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About — Alison Frank

Alison Frank

Posts by — Alison

Shyam Benegal at the British Film Institute

June 9, 2012   No Comments  

Smita Patil in Bhumika

Over the weekend of the 9th-10th June, the BFI is honouring Shyam Benegal, one of India’s leading directors. Considered one of the founders of India’s ‘New Wave’, Benegal began his film career in the 1970s. From then to this day, his work has successfully trod the line between Bollywood and art cinema. [Read more →]

The International Film Festival Summit, Paris

May 28, 2012   1 Comment  


As a freelance film critic looking to get involved with film festivals, I feared that talks at the International Film Festival Summit might be too specialised for me. I was one of only two people who were solely film critics, in a room of about 40 people, many of whom had vast experience founding, financing, organising and programming film festivals: about half gave keynote addresses or participated in panels to share their knowledge. In-depth knowledge of a subject can make it difficult to talk about it without going into the kind of detail that will bore the uninitiated or blind them with science. Yet most of what these knowledgeable speakers had to say was completely accessible to the novice. The name ‘summit’ also evokes a vast, potentially intimidating gathering of people, but this summit was a personal and welcoming affair, hosted in a cosy meeting room at the Hotel du Louvre, right in the middle of Paris’s first arrondissement. [Read more →]

The Past and Future of Film Criticism at Cinema City

June 22, 2011   No Comments  

The Cinema City film festival in Novi Sad, Serbia, hosted a panel discussion on the future of film criticism with director Gerald Peary, following the screening of his documentary, For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism (2009). The film offers a useful summary of the different roles of the film critic over nearly a century: plot summarizer, star rating authority, moral adjudicator, artistic assessor, layman film buff, and even, more recently, undercover promoter. Along the way, it turns a spotlight on the founders of the profession in America, names which will be strangely unfamiliar to many viewers, even to film critics. More recent stars of American film criticism are far better known: Pauline Kael, Andrew Sarris, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. The documentary keeps its talking head interviews short and entertaining, which makes the film an easy watch. It is organised chronologically at first, but as it reaches the contemporary period, the film’s final sections attempt to answer questions about the future of criticism: as the industry puts more pressure on the media to publish favourable reviews, and as traditional print publications decline in favour of web-based resources, what is the future of the professional critic as an independent film expert? [Read more →]

In Limbo at Cinema City

June 20, 2011   No Comments  

Maria Sødahl has made an assured feature debut with Limbo (2010), which was previously screened at Montreal and Thessaloniki. Set in the 1970s, Limbo centres on a Norwegian woman named Sonia who, with her two children, goes to Trinidad to join her husband Joe who is working for an oil company. She receives a warm welcome from the expatriate community, especially the Swedish wife of one of Joe’s colleagues who is happy to find someone who speaks her language. [Read more →]

Cinema City Kicks Off in Novi Sad, Serbia

June 19, 2011   1 Comment  

Last night the opening ceremony took place for the 4th annual Cinema City film festival in Novi Sad, Serbia. The festival introduced the members of its three main juries, who will award prizes to films from three of the festival’s sections: ‘National Class’ (Serbian films), ‘Exit Point’ (international auteur cinema, this year showcasing films about women) and ‘Up to 10,000 Bucks’ (low-budget, predominantly short films from around the world). [Read more →]

The Allegory of the ‘Cave of Forgotten Dreams’, 3D

March 15, 2011   No Comments  

When I arrived at my hotel in Berlin to cover the film festival, I was surprised to discover a default image of a wood fire quietly crackling away on the flat screen TV on the wall of my room. I wondered what our caveman relatives would have made of a civilization that has come to this point: we don’t need a fire for heat anymore, but we still enjoy seeing and hearing one, even if it’s virtual. [Read more →]

True Grit: review from the Berlinale

February 27, 2011   No Comments  

True Grit, the Coen Brothers’ latest feature, opened the 61st Berlin Film Festival earlier this month. Based on a novel of the same name by Charles Portis, the Coen Brothers’ film is the second film adaptation of this Wild West tale: the first was in 1969 by Henry Hathaway, starring John Wayne. The Coen Brothers’ adaptation is more true to the original in that it tells the tale from the point of view of Mattie Ross, a 14-year-old girl whose quest drives the narrative. Her father was murdered by a man named Tom Chaney, and fearing that the law will never track him down, Mattie hires Rooster Cogburn, the meanest mercenary marshal in town. They reluctantly join forces with LaBoeuf, a straight-laced ranger who has been chasing Chaney for some time: Chaney is also wanted for a murder in Texas, and a substantial reward has been offered to bring him in. [Read more →]

Thoughts from the Berlinale jury press conference

February 11, 2011   1 Comment  

This morning, at Berlin’s Grand Hyatt Hotel, the press had a chance to ask questions of the Berlinale’s international jury prior to the kick-off of this year’s festival. The head of the jury is Isabella Rossellini, and her fellow jury members are Australian producer Jan Chapman, German actress Nina Hoss, Indian actor and director Aamir Khan, Canadian director Guy Maddin and British costume designer Sandy Powell. A seat was left vacant for Jafar Panahi, the Iranian director who has just been sentenced to 6 years in prison for his work, and banned from writing or directing films for the next 20 years. Rossellini said that they are still hoping that Panahi might be able to join them. [Read more →]

Berlin 2011: New offerings from familiar names

February 6, 2011   No Comments  

The complete line-up of films for this year’s Berlinale has just been announced. This time next week, I’ll be reporting direct from Berlin. In the meantime, here’s a sneak preview of some of the films I’m most excited about: the latest work of excellent directors. [Read more →]