2020/2021 Key Dates
Film Critics Post Update: Today, December 5: Winners from SunsetFCC. Nominations from WashingtonDCFCA.
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Monday, July 28, 2008

14th Sarajevo Film Festival


From August 15 to 23 this fest will be held in Sarajevo and here are the feature films in the competition program.

Buick Riviera, Goran Rušinović, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, 2008
Četvrti Čovek (The Fourth Man), Dejan Zečević, Serbia, 2007
Delta, Kornél Mundruczó, Hungary and Germany, 2008
Gitmek (My Marlon and Brando), Hüseyin Karabey, Turkey, 2008
Kino Lika, Dalibor Matanić, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, 2008
Lányok (Girls), Anna Faur, Hungary, 2007
März (March), Händl Klaus, Austria, 2008
Nikoli Nisva Šla V Benetke (We’ve Never Been to Venice), Blaž Kutin, Slovenia, 2008
Nokta (Dot), Derviş Zaim, Turkey, 2008
SonBahar (Autumn), Özcan Alper, Turkey, 2008

I suggest you check the In Focus program with some interesting films, especially Boogie by Radu Muntean from Romania. The program is here.

In the Panorama program there is one movie that really called my attention: Japan Japan by Lior Shamriz, Israel and Germany, as is an experimental film that the shooting expenses totaled 200 euros!!! And is a gay interest movie. Have to see this to learn how to do what the fest calls: No-Budget filmmaking. To check the films in the Panorama section go here.

The opening film in the Panorama program is none other than 24 City by Jia Zhang-ke and I just want to record here an excerpt from the press release where he’s announced as a special guest of the fest, I just love what it says.

“Jia Zhang-ke is recognized as one of the leading Chinese directors who through his work wishes to speak about authentic life in China. In all of his films, he has been consistently going back to the topics of alienation and disorientation of Chinese society.

Jia Zhang-ke throws his films into the face of older generation of directors, who have idealized Chinese society in their films, and who had more understanding for problems that have been bothering Jia Zhang-ke. Jia Zhang-ke speaks up about all problems of contemporary China, about its rich tradition, but also about politics, about the future.”

Jury Members
President: Nuri Bilge Ceylan, director/writer, Turkey
Jury members: Hugh Hudson, director, UK; Marija Škaričić, actress, Croatia; Michael Weber, founder and Director of Match Factory, Germany; and Deborah Young, artistic director of the Taormina filmfest, Usa/Italy.

Most interesting is the Cinelink industry section of the Sarajevo fest that includes project development workshops, co-production market, awards, industry screenings, conferences, and more. The have 12 projects competing for the awards; but the most interesting news come from Cinelink+ Selection that has 3 projects and take a look.

The Bank Of, Onur Unlu, Turkey
Girls, Andrea Štaka, Switzerland and Croatia
Outskirts, by Christian Mungiu and Ioana Uricaru, director Anatoli Reghintovschi, Romania

To check this section go here.

There are more films in other festival programs that have to be announced, so I’ll be checking the site and post accordingly. The fest will present films from sixteen countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Malta, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and Turkey. The fest homepage is here and definitively I will closely follow this fest that has so many interesting news.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Day 8 - Cannes 2015




Today is the day of Jia Zhangke, one of my most admired contemporary Chinese directors so will be no surprise when I share that I'm extremely pleased with yesterday's positive reactions via social media. That's the good news as the bad news are about the festival winding down as after today there are only four more films in the competition and three more days to start learning about the first awards.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Dong


This documentary is the companion piece of Jia Zhang ke film Sānxiá Hǎorén (Still Life) that follows artist and actor Liu Xiaodong as he invited Jia to film him while he paints a group of laborers near the Three Gorges Dam and later a group of women in Bangkok, Thailand.

In the Three Gorges Dam segment the documentary shares some takes from the Still Life film, so it is obvious to me that Jia was doing the film at the same time. The evident story about the big format spreads that Liu is painting in each segment is interesting as you are able to see how he sketches and some paintings transformations into the final art production.

But everything I have told you is only the excuse to do what Jia Zhang ke does like no other contemporary filmmaker I know, as he chronicles moments in the ordinary life of people, this time in China as well as in Thailand and he does it in his quiet incisive way that here flourishes so good especially in the Thailand segment.

The Three Georges Dam segment was an excellent complement to the movie as gives you more insights on the local population ordinary life. But the Thailand segment was a true surprise to me that engaged me up to the point of imagining a complete short film out of the situations presented for one of the girl’s posing for the painting; mesmerized me when followed the blind beggars couple, and totally drove me crazy with his camera moves and framing.

This is not your regular documentary, this is a fantastic film that incisively peeks at people’s lives and does it without being intrusive. Amazing! As a film has some long takes, silent majestic moments, absolutely great framing, and there are not many words involved in the 66 minutes it runs. This film is a confirmation to me that he has to be recording the contemporary lives of people as Ozu and Naruse did in their time and as I first felt with Still Life and Unknown Pleasures.

As you perhaps guessed by now this film is absolutely not for all audiences as most people expect a documentary about a painter and well, yes it is… but that’s not the true value of this film. I believe you have to be familiar with Jia Zhang ke filmmaking style to really enjoy this film and please notice that I do not call it a documentary, as this is a medium length outstanding film that serious cinema lovers cannot afford to miss if you have seen Still Life, but also if you haven’t as is a oeuvre that stands alone especially for the Thailand segment.

By the way, Dong literally means East, which to me means exactly what this film is all about, an extraordinary glimpse at the contemporary and ordinary lives of some eastern people. Now more than before, I'm "dying" to be able to see Jia Zhang ke latest movie, Er shi si cheng ji (24 City) that premeried at the 2008 Cannes.

Big Enjoy!!!

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Friday, March 18, 2016

10th Asian Film Awards Winners


Yesterday the Academy had their awards ceremony and as expected by many, Hou Hsiao-Hsien's The Assassin swept the night by winning eight awards out of the nine nominations it had, which is a fantastic ratio in any world awards.

But Hou Hsiao-Hsien film steak left not much for other films; still, among the few other awards left, Jia Zhang-ke collected Best Script for his Mountains May Depart.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Up The Yangtze


This 2007 documentary by Canadian Yung Chang is really poetic sadness about the human price of progress. It is not my first documentary about the Yangtze River and the Three Gorges Dam and while both tell similar stories about the flooding, this one includes one additional element that will allow westerners to observe the huge difference between western and Chinese culture.

As in Jia Zhang ke documentary that I find it more like a film, Yung Chang documentary is also more a film that anything else as tells the story of two young Chinese that go to work in a luxury river cruiser. We have 16-year-old Yu Shui whose parents are not able to continue her education, as she needs to provide for the family especially when they will be reallocated away from the river. Then there is 19-year-old Chen Bo Yu an only child from a well-to-be family with ambitions that decides to work to make money instead of continuing his studies.

The most amazing part of the story is how both arrive to the ship and the training they receive to deal with western tourists. It is a true culture shock for them and for us western viewers too.

There are many beautiful views of the magnificent river, but I find that Jia Zhang ke’s Dong has superior cinematography and beauty; still, if I didn’t saw Dong (and outstanding Still Life) first, probably I could have appreciated more the cinematography here.

This multiple award and nominated documentary is one that many should see it for the incredible and basic differences Chang establishes between western and Chinese cultures; but if you want to see a masterpiece then I suggest you better watch Jia Zhang ke film and documentary.

But I also know that Up The Yangtze is more direct and easier to follow by general audiences, so I strongly recommend it to everyone that wants to be exposed to the human price of China modernization.

Enjoy!!!

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Monday, November 23, 2015

52nd Golden Horse Awards Winners


Last Saturday night was the 2015 Golden Horse Awards ceremony and as expected the big winner of the night was Hou Hsiao-Hsien's The Assassin that collected five awards, including Best Feature Film, Best Director, Best Cinematography and more. Following closely was Chang Tso-Chi's Thanatos, Drunk with four awards.

Worth mentioning is Jia Zhang-ke's Mountains May Depart winning Best Original Screenplay and Tharlo by Pema Tseden winning Best Adapted Screenplay.

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Sunday, September 20, 2015

40th Toronto International Film Festival Award Winners


Awards ceremony was quite informal, light and somehow fun-to-watch especially when the Platform jury took the stage and made us laugh (hard). Yes it was very unexpected to see Jia Zhang-ke, Claire Denis and Agnieszka Hollad doing light comedy but gee, it worked!!! Funny and fun-to-watch.

So, actually, there are several awards in Toronto fest, but will start with the Platform winners and then the others.

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Saturday, May 03, 2014

2014 Cannes Check #5: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne


The master filmmakers brothers from Belgium are what we can consider Cannes regulars and belong to a very exclusive group of directors that have won twice the Palme d'Or with Rosetta (1999) and L'Enfant (2005). They also have won Best Screenplay with Le Silence de Lorna (2008) and Grand Prize of the Jury with Le gamin au vélo (2011).

This is their sixth time in competition and ninth time in Cannes, with a history that started in 1987 with the screening of their first feature film (before they did short and documentaries), Falsch in the Quinzaine, came back again in 1996 with La Promesse and twelve years after their first visit win their first Palme d'Or with Rosetta. From then on their films are premiered at the most prestigious film festival and his latest, Deux Jours, Une Nuit is no exception as is in this year competition.

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

63rd Festival de Cannes Un Certain Regard Lineup - Last


The final lineup has two additions and one film gone to the main competition. As expected Pablo Trapero's latest film got in, but the most pleasant surprise is the inclusion of the newest Jia Zhang-ke film that of course is must be seen for me.

Here are the eighteen (18) films in this section.

Aurora, Cristi Puiu, Romania, France, Switzerland, and Germany, 2010
(*) Blue Valentine, Derek Cianfrance, USA, 2009
Carancho, Pablo Trapero, Argentina, France and Chile, 2010
Chatroom, Hideo Nakata, UK, 2009
Film Socialisme (Socialism), Jean-Luc Godard, Switzerland, 2010
하하하 Ha Ha Ha, Hong Sangsoo, South Korea, 2010
Les Amours Imaginaires (Heartbeats), Xavier Dolan, Canada, 2010 (gay interest)
Life, Above All, Olivier Schmitz, Germany and South Africa, 2010
Los Labios, Ivan Fund and Santiago Loza, Argentina, 2010
Marţi, după Crăciun (Tuesday, After Christmas), Radu Muntean, Romania, 2009
(*) Octubre, Daniel Vega and Diego Vega, Peru, Venezuela and Spain, 2010
O Estranho Caso de Angelica (Angelica), Manoel de Oliveira, Portugal, Spain, France and Brazil, 2010
Pál Adrienn (Adrienn Pal), Ágnes Kocsis, Hungary, Netherlands, France and Austria, 2010
Rebecca H. (Return to the Dogs), Lodge Kerrigan, France and USA, 2009
R U There, David Verbeek, Taiwan, France and Netherlands, 2010
上海传奇 Hai Shang Chuan Qi (I Wish I Knew aka Shanghai Legend), Jia Zhang-ke, China and Netherlands, 2010 (of course, must be seen for me)
(*) Simon Werner a Disparu (Lights Out), Fabrice Gobert, France, 2010
(*) Udaan, Vikramaditya Motwane, India, 2010
Unter Dir Die Stadt (The City Below), Christoph Hochhäusler, Germany, 2010

(*) First film. Competing for the Caméra d'Or

Un Certain Regard Jury
President: Claire Denis, Director, France
Patrick Ferla, Reporter, Switzerland
Kim Dong-Ho, Director of Pusan Film Festival, South Korea
Helena Lindbland, Critic, Sweden
Serge Toubiana, General Director of the Cinémathèque Française, France

Two Romanian films, excellent!!! Also in this section there are some very interesting films, especially the French film with an American director and a story about another woman rocker (the other -not in Cannes- is The Runaways if you wonder) and I'm very curious about the film from Peru.

Check the final press release here and to read info, watch photos and videos go to the official site here. The above films information is as found at the official site; if there are any mistakes, will fix them with info from reliable sources.

Check info and trailers @ Movie On Companion

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Ye Che (Night Train)


Definitively the film style of the Chinese Sixth Generation of movie directors is breathtaking and this film by Diao Yi Nan is amazingly emotional just with images that can generate strong emotions in viewers. I was totally in awe while watching the fantastic compositions with mainly a blueish palette that complemented the story of loneliness, meaningless lives and a woman that’s trying to wake up from the nightmare that her life is.

This is only the second movie by Diao Yi Nan but definitively is one director that I’ll follow as I hope that his next movies have to be as magnificent as this one, especially because this movie has a mundane but impact full story told in the most awesome and beautiful way. Telling a mundane story perhaps makes him a little different from Jia Zhang ke, that by the way is one of many that Diao Yi Nan thanks in the movie.

What you will see as a story in the screen is about a female court baliff with her grim job not hardening her, even after years of dealing with women awaiting execution. Every weekend the widowed woman makes a long train ride to the city for the Good Luck Matchmaking dance where she has forgettable and unfulfilling encounters. But after she executes a condemned woman her life changes forever when she finds one man that perhaps will liberate her from her miserable life. Yes there is a narrative and that’s what you will see in the screen, but as I mentioned the film is about loneliness, meaningless lives and I’ll add a little about justice and living in western China.

Unbelievable breathtaking magnificent outdoor settings that Diao Yi Nan captures with truly awesome cinematography, outstanding frame compositions, great long takes, very little dialogues and a very slow pace that allows to see every detail and definitively intensifies the thrilling effect when the woman, Wu Hongyan, meets the man, Li Jun. Honestly, it’s impressively good. Bravo!

The film was screened in competition at the 2007 Cannes in the Un Certain Regard program and won three awards in the 2008 Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinena, for Cinematography, Best Actress and the Jury Special Award, also won the Grand Prix at the 2007 Warsaw International film fest.

Obviously I strongly recommend this film to all that enjoy the work of the Chinese Sixth Generation of film directors, to those that have seen the work of Jia Zhang ke and to those that are not familiar with any of the above I suggest to give it a try as the movie has a story that can be easily understood, but be aware that there is no traditional ending you will have to choose the end you wish.

Big Enjoy!!!

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

二十四城记/二十四城記 Er shi si cheng ji (24 City)


Among the so-called Sixth Generation of Chinese filmmakers Jia Zhang ke absolutely is my favorite director and storyteller of ‘ordinary’ Chinese citizens compelling stories, told in what I can call very-realistic style no matter if story is real-life or fiction, or if film is documentary, fiction or a mix of both genres like what happens in 24 City.

It’s very difficult to remain a spectator while watching Jia’s films as characters, story and storytelling technique drag you inside the film quite fast to hold you inside story/ stories until the very last scene where you will feel completely satisfied after visiting the life of some people that exemplifies how China society has changed in the last 50 -or so- years. Using interviewers that we will never see but will hear we will watch amazing performances by actors and non-actors (who tell their real-life story) in what feels and look like monologues with some moments looking directly to camera while others just representing life moments, but all telling their compelling stories that go from how they became factory 420 workers until how the third generation with a more modern lifestyle (very western alike) will live in multi-story buildings with luxury flats at what now is called 24 City and will be built in what used to be factory 420 land.

If you’re familiar with Jia’s films you will recognize the actors from the non-actors as actors have been in many of his films, plus you also have well known actress Joan Chen; but all have great performances, so good that will make you feel and live whatever they’re sharing with you, the viewer.

Have to admit that is not an easy-to-watch style as maybe for some film will look like a series of interviews with people telling some interesting and other not-so-interesting stories; but if you’re familiar with Jia’s films I’m sure you’ll easily grab that film is a lot more than style. So, if you are not familiar with director’s work I strongly suggest you watch some of his films before watching this one, like for example Still Life, Platform or Unknown Pleasures.

I loved the film as a very human tale of China’s transition from a very controlled society to a ‘less-controlled’ society, a change that is happening so fast that learning about it (in films and/or real-life news) will amaze you. Not long ago I was reading about how in 10 years China built a comprehensive (and very modern) infrastructure and how now their efforts will be addressed to create a very-comprehensive ‘human infrastructure’. I feel Jia’s 24 City documents how China was able to address physic infrastructure while not taking much care about ‘human infrastructure’ and imagine that in 10 or so years maybe Jia could tell how the ‘human infrastructure’ was developed. Be sure that if he does I’ll be looking forward to watch his film as a learning experience but most of all as a visual and narrative very complete cinematic experience.

Enjoy!!!

Watch trailer @MOC

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Zhantai (Platform)


Most of the time when you’re getting to know a director you usually start with a latest movie and then go to his previous work; then most of the time this experience allows you to realize how the director evolved as a filmmaker, as most of his later work is better than his earlier work. There are some exceptions like Tarkosky that all his work is unbelievably good. Anyway lately I was puzzled with Alexandr Sukorov earlier work, Mother and Son that I found was a cinematic masterpiece, greater than his later work.

Now I have the same thoughts about Jia Zhang-ke and this outstanding film that even when it has his peculiar storytelling and directing style, it is the most interesting film I have watched lately and from his later work.

It is truly amazing the way he was able to compress a decade of China history by telling the story of four young people. This is excellent storytelling with quotidian life moments (nothing really dramatic happens) shown, all done with images and situations that represent how China started to transform into a more open to the world society.

What truly called my attention is how clothes (or costumes if you wish) slowly changed from the typical uniform (that made all Chinese look so similar) to clothes that showed their individuality. Obviously the way they dressed was also accompanied by hairstyles, females using makeup and behavior. This is simply put, a truly outstanding experience if you’re interested in watching how the common became the individual, especially in a country where there are 56 (or so) different ethnic groups recognizable rapidly because the way they dress.

So in this movie you have a vision of a director about life from about the end of the 1970’s to the early 90’s that, as most of his movies is set in his home province, Shanxi, and the city of Fenyang and tells about a group of itinerant performers that initially perform under the cultural education program that basically exalts the country’s technological and social progress made possible by the Communist Revolution. Soon you’ll start to learn more about four performers, two men and two women, and slowly as the social reformation pickups the penetration into remote places, the troupe also change into a private enterprise indirectly reflecting the transition from a state-run economy towards privatization.

Another amazing and unusual storytelling technique is that actually this is a love story! The romance in this story is very realistic and slowly built throughout the years; and more unusual is that at least for the romance, it has a “happy” ending. Then the movie is also humorous in a direct (not oblique or sarcastic) way! Which is truly unusual, but highly effective way to stimulate viewers’ engagement in what on the surface looks like a fragmented and successive slice-of-life moments of the main four characters life.

As a movie I believe that this is a careful crafted movie that has all Zhang-ke style of later movies and some unexpected (for me at least) very art cinema techniques that I did not see in his later movies. Then sound has a particular and important role within the movie, and not only is used to enhance the oblique Chinese history storytelling, but also enhances the ambiance of the movie. Cinematography is spectacular with some breathtaking landscapes and eloquent recording of the transition that Fenyang, the city, had in the decade that totally emulates the clothes transition seen in the characters.

This masterpiece won the Netpac Award at the 2000 Venice Film Festival where also was an official competition film; it has many accolades, nominations and wins from critics, viewers, festivals and awards from all over the world.

I saw the movie a few days ago, but since I started writing this blog, this is the first time that immediately I had NO words for this movie. I needed time to digest everything I saw. I had a mixed feelings spontaneous reaction to this movie with any related to the quality of the movie and all related to what the story was all about and how it was told. I was wordless, as truly is a very intense experience that I strongly suggest -especially to some of my known serious cinema lovers- you have to live.

This definitively is a must be seen movie for all serious cinema lovers, but I imagine that most have already seen this amazing masterpiece from now more than before, truly outstanding master filmmaker. Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!

Big Enjoy!!!

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

67th Festival de Cannes Official Selection - Update 4


As this year information has been coming in drops let's update post with today's drop. The closing film is 1964 A Fistful of Dollars by Sergio Leone which will be screened after the awards ceremony on Saturday, May 24th and will be hosted by Quentin Tarantino.

Also in the same "drop" the announcement that the Cinéma de la Plage will screen the 2014 film by Frédéric Auburtin, United Passion. A film about football that will take place on Sunday May 18 with the presence of the director, Gérard Depardieu and Sepp Blatter, FIFA President. As a reminder, if you wish to learn all films in the Cinéma de la Plage section go here.

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Thursday, September 01, 2016

#TIFF16 Platform Selection


The directors-focused section is only in its second year, but has already lined up outstanding filmmakers with twelve (12) films from Canada, Australia, France, Bhutan, Belgium, USA, United Kingdom, and Netherlands.

“In its inaugural year in 2015, Platform successfully established itself as fundamental to the Festival, and we’re proud to present a dramatically thrilling and daring program for its second year,” said TIFF Artistic Director Cameron Bailey. This year, Platform takes on complex and bold narratives that range from a dark, twisted fantasy, a dramatic crime thriller, an existential illusion to the reinterpretation of a satirical tragedy, a raw coming-of-age story, and tales of revolutions, radicals, and revenge. The program will open with the international premiere of the powerful and topical drama Nocturama from critically acclaimed director-writer Bertrand Bonello.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Mi Guo (Lost Indulgence)


I’m glad that I saw this movie as now I know that not all young Chinese filmmakers belong to what has been called as the Sixth Generation so now I grasp more style elements that belong to them and that are not necessarily present in other directors. This movie has incredible visuals of urban settings near the Yangtze river, but as far as I’m starting to understand that’s all that has in common with the real directors of the Sixth Generation.

In the movie of Jia Zhang ke, for example, the storytelling is attention grabber almost instantly even when maybe you do not care or are interested in the story, you end up involved by his total storytelling style. This does not happen win Yibai Zhang and Mi Guo. I was not really interested in the story as since the very beginning and with my wild imagination I exactly guessed the key elements of the “thrilling” part of the story and the “coming of age” part of the story became very tedious quite fast. In my opinion Zhang does not do much to grab viewers attention or interest as watching amazing images is not enough to sustain the movie. The story is about a young woman that comes to live with a mother and her son after she was in a taxi accident; the woman’s husband drove the taxi.

I won’t spend many words with this movie, as is one that I do not recommend because the director lacks storytelling skills.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Day Minus One at Cannes 2014


In about 24 hours we will have already watched the red carpet and as of this very moment when I'm writing this, we will be waiting for the Opening Ceremony to start. But as we know tomorrow starts a lot earlier with the press screening, press photocall and press conference of the opening film, as well as with the arrival of the "celebrities" at Nice airport and their hotels.

This year has been unusual as most of the Cannes official site info was not released one week before the festival begins but today, few hours ago finally movies info was released and yes I have been watching movie clips from all films that have them, as there are a trio of films in competition that still have no videos, Leviathan, Sils Maria and The Search. Also the iphone/ipad app was not updated until today. No idea yet why the digital coverage came too late but hope we will learn the reason eventually. Sigh.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

唐山大地震 Tangshan dadizhen (Aftershock)


Since 2010 Cannes I heard about this film but with the English name of Aftershock honestly I paid no attention to the film and with a literal translation of Tangshan Earthquake I was not going to be a masochist to watch an earthquake film when I actually lived a real -massive-deadly one. Plus knowing that was the first IMAX movie made outside USA didn’t add to my interest as I imagined the end-product was going to be a mess. So I forgot about it. You have no idea how WRONG I was.

All right there is an earthquake in the film at the beginning -good special effects- but my skeptical (and scary) me tried to laugh with the special effects and was repeating to myself: is not real, are special effects. The only thing missing was a small (or big) real earthquake (every day there are many where I live now, but not all are perceptible to humans) and I know I’ll be running out of where I was watching the film. My skepticism didn’t last long as without noticing I was already absolutely inside the movie living the earthquake, the aftermath plus the narrative kept me inside for the entire movie feeling all kind of emotions, with my 5 senses in complete motion, and yes, I cried like a baby a few times. When was over I was exhausted but absolutely felt that I watched a Great Movie that moved me beyond my wildest imagination. Extraordinary and outstanding film by Feng Xiaogang, a director I was not familiar with as such but that I recalled -after watching photo- as an actor in crazy Kung Fu Hustle.

Basically film tells the story of three family members that survived the 1976 Tangshan earthquake, two very young twins and their mother. The uniquely emotional story goes from 1976 up to 2008 when the Sichuan earthquake happens. In between those 32 years you will see –and live- a very moving and compelling story of Yuan Ni, the mother, Da Feng, the son, and Fang Deng, the daughter. Just this story is more than worth to watch the movie but there is also another story in the background, shown so flawlessly entangled with the family story that becomes very natural: the story of China’s transformation over the past 40 years with all its political, economical and social changes. For sure the best China recent history movie I have ever watch and I have watched quite a few that do the same –one front story with a secondary China history in the back- but this one is outstanding.

As a movie is superb with flawless performances by young and older actors (that I suspect many were non actors, as many extras were real-life 1976 earthquake survivors), cinematography that allows you to live the disaster but after absolutely complements and integrates to the drama (and trauma) as well as camera moves and framing evolve with the times the narrative is telling and goes from classic compositions to more modern storytelling techniques. As a matter of fact tech specs in the movie are very interesting, but won’t bore you with how great they are.

I hate they named the film Aftershock in English as does not allow/facilitate many that love Chinese cinema to realize that this film is not Hollywood, is not a “special effects” disaster movie, and definitively there is no aftershock (strict word definition) after the 1976 earthquake. This is great Chinese cinema as good as many extraordinary films from better-known to me directors like Jia Zhang ke or Zhang Yimou, for example. But I found one very-important difference; this powerful film looks and feels with more universal appeal than any other good Chinese cinema films I have seen, this is a film that world audiences could be exposed to and they could cheer as a good film. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if always ‘strange’ Academy members are moved and give this grand epic film the top award in 2011 as the film truly deserves it. But you never know with them.

You cannot enjoy or love this film for the story, but is a very satisfying and complete cinematic experience that I know will move many and it is obvious but I strongly recommend it as must be seen for everyone in the world. Still, I know that in-between the two earthquakes the film evolves like great Chinese cinema which is unfamiliar territory for many and wonder if they could appreciate the film to the full greatness. Nevertheless I imagine that if you’re not familiar with good Chinese cinema you could be moved by the story and maybe will realize how great Chinese cinema can be.

Big Enjoy!!!

Watch trailer @MOC

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Mang Shan (Blind Mountain)


This very interesting Yang Li film is set in the early 90's and tells an amazing story about an urban university educated young woman tricked into a fake job that make her go to a remote small village where she's purchased as a wife for a peasant. What follows is her shock, her repulsion, trying to escape, being abused, etc. etc. until a great not expected abrupt finale.

The film style recalls a lot the look of the Fifth generation of Chinese directors (like for example Zhang Yimou) and a lot the work of the Sixth generation directors (for example Jia Zhang ke) suggesting to be a film of transition between lyric narrative and bare raw-reality, which makes it quite interesting if you enjoy slow paced films, with good indoor and outdoor cinematography, absence of music, plus actor and non-actors excellent performances.

The way the director chose to tell the story is also interesting as it's not really emotional and you don't necessarily empathize with the main character during a long while; but suddenly you will and at the strong finale you will feel a plethora of contradictory feelings. Great storytelling!

A film that I strongly recommend especially to women from all over the world as even when most critics talk about China politics in the story, for me definitively is not about politics, is an universal women story that with or without variations happens all over the world.

The movie has been honored with awards at festivals like the 2007 Bratislava and 2008 Istambul fests, all well deserved honors for a movie that slowly, very slowly uncovers a thought provoking story.

A must be seen for those that enjoy Chinese cinema and compelling women stories.

Enjoy!!!

Watch trailer @ Movie On

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

60th Film Festival Locarno


Here are the movies that were announced today.

INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION


Ai No Yokan (The Rebirth), Japan, Masahiro Kobayashi
Boys of Tomorrow, South Korea, Noh Dong-seok
Capitaine Achab (Captain Achab), France-Sweden, Philippe Ramos
Contre Toute Esperance, Canada, Bernard Emond
Extraordinary Rendition, UK, Jim Threapleton
Freigesprochen, Austria-Luxembourg, Peter Payer
Fruher Oder Spater (Sooner or Later), Germany, Ulrike von Ribbeck
Fuori dalle corde, Switzerland-Italy, Fulvio Bernasconi
Haiti Cherie, Italy, Claudio Del Punta
Joshua, USA, George Ratliff
Ladrones, Spain, Jaime Marques
Las Vidas Posibles, Argentina-Germany, Sandra Gugliotta
Lo Mejor de Mi, Spain, Roser Aguilar
La Maison Jaune, France-Algeria, Hakkar Amor
Memories, South Korea, Eugene Green, Pedro Costa, Harun Farocki
O Ca Pacete Dourado, Portugal, Jorge Cramez
Restule Tacere, Romania, Nae Caranfil
Slipstream, USA, Anthony Hopkins
Sous les toits de Paris, France, Hiner Saleem

Main competition jury are Swiss-French actress Irene Jacob, actor Bruno Todeschini, Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhang-ke, Brazilian filmmaker Walter Carvalho, German filmaker Romuald Karmakar and Italian filmmaker Saverio Costanzo.

PIAZZA GRANDE

The Bourne Ultimatum, USA, Paul Greengrass
Death at a Funeral, USA-Netherlands-Germany-UK, Frank Oz
The Drummer, Hong Kong-Taiwan-Germany, Kenneth Bi
Hairspray, USA, Adam Shankman
1 journee, Switzerland-France, Jacob Berger
Mio Fratello E Figlio Unico (My Brother Is an Only Child), Italy-France, Daniele Luchetti
Vexille, Japan, Fumihiko Sori - This is the Openning Film
Le Voyage du Ballon Rouge (Flight of the Red Balloon), France, Hou Hsiao-hsien
Waitress, USA, Adrienne Shelly
Winners and Losers, France-USA, Lech Kowalski - This is the Closing Film
Chicago 10, USA, Brett Morgen
Knocked Up, USA, Judd Apatow
Nichtsals Gespenseter (Nothing but Ghosts), Germany, Martin Gypkens
Planet Terror, USA, Robert Rodriguez
Vogliamo Anche le Rose, Italy, Alina Marazzi
1408, USA, Mikael Hafstrom

FILMMAKERS OF THE PRESENT COMPETITION

An Seh (Those Three), Iran, Naghi Nemati
Comme a Ostende, Belgium, Delphine Lehericey
Estrellas, Argentina, Federico Leon, Marcos Martinez
Guillaume et les Sortileges, France, Pierre Leon
Imatra, Italy, Corso Salani
Japan Japan, Israel, Lior Shamriz
Juizo, Brazil, Maria Augusta Ramos
Lo Bueno de Llorar, Spain, Matias Bize
Loren Cass, USA, Chris Fuller
Never Sleeps, France, Philippe Flechaire, Benoit Falize, Jeremy Boury
Nirakar Chhaya (Shadows Formless), India, Ashish Avikuntha
Nos Vies Privees," Canada, Denis Cote
Nuage, France, Sebastien Betbeder
Nu Te Supara, Dar... (Ne Te Fache Pas), Romania, Adina Pintilie
Phantom Love, USA, Nina Menkes
Tagliare le Parti in Grigio, Italy, Vittorio Rifranti
Tejut (Milky Way), Hungary, Benedek Fliegauf
Tussenstand, Netherlands, Mijke de Jong
Xia Wu gou Jiao (Mid-Afternoon Barks), China, Zhang Yuedong

ICI ET AILLEURS

La Capture, Canada-France, Carole Laure - fiction about violence against women
Crime and Punishment, China-France, Zhao Liang - documentary shot in the border between North Korea and China, follows young policemen on their daily rounds.
La Danse de l'Enchanteresse, France, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Brigitte Chataignier - ballet masters in Southern India
Dutti der Riese, Switzerland, Martin Witz - about the founder of the Swiss supermarket chain Migros
Io non sono un moderato, Italy, Andrea Nobile - follows Nobel Prize laureate Dario Fo as he campaigns in the Milan municipal elections.
Il pianto della statua, Italy, Elisabetta Sgarbi -forays into history
Morceaux de Conversations avec Jean-Luc Godard, France, Alain Fleischer
Preussisch Gangstar, Germany, Irma-Kinga Stelmach, Bartosz Werner - youth unemployement Le Retour des Cinephiles, France, Louis Skorecki - reflections about cinema
Sally Gross -The Pleasure of Stillness, USA, Albert Mysles - about a famous choreographer
Shake the Devil Off, Switzerland, Peter Entell - set in New Orleans after Katrina an Afro-American priest is fighting to prevent the closure of his Saint-Augustin parish.
UPA! Una pelicula Argentina, Argentina, Tamae Garateguy, Santiago Giralt, Camila Toker - a parody poking fun at Argentine cinema's New Wave.
Wierszalin, USA-Poland, Francesco Carrozzini - a Polish theater company with a charismatic director

The 2007 Leopard of Honor goes to veteran Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien, whose Flight of the Red Balloon, shot in Paris and starring Juliette Binoche, will be shown in the Piazza.

The Raimondo Rezzonico Prize goes to Argentine producer Lita Stantic. As a tribute to her, a special screening will be devoted to Lucrecia Martel's La Cienaga.

The Locarno Excellence Award goes to Michel Piccoli. A Variety Masterclass with Michel Piccoli will be held at the Forum.

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Saturday, March 17, 2018

2018 Cannes Possible Films - The Buzz


As happens every single year, Cannes buzz starts during Berlinale and gets louder when Berlinale ends.  Even do been following the buzz since then this year haven't post anything as some of you guessed right, my life has changed and now it's not easy to keep on writing for you, loyal readers.  But no matter how many changes have happened or will occur, Cannes is Cannes for me and have to (or at least will try to) write my regular posts about the buzz, my wish list and all the other stuff done in the previous years.

No, this is not my Wish List but the usual compilation of possible films that could make it to Cannes which usually do in February but well, I'm doing it a month later and by now most industry publications have done their own lists, so it's not a novelty but will be a lot easier to make it, lol.

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