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Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah – Black (2015)


A 15-year-old girl in a black gang in Brussels must choose between loyalty and love when she falls for a Moroccan boy from a rival gang. The city of Brussels, plagued by high rates of youth unemployment, is home to nearly forty street gangs, and the number of young people drawn into the city’s gang culture increases each year. It’s in this criminal milieu that directing duo Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah set Black, a pulse-pounding contemporary take on a Shakespearean tragedy. Worlds collide when Mavela (Martha Canga Antonio), a teenage girl with ties to Brussels’ Black Bronx gang, meets Marwan (Aboubakr Bensaihi), a member of a rival Moroccan gang, at a police station. Keenly aware of the consequences of getting involved with someone from another gang, they at first resist their attraction to one another, but they can only resist for so long. Continue reading

Kidlat Tahimik – Turumba (1981)


J. Hoberman, The Village Voice:

Set in a tiny Philippine village, the inimitable Kidlat Tahimik’s film focuses on a family that makes papier-mache animals to sell during the traditional Turumba festivities. One year, a German department store buyer purchases all their stock. When she returns with an order for 500 more (this time with the word “Oktoberfest” painted on them), the family’s seasonal occupation becomes year-round alienated labor. Increased production, however creates inflated needs. Soon, virtually the whole village has gone to work on a jungle assembly line, turning out papier-mache mascots for the Munich Olympics. Long before the town band learns to play “Deutschland Uber Alles”, the fabric of village life has been torn asunder. The ironies of capitalism on the margin – Coca-Cola ads amid the shanties and ancient rituals – make easy targets for Tahimik’s wit. But his sharp eye never makes him seem bitter. Here, as in Perfumed Nightmare, Tahimik demonstrates great affection for his subjects, without stooping to romanticism (1983 presumably; taken from the DVD). Continue reading

Kostas Manoussakis – O fovos AKA The fear (1966)


A socially isolated young man (Anestis Vlachos) attacks the family’s deaf-mute adopted daughter, whom he abuses sexually and then kills. His parents, even though they discover his crime and are enraged, decide to hide the truth and throw the body into the lake to make it disappear. From that moment on, Anestis lives in fear, and all his actions are now defined by the crime he committed. Continue reading

Marguerite Duras – Les mains négatives (1978)


Marguerite Duras (1914 – 1996) was one of France’s most famous writers of the twentieth century. Her talents ranged across fiction, film, playwriting, andjournalism, and all through her long career, just the mention of her name could be counted on to start a spirited discussion in a Parisian café or in an American or English college literature or women’s studies department. A compulsive worker, Duras wrote 34 novels and a wide variety of shorter works, returning to writing even after a stroke robbed her of the use of her dominant hand. Continue reading

Hideo Sekigawa – Hiroshima (1953)


“Hiroshima” is a feature film directed by Hideo Sekigawa and was independently produced outside of major studio system in 1953. In fact the film was supported by the Teacher’s Union of Hiroshima who helped finance the production and organized about 90,000 Hiroshima citizens who acted in the film.

The film begins with Hiroshima in the early 1950s and flashes back to scenes of the horrific aftermath following the detonation of an atomic bomb on humans for the first time in history. Continue reading

François Ozon – Frantz (2016)


Screwball comedy master Ernst Lubitsch took a rare stab at straight drama with 1932’s “Broken Lullaby,” the tense story of a soldier who attempts to make amends with the family of a man he killed in World War I. Preeminent French director François Ozon also wanders into unconventional territory with “Frantz,” his astonishingly beautiful and inquisitive remake of Lubitsch’s film, using it as a springboard for a profound look at alienation and grief. Continue reading