Ben Rivers & Ben Russell – A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness (2013)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Synopsis:
A Spell follows an unnamed character through three seemingly disparate moments in his life. With little explanation, we join him in the midst of a 15-person collective on a small Estonian island; in isolation in the majestic wilderness of Northern Finland; and during a concert as the singer and guitarist of a black met al band in Norway.

Marked by loneliness, ecstatic beauty and an optimism of the darkest sort, A Spell is a radical proposition for the existence of utopia in the present.

Starring musician Robert AA Lowe (best known for his intense live performances under the name Lichens) in the lead role, A Spell lies somewhere between fiction and non-fiction – it is at once a document of experience and an experience itself, an inquiry into transcendence that sees the cinema as a site for transformation.
Continue reading

Hiroshi Shimizu – Kaze no naka no kodomo AKA Children in the Wind (1937)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Quote:
The best way to describe this film would be “bright”. The story is simple, two young boys are usurped from being the head of their gang of children by the son of the man who indicts their father on charges of embezzlement (him being fired and arrested for this.) They’re sent to live with their uncle (Takeshi Sakamoto, fast becoming my favorite Japanese actor of this decade) and spend their time thinking of ways to escape back home. Father is found innocent, and they live happily ever after. This film is beautiful, the music and the sound of the children playing are both unforgettable. It was no. 4 in the Kinema Jumpo that year, and it was adapted from a Tsubota novel (his 1939 film Four Seasons of Childhood, which contains the same characters, is also based on a Tsubota book.) The cinematography is “gliding” (a term which consistently seems to be used to describe the look and feel of his films) and more reminiscent of Arigato-San than any other film I’ve seen by him. There are also some strong similarities in plot and character to Ozu’s I Was Born But… and according to Keiko McDonald he, “tells of finding himself in tears as he read in the short story (Naoya Shiga’s “Manazuru”) about the little children shuffling along a road at night”. I watched Children in the Wind without subtitles, but more than any other unsubtitled film I’ve seen, It was extremely easy to follow along with. One of my favorites from this director, and I can’t wait to see more of his children’s films. Continue reading

Sherad Anthony Sanchez – Imburnal (2008)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Quote:
The history of cinema is the history of the tyranny of narrative films. The right of first refusal to anything worth committing to film belongs to the province of narrative films. Narrative films are what sells, here and elsewhere. Narrativization, it seems, is the handmaiden of capitalism. Young filmmaker Sherad Anthony Sanchez turns away from this corruption of cinematic art and kneels down at the tabernacle of the experimental. Through Imburnal, a 3-hour, 30 minute tour de force set in the sewers and shantytowns of Davao City, director Sanchez renews and defamiliarizes our received notions about what it depicts, in the process dismantling the predictable tendencies of narrative films, in the process reawakening our collective conscience and consciousness. Let the wounds reopen and fester again! Continue reading

Jean Delannoy – Notre-Dame de Paris AKA The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1956)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Synopsis:
‘Paris, 1482. Today is the festival of the fools, taking place like each year in the square outside Cathedral Notre Dame. Among jugglers and other entertainers, Esmeralda, a sensuous gypsy, performs a bewitching dance in front of delighted spectators. From up in a tower of the cathedral, Frollo, an alchemist, gazes at her lustfully. Later in the night, Frollo orders Quasimodo, the deformed bell ringer and his faithful servant, to kidnap Esmeralda. But when the ugly freak comes close to her is touched by the young woman’s beauty…’
– Guy Bellinger (IMDb) Continue reading

Manuel Mur Oti – Cielo negro AKA Black Sky (1951)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Quote:
Emilia, a modest employee of a fashion house, is in love and does not hesitate to steal your business suit to accompany her boyfriend to the festival. But everything goes wrong, discovered the theft, is fired from her job and that’s not the worst.

Mur Oti was born in Vigo in 1908, the son of a prison warden who struck lucky in the spirits business and moved the family to Cuba when Manuel was 13. There the young Mur Oti developed strong relationships with his mother and two sisters, and learned to work the land as a cowboy. The former would come to influence his powerful, fully rounded women characters throughout his filmography; the latter fed into his depiction of the extremity of the Castilian climate in Orgullo – essentially a Spanish western. Continue reading

Ala Eddine Slim – Akher Wahed Fina AKA The Last of Us (2016)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

With no dialogue, The Last of Us tracks a Sub-Saharan man through the desert to North Africa where he steals a boat. When it breaks down in the middle of the sea, he begins an imaginary surrealistic odyssey where he meets an older man, who might be an altered version of himself, and, in a wild landscape, rediscovers his relationship with primary nature. “A philosophical fable on being lost” (Giona Nazzaro).

Awarded with the Lion Of the Future in the 73rd Venice Film Festival (2016) Continue reading