In Bloom

06/18/2018

Georgia / 2013 / Georgian

Directed by Nana Ekvtimishvili & Simon Groß

With Lika Babluani, Mariam Bokeria, Zurab Gogaladze

Still From 'In Bloom'Eka, a thirteen-year-old girl, arrives at her apartment, knocks on the door and then waits to be let in. Her mother carefully undoes the deadbolt and opens it, while Eka’s older sister Sophiko talks to a friend on the phone. These two sisters act and think like many 90s teenagers, but they’re in post-independence Georgia, a tense and uncertain place, increasing in desperation and potential for sudden violence. Like the other former Soviet countries, Georgians are blinking in the cold light of free market capitalism, shaken from the dull cruelty of Soviet life into the dull cruelty of a newly autonomous state, which is busy rupturing into splinter states. The mother is impatient for the letter Eka holds from the girls’ father, who is in prison. “What does it say?” Eka asks as the mother opens and reads it, but isn’t told anything. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hester Street

06/11/2018

USA / 1975 / English & Yiddish

Directed by Joan Micklin Silver

With Steven Keats, Carol Kane, Mel Howard

Still From 'Hester Street'Today people know Hester Street as a link between Manhattan’s Chinatown and the trendy shops and cafes of the Lower East Side. Only a few kosher delis there hint at its past as a neighborhood of Jewish immigrants from Europe. But rewind to the late Nineteenth Century. In a sweatshop, a small group of men and women work away, sewing clothes on the appropriately-named New Home sewing machines (a competitor of Singer). Although the workers come from different countries they share a common language and religion, and have adapted to American ways to varying degrees. Read the rest of this entry »

Hour of the Star

06/04/2018

Brazil / 1985 / Portuguese

Directed by Suzana Amaral

With Marcelia Cartaxo, José Dumont, Tamara Taxman

Still From 'Hour of the Star'Macabéa sits at her desk, working as a copyist in an office full of documents and cardboard boxes, finding and pressing the keys of a typewriter painfully slowly. A slight, mousy, underfed girl from the state of Alagoas, in the Northeast of Brazil, she takes a break to eat a hot dog (the most filling meal that she can afford), subsequently soiling the sheets of paper with oily hands.  She is all alone in São Paulo, lodging in a single room with three other women, also workers, who all think that she has a stale odor to her and is a bit off. While riding the metro, the one leisure activity she allows herself (only on Sunday), she smells the armpits of men crowding around her and feels alive. Read the rest of this entry »

Men Don’t Cry

05/28/2018

Soviet Union / 1968 / Estonian

Directed by Sulev Nõmmik

With Priit Peramets, Ervin Abel, Sophie Sooäär

Still From 'Men Don't Cry'The urban populace is infected by insomnia. Either that, or all of their annoying pastimes that they do while unable to sleep is what keeps one another awake. Priidik’s girlfriend steals through the darkened town at night, skipping over shadows and avoiding adults. She arrives at his apartment building and whistles. A rope ladder is dropped, and she begins to climb, passing windows in which adults engage in night time revelry, both solitary and accompanied – having a hot date, dining alone, or composing an opera. Once she is up in his room, the teenage couple climb into his tiny bed together, but instead of getting undressed, he opens up his notebook and begins reading his poetry to her at a whisper. Read the rest of this entry »

Ghost Dance

05/22/2018

UK / 1983 / English & French

Directed by Ken McMullen

With Pascale Ogier, Leonie Mellinger, Robbie Coltrane

Still From 'Ghost Dance'She chases the receding waves and tries to throw a sheet of paper into the water, only to have it continually return to her. “Long before memory, in a past without form, they began to appear in the darkness of the night,” a voice-over tell us. The long night described is like an ocean primordial for ideas, where they’re born and subsequently wash up, continually, on our shores. Sometimes they are wrapped in other ideas, but remain essentially unchanged by wear and tear. In Ken McMullen’s nebulous musings on technology and the life of ideas, pushed along on hazy currents by Jacques Derrida’s commentary, topics such as class struggle, colonialism and anthropology all get folded into an unstable and mercurial mixture, bobbing about like jetsam. Scenes only faintly connected by common motifs try to illustrate modern discourse on the coming technological age, and wind up embodying its sense of turmoil. Read the rest of this entry »

Belgium / 1960 / Italian & French

Directed by Paul Meyer

With Domenico Mescolini, Valentino Gentili, Luigi Favotto

Still From 'From the Branches Drops the Withered Blossom'In the center of a Belgian mining town, a stooped Italian man shuffles down the main drag. He watches some children playing on makeshift carnival rides, taking turns going down a wooden slide on a burlap sack. In his mind, a lifetime of pain loops on permanent repeat: rejection, discrimination, layoffs, itinerancy, solitude. Domenico is permanently unsettled, an unskilled pair of hands that travels wherever there is heavy industry and the promise of a job, things that are fast disappearing from a Europe whose resources and proletariat are becoming tapped out. Read the rest of this entry »

UK / 2013 / English

Directed by John Akomfrah

Still From 'The Stuart Hall Project'While a Miles Davis LP crackles on the turntable, blue winter light illuminates the window pane, beyond which London’s skyline can be made out. It’s a lot like the skyline that a young Stuart Hall would have seen in the 1950s, albeit more vertiginous and crane-filled. With The Stuart Hall Project John Akomfrah offers a breathtaking ode to one of his primary inspirations, the most visible theorist in the field of cultural studies and, for many years, Britain’s foremost public intellectual, whose voice became familiar to many across innumerable panel shows, television documentaries, conferences and speeches. Hall championed the study of individuals for understanding societies, in turn looking at society, economics and history to better understand an individual. All the while he was grounded in progressive politics that worked to make sense of the vast changes taking place in the second half of the 20th Century. Read the rest of this entry »

France / 1972 / French & Arabic

Directed by René Vautier

With Alexandre Arcady, Philippe Léotard, Hamid Djellouli

Aures5A hard-nosed lieutenant named Perrin, between stints in Indochina and Chad (he seems to be following France’s colonial disasters as they topple) has found himself, unfortunately, in Algeria. Perhaps his superiors hate him, because he has been inexplicably put in charge of a company of scraggly young men from Brittany who were sent off to be rifle fodder as punishment for having protested the war. They stand in front of him after three months stuck on a remote desert base, having seen no action. Miserable and no doubt smelly, they look restless and not at all happy to see him. He is greeted with a volley of derisive jokes and is serenaded with a raucous drinking song, but he is ready for it. Read the rest of this entry »

In Camera

04/23/2018

India / 2010 / English & Hindi

Directed by Ranjan Palit

Still From 'In Camera'While there’s a lot of inward-looking self-examination from actors and directors about the meaning and implications of cinema, we don’t often hear from the cinematographers. But particularly in documentary, the one holding the camera makes a lot of the choices that have an effect on the real people whose images they capture, and those choices shape how the audience views the subject matter. In this look back through a 25-year career, cinematographer Ranjan Palit wonders if he didn’t do enough analysis of himself and his motives, enough projection of what he and his camera would mean to the stories he documented. Looking back through films that he variously directed and shot, fiction and nonfiction, he tries to trace the impact, both returning to the memories and also retracing them against the present day, to compare image and reality. Read the rest of this entry »

The Fall

04/16/2018

Switzerland / 1972 / Swiss German

Directed by Kurt Früh

With Walo Lüönd, Katrin Buschor, Annemarie Düringer

Still From 'The Fall'On a train rushing through countryside and suburban sprawl, a drab private detective named Grendelmann sits in his seat alone. He is returning home after visiting his ailing father in the hospital. Every now and then he casts a glance at the stylish young woman in the adjacent seat, but it’s unclear if he’s taken with her or marveling at the resemblance she bears to the back picture of the fashion magazine that she’s reading. The title sequence of dialect director Kurt Früh’s final film is as visually-inventive as can be done in a commuter train carriage, the two characters rippled in the window’s doubling reflections, with the camera’s vantage pulsing across the seat cushions. When they arrive at the last station he briefly follows the woman loses track of her. So he goes about his job, tailing a different woman home from work.

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