Holland at goEast

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Agnieszka Holland was at the goEast Film Festival on April 30 to present her brand new film Spoor(Pokot). Here, Holland mixs genres to a subversive end, with her story concerning a retired engineer Janine Duszejko who is an amateur astrologist, vegetarian, and teacher with a great love of animals.

She regularly confronts the male establishment in the rural setting of the film, and fights their regular disregard of the laws concerning animal welfare. What unfolds is a murder mystery of sorts that resonates on many political, ecological, social, and existential levels. Beautifully shot and conceived w an excellent score from Antoni Komasa- Lazakiewicz, and Matthias Eklund,  with healthy doses of black humour.

Based on a novel by Olga Tokarczuki called : Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead. I would highly recommend this flick….

what follows is a brief compendium of notes from the insightful talk by the director and moderators at the Caligari Filmbuhle in Wiesbaden  on April 30

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Spoor (animal)

Footprints of the extinct thylacine
Spoor is any sign of a creature or trace by which the progress of someone or something may be followed. A spoor may include tracks, scents, scat, or broken foliage. Spoor is useful for discovering or surveying what types of animals live in an area, or in animal tracking.

Spoor won the Silver Bear at 2017 Berlinale- she graduated from FAMU in 71 studied w Milos Forman-worked with Wadja in Poland-She became part of the Polish New Wave, Moral Anxiety-81 left in exile-TV work includes: The Wire, Burning Bush, House Of Cards- book film is based on was written 9 years ago, premonition at end of book and film? Holland quoted “wadja-doing movies from the future”-

this is a bizarre mix of genres: anarchist,feminist,ecological,fairytale,thriller-difficult to finance-German  financing was key-shot in Silesia near Wroclaw-Holland just back from Hong Kong FF, big interest in this film in Asia-subversive use of genre w unexpected uses and outcomes

-4 season long process, 2 years, 5 DOP, 2 directors,- who is the killer?,we don’t know until the end-she likes American directors Coen Brothers and Wes Anderson as they speak about issues yet still connect to an audience-

protest by right wing in Poland, criticize it as feminist film,fuck them! Poland, Hungary,Turkey, USA are all turning hard right taking away women’s rights and destroying the environment.-their enemy is ecology and women-they are angry, only Catholic, white, heterosexual men are important in Poland-environmental issues in film are linked to woman’s fight

-Holland is the role model for feminist cinema in Poland-she was accepted in an all male film world in the 70s because she was viewed as a masculine filmmaker w balls, but she took offence as she IS a different gender w a different point of view-

women were never represented at the same level in distribution, exihibition etc-Poland has several good women directors currently-

this film shows the anger in society that is growing, fire is anger both good and bad, freedom has released options-revenge story(django)-hunters are a metaphor to some extent

-good film creates a space for the audience to form their own conclusions from the structure the filmmaker has provided-

William Blake reference adds an existential element and is attached to the area the film is located…

Also see: Spoor-The Guardian

 

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Euro Fests-2017

 

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Hello from Europe folks, hope you are all well. I arrived in Europe a couple weeks ago for some vacation time, and to check out a couple festivals. I arrived early on a cloudy morning at Schipol Airport, and hopped on the TGV to Brussels. After a good sleep, I checked out some cool sights in the city ,and stumbled across the Brussels Cinematek .

The museum was mostly closed, but my timing was good for a screening of a French Film from 1923 called: Visages d’enfants. The film was directed by Jacques Feyder and was screened as part for of their ongoing silent film series that shows restored 35mm prints at their original 18 fps speed. A rotating number  of music specialists provide accompaniment.

“Faces of Children (French: Visages d’enfants) is a 1925 French-Swiss silent film directed by Jacques Feyder. It tells the story of a young boy whose mother has died and the resentments which develop when his father remarries. It was a notable example of film realism in the silent era, and its psychological drama was integrated with the natural landscapes of Switzerland where much of the film was made on location.”

Feyder was one of the main French film directors that developed the Poetic Realism style that began in the silent era. He went to Hollywood in 1929 and directed  Greta Garbo in her last silent feature: The Kiss.

This was a fantastic screening, one of the best film experiences I have had in a long time, with an excellent live piano score. If you find yourselves in Belgique and are a lover of films do check out the Cinematek schedule in between seeing the sights:)

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April 26 finds me in beautiful Wiesbaden, Germany for the beginning of the Goeast Film Festival. This is a long running and highly regarded yearly festival, that specializes in Central European Cinema. This years festival has highlights on woman directors, feminist films and woman’s representation in media, Czech Film Now, as well as  films in competition in both the feature and documentary catagories.

I will be writing more in this in the next two weeks, as the festival is just swinging into top gear tomorrow ,and I have a full slate of 4 films to see at the Caligari Film Buhle to kick off my viewing, so stay tuned for more!

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And speaking of festivals, a little later in my trip, from May 16-23 I am attending the 10 annual Krakow Film Music Festival. It will be a week of workshops and concerts featuring the likes of Giorgio Moroder, Howard Shore, Klaus Doldinger, and Abel Korniowski.

All taking place in the ultra modern convention centre and Tauron Arema,  in the beautiful and medieval city of Krakow, Poland….again more on this at a later date

One additional note: my weekly 2 hour radio programme Soundtrack is still on the air. Guest host Robyn Edgar is filling in so keep listing for an eclectic mix of music from the cinema. The station can be found at 93.3-FM in the Hamilton(Canada) area, or check it out online on our brand new website: http://www.cfmu.ca

The show airs live  from 10:00-12:00 est or download or stream a podcast at your leisure:)

 

Greasy Filmmaking + Nuclear Meltdown+ Polish Fish Tales

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Deutschland 83 is an eight-episode German television series starring Jonas Nay as a 24-year-old native of East Germany who in 1983 is sent to the West as an undercover spy for the HVA, the foreign intelligence agency of the Stasi. The series premiered on 17 June 2015 on the SundanceTV channel in the United States, becoming the first German-language series to air on a US networkThe broadcast was in the original German, with English subtitles.It subsequently aired in Germany beginning in November 2015, and in the UK on Channel 4 beginning in January 2016.”

A very cool new series that was highly recommended to me by a good friend.  I am half way through the series, after having to track it down on DVD release here in Canada. What a great view this has been so far, and having been a youth at the time this series is set I well remember the political climate of tension and fear that pervaded the western world, as well as ,of course, the music.The series uses source 80s new wave tunes to great effect. The theme song for the English language  version is Peter Schillings 80s track Major Tom, but for the German series Blue Monday by New Order was used.

The show also has a very effective score from composer Reinhold Heil. He was one of the leading touring keyboard players in Germany in the 80s and wrote and played with the Nina Hagen Band as well as producing the 80s mega hit by Nena : 99 Luftballons.

Recently he has been concentrating more on scoring for film and television, starting out collaborating with Tom Twyker (Run Lola Run),and last year scored  the TV Series: Berlin Station.

Deutschland 83 had mediocre ratings in Germany but did well in the U.K and the USA ; resulting in a renewal (and retitled “Deutschland 86”). Hopefully this will be followed by a third season, Deutschland 89, which would be set in the pivotal year of 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell.

The show was created by the husband and wife team of American novelist Anna Winger and German TV producer Joerg Winger  Anna Winger said that they did extensive research with experts who were from both sides of Germany

Deutschland 83 has received a number of international and domestic awards including an International Emmy Award, a Peabody Award, Grimme Prize,The Golden Nymp, a Metropolis Award, two C21 Drama Award, a Golden Camera, the “Special Jury Award” of the Roma Fiction Fest,and Series Mania 2015 for Best World Series.

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“The Greasy Strangler” is a 2016 American black comedy horror film directed by Jim Hosking and written by Jim Hosking and Toby Harvard. The film stars Michael St. Michaels, Sky Elobar, Elizabeth De Razzo, Gil Gex, Abdoulaye NGom, and Holland MacFallister. The Greasy Strangler premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2016.The film was released on October 7, 2016, by FilmRise.

I was in attendance at the 2016 Fantasia Film Festival where this film was playing but couldn’t squeeze a screening in. And to be honest I was a bit sceptical of giving it a view. Recently however I came across the rather strange but cool score for the film by Andrew Hung,and as a result found the film available on ITunes.

So this time I gave the film a whirl, and quite enjoyed this gross out black comedy, but would say it definitely would not be to everyone’s taste:) I will say that the title aptly described the film in all its quirky, random ,and black moments.

I had quite a few laughs at the jokes and at the unbelievable strange occurrences that take place.

Critics were mixed on this tarnished gem but by the end of the film it had definitely left this reviewer all choked up…

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“Pandora-(Hangul: 판도라; RR: Pandora) is a 2016 South Korean disaster film written and directed by Park Jung-woo, starring Kim Nam-Gil. The film was released in South Korea on December 7, 2016.

Jae-hyeok lives with his mother, his sister-in-law and nephew Min-jae in a small Korean town. He is dating Yeon-joo, while working at the local nuclear power plant. Meanwhile, Pyung-sub works at the same nuclear power plant. He is worried about the conditions there, but nobody in the government listens to him. An earthquake strikes the small town where Jae-hyeok lives and causes explosions at the nuclear power plant. The situation quickly spirals out of control, leading the entire nation to panic. To prevent another nuclear disaster, Jae-hyeok and his co-workers return to the nuclear power plant.”

Directed by Park Jung-woo this is a excellent and heart-string tugging Korean disaster flick. Park-woo is a successful screenwriter turned film director whose previous films include another disaster epidemic flick called: Deranged.

This time around the director starts off with a slow-burn story about the extended family of 30 something power plant worker,who is disgruntled with his job and longs to leave his small company-town far behind.

As well the bureaucracy of the political and industrial  machinery that runs the nuclear power industry in modern day Korea,  is well illustrated , and helps make this a well rounded message film as well as an entertaining and heartbreaking action movie.

This was the first Korean film to be pre-sold to Netflix and it is now streaming in 190 countries via the service.

One of numerous well executed films to come out of Korea, and to ride the wave of what could be described as a modern day renaissance of Asian cinema.

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“The Lure-Some time in the 1980s, two mermaids, Golden and Silver (played by Michalina Olszańska and Marta Mazurek respectively), encounter a rock band relaxing and playing music on a beach in Poland. They accompany the band back to the nightclub where they regularly perform and begin playing gigs there, performing as strippers and backup singers. Their audiences are entranced by their singing and on-stage transformation. Silver falls in love with the guitarist Mietek (Jakub Gierszał), while Golden hungers for human prey.”

Director Agnieszka Smoczynska called the film a “coming-of-age story”, with echoes her own youth. The 80s Cabernet style Communist era club is similar to one her mother ran when she was a youth and where she entered teenage years.

But this is more than just an auto biographical reminiscence.

And again, I missed this at both Berlinale and Fantasia in 2016 so I had to wait for a local screening recently to check this film out. It’s a real genre bending, fantastical movie that reaches for it all, and maybe reaches a little too far to retain its focus.

But it’s one of the most inventive films I have seen in a long time, a 80s,Polish, mermaid,cannibal,musical. Quite the concept, and the music has a definite 80s feel, with some campy versions of popular Polish hits from the era adapted by the group(who also appear in the film) Ballady I Romanse.

“The director also wanted the film to be a retelling of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, and developed her idea of mermaids from tales of the 14th–16th century that described them as the sisters of dragons, and hence made them part monstrous. She invented their need to feed on human hearts and that propensity to attack the larynx of their victims.
Smolenska  likened the mermaids to immigrants, abused by the locals (used in the sex industry) on their way to their real goal—America. She added they represent innocence, yet their odour and slime recalled girls maturing, “they menstruate, they ovulate, their bodies start smelling and feeling different.”
The film played to mixed reviews in Poland, although it did win Best Debut Picture at the Gdynia Film Festival; and was generally well received by festivals and critics worldwide.

A visual tour de force, definitely worth a a viewing if you are looking for something a little bit different:)

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