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Lolas, "Brand X," Sembène, Renwick, Vigo

"Ralf Huettner's sleeper hit Vincent Wants to Sea was the surprise best picture winner at the 61st German Film Awards, Germany's version of the Oscars." Scott Roxborough from Berlin for the Hollywood Reporter: "Florian David Fitz, who's better known as a TV performer here, won best actor for his starring performance in Vincent as a Tourette's sufferer who, once in his life, wants to see the ocean."

The Lolas, as these awards are called, have three categories for Best Film: Gold, which has gone to Vincent; Silver, which goes this year to Yasemin Samdereli's immigration comedy Almanya, also picking up the screenplay award (which Samdereli shares with her sister, Nesrin); and Bronze, presented to If Not Us, Who?, Andres Veiel's retelling of the love story between Gudrun Ensslin and Bernward Vesper and their breakup when Ensslin enters into her fateful relationship with Andreas Baader.

Tom Tykwer wins Best Director for Three, which also scores a Best Actress Lola for Sophie Rois and Best Editing for Mathilde Bonnefoy. Roxborough: "Another big winner was Chris Kraus's period drama The Poll Diaries, which took home four Lolas, including one for best supporting actor Richy Müller. Florian Micoud Cossen's powerful debut The Day I Was Not Born picked up two Lolas — for best score and the best supporting actress nod for Argentinian actress Beatriz Spelzini. Veteran auteur Wim Wenders won documentary for Pina, his 3D dance film on the life and work of late choreographer Pina Bausch.  But the biggest applause of the evening was for screenwriter Wolfgang Kohlhaase, who received a lifetime achievement honor." Kohlhaase is indeed a walking legend, best known for his East German drama Solo Sunny (1980) and the films he's written for Andreas Dresen since the fall of the Wall, Summer in Berlin (2005) and Whiskey with Vodka (2009).

 

EVENTS


In the New York Times, Rachel Wolff tells the story behind Brand X, a "satirical take on television, with fake programs and commercials" which Pop artist Wynn Chamberlain made in 1969, anticipating the likes of Saturday Night Live, SCTV and Kentucky Fried Movie and featuring Abbie Hoffman, Sam Shepard, Sally Kirkland and the Warhol superstars Ultra Violet, Candy Darling and Taylor Mead. After its initial, and of course, relatively limited first run, "it vanished, never to be screened again or released on video. Even Mr Chamberlain did not have a copy. He believes it was the victim of a Nixonian conspiracy to suppress its countercultural message; New Line Cinema, its on-campus distributor, says the company simply moved on from underground film. In any case, Brand X gained a reputation as a lost relic of its era — something many underground film fanatics have read about but few if any have actually seen. But now Mr Chamberlain, who reclaimed a print of the film from New Line in 2007, has brought it to New York, and on Saturday afternoon it will be screened for the first time in nearly 40 years, at the New Museum on the Bowery. A panel discussion will follow."

Black Girl screens this afternoon as part of the Museum of the Moving Image series The Master, The Rebel, and the Artist: The Films of Ousmane Sembène, Djibril Diop Mambéty, and Moussa Sene Absa. The New Yorker's Richard Brody: "Ousmane Sembène — in his first feature film, from 1966, which is also widely considered the first feature made by an indigenous African — expresses the frustrations and ambitions of an entire continent and its peoples."

"Vanessa Renwick is pretty much as punk rock as they come," writes Penny Lane, introducing an interview for the Brooklyn Rail. "She's been self-producing films and videos in her own inimitable style since the early 1980s, and now boasts a wildly eclectic DIY filmography. She can be fast and aggressive, or slow and contemplative. Sometimes she uses archival footage, but not always. The work is sometimes beautiful and sometimes ugly. Without fail, however, the work is intense, hard to pin down, and even harder to forget." Tomorrow night at UnionDocs: Vanessa Renwick: The Oregon Department of Kick Ass. And on Monday at Anthology, Mix Me a Walk — 5 Films by Vanessa Renwick.

In general, if you're living in New York, you need to bookmark Alt Screen, a new site listing festivals and events, alternative film screenings, repertory revivals, advance previews and such in and around NYC. As site founder Paul Brunick explains, it's "both a labor of love and a pain in the ass, subsidized by no institution and staffed by a small handful of my cinephilic friends."

 

NOT IN NEW YORK


"On Sunday at UCLA, the Parajanov-Vartanov Institute will honor [Jean] Vigo with an award and a rare 35mm screening of his best-known works," notes Nicolas Rapold in the LA Weekly. Luce Vigo, the director's daughter and respected critic, "who is in town to accept on her father's behalf, sees his personality and zeal invested in every frame. 'Each time I see À propos de Nice' — Vigo's first, a 1930 minisymphony of the sun-drenched port city — 'I feel how much my father is pleased after all his dreams of filming to have a camera in his hand, with what he can say with the camera.'"

Joe Leydon has an overview of this year's WorldFest-Houston Independent International Film Festival, running through April 17.

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