While waiting for his wife in a busy restaurant, a middle-aged lawyer named Claudio (Grandinetti) is accosted by a nervous-looking stranger. He demands Claudio give up his table so he can order, which Claudio reluctantly acquiesces to. But this is regional Argentina, in 1975, and although the coup d’état that ousted Isabel Perón won’t happen for another few months, the threat of violence is palpable. Their quarrel doesn’t stop here, and things turn ugly when Claudio begins psychoanalysing the man’s behaviour. He responds violently, ranting loudly about Nazis before being forcibly ejected.
Painstakingly assembled from hours of raw footage, Sergei Loznitsa’s The Trial chronicles the court case of several scientists accused of plotting a coup against the government of the USSR. Continuing the director’s preoccupation with Soviet history, the footage was originally shot in 1930, and depicts one of Joseph Stalin’s first ever show trials. Hearings like these would eventually become an important agitational tool of Stalin’s Central Committee, but history often obscures as much as it reveals, and even though the events that unfold are real...
“Right now, this festival is a small seed, but hopefully in 100 years it’ll grow into a huge oak,” announced festival organiser Ingibjörg Halldórsdóttir during the closing ceremony of the inaugural edition of IceDocs. Despite being only 40 minutes away from Reykjavík, Ingibjörg’s hometown of Akranes has largely missed out on the tourist boom that has fuelled the Icelandic economy. But hopefully that’s about to change, as this former fishing town in Western Iceland is now home to the country’s first-ever documentary film festival.
Wrote about High Life for The Skinny's Mid-year report.
For a film set on a half-abandoned spacecraft, Claire Denis’ sci-fi thriller is more about the uses and abuses of the human body than quantum physics. Guinea pigs for a series of fertility experiments, the film follows a crew of convicts on a mission to a nearby black hole.
A brooding body horror, there’s nothing glamorous about Denis’ depiction of space exploration, with the ship becoming a pressure cooker of sexual desires and bodily urges. However, behind the salacious violence and kinky eroticism lies a sorrowful tale about what it
“I’m quite a serious person really, but sometimes I do stupid things.” Corneliu Porumboiu is in a confessional mood when we sit down at this year’s Transilvania International Film Festival to discuss his latest work, The Whistlers. Over the last 15 years, Romanian cinema has achieved international recognition thanks to the success of realist New Wave filmmakers like Cristi Puiu, Cristian Mungiu, and Călin Peter Netzer, but Porumboiu has always been something of an outlier, with his deceptively simple films unique for their absurdist sense of humour.
Feature: '15 years on, the Romanian New Wave is still a force to be reckoned with; a report from the Transilvania Film Festival'
his year marks the 30th anniversary of the bloody revolution that toppled Nicolae Ceaușescu’s dictatorship. A lot has changed in Romania since then, yet stories about his repressive regime and the socio-economic convulsions that followed continue to dominate Romanian cinema. However, despite the continued success of realist directors like Cristi Puiu, Cristian Mungiu and Călin Peter Netzer, there was a noticeable appetite for change at this year’s Transylvania International Film Festival.
My contribution to the zine, Sojourns; Encounters Outside the Cinema. A print publication featuring fifteen film critics reporting from film festivals around the world - writing about anything but the movies. I wrote about going to watch Benfica whilst in Lisbon for Indielisboa, and what it was like to experience the city through its football culture.
Hollywood adaptations of foreign language films are often little more than craven cash grabs. However, if you consider the scarcity of leading roles for women over 50, you can excuse Julianne Moore for asking Chilean director Sebastian Lelio to remake his critically acclaimed 2013 film Gloria so she could star in it.
“I tell the story as it happened. I don’t want to make things up, I don’t need to. What is happening in China is more absurd, and more inconceivable, than any fiction.” Chinese artist and philosopher Gao Ertai is referring to the tiny notes he hid in the lining of his clothes whilst confined in Jiabiangou, a re-education camp used during the Anti-Rightist Campaign in the years from 1957 to 1961. But he could also be describing the work of renowned Chinese filmmaker Wang Bing.
Dominga Sotomayor’s coming-of-age drama Too Late to Die Young is perhaps best read as an allegory for a nation emerging from 17 years of political isolation. Set during the summer of 1990, as Chile was waking up to a new and uncertain future, the film follows 16-year-old Sofía (Hernández) and her family as they start a new life in a secluded commune in the foothills of the Andes.
Forty years ago Andrei Tarkovsky completed the final film he would make in the Soviet Union: his seminal science-fiction drama Stalker. A loose adaptation of the Strugatsky brothers’ Roadside Picnic, Stalker’s synopsis is remarkably simple: a guide — known as a Stalker — takes a Writer and a Professor into a forbidden Zone in search of a Room that’ll make their deepest wishes come true. The starkness of this plot has resulted in countless interpretations of the film’s elusive meaning; from th...
In 2015, Brady Corbet went from supporting roles in films like Catherine Hardwicke’s Thirteen, Michael Haneke’s Funny Games (US) and Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, to suddenly being lauded as one of the most exciting new directors working in American Cinema. Corbet’s debut The Childhood of a Leader, a historical coming-of-age drama about a petulant 10-year-old boy growing up in a world pulsating with anger, was celebrated for its intelligent exploration of the conditions that led to the rise of fascism in Europe during the 20th century.
Marked by multiple tales of economic turmoil, this year’s CPH:DOX provided fuel for reflection on the various manifestations of capitalist crisis happening across the globe. It’s now commonly accepted that the world changed in 2008 following the financial crash, but the belief that neoliberal capitalism is the only feasible option remains deeply embedded in the collective unconscious. It’s what British writer, critic, and cultural theorist Mark Fisher described as “capitalist realism,” “the w...
Self-conception and self-perception were a recurring theme at this year’s event, especially in the Forum sidebar where three films stood out for their use of personal correspondences to explore the complicated relationship between individual experience and the social construct of nationality.
Richard Billingham shot to fame in 1996 with the photobook Ray's a Laugh. An unflinching portrait of his alcoholic father, Billingham’s photographs were hailed as a highly personal document of working-class identity. Now, almost 25 years later, he's returned to the Black Country with Ray & Liz, a film about growing up as the heavy industry that once dominated the region was being decimated by Margaret Thatcher’s economic policies.