Aug 25, 2016
A film by Ciro Guerra
2015/ Columbia/ 125 minutes /
The ravages of colonialism cast a dark pall over the stunning South American landscape in “Embrace of the Serpent,” the latest visual astonishment from the gifted Colombian writer-director Ciro Guerra. Charting two parallel journeys deep into the Amazon, each one undertaken by a European explorer and a local shaman, this bifurcated narrative delivers a fairly comprehensive critique of the destruction of indigenous cultures at the hands of white invaders.
“Impossible to describe in words its beauty and splendor,” the Dutch explorer Theodor von Martins wrote of the Colombian Amazon in 1909, and no words are needed in light of David Gallego’s majestic lensing, his widescreen compositions capturing a lush rainforest setting in sharp, exquisitely subtle shades of monochrome.
The film’s central figure is A young shaman named Karamakate, last survivor of the Cohiuano, an Amazonian tribe killed off by the rubber barons. He is no innocent, noble savage but an angry, morally complex individual with a heart full of grief. It’s sometime during the early 1900s . Theo a German explorer with his local guide is searching for the Yakuna, an exceedingly rare flower that could heal him of his sickness with the help of Karamakate.
Every so often, the film jumps 40 years into the future to join a rugged American named Evan as he enlists an older Karamakate to retrace his steps on a hunt for the same flower plant — snaking together these parallel journeys into a mesmeric call and response. Towards the end the film moves to mystical higher ground, as abhorrence expands into awe. Shot in dreamy black and white, spoken in nine separate languages, and told with an unerring devotion to authenticity this film is a fitting requiem for the ravages of white hegemony (source: Internet)
Colombian filmmaker Ciro Guerra wove magical realism into stories of his native country and its people into a trio of award-winning features, including the Oscar-nominated "Embrace of the Serpent" (2015). Born February 6, 1981 in the town of Rio de Oro, Colombia, Guerra studied film and television at the National University of Colombia before directing a trio of shorts - the live action "Silence" (1998) and "Alma" (2001) and the animated short "Intento" (2002) - and "Documental Siniestro: Jairo Pinilla, Cineasta" ("Sinister Documentary: Jairo Pinilla, Filmmaker," 1999), which focused on the eponymous Colombian cult director.
In 2004, Guerra released his first feature-length directorial effort, "Wandering Shadows," a drama about a disabled man whose Dickensian life in a Bogota barrio is improved by a mysterious stranger. "Shadows" won the Films in Progress award from the San Sebastian International Film Festival, and paved the way for his second feature, "Los viajes del viento" ("The Wind Journeys," 2009), with Colombian musician Marciano Martinez as a folk musician who embarks on a journey to return his accordion - an instrument supposedly won in a duel with the Devil - to his former master. Another critical success, the film earned Guerra the Award of the City of Rome at the 2009 Cannes Film
Shot on location in a remote corner of the Amazon River in Colombia, and photographed in stark black-and-white imagery, "Embrace of the Serpent" concerned a four-decade search for a legendary plant with alleged healing powers conducted by a shaman - the last member of his tribe - and two scientists. Based on the diaries of the real scientists, "Serpent" was hailed by international critics, and earned a slew of laurels, from a 2016 Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film to the Art Cinema award at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and the Alfred P. Sloan Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
Jul 13, 2016
Konangal pays tribute to the great Iranian master
THE WIND WILL CARRY US
A film by Abbas Kiarostami
1999 /Iran / 113 minutes
"We're heading nowhere," a disembodied voice complains as a battered jeep crawls up a winding road through harsh, scrubby terrain. So begins The Wind Will Carry Us—one of the great films by Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami.
A busy video producer/engineer Behzad from Tehran is sent to a remote Iranian village to capture an obscure burial ceremony. But the 'subject' of his film , Mrs. Malek is ill, not dead, forcing the man and his production crew to slow down, linger in the village, and mingle with the local families. Along the way, the engineer encounters a radically different lifestyle than his own, with different priorities. In doing so, his perspective on the natural world is changed.
Behzad recites a poem in the film , a poem by Furugh Farrukhzad (1935-67), one of the most extraordinary Persian or Iranian female poets of the twentieth century, which gives the film its title and which treats the central conflict in the film, “life in the face of death.” In Iran, people at all social levels know poetry and quote it to each other constantly, for all sorts of reasons Poetry and Sufism. Both are useful coordinates for anyone trying to get a fix on the intent behind this gorgeous, semi-opaque film, The Wind Will Carry Us
This film is remarkable in its sustained pace, perspective, and ability to focus so sharply on a single character without revealing too much of that character, allowing him to retain a sense of mystery and delightful ambiguity. In the title sequence of The Wind Will Carry Us absences define presences in numerous ways. In fact, many major characters in the film -- including Mrs. Malek, Youssef, and all three members of Behzad's crew -- are never seen. Most of the sequence unfolds in semidarkness.
The Wind Will Carry Us offers an intricately constructed spatial world that's as breathtakingly beautiful, as various, and as cosmically evocative as a Brueghel landscape -- a world teeming with diverse kinds of life and activity -- and it teases us whenever we want to get to know this world better, seducing and evading us at the same time. If you're open to the possibility that the world is bigger than you typically give it credit for, and you're willing to invest some effort in letting go of your usual way of seeing, this film will be a revelation for you. (From Internet)
June 22, 1940 - July 4, 2016
Abbas Kiarostami, the Iranian filmmaker who is widely considered one of the world's greatest living directors has written and directed some 41 movies since the early 1970s, and has been compared by critics to such titans of international cinema as Ingmar Bergman and Akira Kurosawa.
In her survey of recent achievements in film, Susan Sontag declared, “Iranian cinema has been the great revelation of the last decade.” Surely one of those largely responsible for this phenomenon is the screenwriter and director Abbas Kiarostami. Few new films draw comparisons to classics like Mr. Bergman's "Wild Strawberries," Michelangelo Antonioni's "Red Desert" or Jean-Luc Godard's "Contempt." Mr. Kiarostami's movies not only evoke such parallels; they also seem to infuse the beleaguered art-film traditions with fresh urgency.
Born in Tehran in 1940, Kiarostami worked as a commercial artist and children’s book illustrator until he was invited to lead the department of cinema at the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults. Given this background, it’s not surprising that many of his projects feature children. Kiarostami is a graduate of Tehran University’s Faculty of Fine Arts in Painting
Mr. Kiarostami's own filmmaking began at the end of the 1960's when the loose-knit movement later labeled the Iranian New Wave was just gaining steam. One hallmark of Mr. Kiarostami's work is its esthetic consistency. "Bread and Alley," the first short he made, in 1970, has qualities that distinguish his films up to "Taste of Cherry": a lyrical but concrete feel for the particulars of place and visual atmosphere; a way of eliciting strikingly natural performances from nonactors; and stories in which an anecdotal surface disguises a rich substratum of philosophical, allegorical or social concerns.
Mr. Kiarostami did not consider leaving the country during the Iranian revolution of 1978-79, he said, "because of a revolution going on in my own house." His own marriage was failing. Pierre Rissient, an executive with Ciby 2000, the French company that handles worldwide sales of "Taste of Cherry," says that Mr. Kiarostami "proceeds the way the Greek philosophers like Heraclitus do, or Chinese figures like Laotzu, or Japanese Zen poets like Basho -- the poetry is completely linked with philosophy."
The protagonists of his films are the ordinary people who surround us. Their lives represent no more and no less of what constitute ours. Their presence in films provides us with an opportunity to think about the everydayness of our existence and relationships; an opportunity to see them as a mirror that reflects the depth of our human feelings and thoughts.
Abbas Kiarostami's films seek to uncover the deepest human emotions in the most ordinary events in life. His works are a demonstration of the significance and relevance of these emotions to the restless, captive, and tormented individuals of the twentieth century.
Everything in Kiarostami's films speaks to the matter at hand. His films direct the spectator toward central human problems. He has deeply-held ideas and feelings. He wants to say certain things about life. So he doesn't waste his time or ours. Nothing has been done merely for effect, to impress the spectator, to enhance the director's reputation. There aren't so many artists like that around, unfortunately.
Kiarastomi passed away in Paris on 4th July thus year. He was later buried in a private ceremony in northern Tehran. Thousands of Iranians bid tearful farewell to their country’s greatest filmmaker.
Jun 15, 2016
A film by Pavel Lungin
2006/ Russia/ 112 minutes
5.45 pm / Perks Mini Theater
Russian Orthodox monk Anatoly lives on a remote island in the frigid White Sea, where he is tormented by guilt from a cowardly “sin” committed years ago under Nazi coercion. Anatoly shovels coal briquettes and pushes wheelbarrows across rickety planks to repent for his iniquities. He considers himself as “stained” by sin, and accordingly neglects his body till it is as unkempt as his soul.
Anatoly doesn’t bathe (despite his soot-coated accommodations), much to the dismay of his fellow monks. The sailor-turned-saint hopes said reason will cleanse him of sin when his time to leave the world does come. Other monks—including superior Father Filaret—find Anatoly an obnoxious prankster who speaks in riddles and “cultivates superstition” among laypeople.
The Island is a study of forgiveness (of oneself and others) whose title—poet John Donne might agree—references one man’s inner isolation as well as his geographic remoteness. And while arctic environs are harsh, director Pavel Lounguine collages some beautiful imagery (all symbolic) here—from craggy rocks and lichen-covered hills to raging waters and charred timbers. (From Internet)
Pavel Semyonovich Lungin s a Russian film director. Lungin worked primarily as a scriptwriter until given the opportunity to direct Taxi Blues at age 40. Lungin was awarded the Best Director Prize at 1990 Cannes Film Festival for the film Taxi Blues starring Pyotr Mamonov. That same year he took up residence in France, while making films in and about Russia with French producers. Two years later, his next film Luna Park would also compete at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival. In 1993 he was a member of the jury at the 18th Moscow International Film Festival.
Lungin’s last film Ostrov (The Island, 2006) is a penetrating drama of sublimation of the soul. According to the official site of Lungin Studio, in the mid October the film-director finished another feature film under the title Cruelty. In 2007 Lungin is going to release Vetka Sireni (Lilacs), a life story of Sergei Rachmaninoff.
Jun 1, 2016
A film by Ken Loach
1969 /UK / 110 mins
5th June 2016
5.45 pm / Perks Mini theater
Director Ken Loach’s masterpiece Kes is the moving and stark portrait of a young boy, Billy, who finds, befriends, tames, and trains a kestrel, aptly named Kes. This boy and this bird, and this film, do not attain, nor do they even seek to begin with, the sort of sentimentality that a movie about a child and an animal can typically denote. It’s much more than that, much more honest than that.
The film follows Billy as he tries to make his way through the grim and at times quite aggressive world of his downtrodden, working-class English town, seeking solace in his time with Kes, finding a refuge from the hostilities of family strife, torment at school, and an otherwise stagnant existence; shots of the bird soaring freely through the overcast skies stand as sharp contrasts and perhaps as sources of envy for the boy who seems to find abuse and confinement at every turn.
Contrasting the desolation and spiritual poverty of Billy's oppressively confining environment against his liberating, almost meditative ritual of kestrel training in the open field, Loach creates a sublimely transitory, yet indelible image of natural communion, existential purpose, and transcendence.
Kenneth Loach (born June 17, 1936, Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England) British film director whose works are considered landmarks of social realism. Loach studied law at St. Peter’s College, Oxford, but while there he became interested in acting. After graduating in 1957, he spent two years in the Royal Air Force and then began a career in the dramatic arts.
Loach continued to address social issues on television and later in theatrical releases as well. In the 1960s Loach directed several docudramas for a television series called The Wednesday Play. One of the productions, Cathy Come Home (1966), explored the disintegration of a working-class family and examined the intertwined issues of unemployment and homelessness. In doing so, it helped bring the discussion of homelessness into the British mainstream. He has been honored with awards and praises for all over the world ever since.
One can but admire Loach for relentlessly sticking to his task, repeatedly championing the underdog by revealing the hardships and struggles of those at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Few directors have been as consistent in their themes and their filmic style, or as principled in their politics, as Loach has in a career spanning five decades. Without doubt he is Britain's foremost political filmmaker.
May 18, 2016
A film by Chaitanya Tamhane
2014 / Maharashtra/ Marathi / 116 minutes
3 Supplements (5 minutes each) on ‘COURT’ will be screened
One in the beginning and rest after the film
A study in class, bureaucracy, and censorial stupidity, young film maker Chaitanya Tamhane's debut feature, Court, plants viewers in the plastic chairs of an Indian court of law as 69-year-old protest singer Narayan Kamble (Vira Sathidar) is tried for a crime he didn't commit.
A well- to-do activist lawyer (Vivek Gomber, who has also produced the film) represents Kamble in court while the public prosecutor (Geetanjali Kulkarni) fights tooth and nail to ensure he stays in jail. At one point she even cites archaic laws to claim that the elderly singer is a threat to the sovereignty of India. The defense lawyer knows very well that these laws are antiquated and irrelevant, but apart from being patient and carrying on the fight, there is precious little he can do.
Beyond criticism of India’s judiciary, the director implicitly implicates the country’s education system, which creates professionals skilled in rote learning yet completely lacking in independent thinking. Where the trial scenes use the legal system’s ponderous rules to hang itself, sequences showing the lawyers outside working hours reveal, via exceptionally nuanced observations, the sorts of influences and lives led by the two sides.
“Court” ends up being a great courtroom drama: it treats the audience as both witness and jury and lays out a sprawling argument for them to ponder over. It’s hard to shake this one off long after the credits have rolled.
Born in Mumbai in 1987, Chaitanya Tamhane is an English literature graduate from Mithibai College of Arts. He has written and directed a feature-length documentary titled FOUR STEP PLAN (2006), chronicling the trends of plagiarism in Indian cinema. His first full-length play as a writer-director, Grey Elephants in Denmark opened to critical acclaim in Mumbai and had several successful shows at prestigious venues. SIX STRANDS (2010), his first fictional short film was screened at various international film festivals including Rotterdam International Film Festival, Clermont Ferrand International Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Slamdance, and many others.
Chaitanya’s debut feature film, COURT (2014), premiered at the 71st Venice Film Festival, where it won the Lion of the Future award for best debut and the Orizzonti award for Best film. Since then, the film has gone on to win 16 international awards at various prestigious film festivals. He was recently featured in Forbes India‘s list of 30 young Indian achievers under the age of 30.
COURT / Feature / 2014
SIX STRANDS / Short / 2010
FOUR STEP PLAN / Documentary / 2006
Apr 19, 2016
WINGS OF DESIRE
A film by Wim Wenders
1987/ Germany/ 129 min
24.04.16 /5.45pm / Perks mini Theater
Wim Wender's celestial tribute to life, love, Berlin, filmmaking, angels and the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, among many things. .Seen through the (black-and-white) lens of veteran French cinematographer Henri Alekan and reflected in the gentle eyes of Wenders' star angel Bruno Ganz, "Wings" is a soaring vision that appeals to the senses and the spirit.
The angels in “Wings of Desire” are not merely guardian angels, placed on Earth to look after human beings. They are witnesses, and they have been watching for a long time--since the beginning. The film evokes a mood of reverie, elegy and meditation. It doesn’t rush headlong into plot, but has the patience of its angels. It suggests what it would be like to see everything but not participate in it.
We follow two angels: Damiel (Bruno Ganz) and Cassiel (Otto Sander). They listen to the thoughts of an old Holocaust victim, and of parents worried about their son, and of the passengers on trams and the people in the streets; it’s like turning the dial and hearing snatches of many radio programs. the angel Damiel decides that he must become human.He falls in love with the trapeze artist.
"Wings," like most Heaven-and-Earth movies, ties up its resolution with romantic ribbons but, in Wenders' eyes, such a conclusion is the crowning union of life's dual opposites, the sensual and the spiritual, German's East and West -- as well as its Nazi past and occupied and uncertain present . . . It's also one of the best endings you can hope for in a movie. And "Wings" is one of the best movies you can see. (Source: Internet)
Born in Dusseldorf in Germany just after the end of World War II, German film director Wim Wenders grew up with an insatiable appetite for movies. After studying medicine and philosophy in his native country, Wenders took up art study in and then returned to his homeland to attend Munich's Academy of Film and Television. Wenders began his career writing film criticism before directing a few short subjects of his own; in 1970 he and several other young filmmakers formed a production-distribution firm, Filmverlag Der Autoren. Summer in the City (1970) was Wenders' first feature film, but it was his 1973 adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter that first brought him attention outside Germany.
Wenders began his "road movie" cycle, inspired by such American pictures as Easy Rider (1970) and Two Lane Blacktop (1971). Three films in this genre followed in quick succession: Alice in the Cities (1974), The Wrong Move (1975) and Kings of the Road (1976).
Wenders' American-financed films Hammett (1980) and Paris, Texas (1983) were remarkable in their evocation of time and place.Wenders' return to German filmmaking was rewarded in 1987 with the release of Wings of Desire.
Apr 7, 2016
Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem
A film by Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz
2014 / Israel/ 115 minutes
5.45 pm / 10th April / Perks Mini Theater
“Gett, The Trial of Viviane Amsalem” is the story of a woman wronged by men and God, if finally, in a sense, redeemed by cinema. Gett is the Hebrew word for a legal divorce document in Jewish law. This is the ordeal of a woman’s attempt to divorce her husband under the strict religious laws of Israel. There’s no such thing as civil divorce in Israel, where, even today, the termination of a marriage cannot be granted — or even enforced, regardless of grounds — without the husband’s consent.
Shot entirely in the limited space of a courtroom and using uniquely subjective visual aesthetic, “Gett, The Trial of Viviane Amsalem” is Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz’s third feature film as a directing team. Ronit Elkabetz also stars in the film as Viviane, a character they developed based on their mother’s life.
Viviane — brought to powerful life by Ronit Elkabetz with currents of humility and hauteur — is at once a fleshed-out character, a political metaphor, a shout to heaven and earth. Despite a part requiring long periods of silence, her character’s emotions are as visible — and as changeable — as clouds passing in the sky.
The film depicts the last two years of struggle during which the adamant three-rabbi court tries every means to convince her to remake the couple. The action takes place almost entirely in two rooms, a Jerusalem Bet Din (Rabbinical Court) and its waiting room. Despite the seemingly uncinematic nature of this inert, even claustrophobic scenario, the film mesmerizes, utterly. It’s at once a feminist film, obviously, and a larger story about diminishing the ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) authority and influence in Israeli life.
Ronit Elkabetz & Shlomi Elkabetz
Israeli film makers sister-brother duo Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz have made three films together.
Ronit Elkabetz actress / film maker was the oldest of four children, with three younger siblings who were all brothers. Her younger brother Shlomi, became a director whom she worked with on their trilogy on the life of Viviane Amsalem.Her acting career started in 1991. n May 2010, Ronit Elkabetz received the France Culture award at the Cannes Film Festival, a prize awarded to filmmakers for quality work and social involvement. The judges described her as a "woman teeming with passion and erotica, who can even play the queen of Egypt
Shlomi Elkabetz was born in 1972 in Be'er Sheva,Israel. After completing his military service, he decided he wanted to work in film. He traveled in the Far East and went on to New York, where he remained for seven years. He wrote prose and plays, and also acted; at a certain stage he and Ronit began to write the screenplay for "To Take a Wife," incorporating into it autobiographical elements. In 2000 he returned to Israel. The film, which came out five years later, won various prizes, including the Audience Award at the Venice Film Festival.