Mohsen Islamzadeh – Sunnis in Iran -How Sunni Muslims live in a Shiite country (2015)

At the time of the Egyptian crisis, Ahmad Mustafa, an economic and political analyst from Egypt, finds an opportunity to travel to Iran to meet and talk Sunni people; an 11000 kilometer journey; a memorable visit, from the country’s most important decision-making centers to its most outlying border areas, from the green strands of the Caspian Sea forests to the Khorasan and Baluchistan desert areas and the high mountains of Kurdistan. On this journey he hopes he will know the real Iran, a country frequently misrepresented by Western and Arab media. How Sunni Muslims live in a Shiite country? That’s the question that’s brought Ahmad Mustafa to Iran. Continue reading

Masahiro Shinoda – Himiko (1974) (HD)

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An imagined life of the prehistoric Japanese Queen Himiko, based loosely on a few mentions in Chinese chronicles. Himiko is presented as the head priestess of the Sun Goddess cult and a spirit medium. This cult later was used by the Japanese Imperial family as their claim to rule. Himiko is made queen when the king is killed, but lets the men around her rule. She is then deposed and killed because she lusts after her half-brother, who is more interested in Adahime, who supports the Earth Goddess. Continue reading

Aleksandr Dovzhenko – Zemlya AKA Earth (1930)

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Dovzhenko was commissioned to make what was intended to be a minor propaganda film to encourage the establishment of farming collectives. Under Dovzhenko’s lyrical montage and photography what emerged far exceeded propaganda; Earth has repeatedly made every international top ten film list. Continue reading

Jack Smith – Normal Love [Full Cut] (1963)

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By 1965, Jack Smith was exhibiting versions of Normal Love, mixing his soundtracks live and often re-editing the film as it was being shown. After Smith’s death, Jerry Tartaglia prepared this restored 105-minute version, which premiered in 1997. Although shot on backdated color-film stock and paced more languidly than Flaming Creatures, Normal Love again features women and cross-dressed men in an idyll of sexual anarchy. Smith filmed almost entirely outdoors, emphasizing pinks and greens in the scenery, costumes, and props, and combining textural passages with allusions to film icons such as the Mummy and the Werewolf, Maria Montez, and Busby Berkeley. The inspired finale is set atop a massive pink cake (where the dancing Cake Cuties include Andy Warhol). Continue reading

Bruce Conner – Cosmic Ray (1962)

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Amos Vogel said about Cosmic Ray in Film as a Transgressive Art :
Eight images per second flash by at the brink of retinal
perception in this extraordinary pop art collage of a nude
dancing girl surrounded by Academy leaders, war footage,
Mickey Mouse, and the raising of the American flag at Iwo Jima.
An attempt at a total audio-visual experience, this hypnotic
four-minute film contains two thousand different images. Continue reading

Orson Welles – The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice (1952)

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Want to be daring? Try watching Othello without the sound. The assembly of magnificent compositions that Welles has put together for his Othello is nothing short of astounding. Welles finds angles where they never existed before and extracts from the text, so elegant in word, a visual power unmatched by other Shakespearean movies. The heritage from Citizen Kane to Touch of Evil is evident in this stylistic tour-de-force.

Welles is an imposing Othello. Painted with shadows and light, Welles moves regally through the castle sets and strides powerfully along the beach or atop the ramparts. As Iago, Michael Mac Liammoir, the Irish stage actor, is quite creepy. His vast stage experience perhaps affects his performance in front of the camera too much, but the result is highly effective under Welles’ guiding camera and brilliant editing. Continue reading

Ry Russo-Young – You Won’t Miss Me (2009)

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A woman struggling with a number of emotional demons tries to make sense of her life in this independent drama from writer and director Ry Russo-Young. Shelly Brown (Stella Schnabel) is the 23-year-old daughter of a woman with a long history of mental illness. Shelly has unfortunately inherited some of her mother’s instability, and the narrative follows her after she’s released from a brief stay in a mental hospital. Shelly dreams of a career as an actress, but at auditions she delivers readings that are intense enough to scare off most casting directors. Shelly wants to bond with other young women in the arts, but her paranoia and multiple insecurities make her a difficult friend at best and few of her peers are willing to bother. And while Shelly thinks she’s ready for a relationship, the manner in which she approaches men tends to result in rejections or one-night stands. Continue reading