Still from 'Abouna'

A Look at Chadian Cinema Today

Situated in a dry and austere land, The Republic of Chad is seemingly a point of convergence of North, West, and Central Africa. And, like many formerly colonized nations, it is also a confluence of battling political ideals, tradition and industrialization, decadent corruption and confronting poverty. Not having had a national cinema until very recently, Chadian filmmakers work with personal and collective modes of representation that try to deal with the many perspectives that exist in the country, ones all too often affected by violence, political upheaval and displacement. Characters from all walks of life work through a bereavement for equilibrium, guided by the future’s vague possibilities. Read the rest of this entry »

Los Muertos

02/21/2010

Argentina / 2004 / Spanish & Guarani

Directed by Lisandro Alonso

With Argentino Vargas, Francisco Dornez, Yolanda Galarza

Still from 'Los Muertos'Lisandro Alonso’s deftly minimalist narrative Los Muertos begins with a tracking shot through a seething jungle, the camera unhurriedly tilting up and down, seemingly off axis. It passes over the bloodied corpses of two young men, on the ground, and then a figure holding a knife passes through the periphery of the frame. The alternation between green abstractions in the blurred leaves of the foreground and crisp details in the forest floor anticipates the shape of the rest of the film, which is bifurcated by the disquieting gap that separates naturalism from intentional ambiguity, familiarity from alienation. Read the rest of this entry »

Kuroneko

02/14/2010

Japan / 1968 / Japanese

Directed by Kaneto Shindô

With Kichiemon Nakamura, Nobuko Otowa, Kiwako Taichi

Still from 'Kuroneko'A hungry and disheveled band of feudal Japanese soldiers is disgorged by a dense forest. Soundlessly they advance upon a hut that is the home of a young woman named Shige and her mother-in-law, Yone. After taking what they need of food and water, the soldiers take turns raping the two women, summarily torching the house when they are through. After the embers of the ruined homestead have gone cold, black cats approach the two strangely intact, although very much lifeless, bodies and care for them, taking on the spirits of the two murdered women. Read the rest of this entry »

Still from 'Night and Fog'

Four Early Documentaries by Alain Resnais

The work of French filmmaker Alain Resnais, time and time again, utilizes the topic of memory, in its manifold forms, treating it as a shifting force that is vital for incorporating history (itself far from involuble) into an awareness of the present. Night and Fog, unflinching and uncompromising, offers a challenge to the subjectivity of remembrance with the vivid revisiting of suffering. A more lyrical although equally condemnatory film, Statues Also Die presents a most daring statement for its time, one whose resounding anger towards the effects of colonialism resulted in its severe censoring. As in his narrative work, one finds Resnais executing a rare combination of political astuteness, nimble and masterful style, and an eye for sheer beauty. Read the rest of this entry »