The May Lady


Iran / 1998 / Farsi

Directed by Rakshan Bani-Etemad

With Minou Farshchi, Mani Kasraian, Golab Adineh

Still from 'The May Lady'Rakshan Bani-Etemad’s The May Lady is an autobiographical work inasmuch as the protagonist is a documentary filmmaker and single mother living in Tehran. The woman in the film, Frough, is 42 years old, divorced, and lives with her son, Mani. In addition to taking care of him, she is at work on a film wherein she is trying to seek out the perfect mother. As she travels around the city, interviewing women, the stories that she hears put her own situation into perspective, as she tries to understand the choices that she has made, as well as the ones that now face her. Bani-Etemad offers a brilliantly self-reflective portrait of motherhood and independence, and an exploration of the broader roles that women assume in modern Iranian society. Read the rest of this entry »


West Germany / 1989 / French, German, Russian & Mongolian

Directed by Ulrike Ottinger

With Delphine Seyrig, Xu Re Huar, Inés Sastre

Still from 'Johanna d'Arc of Mongolia'On an elegant and old-fashioned Trans-Siberian Railway car, we are introduced to a diverse set of passengers. There are a glamorous Broadway star (the improbably-named Fanny Ziegfeld) and her compartment-mate, a dowdy and effete German schoolteacher named Frau Mueller-Vohwinkle; there is the art collector from England, Lady Windermere, who is a font of knowledge on Mongolia and the world in general; and there is Mickey Katz, an obese Jewish tenor and patron of Siberian shaman. In these cloistered and highly stylized surroundings, this strange collection of people gets to know one another on their long journey. Read the rest of this entry »

Me Without You


U.K. / 2001 / English

Directed by Sandra Goldbacher

With Michelle Williams, Anna Friel, Oliver Milburn

Still from 'Me Without You'Sandra Goldbacher’s Me Without You follows two best friends, Marina and Holly, tracing from their girlhood as next-door neighbors in a suburb of London, and onward through their tribulations as teenagers and adults. Despite dissimilar upbringings (Marina with a pill-popping ex-croupier for a mom and an absent father, Holly from a dull and too-perfect Jewish household) their lives are intimately entwined from the start. As children, they refer to their aggregate entity as “Harina.” Read the rest of this entry »

Still from 'Aerial'

The Poetic Cinema of Margaret Tait

I didn’t want you cosy and neat and limited.
I didn’t want you to be understandable,
I wanted you to stay mad and limitless,
Neither bound to me nor bound to anyone else’s or your own preconceived idea of yourself.

– Margaret Tait, “To Anybody at All,” from Origins and Elements

In a career spanning nearly half a century, Scottish filmmaker and poet Margaret Tait created a unique body of films that express reverence for the sublime power of the commonplace. A native of the island of Orkney, she divided much of her time between there and Edinburgh, where she situated her Ancona Films studio. Her visual means of expression are very much continuations of her writing, incorporating, and often paying special attention to, the mundane and often overlooked elements in daily life. Read the rest of this entry »