In this playful, mischievous look at the creative process, Danish auteur Lars von Trier challenges his mentor Jørgen Leth to remake Leth’s influential 1967 short “The Perfect Human” five times, with each remake having a von Trier-imposed restriction.
Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (2010) Craig McCall, Jack Cardiff, Martin Scorsese, Kirk Douglas, Documentary, Biography
In 2001 Jack Cardiff (1914-2009) became the first director of photography in the history of the Academy Awards to win an Honorary Oscar. But the first time he clasped the famous statuette in his hand was a half-century earlier when his Technicolor camerawork was awarded for Powell and Pressburger’s Black Narcissus. Beyond John Huston’s The African Queen and King Vidor’s War and Peace, the films of the British-Hungarian creative duo (The Red Shoes and A Matter of Life and Death too) guaranteed immortality for the renowned cameraman whose career spanned seventy years.
Mourir à Madrid / To Die in Madrid (1963) Frédéric Rossif, Irene Worth, John Gielgud, Suzanne Flon, Documentary
Morir en Madrid brings together several papers on the Spanish Civil War and integrates capturing different points of view, intended to represent the continuity of the suffering of the Spanish during the Franco regime. The death of Federico Garcia Lorca, Guernica, the defense of Madrid, the International Brigades, are some of the items comprised in this document.
The opening scene in this film is of an arrest in Hillsborough County Florida where a woman has scratched her husband while he was trying to restrain her from getting back in her car and leaving after an argument. The officers explain that she has committed a battery and thereby earned herself an inescapable arrest and overnight stay in jail because by law they have no discretion. This sets the stage for two hours of court proceedings before three different judges, each trying to apply the Florida domestic violence laws. Though it gets repetitive, it also is fascinating to try to figure out what to do with such issues as restraining orders, parental visits, child support and punishment as each witness testifies, and to see how the judges react.
There Is No Sexual Rapport / Il n’y a pas de rapport sexuel (2011) Raphaël Siboni, Hervé P. Gustave, Cindy Dollar, Michael Cerrito
An amusing and poignant examination of one man’s career as a director-performer of pornography. This cinematic penetration into the adult film industry and France’s most prominent skin auteur Hervé P. Gustave, who goes by the moniker HPG, reveals the trials and tribulations with the creation of the ever expanding and increasingly demanding adult industry. In this tragic story of human debris, we watch helplessly as adult film performers capture money shots, dance around anatomy for soft porn gigs, and coax reluctant amateurs to perform as the clock is ticking. Culled from 10 years of drenched, hellish footage, renowned visual artist (and first time filmmaker) Raphael Siboni shapes an intriguing portrait, one that never glorifies or condemns its subject or his chosen profession.
Wie Man sein Leben kocht / How to Cook Your Life (2007) Doris Dörrie, Edward Espe Brown, Documentary
Doris Dörrie’s camera greets Edward Espe Brown when he arrives in Australia to give a class on cooking, Zen, and meditation. We see him back home in Northern California as well. Brown, for forty years a Zen cook, demonstrates cooking as well as commenting on topics including anger, quiet, gleaning and waste, battered pots, and how he found his vocation. A focus of his is to demonstrate how to bring one’s self to cooking and to others simultaneously. He quotes often from two masters, with several examples of Zen wit. The camera takes the occasional trip to fast food restaurants to provide contrast to Brown’s approach and results.
Tierra de los padres / Fatherland (2011) Nicolás Prividera, Felix Bruzzone, José Campusano, Lucía Cedrón, Drama, Documentary
Fatherland brings a rigorous structural approach to a site of monuments that is also a place of movement, criss-crossed daily by tourists and locals. The grounds are laid out like city blocks, with wide avenues branching onto laneways filled with elaborate mausoleums. The film does not attempt to tour the cemetery as one would on foot, however, but rather moves chronologically through the history enshrined there. A series of individuals are framed in static compositions as they read aloud excerpts from the writings of noteworthy Argentines interred within. (Some license has been taken, as the final resting places of certain figures represented – such as journalist Rodolfo Walsh, who was among the “disappeared” – remain unknown. The result is both poetic and political.) Beginning in the early 1800s, this history comprises civil war, battles with the country’s native population, the conflict between the city and the provinces, and years of military dictatorship.
“I am far away on a distant journey through my own city”, filmmaker Johan van der Keuken says at the end of his four-hour portrait of Amsterdam. The city is presented as a place where people from all corners of the world live, who all exert their cultural influence on the life in the city. With a motor courier as his central figure, the filmmaker introduces the audience to birds of different feathers. We see diverse cultural expressions, like the house scene, the entry of St. Nicholas and a Ghanese mourning ritual. The binding factor in the film is the concept of ‘travelling’, in other words Amsterdam as a global village. The camera travels through the film in three ways: over land, over water (canals) and through the air.
A poetic depiction of life and ritual in the south Indian state of Kerala. We see how knowledge is passed down from generation to generation: within the family, through the village economy, and especially from teachers to students. Performance footage shows how song, dance, martial arts, and religion constitute the building blocks of a culture.