Turkey & West Germany / 1987 / Turkish

Directed by Zülfü Livaneli

With Rutkay Aziz, Yavuzer Çetinkaya, Macide Tanir

Still From 'Iron Earth, Copper Sky'The sound of a wolf’s howling is one of the most spare, solitary, distance-defining sounds in nature. It is the only sound that will cut through the wind-roar of this hilly, isolated part of Anatolia, which overflows with cotton during the summer, but is now buried under snow. The people of one small village are still living with the effects of last harvest, when their crop was far smaller than usual. Not only are they hungry, but they owe more money than they have to the local landlord, Adil, who is coming to collect. Everyone is outside keeping vigil, standing along the ledge demarcating the village, which could hardly be called fortified. As the man in white approaches from a distance on horseback, they disperse back to their houses. Hearths are doused, children and pets corralled indoors, and they all continue to watch, intently, from their windows. He arrives to a vacant scene, the block houses standing apart from one another like squat citadels. And he rides on. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ashes and Embers

07/10/2018

USA / 1982 / English

Directed by Haile Gerima

With John Anderson, Kathy Flewellen, Evelyn A. Blackwell

Still From 'Ashes and Embers'Years have passed since Nay Charles returned from fighting in the Vietnam war, but the mental scars left by his experience haven’t healed. Quite the contrary. They have grown so thick around his being that he can’t see through them. As a black veteran, there is no place for him in America, no home if there ever had been one. He feels angry at everyone around him – his partner Liza Jane, his little son Kimathi, his wiry and tough grandmother who lives in the country. He can discern neither love nor kindness from his surroundings, nor focus on a direction to take in life. Liza Jane hopes to draw him into the black liberation movement in which she takes part, but he refuses all invitations to get close to people or be part of a community. He came back to his home country the very definition of alienated, having been refashioned out of barbed wire and broken glass. Read the rest of this entry »

India / 1986 / Hindi

Directed by Deepa Dhanraj

Still From 'What Has Happened to this City?'We move through the ordinarily crowded streets of Hyderabad’s Old City. It is practically empty except for the occasional truck, and clusters of policemen standing at street corners. Fires burn in shattered shop windows as ashes float into the sky. For two months in 1984, communal riots have been raging. Formerly peaceful neighborhoods of Hindus and Muslims have been torn apart by mutual hostility boiling over. What is causing this? Who is behind it? The sobering numbers call to mind medieval warfare: 41 dead, 23 critically wounded, 250 shops razed. But the numbers don’t tell any stories, and they hardly address the scale of suffering. The police have been curfewing the city for days at a time, and people are stuck with no food, no work, and the constant threat of violence. Read the rest of this entry »

Career

06/25/2018

East Germany / 1971 / German

Directed by Heiner Carow

With Horst Hiemer, Jürgen Hentsch, Brigitte Krause

Still From 'Career'Günter Walcher’s alone-time spent talking into his dictaphone says a lot about him. Sitting in his office, the soft-spoken manager seems obsessed with keeping a record of his own thoughts, and then playing them back to himself, sometimes to his own dismay. In his early forties, he has taken longer than most to climb the corporate ladder. It is eight days into his new job and he already feels panicked about younger men usurping it – at his age, he can’t afford to muck things up by going against the grain. His boss dangles a further promotion in front of him, but leans on him to eliminate the troublesome Zacharias, who has been identified as a communist agitator. Welcome to West Germany, circa 1970, but seen from the other side. Walcher wants to stay the course, to avoid aiding the oppressors but also to not get fired. It all brings him back to his teenage years in the Hitler Youth brigade, and one particular day, when his cohort chased down a scared Russian boy in the woods. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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 »