John Berger and Susan Sontag – To Tell A Story [Voices] (1983)

““Somebody dies,” says John Berger. “It’s not just a question of tact that one then says, well, perhaps it is possible to tell that story,” but “it’s because, after that death, one can read that life. The life becomes readable.” His interlocutor, a certain Susan Sontag, interjects: “A person who dies at 37 is not the same as a person who dies at 77.” True, he replies, “but it can be somebody who dies at 90. The life becomes readable to the storyteller, to the writer. Then she or he can begin to write.” Berger, the consummate storyteller as well as thinker about stories, left behind these and millions of other memorable words, spoken and written, when he yesterday passed away at age 90 himself. Continue reading

Stephen Poliakoff & Charles Sturridge – Runners (1983)

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RUNNERS (1983)
Produced in 1983, it was originally headed for a cinema release but apparently that never happened and it ended up being shown as a TV movie only.

In Stephen Poliakoff’s first film script, Tom Lindsay (James Fox) searches for his 13-year-old daughter, Rachel (Kate Hardie), two years after she ran away from their Midlands home. After an anonymous tip-off, he spots her, but the reunion is not what he has expected or hoped for…. Continue reading

Ken Loach – Family Life (1971)

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A young woman, Janice, is living with her restrictive and conservative parents, who lead a dull working-class life, and consider their daughter to be “misbehaving” whenever she’s trying to find her own way in life. When she becomes pregnant, they force her into abortion, and hypocritically blame her for “upsetting them” when she is unable cope with the emotional and mental effect this has on her. The film is depressing and excruciatingly painful and hard to watch, as Janice is subjected to brain-washing and reproach by her parents and shockingly self-righteous and ignorant doctors (could this have been only 25 years ago???). A masterpiece, a stark and painful portrait of a hypocritical society. Continue reading

Colin Kennedy – Swung (2015)

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David’s life is on the slide: he’s in the middle of a divorce, broke and ‘can’t get it up’. His girlfriend, Alice, is his rock, but the magazine she writes for is going down and the pressure is on to find a story. While job hunting online, David stumbles across the perfect antidote to his boredom: a ‘Swingers’ site. The resulting inbox of lewd invitations on the home-laptop justifiably upsets Alice, until she realises this could be just the ‘story’ she needs. The idea of uncovering the swinging scene causes quite a stir in Alice’s office and, much to David’s chagrin, she is urged to pursue the story. Their first reluctant foray is an hysterically low-rent initiation, however, an unexpected upturn for David’s manhood is all the extra encouragement they need. As events accelerate beyond their control the once adoring couple become lost and fundamental questions are asked of their relationship and them as individuals. In darkness, touched by many others, they will have to find themselves… Continue reading

Lucy Carter – Auschwitz: The Forgotten Evidence (2004)

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When an Allied photo-reconnaissance plane flew over southern Poland in the summer of 1944, following a bombing raid on 20 August, it took extraordinary images of the Nazis’ most evil extermination camp: Auschwitz Birkenau. From these photos, it is possible to see in detail how the SS organised their factory of death in which about 12,000 people were being murdered daily. But the pictures were not analysed at the time. Instead they were simply filed away. Continue reading

Carol Reed – The Third Man (1949)

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Of all the iconic images in Carol Reed’s The Third Man, none is as recognizable as the sight of Harry Lime (Orson Welles) standing in a Vienna doorway, bathed in shadow. Accompanied by Anton Karas’s unforgettable zither score, it’s one of the most iconic entrances in film history, which is befitting one of film’s most iconic characters. Although he’s only on screen for a fraction of the film’s running time, Lime stands out as one of the screen’s most chilling embodiments of the banality of evil, and a perfect stand-in for Third Man‘s vision of moral breakdown in post-WWII Europe. Continue reading

Babak Anvari – Under the Shadow (2016)

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As a mother and daughter struggle to cope with the terrors of the post-revolution, war-torn Tehran of the 1980s, a mysterious evil begins to haunt their home.
Shideh (Narges Rashidi) and her family live amid the chaos of the Iran-Iraq war, a period known as The War of the Cities. Accused of subversion by the post-Revolution government and blacklisted from medical college, she falls into a state of malaise. With Tehran under the constant threat of aerial bombardment, her husband (Bobby Naderi) is drafted and sent to the frontlines by the army, leaving Shideh all alone to protect their young daughter, Dorsa (Avin Manshadi). Soon after he leaves, a missile hits their apartment building and while failing to explode, a neighbor dies under mysterious circumstances and Dorsa’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic. Shideh finds herself slowly drawn into the ensuing turmoil, struggling to cling onto what is real and what is not. Searching for answers, she learns from a superstitious neighbor that the cursed missile might have brought with it Djinn – malevolent Middle-Eastern spirits that travel on the wind.
Convinced that a supernatural force within the building is attempting to possess Dorsa, Shideh has no choice but to confront these forces if she is to save her. Continue reading