Daily Postings
Film : Interview

Lev Kalman

by Steve Macfarlane

Excess as a state of mind: intellectualism, vacation, and the pleasure of scenic rhythms.

Lev Kalman and Whitney Horn’s early ‘90s period piece, L For Leisure, is a simultaneous ode to—and interrogation of—the bourgeoisie’s right to a vacation. Spanning a series of jealousy-inducingly lush locales (including Laguna Beach, Long Island, the south of France, Baja, and Iceland) the film revels in those tiny, implacable moments of bliss and introspection perhaps best remembered by being left unarticulated. But if the film’s “body” is mostly made up of ravishing 16mm vistas, its mind is unerring in its specificity: Kalman and Horn’s characters are a smattering of grad students yakkety-yakking about whatever feels right at the time, alternately vain, insightful, sweetly curious, hilariously pretentious, and ultimately, all too human.

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Film : Interview

Nadav Lapid

by Liza Béar

Ritualistic contradictions, moral complexity, and minimalism shed light on issues of inequality in Policeman.

In Policeman, writer-director Nadav Lapid’s invigorating debut feature, Yaron (Yiftach Klein) balances his role as leader of an elite Israeli counterterrorist unit and that of expectant father, with a tantalizing mix of masculine bravura and sensitivity. The close-knit, five-man combat team, already under trial for civilian collateral damage—death and permanent injury of family members during the routine elimination of a suspected Palestinian terrorist—faces a special challenge when a group of young, upper-class Jewish radicals stage a kidnapping at the wedding of a billionaire’s daughter. Their aim is to draw attention not to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict per se but to sky-rocketing income disparities which have provoked widespread unrest in Israel. A morally complex, Bressonian film, which telegraphs its fractured storyline through minimalist but intensely physical scenes, Policeman draws the maximum power from its shrewdly observed characters, exploiting the irony of their situations. The film’s impact is enhanced by Shai Goldman’s pristine cinematography and the sparing use of dialogue or added soundtrack.

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Film : Interview

Jesse McLean

by Pamela Cohn

Jesse McLean simultaneously critiques, appropriates, and examines the pull of popular culture.

In Jesse McLean’s five-minute video work from 2011, Lose Yourself, a tinny disco beat bops on the soundtrack as words float on and off a throbbing pastel-colored background—the kind of palette one might encounter in a dentist’s office or radiating off a karaoke machine. The words are snippets of lyrics from chart-topping pop songs: “Let’s go all the way tonight,” “No regrets, just love,” “We can dance until we die, you and I,” “We’ll be young forever.” And also: “Drink that Kool-Aid,” and “Now, you’re one of us.” Most of McLean’s work attempts to parse our personal relationships to mass media and pop culture—how it can empower, define and unite us with others, but also how it can manipulate, confound, and impart a sense of loneliness. In McLean’s world, pop culture has ineffable power and influence over our everyday existences. I have not run across too many artists who consistently explore this relationship in such fresh and moving ways.

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Film : Interview

Nathan Silver

by David Louis Zuckerman

The director discusses Uncertain Terms, which is both the title of his newest film and an apt description of his filmmaking style.

In the past five years Nathan Silver has made four feature films, The Blind, Exit Elena, Soft In The Head, and premiering at the LA Film Festival next month, Uncertain Terms. Aesthetically, each of these films is its own animal and that is how Nathan prefers it. He is a process-oriented director, preferring to orchestrate anarchic improvisations in lieu of formal scripts. But in talking with him it is clear that the strategies and techniques he has experimented with have yet to settle into a strict set of rules. Instead Nathan speaks of each new project as a reaction against the previous. Uncertain Terms may be his most accessible film to date, with its broad plot and troupe of up-and-coming actresses. However, he seems to be preparing to turn the tables with his next project Stinking Heaven, a film about drug addicts that will be shot on grainy Beta Cam this summer. While most directors expend energy piloting their productions toward calmer waters, Nathan seems most in his element when surrounded by chaos. We recorded the following conversation in sound designer Gene Park’s mixing studio in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, where Nathan was finalizing the sound and score for Uncertain Terms.

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Film : Interview

Alejandro Jodorowsky

by Alex Zafiris

The theater director, filmmaker, and comic book artist on The Dance of Reality, his first film in over twenty years.

Alejandro Jodorowsky is a legendary, incendiary artist. Escaping Chile and arriving in Paris in the late 1950s, he immersed himself in mime, surrealism, theater, and performance art, taking cues from Marcel Marceau, Luis Buñuel, and Antonin Artaud. His first short film, The Transposed Heads, appeared in 1957, followed by his first feature film, Fando y Lis, in 1968. Already writing comic books and heading a troupe called The Panic Movement, Jodo (as he is affectionately known) was now living in Mexico, where he filmed and then unleashed El Topo in 1970, a hallucinatory, brutal western starring himself as a gunfighter. The film entered the consciousness of the cultural elite—with Dennis Hopper and John Lennon as early champions—which helped secure funding for his tour-de-force,The Holy Mountain, whose central themes of alchemy, materialism and spiritual self-awareness were depicted with such radical imagery that it caused a riot at its 1973 Cannes Film Festival premiere.

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Film : Review

Adolfo Arrieta’s Flammes

by Nicholas Elliott

Politics, sex, and fire in this cinematic house of cards.

The 1970s were difficult years for budding French filmmakers. These young men and women had to contend with making their mark during the long comedown from May ’68 and the aftermath of the New Wave, possibly the most attention-grabbing film movement in history, and one which seemed to have done everything from capturing the pulse of the street and the bedroom to combining CinemaScope with the ideology of Mao Zedong. Some reacted by reclaiming classicism, others made films political in content but stodgy in form. A third group found a vein of meticulous freedom that has left us some of the most eccentric wonders of modern cinema. Adolfo Arrieta’s Flammes (1978) is like the secret handshake of these films, best categorized as brazenly opposed to categorization.

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Film : Interview

Richard Ayoade

by Anya Jaremko-Greenwold

Doppelgangers, Dostoyevsky and the importance of timelessness.

The Double—a skillful adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s novella—is director Richard Ayoade’s second film (his first was 2010’s Submarine). Ayoade has slightly modernized the story, illustrating the familiar claustrophobia and drudgery of an office job. Simon (Jesse Eisenberg) is a timid clerk working in a government organization, disregarded by his boss (Wallace Shawn) and unloved by Hannah (Mia Wasikowska), the beautiful copy room girl he lusts after for from afar. Simon is berated or snubbed by everyone he knows; he’s brought the wrong order at restaurants, and when his office access card suddenly stops working, though he protests, “I’ve worked here 7 years!”, no one seems to believe him. Anonymous both in his work and in the industrial, impersonal world he inhabits, Simon mournfully admits, “I don’t know how to be myself.” And he isn’t the only one who hasn’t figured it out, as the police report that they can barely cover all the suicides in Simon’s neighborhood—let alone the entire city.

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Literature : Interview

Nicholas Rombes

by Andrew Gallix

Constraint as liberation, knife-wielding film scholars, and the human brain as total cinema machine.

There was a time when movies lived up to their name. They moved along and, once set in motion, were unstoppable until the end—like life itself. What you missed was gone, lost forever, unless you sat through another screening, and even what you had seen would gradually fade away or distort along with your other memories. I recently happened upon a YouTube clip from a film I had first watched in 1981. I thought I knew the scene well, but it turned out to be radically different from my recollection: the original was but a rough draft of my own version, which I had been mentally honing for more than three decades. Such creative misremembering—reminiscent of Harold Bloom’s “poetic misprision”—is now threatened by our online Library of Babel. According to Nicholas Rombes, who is spearheading a new wave of film criticism, movies surrendered much of their “mythic aura” when they migrated from big screens to computers via television.

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Film : Interview

Stéphane Delorme

by Nicholas Elliott

The editor-in-chief of Cahiers du Cinéma on Spielberg, politics, and the vitality of cinema.

Stéphane Delorme has been the editor-in-chief of French film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma since 2009, a position previously occupied by André Bazin, Eric Rohmer, Jacques Rivette, and the late, great French critic Serge Daney, among others. Founded in Paris in 1951 by Bazin and critics Jacques Doniol-Valcroze and Joseph-Marie Lo Duca, Cahiers heralded the auteur theory, pioneered the transcribed interview, and served as a training ground for the French New Wave by publishing the critical writing of future filmmakers Rohmer, Rivette, Truffaut, Godard, and Chabrol. The magazine has appeared regularly since its launch over sixty years ago, going through a variety of phases and political orientations (including a radical Maoist turn in the early ’70s), but never truly deviating from its initial mission: the in-depth analysis of cinema as a way of seeing the world and forming a moral position.

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Film : Interview

Iva Radivojevic

by Pamela Cohn

The filmmaker examines themes of migration, tolerance, identity, and belonging in her first feature film, Evaporating Borders.

Filmmaker Iva Radivojevic is an introvert with a roving curiosity about other people, places, and things. Before studying film and media studies at New York’s Hunter College, she trained in 3D computer animation as an undergraduate. Finding the labor-intensive process of animation a bit stifling, she decided to join her love of travel with her love for photography and begin a video blog called ivaasks where she posted short documentary stories of random people she’d meet on her various journeys.

Named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 Faces of Independent Film this year, Radivojevic recently completed her first feature film, Evaporating Borders. The film is a gorgeously photographed personal essay film offering a series of interwoven episodes about life as an immigrant on the island of Cyprus. But this film, unlike most of her earlier work, is the culmination of a vested personal interest as well.

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Film : Review

Jean Grémillon's Daïnah la métisse

by Nicholas Elliott

Grémillon's film presents the truth, which is political but rarely correct, if we understand “correct” to be the just order of things.

The French master Jean Grémillon made his second talkie Daïnah la métisse in 1931, at the dawn of the sound age. Yet this tale of the fatal encounter between a mixed-race woman and a ship mechanic on an ocean liner bound for New Caledonia leaves its disturbing themes of racial and class discrimination unspoken. The issues are as in your face and complicated as they are now, but relayed in purely visual, cinematic terms that leave the viewer to sort through the discomfort alone. Today we privilege comfort: to write this appreciation, I researched the politically correct translation of the French term métisse, which refers to a person of mixed black and white parentage. Grémillon did not have Google to give him answers, but I doubt he would have looked.

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Film : Interview

Henry Jaglom

by Gary M. Kramer

The cult filmmaker on women, dating, eating, shopping, having babies, and his latest film, The M Word.

The characters in Henry Jaglom’s The M Word are as talkative and mercurial as any of those the writer/director’s distinctive films. Displaying emotions that run hot and cold—often within the same scene—they are mostly women of a certain age going through “the change.” At the center of the film is Moxie (Tanna Frederick, Jaglom’s current leading lady and wife), a thirty-something actress/producer at KZAM, Los Angeles’s last independent TV station. Although she appears in a children’s show, she is working on a side project, a documentary about menopause. Moxie films her mother Carson (Frances Fisher), her aunts (Mary Crosby and Eliza Roberts), and her co-workers talking passionately about their experiences of “the change.” When the station’s New York corporate executives Charlie (Michael Imperioli) and Harry (Robert Hallak) arrive to determine the future of the economically troubled station, Moxie begins a relationship with Charlie. But her reactions to staff changes at the station may jeopardize their romance.

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Film : Interview

François Ozon

by Liza Béar

Ozon on his latest film Young and Beautiful and why he prefers tension on set.

“You look like a precocious schoolgirl,” Michel Piccoli tells Catherine Deneuve—impeccably attired in a formal black couture dress and white collar—toward the end of Luis Buñuel’s 1967 Belle de Jour.

Taking its cue from that line, François Ozon’s Jeune et Jolie ("Young and Beautiful"), functions as a minimalist homage to Belle de Jour. Without predictable film noir elements, it’s more restrained in tone, though not devoid of humor, irony, or of big trouble. And, while stylistically poles apart, Ozon shares Buñuel’s strong aversion to moralizing.

In a striking French Riviera beach scene, Ozon’s camera frames a double image of seventeen-year-old Isabelle (Marine Vacht) observing herself as an inexperienced boy her own age takes her virginity. The scene telegraphs her psychic distance from the event and foreshadows her double life back at Paris’s prestigious Lycée Henri-IV in the fall. Rather than seeking a more sensitive guy or a same-gender lover, unbeknownst to her affluent parents, Isabelle sets herself up on the Internet as Léa, a high-class call girl. The transactional sex at 300 Euros a pop takes place in sterile hotel rooms with male executives (old enough to be your father, she later defiantly fires back at her fifty-ish shrink).

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Film : Interview

Andrew T. Betzer

by Nicholas Elliott

The director on his first feature film, his idiosyncratic narrative style, and the transmission of violence in father/son relationships.

Young Bodies Heal Quickly, Andrew T. Betzer’s first feature after a storied career as a short film-maker, is about as personal as a narrative fiction can get: Betzer wrote, directed, produced, edited and even color-graded the film. But in this case, “personal” doesn’t mean a regurgitation of the filmmaker’s latest breakup or childhood ups and downs. It means a highly idiosyncratic take on storytelling, in which the viewer is thrown in the deep end from the enigmatic first shot and carried along by the hurtling young bodies of two brothers who do a bad thing and have to get out of town fast. Set in godforsaken parts of Maryland and structured as a picaresque road film in five main episodes, Young Bodies Heal Quickly is as unpredictable as the boys’ off-the-grid father yet crystal clear in its intent to present an unflinching exploration of masculinity and the transmission of violence. If there is anything else out there like it, I haven’t seen it.

I met with Betzer on April 8 at the offices of Cineric, which produced Young Bodies and is the leading film restoration house and post-production facility where Betzer works as one of the last few New York-based film timers, doing the photo-chemical process of altering the color of celluloid film, generally the last step in finishing a motion picture, and now primarily done digitally.

Young Bodies Heal Quickly opens in New York at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 19th and plays through the 25th.

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Film : Interview

Eliza Hittman

by Gary M. Kramer

Brooklyn native Hittman on her deft portrayal of young "love" in her auspicious feature debut, It Felt Like Love.

It Felt Like Love is an acutely perceptive observational drama written, directed, and produced by Brooklynite Eliza Hittman. Lila (screen newcomer Gina Piersanti, in a quietly devastating performance) is a 15 year-old in Gravesend longing to have some of the sexual experiences she talks about with others. As the film opens, she is seen as a third wheel hanging out with her best friend Chiara (Giovanna Salimeni) and Chiara’s fourth boyfriend, Patrick (Jesse Cordasco). At home, Lila has an uneasy relationship with her single father (Kevin Anthony Ryan), and often confides in her younger neighbor, Nate (Case Prime). What quickly becomes palpable—and forms the strength of this remarkable small film—is Lila’s restlessness.

Hittman takes a canny, voyeuristic approach to chronicling Lila’s transformative summer. Her camera deliberately lingers on the characters’ bodies at rest and in motion. There are marvelous scenes that focus on Chiara’s tan skin as Patrick draws a heart on her back with sunscreen, or the way Lila spies on Sammy (Ronen Rubinstein), a sexy older guy she hopes to seduce. In the process, Lila’s one-sided desires become tactile.

What distinguishes It Felt Like Love from other (and much slicker) films about teenage girls exploring their sexuality (e.g., Nymphomaniac Volume 1, and Young & Beautiful, forthcoming in April) is Hittman’s insistence on engaging viewers in creating Lila’s story. There are significant moments that happen off-screen that are open to viewers’ interpretation—from Lila and Sammy sharing a bed at a party, to a climactic scene where Lila is confronted by Sammy and his friends.

In a recent Skype session, Hittman spoke about how she crafted It Felt Like Love, and revealed her thoughts on teenage sexuality as well as how to depict it.

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Film : Interview

Joel Potrykus

by Nicholas Elliott

Buzzard, Potrykus's new film, is a funny and uncomfortable tale of a video game addict’s passion for screwing the system.

Buzzard is the disturbing tale of Marty (Joshua Burge), a resident of Grand Rapids, Michigan whose sole passion outside of video games and horror movies is screwing the system through a series of increasingly pathetic con jobs, with stakes ranging from a free frozen pizza to twenty-three dollars and change. Though there is something unpleasant about watching an able-bodied young man abuse the passive stupidity of low-on-the-ladder employees to score his loot, one can’t deny the political charge of a film that coolly sets out the options faced by many Americans: be a vulture or rot in a cubicle.

Buzzard is the second feature by the resolutely independent writer-director Joel Potrykus, winner of the Best New Director award at the 2012 Locarno Film Festival for his debut feature Ape, which also starred the incredible Joshua Burge, a Buster Keaton for the 99%. Here, in addition to writing and directing, Potrykus plays Derek, Marty’s office colleague and fellow video game maniac. Potrykus knows what he’s talking about: he has worked the cubicles, played the video games, and is committed to producing films in his hometown of Grand Rapids. Most importantly, he recognizes that making a movie can be the greatest con job of all. But he also brings a sophisticated sensibility to the table, filming in long static shots that reinforce the ambiguity of Marty’s actions. If Marty is a hero, he is a hero for an era past decadence and into decay.

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Film : Interview

Matt Wolf

by Anya Jaremko-Greenwold

Wolf, whose new film Teenage is out now, on the invention of the teenager and how our obsession with nostalgia may be helping our innovation.

Before the “teenager” was invented, there was no second stage of life: you were either a powerless child or an adult stuck in the day-to-day grind of work. But at the turn of the century, the concept of the “adolescent” emerged, as did a subsequent struggle between jaded adults and wild youth. Inspired by punk author Jon Savage’s book of the same name and executive produced by Jason Schwartzman, Teenage is a uniquely formatted documentary exploring the culture of young people from the first half of the 20th century in America, England, and Germany. The doc is comprised of rare archival newsreels, amateur movies, feature film clips, and photographs—along with newly filmed period reenactments of exceptional youth from history.

While we’ve all come to know and admire familiar teens such as Anne Frank, director Matt Wolf (director of Wild Combination: a Portrait of Arthur Russell) was more interested in the forgotten teenagers and hidden histories; and in how their obscure subculture movements inspired popular culture. Teenage is an experimental “living collage” of a film, as permissive and wide-ranging in its technique as the behavior of the juveniles it describes. I spoke with Wolf about why adults should not be so quick to dismiss youth culture and independence; for while teenagers don’t necessarily have it all figured out just yet, they are ultimately responsible for our future, and many of their ideas are both powerful and indicative of great things to come.

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Film : Review

Raoul Walsh's Gentleman Jim

by Nicholas Elliott

On the generational bridge that is Raoul Walsh's 1942 boxing film Gentleman Jim.

My dad and I both love Raoul Walsh’s Gentleman Jim (1941). That’s about all we agree on when it comes to movies: I’m still trying to convince him that Night of the Hunter is a masterpiece, and he continues to pay good money for the type of British entertainment in which a community of retirees puts together a dirty calendar to save the local library. The schism is not a question of deeper experience—dad once played ping pong with Stanley Kubrick, then accompanied him to a screening of Paths of Glory—but different needs. What I’m looking for is what I call “lifting identification,” a recorded perception of something I know in my bones that leaves me feeling stronger for the fact that it has been put on screen. I haven’t asked dad what he’s looking for, but I suspect he doesn’t have anything against spending two hours—better yet, ninety minutes—lost in a story.

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Film : Interview

Lynne Sachs

by Paolo Javier

Filmmaker Lynne Sachs and poet Paolo Javier on the dialogues between documentary and poetry, and politics and personal history.

Last fall, I caught the premiere at MoMA of Lynne Sachs’s Your Day Is My Night, a documentary featuring NYC’s Chinatown residents, and became an instant fan. Focusing on the personal experiences of Chinatown's shift-bed renters, Sachs engages her subjects in an innovative filmmaking process that privileges their agency and their community's vitality—a process that ultimately produces a depiction of a people and place which radically departs from the usual Orientalism found in American cinema. The film is also remarkable for how it pushes the boundaries of documentary, locating its praxis in the liminal spaces of poetry and dreaming. This should come as no surprise to admirers of the prolific director and tireless experimentalist, whose astonishing body of work also includes short films, videos, cine-essays, and literary adaptations. On the eve of Sachs’s live film performance for Pratt University’s RiDE (Risk, Dare, Experiment) series, I engage this most restless of contemporary filmmakers in a conversation that sheds lots of warm light on her past, present, and future collaborations.

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Film : Interview

Raya Martin

by Katie Bradshaw

Filmmaker Raya Martin discusses Philippine cinema, emoji, and his latest feature How to Disappear Completely.

Raya Martin was born in Manila, Philippines, in 1984. To date, Martin has completed nineteen films, including twelve features. He makes fictional features, documentaries, shorts and installations. His work considers the history of Philippine cinema and investigates both the crossovers and conflicts between personal and national history. Martin has returned frequently in his films to the subject of Spanish and American colonization, Philippine revolutionary movements, and the subject of the young person—figuratively speaking, he returns in his films to the iconic image of a child hypnotized by an eclipse (a scene in A Short Film About the Indio Nacional), speaking to the paralysis of the past and a history of violence.

Martin was the first Filipino filmmaker accepted into the Cinéfondation Résidence of the Cannes Film Festival. His films have shown in numerous festivals including Cannes, the Berlinale, the Locarno International Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival; a retrospective of his films has been screened in Paris, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, South Korea, Documenta (13) in Kassel, and the Museum of the Moving Image in New York.

How to Disappear Completely, his newest feature, had its US premiere last September as part of the La Di Da Film Festival. How to Disappear is about a girl living in the countryside with her drunken father and devoutly religious mother. Through a blend of horror and experimentalism, the film brings us to a kind of “no-zone,” in which a girl alone resists being victimized. Her drive to disappear overcomes everything.

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Film : Interview

Peter Snowdon

by Pamela Cohn

Snowdon on the layering of realities in his new film, The Uprising, a blend of fictional narrative and documentary footage of the Arab Spring uprisings.

Peter Snowdon’s The Uprising is a powerful film consisting of almost a hundred amateur videos recorded during the Arab Spring by individuals caught up in various revolutions in the chaotic, crowded, deadly streets of Syria, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt. Snowdon initially discovered these films as uploads on YouTube, and, after a painstaking editing process, ultimately used them to frame a larger fictional narrative about the citizen uprisings.

Over the last decade, Snowdon has authored several pieces of experimental film and video that have been exhibited around the world at festivals and gallery spaces, garnering praise for his highly-crafted method of interpreting collective storytelling. The Uprising is, in many ways, a continuation of this exploration, but this time the footage was shot by ordinary people with mobile phones and small cameras who were in the streets and in the throes of revolution, many of them anonymous voices and presences with whom the filmmaker has never otherwise communicated. The Uprising, Snowdon’s first feature-length documentary, won the Opus Bonum Award at its world premiere at the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival in October, 2013. For its North American début, the film has been selected for the prestigious Documentary Fortnight 2014, MoMA’s International Festival of Nonfiction Film and Media. I spoke with Snowdon from his studio in Belgium a few days before his departure for the States.

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Film : Review

Hong Sang Soo's Our Sunhi

by Nicholas Elliott

Hong Sang Soo's Our Sunhi, which screens at the Film Society of Lincoln Center on February 17, is a profound and playful meditation on narrative and lovers' discourse.

When I interviewed South Korean master Hong Sang Soo at the Locarno Film Festival last August, he explained that he attempts to reach his personal goal of constantly seeing things anew by setting his films in familiar locales such as the university where he teaches or the bars where he drinks, the mere act of pointing a camera drawing his attention to what might otherwise remain unseen. Most essential, he added, is to strive to regularly be surprised by the person with whom you live, allowing yourself to acknowledge that you cannot fully know another human.

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Film : Interview

Denis Côté

by Steve Macfarlane

Québécois filmmaker Denis Côté on filmic revenge, horror, and making a film in seven days.

Québécois filmmaker Denis Côté has become known for a type of rigorous experimentation film-by-film. His latest, Vic + Flo Saw A Bear, may feel like further-out terrain for Côté than it is even for the viewer; the picture is a mysterious romantic drama about two lesbian ex-cons who take to a small cottage in the woods, hoping to eke out a quiet new life together. Côté’s script deprives the audience of backstory or foreshadowing, but rather uses Vic and Flo’s discovery of events as the audience’s own opportunity to discover them. As tensions rise between the newly free couple, complicated sides of Vic and Flo’s independent—sometimes complementary, sometimes not—versions of misanthropy and optimism emerge. The impact of what is revealed, Côté stresses, has more to do with the viewer’s preconceptions than a point he wants to make.

At times the movie feels like a more formal remake of his earlier Our Private Lives, about an internet couple who run into problems once they commit to getting together in person. In conversation, Côté doesn’t mince words: in our one-hour bull session, putatively on the heels of the U.S. release of Vic + Flo, Côté broke down his serpentine career history while casually dropping film theories, a handful at a time. His cardinal preoccupation as an artist may well be, unto itself, the act of reconsideration—and yet he addresses his own work with none of the opaque self-mythologizing that’s hidebound to festival darlings. Côté talks every bit as crisply and lucidly as the HD frames in which he paints his pictures, but with a playfulness and patience that can only be described as generous. There’s no mistaking Côté’s filmmaking for anything more or less than an extension of his former day job reviewing movies for Canada’s now-defunct ici magazine—auteurism as the ultimate act of criticism. Spoilers below.

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Film : Interview

Godfrey Reggio

by Alex Zafiris

Godfrey Reggio on his new film Visitors, a piece of poetic, experiential cinema, with an original score by Philip Glass.

Godfrey Reggio’s first film in ten years, Visitors, is a wordless, confrontational meditation on the influence of technology in human life. Composed of seventy-four shots, with an original score by Philip Glass (with whom Reggio has collaborated on all of his films, beginning with Koyaanisqatsi in 1982), Visitors presents cinema as a tool for consciousness and unity. The film opens with Triska, a female Lowland gorilla, staring intently into the camera, fully present. This is followed by close-up portraits of individuals. Their unselfconscious faces gazing directly at the absent viewer. The emotions are vivid, funny, unsettling.

Born in 1940 and raised in New Orleans, Reggio has long been involved in humanitarian and social causes. At fourteen years old, he became a monk with the Christian Brothers, and abandoned his studies in 1968. Living in Santa Fe, he co-founded Young Citizens for Action, La Clinica de la Gente, La Gente, and the Institute for Regional Education. In 1972, with support from the American Civil Liberties Union, he organized a nationwide campaign against the invasion of privacy and the use of technology to control behavior. In 1993 he was invited by Benetton to develop a new school and studio for media and the arts named Fabrica, based in Italy, where he held a thirteen-year tenure as director. Meanwhile, he was making films, completing the Qatsi trilogy with Powaqqatsi (1988) and Nagoyqatsi (2002); he also made two shorts, Anima Mundi (1992), a documentary; and Evidence (1995).

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Film : Interview

Jessica Oreck

by Anya Jaremko-Greenwold

Jessica Oreck discusses the rewards and challenges of working in sub-zero temperatures for her new film Aatsinki: the Story of Arctic Cowboys.

Jessica Oreck’s Aatsinki: the Story of Arctic Cowboys documents one year in the life of a family of reindeer herders in Finnish Lapland. Two brothers, along with their wives and children, are the leaders of a collective who manage the last group of wild reindeer in all of Finland. The image of a “cowboy” is often seen as uniquely American, a stoic man living in the western mountains and riding horses. Yet Oreck demonstrates how cowboys can really exist anywhere: bold loners and herders, who possess strong kinships with both the terrain of their landscape and the animals who inhabit it. While in America reindeer are perhaps regarded as primarily magical creatures, in this remote and freezing climate they are very real, used for practical purposes such as eating, transportation, and tourism. The film is filled with quiet moments of lovely snow-covered woods, the sliver of a pink sunrise peeking through sparkling trees, or reindeer pulling sleds in a long train, driven by men in big furry hats. It is a lifestyle contingent on living with the land, rather than on it. I spoke with Oreck about her time in the Arctic (a very extreme transition, coming from New York City), the troubles reindeer herders face, and the challenging way of life they maintain with cheer and pride.

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