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Category — Film Festivals

The International Film Festival Summit, Paris


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 →]

May 28, 2012   1 Comment  

The Past and Future of Film Criticism at Cinema City

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 →]

June 22, 2011   No Comments  

In Limbo at Cinema City

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 →]

June 20, 2011   No Comments  

Cinema City Kicks Off in Novi Sad, Serbia

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 →]

June 19, 2011   1 Comment  

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

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 →]

March 15, 2011   No Comments  

True Grit: review from the Berlinale

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 →]

February 27, 2011   No Comments  

Thoughts from the Berlinale jury press conference

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 →]

February 11, 2011   1 Comment  

Berlin 2011: New offerings from familiar names

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 →]

February 6, 2011   No Comments  

Apichatpong Weerasethekul wins Palme d’Or

Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethekul’s film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives won the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Weerasethekul has previously made films like Syndromes and a Century and Letters to Uncle Boonmee. Other winners include Juliette Binoche for Abbas Kiorastami’s Certified Copy, Javier Bardem for Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Biutiful, Elio Germano for Our Life by Daniele Luchetti. The Best Director prize went to Mathieu Amalric for TourneeClick here to access the complete report by New York Times.

May 26, 2010   No Comments  

Mrinal Sen’s Khandar at Cannes 2010

Last year the Cannes Film Festival had proposed a mini-retrospective of the work of celebrated Indian director Mrinal Sen, but because the prints of most of his films were in ‘poor condition’, it never came through.

This year, Sen’s film Khandar has been selected as one of the films that will be screened in the Cannes Classics section of the festival. Films of directors like Alfred Hitchcock, Luis Bunuel and Volker Schlondroff are part of this selection. Sen is expected to be present for this screening.

The National Film Archive in Pune was given a directive by the Prime Minister last year to restore each of Sen’s films. The screening at Cannes has reportedly been made possible because of the successful restoration.

Khandar was made in 1983 and starred Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, Pankaj Kapur and Annu Kapur. I had written a retrospective piece on the film on the occasion of Mrinal Sen getting the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Osian’s Cinefan Film Festival in 2008 in New Delhi. Click here to access it.

And while the Indian press seems just thrilled at this recognition India has got at Cannes, not one of them has got the name of the film right. All sites have picked up an agency copy which refers to the film as ‘Kandahar’. They have all retained the English title The Ruins, but no one has managed to put two and two together.

May 3, 2010   4 Comments