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Certain cinema always seems to get the spotlight in the States, be it French or Polish or whatever is in vogue at the moment. At the same time, a lot of other national cinema gets overlooked.During this month and in November, Czech cinema will no longer seem overlooked. Coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, there are several film programs that highlight Czech cinema.The New York Czech Center (321 East 73rd St.) held an event in celebration of The Jubilee -- the 50th International Film Festival for Children and Youth in Zlín -- and the 100th anniversary of the birth of Czech director Karel Zeman earlier this month. A photo exhibition entitled Film Magician Karel Zeman is on display until end of October which outlines his productions and includes a film projection of Zeman's film, The Fabulous World of Jules Verne.
During a relatively peaceful and bloodless six-week period of demonstrations -- between November 17 and December 29, 1989 -- the former Czechoslovakia saw the overthrow of the Soviet regime in what became known as the Velvet Revolution.Explains programmer Blum, "Americans tend to think the Velvet Revolution happened far away, without any connection to us, but its leader, Václav Havel, was in New York on April 4, 1968, the day Martin Luther King was assassinated. He says he was influenced by the non-violent philosophy he heard at the rallies honoring Dr. King at Central Park -- which he would ultimately bring to the Velvet Revolution."
In fact, The Ironic Curtain opens with the North American premiere of Pavel Koutecký and Miroslav Janek's intimate documentary, Citizen Havel, about his private and public life during this playwright-turned-politician's two terms as President of the Czech Republic. The film vividly captures the life of the man emblematic of the Velvet Revolution as well as the individual and collective yearnings of recent Czech history. Czech Consul General Eliška Žigová introduces the film; it's preceded by a special video of the former president, exclusively made for this series as he begins his next career as a filmmaker.A later tragedy in 1968 inspired The Ferrari Dino Girl (Holka Ferrari Dino) by New Wave enfant terrible Jan Nĕmec. The docudrama recalls the filmmaker's rush across the Czechoslovak-Austrian border to deliver footage of Soviet tanks ramrolling through Prague. Though Soviet propaganda later claimed the Czechs welcomed Warsaw Pact troops, Nĕmec's footage -- which will ring a bell for anyone who saw The Unbearable Lightness of Being -- provided visceral refutation of such a thought.
This deliberately timed 68-minute film shares a double bill with Jiří Střecha and Petr Slavík's The Kind Revolution (Něžná revoluce). Cinema is at its verite best in this chronicle of the Velvet Revolution when riot police quashed a peaceful student rally in Prague, the popular protests that followed sacked Czech Communism.
Czech film history also appears in four classics from the '60s and one from the '30s in this series. Gustav Machatý's Extáse offers the first nude scenes in cinema with a quick glimpse of the young Heddy Lamar skinny dipping; Voyage to the End of the Universe is a sci-fi gem that was an influence on the makers of Star Trek; Milos Forman's Loves of a Blonde is an early example of the New Wave as seen through Czech eyes.
The New Wave influenced a younger generation of filmmakers--for instance, director Bohdan Slama -- who made the acclaimed Something Like Happiness (which is also screening during the series) says Forman's Black Peter was among his biggest influences.
Also included in this fest is a 19-minute sneak preview clip of Czech Peace (Český mir), Filip Remunda and Vit Klusák's "pre-war comedy" about recent US plans to install a radar base on Czech soil. These two did a fabulous mockumentary called Czech Dream that debuted at 2005's Tribeca Film Festival.
And there are two Dostoevsky-inspired films, including Saša Gedeon's The Return of the Idiot (Návrat idiota) with top starlet Ana Geislerova, who sadly had to cancel an appearance here to introduce it, as well as her starrer Something Like Happiness. Variety singled out its director Slama as among the top 10 directors to watch in 2009.
The series closes on October 29 with the North American premiere of Petr Zelenka's Karamazovi, about a Czech theater traveling to Poland to perform Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. The Dostoevsky classic is currently in the news with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's praise, in Moscow, for the book's attack on dogma.
From November 18th-22nd, 2009, BAMcinématek-- the repertory film program at BAM Rose Cinemas -- presents the 10th season of New Czech Films. The series features seven contemporary films from the Czech Republic--one North American premiere and three New York premieres.
Co-curated by Irena Kovarova and BAMcinématek with the New York Czech Center, this annual program has presented nearly 70 films with 25 guests including unforgettable discussions with auteurs such as Jan Švankmajer presenting his latest feature Lunacy (2005), Sláma with A Country Teacher (2008), and Oscar winning and nominated directors such as Jiří Menzel (I Served the King of England (2006)) and Jan Hřebejk (Divided We Fall - 2000). Along with works by established directors, the series has included works by emerging filmmakers such as Champions (2004) by Marek Najbrt whose second feature Protector (2009) is the Czech Republic’s selection for this year's Academy Award nominations; Remunda and Klusák's Czech Dream (2004); and early films by Zelenka (Year of the Devil Wild Bees - 2001 and Something Like Happiness - 2005).
New Czech Films begins on November 18 with the North American premiere of Forman’s A Well Paid Walk (2009). The film is a comic jazz opera originally staged by Prague’s subversive Semafor Theater in the 1960s and filmed for TV by a young Forman, and now restaged by Forman in 2009. Forman will be at BAM on November 18 to speak with film writer Scott Foundas in a conversation expanding upon their first encounter in 2008 at Walker Art Center that covered Forman's entire film career.
Continuing through November 22, the series also includes the New York premiere of acclaimed animator Maria Procházková’s Who’s Afraid of the Wolf? (2008) with Procházková coming to BAM on November 19. In honor of the Velvet Revolution's 20th anniversary, there will be another screening Koutecký and Janek’s Citizen Havel, on November 20. Helena Třeštíková’s award-winning documentary René screens the following day, November 21 with Třeštíková on hand for a Q&A. Třeštíková directed Marcela (2006) which was selected for New Czech Films 2007. Also screening November 21 is (2008), Václav Marhoul’s Tobruck, a story about exiled Czech soldiers fighting alongside the Allies in the infamous battle set in North Africa during WWII.
The final day of series, November 22, includes both Zelenka’s The Karamazovs and the New York premiere of Jan Hřebejk’s I’m All Good (2008), an entertaining ensemble comedy set in the early 1990s.
For more information on The Ironic Curtain go to: filmlinc.com
For the Czech Center go to: czechcenter.com
For the BAM schedule go to: BAM.org
The Lone Star International Film Festival Fort Worth in Sundance Square represents the best of global cinema. The Lone Star Film Society (LSFS), has put together an extensive feature film lineup for its 2009 edition running November 11-15, 2009.
“The quality of our films signify that the Lone Star International Film Festival Fort Worth in Sundance Square is maturing and growing in stature among festivals around the world,”
Said Dennis Bishop, LSFS director, “With films of this quality, from U.S. and international talents, there is such true diversity in this selection that it offers an absolutely unique experience to expand ones horizons.” “Our films represent an eclectic cross-section of genres and artistic movements, with an emphasis on the future of the art of filmmaking,” said Alec Jhangiani, LSFS artistic director. “There are films that pursue revolutionary new directions promising to impact our craft for years to come. Several of the works are from playwrights who are forging completely new territory.
When you consider our international spotlight, with powerful films from the German Berlin School, which, has been likened to the French New Wave, and our documentaries, among other things, you are seeing major paradigm shifts. This year’s festival promises to represent a defining time in our history.” As of now, filmmakers and actors associated with the films The Scenesters, Touching Home, Artois the Goat and Tenure are scheduled to attend. Award recipients and additional attendees will be announced soon.
OPENING NIGHT The Scenesters (North Texas Premiere) THURSDAY NIGHT CENTERPIECE Touching Home (Texas Premiere) FRIDAY NIGHT CENTERPIECE Tenure (North Texas Premiere) CLOSING NIGHT The Messenger (North Texas Premiere) SPOTLIGHT SCREENINGS The Eclipse (Texas Premiere) Serious Moonlight (North Texas Premiere) Herpes Boy (North Texas Premiere) The Vanished Empire A Sea Change Breaking Upwards (North Texas Premiere) Watching TV with the Red Chinese Racing Dreams (Southwest Premiere) Blood Simple Ichi
NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION Spooner (Southwest Premiere) Easier with Practice (Texas Premiere) Modern Love is Automatic (North Texas Premiere) The Shaft (Dixia de tiankong) (Southwest Premiere) Artois the Goat (North Texas Premiere) DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION My Neighbor, My Killer(Southwest Premiere) Severe Clear (North Texas Premiere) Strongman (North Texas Premiere) Garbage Dreams (North Texas Premiere) Petition (Southwest Premiere) CURRENT GERMAN CINEMA (INTERNATIONAL SPOTLIGHT) Hilde(United States Premiere) Distance(Texas Premiere) The Red Spot(United States Premiere) GATEWAY TO THE ARTS Dancing Across Borders(Texas Premiere) You Won’t Miss Me(North Texas Premiere) God’s Architects(North Texas Premiere) For more details, visit www.lsiff.com
To Save and Project, MoMA’s international film preservation festival, celebrates its seventh year with gloriously preserved masterworks and rediscoveries of world cinema, nearly all of which are having their New York premieres. The exhibition opens with a weeklong theatrical run of John Cassavetes’s A Woman Under the Influence (1974), which will be introduced by Gena Rowlands on October 24, 2009.
Also featured are two classics of 1950s Italian melodrama that differ radically in their styles and portrayals of complex women: Luchino Visconti’s Senso (1954), an impossibly beautiful Technicolor romance starring Alida Valli and Farley Granger; and Michelangelo Antonioni’s modernist breakthrough Le Amiche (1955).MoMA premieres its own restoration of Robert Flaherty’s landmark Nanook of the North (1922), and celebrates the superlative preservation work of Sony Pictures Repertory by inviting Grover Crisp, Senior Vice President of Asset Management, Film Restoration & Digital Mastering, to present four stunning new restorations: Frank Capra’s Forbidden(1933), a pre-Code gem starring Barbara Stanwyck (shown with a rare, behind-the-scenes Columbia short with Capra himself); Richard Brooks’s unjustly neglected all-star Western The Professionals (1966); and Bob Rafelson’s The King of Marvin Gardens (1972), starring Jack Nicholson.
The festival continues in November with special screenings of two silent Swedish classics—Victor Sjöström’s The Phantom Chariot (1921) and Benjamin Christensen’s Häxan: Witchcraft through the Ages (1922)—introduced by Jon Wengström, curator of the Swedish Film Institute, and featuring enchanting original scores performed live by Sweden’s Matti Bye Ensemble. Wengström also introduces the rarely seen bilingual version of Ingmar Bergman’s The Touch (1971). On November 11, the artist Kara Walker introduces one of the most beautiful animated films ever made, Lotte Reiniger’s The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926). An entire program is dedicated to home movies, offering a tantalizing glimpse into the private lives of Alfred Hitchcock and Joan Crawford, among other homespun pleasures. Restorations of two seminal documentaries of the 1960s are premiered: Chris Marker and Pierre Lhomme’s Le joli mai (1963), and Far from Vietnam(1967), a collaborative work by Marker, Jean-Luc Godard, Joris Ivens, Alain Resnais, Agnès Varda, and others. The festival also features films by Stanley Kubrick, Jean Epstein, Kim Ki-young, and Lester James Peries, and it ends on a sublime note with Marcel L’Herbier’s masterpiece L’Argent (1928), a timely tale of capitalist greed and a landmark of radically experimental studio filmmaking.Organized by Joshua Siegel, Associate Curator; Anne Morra, Assistant Curator; and Katie Trainor, Film Collections Manager, Department of Film.
The festival is supported in part by The 42nd Street Fund and the Consulate General of Sweden, New York.Film Screening DetailsA Woman Under the Influence 1974. USA. Written and directed by John Cassavetes. With Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk. Preserved by the UCLA Film and Television Archive in association with Faces Distribution, with funding provided by Gucci and The Film Foundation. 155 min.Saturday, October 24, 2009, 8:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1 (Introduced by Gena Rowlands)Friday, October 30, 2009, 4:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1Thursday, October 29, 2009, 8:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1Wednesday, October 28, 2009, 8:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1Monday, October 26, 2009, 4:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1Sunday, October 25, 2009, 3:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1Nanook of the North 1922. USA. Directed, photographed, edited, and coproduced by Robert Flaherty. MoMA presents the world premiere of its newly restored and tinted original silent release of Flaherty’s landmark debut film. A pioneering work of “fictionalized” nonfiction cinema—which seems as timely and provocative as ever in today’s age of staged film reenactments—Nanook is a dramatic portrait of Inuit culture, ritual, and survival in the harsh northern wilderness, famous for its walrus hunt and igloo-building scenes. Silent. Approx. 75 min.Sunday, October 25, 2009, 1:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1 (With piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin)Saturday, October 31, 2009, 8:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1 (With piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin)Le Amiche 1955. Italy. Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni. With Eleonora Rossi Drago, Valentina Cortese. Antonioni’s first great success, awarded the coveted Silver Lion at Venice in 1955, is a coolly dispassionate portrayal of young socialite women in Rome and Turin. Forging the modernist style for which he would become legendary, Antonioni depicts the circle of women—their creative aspirations, bourgeois mores, petty jealousies, and ill-fated romances—with an emotional detachment that exposes an underlying sense of isolation, aimlessness, and longing. Restored by Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata with funding provided by Gucci and The Film Foundation. In Italian; English subtitles. 104 min.Sunday, October 25, 2009, 6:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1Thursday, October 29, 2009, 4:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1Senso 1954. Italy. Directed by Luchino Visconti. With Alida Valli, Farley Granger. This masterpiece of Italian cinema is one of the most glorious color films ever made. Visconti’s love of spectacle was counterbalanced by his insistence on naturalism and restraint in his actors’ performances. Never was this more evident than in Senso, his triumphant, operatic tragedy about the destructive love affair between an Italian countess and a young Austrian officer (played with heartrending subtlety by Valli and Granger) during the Risorgimento of the mid-1860s. Restored by Studiocanal, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia/Cineteca Nazionale, Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovato. Funding provided by Gucci, The Film Foundation, and Comitato Italia 150. In Italian; English subtitles. 123 min.Monday, October 26, 2009, 8:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1Wednesday, October 28, 2009, 4:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1The King of Marvin Gardens 1972. USA. Directed by Bob Rafelson. Screenplay by Jacob Brackman. With Jack Nicholson, Bruce Dern, Ellen Burstyn. After the success of Five Easy Pieces, Rafelson and Nicholson reunited to make this underappreciated but key work of 1970s Hollywood cinema, a corrosive vision of the American Dream that is a ghostly anticipation of present times. The deserted boardwalks and seedy, decaying splendor of out-of-season Atlantic City form the wintry backdrop to this drama of two brothers, a late-night talk show host and a restless ex-con, who get mixed up with the Mob while hatching a get-rich-quick scheme to open a South Seas gambling resort. Preserved by Sony Pictures Repertory. 103 min.Friday, October 30, 2009, 8:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1 (Introduced by Grover Crisp)Sunday, November 1, 2009, 2:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1The Professionals 1966. USA. Written and directed by Richard Brooks. With Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan, Claudia Cardinale, Jack Palance, Woody Strode. Featuring an all-star cast and stunning widescreen Technicolor cinematography by the great Conrad Hall, Brooks’s underrated Western anticipates Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch (1969) and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) with its gripping action sequences and its themes of loyalty and heroism. A ragtag band of mercenaries storms into revolutionary 1917 Mexico to rescue the wife of a wealthy Texas rancher, only to discover that she has fallen for her bandit kidnapper. Preserved by Sony Pictures Repertory. 117 min.Saturday, October 31, 2009, 2:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1 (Introduced by Grover Crisp)Friday, November 6, 2009, 4:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2Screen Shots 1933. USAFrank Capra takes us behind the scenes at the Columbia Pictures studio, where he is busy making The Bitter Tea of General Yen. 10 min.Forbidden 1932. USA. Directed by Frank Capra. With Barbara Stanwyck, Adolphe Menjou, Ralph Bellamy. A major influence on John Cassavetes, Capra was, by the early 1930s, one of Hollywood’s most celebrated and successful directors. His subversive, satirical, even caustic portraits of hallowed American institutions including the church (The Miracle Woman), Wall Street (American Madness), and marriage (Ladies of Leisure, Platinum Blonde) were an important strain of his remarkable pre-Code period. In Forbidden, Stanwyck shows off her seemingly boundless range as Lulu Smith, a prim, self-sacrificing librarian who reinvents herself during a luxury cruise to Havana, becoming an independent, uninhibited “new woman” and the “lonely hearts” columnist for a big-city paper. Preserved by Sony Pictures Repertory. 83 min.Saturday, October 31, 2009, 5:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1 (Introduced by Grover Crisp)Monday, November 2, 2009, 4:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1Women’s Film Preservation Fund ProgramSunday, November 1, 2009, 5:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1Wednesday, November 4, 2009, 4:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1Mama, Don’t Take My Kodachrome Away! A Celebration of Home MoviesMonday, November 2, 2009, 7:00 p.m., Theater 3, mezzanine, Education and Research BuildingMonday, November 9, 2009, 4:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2Jean Epstein and Stanley Kubrick: At SeaWednesday, November 4, 2009, 7:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2Thursday, November 5, 2009, 4:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2Hanyo (The Housemaid)1960. South Korea. Written, directed, and edited by Kim Ki-young. With Lee Eun-shim, Kim Jin-kyu, Ju Jeung-nyeo. Celebrated as one of the greatest Korean films of all time,Hanyo is an intense psychosexual chamber piece about a composer who nearly destroys his family by sleeping with the new housemaid, a disturbed woman who likes to catch rats with her bare hands. Kim Ki-young is a major influence on today’s generation of South Korean filmmakers, including Kim Ki-duk and Bong Joon-ho; comparing him to Luis Buñuel,Cahiers du cinéma critic Jean-Michel Frodon writes that Kim “[probes] deep into the human mind, its desires and impulses, while paying sarcastic attention to the details....," while noting that "the shocking nature of the film is both disturbing and pleasurable..." Restored by the Korean Film Archive with the support of the World Cinema Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by Martin Scorsese and dedicated to the preservation of films from developing and non-Western countries. In Korean; English subtitles. 110 min.Thursday, November 5, 2009, 7:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2Monday, November 16, 2009, 4:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1Beröringen (The Touch)1971. Sweden. Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. With Bibi Andersson, Max von Sydow, Elliott Gould. “One of Bergman’s lesser-known films, The Touch is a low-key, intimate drama set on the island of Gotland, just south of the filmmaker’s home in Fårö. Shortly after her mother’s death, a Swedish woman has an adulterous affair with the American archaeologist friend of her doctor husband. Andersson creates a finely tuned portrayal of a woman facing a midlife crisis, and the sparsely lit, claustrophobic interiors and subdued autumnal exteriors are beautifully photographed by cinematographer Sven Nykvist. The Touch, a Swedish-U.S. coproduction, was shot and released in two versions: one with Swedish and English dialogue, and one entirely in English. The original bilingual version—the version released in Sweden and now presented in this Festival—has been unavailable for a long time” (Jon Wengström). Restored by The Swedish Film Institute. In Swedish and English; English subtitles. 115 min.Ingmar Bergman 1972. Sweden. Directed by Stig Björkman. In this fascinating film about the making of The Touch, Bergman rehearses with actors Andersson, von Sydow, and Gould; discusses set-ups with cinematographer Nykvist; and talks in depth about his views on directing. Preserved by The Swedish Film Institute. In Swedish; English subtitles. 55 min.Friday, November 6, 2009, 7:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2Sunday, November 8, 2009, 5:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1Körkarlen (The Phantom Chariot)1931. Sweden. Directed by Victor Sjöström. Screenplay by Sjöström, based on the novel by Selma Lagerlöf. With Sjöström, Hilda Borgström, Tore Svennberg. A special screening of Sjöström’s silent masterpiece, introduced by Jon Wengström with a hauntingly beautiful original score performed live by the Matti Bye ensemble from Sweden. The Phantom Chariot solidified Sjöström’s reputation in Europe, eventually leading to a career in Hollywood and an unforgettable role in Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries (1957). Seeking the company of friends and alcohol on New Year’s Eve, David Holm (Sjöström) abandons his impoverished family. As he reflects on a life of miserable misdeeds—portrayed through a series of evocative flashbacks and densely layered photography—he becomes convinced that he will die and be condemned to drive “the Phantom Chariot” in expiation of his sins. Tinted print restored by The Swedish Film Institute. Silent, with Swedish and English intertitles. Approx. 106 min.Saturday, November 7, 2009, 8:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1 (Introduced by Jon Wengström; live musical accompaniment by the Matti Bye ensemble)Häxan: Witchcraft through the Ages 1922. Sweden. Written and directed by Benjamin Christensen. With Christensen, Maren Pedersen, Clara Pontoppidan. “Häxanis arguably the most original and impressive of all Swedish silent films, and today is still a technically and cinematographically astonishing achievement. An eccentric mixture of didactic lecture and spectacular dramatization,Häxan recounts popular beliefs in the devil and superstition throughout the ages—with director Christensen himself playing Lucifer—and through striking imagery depicts the hypocrisy, sexual repression, and witch hunts of medieval times. Christensen was Danish, as was most of the cast and crew, but the film was entirely financed by the Swedish production company Svensk Filmindustri, which gave Christensen unprecedented artistic freedom and an enormous budget” (Jon Wengström). Tinted print restored by The Swedish Film Institute. Silent, with Swedish and English intertitles. Approx. 104 min.Sunday, November 8, 2009, 2:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1 (Introduced by Wengström; live musical accompaniment by the Matti Bye ensemble)Friday, November 13, 2009, 4:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1 (Piano accompaniment by Ben Model)Gamperaliya (The Changing Village)1964. Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Directed by Lester James Peries. Screenplay by Reggie Siriwardena, based on the novel by Martin Wickremasinghe. With Punya Hiendeniya, Henry Jayasena, Wikrema Bogoda. Lindsay Anderson, who joined Satyajit Ray in awarding Gamperaliya the Grand Prize at the 1965 Delhi Film Festival, praised Peries’s beautiful film for “its elegiac, near-Chekhovian grace.” Made at a pivotal moment in Sri Lanka’s history, as colonial caste society was being undermined by rising ethnic, religious, and class tensions, the film centers on the impossible love between a young Ceylonese teacher of English, who represents the emergent middle class, and a village girl whose aristocratic family faces declining fortunes. Restored by UCLA Film and Television Archive, with funds from The Stanford Theatre Foundation. In Sinhala; English subtitles. 105 min.Wednesday, November 11, 2009, 4:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1Thursday, November 12, 2009, 4:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (The Adventures of Prince Achmed)1926. Germany. Directed by Lotte Reiniger. On November 11, the artist Kara Walker introduces one of the greatest animated films of all time—indeed, the earliest feature-length animation still believed to exist: Reiniger’s magical retelling of tales fromA Thousand and One Nights. Reiniger, a pioneer of silhouette animation, would later recall of her collaborators on Prince Achmed that “Walter Ruttmann invented and created wonderful movements for the magic events, fire, volcanoes, battles of good and evil spirits, and Berthold Bartosch composed and cut out movement of waves for a sea storm, now a household [conceit] in animation but something quite new at the time.” Tinted print preserved by the Deutsches Filmmuseum, Frankfurt; courtesy Milestone Films. Silent. 73 min.Wednesday, November 11, 2009, 8:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1 (lntroduced by Kara Walker; piano accompaniment by Ben Model)Sunday, November 15, 2009, 5:30 p.m., Theater 2, T2 (Piano accompaniment by Ben Model)Loin du Viêtnam (Far from Vietnam)1967. France. Directed by Alain Resnais, William Klein, Joris Ivens, Agnès Varda, Claude Lelouch, Jean-Luc Godard.. Produced by Chris Marker and S.L.O.N. “A group of European filmmakers have put together a collective scenario composed of fact and fiction which, intentionally or not, makes an unequivocal statement of dissent. The views expressed are as individual as the personalities of the directors involved…but together they fuse into a composite reaction against a war being fought in a faraway place and dispassionately reported in the American press in terms of ‘kill ratios’….The reality of Vietnam is the conflict between the richest society in the world and one of the poorest, a conflict eloquently suggested in the contrast between the film’s opening sequence—the daily loading of bombs into aircraft-carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin—and newsreel footage of the people of Hanoi running to cover their pathetically inadequate improvised shelters....The dilemma for these filmmakers, and for us, is that we are ‘far from Vietnam,’ conscious both of our involvement and of the impotence forced on us by our non-revolutionary society” (David Wilson, Sight and Sound, 1967). Restored by the Archives françaises du film du CNC; courtesy Sofracima. In French, English subtitles. 115 min.Thursday, November 12, 2009, 7:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2Saturday, November 14, 2009, 5:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1Le joli mai 1963. France. Directed by Chris Marker, Pierre Lhomme. Marker had recently made essay films about contemporary Israel and Cuba—films with a decidedly revolutionary bent—when in the spring of 1962 he decided, for the first time, to take the pulse of his own country. With the French-Algerian War coming to a bitter and brutal end, Marker joined now-legendary cameraman Pierre Lhomme in conducting hours of interviews on the streets of Paris. The result is a fascinating political and social document, a snapshot of French citizens reflecting on the meaning of happiness, whether personal or collective, even as they confess anxiety about the future of their families and their nation. Restored by the Archives françaises du film du CNC, this original French release version features voiceover narration by Yves Montand, through which Marker offers his own wry and poignant commentary—as he does with some cleverly revealing interpolations of image and sound—and music by Michel Legrand. Courtesy Sofracima. In French; English subtitles. 163 min.Friday, November 13, 2009, 5:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1Saturday, November 14, 2009, 1:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1L’Argent 1928. France. Directed by Marcel L'Herbier. The glorious new restoration of L’Argent confirms Marcel L’Herbier as one of the most radically avant-garde and influential commercial filmmakers of the silent era. An epically expensive and dazzlingly staged Franco-German coproduction, L’Argent transposes Emile Zola’s 1891 novel about capitalist greed and its catastrophic, all-too-familiar consequences from the French Second Empire to the decadent glitter of Art Deco Paris. Aristide Saccard (Piere Alcover), a business tycoon, schemes to inflate the stock value of his company, Bank Universal, by duping aviator Jacques Hamelin (Henry Victor) into participating in a publicity stunt involving a transatlantic quest for oil; also drawn into the wanton proceedings are Hamelin’s naively complicit wife (Marie Glory) and Saccard’s cunning former mistress (Brigitte Helm, of Metropolis fame). In the estimation of cinema historian Noël Burch, L’Herbier’s use of vast architectural spaces to dwarf his characters, his exhilarating camera movements, and his claustrophobically tight, low-angle shots “[anticipate] by twenty years Orson Welles's and Michelangelo Antonioni's film styles at their most sophisticated." Restored by the Archives françaises du film du CNC. Silent, with French and English intertitles. 165 min.Saturday, November 14, 2009, 7:30 p.m., Theater 2, T2 (Piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin)Sunday, November 15, 2009, 1:30 p.m., Theater 2, T2 (Piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin)
The First New York Kurdish Film Festival: A Cinema Across Borders, held from Oct 21–Oct 25, 2009, is the first-ever film festival of Kurdish cinema in the United States. Bringing together an exciting range of films and documentaries from across the Kurdish region and the Kurdish diaspora, the festival will feature ten short films, a documentary and eight feature films, including the US premiere of The Storm by Kazım Öz (Ax, Fotograf).
Situated in the heart of the Middle East, Kurdish cinema intersects with many of the great political conflicts of our age. These diverse films provide powerful and unexpected insights into our common world through stunning cinematography, rich narratives, and deeply humane storytelling.
All screenings will take place at the NYU Cantor Film Center (36 East 8th Street, NY, NY) and the NYU Hagop Kevorkian Center (50 Washington Square South at 255 Sullivan Street, NY, NY).
In addition, the festival will include a Filmmakers’ Panel with six prominent Kurdish filmmakers from Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and the diaspora to connect directly with New York audiences, and post-film Q&As with the filmmakers, providing potential new routes for understanding and dialogue.
Included in the festival are:
The Storm, directed by Kazim Öz
Set amidst the political upheaval on Turkish college campuses in the early 1990s, The Storm follows Cemal, a bright young Economics major from a village in southern Turkey, on a journey to political commitment. After befriending a group of revolutionary Kurdish students, Cemal’s eyes are gradually opened to Turkish state repression as he witnesses police violence, arrest and torture firsthand.
Half Moon, directed by Bahman Ghobadi
A haunting film about the clash between human resolve and political reality, Half Moon, directed by internationally renowned Kurdish auteur Bahman Ghobadi (A Time for Drunken Horses, Turtles Can Fly), provides a sophisticated vision of the new realities of the Kurdistan region after the US invasion of Iraq. Mamo, an iconic Kurdish musician in the twilight of his life and in failing health, must lead a dozen of his sons to Iraq for a concert to celebrate the fall of Saddam Hussein and the end of his repression of Kurdish music. Their increasingly tortuous journey across a maze of borders proves by turn dangerous and surreal, paralleling the predicament of Kurdish identity in a hostile political world. This outstanding new film from Bahman Ghobadi won the top prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival together with awards for writing and photography.
Dengbej Womenby Women’s Collective of Atölyemor/ Filmmor Women's cooperative
In 2004, Atölyemor started with a cinema workshop that meets women’s opportunities, experience and information and shares all of them. It includes film reading, preparation, script- oral history, shotting and editing, film critique with consultancy of instructors and women and every year approximately 15 women have the opportunityto learn and experience cinema firsthand.
Every year, women produce films and experience cinema from film critiques to filmmaking in our workshop. Workshops were held in Istanbul in 2004, 2005 and 2007 and in Diyarbakir in 2007. In all these workshops, 9 films were shot and one critique was written.
Cinema Shorts: Women in Kurdish Cinema
This program includes short films made by and about woman, created by Kurdish filmmakers from the diaspora:
Totico by Khadija C. Baker (Syria/Canada, 2007, 2 mins); The Seed by Müjde Arslan (Turkey, 2009,13 mins); Oven by Ashkan Ahmadi (Iran,14 mins) and Border by Sattar Chamani Gol (Iran,2008,10 mins). Müjde Arslan, director of The Seed, will lead a post-film discussion.
Crossing the Dust, irected by Shawkat Amin Korki
In this striking post-9/11 road movie set in Iraq during the 2003 American invasion, two Kurdish peshmerga (resistance fighters) find a lost five-year-old Arab boy, named Saddam. Amidst the chaos of the war raging around them, they attempt to find a safe haven for the boy with villagers, mullahs and Americans. Simultaneously, the boy's parents search frantically, anxious because the boy’s name is now taboo.
My Marlon and Brando, directed by Huseyin Karabey
Based on the true story of the post-invasion cross-border romance between renowned Iraqi Kurdish actor Hama Ali and his Turkish actress girlfriend Ayca Damgaci, My Marlon and Brando stars the two real-life lovers in documentarian Hüseyin Karabey's fiction-feature debut. A moving statement on war and the confining artificiality of borders, My Marlon and Brando also reveals the eye-opening journey Damgaci takes as a Turk attempting to be with her Kurdish lover, learning firsthand the grim racism and repression faced by Kurds in her own country and across the borders of Iraq and Iran.
Close up Kurdistan, directed by Yuksel Yavuz
In this personal story of immigration, Yavuz documents his journey from Hamburg to Stockholm to Turkey, and finally to the refugee camp in Iraqi Kurdistan. Here, he meets old friends, some of whom have become guerrilla fighters, gone into exile, or chosen to stay in their villages and face persecution because of their fight for Kurdish rights. Featuring 1987 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Ismail Besikci, who spent 17 years in prison for his courageous academic work on Kurdish culture.
Jiyan, directed by Jano Rosebiani
Five years after the 1988 gas attack on the Iraqi Kurdish town of Halabja, which killed 5,000 Kurds and maimed thousands more, Diyari – an Iraqi Kurd who now lives in America – returns to his homeland to build an orphanage. He befriends Jiyan, a shy ten-year old orphan and a survivor of the chemical attack. Loosely based on testimonial accounts, Jiyan includes a number of survivors as cast members in the film.
Vodka Lemon, directed by Hiner Saleem
Set in a remote Kurdish village in Armenia, Vodka Lemon tells the gentle love story of an ex-army officer, and a vodka-lemon stand barmaid, who meet during their daily trips to visit their spouse’s graves. Director Hiner Saleem intercuts the love story with surrealistic vignettes and dark humor to reveal a bittersweet portrait of people in precarious times.
For more information about the program, please visit
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