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Concurrent with the cinema vérité movement in France and the appearance of filmmakers like Robert Drew, the Maysles, and Ricky Leacock in the United States, the Québec Direct Cinema movement emerged in Canada in the 1950s and 60s, matches these other cinemtaic developments.
A host of filmmakers – including Michel Brault, Pierre Perrault, Gilles Groulx, Marcel Carrière, Claude Fournier, Bernard Gosselin, and others – developed and utilized new camera and sound technologies to make documentaries whose spontaneity, vitality, and formal innovations are still remarkable.
Abandoning the carefully composed, often scripted approach of earlier documentary films – in which reality was kept at a safe distance -- filtered via narration and controlled through rehearsal or even staging -- these filmmakers used the new technologies to throw themselves into the worlds they documented, and to respond in the moment to the rhythms and textures of lived experience.
Relative to their U.S. and French counterparts, and despite their proximity, these Québecois filmmakers are relatively under-recognized here in the United States.
In order to redress this, Anthology Film Archives (32 2nd Ave, New York, NY), in partnership with the Québec Government Office in New York and the National Film Board of Canada, presents 17 programs devoted to the Québec Direct Cinema from May 5 - 17, 2016.
Founded in 1970, Anthology's mission has been to preserve, exhibit, and promote public and scholarly understanding of independent, classic, and avant-garde cinema. Anthology screens more than 1,000 film and video programs per year, publishes books and catalogs annually, and has preserved more than 900 films to date.
Anthology now presents this extensive series to survey this enormously influential documentary filmmaking movement.
Featuring more than 30 films – many of them very rarely screened in the U.S. – and graced by appearances from filmmaker Marcel Carrière and scholar and curator Carol Faucher, this series represents an opportunity to explore one of the most remarkable chapters in the history of documentary cinema, and to gain great insight into the people, politics, and society of Québec from the 1950s to the early 1980s.
It all began at the National Film Board of Canada. Despite the NFB’s celebrated reputation since its foundation in 1939, its documentary production had become more conventional in the late 40s/early 50s, with its heavy equipment, scripted scenarios, and strict in-house guidelines.
The arrival of television in 1952-53, with its constant demand for films, pushed the NFB’s producers and filmmakers towards greater creativity, experimentation, and innovation.
Inspired by photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson and his artistic philosophy (“The Decisive Moment”), small crews of filmmakers set out with portable cameras and their often long-focus lenses, more sensitive film stocks, and lighter sound equipment, “to record life as it happens, unscripted, unrehearsed, to capture it in sync sound without asking [subjects] to pose or repeat [their] lines; …and to edit it into moving films that would make the audience laugh and cry…and change the world by making people realize that life is real, beautiful, and meaningful” (Wolf Koenig, 1967).
Carrière and Faucher will be here in person for opening weekend, Friday, May 6 to Sunday, May 8.
Tickets: $11 general; $9 for students, seniors, & children (12 & under); $7 Anthology members.
For more info go to: www.anthologyfilmarchives.org
Québec Direct CinemaMay 5-17
Anthology Film Archives32 Second AvenueNew York, NY 10003
Now in it’s 6th installment, the Old School Kung Fu Fest presented by Subway Cinema, returns to New York on April 8 - 10th, 2016 at the Metrograph theater (7 Ludlow Street, NY, NY). This year’s festival focuses on films from the studio Golden Harvest, rivals of the seminal Shaw Brothers studio. The studio has nurtured the talents of Bruce Lee, John Woo, Michael Hui, Stanley Kwan, Jimmy Wang Yu, Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Angela Mao and has had a hand in producing classics like Enter the Dragon, Cannonball Run, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (the non-Michael Bay one). Golden Harvest produced kung-fu films at their most manic and energetic, and this festival’s lineup reflects that:
To learn more, go to: http://www.subwaycinema.com/oldschool16/
Old School Kung Fu FestivalApril 8 - 10, 2016
Metrograph7 Ludlow St.New York, NY 10002
Germany has made some of the most monumentally important contributions to cinema, and the Kino!2016 festival of German films looks back and looks to the future. Running April 7 - 14, 2016 at Cinema Village (22 E 12th St, New York, NY), Kino! 2016 will showcase twelve feature premieres plus the US premiere of the Short Export Made in Germany program. On Monday, April 11, there will be a special screening of a restored print of the silent classic The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, with live music accompaniment by DJ Raphaël Marionneau at Metrograph (7 Ludlow St, New York, NY).
Other films include:
There will also be a screening of the 1984 cult film Decoder at the Goethe-Institut (30 Irving Place, New York, NY) followed by a conversation with producer and screenwriter Klaus Maeck.
To learn more, go to: http://www.kinofestivalnyc.com/
Kino!2016April 7 - 14, 2016
Cinema Village22 E 12th St.New York, NY 10003
Goethe-Institut30 Irving Pl.New York, NY 10003
Deutsches Haus at NYU42 Washington MewsNew York, NY 10003
Once again The Film Society of Lincoln Center and The Museum of Modern Art join forces to complete another lineup for the 45th annual New Directors/New Films Festival (ND/NF), running March 16 - 27, 2016.
Since 1972, the festival has been an annual New York City spring event for cinephiles sometimes offering exciting discoveries from around the world. Other times it has confounded film fans. Dedicated to offering new works by emerging talent, this year’s fest screens 27 features and 10 short films.
Babak Anvari’s debut Under the Shadow opens the festival with a story of a mother and daughter haunted by a sinister, largely unseen presence during the Iran-Iraq War. It supposedly has a mounting sense of dread until its ominous finish. A breakout hit at Sundance, Indiewire’s Eric Kohn called it, “the first great horror movie of the year.”
Well, I missed it but not the closing night selection — Kirsten Johnson’s Cameraperson, a chronicle of the cinematographer-turned-director’s life through her collaborations with documentarians such as Laura Poitras, Michael Moore, and others. A disjointed memoir, Johnson’s first solo directorial effort offered snippets of films I’d would have rather seen than this doc, but it did display some outtakes of worthy films and for that alone, viewing her compilation was worth it.
It was one of nine festival features and four shorts directed by women, several of those made for a time well spent.
Films seen in New Directors/New Films are usually more of mixed bag than most of the festival featured at either MoMA or The Film Society — maybe because of the programming cross-pollination. That notwithstanding, there’s usually enough discoveries to outweigh the films that confuse or dismay.
And I missed several of the bigger buzz films such as Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s Sundance Grand Jury Prizewinner Weiner as well as Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Happy Hour, for which the main cast shared Locarno’s Best Actress award. But others caught my attention.
Disregarding those films which seemed far less than the guide’s description suggested, I was taken with the following three women-centric films.
The FitsAnna Rose HolmerUSA, 2015, 72mThough this debut feature isn’t entirely successful, it presents enough mystery and intrigue to engage a viewer long enough to take them to its conclusion. Detailing a transition from girlhood to womanhood, Holmer depicts 11-year-old Toni’s journey of discovery (Royalty Hightower) as a young boxer drawn to dancers training at the same rec center in Cincinnati. She joins one of the troupes, The Lionesses, and becomes immersed in their world. The film successfully conveys her challenge to become part of the group and then a mysterious, convulsive condition begins to afflict her team. Set within the intimate confines of familiar settings — the public school, the gym and its grounds — The Fits tries to intertwine two confusing story lines as one to some curious effect. This Oscilloscope release is worth looking into even with its flaws.
Kill Me Please / Mate-me por favorAnita Rocha da SilveiraBrazil/Argentina, 2015, 101m, Portuguese with English subtitlesAnita Rocha da Silveira’s starts out with a predictable coming-of-age story that becomes something else entirely. Again intriguing but not quite successful, the film’s passive/aggressive sexuality turns from teenage angst to becoming some kind of strange slasher flick. Set in Rio de Janeiro’s Barra da Tijuca —a new upper-middle-class neighborhood of thoroughfares, malls, and white condos — a clique of teen girls become captivated by a series of gruesome murders. Bia (Valentina Herszage) really becomes obsessed and mayhem ensues. Though there’s nods to many classic such as Brian De Palma’s Carrie, Jacques Tourneur’s Cat People, and David Lynch’s entire oeuvre, da Silveira’s isn’t quite yet up to these stars of the genre.
Mountain / Ha'harYaelle KayamDenmark/Israel, 2015, 83m, Hebrew with English subtitlesIn this Israeli production, a Jewish Orthodox woman, Zvia, lives on the grounds of an ancient cemetery with her four children and her disaffected husband, a Yeshiva teacher who pays little attention to her. Kayam's debut transforms this portrait of an isolated woman into something far more insidious. On a late night walk through the tombstones, Zvia encounters a group of prostitutes and their handlers -- she becomes fascinated with them, turning into a voyeuristic bystander to their sexual activities, even bringing them home-cooked meals in order to connect with them. Actress Shani Klein’s performance addresses clichés with a finesse that’s hard to describe.
New Directors/New Films 2016March 16, 2016 – March 27, 2016
The Roy and Niuta Titus TheatersThe Museum of Modern Art11 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019
Walter Reade Theater165 W 65th St.New York, NY 10023
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