- We are heartbroken to learn the the director of the Vienna International Film Festival, Hans Hurch, has died unexpectedly in Rome over the weekend. The Viennale—which we have covered for many years—has long been a beacon of aesthetically bold, politically engaged and defiantly personal programming. Hurch and his work will be greatly missed. In his honor, we're revisiting a fabulous interview with the festival director published by Sight & Sound in 2012:
I would be happy if it’s a festival that’s not doing harm to the people. It sounds very defensive, but it isn’t. There are so many things in the world that are doing so much harm, and I believe in an old leftist idea – everything you experience does something to you. So if you drink something that is not good, it won’t do you good. If you see something that is not good… Of course I’m simplifying, it’s more complicated than that – but I’m very instinctive about this, I think it’s in you. It doesn’t go through you, it’s a kind of pollution. And what I want to do is to find and show films – to be a go-between between films and the public – that are not polluting. It’s silly to say, but it’s what I think.
- In news from a completely different type of festival, yesterday some of the Toronto International Film Festival's 2017 program has been revealed—in that annoying manner where the selection will only gradually be announced. But some of the choices are indeed exciting, including the directorial debut of Greta Gerwig, Anurag Kashyap's promisingly-titled The Brawler, Darren Aronofsky's Mother!, Mustang director Deniz Gamze Ergüven's second film (with Hollywood stars!), and Joachim Trier's much-anticipated supernatural thriller Thelma.
- We're delighted to exclusively host the trailer for a new restoration of Mexican auteur Arturo Ripstein's 1966 debut film, Time to Die. Written by Gabriel García Márquez and Carlos Fuentes, it is being re-released in the United States by Film Movement Classics. Ripstein's last feature was the fabulous, surreal and defiantly grim Bleak Street.
- We're a bit late to the game on this, but Japanese director Shunji Iwai (All About Lily Chou-Chou) has made a 4-episode web series titled Chang-Ok's Letter, that is miraculously subtitled in English and free to watch.
- We never thought we'd live to see a new trailer for an old film by the fierce filmmaking duo of Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, but—cine-saints be praised!—here is one for a new restoration of their monumental 1975 Schoenberg adaptation, Moses and Aaron.
- A lovely teaser trailer for Wonderstruck, Todd Haynes's follow-up to Carol and an adaptation of Brian Selznick's book. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May.
- It's been ten years since David Fincher's serial killer mystery Zodiac hit cinemas and promptly fizzled at the box office—yet its reputation as one of the great recent American masterpieces has grown steadily. Adam Nayman at The Ringer has expounded on its terrifying accomplishment:
Fincher is a scrupulous blue-printer with a reputation for control freakery. What Zodiac represented was an attempt to leverage those skills in the service of ambiguity — to make a work more open to interpretation than its predecessors. In Se7en, Brad Pitt finds out whose head is in the box; in Fight Club, Edward Norton finds out who’s really in his head (spoiler: it’s Brad Pitt). In those films, Fincher orchestrated sharp, jagged storytelling twists that tore their narrative universes apart. In Zodiac, the fabric of reality is stretched so tight over the action that it threatens to break at any moment. Except that it doesn’t. The twist is that there isn’t one.
- If you only know of the sublime Russian director Boris Barnet from his wonderful 1936 picture By the Bluest of Seas—and perhaps even more if you don't know the filmmaker at all—we recommend a new translation of an article by Evgenii Margolit about Barnet's "precursor of the war musical comedy genre," 1942's A Good Lad. The film will be screening on July 27 in Los Angeles in the Kino Slang film series:
In Barnet’s wartime filmography, however, the characters remain immutable in their essence: they are profoundly civilian. They are intrinsically unable to live by the wartime laws, which are alien to them. In A GOOD LAD the partisans are not primarily fighting or avenging — they are simply living in the forest. Their primary mission is preservation of life’s vividness. The opposition between the two universes turns out to be the opposition between the element of vivid life and the element of war (which is intent upon conquering, dismembering and destroying life).
- Nocturama, Bertrand Bonello's serpentine, controversial film about a disparate group of teenage terrorists who attack Paris, is coming soon to a few cinemas in the U.S. before it hits Netflix. (We spoke to the filmmaker at last year's Toronto International Film Festival, where the film premiered.) The director shared some of his thoughts on the film with Artforum:
We live in a period that can create a person who is totally fascinated by terrorism and capitalism at the same time. If I had made Nocturama forty years ago I would have only made the first part of the film, because it was about the reality of the streets. The first part was shot during the day with a lot of movement in real places, including the Paris metro, almost like a documentary. It’s the second part of the film that makes it feel very contemporary, because it is in an artificial, commercial world that we constructed.
- Since MUBI has wrapped its year-long retrospective on Filipino director Lav Diaz, you may have been hungry for anything Lav-related. If so, the French publication Débordements has not one but two long interviews with the filmmaker, each about one of his 2016 features, Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery and The Woman Who Left. His words are always an inspiration:
Over the years, I met many colleagues from all over the world and I spent hours discussing cinema with them, from issues of storytelling to the very nitty-gritty stuff like how much do you guys pay for this, how do you guys put the money together, and so on... While exchanging opinions and experiences with my colleagues, I soon realized that I could never follow the praxis that seems to be dominant in Europe and the US. You know, European and American filmmakers tend to wait for years. Every time they have an idea for a film, they apply for script development funds all over the place. They write a treatment, they pitch ideas around, they take photos, maybe they make a trailer... They create a lot of promotional materials, they package them all together in a nice box and send it to funding bodies, institutions, government agencies, city councils... This promotional work alone takes up to two years and it costs a lot of money already. And when the script development grant finally comes, it’s time for the filmmakers to start asking for production money, and the cycle starts all over again : another year, another two years pass. So for many directors the focus is on seeking funds and patiently wait for the money to appear. But in a setup like the Philippines you cannot wait. I cannot wait. If I am very passionate about an idea, a story, a project, I will do it. I will not wait.
- At the Talkhouse, Darren Aronofsky (whose new film was just announced to premiere in Toronto) and Alejandro Jodorowsky, whose new film Endless Poetry, the sequel to the lovely The Dance of Reality, is coming out soon, unexpectedly got together for a podcast:
- The great opera singer Maria Callas and director Pier Paolo Pasolini on the set of Medea (1969).