Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Al-makhdu’un / The Dupes (2023 restoration by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project)

Tewfik Saleh: المخدوعون / Al-makhdu’un / The Dupes (SY 1972).

المخدوعون / Petetyt / De bedragna / Gli ingannati / Les Dupes.
    Syria 1972. Director: Tewfik Saleh. Sog.: dalla novella Rijāl Fī Al-Shams (Men in the Sun, 1963) di Ghassan Kanafani. Scen.: Tewfik Saleh. F.: Bahgat Heidar. M.: Farin Dib, Saheb Haddad. Mus.: Solhi El-Wadi. Int.: Mohamed Kheir-Halouani (Abou Keïss), Abderrahman Alrahy (Abou Kheizarane), Bassan Lofti Abou-Ghazala (Assaad), Saleh Kholoki (Marouane), Thanaa Debsi (Om Keïss). Prod.: National Film Organization (Siria). DCP. D.: 107’. Bn.
    Language: Arabic. 
    Restored in 2023 by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project and Cineteca di Bologna in collaboration with the National Film Organization and the family of Tewfik Saleh. Special thanks to Mohamed Challouf and Nadi Nekol Nas. Funding by the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation. The 4K restoration used a 35 mm dupe negative preserved by the Bulgarian National Film Archive (Bulgarska Nacionalna Filmoteka) and was completed by L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory
    DCP from The Film Foundation with English subtitles. E-subtitles in Italian by Robert De Buoi.
    Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna: Cinemalibero.
    Introduced by Anni Kanafani and Mohamed Tewfik Saleh.
    Viewed at Jolly Cinema, 27 June 2023.

Tahar Cheriaa, Tewfik Saleh (1971, as quoted Bologna 2023 catalog): " A leader without followers, a master without disciples, Tewfik Saleh represents a unique case in Egyptian cinema. With nine films to his credit (in addition to material shot in India that the Egyptian censors forbade him to edit), Saleh’s work, which has always been uncompromising, today constitutes a coherent corpus that cannot be completely ascribed to the social realism so dear to Egyptian critics. The points of contact between his films and those of Chahine, Abu Seif, Barakat, Kamel Morsi, etc. are sometimes more apparent than anything else; certainly all these filmmakers tell the stories of the common people, of the fellah (farmer) who bravely works the land in an expanse of mud, of the under-proletariat that survives in the miserable neighbourhoods of Cairo or Alexandria. They certainly look at the destitute and marginalised with humanity, arousing empathy in the viewer. But these directors, almost all of whom belong to the middle class, still lack the lucidity and commitment that come from a true social and political consciousness… This is where Saleh stands out; he is, like Sembène, a true Marxist filmmaker for whom making a film is a true political act. Here is what he himself told me about The Dupes: “I worked on the adaptation of Men in the Sun by Ghassan Kanafani – a militant of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine assassinated on 9 July 1972 in Beirut by the Zionist secret services (Mossad) – from 1964 to 1971. My intentions and my interpretation of the novel and its characters changed in light of the tragic events that took place in the region in June 1967 and September 1970. In the latest version, I wanted to emphasise the element of escape that characterises the Middle East at this time. Three characters from three different generations, representing three phases of the same collective problem, decide to flee their situation in search of what each considers or hopes to be their individual salvation. But the end is very different from their expectations; there is no individual salvation from a collective tragedy. And this is the lesson that history teaches us every day”. " Tahar Cheriaa, Tewfik Saleh, in Dossiers du cinéma: Cinéastes, edited by Jean-Louis Bory, Claude Michel Cluny, Casterman, Paris 1971

AA: Anni Kanafani and Mohamed Tewfik Saleh stated in their introductions that The Dupes, directed by Tewfik Saleh (1926-2013) is based on Ghassan Kanafani's story Men in the Sun. It was a miracle that the movie was made. It is now the 50th anniversary of its first screening.

One of the most powerful movies of the Festival, the 50 year old The Dupes, directed in Syria by the Egyptian Tewfik Saleh, is more topical now than when it was made. The inhabitants of Palestine and Israel remain in the trap laid by the colonial powers after WWI and the demise of the Ottoman Empire. After WWII, Jews were forced into exile both from Europe and the Mahgreb and other Middle Eastern countries. The Arabs of Palestine remain unwelcome everywhere, their situation made far worse by the excesses of Israel's nationalist militarist governments.

The desert trek of the three refugees with destination Kuwait is grimly naturalistic. But Tewfik Saleh creates also a work of highly charged poetry, with deeply reverberating symbolism that grows organically from the fabula. The sense of existential despair is worthy of Kafka.

One of the greatest refugee stories of all time, The Dupes is also a suspense thriller that has been justifiedly compared with The Wages of Fear. Let's remember that one of the starting points of William Friedkin's adaptation Sorcerer was the Damascus Gate.

It is time and again a source of infinite shame and horror that the birthplace of the three great monotheistic religions (all sharing the Ten Commandments, including "Thou Shalt Not Kill") is a hotbed of war, hate and discrimination.

The fate of the three refugees in the tank of the truck evokes the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

Visually, the film is laconically expressive. Deep emotion is conveyed via the tragic and compelling music score.

The visual quality of the restoration is clean and sober, occasionally with a duped look (pun unintended).

Faces of Israel

Michael Roemer: Faces of Israel (US 1966).

US 1966. D: Michael Roemer. F.: Robert M. Young. M.: Michael Roemer, Peter Vollstadt, Sara Miller. DCP. Bn. 27 min
    Digital video from Library of Congress
    Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna 2023: Recovered and Restored
    Viewed at Cinema Lumiere - Sala Scorsese, 27 June 2023

Haden Guest (Bologna catalog 2023): " Roemer’s rarely screened portrait of Israel just before the Six-Day War is a poetic essay film that counts among his most politically charged works – a charge made immediately clear by the haunting, damning image that opens the film: the corpse of a Holocaust victim. Faces of Israel powerfully echoes the lyrical yet understated intellectual montage best refined by Chris Marker with its observational exploration of everyday life and labor in Israel. Eschewing the kind of voice-over dialogue forced upon Cortile Cascino, Roemer instead allows his footage to create spaces for empathy and understanding that transcends language, inviting the viewer into intimate familial and sacred moments including, most powerfully, the welcoming of new arrivals to Israel. Throughout these scenes in Faces of Israel, whole gestures, emotion and setting are allowed to say more than words ever could. Roemer shot his footage in 1966 while in Israel to research  a never realized film about Martin Buber. An earlier version of this film was screened in 1966 on PBS, but that is not the same, far superior film that will be screened here. " Haden Guest

AA: From the corpse of the Holocaust victim we cut to screaming jets and further footage of military might: armoured trains, military parades and combat helicopters. Hasidim crowd on the square, sacred meals are prepared, children are having a music lesson, and the teacher is one-armed. The might of the chorus singing is impressive. We witness the everyday and the holiday. A jeep traverses the desert, with views to vineyards and sheep farms. We find ourselves on Kinneret Farm. Muslims are at prayer, children are bathed, a donkey carries a huge load of grain, women are engaged in gun drill exercises, at a cabaret, "La cumparsita" is being played.

Calm before the storm of the Six Day War.

Cortile Cascino

Robert M. Young, Michael Roemer: Cortile Cascino (US 1962).

US 1962. Director: Robert M. Young, Michael Roemer. Scen., M.: Robert M. Young, Michael Roemer. F.: Robert M. Young. Prod.: NBC Television. 16 mm. Bn. 46 min
    Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna 2023: Recovered and Restored
    Copy from La Cinémathèque francaise. Original commentary in English. Sottotitoli italiani: Eleonor Garolini.
    Introduced by Goffredo Fofi, hosted by Gian Luca Farinelli.
    Viewed at Cinema Lumiere - Sala Scorsese, 27 June 2023

Haden Guest (Bologna 2023 catalog): " Michael Roemer and Robert Young co-directed their visually striking essayistic portrait of impoverished Southern Italy for an NBC documentary series whose producers were so shocked and troubled by the film’s frank depiction of hardship that they immediately cancelled the broadcast and fired Young, then on the channel’s payroll. By NBC orders, the film’s negative was destroyed but a print was saved by a dedicated NBC employee who believed in the film’s merits. Seen today Cortile Cascino – despite the English language voice-over imposed by NBC upon the film – is an extraordinary document that captures a pocket of Europe forgotten by postwar progress, where the difficult conditions of pre-WW2 stubbornly persist. " Haden Guest

AA: Like the classics of the city symphony genre, this powerful documentary film starts with a train entering the city and ends with the train leaving it.

Goffredo Fofi in his introduction compared Cortile Cascino with Los olvidados. Only the poverty and squalor here is even more devastating, so much so that Luis Buñuel reportedly refused to believe it.

We are in a land of unacceptable misery where living quarters are indistinguishable from a garbage heap. The children of the community are dealt the worst possible hand. Boys dream of the mafia as the way out. Girls are made to feel the temptation of prostitution.

Mafia indeed is a central social power, "like death, always with us". Goffredo Fofi reminisced of the era of Salvatore Giuliani. I was reminded of a woman who knew both Luis Buñuel and Salvatore Giuliani: the Swedish anti-fascist fighter Karin Lannby / Maria Cyliakus

The terrain vague circumstances and the theme of the salvage of garbage remind us of Agnès Varda's Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse

It is not all misery. We see gorgeous landscapes, observe a beautiful wedding and hear haunting Sicilian songs that seem to carry messages from thousands of years of Mediterranean life and beyond.

In general I have misgivings of candid camera footage of poor, defenseless people. We are meant to feel guilty and uneasy, but would these people like us to see them this way? It is impossible to say. Anyway, Robert M. Young's and Michael Roemer's film maudit is not a case of social porn but of dignity and solidarity.

Bushman (2022 restoration by University of California, Berkeley Art Museum, Pacific Film Archive and The Film Foundation)

David Schickele: Bushman (US 1971) with Paul Eyam Nzie Okpokam as Bushman.

US 1971. Director: David Schickele. Scen.: David Schickele. F.: David Myers. M.: Jennifer Chinlund, David Schickele. Int.: Paul Eyam Nzie Okpokam (Bushman), Elaine Featherstone (Alma), Lothario Lotho (fratello di Alma), Ann Scofield (ragazza conosciuta al bar), Jack Nance (Felix), David Schickele (Mark), Donna Michelson (Diane), Patrick Gleeson (Marty). Prod.: The Bushman Company, The American Film Institute. DCP. D.: 73’. Bn.
    Restored in 4K in 2022 by University of California, Berkeley Art Museum, Pacific Film Archive and The Film Foundation from the original negatives. Restoration was carried out by Corpus Fluxus at Illuminate Hollywood (picture restoration), Audio Mechanics (sound restoration) and at Fotokem laboratory. Funding provided by the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation. Additional support provided by Peter Conheim, Cinema Preservation Alliance
    DCP from Milestone / Kino Lorber.
    Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna 2023: Cinemalibero.
    Viewed at Jolly Cinema, 27 June 2023.

Cecilia Cenciarelli (Bologna 2023 catalog): " A tracking shot follows a young man as he walks along the side of a gently sloping road. Hands in his pockets, he proceeds barefoot with a pair of Converse on his head. Ambient sounds and the barking of an off-screen dog are swallowed up by the sound of percussion and tribal song. The camera gradually approaches him as he turns around and signals to thumb a ride. Over his extreme close-up, the soundtrack blends magnificent tribal harmonies, Yoruba percussion and the sound of a harpsichord playing Henry Purcell’s Ground in C Minor. The music here introduces the story’s two locations (United States and Nigeria), whose images (in the present and in the form of memories and flashbacks) alternate throughout the film, mapping the protagonist Gabriel’s identity. The rest of soundtrack continues to make use of this process of synthesis; like his better-known brother Peter, the composer and polyinstrumentalist David Schickele entrusts it with the task of articulating and supporting the film’s cultural and racial discourse, also on an emotional level. "

" “1968: Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, Bobby Hutton are amongst the recent dead”; this text is superimposed as we again follow the young man from behind; then, in a parallel montage with two children in a forest carrying jars on their heads, we read “In Nigeria the civil war is entering its second year and no end is in sight”. The white smoke of the factories against the blinding light of the morning skies allows us to glimpse the outline of San Francisco while the young man finally finds someone to give him a lift. We are barely into the third minute of the film when a caustic dialogue with the biker – half-way between Sembène’s Borom Sarret and a parody of Easy Rider – subverts the tone of the prologue. With one eye on cinéma vérité, the European new waves and early Cassavetes, and the other on African pioneers like Sembène, Ecaré and Hondo, Schickele not only condemns the reactionary and racist America which will later frame Gabriel on the slightest of pretexts, but also the liberal America of progressive intellectuals who quote McLuhan and Malraux but lapse into rhetoric and misunderstand the deeper meaning of human experience. With irony, poetry and a delicate touch, Bushman leads us into the darkness of the beginnings of an odyssey. And for days, you are unable to think of anything else. " Cecilia Cenciarelli

AA: The tribulations of a young Nigerian intellectual in Northern California.

The musician and film-maker David Schickele had joined the Peace Corps in Nigeria in 1961 and was thus privileged to convey the culture shock experienced by the Black student Paul in San Francisco State College. The film moves back and forth between the past and the present, Nigerian village life and Bay Area counterculture in an era of rebellion and free love.

It is about life during wartime - in Nigeria, and also in America in 1968, the year of political assassinations. Zealous policemen plant or fake evidence of a bomb to arrest and deport Paul.

Freewheeling, spontaneous film-making, in the inspiration of international new waves. 

White women are curious to date Paul which leads to a series of humoristic observations in the style of the "Italian abroad" comedy cycle linked with Alberto Sordi (I magliari: Germany, Il diavolo: Sweden, Fumo di Londra: Britain, Un italiano in America: USA... ).

The soundtrack is inspiring. Besides the ingredients detailed by Cecilia Cenciarelli above, there is "Respect" by Aretha Franklin, "Down In The Valley" by Otis Redding, "My Girl" by The Temptations, "Blue Velvet" by Bobby Vinton, etc. Francis Coppola is acknowledged in the final credits. Joseph Conrad > T. S. Eliot quotes "Mistah Kurtz - he dead" and "the horror, the horror" are included.

An important restoration of a film with a unique African viewpoint to a period of great change in America.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Yukinojo henge / An Actor's Revenge (Kinugasa, digest of the 1935-1936 trilogy)

Teinosuke Kinugasa: 雪之丞変化 / Yukinojo henge / An Actor's Revenge (JP 1935). To the left: Chojiro Hayashi (Yukinojo). Foto © National Film Archive of Japan.

雪之丞変化 / Revenge of a Kabuki Actor [the title on print] / [La vendetta di un attore].
    JP 1935. Director: Teinosuke Kinugasa. Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo (1935) di Otokichi Mikami. Scen.: Daisuke Ito, Teinosuke Kinugasa. F.: Kohei Sugiyama. Int.: Chojiro Hayashi (Yukinojo Nakamura / Yamitaro / madre di Yukinojo), Tokusaburo Arashi (Kikunojo Nakamura), Kokuten Kodo (Dobe Sansai), Akiko Chihaya (Namiji), Naoe Fushimi (Ohatsu), Yoshindo Yamaji (Kadokura Heima), Yasuro Shiga (Hiromiya), Kinnosuke Takamatsu (Nagasakiya), Komei Minami (Hamakawa), Ryoma Kusakabe (Yokoyama). Prod.: Shochiku. 35 mm. D.: 97’. Bn.
    Unreleased in Finland.
    Language: Japanese - with English subtitles - e-subtitles in Italian.
    Print from NFAJ courtesy of Shochiku.
    Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, 2023, Teinosuke Kinugasia: From Shadow to Light
    Viewed at Jolly Cinema, 26 June 2023.

According to Alexander Jacoby and Johan Nordström this print is a digest of two feature length episodes. According to Berlin Film Festival 2014, it is a digest of three episodes originally totalling five hours. Also Japanese Wikipedia discusses a Yukinojo henge trilogy (1935-1936).

Alexander Jacoby e Johan Nordström (Bologna catalog 2023): " A kabuki actor specialising in female roles (onnagata) orchestrates an elaborate revenge on the villains responsible for his parents’ deaths. The most famous version of this story was made in flamboyant colour by director Kon Ichikawa in 1963, marking the 300th film performance by its star, Kazuo Hasegawa. Under his earlier stage name of Chojiro Hayashi, the actor had starred nearly 30 years earlier in Kinugasa’s version of the story, a huge commercial hit in its day, but rarely screened outside Japan. As in the remake, Hayashi (a regular collaborator with Kinugasa) appeared in a dual role, playing not only the onnagata Yukinojo but also the gentleman thief Yamitaro. "

" The source novel was by Otokichi Mikami (1891-1944), a prolific author who earned himself the nickname of the “Balzac of Japan”. He was influenced by a diverse range of Western writers including Turgenev, Victor Hugo, Zola and Oscar Wilde. Yukinojo henge, which was serialised in the “Asahi Shimbun” newspaper between 1934 and 1935, is his most famous work. The Japanese title carries a double meaning; “henge” refers to a costume change in the theatre as well as to a ghost. "

" Kinugasa may have taken a particular interest in the subject matter since Japanese films up to the early 1920s employed onnagata and he himself, before becoming a director, had been one. The film was originally released in two separate feature length episodes in June and October 1935; the first was scripted by jidaigeki master Daisuke Ito, the latter by Kinugasa himself. This condensed single feature is all that survives. " 

" Though Kinugasa’s version lacks the delirious visual impact of its remake, it creatively uses special effects and expressionist lighting, while the period atmosphere is delineated with exceptional precision. The “Kinema Junpo” reviewer admired the film’s high production values, Kohei Sugiyama’s camerawork (which was praised for capturing the aura of the kabuki theatre) and the acting by Hayashi and Naoe Fushimi. The film ended up ranking tenth in the “Kinema Junpo” critics’ poll of that year. Audiences too enjoyed Hayashi’s performance in female guise so much so that he played onnagata not only in the remake, but in other films, including Kinugasa’s own Hebihimesama (Snake Princess, 1940). " Alexander Jacoby e Johan Nordström 

Berlin Film Festival 2014: " Yukinojo’s parents were driven to suicide by three local officials when the actor was just a child. He grows up to become a well-known ‘onnagata’ (a man playing female roles). In 1863, he travels with his kabuki troupe to Edo (Tokyo). When he discovers his three archenemies in the audience, he plots revenge. He engages in a brilliant sword fight with henchmen of the clan leader. He sets the estate of a fraudulent trader ablaze before death overtakes his adversaries in the theater, making it a ‘moral institution’ … The film frames its star, Chojiro Hayashi/Kazuo Hasegawa, who plays several roles, including one female, in a soft, ‘feminine’ light. There is a notable alternation between the traditional bright lighting of the theater scenes, which have a documentary effect, and the high contrast look of the ‘real’ sequences, which hew more to Hollywood lighting techniques. This work was the most successful of Teinosuke Kinugasa’s ‘jidaigeki’ (period films) with Japanese audiences. Originally running more than five hours, it was shown in three parts between June 1935 and January 1936. However, only the 1952 feature version has survived. " 

AA: This version starts with an extremely dense exposé, perhaps because what is left is a 97 minute condensation of a five hour epic. There are abrupt cuts and transitions, probably because of the same reason. The swordfights are breathtaking, the intensity is tremendous also in stunning kabuki sequences. The desolation is extraordinary in the revenge tragedy, culminations of which include a conflagration of the enemies' mansion by the vengeful actor. A great wrong has taken place, and lifetimes are wasted in cruel retribution. The daughter's funeral ceremony is the most inconsolable low point. 

Kon Ichikawa's Yukinojo henge (1963), in colour and Daieiscope, has always been a favourite of mine, and I included it into my MMM Film Guide of the 1000 (in 1995) and the 1100 (in 2005) best films, but I had not seen other film adaptations before today. I should see the Kinugasa and Ichikawa versions back to back to compare them, but certainly Kinugasa has a great deal of fresh intensity in his approach.

I hope that original negatives and other 35 mm sources survive. The print screened today looked at least partly like a duped blow-up from 16 mm. At times the visual quality looked better, but mostly one could appreciate the composition only, not the painting in light.

Prosopo me prosopo / Face to Face (2022 restoration Tainiothiki Tis Ellado)

Roviros Manthoulis: Πρόσωπο με πρόσωπο / Prosopo me prosopo / Face to Face (GR 1966) with Eleni Stavropoulou (Varvara). 

Πρόσωπο με πρόσωπο .
    Grecia 1966. Director: Roviros Manthoulis. Scen.: Roviros Manthoulis, Kostas Mourselas. F.: Stamatis Trypos. M.: Panos Papakyriakopoulos. Scgf.: Yannis Migadis. Mus.: Nikos Mamangakis. Int.: Costas Messaris (Dimitris Emmanouil), Eleni Stavropoulou (Varvara), Theano Ioannidou (la madre), Labros Kotsiris (il padre), Alexis Georgiou, Mary Gotsi (la cameriera), Simon Hinkly (fidanzato), Eftihia Partheniadou, Paris Pappis (l’armatore), Zozo Papadimitriou. Prod.: Roviros Manthoulis. DCP. Bn. 85 min
    Unreleased in Finland.
    Language: Greek, with some German and English. DCP with English subtitles.
    DCP from Greek Film Archive Film Museum
    Courtesy of Robert Manthoulis Estate. Restored in 4K in 2022 by Tainiothiki Tis Ellados at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory and Costas Varibopiotis Sound Studio laboratories, from the 35 mm original negative. Funding provided by “A Season of Classic Films”, an initiative of ACE – Association des Cinémathèques Européennes, part of the European Commission’s Creative Europe MEDIA programme and with the support of the Operational Programme Rop Attiki of NSRF 2014-2020
    Introduce Maria Komninos (Ταινιοθήκη της Ελλάδος / Tainiothiki tis Ellados / Greek Film Archive).
    Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, 2023 : Recovered and Restored.
    Viewed at Arlecchino Cinema, 26 June 2023.

Nigel Andrews (quoted in Bologna 2023 catalog): " Though acclaimed on its first appearance (it won the Best Direction Awards at both the Salonica and Athens Film Festivals in 1966), Prosopo me prosopo has been subsequently banned in its native country. Manthoulis himself, pressurised by the authorities into leaving Greece, now lives in Paris… And though much of the political satire in Prosopo me prosopo is veiled or oblique, the overall message is spelled out clearly enough to make Manthoulis’ unpopularity with the higher powers understandable. Set during the days of turbulence which led to the Generals’ coup, the film brings its troubled academic hero face to face with the workings of bourgeois capitalism at its most omnivorous and exploitative, incarnated here in a wealthy family who set out to devour their daughter’s tutor. The film’s title suggests a confrontation, and Manthoulis’ satire works not only by pitting the hero’s scholarly ingenuousness against the alternate sophistication and brute appetite of his employers, but by establishing an insistent and ironic counterpoint between the old, classical Greece and its new, materialistic counterpart. Manthoulis’ wealthy family are seen as the new barbarians (the daughter’s name Barbara is an explicit pun), and their impending seizure of power is suggested by the presentation of their house as a kind of labyrinthine political HQ, with rooms linked by intercom and all movement of guests or personnel traced on a scale map of the interior. " Nigel Andrews, “Monthly Film Bulletin”, 1 January 1972

Achilleas Hadjikyriacou (quoted in Bologna 2023 catalog): " Dimitris embodies a typical working-class man who, despite holding a university degree, lives almost in poverty. His entrance into the house of a rich Athenian family signifies the beginning of his meeting with a new code of morals and values. This new code initially dominates his rather traditional beliefs regarding gender, sexuality, morality, entertainment, material culture and family relations. At the end of the film, however, Dimitris performs his own personal revolution and dares to abandon an environment which antagonizes his personality and depresses his manhood. In this way, he becomes a symbol of the rejection of modernity and upper-class lifestyle and, at the same time, a heroic prototype of working-class masculinity. " Achilleas Hadjikyriacou, Masculinity and Gender in Greek Cinema 1949-1967, Bloomsbury, London 2015

AA: In memoriam Robert Manthoulis (1929-2022) who died last year in Paris of Covid-19.

I was introduced in the 1970s to Manthoulis's work via his superb blues documentaries Le Blues entre les dents / Blues Under the Skin and En remontant le Mississippi / Out of the Blacks, Into the Blues 1–2. Robert Pete Williams was electrifying in them, as were all the other masters, many rarely or never caught on film before.

Prosopo me prosopo is the first Greek film by Manthoulis I have seen. It is a delightful contribution to 1960s New Wave cinema, a mixture of urban alienation, social realism and irreverent satire somewhere between Jean-Luc Godard and Richard Lester. All channelled and conveyed in an original voice of the director's own.

An arranged marriage of the daughter of a Greek millionaire family is planned to a rich British man, and a two-week crash course in English is needed. Dimitris starts to give language lessons to the irrepressible Barbara. The nouveau riche apartment is equipped with intercom, also used for control and eavesdropping.

Manthoulis offers observations of modern alienation such as people speaking past each other, goofy montages, freeze frames and speech bubbles to convey thought.

It is a patriarchal family in which a hidden matriarchy is inbuilt. The mother calls the shots and the daughter seems to follow in her footsteps. Both women are uninhibitedly sensual, and succeed in seducing the young Dimitris - dream or reality? Perhaps a bit of both.

Social reality is present all the time in the center of Athens. Bullet marks on walls, memories of the Nazi occupation, huge demonstrations on the streets, expressions of a great unrest that was about to be crushed one year later by military dictatorship. No doubt the millionaire family would belong to its backers. Robert Manthoulis went into Paris exile for the rest of his life.

A lovely restoration of an inspiring film.

For students of film narrative it is appealing to see a film which actually ends with Τέλος (Telos).




Βρισκόμαστε στην πολυτάραχη εποχή του μεταπολέμου. Ο νεαρός Δημήτρης Εμμανουήλ, καθηγητής αγγλικής φιλολογίας από τη Θεσσαλονίκη δεν έχει μέλλον, και σχεδιάζει να φύγει για την Αυστραλία. Οι διαδικασίες είναι όμως πολύ αυστηρές, και επειδή δεν έχει πατέρα, η βίζα του αργεί να εγκριθεί. Για να βγάλει το μεροκάματο δίνει μαθήματα αγγλικών, και έτσι προσλαμβάνεται κατά τύχη από έναν μεγαλοεπιχειρηματία, που ήρθε από την Αλεξάνδρεια.

Ο Δημήτρης πέφτει μέσα σε μια κοινωνία, που έχει τους δικούς της νόμους και ρυθμούς. Στο κέντρο της Αθήνας, στο ρετιρέ της λεωφόρου Κηφισίας 38, σε μια υπερπολυτελή πολυκατοικία, του ανοίγεται ένας αστικός μικρόκοσμος της χλιδής, της υποκρισίας και του ψυχρού χρήματος. Ο πατέρας θέλει να αρραβωνιάσει την κόρη του, τη Βαρβάρα, με έναν πλούσιο Εγγλέζο, και ο Δημήτρης πρέπει να της μάθει αγγλικά μέσα σε δεκαπέντε ημέρες.

Ο Δημήτρης προσπαθεί να αντεπεξέλθει, αλλά το σπίτι είναι ένα τρελοκομείο. Ο πατέρας ασχολείται μόνο με τις επιχειρήσεις του, ενώ οι εργάτες στους δρόμους διαδηλώνουν, ο νεαρός τεντιμπόης ρίχνεται στην υπηρέτρια, η μητέρα παίζει συνέχεια κουμκάν με τέσσερις φιλενάδες της, μια από αυτές και μια ξεπεσμένη αρχόντισσα από τη Μόσχα που με την επανάσταση κατέφυγε στην Οδησσό, από εκεί στην Κωνσταντινούπολη για να καταλήξει στην Αθήνα, ενώ το προσωπικό ονειροπολεί ένα καλύτερο αύριο.

Τελικά αντί να μάθει αγγλικά στη Βαρβάρα, ο Δημήτρης περιπλέκεται σε όλο και πιο περίεργες καταστάσεις, βγάζει βόλτα τον σκύλο, βλέπει την παρέλαση από το μπαλκόνι, και τελικά ξεναγεί τον μέλλοντα γαμπρό στην Αθήνα. Οι συνεχείς αντιφάσεις, και το παράλογο της κατάστασης του προξενούν παραισθήσεις, ονειροπολεί τρυφερές σκηνές και ερωτικούς δεσμούς με τη μητέρα και την κόρη, και ταλαντεύεται ανάμεσα στα αισθήματα ενοχής και αδιεξόδου, για να αποφασίσει τελικά να απελευθερωθεί και να τους δώσει όλους τα παπούτσια στο χέρι. Η ταινία τελειώνει με έναν μακρύ αφελή μονόλογο της Βαρβάρας που χωρίς να το ξέρει ακούγεται στον δρόμο μέσα από το θυροτηλέφωνο.

Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe / [A Village Romeo and Juliet] (2022 restoration Cinémathèque suisse)

Valérien Schmidely, Hans Trommer: Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe / [A Village Romeo and Juliet] (CH 1941). The last dance in the Paradiesgärtli with Margrit Winter (as Vreneli Marti) and Erwin Kohlund (as Sali Manz).

Maalaiskylän Romeo ja Julia / Romeo och Julia i byn.
    CH 1941. Directors: Valérien Schmidely (technische Leitung), Hans Trommer (künstlerische Leitung). Sog.: dal racconto omonimo (1856) di Gottfried Keller. Scen.: Hans Trommer. F.: Ady Lumpert. M.: Irene Widmer, Käthe Mey. Scgf.: Fritz Butz. Mus.: Jack Trommer. Int.: Margrit Winter (Vreneli Marti), Erwin Kohlund (Sali Manz), Johannes Steiner (Albert Manz), Emil Gyr (il vecchio Marti), Emil Gerber (il violinista Geiger), Walburga Gmür (signora Manz), Anni Dürig (signora Marti), Ella Kottusch (Elise), Dorli Zäch (Vreneli da bambino), Richard Schuhmacher (Sali da bambino). Prod.: Conrad Arthur Schlaepfer per Pro-Film. DCP. Bn. 105 min
    Finnish telecast: 14 Jan 1984 Yle TV1.
    Restored in 4K in 2022 by Cinémathèque suisse in collaboration with Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory (image) and Cinévolution (sound), from four different nitrate copies preserved by Cinémathèque suisse. Funding provided by Memoriav and Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen
    Copy from La Cinémathèque francaise
    German (Schweizerdeutsch) version with English subtitles. E-subtitles in Italian by Eleonora Garolini.
    Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, 2023: Recovered and Restored
    Introduced in Italian by Frédéric Maire (Cinémathèque suisse)
    Viewed at Cinema Lumiere - Sala Scorsese, 26 June 2023

NB. Urfassung 121 Min.
The premiere of the 2023 restoration of 105 min: 21 Feb 2023 Berlin Film Festival.

Frédéric Maire (Bologna 2023 catalog): " “The most beautiful and the truest of all Swiss films, whose significance was overlooked, and which stands as a beacon today and for the future.” Freddy Buache, former director of Cinémathèque suisse, has never hidden his enthusiasm for this legendary work that today takes pride of place in the firmament of the best Swiss films, according to the classification produced by the great Swiss German-language newspaper, “Tages Anzeiger”. "

" However, when it was released in 1941, despite a favourable press response, Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe did not achieve its anticipated success. After only 23 days, the film was dropped from listings. It even caused something of a stir; Switzerland refused to select the film for the 1942 Venice Biennale, describing it as “plodding and mediocre”. This failure seemed to have delivered a disastrous and paradoxical blow to the careers of its two Swiss co-authors: Hans Trommer, a graphic artist and former assistant to directors such as Joe May in Germany, and USSR-born and educated Valérien Schmidely, assistant camera operator to Dovzhenko, Kosintsev and Trauberg. "

" Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe is the second short story in the collection entitled Die Leute von Seldwyla, published in 1856 by Gottfried Keller (1819-1890). The author – who also wrote Der Grüne Heinrich (Green Henry) – tells a rural story giving it a manifestly Shakespearean slant. Whilst his masterpiece was misunderstood, its film adaptation by Trommer and Schmidely has a luminous beauty that brings to mind the works of the great Nordic filmmakers of the silent era. Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe combines a deep, almost documentary-like concern for authenticity with a quest for pure beauty; a certain dream-like quality even. Edited and reedited, cut by 20 minutes, the film in its original version was lost. Cinémathèque suisse worked on it over five years to restore it as closely as possible to its original 1941 version. " Frédéric Maire

AA: An epic Gottfried Keller film adaptation covering decades consumed in land property trials between the Manz and Marti families. Both are ruined in the process, but the friendship between their children Vreneli and Sali blossoms into young love. The final tragedy starts when Sali hits Vreneli's father on the head, paralyzing him. The young lovers realize that there will be no future for them but spend one final day and night of happiness together, in a dance barn and on a hay boat. The next day, the boat recovered from the river is found empty.

The pastoral circumstances are revealed in an appealing location coverage, and there is a vivid sense of authenticity in the cast. The landscapes are ravishing, the close-ups of the people are beautiful. The camera movements are sometimes jerky, and there is a sense of the movie being post-synchronized. The masterpiece of the Swiss cinema has been restored with loving care from demanding sources. At times with a duped look, on the whole it is a wonderful viewing experience.

I know German but was forced to recognize my limitations with the Schweizerdeutsch which however adds greatly to the authenticity.


HANDLUNG (Wikipedia)

" Die Handlung spielt in der ländlichen Schweiz beim fiktiven Ort Seldwyla. Seit frühester Kindheit sind Vreneli Marti und Sali Manz miteinander befreundet und verbringen oft ihre Freizeit mit gemeinsamen Spielen. Mit zunehmendem Alter passt dies aber ihren Vätern ganz und gar nicht, liegen der alte Marti und der alte Manz doch heftig über Kreuz, weil sich beide bezüglich eines an ihre Grundstücke grenzenden Feldes, dessen Besitzer verstorben ist, streiten. Nur dessen unehelicher Sohn, der von allen stets «der schwarze Geiger» genannt wird, hätte ein Besitzrecht geltend machen können, doch wurde er von den beiden rabiaten Bauern Manz und Marti mit Steinwürfen aus der Gegend verjagt. Schliesslich wird das brachliegende Feld öffentlich versteigert, und Albert Manz kann es schliesslich erwerben. Da zu diesem Land auch ein Zipfelchen Erde gehört, das sich Marti bereits (widerrechtlich) angeeignet hat, wird die Parzelle unter Zwangsverwaltung gestellt. Es kommt zu einem langen Rechtsstreit, denn keiner der beiden alten Streithähne will nachgeben. "

" Die einstige, düstere Voraussagung des «schwarzen Geigers» soll sich bald bewahrheiten: der jahrelange Prozess ruiniert schliesslich die beiden Kontrahenten. Frau Marti liegt im Sterben, und die beiden Kinder Vreneli und Sali wurden durch den Dauerzwist für lange Zeit getrennt. Erst als beide erwachsen sind, sehen sie sich wieder. Vreneli ist zu einer anmutigen Frau gereift, die von Sali, nunmehr verschämt aus der Ferne, angehimmelt wird. Das Unglück des Streits zwischen den Familien hat dazu geführt, dass Salis Eltern ihren Hof aufgeben müssen und in die Stadt ziehen, wo sie eine ziemlich abgerissene und in schlechtem Ruf stehende Gastwirtschaft übernehmen. Erst beim gemeinsamen Fischen im Fluss kommt es zu einer direkten Begegnung zwischen Sali und Vreneli und beider Väter, die sich noch immer spinnefeind sind. Sofort beginnen sich die beiden Alten zu prügeln, und beider Nachkommen haben grosse Mühe, die Streithähne zu trennen. Ein zarter Blick, eine flüchtige Berührung, und Vreneli und Sali spüren augenblicklich, dass nicht nur die alten Gefühle wieder da sind, sondern dass diese sich sogar im Lauf der Jahre verstärkt haben. "

" Als am darauf folgenden Tag der alte Marti nicht anwesend ist, nutzt Sali die Gunst der Stunde, um mit «seinem» Vreneli allein sprechen zu können. In einem Kornfeld gestehen sie einander ihre Liebe. Doch dabei werden sie von Marti überrascht, der seine Tochter im höchsten Zorn wegen dieses Treffens schlägt. Sali greift ein und schlägt wiederum Marti mit einem Steinhieb am Kopf nieder. Die Verletzung ist derart schwer, dass Marti seitdem nicht mehr ganz bei Sinnen ist und Vreneli nunmehr den väterliche Hof veräussern muss. Sali beschliesst: jetzt oder nie, und er verlässt mit ein wenig Erspartem in der Tasche die Kaschemme seine Eltern. Ehe man sich endgültig trennen will, da man keine gemeinsame Zukunft miteinander sieht, wollen Vreneli und Sali miteinander einen gemeinsamen Tag voll ausgelassener Freude verbringen. Dieser wunderschöne Tag klingt aus mit einem Tanz im «Paradiesgärtli», einem Ausflugslokal für arme Leute. Der aufspielende Geiger macht sich einen Spass daraus, ein Scheinhochzeitsfest zu veranstalten, mit Sali und Vreneli als getrautem Paar. Dieses Spiel, das romantisch im Mondschein endet, zeigt den beiden Liebenden in den Morgenstunden, dass sie in Wahrheit nie ohne einander werden leben können. Das Rauschen des Flusses lockt sie an, und sie begeben sich auf einen kleinen Heukahn und werden von der Strömung abgetrieben. Nahende Nebelschwaden signalisieren zugleich ein tödliches Ende. Einige Zeit später wird das Boot leer aufgefunden. "


" Die Genossenschaft für Filmproduktion «Pro-Film» in Zürich war unter der Leitung von Conrad Arthur Schlaepfer für die Produktion verantwortlich. "

" Mit den Dreharbeiten zu dem Film Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe wurde im Juni 1941 begonnen. Das Gros der Filmaufnahmen entstand zwischen dem 15. Juli und dem 30. September 1941. Die Aussenaufnahmen wurden in Oberglatt, Zollikon, Zürich und am Limmatufer hergestellt, die Innenaufnahmen im Filmstudio Seebach AG, Zürich. Die Uraufführung des Films fand am 8. November 1941 im Zürcher Kino Rex statt. " (Wikipedia)

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Amok (1934) (2023 restoration Pathé)

Fedor Ozep: Amok (FR 1934) with Inkijinoff as the Amok runner.

Suuri intohimo / Den stora lidelsen.
    FR 1934. D: Fëdor Ocep. Sog.: dal racconto Der Amokläufer (1922) di Stefan Zweig. Scen.: André Lang. F.: Curt Courant. Scgf.: Alexandre Trauner, Lazare Meerson. M.: Henri Rust. Mus.: Karol Rathaus. Int.: Jean Yonnel (Holk), Marcelle Chantal (Hélène Haviland), Valerij Inkižinov (Amok/Maté), Madeleine Guitty (cameriera del cabaret), Fréhel (cantante), Claude Barghon (Lili), Hubert Daix (Van der Tomb), Jean Galland (signor Haviland), Soura Hari, Toshi Komori (ballerini balinesi). Prod.: Pathé Natan. DCP. Bn. 88 min
    Restored in 4K in 2023 by Pathé with funding provided by CNC – Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, from the original nitrate negatives and a first generation dupe positive.
    Copy from Pathé.
    Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, 2023: Recovered and Restored.
    E-subtitles in English and Italian by Charlotte Trench, Sub-Ti Londra.
    Introduced by Sophie Seydoux (Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé)
    Viewed at Arlecchino Cinema, 25 June 2023.

Lenny Borger (Bologna catalog 2023): " Adapted from a short story by Stefan Zweig published in 1922, Amok is a Malay word describing a paroxysmal state of fury induced by opium, perfectly illustrated on screen during the first ten minutes of the film, where we see a native overcome by a murderous madness in the Malaysian jungle. "

Fedor Ozep, heeding the lessons of silent pictures, the influence of colonial explorations and the fascination of French cinema with exoticism, glides his camera through the lush vegetation, lingering on faces and bodies in motion, immersing the viewer, without a single line of dialogue, in the humid, stifling heat of the jungle. "

" The opening scene is even more impressive considering the jungle was recreated from scratch at the Joinville studios by a wizard of set design, Lazare Meerson. Zweig’s plot follows the journey of a disgraced doctor, exiled to Malaysia, who drowns his despair in alcohol. Dr Holk is a wreck when he is visited by Hélène Haviland, who is carrying her lover’s child and seeks an abortion before the return of her husband. After the doctor’s haughty refusal, he later regrets his reaction and does everything to ensure that her honour remains intact, even at the cost of his own life. "

" To tell the story of the redemption of this fallen doctor, Ozep can depend on the brilliant lighting of the renowned Curt Courant, on the magnificent score of his habitual collaborator Karol Rathaus, as well as on formidable actors. Jean Yonnel, a stalwart of the Comédie-Française, gives one of his best performances; Marcelle Chantal gracefully plays the noble beauty who prefers death to dishonour; Russian actor Valéry Inkijinoff plays a dual role as the Malayan led to madness and as Mrs Haviland’s Chinese chauffeur. "

" Amok is one of the finest screen adaptations of Zweig’s novella, skilfully conveying the desperate atmosphere of the great Austrian writer’s work. " Lenny Borger

AA: Fedor Ozep had one of the most fascinating careers in the history of the cinema: from Imperial Russia to the NEP era, Weimar Germany, 1930s France, 1940s Hollywood and post-WWII Québec.

His landmarks include the screenplay to The Queen of Spades (1916, by Protazanov, starring Mosjoukine), Polikushka (from Tolstoy, starring Moskvin), the pioneering scifi movie Aelita, an appearance in Chess Fever, the NEP meta-comedy The Cigarette Girl of Mosselprom, the Pushkin-inspired The Station Master, the action serial Miss Mend, The Yellow Passport (1928 with his then wife Anna Sten, this movie unconnected with the three American adaptations of Michael Morton's play and the two Polish films starring Pola Negri) and The Doll With the Millions, his last film in Russia.

In Weimar Germany Ozep directed The Living Corpse (from Tolstoy, with Pudovkin) and The Brothers Karamazov (from Dostoevsky, with Fritz Kortner as Dmitri, Anna Sten as Grushenka and Fritz Rasp as Smerdjakov). He also directed its French parallel version, plus German and French parallel versions of Grossstadtnacht. Amok was Ozep's first purely French production. In Hollywood Ozep directed only a recycled version of a Soviet film on the Finnish Winter War, Three Russian Girls, remade from Viktor Eisimont's Frontovye podrugi, again starring Anna Sten.

The last of Ozep's three Québécoise films was La Forteresse / The Whispering City, produced in two parallel language versions. The theme of the transference of guilt brought Ozep to the terrain common to Dostoevsky and Hitchcock (especially I Confess).

Classified by later scholars as film noir, this movie makes of Ozep the only director to have worked in all major film currents relevant to the genesis of film noir: Imperial Russia, Weimar Germany, 1930s France and 1940s America.

Amok is Ozep's powerful contribution to the 1930s French cinema of agony and despair, a film wave launched during the breakthrough of sound. The wave flourished for a decade and culminated on the eve of WWII with La Bête humaine, Hôtel du Nord, Le Quai des brumes, Le Jour se lève and Pièges.

This wave, often misleadingly called "romantic realism", started in tandem with Weimar cinema, in the parallel French language versions of German films by Lang, Siodmak, Wiene and Ophuls. They were accompanied by all-French movies such as La petite Lise (Cavalcanti), La Chienne (Renoir), Dans les rues (Trivas), Cœur de lilas (Litvak), Le grand jeu (Feyder), La Rue sans nom (Chenal) and Rapt (Kirsanoff).

Amok is a work of pure cinema, an oneiric, nightmarish account of obsession, addiction and unrequited devotion, conveyed in spellbinding long takes and crane shots by Curt Courant, hypnotic superimpositions and almost abstract montages by Henri Rust, all photographed in a studiobound Java created by the art director wizards Alexandre Trauner and Lazare Meerson. Ozep's trusted composer, the Ukrainian born Karol Rathaus, wrote the score and the searing songs "J'attends quelqu'un" and "La Légende de Bali" for Fréhel, who had already been launched as the voice of fate in Cœur de lilas and La Rue sans nom before her rise to world fame in Pépé le Moko.

The colonial dreamscape emerges in a magic forest with snakes, idols, sacred dances, uninhibited sensuality and topless native beauties. We are reminded of Joseph Conrad's early stories such as Almayer's Folly, An Outcast of the Islands, An Outpost of Progress and The Rescue, but also of Alfred Hitchcock's first film, the Weimar production Irrgarten der Leidenschaft / The Pleasure Garden. Might there be a bit of voyeurism in the spirit of the odalisque worship of male gaze painters and sculptors, under the excuse of Pacific Ocean colonial exoticism.

The amok run, the kris dagger, the gambling tables, the Chinatown, the opium den, the harbour and the ship appear as potent poetic images. Amok is a movie about nausea, self-destruction, the lure of the abyss, the descent into the vortex. Amok is explained to erupt when the heavy air of Java irritates nerves to a breaking point.

Early on I was thinking about Sartre and that he might have been influenced by this film to write Les Orgueilleux (originally called Typhus, 1943, four years before La Peste by Albert Camus), another story of an alcoholic, self-hating doctor struggling in the squalor and the heat of a remote village, dreaming of a seemingly unattainable white woman. Les Orgueilleux belongs to the post-WWII films still under the spell of the classics of the 1930s, thanks also to the presence of Michèle Morgan in the female leading role.

Amok is a compelling and unforgettable film, but not a perfect one. Towards the end there are heavy-handed passages. The dialogue is clumsy. Among the weaknesses is the casting. None of the leading actors rises to the full level of the potential of his/her character. Let us add to the catalog's cast listing Jean Servais, as Jan, the lover of Hélène and the father of her illegitimate child, at the beginning of a long career.

Inkijinoff is memorable in his dual role as the amok runner and the chauffeur.

Excellent visual quality in an important restoration.

Ceddo / The Outsiders (2023 restoration Janus Films / The Criterion Collection)

Ousmane Sembène: Ceddo / The Outsiders (SN 1977) with Ismaila Diagne (il rapitore) and Tabara Ndiaye (principessa Dior Yacine). 

Senegal 1977. D: Ousmane Sembène. Scen.: Ousmane Sembène. F.: Georges Caristan, Orlando Lopez, Bara Diokhane, Seydina O. Gaye. M.: Florence Eymon, Dominique Blain. Scgf.: Alpha W. Diallo. Mus.: Manu Dibango. Int.: Tabara Ndiaye (principessa Dior Yacine), Alioune Fall (l’imam), Moustapha Yade (Madir Fatim Fall), Matura Dia (il re), Mamadou Ndiaye Diagne / Ismaila Diagne (il rapitore), Ousmane Camara (Farba Diogomay), Nar Modou (Saxewar), Mamadou Dioum (principe Biram), Oumar Gueye (Jaraaf), Ousmane Sembène (Ibrahima). Prod.: Filmi Doomi Reew. D.: 120’. Col.
    Language: Wolof (with Arabic and songs in English and Dyula) with English subtitles. The title is in Wolof, but I cannot find the Wolof letter original online.
    Restored in 4K in 2023 by Janus Films/The Criterion Collection, from the original 35 mm camera negative
    Copy from The Criterion Collection
    Introduced by Alain Sembène and Lee Kline (The Criterion Collection), hosted by Cecilia Cenciarelli.
    E-sottotitolo in Italian: Eleonor Gabbini.
    Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna 2023: Cinemalibero.
    Viewed at Jolly Cinema, 25 June 2023.

Aboubakar Sanogo (Bologna 2023 catalog): " Long before many, the great Ousmane Sembène (19232007), a founding, and, in many ways, spiritual father of African cinema, who posited History as central to all creative work, sought to engage with one of the greatest tragedies in human history, the enslavement of Africans and their loss of sovereignty in the twin hands of Islam and Euro-Christian colonialism. It is thus befitting, in this centennial celebration of the birth of this cinematic giant, to revisit the newly restored Ceddo, one of his most accomplished films. "

" Set in an imprecisely time between the 17th and the 19th century, the film centers the Ceddo, or “the people of refusal” who reject a regime that makes itself complicit with the rise to power of Islamic fanaticism and the slow but lasting encroachment of Euro-American enslavement and colonialism. Symbolizing the critical conscience of their people, the Ceddo express their discontent by kidnapping Princess Dior of the royal family and demanding an instant change in the management of the polity. This will lead to their expulsion, exile and forced religious conversion. But their indomitable spirit of resistance will help make history and offer hope for the future of Africa and the world. "

" Without and in lieu of special effects and massive epic scenes, Sembène chooses cinematic minimalism and demonstrates his absolute mastery in the mise-en-scène of open and outdoor spaces. There he imprints his agorafilic signature – the staging of conflictual narrative in open spaces – which double as an agora, and in which the contradictory tendencies of a given polity get to be worked out, partly through a staging of the legendary African deliberative and declamatory tradition via multiple modalities of the face off. "

" This film is at once a masterclass in political philosophy and African constitutionalism, anticipates by two decades themes and styles he would explore in films such as Guelwaar (1992) and Moolaade (2004) and underscores Sembène’s faith in African humanism as a way out of the continent’s past, contemporary and potential future impasses. " Aboubakar Sanogo

AA: One of Ousmane Sembène's greatest films, a calm and compact epic, with a firm grip on the aesthetics of duration, crystallizing powerfully centuries of colonialism and slavery masked by the dual missionary penetrations by Christianity and Islam. The most electrifying account of Islamic colonial oppression I have seen, portraying the way to absolute submission, the Imam like a voodoo doctor making all slaves to his will. The Ceddo are the native Africans who reject both Christianity and Islam. Their difference: the Christian clergy carry no guns. The Muslims are armed and act with military discipline and determination, executing all who resist. When the captive Princess Dior is released, she immediately targets and executes the totalitarian Imam. The spell is broken.

A grand, stark, atavistic drama of power, oppression, resistance and liberation.

One of Sembène's great films of feminism, along with Moolaadé.

From sources reportedly all faded, all in bad shape, a beautiful restoration has been achieved, paying attention to the differences in skin tones, with a tender and warm general colour world, refined in the varying shades of the exterior conditions in African sunlight. We also learned from the introductions that the sky is different in different countries of Africa.

Amori di mezzo secolo / Mid-Century Loves (2023 restoration CSC – Cineteca Nazionale)

Amori di mezzo secolo / Mid-Century Loves (IT 1954). D: Mario Chiari. Ep. Dopoguerra 1920Silvana Pampanini (Susanna/Salomè) e Alberto Sordi (Alberto).

Amours d'une moitié de siècle.
    IT 1954. Sog.: Carlo Infascelli. Scen.: Oreste Biancoli, Giuseppe Mangione, Vinicio Marinucci, Roberto Rossellini, Carlo Infascelli, Alessandro Continenza. F.: Tonino Delli Colli. Academy. Ferraniacolor. M.: Dolores Tamburini, Rolando Benedetti. Scgf.: Mario Chiari. Mus.: Carlo Rustichelli. Prod.: Carlo Infascelli per Excelsa Film, Roma Film Produzione. DCP. D.: 94’. Col.
    Unreleased in Finland.

Five episodes:

D: Glauco Pellegrini. Ep. L’amore romantico: Franco Interlenghi (Mario), Leonora Ruffo (Elena), Paola Borboni (Matilde), Carlo Ninchi (il padre di Elena), Luigi Tosi (conte Edoardo Savelli);

D: Pietro Germi. Ep. Guerra 1915-18: Maria Pia Casilio (Carmela), Albino Cocco (Antonio), Lauro Gazzolo (il maestro);

D: Mario Chiari. Ep. Dopoguerra 1920: Alberto Sordi (Alberto), Silvana Pampanini (Susanna/Salomè), Giuseppe Porelli (Fosco D’Agata), Alba Arnova (Yvonne);

D: Roberto Rossellini. Ep. Napoli 1943: Antonella Lualdi (Carla), Franco Pastorino (Renato), Ugo D’Alessio (Pasquale), Nello Ascoli (Raffaele);

D: Antonio Pietrangeli. Ep. Girandola 1910: Lea Padovani (Isabella), Andrea Checchi (Gabriele), Umberto Melnati (Cocò), Carlo Campanini (Michelangelo).

Restored in 4K in 2023 by CSC – Cineteca Nazionale at the CSC Digital Lab laboratory, from a vintage positive print.
    Copy from CSC – Cineteca Nazionale.
    Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna 2023: Recovered and Restored.
    Introduced by Marta Donzelli and Alberto Anile (CSC – Cineteca Nazionale), hosted by Gian Luca Farinelli.
    Viewed at Cinema Lumiere – Sala Scorsese, 25 June 2023.

Alberto Anile (Bologna 2023 catalog): " Nowadays, it is amusing to think that a film like Amori di mezzo secolo, following a troubled journey from set to home video, has only reached us in an inferior version as a result of censorship. The episode directed by Domenico Paolella that should have ended the film was eliminated and probably immediately destroyed; the remaining five episodes and intermezzi were shown in a different order as a result of the removal of the original ending, while the film as a whole was forbidden for anyone under the age of sixteen. In 1978, the classification was reduced to “universal” for a planned TV broadcast, but only after the elimination of numerous scenes and the intermissions. "

" The discovery in the Cineteca Nazionale of a vintage copy that lasts 18 minutes longer (probably the version shown theatrically in 1954) now allows us to rediscover and re-evaluate the entire operation. Virtually unchanged are the episodes by Glauco Pellegrini (a romantic story set in the early 20th century about the love between Leonora Ruffo and Franco Interlenghi that is opposed by a wicked aunt) and by Pietro Germi (a pregnant Maria Pia Casilio waits in vain for the return of her husband from the First World War). The amusing mega-sketch by Mario Chiari, that features Alberto Sordi as an early Fascist who rediscovers his old fiancée (Silvana Pampanini) at Cinecittà, regains various scenes and a new ending. The same is true of the episode that was ultimately placed last, a lively whirl of infidelities and misunderstandings starring Lea Padovani and Carlo Campanini, which Antonio Pietrangeli had the audacity to set in the Parliament (albeit in 1910). "

" The musical/journalistic intermezzi by Vinicio Marinucci also return. However, the most significant rediscovery is also the shortest; in this restored version, the final scene of the most distinguished episode, set in Naples 1943, and directed by Rossellini, is finally complete. The agony of two lovers, Antonella Lualdi and Franco Pastorino, hit by allied bombs while kissing, is extended by a few seconds and a few words (“Why?… My love… my love…”), thus underlining with desperate courage, the senseless struggle between love and war. " Alberto Anile

IMDb: " Anthology of tragic love. A noblewoman falls for a commoner. Expectant father is sent to fight in WWI. A 1920s fascist enjoys Rome's nightlife. WWII airman falls for a girl in Naples. A doctor keeps quiet about his patients' infidelities. "

Wikipedia synopsis: 

" Episode # 01: "Romantic love", directed by: Glauco Pellegrini
In 1900 Elena, a young man from a rich bourgeois family, falls in love with the musician Mario. Her father and her aunt Matilde, however, would like the girl to marry a rich count. When Mario leaves for his tour, Matilde promises both young people to foster their feelings, while she actually destroys the letters they send each other, and persuades Elena that Mario has forgotten her. Elena ends up marrying the count.

Episode # 02: "War 1915-18", directed by: Pietro Germi
During the First World War, in a small Abruzzo village the very young lovers Antonio and Carmela get married and are expecting a child. Antonio is called to the front between the draft of 1900: Carmela and all friends and acquaintances are very proud of him and confidently await the end of the war. In the end the victory is announced and the celebrations are unleashed in the town: still no one knows that Antonio was killed in his first assault with the Sicily Brigade.

Episode # 03: "Postwar 1920", directed by: Mario Chiari
Alberto, an exalted squadist, leaves his country greeting his relatives and his girlfriend Susanna to take part in the March on Rome. In reality, he is mainly interested in Rome's nightlife and beautiful women. Susanna joins him in disguise and discovers him in a tabarin in equivocal attitudes with an entrîneuse, to whom she does not fail to reveal her contempt for her peasant girlfriend. But Susanna is not far behind in terms of beauty and sensuality, so much so that she is hired for a provocative number in the part of Salome, and she takes the opportunity to take her revenge on Alberto.

Episode # 04: "Naples 1943", directed by: Roberto Rossellini
During the bombings of the Second World War, actors and extras engaged in rehearsals at the Teatro di San Carlo rush into the air-raid shelter, and there the extra Carla and the airman Renato fall in love, but will be divided by death.

Episode # 05: "Girandola 1910", directed by: Antonio Pietrangeli
We are in the belle époque. A doctor advises a patient to limit his sexual activity; this however asks the doctor to mediate with his mistress so that she is less demanding. The woman is also having another relationship, and she too begs the doctor to intervene discreetly with the second man; and so on until among the whirlwind of lovers the doctor recognizes his wife. "

AA: A history of Italy in the first half of the 20th century via love affairs.

It begins with an arranged marriage and a cynical ruse to thwart the genuine love story.

There are two tragic war affairs, directed by Pietro Germi and Roberto Rossellini, respectively.

In between there is a farcical romp with Alberto Sordi as a Fascist buffoon during the March to Rome.

It ends with "Girandola 1910", a frivolous "La Ronde" variation without the depth brought to the theme by Arthur Schnitzler or Max Ophuls.

I wonder why.

The film would be stronger if "Girandola 1910" would be shown in chronological order, as the second episode. And Rossellini's episode would be the finale.

I love the charming compilation soundtrack and would be grateful for a song listing. The intermezzi are full of delicious detail. A beautiful restoration of a fascinating film, but it is a mixed bag, another uneven entry in the omnibus format so much favoured in the Italian cinema from the 1940s till the 1970s.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Daibutsu kaigen / Dedication of the Great Buddha

Teinosuke Kinugasa: 大佛開眼 / Daibutsu kaigen / Dedication of the Great Buddha (JP 1952) with Kazuo Hasegawa (Tatedo no Kunihito) and Machiko Kyo (Mayame).

大佛開眼 / [Consacrazione al grande Buddha]
    JP 1952. Director: Teinosuke Kinugasa.
    Ass. regia: Kenji Misumi. Sog.: Hideo Nagata. Scen.: Ryuichiro Yagi. F.: Kohei Sugiyama. Scgf.: Kisaku Ito. Mus.: Ikuma Dan. Int.: Kazuo Hasegawa (Tatedo no Kunihito), Machiko Kyo (Mayame), Mitsuko Mito (Tachibana no Sakuyako), Sumiko Hidaka (Omiya no Morime), Denjiro Okochi (Gyoki), Sakae Ozawa (Kuninaka no Kimimaro), Yataro Kurokawa (Fujiwara no Nakamaro), Tatsuya Ishiguro (Ogusa no Kumotari). Prod.: Masaichi Nagata per Daiei. 35 mm. D.: 128’. Bn.
    Unreleased in Finland.
    Language: Japanese. E-subtitles in English and Italian by Chiara Saretta.
    Copy from NFAJ. Courtesy of Kadokawa Corporation.
    Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, 2023: Teinosuke Kinugasa: From Shadow to Light.
    Introduced by Alexander Jacoby and Johan Nordström
    Viewed at Jolly Cinema, 24 June 2023.

Alexander Jacoby and Johan Nordström (Bologna catalog 2023): " While the majority of jidaigeki (Japanese period films) are set in the Edo Period (1603-1868) or in the Era of Warring States (Sengoku jidai) that preceded it, Kinugasa was something of a specialist in period films set in a more remote past. Kinugasa’s most famous sound film, Jigokumon (shown at Il Cinema Ritrovato 2015) is set in the Heian Era (794-1185). This film, made the year before, is set even earlier, in the Nara Period (710-784), when the city of Heijokyo, now Nara, south of present-day Kyoto, became the country’s first permanent capital. Under the acknowledged influence of Tang dynasty China and fired by zeal for the then recently imported creed of Buddhism, Japan attained a new level of cultural sophistication and artistic achievement. "

" The film focuses on the creation of one of Japan’s iconic monuments, the Great Buddha enshrined in the vast temple of Todaiji in Nara (which until the late 20th century remained the largest wooden building in the world). In a heavily fictionalised version of events, Kazuo Hasegawa plays the architect hired to create the idol, and the film charts the conflict with those opposed to its creation. The film was based on a successful 1940 play by Hideo Nagata (1885-1949), an author of modern shingeki theatre who was himself the son of a priest, albeit in Japan’s other traditional religion of Shinto. It was a big budget production with contributions from many expert technical staff as well as a starry cast led by Kazuo Hasegawa and Machiko Kyo (1924-2019). While Joseph Anderson and Donald Richie were later to dismiss the film as doing “no credit to its director”, it was considered important enough to be submitted to the 1953 Cannes Film Festival, where it played in competition, losing out to Henri-Georges Clouzot’s The Wages of Fear (Le Salaire de la peur). Kinugasa would scoop the Palme d’Or the following year for Jigokumon. " Alexander Jacoby and Johan Nordström

AA: This magnificent period epic about the creation of a mighty sacred artwork brings to mind Agony and Ecstasy. It is about court intrigue, political intrigue, rivalry and jealousy between artists. It is also a drama of love versus duty: the architect is so committed to his mission that he neglects Mayame who launches one of the heinous plans to sabotage the creation of the mighty Buddha monument. 

Gorgeous in visual design, historical detail, cinematography and mise-en-scène, this film is a breathtaking and compelling experience.

I was also thinking that Andrei Tarkovsky may have seen this film. At least there are affinities, including in the poetry of rain. Water was for Tarkovsky the key image in "sculpting in time". The casting of the church bell in Andrei Rublev has a similar epic and sacred atmosphere, also in the celebration of teamwork in creating a huge monument.

I hope that the negatives and other 35 mm originals survive. This print has a duped look like that of a blowup from 16 mm.

Teresa Venerdì / Doctor Beware

Vittorio De Sica: Teresa Venerdì / Doctor Beware (IT 1941) with Anna Magnani as Loletta.

Do You Like Women.
    IT 1941. D: Vittorio De Sica.
    Sog.: Gherardo Gherardi, Franco Riganti, dal romanzo Péntek Rézi (1937) di Rezsö Török. Scen.: Gherardo Gherardi, Vittorio De Sica, Margherita Maglione, Aldo De Benedetti. F.: Vincenzo Seratrice. M.: Mario Bonotti. Mus.: Renzo Rossellini. Scgf.: Mario Rappini. Int.: Adriana Benetti (Teresa Venerdì), Anna Magnani (Maddalena ‘Loletta’ Prima), Vittorio De Sica (dottor Pietro Vignali), Irasema Dilian (Lilli Passalacqua), Clara Auteri Pepe (Giuseppina), Zaira La Fratta (Alice), Olga Vittoria Gentili (Lola Passalacqua), Giuditta Rissone (l’istitutrice Anna). Prod.: Alleanza Cinematografica Italiana, Europa Film. DCP. D.: 92’. Bn.
    Unreleased in Finland.
    Copy from CSC Cineteca Nazionale. Courtesy of Viggo.
    Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna: Anna Magnani, the One and Only.
    Original in Italian with e-subtitles in English by Sub-Ti Londra.
    Viewed at Europa Cinema, 24 June 2023.

Emiliano Morreale (Bologna 2023 catalog): " Vittorio De Sica was the most famous comedy actor in Italy when he made this, his third film as director, following the success of Maddalena… zero in condotta. Once again, he pushed at the boundaries of the genre as if it provided a way to escape from the trappings of the cinema of the Fascist regime. He does so through the story of a hot-headed young man who is assigned the position of head physician in a female orphanage. He is surrounded by young girls who provide contour to the film’s white telephone comedy surface, as well as an endless circle of women representing a sample of character-types common in the cinema of the era: the dreamer Irasema Dilian, the teacher Giuditta Rissone, and the naïve Adriana Benetti in the role of Teresa Venerdì who is in love with the doctor. Then, of course, there is Anna Magnani in her first significant film role playing his lover, the soubrette Maddalena, a.k.a. Loletta. Her role is significant not in terms of screen time (she only appears for a few minutes), but rather for the precision with which De Sica recognises her comic talent, creating a character which is split between a pretence of elegance and a common touch that would typify many of her postwar roles (her final line is timeless: “It’s over for her, it’s over for me… we have understood one another perfectly.”) The film constitutes a dress rehearsal for Magnani as a comedienne and she enters and exits the role as if she were already a star with a clearly defined persona, grappling with a character who steps into the limelight and acts, all the while ironically commenting on her own performance. This is evident right from the start, in the irresistible scene in which she listlessly practices the song: “Here in my heart, here in my heart/ there is love/ and there is pain”. " Emiliano Morreale

AA: The introductions to the previous film, Yam daabo, were overlong, and the distance from Jolly to Europa was longer than I realized, I was late and only after special pleading was let in to the only screening of this early Vittorio De Sica movie that I had never seen before.

Doctor Pietro Vignali (Vittorio De Sica) is a pediatrician beloved by the children and the staff of the female orphanage. He swims gracefully in the sea of women and knows to fend off schoolgirl crushes with tact. Only Teresa Venerdì is different.

Emiliano Morreale in his program note (see above) nails accurately the presence of Anna Magnani in this movie. She pays only a brief visit as the ex-lover, yet she completely commands the screen, already the charismatic, magnetic, magnificent Magnani, full of passion and wit and with an absolute comic timing. She knows how to connect.

Yam daabo / The Choice (2022 restoration by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project)

Idrissa Ouédraogo: Yam daabo (BF 1986).
Valinta / Le Choix / La scelta.
    Burkina Faso 1986. Director: Idrissa Ouédraogo. Scen.: Idrissa Ouédraogo. F.: Jean Monsigny, Sekou Ouédraogo, Issaka Thiombano. M.: Arnaud Blin. Mus.: Francis Bebey, Betty Aoua. Int.: Moussa Bologo, Aoua Guiraud, Assita Ouédraogo, Fatima Ouédraogo, Oumarou Ouédraogo, Salif Ouédraogo, Rasmané Ouédraogo. Prod.: Les Films de l’Avenir, Ministère de la Coopération. DCP. D.: 80’. Col. Language: Mooré.
    Copy from The Film Foundation.
    Restored in 2022 by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project and Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata and L’Image Retrouvée laboratories, in collaboration with Les Films de la Plaine and the family of Idrissa Ouédraogo. Restoration funded by the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation. Special thanks to Mohamed Challouf. Restored in 4K from the 16 mm original negative camera and the magnetic sound. Color grading was finalized with the help of director of photography Sekou Ouédraogo.
    This restoration is part of the African Film Heritage Project, an initiative created by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, the FEPACI and UNESCO – in collaboration with Cineteca di Bologna – to help locate, restore and disseminate African cinema.
    Introduced by Aboubakar Sanogo (FEPACI) e Cecilia Cenciarelli
    Mooré version with English subtitles on the DCP by Titra Films Paris.
    Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna 2023: Cinemalibero, with e-subtitles in Italian.
Viewed at Jolly Cinema, 24 June 2023

Mohamed Challouf (Bologna catalog 2023): " I don’t remember where I first met Idrissa Ouédraogo, but what I do know is that we immediately struck up a brotherly friendship. I had seen his first two shorts Les Écuelles and Issa le tisserand and invited him to present them at the second edition of the Giornate del Cinema africano in Perugia, which was held from 26 February to 3 March 1984. It was the first Italian festival dedicated to African cinema that I had created, with the support of my friend Enzo Forini and the encouragement of the many African students enrolled at the University for Foreigners in the Umbrian city, which today would be inconceivable. The presence of Idrissa and Férid Boughédir who participated with Caméra d’Afrique – aroused great interest among the young people. "

" I met with Idrissa again at my first FESPACO, in February 1985, in the midst of great cultural and political excitement sparked by Thomas Sankara’s revolution. Ousmane Sembène, Tahar Cheriaa, Med Hondo, Lionel Ngakane, Jean-Michel Tchissoukou, Haile Gerima were all at the forefront of supporting the actions of this young president who wanted to restore Africa’s dignity and free it from neo-colonialism, corruption and the crushing world economic order. In 1987, again at FESPACO, I attended the world premiere of Yam Daabo. After 36 years I still vividly remember the emotion and pride I felt seeing the film’s first images. The “choice” the title refers to is the courageous decision of a rural family from the Sahel to refuse international aid from USAID and set off looking for other lands, but also for their own dignity and emancipation. A long sequence of great symbolic power, punctuated by the soundtrack of the great Francis Bebey. My happiness was indescribable: Idrissa proved to be a master interacting with the great African pioneers, who, like him, had chosen cinema to fight against the crushing world economic order. With his subsequent films, Idrissa’s star became part of the constellation of great festivals such as Cannes and Berlin, but in my view the pride and dignity of the first sequence of Yam Daabo make it the most beautiful and vibrant film of our history. " Mohamed Challouf

AA: In rural Burkina Faso, the daughter Bintou needs to choose between the gentle Issa and the violent Tiga. She becomes pregnant by Issa and is banished from home by her father. But when the baby is born, she is welcomed back, and there is a celebration. 

The family is poor and visits the nearby city to sell their cart and donkey. Their little son Ali is killed in a car accident.

Raogo, a family friend, has been living in the city but returns to the rural community, having seen the world.

The furious and jealous Tiga runs amok, attempts to kill Issa, and turns to theft in the city.

Although there is a love triangle, a case of forbidden love, unwanted pregnancy, a crime narrative of attempted murder and robbery, and a chase, Yam daabo is not story-driven.

Mesmerizingly restored on 4K from 16 mm originals, there is a vibrant, gentle and vivid image world. The beauty of the faces, the nature and the clothes is highlighted. 

Everything is beauty in this movie shot in exteriors in the luminous sunlight of Burkina Faso. Aesthetical concepts to cover this work would include grace and nobility.

A subtle and luminous work, Yam daabo belongs to the films that are about the fabric of life, the very essence of being. The flow of life is observed by a look of love. It is a subtle poetic achievement of sound and vision.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Les Amandiers / Forever Young

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi: Les Amandiers / Forever Young (FR/IT 2011) avec Nadia Tereszkiewicz (Stella) et Sofiane Bennacer (Étienne).

FR © 2022 Ad Vitam Production / Agat Films & Cie / Arte France Cinéma / BiBi Film. P: Angelo Barbagallo, Patrick Sobelman.
    D: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi. SC: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Noémie Lvovsky, Agnès de Sacy  collaboration: Caroline Deruas-Garrel. DP: Julien Poupard  source format: ARRIRAW  colour  1,85:1. PD: Emmanuelle Duplay. Cost: Caroline de Vivaise. Makeup: Caroline Philiponnat. M supervisor: Matthieu Sibony. S: Sandy Notarianni – 5.1. ED: Anne Weil. Casting: Marion Touitou.
    C: Nadia Tereszkiewicz (Stella), Sofiane Bennacer (Étienne), Louis Garrel (Patrice Chéreau), Micha Lescot (Pierre Romans), Clara Bretheau (Adèle), Noham Edje (Franck), Vaccili Schneider (Victor), Eva Danino (Claire), Liv Henneguier (Juliette), Baptiste Carrion-Weiss (Baptiste).
    Loc:  Paris  New York City  Créteil, Val-de-Marne (interior of the Théâtre des Amandiers).
    Soundtrack includes:
– "Popcorn" (Gershon Kingsley) perf. Hot Butter
– Franz Liszt
– J. S. Bach: Präludium c-Moll, BWV 999
– "Parce que" (comp. Gaby Wagenheim, lyr. Charles Aznavour) perf. Serge Gainsbourg
–  Antonio Vivaldi
– "Me and Bobby McGee" (Kris Kristofferson, Fred Foster) perf. Janis Joplin
– "Les Feuilles mortes"
– "Guarda che luna" (Walter Malgoni) perf. Fred Buscaglione
– "Andy" (Catherine Ringer, Fred Chichin) perf. Les Rita Mitsouko
    126 min
    Festival premiere: 22 May 2022 Cannes Film Festival.
    Sortie en France: 16 Nov 2022.
    César 2023 : Meilleur espoir féminin pour Nadia Tereszkiewicz
    Finnish premiere: 16 June 2023  released by Cinemanse - Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Joel Kinnunen / Monica Ödahl Åminne.
    Viewed at Strand 2, Iso Kristiina, Lappeenranta, 20 June 2023.
« Regardez ces enfants, regardez les crimes qu’ils commettent, regardez comme ils se mentent à eux-mêmes, comme ils veulent apprendre et ne peuvent pas, comme ils veulent faire le tour de toutes les expériences et les épuisent en si peu de temps, et quels espoirs pourtant ils portent encore en eux quand la lune est pleine. Je vous laisse avec eux, ils sont comme nous, ils ont envie d’être aimés. »
 Patrice Chéreau, à propos de sa mise en scène de La Dispute de Marivaux

    Unifrance: " At the end of the 1980s, Stella, Victor, Adèle and Etienne are 20 years old. They take the entrance exam to the famous acting school created by Patrice Chéreau and Pierre Romans at the Théâtre des Amandiers in Nanterre. Launched at full speed into life, passion, and love, together they will experience the turning point of their lives, but also their first tragedy. "
    IMDb: " Follows a troupe of young students at one of France's most prestigious performing arts academies as they navigate the ups and downs of art and love."
    IMDb: " The film is semi-autobiographical for writer-director Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and is based on her experiences as a student at Les Amandiers theatre school in Nanterre in the 1980s where she studied under Patrice Chéreau and Pierre Romans. Her fellow students at the time included Agnès Jaoui, Vincent Perez, Thibault de Montalembert, Marianne Denicourt, Bruno Todeschini, Isabelle Renauld, Eva Ionesco, Laurent Grévill, Hélène de Saint-Père and Bernard Nissile."

AA: A honest, tender, humoristic and tragic account of theatre school students at the Théâtre des Amandiers. Because Chernobyl is evoked, that would mean that the year is 1986. Also another catastrophe is evoked: AIDS. From such dark background the passions of the young protagonists emerge  their commitment to their theatralische Sendung as well as their affairs of love. Engagingly embodied by Nadia Tereszkiewicz (Stella) et Sofiane Bennacer (Étienne), the whole team growing to a convincing esprit de corps. Their teachers are living legends, portrayed with unaffected charisma by Louis Garrel (as Patrice Chéreau, 19442013) and Micha Lescot (as Pierre Romans, 19511990). In 1986, a famous production of Chekhov's Platonov was mounted at the Amandiers, central to the movie.  From the beginning, the axis Paris  New York is essential, the contact with the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. The movie is clearly a labour of love for Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and her screenwriter teammates Noémie Lvovsky, Agnès de Sacy and Caroline Deruas-Garrel. The result is vibrant and aching. Also personal for me, since 1986 was my transition year. I was simultaneously still a student in West Berlin (a city severely affected by AIDS and devastated by Chernobyl) and already in charge of the programming of the Finnish Film Archive.