Still from 'Vadi Samvadi'

Approximately Seven Films by Claudio Caldini

Whirling dervishes, stupa circumambulation, rosary beads – the act of describing a circle is connected, in many cultures, to religious ecstasy. There’s something in inner reflection and closeness to the infinity that always seems to arrive at the same point, revealing more with each revolution. The revelatory super-8 work of Argentinian filmmaker Claudio Caldini shares in that faith in circular movement, performing its own gyromancy in ways that are variously obvious and inventive, and always astonishing. He handles the camera as satellite and pivot, kite and ballast, a grounding object that nonetheless feels out the remote possibilities of perception.

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The Mongols


Iran / 1973 / Farsi

Directed by Parviz Kimiavi

With Parviz Kimiavi, Fahimeh Rastegar, Aqa Seyyed

Mongols2“The Mongols again. Always the Mongols.”

Their faces all gaze ahead in unison, and then an off-screen voice instructs them: look up, look down, look left, look right. They move accordingly, showing different angles to the camera. “You’re Mongols, not Turks,” they’re told, in a pretzeling ancient histories. This crowd of Turcoman migrants, probably laborers in the city, are being cast for a television documentary about Genghis Khan’s invasion of Persia. One man is singled out for the roundness of his face, which looks particularly Mongolian to the casting director. In Parviz Kimiavi’s extraordinary collision of otherness, modernization and mass communication, The Mongols, these men become the stand-ins for the feared plunderers of eight centuries ago, providing a dial with which he can channel-flip through his thoughts on hegemony and dominance, civilizational clash and social upheaval. Read the rest of this entry »



China / 2009 / Mandarin

Directed by Xu Xin

Still from 'Karamay'It happens in the same way each time: the camera approaches a grave stone and lingers in front of it, long enough to read the inscription. This is repeated again and again, a ritualized pattern, setting the tone and form of the film that follows. The austere finality of stone, reflected in the flinty grayscale, gives way to the personal stories carved into it. Each marker is for a child who died when a fire broke out at an assembly on December 8th, 1994 – although the ones we see are only a fraction of those that sit in the midst of this flat void, commemorating a lost generation. Read the rest of this entry »



Peru / 1972 / Spanish

Directed by Armando Robles Godoy

With Helena Rojo, Miguel Angel Flores, HernĂ¡n Romero

Still from 'Mirage'A violet light fans out over undulating dunes, the sand raked and rippled, as in a Zen garden, by the infinite winds. The smooth parabola of a ridge curls in on itself. Emerging from the noise of the desert, a scream as stark and elemental as the vistas of sand. Following after the scream, from out of those limitless lines, comes running a flickering Giacometti figure, and a long-haired boy watches, distantly, as the figure thickens into a person. Read the rest of this entry »