THE AUTEURS WORLD CUP 2009 : THE GRAND FINAL
Well folks, here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for- a tournament that started in early September, that has given us excitement, surprises and a veritable feast of new international discoveries has now reached the final. We dived in the deep end with this idea: 32 teams always seemed a very ambitious project, but somehow we’ve come through. We happy band of pioneers and explorers, we have sailed to the ends of the earth, braved Cape Horn with its towering tempestuous seas, forged canals in the sweaty swamps of Panama and sweltering heat of Suez, charted the Northwest Passage, marvelled at the mighty Amazon, the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall, the Great Mosque of Djenne, Machu Picchu, known the wonders of Byzantium, Timbuctou and the Silk Road, reached the South Pole through snowstorms and blistering cold, crossed the vast expanses of the Sahara and the Russian steppes and scaled the peaks of the majestic Himalaya…
We have challenged received wisdom, overcome some practical and technical difficulties, enjoyed the support of Martin Scorsese and even been featured on CNN’s news site. There was no invading horde of voters, but quality won out over quantity.
With 378 films in all, this is the 63rd match: a showdown between the world’s 2 most populated and increasingly powerful countries, China and India. With their success and Africa’s too we have pointed the way and run ahead of the future. Both teams in the final have been guided with astounding expertise and tactical aplomb by their managers Myra and Apursansar; deserving finalists indeed! Thanks to them we have seen the historic strength in depth of Chinese cinema, from decades before the 5th generation, and that Indian cinema has magnificent and untold riches beyond Bollywood.
The standard of management throughout, by old hands and young alike (the youngest aged 15 i think), has been excellent; we have been served an exquisite grounding in so many national cinemas. A huge thank you to all the people who have put so much work into getting us to this stage; my official co-organiser, auteurs admin, the team managers, the uploaders and linkers, fellow planners and rule-makers, statisticians, counters and all who voted and commented. You know who you are: thank you.
And so, for the final time, once more unto the breach dear friends..
New participants are still most welcome and allowed to vote in this match.
On this thread, voting will last from 7 pm GMT on Tuesday 22nd December until 6 pm GMT on Wednesday 23rd December, which means that users will have 23 hours in order to publish their votes. The world map which lists all current time zones can be found on www.worldtimezone.com, so that everyone can be up to date about how much time is left.
After the voting period is over the votes will soon be counted and the result published.
There has been a separate world cup section of the forum, and a world cup page to be updated: http://www.theauteurs.com/worldcup2009
Each user can vote on any line-up of each match as long as he/she has watched both films that are paired against each other. An explanation for the preference in each case would be greatly appreciated, especially for this big moment, as often provided by voters in the previous matches. You can vote on any single pairing; you do not have to vote on all 3 pairings of a match. Team managers are not allowed to vote on matches their own team participates in. The voting should be handled like this:
Film A 1 (or 0) – Film B 0 (or 1)
Film C 0 (or 1) – Film D 1 (or 0)
Film E 1 (or 0) – Film F 0 (or 1)
Please mark the winning film/score in large or heavy print. You can give your explanatory statements either after each vote or after all 3 votes.
The match you´re going to vote for is
CHINA V INDIA
Little Toys (Sun Yu) v Days and Nights in the Forest (Satyajit Ray) The Actress (Stanley Kwan) v The Seventh Horse of the Sun (Shyam Benegal)Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks- Part 1: Rust (Wang Bing) v Donkey in a Brahmin Village (John Abraham)
Little Toys 0 – Days and Nights in the Forest 1
I don’t think I will be able to watch the other films.
Little Toys (Sun Yu) 0 v Days and Nights in the Forest (Satyajit Ray) 1
The Actress (Stanley Kwan) 0 v The Seventh Horse of the Sun (Shyam Benegal) 1
Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks- Part 1: Rust (Wang Bing) 0 v Donkey in a Brahmin Village (John Abraham) 1
all difficult matches with 6 undeniable masterpieces,i’ll come back later to vote but i do hope for much more attendance to have taken place before i return.
Little Toys 0 Days and Nights in the Forest 1
Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks: Rust 0 Donkey in a Brahmin Village 1
the other pairing i’m finding very hard to decide on.
Of course Ruan Lingyu is terrific, we feel for her as in The Goddess, and there is an interesting point here about links between toys (and childhood) and militarism- along with the usual patriotism and call to arms(and quite right with that enemy). But Days and Nights in the Forest wins out for its lyricism, skilful and involving character development, subtle erotic undertones and typically unforced naturalism; one of Ray’s very best and justly a favourite of the late Robin Wood.
Tie Xi Qu begins memorably and ends symmetrically, there are beautiful shots on the tracks and spectacular views inside the works, and it covers important social change, is clearly an important and revealing work. It was honest and made with integrity, no sops to positive government message here. But at times i felt unengaged with the events and characters in claustrophobic, dilapidated and unappealing interiors – all part of the film’s truth but film watching is also a matter of temperament. Now what is a film like Abraham’s doing in a world cup final? It looks amateurish, it was to be seen with often barely legible subtitles, but it’s a little gem, a striking avant-garde satire with bite as well as charm. Little wonder it met opposition from Brahmins, and who could resist a little donkey in a basket? Mother and foal meet the same fate. This comfortably outdoes Balthazar; a sense of intelligence and artistic freedom here and what can be done with no great production budget, interesting use of sounds that reminded of Ghatak’s Cloud-Capped Star. Abraham one of Ghatak’s students and an admirer, and with an unorthodox lifestyle, with little time for the establishment, died quite young (Vigo came to mind)
Little Toys 0 v Days and Nights in the Forest 1
Little Toys was good but a little to much propaganda versus maybe Ray’s finest.
Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks- Part 1: Rust 1 v Donkey in a Brahmin Village 0
Little Toys 0 v. DAYS AND NIGHTS IN THE FOREST 1
Little Toys was an exiting discovery from the 30s in China – and of course another chance to see the incredible Ruan Ling Yu acting. But Rays film is a timeless masterpiece.
RUAN LING YU 1 v. The seventh horse of the Sun 0
This was really a close voting. Ruan Ling Yu which I saw first 1992 in the original version at the Berlin Filmfestival was my entrance into classical chinese cinema, into Ruan Ling Yu and as well into the work of Stanley Kwan one of my favorite Hongkong directors. I loved seventh horse of the sun a lot and its narrative is equal complex as Kwans film. When I wake up tomorrow it can be that I regret my vote for Ruan Ling Yu. But it can´t be helped.
Little Toys 1 v Days and Nights in the Forest 0
don’t think i’ll be able to watch the others in time
Little Toys 0 vs Days and Nights in the Forest 1
The Actress 0 vs The Seventh Horse of the Sun 1
Actress is classy, elegant, extremely beautiful, aesthetically satisfying, Kwan has a way (here and elsewhere) with mixing patterns, he would make a fine interior, fabric or fashion designer i think, the quality of the print online brings out the simple beauty of pure white sheets or shiny black hair, it adds several intellectual layers with its Brechtian distancing, toing and froing between past and present, contemporary discussions involving cast and crew, Maggie Cheung is easy to admire, and yet what it gains in layering it loses emotionally- for me, it doesn’t get to the heart of Ruan Lingyu, except in the luminous clips, Cheung’s restraint lacks something of the expected suffering passion, and well, she is Maggie Cheung, the actors playing the directors etc are not the directors, the suspension of disbelief is undermined.
Seventh Horse of the Sun is generally engaging, at times lovely and also has its narrative layering, the main narrator protagonist is strangely uninvolved as bystander even when a beautiful object of his affections is being abducted- but the intent is humorous undercutting romantic Bollywood norms and it’s a clever little weaving of tales from different viewpoints
1. Little Toys 0 – Days and Nights in the Forest 1
2. The Actress 1 – The Seventh Horse of the Sun 0
scores so far:
Little Toys 1 Days and Nights in the Forest 7
The Actress 2 Seventh Horse of the Sun 2
Tie Xi Qu 1 Donkey in a Brahmin Village 2
well, India getting more votes but what matter are the pairings won- and 2 are very close. I expect we’ll get more votes coming in later for the bottom pairings, with people probably viewing them later
anything’s possible except the first one…Ray will come unbeatable and i feel it’s time for most publishing companies to start caring and promoting more THE MAJORITY OF HIS FILMS besides the occasional Welles and Kurosawa.
(Artificial Eye has done an excellent start in my opinion with Apu Trilogy and 2 box-sets with his films,one is Calcutta Trilogy if i recall)
Well, if Criterion are watching…
Thanks for your great opening remarks, Kenji – it has been a long road indeed! Well, this is it – the final countdown! Full credit to both managers for finding some superb films at this late stage in a long event. All these were excellent films, which makes the decisions just that much harder to make. Here goes:
We have had a series of excellent 30’s films from China in the event and many fine Ray films, too. This match-up has two perfect examples from each. Little Toys has the great Ruan Ling-yu who amazed us all in the earlier The Goddess. I thought the toy metaphor worked well to convey the social message of the film. Still, this is another melodramatic tear-jerker with a polemical political message at the end. Ruan’s own acting and the way the toys are used to bring out the creative imagination of Ruan’s character are great strokes. All these 30’s films have been amazing to see. I can see why Myra loves them. Now, we do too!
Days and Nights in the Forest is another example of Ray’s careful attention to every nuance of human behaviour – at its best and worst. The four rather diffident rogues on vacation are presented as self-centered and rather contemptuous of those they come across. They push their way into the manor, without permission, and proceed to exploit the locals – male and female. Yet, the more sensitive member or two do establish a congenial relationship with the two young women staying nearby. Everything is presented with maximum sympathy and true to the personalities of each person – proving Ray’s genius with subtle characterization. One scene that typifies this for me was when one of the young men casually looks over the books and records of the woman he is interested in and sees she has ‘good taste’ – ha! I have done the same and appreciate these telling moments.
We have learned from Apursansar’s selections that Ray is the master of cinematic realism. He established Indian – especially Bengali – film as clearly dealing with contemporary social problems in a very human and meaningful way. He presents his stories with the complexity they deserve, and tries to see things from all sides.
Both The Actress and The Seventh Horse of the Sun present us with complex narrative structures. Maggie Cheung gives us a truthful and rich portrayal of Ruan Ling-yu in The Actress. I liked how the film used documentary footage, interviews with surviving members from this period, and real footage and stills of Ruan’s films to fully bring this period to life. It heightened the scenes set in the period with Cheung. Cheung is simply amazing here – the best I have ever seen her. Loved the end scene with Maggie told not to breathe when she portrays the dead Ruan and then the picture imposed of the real Ruan lying in state. Brilliant stuff! This is a remarkable bio pic.
The Seventh Horse of the Sun is a very inventive use of narration, with stories often intertwining for a more subtle effect. This is one of the most complex films I have seen, reminding me a bit of how stories overlap, as in Jarmusch’s Mystery Train. The tale within a tale is very Borges or Calvino like in its twisting structure. Sometimes, I confess to have gotten a bit lost in the maze of different stories, and some of the separate tales didn’t seem as effective as others. This was a fascinating film, nonetheless.
The Actress 1 – The Seventh Horse of the Sun 0
I have written on Col Dax’s thread dealing with this film and Wang Bing my own comments about this great documentary. This film has a slow moving narrative path, using the train tracks in a sort of meditative way, reminding me – for some reason – of the railcar journey in Stalker. Everything is natural and unforced in the film, in a type of ‘deadpan realism’ (if this makes any sense) that is ultimately devastating in its honesty. A real indictment of China’s appalling work safety standards and the human cost.
Donkey in a Brahmin Village is a film that starts out as a sort of Indian Au Hasard Balthazar and then turns into a mystical allegory. It is unique, and I wish I could see it in a better print, as the subtitles occasionally blended in. It is a powerful visionary work by a master totally unknown to me until now.
Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks- Part 1: Rust 1 – Donkey in a Brahmin Village 0
Sorry for being so long-winded at the conclusion of a very long and tiring event, but I felt each of these fine films deserved careful merit here. I have learned a great deal from following the films that both of these managers have chosen for this event. Thank you.
Were I to vote 5 minutes from now, my votes here could be reversed, so close were these pairings in my mind.
yes Stalker came to my mind too- beautiful rail sequences in the Wang Bing- and as i said on another thread, i was also reminded at once of Billy Bitzer’s early silent Westinghouse Works, at least one section, check it out on youtube..
With Maggie Cheung not breathing, yes i thought of that myself before it was mentioned in the film- one time seeing Romeo and Juliet at the theatre years ago i spent a long time watching the actress as dead Juliet and she didn’t breathe at all (i also saw someone’s head chopped off at in Henry IV part 2 at Ludlow Castle, but i digress..) But i couldn’t help feeling nothing in Maggie Cheung’s performance really matched the luminosity and intensity of Ruan Lingyu herself in the clips; she was in emotionally powerful melodramas whereas with Kwan’s film there is much more cool restraint..in a bio with suicide!
Kenji – “But i couldn’t help feeling nothing in Maggie Cheung’s performance really matched the luminosity and intensity of Ruan Lingyu herself in the clips; she was in emotionally powerful melodramas whereas with Kwan’s film there is much more cool restraint”
I tend to agree with you to a point, but don’t you think this is also due to the gigantic sea-change that has occurred in acting style since the 1930’s? Of course, no one could fully due justice to Ruan’s own unique luminescence on screen. But we tend to take a more detached, ironic look at acting style today. Everything is done to avoid the hint of melodrama, which was a standard commodity in films of the 1930’s and the more exaggerated acting style of the silent film period. In any case, I am no ‘objective’ viewer, as I must confess to be now being infatuated with Ms. Cheung – who can do no wrong now in my opinion. So, throw objectivity out the window.
Also, observe the scene where Maggie is playing out the “I want to live” scene (reminds me of Susan Hayward) with the same scene as done by Ruan. Two different – but completely believable – styles of acting but one great end result in both cases. Now I must see Ruan in New Women – which I hope is available for viewing somewhere.
cool restraint or not,The Actress after the last YouTube video rolled was one of the best biographies i’ve seen on-screen and i dare place it next to Lenny Bruce and Edvard Munch portraits.
Kwan achieves nuance and a representation of iconic images with not just Cheung as the main facade but also the still images,brisk dialogs,color palettes and as the minutes tick,i kept wanting for more.
that bold-head made me want to see more by him!!!
Little Toys (Sun Yu) v Days and Nights in the Forest (Satyajit Ray) 1
Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure.
This frail vessel thou emptiest again and again, and fillest it ever with fresh life.
As the words of Ray’s own inspirational source, Rabindranath Tagore, aptly state, Ray’s films have emptied this frail vessel of mine again and again and have filled it with fresh life. Days and Nights in the Forest has long been a personal favorite, and in this film Ray ventures not into his usual task of rendering spiritual lessons unto the mundane sufferings of his people but that of depicting unbridled passions that fill to the brim and overflow during a retreat in the forest. Ruan Lingyu’s angular eyes gaze towards heaven and speak with more depth and evoke more pathos than the countless vapid words of Hollywood prima donnas.
The Actress (Stanley Kwan) 1 v The Seventh Horse of the Sun (Shyam Benegal)
As Apursansar did in the semifinal match with a Ritwik Ghatak film and a biopic about Ghatak, Myra gives us a Ruan Lingyu film and a biopic about Ruan. Well done, you two. Fine managers indeed. Benegal provides insight into the nature of storytelling, writing, and filmmaking. The self-reflexive theme in this match continues with Stanley Kwan utilizing Brechtian distancing/alienation and film-within-a-film methods to present a sweeping biopic that never devolves into mawkishness. I think Kenji does raise a valid point about Maggie Cheung’s performance being perhaps too restrained, but this seems like a calculated move on the part of Kwan and Cheung to let the archival footage of the divine Ruan speak for itself. But Cheung shines in those segments when she portrays Ruan away from the set—e.g. when she is dancing for the final time with her lover. And as Rudiger expressed, when I saw this film for the first time a few years ago, it provided an introduction to classic Chinese cinema for me as well. To this day, it remains one of my favorite Chinese language films and biopics, and Kwan himself has never managed to recapture the magic.
I’ll be back later with the vote on the third pairing after watching Donkey in a Brahmin Village. Superb selections, Myra and Apursansar.
Little Toys 1 Days and Nights in the Forest 9
The Actress 4 Seventh Horse of the Sun 2
Tie Xi Qu 2 Donkey in a Brahmin Village 2
only separated on votes difference…..
No votes for 5 hours…??!!
Little Toys (Sun Yu) 0 – Days and Nights in the Forest (Satyajit Ray) 1
It’s the seventh inning stretch, I have another film to watch and I’m hungry. Reading your inspiring closing remarks above – triggered for me, what I’ll call, a ‘Kenji’ moment. Who among us would dare say our film viewing was not enhanced by your thoughtful commentary and winning film selections. Your unwavering dedication to the World Cup kept me coming back time and time again. However, there were a fleeting few days there where I questioned your omnipotential (don’t bother looking it up). I’m referring of course to that fictitious weave of yours regarding the lost and oh so ‘miraculously’ found Albanian film. I growled for days at you and Apursansar for taking advantage of my cinema sense – or errr, non-sense. Duping an up and coming part-time cinephile – truly feckless! I suppose I’m to be grateful I wasn’t around for the Chantal Brechjova ‘discussion.’
Thanks for ALL of it Kenji. :D xoxo
Dinner’s ready…back later to vote.
Little Toys 1 – Days and Nights in the Forest 0Tie Xi Qu 1 – Donkey in a Brahmin Village 0
LIttle Toys (Sun Yu) 0 – Days and Nights in the Forest (Satyajit Ray) 1
The Actress (Stanley Kwan) 1 – The Seventh Horse of the Sun (Shayain Benegal) 0
Maggie Cheung played Ruan as a kind, clever and talented actress whose versatility helped her move beyond being pigeonholed in the industry. And she did it with effortless shifts of emotion.
such a poor voting outcome….watch films dammit!!! even one pairing would have been enough :(
Xiao Wanyi 0 – Aranyer Din Ratri 1
“I can accept the ‘poet’ designation, if by that is meant someone whose face is always lifted up to the sky "
“At the age when Bengali youth almost inevitably writes poetry, I was listening to European classical music.”
Yuen Ling-yuk 1 – Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda 0
“I do not think that many Hong Kong film makers have a political awareness. But somehow we’re trained to do something…Even if you want to make films personal and not make them deal with a political issue, there will be some underlayers.”
“I’ve always believed that all the archetypes of human beings can be found in the Mahabharata, and you could use these archetypes wherever, whenever, in whatever period, in contemporary time, anytime.”
Tie Xi Qu – Agraharathil Kazhuthai (dead tie because of Tie Xi Qu 1/3 completion)
“…today in China people are generally reluctant to look back. If you don’t look back on your history, it seems to me that you can’t observe clearly which way you should be headed in the future.”
“Nay, Ritwik Ghatak
I remember, a tall man
his hands moving around my shoulders,
catching me with the feeling of nearness,
rather than imperialism-”
John Abraham by the poem A Tribute to Ritwik Ghatak
I’m trying to rush The Seventh Horse of the Sun by tonight.
Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks – Part 1: Rust (Wang Bing) 1 – Donkey in a Brahmin Village (John Abraham) 0
I really like them both very much. John Abraham believed the power of cinema could change society. His is a fascinating story – the Donkey becomes the central character in this satire of bigotry and superstition.
But as a person of part Chinese ancestry who was raised a world away from her Chinese roots, I’m eagerly looking forward to parts 2 and 3 of the Wang trilogy!
The Actress 0 – The Seventh Horse of the Sun 1
I’d say that’s it from me. Great competition (I’m only sorry I came late to the party).
because i think it’s preposterous to have the FINAL as one of the lowest voting matches!!!!