Thursday, May 21, 2020

Future Imperfect

Pis'ma myortvogo cheloveka

فانتزی‌های آینده، کابوس‌های امروز
احسان خوش‌بخت

فیلم‌های علمی-تخیلی و فانتزی‌های ضدآرمان‌شهری امروز بیش از هر زمانی طنینی نزدیک به واقعیت دارند؛ بعضی‌هایشان حتی به مستند پهلو می‌زنند. در روزهای قرنطینۀ کرونا به سراغ یادداشت‌ها و فهرستی رفتم از سال 2017 که بعد از تماشای فیلم‌های رتروسپکتیوی دربارۀ سینمای علمی-تخیلی (Future Imperfect) در فستیوال فیلم برلین نوشته بودم. در این برنامه، «فیلم‌های علمی-تخیلی فاقد هیولا» نمایش داده شد، فیلم‌هایی که صاحب تخیل بودند اما تخیل‌شان فانتزی محض نبود و تا حدی ریشه در واقعیت یا احتمالات علمی داشت. خیلی از فیلم‌های نمایش داده شده را می‌شد آثار محیط‌زیستی خواند که نگرانی جدی‌شان از آیندۀ کرۀ زمین را پنهان نمی‌کردند. یکی از امتیازهای بزرگ برنامه معرفی فیلم‌های زیادی از کشورهای بلوک شرق سابق بود که لحن‌شان تفاوتی اساسی با نمونه‌های مشابه در غرب دارد و معمولاً آثاری فلسفی و اخلاقی‌اند تا سرگرمی برای بچه‌های بزرگ شده با کتاب‌های مصور. تقریباً تمام فیلم‌ها از نسخه‌های 35 میلیمتری نمایش داده شدند، طوری که این فیلم‌ها باید هرجایی دیده شوند.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

David Meeker's Ten Favourite Jazz Films

Duke Ellington behind the scene of NBC's What Is Jazz? (1958) episode#1 [Source: GettyImages]

David Meeker, the author of Jazz in the Movies (and its online, massively updated version, Jazz on the Screen, available on the website of the Library of Congress), has been kind enough to furnish me with the list of his favourite jazz films. I don't think anyone in the world has seen as many jazz films as David has and certainly no-one has bothered spending years retrieving information (including song lists and personnel) from these films, compiling the indispensable encyclopedia that he has given us. For that reason, I think this list should be cherished more than other similar listings — this is the work of a man who has almost seen everything! - EK 



By my reckoning the first ever sound film of a jazz performance was produced in 1922, a short featuring pianist Eubie Blake. Therefore, faced with almost 100 years of world cinema and taking a degree of masochistic pleasure in sticking my neck out I have managed with considerable difficulty to reduce untold millions of feet of celluloid to a necessarily subjective choice of 10 favourite titles, undoubtedly quirky but hopefully not pretentious. Try and see them if you can - they all have much to offer both intellectually and emotionally.
David Meeker

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

5 Nowruz Recommendations [1398]

جوسلین صعب

پنج پیشنهاد تماشا برای نوروز 1398، به درخواست ماهنامۀ سینمایی فیلم.

سه‌گانۀ بیروت (جوسلین صعب، 82-1976): این معادل تابلوی گِرنیکای پیکاسو در سینماست، همان اندازه تکان دهنده، موحش و ساخته شده سر یک بزنگاه تاریخی و اخلاقی. یک زن آن را در زیر بمباران‌های دائمی و در بین منظری از بچه‌هایی که بدن‌هایش از گرسنگی دفرمه شده و بدن‌های تحت تأثیر بمب‌های شیمیایی اسرائیل به رنگ آبی درآمده ساخته است. فیلم مناسب عید نیست، اما آیا واقعیت مخصوص مواقع مشخصی از سال است؟

ای آفتاب (مد هوندو، 1970): بزرگ‌ترین کشف من در سال گذشته. اگر چارلی مینگوس (نوازنده باس و رهبر ارکستر موسیقی جاز در طرف مدرنش) فیلمساز بود، فیلمش اثری چنین خشمگین، زیبا، و با فرمی سیال از کار درمی‌آمد. فیلم دربارۀ تنهایی یک آفریقایی در اروپاست و این فیلمساز اهل موریتانی هر ثانیه‌ این دنیای دشوار را تجربه و لمس کرده است.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

From the Archives: Iran - Rich Land, Poor Land

click to enlarge

Poster (newsmap) produced by the US Army Information Branch in February 1946 to provide the army members with the basic information regarding the post-war landscape of Iran. Courtesy of the University of North Texas.

Citation:

[United States.] Army Information Branch. Newsmap for the Armed Forces : Iran, rich land poor land, poster, February 18, 1946; [New York]. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc830/m1/1/?q=iran: accessed April 11, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, UNT Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

On Film Curating [Scalarama Newspaper Interview]

London
Interviewed by UK's Scalarama Newspaper in late summer 2019. EK


A VIEW FROM ABROAD


What inspired you to get into film programming?


I was playing films, from VHS tapes, for my two sisters. Every day we were lying on the floor , putting our heads in 30 degree angels towards each on a big pillow -- almost like mummies -- totally transfixed by Singin' in the Rain or Citizen Kane, without understanding a word of English. It came out of that, a sort of natural tendency to share what you think is good. Later I thought if I could entertain my sisters, I might be able to keep more people entertained.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Moonfleet, Gothic and Scope



فريتس لانگ، گوتيك و سینمااسكوپ

مونفليت تلخ‌ترين و احتمالاً گوتيك‌ترين فيلم "ماجرايي" سينماي كلاسيك آمريكاست. ژانري كه با طنز، ماجراهاي عاشقانه، رنگ‌هاي دلفريب و لباس‌هاي فاخر انبوهي از فيلم‌هاي محبوب و پرفروش را به سينما ارزاني داشته، در دستان لانگ به شرحي از تباهي دنيايي تاريك و غم‌زده تبديل مي‌شود. این‌که قهرمان اصلی فيلم يك پسربچه (جان وايتلي) است و ستارۀ بزرگ فيلم‌هاي شمشيرزني از خانوادۀ اسكاراموش، يعني استوارت گرينجر، کنار اوست کمکی به تلطیف نگاه لانگ نمی‌کند.
فيلم فضايي گرفته، مرده و حتي ترسناك دارد) که در آن از پایان خوش یا شور و عشق نشانی نیست. به جایش لانگ هرزگيِ شخصیت گرينجر در برخورد با زنان را نشان می‌دهد. مي‌گذارد. بیش‌تر نشانه‌‌های آشنای ژانر مثل گنج‌هاي مدفون، مخفيگاه‌هاي زيرزميني، مهماني‌هاي رقص و زنان حسود وجود دارند، اما به قول اندرو ساريس در مقایسه او بین مونفلیت و متروپولیس «هر دو فيلم در آن نگاه تلخ به دنيا مشتركند، در هردو انسان با تقديري محتوم دست به گريبان است، كشمكشي كه قطعاً به شكست انسان مي‌انجامد.»

The Night Before the Divorce (Robert Siodmak, 1942)

Monday, March 30, 2020

Richard Boleslawski

بولسلاوسکی (راست) پشت صحنۀ تئودورا وحشی می شود با شرکت آیرین دان (وسط)، 1936
ريچارد بولسلاوسكي
متولد چهارم  فوريه 1889 در دبووا گورای لهستان درگذشته در هفدهم ژانويه 1937 در هاليوود كاليفرنيا
فارغ‌التحصيل مدرسه افسري سواره نظام Tver. تحصيل در تئاتر هنري مسكو زير نظر استانيسلاوسكي. شركت در جنگ جهاني اول به عنوان افسر سواره‌نظام ارتش تزار روسيه (لهستان در آن زمان بخشي از امپراتوري روسيه محسوب مي‌شد). بازي در چند فيلم روسي پيش از انقلاب که یکی از آن‌ها نسخۀ صامت ایوان مخوف (1915) بود و کارگردانی یک فیلم در همان سال. ترك روسيه بعد از انقلاب اكتبر و سپس جنگ علیه شوروی در ارتش لهستان. کارگردانی چند فیلم در لهستان که یکی از آنها، معجزه در ويستولا (1921) دربارۀ پيروزي لهستاني‌ها در مقابل سرخ‌ها در نبرد رودخانه ويستولا زباني مستندگونه داشت.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

I've Got Something to Say that Only You Children Would Believe — A Book Illustrated by Abbas Kiarostami


Abbas Kiarostami had a long, colourful career as an illustrator, graphic and film title sequence designer, and photographer before his career as a filmmaker got kick-started in the early 1970s.

His slow success and even a slower international recognition meant that this first part of his artistic life had vert little chance to be appreciated in time and not surprisingly, it was overlooked even by his ardent audience. One could argue, his eventual coming back to these fields (plus poetry and installation) in the 21th century was itself a classic case of Kiarostamian "return" as often seen in his films: returning to a home, to a place, to a landscape, in this case, to old passions.

A great portion of the achievements of these early years remain unavailable but here we have a wonderful example of his illustration work which he contributed to a children book, written by modernist poet and author Ahmad Reza Ahmadi.

One of Kiarostami's illustrations for the book

Monday, March 9, 2020

Abbas Kiarostami, a Cinema of Participation [Introduction to Harvard Film Archive Retrospective, May 2020]

Abbas Kiarostami circa late 60s, probably in his studio. On the wall (left) the poster for Masoud Kimiai's Come Stranger (1968), designed by Kiarostami.

Written for Harvard Film Archive's forthcoming retrospective dedicated to Kiarostami. More info here. — EK


Known for single-handedly putting Iran on the map of international cinema, Abbas Kiarostami’s filmmaking style was shaped by a variety of Persian arts, especially poetry. Reframing the world and the relationships between individuals through his creative involvement with actors—often amateurs, often children—and showing a keen eye for the beauty of landscapes, he produced philosophical works that reinvigorated the genres of documentary and narrative fiction.

Born in 1940, Kiarostami developed a love of painting at a young age, which led him to enroll in Tehran’s University of Fine Arts. During the 1960s he was involved in the film and television industry, both as a director of commercials and as a title designer for films. After the initiation of the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults (known as Kanoon), which as part of its artistic activities provided funding and facilities for the production of films for or about children, Kiarostami joined the organization and made The Bread and Alley, a short film about a boy’s fear of a stray dog.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

5 Nowruz Recommendations [1399]

آخرین مرحله


پنج پیشنهاد تماشای نوروز، نوشته شده برای ماهنامۀ فیلم. احسان خوش‌بخت

آتش‌ می‌آید (الیور لَکس، 2019) بیرون از سینمایی که نمایش کار تازۀ این فیلمساز فرانسوی در آن تازه تمام شده بود، دوستی که نقشی جدی در جنبش‌های محیط زیستی دارد این فیلم غریب و دشوار برای طبقه‌بندی را فیلمی محیط زیستی و یک زنگ خطر موقر و غیرمستقیم می‌دانست. اما برای من داستان رابطه پسری تازه از زندان آزاد شده با مادر سالخورده‌اش در کوهستان‌های پردرخت گالیشیای اسپانیا طنینی انجیلی داشت. شاید نظر هردویمان تا حدی وارد باشد؛ هرچه باشد هم دنیای امروزمان پر از آتش‌های مهار نشده است و هم داستان‌های انجیل. فیلم بهترین سکانس آتش تاریخ سینما را دارد.



Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The House Is Black — Which Version to Screen



The House Is Black (1962), the only film directed by the poet Forough Farrokhzad before her tragic death at the age of 37, is short like the life of its creator. Only twenty minutes long, this haunting piece of cinema and poetry has become a milestone not only for Iranian cinema but also for women filmmakers in general. However, many people viewers don't realise that almost every single circulating print of the film has been incomplete and not the featuring the version that Farrokhzad originally cut. Or I should say all the prints were missing elements until September 2019 when the film was restored by Cineteca di Bologna.

If you have seen the film in 35mm prints in one of the European or American films festivals, it's very likely that you have seen a print preserved either by Oberhausen Film Festival (where it received the main prize of the International Jury for the best documentary in 1964) or an analogue restoration of the film by CNC in France. Both prints, though fine in quality, miss verses of poetry and both have burnt-in French subtitles with a translation which is not exactly flawless.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Four Iranian New Wave Films That You Must See

The Cow (1970)

Written for the catalogue of the 2015's edition of Il Cinema Ritrovato. The two other essential titles which were restored and shown in Bologna a few years after this were Brick & Mirror and The House Is Black.


A SIMPLE EVENT: THE BIRTH OF IRANIAN NEW WAVE CINEMA


This programme offers one way of looking at the birth of modern cinema in Iran, a development now commonly referred to as the Iranian New Wave. The films presented here (The Night It Rained, Night of the Hunchback, The Cow, A Simple Event) make up roughly one quarter of the New Wave films and were selected according to accessibility and print quality above notions of artistic merit alone.

This particular narrative concerns four filmmakers, each of whom returned home to Iran following a period spent overseas, in order to revolutionise, even if subconsciously, their national cinema. In doing so they also rebelled against a society they found apathetic and divided over matters of justice.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Il Cinema Ritrovato XXXIV


May 15, 2020 update: The festival has been postponed. New dates yet to be announced.


Bologna calling!

All the elements of an internationally curated programme for Il Cinema Ritrovato 2020 are coming together fast and we thought we should update you on some of the wonderful strands and wide-ranging films that we will be presenting this year.

The festival takes place from 20 to 28 June, the final day being a 'bonus' day, showing our curators’ favourite films from each section.

We also tried an experiment last year which we would like to repeat: we started a couple of days earlier as a warm-up, screening only documentaries on the subjects of the main strands. This means that if you decide to get to Bologna sooner and overcome your jetlag before the main festival begins, there will be films for you!

And of course, there’s Piazza Maggiore and its evening screenings which was described by one critic as the “Glastonbury of cinema… without the mud!”

This year, as in every year, in addition to the most recent restorations – a list of which we will reveal in the near future – we will be bringing you treasures from archives from around the world, including an extensive focus on the Komiya Collection, the centrepiece of this year’s silent screenings.

Our Asian adventures continue with works from Japan and India, two of the richest national cinemas. From Japan, the artistry of cult director Yuzo Kawashima will be the subject of an overview retrospective, while India’s Parallel Cinema, perhaps the most unexplored chapter in the sub-continent’s cinematic history, will be presented screening the best available archival prints and one brand new restoration.

During a particularly turbulent time in the world – and only months to go before the US presidential election – Henry Fonda for President is a section which not only features the star of this edition but also provides an opportunity to catch some absolute classics of the canon.
Thrilling discoveries await you in programmes dedicated to Soviet women directors, Frank Tuttle and Stuart Heisler.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Henry King Ranked

Henry King on the set of Jesse James with Nancy Kelly and Tyrone Power
In 2019, I put together a tribute to Henry King in Bologna where Il Cinema Ritrovato featured 12 films by this gentle giant of American cinema. The reception was overwhelming and the enthusiasm contagious. Rounding up that year with King, I'm posting the programme notes written for that retrospective here on this blog along with this ranking of the King's filmography. Feel free to add yours in the Comments section below.

Soul and Craft: A Portrait of Henry King

Henry King on the set of The Gunfighter (1950). (C) 20th Century Fox

Henry King’s world can be likened to the basement of Paradise, if ever there was one. His films are often idyllic, yet they are set in a less comfortable corner of Paradise, one which falls short of perfection, and even accommodates darkness. The lower aspects of a higher plain fascinated King, and that’s where the real stories unfolds. Telling graceful tales of Americana in an almost Chekhovian style became King’s signature. If small town USA was taken for Paradise, King’s gaze was directed at the fall of this idealised world, at what happens when a dream ends. The dreamers become drifters and King remained faithful to the actors who portrayed them. Tyrone Power, King’s own discovery, appeared in eleven films directed by his mentor; Gregory Peck in six.