India / 2002 / Tamil & Sinhala

Directed by Mani Ratnam

With P.S. Keerthana, Madhavan, Simran, Nandita Das

Still from 'A Peck on the Cheek'A young couple from Northern Sri Lanka has just been wed in an arranged marriage. She is coy, he is a bit loutish, and everything in this bucolic, rural setting is going according to plan. The husband, Dhileepan, says that he does not want to bring a child into the world until the conflict in their country has been resolved. Nonetheless Shyama, the wife, becomes pregnant, but is forced to leave the village when the army attacks, all the inhabitants displaced. While Dhileepan is wounded and forced to take refuge in the forest, Shyama leaves with her family and many others in a rickety, overflowing boat headed for India. And there, at a refugee camp in Rameswaram, she is wracked by labor pains. Read the rest of this entry »

Taiga

11/22/2009

Germany / 1992 / Mongolian

Directed by Ulrike Ottinger

Still from 'Taiga'Taiga, by German filmmaker Ulrike Ottinger, is a singular documentary work that has few parallels in contemporary culture. The film presents a compelling challenge by illustrating that, in cinema, one’s way of seeing and one’s comprehension of time itself are very much intertwined. It does so by transforming both of these concurrently, until one finds oneself in a very different place and on a very different time scale than what received knowledge and experience of filmgoing up until that point would anticipate. This is a place marked by meditation and unusual intimacy, a place where duration and space are seemingly without measure. Apart from being a film, and far more importantly, Taiga is an experience, one that seizes the viewer’s temporal perception during its span at the very least, and possibly for quite a bit longer. Read the rest of this entry »

France / 1977 / With English narration

Directed by Chris Marker

Still from 'A Grin Without a Cat'Chris Marker’s seminal coda A Grin Without a Cat is a portrait of political dissent in the latter half of the Twentieth Century that uses newsreel footage, interviews, and voice over narration. It is an epic of editing, a highly accomplished act of ventriloquism, offering a scathing jeremiad that is at once autobiographical narrative and free-associative critique. Read the rest of this entry »

Madeinusa

11/08/2009

Peru / 2006 / Quechua & Spanish

Directed by Claudia Llosa

With Magaly Solier, Carlos de le Torre, Yiliana Chong

Still from 'Madeinusa'High in the mountains of Peru, a small village is preparing for the most auspicious festival of the year. In the time between Good Friday and Easter, according to local custom, God is not watching and everyone in the village shakes off their inhibitions regarding sex. The women are allowed access to the partner of their choice for this one night. Madeinusa, a young woman, is participating in a contest to find the virgin of the year, who will play the part in the town’s procession. Read the rest of this entry »

Treeless Mountain

11/01/2009

South Korea / 2008 / Korean

Directed by So Yong Kim

With Hee-Yeon Kim, Song-Hee Kim, Mi-Hyang Kim

Still from 'Treeless Mountain'

Korean-American filmmaker So Yong Kim’s Treeless Mountain follows two sisters, Jin (aged 7) and Bin (aged 5) as their single mother takes them from the life they have known to go live with an aunt who seems not particularly disposed to caring for young children. The girls’ mother seems over-eager for Jin to grow out of her childhood trappings and replace her as an emotional anchor. As a rehearsal for abandoning them, she leaves Jin in charge of Bin after they arrive at a provincial town center, with quite unsurprising results. Read the rest of this entry »