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City Symphonies

MUBI Special

The genre of the city symphony was ushered into glorious existence with Walter Ruttmann’s stunning Weimar-era documentary ode to Berlin. Different cities, though, demand different kinds of exploration. In addition to Ruttman’s poetic tribute, MUBI presents wildly inventive and divergent portraits of Los Angeles (by Thom Andersen), Macau (João Pedro Rodrigues, João Rui Guerra da Mata), and Winnipeg (who else but Guy Maddin?).

My Winnipeg

Guy Maddin Canada, 2007


Continuing our exploration of cinematic “city symphonies,” we bring you a mind-bending trip to Winnipeg guided by iconoclastic the ingenious Canadian auteur, Guy Maddin. Half demiurge, half mad scientist, Maddin has taken cinema to the next level, and even created his own genre: the docu-fantasia.

The Last Time I Saw Macao

João Rui Guerra da Mata, João Pedro Rodrigues Portugal, 2012


Evocatively remixing the essay film as a thriller, Portuguese auteurs João Pedro Rodrigues & João Rui Guerra da Mata honor the gambling capital of the world with this oneiric trip. Macao is expressed here as if it were inside of a hazy, unforgettable dream reckoning with the shadow of colonialism.

Los Angeles Plays Itself

Thom Andersen United States, 2003


After pre-WW2 Berlin our tour of city symphonies moves to the City of Angels, and, more specifically, of Hollywood. Professor, critic and film essayist Thom Andersen has made a engrossingly wide-ranging epic that explores how the city has been used in TV and movies in the 20th century.

Berlin: Symphony of a Great City

Walter Ruttmann Germany, 1927


Today we launch a four-city tour of city symphonies: documentaries dedicated to the personalities and energies of unique urban centers. This genre burst into being with Walter Ruttman’s ruminative portrait of Weimar-era Berlin, explored with a style influenced by Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov.

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