Shôhei Imamura – Karayuki-san AKA The Making of a Prostitute (1975)

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A film about another kind of “unreturned soldier” than Shohei Imamura has profiled elsewhere, KARAYUKI-SAN finds the filmmaker traveling to Malaysia to interview Kikuyo Zendo, one of the countless Japanese women who were kidnapped or otherwise sold into sexual slavery in order to service the Japanese military in Southeast Asia.

74 years old at the time of filming, she offers a frank and harrowing testimony into her horrific wartime experiences, and the factors that have led her to choose exile over repatriation. Continue reading

Lucile Hadzihalilovic – Évolution aka Evolution (2015)

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The only residents of young Nicholas’s seaside town are women and boys. When he sees a dead body in the ocean one day, he begins to question his existence and surroundings. Why must he, and all the other boys, be hospitalised?

Nicolas is a boy living on a remote island set in the future, or another planet – or is it a dream? His village consists of white-painted houses located above the sea with a volcanic rock and black sand coastline, populated by young women and boys all of a similar age to Nicolas. Whilst swimming, Nicolas makes a discovery in the ocean, which is shrugged off my his mother, who, like all the women in the town has tied-back hair, is pale and wears a simple thin beige dress. Nicolas is curious, thinks that he is being lied to and starts to explore his environment, witnessing some unsettling scenes. He then finds himself taken to a hospital-like building where he along, with the others, undergoes a series of medical procedures by the women, dressed as nurses. He is befriended by one nurse, who becomes instrumental in the film’s denouement. The film is not easy to categorise; it is not only enigmatic but beautifully filmed with deeply poetic imagery. – IMDb Continue reading

Vitali Kanevsky – Samostoyatelnaya zhizn aka An Independent Life (1992)

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on the road again…

This is the second instalment of a three-part series of autobiographical films about the director’s life.

The first, which won various awards for its maker, was entitled Zamri Oumi Voskresni and was later retitled Zari, Umri, Vokresni (“Freeze-Die-Come to Life).

At the end of that film, set at the conclusion of World War II, the young Valerka was striving hard to overcome the inertia of just getting by, along with his sometime friend Galiya. In this one, he is adjusting to Galiya’s death and is back in school and is living with his mother, a prostitute. After a girl at the school is found to have been gang-raped, the headmaster chooses Valerka to be one of the scapegoats, though he had nothing to do with the deed. Continue reading

Jean-Gabriel Périot – Une jeunesse allemande (2015)

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La Fraction Armée Rouge (RAF), organisation terroriste d’extrême gauche, également surnommée « la bande à Baader » ou « groupe Baader-Meinhof », opère en Allemagne dans les années 70. Ses membres, qui croient en la force de l’image, expriment pourtant d’abord leur militantisme dans des actions artistiques, médiatiques et cinématographiques. Mais devant l’échec de leur portée, ils se radicalisent dans une lutte armée, jusqu’à commettre des attentats meurtriers qui contribueront au climat de violence sociale et politique durant « les années de plomb ». Continue reading

Patrick Bokanowski – Patrick Bokanowski Short Films (1972-2008)

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Patrick Bokanowski, the ‘artist-alchemist of celluloid’, employs an extraordinary range of technical invention – combining live-action with optical experiments, drawing, performance, painting, and animation – to conjure magical forays into a parallel universe: moving from dread and terror in the early shorts, via bursts of zany humour, to sublime serenity in the landscape films and joyous kinetic energy in his most recent work.

“The pinnacle of experimentalism in the film arts.”
– Richard Curnutte, The Film Journal

“Magisterial images seething in the amber of transcendent soundscapes. Drink in these films through eyes and ears.”
– The Brothers Quay Continue reading

Ciro Guerra – El abrazo de la serpiente AKA Embrace of the Serpent (2015)

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“You are nothing but a white!” So shouts indigenous Amazonian shaman Karamakate (Nilbio Torres) to the seemingly on-the-level but still suspicious German scientist/explorer Theodor (Jan Bijvoet) in Ciro Guerra’s enthralling, politically tinged, psychedelic, historical adventure film Embrace of the Serpent. Reversing the perspective of more familiar movies such as Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo or Roland Joffé’s The Mission, Embrace of the Serpent’s snaky crawl up the river investigates imperialism’s cultural pollution from the inside out, with the mystical Karamakate as a reluctant tour guide in two time periods. Continue reading