Peter Brosens & Dorjkhandyn Turmunkh – State of Dogs (1998)

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A cinematic poem based on the Mongolian belief that when dogs die, they are reborn as humans. At least, that’s what humans say. What do dogs think? The film introduces us to Baasar, a stray dog, before and after his death… Documentary or fiction? The pictures and sound are derived from reality, so surely it must be a documentary, but a particularly philosophical and poetic one. Not only does this film offer a lively, inspired commentary on the issue of stray animals in the urban environment, it invites us to contemplate the mystery of life and the complexity of reality. A universal parable on destiny, illustrated by Mongolian folklore. Continue reading

Esen Isik – Köpek AKA Koepek (2015)

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Quote:
Esen Isik, who already won the prestigious “Quartz” in 2012 for Du&Ich, presented her debut feature film, Köpek, a glimpse at an Istanbul held prisoner by its own contradictions, at this year’s Zurich Film Festival. By portraying the everyday lives of three ‘marginal’ characters who fight to find love (or simply a glimmer of humanity) in a city that rejects them, Esen Isik paints us a portrait of an entire society that wants to be modern in spite of the preconceptions that risk choking it. Continue reading

Alejandro Jodorowsky – Poesía sin fin AKA Endless Poetry (2016)

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Quote:
Through Alejandro Jodorowsky’s autobiographical lens, Endless Poetry narrates the years of the Chilean artist’s youth during which he liberated himself from all of his former limitations, from his family, and was introduced into the foremost bohemian artistic circle of 1940s Chile where he met Enrique Lihn, Stella Díaz Varín, Nicanor Parra… at the time promising young but unknown artists who would later become the titans of twentieth-century Hispanic literature. He grew inspired by the beauty of existence alongside these beings, exploring life together, authentically and freely. A tribute to Chile’s artistic heritage, Endless Poetry is also an ode to the quest for beauty and inner truth, as a universal force capable of changing one’s life forever, written by a man who has dedicated his life and career to creating spiritual and artistic awareness across the globe. Continue reading

Veit Helmer – Tuvalu (1999)

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Silent movies require a unique visual storytelling grammar, a rhythm of clear, economical medium shots, punctuated by close-ups of pertinent objects and human faces reacting. Veit Helmer’s debut feature Tuvalu isn’t strictly a silent movie—it features sound effects and the odd exclamation—but the film is virtually dialogue-free, and heavily influenced by the grammar of the silents and the fanciful retro-futurist decay of Terry Gilliam and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. But Helmer has neither the clarity nor the rococo flourish of his predecessors, and his over-reliance on color filters and crammed, busy takes inhibits Tuvalu’s ability to charm and enchant. The film stars Denis Lavant (the craggy but acrobatic center of the contemporary French cinema classics Les Amants Du Pont-Neuf and Beau Travail) as the manager of a swimming pool in a crumbling, depressed metropolis. Continue reading

Carlos Saura – Goya en Burdeos AKA Goya in Bordeaux (1999)

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Plot:
Francisco Goya (1746-1828), deaf and ill, lives the last years of his life in voluntary exile in Bordeaux, a Liberal protesting the oppressive rule of Ferdinand VII. He’s living with his much younger wife Leocadia and their daughter Rosario. He continues to paint at night, and in flashbacks stirred by conversations with his daughter, by awful headaches, and by the befuddlement of age, he relives key times in his life, particularly his relationship with the Duchess of Alba, his discovery of how he wanted to paint (insight provided by Velázquez’s work), and his lifelong celebration of the imagination. Throughout, his reveries become tableaux of his paintings. Continue reading

Luigi Zampa – Ladro lui, ladra lei (1958)

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Plot synopsis:
Cencio, a Roman pilferer, is periodically in prison. He’s a genius at scams. He loves his childhood sweetheart Cesira, who, in order to get herself out of the slum’s life, soon becomes his partner in crime. With Cesira’s help, Cencio is successful in several swindles. In the meantime, Cesira finds her true love. Cencio then tries the big hit in a jewelery. But his lucky break is over… Continue reading