Film Festivals

Sydney Film Festival

Glimpses of daily life for ordinary Palestinians

A Wedding in Ramallah directed by Sherine Salama

By Richard Phillips, 22 July 2002

A Wedding in Ramallah, a 90-minute film by Sherine Salama, documents the arranged marriage of a Palestinian couple, Mariam and Bassam Abed, in the West Bank and their lonely life seven months later in the US. Shot over a 12-month period beginning in July 2000, under conditions of an ever-tightening Israeli economic and military siege of the Palestinian Territories, Salama’s film is a thoughtful and compelling work.

49th Sydney Film Festival

Grappling with the plight of immigrants and asylum seekers

By Richard Phillips, 12 July 2002

The annual Sydney Film Festival, held from June 7 to 21, screened 150 movies from 34 different countries, providing much-needed access to films rarely screened in Australian cinemas or on local television networks. WSWS correspondents watched more than 30 of these, including several feature-length documentaries and some classic cinema from the archives. Below is the first of a series of articles and reviews that will be published in the coming weeks.

San Francisco International Film Festival 2002—Part 3

Pasolini and other questions

By David Walsh, 30 May 2002

This is the third and final part of a series on the recent San Francisco International Film Festival (April 18-May 2).

San Francisco International Film Festival 2002—Part 2

Four films

By Joanne Laurier, 27 May 2002

This is the second in a series of articles on the recent San Francisco International Film Festival (April 18-May 2)

San Francisco International Film Festival 2002—Part 1

Rewards, disappointments and surprises

By David Walsh, 24 May 2002

This is the first in a series of articles on the recent San Francisco International Film Festival (April 18-May 2)

Buenos Aires 4th International Festival of Independent Cinema—Part 4

Discussions on the Argentine crisis

By David Walsh, 22 May 2002

This is the fourth and final part in a series on the recent Buenos Aires independent film festival (April 18-28).

Buenos Aires 4th International Festival of Independent Cinema—Part 3

Drama, ideas and life

By David Walsh, 20 May 2002

This is the third part in a series on the recent Buenos Aires independent film festival (April 18-28).

Buenos Aires 4th International Festival of Independent Cinema—Part 2

Films of Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien, and a number of documentaries

By David Walsh, 17 May 2002

This is the second part in a series on the recent Buenos Aires independent film festival (April 18-28).

Buenos Aires 4th International Festival of Independent Cinema

Steel and the Virgin Mary

By Carolina Gutierrez, 15 May 2002

Ciudad de María (Mary’s City) is a documentary about the cult of the Virgin Mary in San Nicolás, a town in the north of Buenos Aires province. The origin of this enormously popular religious phenomenon was the claim made by Gladys Quiroga de Motta, a resident of San Nicolás, that the Virgin appeared and talked to her for the first time on September 25, 1983.

Buenos Aires 4th International Festival of Independent Cinema—Part 1

Changed conditions and some of the same problems

By David Walsh, 15 May 2002

This is the first in a series of articles on the Buenos Aires 4th International Festival of Independent Cinema.

The 52nd Berlin Film Festival

Part 3

By Stefan Steinberg, 2 March 2002

In this part we discuss three films dealing with Fascism: Amen by Constantin Costa-Gavros, Taking Sides by Istvan Szabó and Safe Conduct by Bertrand Tavernier.

The 52nd Berlin Film Festival

Part 2

By Stefan Steinberg and Bernd Reinhardt, 28 February 2002

In this part we discuss three German films in the main competition at the festival—Heaven by Tom Tykwer, A Map of the Heart by Dominik Graf and Grill Point by Andreas Dresen.

52nd Berlin Film Festival

Still awaiting the long anticipated revival of German film

By Stefan Steinberg, 23 February 2002

In the weeks preceding the 52nd Berlin Film Festival many German media outlets and film critics speculated over the possibilities of a revival in the fortunes of the German film industry. Not only have German feature films been a rarity in past years on the international festival circuit, even at home and at previous Berlinales, German films have been in short supply. In terms of domestic popularity a recent German production has broken all attendance records—over 11 million viewers, but no critic can seriously maintain that The Shoe of Manitou, a Cowboy and Indians farce poking fun at the novels of Karl May, could be regarded as the herald of a new dawn for German film.

Vancouver International Film Festival—Part 3

I’m Going Home and Mulholland Drive

By David Walsh, 3 November 2001

Manoel de Oliveira, the Portuguese filmmaker, has directed a new film at the age of 92. That in itself is a remarkable feat and a tribute to human capacities. (Astonishingly, he has made 13 films since 1990, the year he turned 82.) Moreover, I’m Going Home (Je rentre à la maison) is an appealing and charming work. A number of de Oliveira’s films have appeared at film festivals in recent years—The Convent (1995), Journey to the Beginning of the World (1997), The Letter (1999) and Word and Utopia (2000), for example—without creating a strong impression, one way or the other. While intelligent and elegant, they have seemed rather slight and concerned with relatively marginal problems. One couldn’t help but feel that this had something to do with the situation of the Portuguese middle class, or at least a section of its intellectuals, in the twentieth century.

Vancouver International Film Festival—Part 2

Too modest by half

By David Walsh, 31 October 2001

Is it really such a daunting task for film writers and directors to depict present-day life more richly and truthfully? There are those who think so, who argue against demanding any more from contemporary filmmaking than that which it currently has to offer. One hears this refrain quite often, “What more can you expect?” To imagine that the present meager offerings of the “entertainment industry” or even the “independent cinema” were the limits of the possible would truly be a discouraging prospect. Fortunately, it’s a mistaken and misguided notion.

Vancouver International Film Festival—Part 1

Once again on the problem of perspective

By David Walsh, 24 October 2001

“Artistic truth is obtained through tortuous searching.” — Aleksandr Voronsky

2001 Toronto International Film Festival—Part 4

Films by Godard, Cox, Imamura and others

By David Walsh, 8 October 2001

Veteran French director Jean-Luc Godard’s Éloge de l’amour (Eulogy of Love) is a cold and uninvolving work and largely incoherent. Largely, but not entirely. What comes though the irritating collage of disjointed moments are self-pity, demoralization and French (or European) chauvinism.

2001 Toronto International Film Festival—Part 3

Struggling, alive, contradictory...

By Joanne Laurier, 4 October 2001

Under the Skin of the City is the seventh feature film directed by leading female Iranian filmmaker, Rakhshan Bani-Etemad. The treatment of social issues in her films, including several documentaries, has run her afoul of the Iranian government. Set at the time of the parliamentary elections of 1997, her latest film is a dramatic and complex portrayal of the travails of a family in a working class suburb of Tehran.

2001 Toronto International Film Festival—Part 2

Five films on historical and political themes

By David Walsh, 27 September 2001

A number of films screened at the Toronto film festival dealt with historical questions. What follows are only preliminary comments. It may be necessary to return at a later date to some of these subjects and films.

2001 Toronto International Film Festival—Part 1

The success and failure of the international "Style of Quality" in cinema

By David Walsh, 21 September 2001

The devastating attacks in New York City and Washington occurred midway through the Toronto film festival. After a one-day interruption the festival’s activities proceeded, somewhat curtailed and obviously on a far more somber note. Inevitably the attacks did more than simply alter the mood of those on hand. While the course of political developments, even the most traumatic, cannot by itself determine the evaluation of works of art, it is impossible to regard the films screened in Toronto entirely outside the context created by the tragic events and the threat of more to come, as well as the larger set of historical and political circumstances from which they sprang.

Edinburgh Film Festival

Two contrasting films about asylum seekers

Gas Attack, directed by Kenny Glenaan, and Roadblocks directed by Stavros Ioannou

By Steve James, 14 September 2001

The Edinburgh Film Festival hosted the British, and in the case of Gas Attack, the world premiere of two films featuring Kurdish refugees in Europe as both actors and subject. Gas Attack by British TV director Kenny Glenaan is set in Glasgow, while Roadblocks by the Greek TV documentary maker Stavros Ioannou is set in Athens. Both are fictional accounts of events that take the current situation of refugees in the two cities as their point of departure.

A director treading water

What Time is it There? Directed by Tsai Ming-liang Screened at the Edinburgh Film Festival

By Steve James, 8 September 2001

A feature of some independent cinema in the late 20th and early 21st century is its examination of the alienation of marginalised ordinary people, scratching a living in the giant cities of the planet.

2001 Sydney Film Festival

Two fine examples of "direct cinema"

LaLee’s Kin: The Legacy of Cotton directed by Susan Froemke, Deborah Dickson and Albert Maysles Facing the Music directed by Bob Connolly and Robin Anderson

By Gabriela Notaras and Richard Phillips, 7 September 2001

The following review completes the World Socialist Web Site coverage of the 2001 Sydney Film Festival.

Sydney Film Festival 2001

Two flawed attempts to dramatise child poverty

Ali Zaoua and Animals Crossing the Road

By Mile Klindo, 20 August 2001

Ali Zaoua and Animals Crossing the Road, two of the seven movies included in the Sydney Film Festival’s New Directors category, attempt to examine the lives of poverty stricken youth. The first deals with street children in Morocco; the second, set in Rome, is about a teenage girl caught up in petty crime and her conflict with local police.

Sydney Film Festival 2001

Collaboration and resistance in Vichy France

The Sorrow and the Pity directed by Marcel Ophuls

By Richard Phillips, 16 August 2001

The Sorrow and the Pity: Chronicle of a French City Under Occupation, Marcel Ophuls’ four-and-a-half-hour epic on Germany’s World War II occupation of France, was screened at the recent Sydney Film Festival. First shown 30 years ago in Paris, the film, which has now been re-released on DVD, is rightly regarded as one of cinema’s more significant documentaries and one of the few that uncovers the French ruling class’s collaboration with Nazi Germany from 1940 to 1944.

Sydney Film Festival 2001

“Art wedded to truth must, in the end, have its rewards”

The Apu Trilogy, written and directed by Satyajit Ray

By Richard Phillips, 2 August 2001

One of the more memorable screenings at this year’s Sydney Film Festival was Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy— Pather Panchali (1955), Aparajito (1956) and Apu Sansar (1959)—which traces the life of a Bengali family and their son Apu, as he moves from childhood in a rural village, through his youth in Benares where the family later moves, to manhood and marriage in Calcutta. The three films, which have been restored by the Merchant-Ivory Foundation, include new subtitles and a digitally remixed and remastered version of Ravi Shankar’s original soundtrack.

Sydney Film Festival 2001

An ironic look at some reluctant heroes

Divided We Fall, directed by Jan Hrebejk, script by Petr Jarchovsky

By Richard Phillips, 12 July 2001

This is the first in a series of articles on the recent Sydney Film Festival. World Socialist Web Site correspondents viewed over 30 films during the 15-day festival and in forthcoming reviews will comment on some of the more significant works.

Interview with the filmmaker Zelimir Zilnik

29 June 2001

A retrospective of the films of Zelimir Zilnik was presented at the Balkan Black Box festival recently in Berlin. The WSWS spoke to Zilnik.

Balkan Black Box: a festival of Balkan film in Berlin—Part 2

The films of Zelimir Zilnik

By Stefan Steinberg and Anders Ernst, 29 June 2001

The “Balkan Black Box” festival in Berlin was an opportunity to study the work of one of the region’s most productive and interesting filmmakers. In his career so far, Zelimir Zilnik (born in 1942) has made a total of 24 feature films (8-10 for cinema) and 60 documentary films. His filmmaking extends back to the mid-1960s. In nearly four decades of creative work, Zilnik has learned how to both preserve his independence through a series of different political systems and wars, making modestly budgeted but provocative and thoughtful films.

Balkan Black Box: a festival of Balkan film in Berlin—Part 1

By Stefan Steinberg and Anders Ernst, 26 June 2001

This is the first of two articles on a recent festival of Balkan films.

2001 San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 2

Some limited but honest films, and the social role of pessimism

By David Walsh, 13 June 2001

There are filmmakers with limited aims and perspectives, but whose works nonetheless honestly reflect aspects of life.

2001 San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 1

Six films

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 7 June 2001

The 44th edition of the San Francisco International Film Festival (April 19 to May 3) screened some 200 feature, short and documentary films. Certain films we have commented upon before, such as The Circle (Jafar Panahi), Platform (Jia Zhang-ke), Peppermint Candy (Lee Chang-Dong), Djomeh (Hassan Yektapanah), The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda), Clouds of May (Nuri Bilge Ceylan) and Virgin Stripped Bare by her Bachelors (Hong Sang-Soo).

Buenos Aires 3rd International Festival of Independent Cinema—Part 4

Some Argentine films

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 5 June 2001

The Buenos Aires film festival screened a considerable number of new Argentine films. We had the opportunity to see several of them.

Buenos Aires 3rd International Festival of Independent Cinema-Part 3

Problems in Latin American cinema

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 1 June 2001

The problem of Latin American cinema is the problem of world cinema, which is not to say that the Latin American filmmakers do not face specific dilemmas and contradictions. The tragic defeats suffered by the working class in that region during the 1970s and 1980s (Chile, Bolivia, Argentina and elsewhere), and the blows dealt generally to the progressive aspirations of masses of people, have had lasting consequences for social life and its most fragile reflection, art.

The 12th Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London

Injustice: A film by Ken Fero

By Paul Bond, 31 May 2001

Below we conclude our coverage of the 12th Human Rights Watch Film Festival held in London recently. For an overview of the festival and other reviews see: An overview of the 12th Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London (http://www.wsws.org/articles/2001/may2001/hrw-m28.shtml).

The 12th Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London

Five political films

By Paul Mitchell, 29 May 2001

Below we continue our coverage of the 12th Human Rights Watch Film Festival held in London recently, with a review of five films. For an overview of the festival and other reviews see: An overview of the 12th Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London [May 28 2001].

The 12th Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London

Trade Off and Pester Power: Radicalism's dead end critique of globalisation

By Paul Bond, 28 May 2001

Trade Off, by Shaya Mercer, is the latest film to focus on the protests against the World Trade Organisation meeting in Seattle in 1999. Filming on a shoestring budget, Mercer visited as many places as it was possible to get to with one camera crew as events unfurled on the streets of Seattle.

An overview of the 12th Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London

By Paul Mitchell, 28 May 2001

The civil liberties organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) held its twelfth annual Film Festival in London recently, screening 22 dramas and documentaries. Several, such as Julian Schnabel's Before Night Falls have been reviewed on the World Socialist Web Site previously.

Buenos Aires 3rd International Festival of Independent Cinema-Part 2

Intuition and consciousness in filmmaking

By David Walsh, 19 May 2001

This is the second in a series of articles on the third annual independent film festival held in Buenos Aires, Argentina from April 19 to April 29.

Buenos Aires 3rd International Festival of Independent Cinema—Part 1

Filmmaking needs a new perspective

By David Walsh, 16 May 2001

This is the first in a series of articles on the third annual independent film festival held in Buenos Aires, Argentina from April 19 to April 29.

The 51st Berlinale: Part 7

Just how important is ethnic identity?

A beautiful day directed by Thomas Arslan

By Bernd Rheinhardt, 24 March 2001

A beautiful day is the final part of a trilogy by German filmmaker Thomas Arslan (b. 1962), following Brothers and Sisters (1997) and Dealer (1999). Arslan's latest film deals with people of Turkish origin who have grown up in Germany. The film's central character is a young woman who is not depicted in typical fashion as a mere victim, but is instead a self-confident, independent person. The discussion of a generation usually described as culturally torn between two identities is given an unusual treatment in the film.

The 51st Berlinale: Part 6

Berlin retrospective devoted to the films of Fritz Lang

By Stefan Steinberg, 15 March 2001

“I wonder what kind of films I would make today if I were able.... With the world the way it is, I think they would be very critical—very aggressive”—Fritz Lang in his last year.

The 51st Berlinale: Part 5

Asian films at the Berlin Film Festival

By Stefan Steinberg, 7 March 2001

A number of Asian films were amongst the most satisfying as well as thought provoking experiences at this year's Berlin Film Festival.

An interview with the directors of the Austrian documentary Spiegelgrund

By Bernd Rheinhardt, 3 March 2001

The World Socialist Web Site interviewed Austrian directors Angelika Schuster and Tristan Sindelgruber at the 51st Berlinale. See the accompanying review of their film Spiegelgrund , shown at the recent festival.

The 51st Berlinale: Part 4

Revealing old and enduring horrors

Spiegelgrund by Angelika Schuster and Tristan Sindelgruber

By Bernd Rheinhardt, 3 March 2001

The Punishment, directed by young Austrian filmmaker Goran Rebic, stood out at last year's Berlin film festival through its exposure of the consequences of the NATO war in Kosovo. At a time when the official media in Europe sought to justify the mass bombing by presenting the entire Serb people as a bloodthirsty mob, Rebic's film, shot directly after the war, gave a very different portrayal of the Serbs, which countered the widespread official propaganda.

The 51st Berlinale: Part 3

Unresolved historical questions

German feature and documentary films at the Berlin Film Festival

By Bernd Rheinhardt, 1 March 2001

A young film student, Branwen Okpako, presented her graduation film at the Berlin Film Festival: Dreckfresser (Dirt-Eater), a documentary dealing with the first black policeman to be recruited in the former East Germany following German reunification. The film throws light on forms of racism cultivated in the former Stalinist German Democratic Republic (GDR). In discussion following the showing of her film Okpako declared that the film was merely her own personal opinion: “I do not agree with films which attempt to tell the truth. That is not possible, because a film is something you make.” This is a revealing comment.

The 51st Berlinale: Part 2

More works from the Berlin film festival

By Stefan Steinberg, 24 February 2001

The Tailor of Panama by John Boorman

51st Berlinale: Part 1

A miserable gruel: European films at this year's Berlin Film Festival

By Stefan Steinberg, 22 February 2001

The presentation of the main Golden Bear award at the closing ceremony of the 51st Berlin Film Festival to the French film Intimacy was greeted by a mixed chorus of cheers and booing from a public consisting primarily of media representatives and film professionals. In the opinion of this reviewer, Patrice Chereau's new film (see below) was one of the worst of an extremely thin batch of European films to be shown in competition at this year's film festival. In fact the best contributions to the competition section, consisting of a total of 23 films, came from Asian countries. Some of the main Asian contributions will be dealt with in a further article.

Another glimpse at the state of film in Eastern Europe

Tenth film festival in Cottbus, Germany

By Stefan Steinberg, 13 November 2000

The film festival held in the German town of Cottbus near the Polish border is the only international festival dedicated to showing film from Eastern European countries. Once again this year the tenth Cottbus festival confirmed the enormous crisis which has enveloped film and culture in general in many of the states which were just over a decade ago part of the Stalinist Eastern bloc. While a number of countries—e.g., Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia—have been able to develop some sort of independent film production, often on the basis of co-productions with Western countries, many other countries and republics have experienced, and continue to undergo, a massive decline in filmmaking and cinema attendance.

2000 Vancouver International Film Festival—Part 3

The difference between feeling and playing at feeling

By David Walsh, 26 October 2000

So many art and independent filmmakers seem to be reaching out of the screen and telling you why you should like their films and think well of them. You can feel them straining to be the toughest, the coldest, the most matter of fact—or, alternately, the simplest, the most understated. The sense of strain, at any rate, is all too common.

2000 Vancouver International Film Festival

Interviews with Singing Chen (Chen Xinyi), director of Bundled, and Kim Sang-Jin, director of Attack the Gas Station

23 October 2000

David Walsh: Why did you decide to make this particular film?

2000 Vancouver International Film Festival—Part 2

Less and more interesting films

By David Walsh, 23 October 2000

“What do you do if I make an unintelligible utterance to you? You question me, is that not so? Why should we not do the same thing to the dreamer—question him as to what his dream means ?”-Sigmund Freud, c. 1916

2000 Vancouver International Film Festival—Part 1

Drama, protest, sensuality

By David Walsh, 19 October 2000

“But with the true artist, the social formula that he recommends is a matter of secondary importance; the source of his art, its animating spirit, is decisive”—Rosa Luxemburg, 1918

2000 Toronto International Film Festival—Part 7

A conversation with film critic Robin Wood

By David Walsh, 16 October 2000

In my view Robin Wood is one of the most perceptive and admirable film critics of the past thirty-five years. Born in Britain in 1931 and educated at Cambridge, Wood first came to my attention with his book on American filmmaker Howard Hawks, published in 1968. The book was noteworthy for the seriousness (still rare in those days) with which it approached a Hollywood director, its moral rigor and its emotional honesty, and its enthusiasm. I think these have been hallmarks of Wood's work throughout his career. Even when one disagrees with his views, and I sometimes do, one never doubts the sincerity of the opinion. Wood is the opposite of a poseur.

2000 Toronto International Film Festival—Part 6

Independent filmmaking that is genuinely independent

Platform, written and directed by Jia Zhang-ke Yi Yi [A One and a Two], written and directed by Edward Yang

By David Walsh, 12 October 2000

Platform ( Zhantai) was apparently a Chinese pop song in the 1980s. In an interview director Jia Zhang-ke explained that the song—whose title refers to a railway platform—contains the line, “We are waiting, our whole hearts are waiting, waiting forever...” He observed: “It's because we're still ‘waiting' that I decided to name the film after the song.”

2000 Toronto International Film Festival—Part 5

"The world is so complicated, who'd want to see it?"

The House of Mirth, directed by Terence Davies, based on the novel by Edith Wharton Little Cheung, written and directed by Fruit Chan

By David Walsh, 9 October 2000

These are two thoroughly admirable films, in my opinion.

2000 Toronto International Film Festival—Part 4

Children in the mountains

A Time for Drunken Horses, written and directed by Bahman Ghobadi

By David Walsh, 5 October 2000

I first encountered Iranian Kurdish filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi's work in a surprising manner. A short film of his, Life in Fog, turned up uncredited on a videotape of another Iranian filmmaker's work last year at the San Francisco film festival.

2000 Toronto International Film Festival - Part 3

Why are these women escaping?

The Circle, directed by Jafar Panahi, screenplay by Kambozia Partovi, based on an original work by Panahi

By Joanne Laurier, 2 October 2000

Jafar Panahi's latest film, The Circle, earns the Iranian filmmaker a place as one of the world's most courageous artists. As Panahi indicated in an interview with the WSWS, also posted today, the film was created in the face of official disapproval. It has not been shown publicly in Iran, although it won the Golden Lion as best film at the recent Venice film festival. Meeting the director, described by an associate as someone who makes no compromises, one immediately recognizes a man of deep, even painfully deep conviction and feeling. His previous works, The White Balloon (1995) and The Mirror (1997), are beautiful, sensitive films which, like many products of the Iranian cinema, circumvented the censor by speaking through children.

An interview with Jafar Panahi, director of The Circle

By David Walsh, 2 October 2000

The film seems to have an angrier and bolder tone and subject matter than your previous works. Is this the result of the development of the situation in Iran, your own personal development or both?

2000 Toronto International Film Festival—Part 2

Without flinching

Bye Bye Africa, written and directed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun

By David Walsh, 28 September 2000

Bye Bye Africa is an honest and moving film, an unusual one. An exiled African filmmaker (played by the director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun) and his French wife are woken up in the middle of the night by a telephone-call. His mother has died. He returns to Chad after a long absence, also taking with him a script he wants to film.

2000 Toronto International Film Festival

An interview with David Gordon Green, director of George Washington

By David Walsh, 28 September 2000

George Washington, written and directed by David Gordon, looks at a group of young people, mostly black, in a Southern town, more or less on their own terms. George, a 13-year-old, who has to wear a football helmet because of a head injury; the narrator, Nasia; and the fast-talking Buddy. They come together and separate and come together again. The film takes its time. The dialogue is not composed of everyday conversation, but heightened, manipulated. The filmmaker has not condescended; emotions and thoughts are articulated carefully.

2000 Toronto International Film Festival - Part 1

Who makes up the artistic vanguard today?

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 25 September 2000

This year's Toronto film festival presented a considerable variety of works among its 330 short and feature films. As always there was a divide between the commercial and art cinema and, within the latter, between the serious filmmaker and the poseur. East Asian and Iranian films continued to be strongest, but there was remarkable European and American work too.

Sydney Film Festival

"The pleasure of seeing should be the moving force"

A selection of Max Ophuls films

By Richard Phillips, 15 August 2000

One of the highlights of the Sydney Film Festival was the screening of five classic films— La Signora di Tutti (1934), The Reckless Moment (1949), Le Plaisir (1951), Madame de... (1953) and Lola Montès (1955)—by German born director Max Ophuls, one of the more significant European filmmakers of his era.

Sydney Film Festival

A critical look at aspects of life in contemporary India

By Richard Phillips, 7 July 2000

Two films from India— The Lady of the House, written and directed by Rituparno Ghosh, and The Throne of Death by Murali Nair—were shown at the Sydney festival. Warmly received by festival audiences around the world, these well-crafted films—the first about a lonely spinster, the other about the frame-up and execution of a peasant labourer—take a critical look at aspects of life in contemporary India.

Sydney Film Festival

Artistic variety and substance sacrificed to commercial considerations

By Richard Phillips, 5 July 2000

This is the first in a series of articles by WSWS correspondents on the recent Sydney Film Festival. Forthcoming articles will review some of the more significant films screened during the two-week event.

2000 San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 8

The compassionate gaze

Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami at the San Francisco film festival

By David Walsh, 12 June 2000

This is the final article in a series by WSWS Arts Editor David Walsh on the San Francisco International Film Festival, held April 20 through May 4.

2000 San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 7

Preserving the utopian moment

An interview with Daniel Schmid, director of Beresina or the Last Days of Switzerland

By David Walsh, 8 June 2000

“Because the climate in the early '70s for this whole group we were somehow forming—Werner Schroeter, Rainer Fassbinder, all these people—at this time everybody was into political films, engaged films; and at this time everybody looked at us like fascists. Or like completely useless. That was a time when I said, finally, ‘I want to do movies that are completely inutile and inoubliable [useless and unforgettable]'...” — Daniel Schmid in a 1983 interview

2000 San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 6

The big idea that everybody has

An interview with Bibiana Beglau, actress in The Legends of Rita, directed by Volker Schlöndorff

By David Walsh, 5 June 2000

One doesn't know how much luck veteran German filmmaker Volker Schlöndorff (The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum [1975], The Tin Drum [1979]) will have finding a North American distributor for his year-old film about radical terrorists in the 1970s and 1980s. He's already suffered a blow, in my view, with the English-language translation of its title. The German title— Die Stille nach dem Schuß ( The Stillness after the Shot)—points to the film's central concern: the fate of the remnants of the Baader-Meinhof group after the “excitement” of the 1970s died down. (See our review from the Berlin film festival, Putting his finger on a wound [http://www.wsws.org/articles/2000/mar2000/bff4-m03.shtml])

2000 San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 5

A French film of a different sort

An interview with Claire Devers, director of The Thief of St. Lubin

By David Walsh, 2 June 2000

France is one of the relatively few countries whose film industry continues to produce in the face of Hollywood domination of the world's cinemas. Unfortunately, all too many of the works currently made by the art cinema in France are studies of the self-involved and self-satisfied French middle class executed in a generally self-involved and self-satisfied manner. There can hardly be anything more painful to watch.

2000 San Francisco International Film Festival- Part 4

Films about important subjects that don't explain enough

By David Walsh, 30 May 2000

To see deeply, however, one has to have a critical vantage point. What's the purpose of simply registering the accomplished fact? No one has ever gained very much from that. Perhaps, above all, the nonfiction filmmaker must have a sense of history and historical development. How many today possess such a sense? It would certainly assist artists in resisting the argument that contemporary society represents the final stage of human development.

2000 San Francisco International Film Festival- Part 3

War and peace

An interview with Khalil Joreige, co-director of Around the Pink House

By David Walsh, 26 May 2000

Lebanon is in the headlines again, in the wake of the Israeli withdrawal. Around the Pink House, co-directed by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, deals with another aspect of the Lebanese tragedy.

53rd Cannes Film Festival comes to an end

By Stefan Steinberg, 24 May 2000

Prizes were awarded Sunday at the Cannes film festival. In all 700 films from 75 countries were featured at this year's event. In the main competition section just 23 films were selected and the total reflected a tendency already visible at this year's Berlin film festival—a lack of representation by European countries with a strong film tradition. Germany, Italy and Spain were among European countries with no official entries for the competition. Britain featured with just one film, the new production by Ken Loach, Bread and Roses.

2000 San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 2

There are still some courageous people, even in the film industry

An interview with Yesim Ustaoglu, director of Journey to the Sun

By David Walsh, 24 May 2000

This is the second in a series of articles on this year's San Francisco film festival, held April 20-May 4. Aside from an article on documentaries shown at the festival, the pieces will primarily be records of conversations—with five filmmakers and one performer. This is the first in that series of conversations which will be appearing regularly over the next two weeks.

Singapore International Film Festival

Films from India: The Servant's Shirt and Split Wide Open

By Richard Phillips, 15 May 2000

The Indian film industry produces up to 900 features a year, far outstripping Hollywood's annual output and making it the world's largest producer of movies. Although the overwhelming majority of these are mindless products—musicals, romances, action adventures or peculiar combinations of all three—known collectively as “Bollywood”, there are a number of thoughtful directors in India who reject the lure of immediate commercial success and produce unique and socially conscious films.

2000 San Francisco International Film Festival— Part 1

Everything must be done to restore hope

By David Walsh, 13 May 2000

This is the first of a series of articles by WSWS Arts Editor David Walsh on the recent San Francisco International Film Festival. Subsequent articles will appear in the coming days.

Singapore International Film Festival

An interview with Bernice Chauly—Malaysian filmmaker

By Peter Stavropoulos and Richard Phillips, 10 May 2000

Malaysian-based film director and writer Bernice Chauly screened two films at last month's Singapore International Film Festival: Semangat Insan—Masters of Tradition, a documentary on traditional Malaysian art forms, and Bakun or the Dam, a short film about the Bakun dam project in Sarawak (North Borneo).

Singapore International Film Festival

An interesting experiment in cinematic education

By Richard Phillips, 3 May 2000

“Children are the vision of our dreams; they are the embodiment of life more than anything else. The adults are all mentally devastated. They suffer from the past, from a state of despair. You can only find the hope and passion for life in children. Part of the reason Iranian films are beaming with life is because of the presence of children in them.”

Singapore International Film Festival

"Some films can change the fate of their characters"

Mohsen Makhmalbaf speaks to WSWS

By Richard Phillips, 28 April 2000

Mohsen Makhmalbaf is one of Iran's most well-known and influential film directors. Born in 1957 in a poor working class district in Tehran, Makhmalbaf left school and began working at the age of 15 in order to support his family. In 1974, at the age of 17, he joined one of the many radical organisations that sprang up to fight the Shah's regime. He was jailed and sentenced to death after the organisation attacked a police station. Makhmalbaf escaped the death penalty and was released in the wake of the 1979 Islamic revolution after serving five years jail. He began writing plays, essays, short stories and then film scripts declaring that he planned to devote his life to art as a force for social change.

Singapore International Film Festival

The Silence and The Door, two films by Mohsen Makhmalbaf

By Richard Phillips, 27 April 2000

A highlight of the Singapore International Film Festival was the large selection—15 in total—of recent Iranian features and documentaries. This included: The Wind Will Carry Us by Abbas Kiarostami (see link to previous review below), Willow and Wind by Mohammad Ali Talebi, from a script by Kiarostami, The Cart by Golam Reza Ramezani, Birth of a Butterfly by Motjaba Raie and Sweet Agony by Ali-Reza Davudnezhad.

Film directors and critics at Singapore film festival oppose Hindu extremist attempt to stop Deepa Mehta film

24 April 2000

Last January Hindu fundamentalist thugs, with the tacit support of the Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP), the main party in India's National Democratic Alliance government, attacked and destroyed Deepa Mehta's film set in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. Mehta, who was about to begin shooting her latest film, Water, the last of her Indian trilogy, was accused of insulting Hinduism by the fundamentalists. The BJP state government in Uttar Pradesh claimed Mehta was responsible for the disorder and banned production of the film in that state. Mehta has vowed to make the film and plans to resume filming at another location in India later in the year.

Film festival director talks to WSWS about censorship in Singapore

By Richard Phillips, 24 April 2000

Singapore, which is one of Asia's most modern cities, has a promising arts scene with several theatres, film production facilities, and a number of contemporary galleries and art museums. The island republic has one of the highest computer-to-household ratios (45 to 100) in the world and Internet use is extensive—the highest in Asia. According to some predictions, every household, school and library will have high-speed broadband access to the Internet by the end of this year.

Singapore Film Festival

An interview with Viet Linh, director of Collective Flat

By Richard Phillips, 21 April 2000

Like many Vietnamese directors Viet Linh started her film training at the Giai Phong Film Studio. She worked as an editor and then, after graduating from a cinematography course at the studio, began writing documentary film scripts. She later travelled to Russia for more advanced cinema studies.

Singapore International Film Festival

Two films from Vietnam: The Wild Field and Collective Flat

By Richard Phillips, 20 April 2000

This is the first in a series of articles on the 13th Singapore International Film Festival held from March 31 to April 15. World Socialist Web Site reporters attended this year's festival, which is, after Tokyo and Hong Kong, regarded as one of the more significant festivals in Asia.

Berlin Film Festival, part 7

An onlooker in a world falling apart

Paths In The Night ( Wege in die Nacht), directed by Andreas Kleinert

By Bernd Reinhardt, 15 March 2000

Film director Andreas Kleinert belongs to the last generation of filmmakers that emerged in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). Born in 1962, Kleinert's attitudes were shaped by the late 1970s, and particularly by the 1980s—a period of increasing disillusionment. He wrote his thesis on “Levels of Consciousness in the Film Poetry of Andrei Tarkovsky,” the late Soviet film director who made a name for himself in the pre-perestroika years with bleak films such as Stalker.

Berlin Film Festival

Interview with Irene Langemann, director of Russia's Wonder Children

13 March 2000

Irene Langemann was born in 1959 in Issikul (Siberia). She worked as an actress, scriptwriter and director in Moscow between 1980 and 1990, and from 1983 she moderated and directed for Russian television. Three years later she headed the “theatre Nasch” and in 1990 travelled to Germany where she prepared contributions for the radio program “Turntable Europa” for the Deutsche Welle in Cologne.

Berlin Film Festival, part 6

Art and poverty

Russia's Wonder Children, directed by Irene Langemann

By Bernd Reinhardt, 13 March 2000

Russia's Wonder Children deals with the Central Music School at the Moscow Conservatory, founded in 1932. The film's director explains that any highly gifted child able to study at the school is on his or her way to becoming part of the music elite.

Berlin Film Festival, part 5

Beyond the shadow of Milosevic

The Punishment, a documentary film by Goran Rebic

By Bernd Reinhardt, 8 March 2000

The young director Goran Rebic began filming The Punishment at about the same time as the German media were defaming prominent Austrian writer Peter Handke as a friend of the Milosevic government in Serbia. From the very beginning of the NATO campaign Handke had declared the bombing of Serbia to be a crime.

Berlin Film Festival

Interview with Goran Rebic, director of The Punishment

8 March 2000

Goran Rebic was born in Vojvodina (Yugoslavia) in 1968 and has lived in Vienna from the age of one. Following his documentary films During the Many Years (1991) and At the Edge of the World (1992), he completed his first full-length feature film Jugofilm in 1996.

Berlin Film Festival, part 4

Putting his finger on a wound

Rita's Legends (Die Stille nach dem Schuß)

By Stefan Steinberg, 3 March 2000

Rita's Legends (Die Stille nach dem Schuß), directed by Volker Schlöndorff, screenplay by Wolfgang Kohlhaase

Berlin film festival, part 3

The successful depiction of a zeitgeist

Zoe, directed by Maren-Kea Freese

By Bernd Reinhardt, 1 March 2000

Twenty-six-year-old Karola has come to Berlin from a small town. She assumes the name Zoe, lives from hand to mouth, sleeps at various friends' places and wants just one thing, to avoid a life like her parents'. She carries her entire possessions in a handful of plastic bags and comes and goes as she pleases. No one can to tell her how to live her life, no one tells her what music she should listen to—music which she occasionally plays when she helps out as DJ at a dive of a club. If it turns out she's the only one who likes the music, then she doesn't mind dancing alone. When asked why she likes playing records, she says its fun to “get people off their backsides”. No one, however, wants to listen to her music.

Berlin film festival:

An interview with the director of Zoe, Maren-Kea Freese

By Bernd Reinhardt, 1 March 2000

Maren-Kea Freese (b. 1960) studied film science, journalism and German studies at the Free University in Berlin. She has worked as assistant director with George Tabori and Rosa von Praunheim, as well as for the local theatre in the town of Aachen. She also worked for the editorial board of “Literature and Art” for the television channel ZDF. In 1990 she began studying at the Academy of Film and Television in Berlin. Her first short films date back to 1983. Zoe is her first full-length film.

Berlin film festival, part 2

The tension between cinematic vision and life itself

The Million Dollar Hotel, directed by Wim Wenders

By Stefan Steinberg, 26 February 2000

This is the second in a series of articles on the recent 50th Berlinale, the international film festival, held February 9-20. The festival is one of the largest in the world, with more than 300 films screened. Subsequent articles will review a number of the most interesting works, including a new film by German filmmaker Volker Schlöndorff, as well as documentaries on the Kosovo war and conditions in post-Soviet Russia.

The 50th Berlin film festival: pomp and paucity

By Stefan Steinberg and Bernd Reinhardt, 24 February 2000

This is the first in a series of articles on the recent 50th Berlinale, the Berlin film festival, held February 9-20. The festival is one of the largest in the world, with more than 300 films screened. Subsequent articles will review a number of the most interesting works, including new films by German filmmakers Wim Wenders and Volker Schlöndorff, as well as documentaries on the Kosovo war and conditions in post-Soviet Russia.

The 1999 Toronto International Film Festival—fifth and final in a series of articles by David Walsh

The importance of knowing something about the world

7 October 1999

Thirty years ago it would have been widely accepted that objective knowledge about society and history was an asset for a filmmaker. Of course some took advantage of their audience at the time and made works that were merely radical tracts, not enduring works of art. The better film artists, however, adopted a serious attitude toward social life and aesthetics. Today by and large such an attitude is considered a hindrance. Pastiche, improvisation, surface gloss are highly valued; art is apparently produced by the organization of clever accidents. This is a temporary state of affairs, but a costly and destructive one. Art, including bad art, has consequences.

The 1999 Toronto International Film Festival—fourth in a series of articles by David Walsh

Some problems the cinema is equipped to deal with

5 October 1999

The partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 was an historic tragedy of terrible proportions. One million Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims died in its communalist aftermath, some 14 million people were forced to leave their homes—the greatest human migration ever recorded. Shadows in the Dark is an effort by Indian filmmaker Pankaj Butalia to trace out the enduring psychological legacy of partition.

The 1999 Toronto International Film Festival-third in a series of article by David Walsh

Films from Taiwan and China

2 October 1999

This seems to me a legitimate question: is the fact that one is so astonished by the best films from Taiwan a tribute to the remarkable advances in filmmaking made in that country, or does it simply underscore the general weakness of cinema in much of the rest of the world? Put another way: is the strength of the Taiwanese films merely a relative phenomenon, or does it contain an absolute element? I don't know if it's possible to answer this in any precise way, but I suspect that both factors come into play.

The 1999 Toronto International Film Festival— second in a series of articles by David Walsh

A dry bone in a stream

The Wind Will Carry Us, written and directed by Abbas Kiarostami, based on an idea by Mahmoud Ayedin

28 September 1999

I felt that Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami's The Wind Will Carry Us was the most complex and intellectually challenging film at the recent Toronto festival. To a certain extent, it was in a category by itself.

The 1999 Toronto International Film Festival

First in a series of articles by David Walsh

24 September 1999

Cinema, good and bad, has an ever larger audience. Many factors account for this, but one fact of life struck me after ten days at the Toronto film festival: even the least developed figures in films are more appealing, as a rule, than the individuals who dominate political and social life. This has international application, but seems particularly true for the United States. It is positively painful, after having immersed oneself in 45 films or so from various countries, to be confronted once again by the coarseness, stupidity and general vileness of American politicians and media personalities.

An interview with Deepa Mehta, director of Earth

"If people want to separate they should understand what it would really mean"

By Richard Phillips, 6 August 1999

Indian-born director Deepa Mehta spoke with Richard Phillips last month following her attendance at the Melbourne International Film Festival. The festival, like its Sydney counterpart, screened Earth, Mehta's latest work. The film, based on the novel Cracking India by Bapsi Sidhwa, deals with the 1947 partition of India, as witnessed by a child. Earth will be released world-wide in mid-September with Australian screenings beginning in Melbourne on September 16 and Sydney showings sometime in October.

1999 Sydney Film Festival

A conversation with Petr Lutsik

"To show there is still something alive in the soul of the people"

By Richard Phillips, 17 July 1999

Petr Lutsik, the 39-year-old Ukrainian born film director of Outskirts began his formal education in the film industry after he had graduated from the Moscow Institute of Steel Technologies in 1982. Lutsik enrolled at the Moscow Film Academy, specialising in scriptwriting, and went on to work as an assistant director and administrator for the Uzbekfilm Studio in 1984-85 before collaborating with Alexei Samorijadov on scripts for eight feature films. Outskirts, released in 1998, is his directorial debut.