugajski – Przesluchanie aka Interrogation [+Extras] (1982)

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Ryszard Bugajski’s Przesluchanie (Interrogation) is a powerful movie about a certain time in Polish history, that was marked by censorship and oppression and this is where Antonina ‘Tonia’ Dziwisz is caught up in. Played by one of Poland’s most remarkable actresses, Krystyna Janda, it is her that along with the wonderful cinematography work and realistic portrayal of prison conditions makes this movie so incredible. It is through her eyes that we see the story unfold and the suffering of her and her prison inmates (with some great co-acting by the likes of Agnieszka Holland). This is along with Krzysztof Kieslowski’s and Andrzej Wajda’s finest work one of the defining moments of Polish cinema, and beyond that. Certainly one of the most powerful prison movies ever made in my book, not just within the perspective of Polish or European cinema as such. And in the wake of events like Guantanamo bay or Abu Ghraib it still is as fresh and important with the covered subject as it was when it was made, reminding us how things could go horribly wrong within a judicial and in the end prison system. Due to it’s critical stance at the time of making, it was banned by the local government for 7 years, until the Soviet bloc broke up. An extremely powerful reminder of that time. Continue reading

Pier Paolo Pasolini – Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma AKA Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)

 Pier Paolo Pasolini   Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma AKA Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975) (HD)

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Set in the Nazi-controlled, northern Italian state of Salo in 1944, four dignitaries round up sixteen perfect specimens of youth and take them together with guards, servants and studs to a palace near Marzabotto. In addition, there are four middle-aged women: three of whom recount arousing stories whilst the fourth accompanies on the piano. The story is largely taken up with their recounting the stories of Dante and De Sade: the Circle of Manias, the Circle of Shit and the Circle of Blood. Continue reading

Pier Paolo Pasolini & Giovanni Guareschi – La Rabbia (1963)

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Quote:
La Rabbia employs documentary footage (from the 1950’s) and accompanying commentary to attempt to answer the existential question, Why are our lives characterized by discontent, anguish, and fear? The film is in two completely separate parts, and the directors of these respective sections, left-wing Pier Paolo Pasolini and conservative Giovanni Guareschi, offer the viewer contrasting analyses of and prescriptions for modern society. Part I, by Pasolini, is a denunciation of the offenses of Western culture, particularly those against colonized Africa. It is at the same time a chronicle of the liberation and independence of the former African colonies, portraying these peoples as the new protagonists of the world stage, holding up Marxism as their “salvation,” and suggesting that their “innocent ferocity” will be the new religion of the era. Guareschi’s part, by contrast, constitutes a defense of Western civilization and a word of hope, couched in traditional Christian terms, for man’s future.

the producer in charge asked Pasolini to do something with this news footage, without any constraint. But he was quite shoked by the result (he probably never saw a Pasolini film before…) and only after asked Guareschi to conceive a kind of anthitesis.
Pasolini then refused to be associated with the 2nd film and the whole wasn’t shown for 40 years… Continue reading

Mikhail Belikov – Raspad AKA Decay (1990)

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It’s a truly extraordinary film, easily the best we’ll see about Chernobyl, and criminally rarely seen. It has satirical and surreal moments, but is ultimately a damning indictment of everything about the country in the 1980s. The visual allusions to Eisenstein and Tarkovsky are beautifully appropriate…
Excellent NY Times review is here:
link Continue reading

Göran Olsson – The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (2011)

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The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

“You’re either part of the solution or part of the problem,” Eldridge Cleaver is often quoted: as documentaries go, “The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975″ solves a few common production problems with its origins, drawing on a splendid cache of black-and-white and color 16mm interviews, shot in the United States by Swedish journalists with a seemingly radical bent, and unearthed in 2005. (To paraphrase another figure, this potential revolution was televised, even if only in Scandinavia.) Göran Hugo Olsson’s documentary of fierce, open exchanges with Black Power Movement figures captures the moment’s intensity (and intermittent naiveté) from its subjects, including Stokely Carmichael, Bobby Seale, Angela Davis, Cleaver and William Kunstler. (The crispness of the long-unseen footage is startling.) Earnest activism and protest meet setbacks, as the historical record already shows. Yet these curious Swedes, gaining the trust of their subjects, captured invaluable, contemporary reflections of a turbulent time, after the early days of the civil rights movement, when filling the streets was thought a way to prompt societal change. Continue reading