- The Palestinian Film Institute and several prominent filmmakers—including Sky Hopinka, Miko Revereza, Maryam Tafakory, Charlie Shackleton, and Basma al-Sharif—have withdrawn from the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam in response to the festival’s messaging about the war in Gaza. On the festival’s opening night, a group of activists took to the stage holding a banner that read “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”; on November 10, IDFA published a statement apologizing to patrons who may have been offended by this “hurtful slogan.” (Hyperallergic and Little White Lies’s reports offer context on the history of the debates surrounding this call, which is protected under Dutch freedom-of-speech laws.) On November 11, the PFI and the advocacy group Workers for Palestine Netherlands announced their withdrawal from IDFA: “As the world’s largest documentary film festival, IDFA holds the responsibility to respond to the plight of journalists and documentarians on the ground in Gaza, the Palestinian film community, and Palestinian lives. Contrary to its stated goal of promoting films that inspire critical thinking and societal betterment, IDFA’s actions fall short.” In a new statement on November 12, IDFA wrote that it hoped to “respect and acknowledge the pain that is going around” by offering an “inclusive space for freedom of expression.” Welcoming this revision, the PFI's program curator, Mohanad Yaqubi, has encouraged participating IDFA filmmakers to “use their platforms to talk about the continuous atrocities in Gaza.”
- Last week, the Screen Actors Guild’s national board voted to circulate a tentative strike-ending deal with its membership; the full union will begin voting on the contract this week. (You can read a summary of key details on SAG-AFTRA’s website.) The strike was officially suspended at midnight on November 9, thus ending the longest work stoppage in the guild’s 90-year history.
- The UCLA Film & Television Archive has put online a curated selection of 65 television news stories from Los Angeles from the 1970s and ’80s. Originally broadcast on the Los Angeles station KTLA, the segments “cover topics relevant to African American, Asian American, Chicana/o/x, Latina/o/x, LGBTQ+ and Native American communities and encompass issues including civil rights, poverty, public policy and more.”
- As is becoming tradition, Paul Thomas Anderson has directed a new music video to coincide with a Thom Yorke–centric album announcement. The Smile, Yorke’s power trio with Jonny Greenwood and percussionist Tom Skinner, announced their sophomore album Wall of Eyes on Monday (for the real radio heads, the record was produced by Sam Petts-Davies, not Nigel Godrich, who was tied up with other projects). Anderson has directed the video for the title track: Yorke watches a film of a large, blinking eye, then gets to flex some of his silent-film acting skills as he navigates a sped-up city, shot in black and white with bursts of color. Watch below.
- “Can movies be ghosts? If cinemas are haunted, surely it is by the gestures and actions and narratives that have played out within, over and over.” Published in the Film Comment Letter, a beautiful essay by Dennis Lim originally written to accompany “Fantasmas,” a spectral series he curated for the most recent edition of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival.
- “One of the thrills of expertly executed movies about performing is the ontological free fall that they catalyze.” In 4Columns, Melissa Anderson expresses her admiration for Todd Haynes’s latest, May December, “a quicksilver film about the hazards and harms of role-playing—personally and/or professionally.”
- “Wang Bing might be the world’s hardest-working filmmaker.” For the Nation, J. Hoberman writes about Wang Bing, a filmmaker who “embeds himself in China’s working classes, working his own trade alongside them.”
- “To describe an actress’s physicality in detail is always a fraught enterprise. We risk rendering the woman as an object of desire, rather than a living, breathing subject.” In the Los Angeles Review of Books, Hannah Bonner writes about Elisabeth Subrin’s short film Maria Schneider, 1983 (2022), which reenacts a television interview Schneider gave in which she talks about the abuse she was subjected to during the filming of Last Tango in Paris (1972). Schneider is represented, in turn, by Manal Issa, Aïssa Maïga, and Isabel Sandoval, and Bonner writes about the different layers of performance involved.
- “A very experienced, older producer said to me once, when I was scouting a commercial: ‘It’s not about the shot. It’s about the shots.’” Cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt talks to The Film Stage’s Nick Newman about filming The Killer with David Fincher.
- Los Angeles, through August 4, 2024: “Weaving multilayered narratives, traversing horizontal landscapes through a portrait-shaped canvas, “Shifting Perspectives: Vertical Cinema” is a moving image exhibition on show in Academy Museum of Motion Picture’s double-height Hurd Gallery that follows a format first presented at Sonic Acts in Amsterdam in 2013. Functioning “as a provocation to expand the image onto a new axis,” the exhibition features screenings presented on a 20-foot high- and three-foot wide- screen (above), “reflecting the proliferation of vertical formats on portable smart devices” by rotating the frame sideways to resemble a gigantic cell phone display. This current iteration features newly commissioned work by three Southern Californian filmmakers: Zaina Bseiso, Fox Maxy, and Walter Thompson-Hernández.
- New York, Dec 1, 2023, through Jan 10, 2024: Legendary composer Ennio Morricone is the subject of a focus at MoMA, starting next month. The program includes more than 35 films spanning his nearly 60-year career, such as screenings of Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966), Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers (1965), and John Carpenter's The Thing (1982).
- A new episode of NTS Radio’s “Sounds on Screen” series looks at music from the films of Hirokazu Koreeda. The selection includes a number of compositions by Ryuichi Sakamoto and Haruomi Hosono.
RECENTLY ON NOTEBOOK
- Leonardo Goi’s latest Current Debate column untangles nuanced critical responses to Killers of the Flower Moon, Martin Scorsese’s new epic about the Osage murders in 1920s Oklahoma. “Our tendency to conflate not just the art with the artist, but also the politics with the art,” Goi contends, “here threatens to gloss over the way Scorsese challenges his own position as the story’s mediator, and what or who his film is ultimately about.”
- In a new essay, Maxine Sibihwana listens closely to Western films set in Africa, elucidating how misrepresentations of spoken language can harmfully homogenize the cultural nuances of diverse nations. As she writes: "Language, voice, and tone are vital parts of storytelling—they allow audiences to build a sense of place and immerse themselves in the setting—but they are frequently undervalued by filmmakers and audiences."
- "The films that begin a femme triple threat’s oeuvre feel like they were born out of a singular primordial organism, squirming, writhing, already mortified at the prospect of being alive on this earth." Filmmaker Kit Zauhar reflects on embodying flailing (and openly failing) femme protagonists, as well as the involved process of crafting a cinema of "faildaughters." For a brilliant example of one such film, watch Zauhar's Actual People on MUBI, now showing almost globally.
- Photographs taken by Ralph Crane in 1961 show an audition of 152 cats for a black cat role in a Roger Corman adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Terror.
- Could you be the next lucky owner of the wrecked 1989 Lamborghini Countach used in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)—listed for auction by Bonhams at a price of $1.5 to 2 million?