Friday, April 24. 2015
The topic remains strangely controversial, with the German government, among others, mincing words this week until often outspoken German President Joachim Gauck pushed Chancellor Merkel and her coalition government to change their language from "massacre" (as the BBC Twitter feed still calls it) to Völkermord, genocide, when commemorating its 100th anniversary today.
Fatih Akin travelled back a century for his film and crossed continents to portray one family. In 1915 a man survives the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire, but loses his family as well as his speech (the film is largely silent). One night he learns that his twin daughters may be alive and goes on a quest to find them. Continue reading "The Cut: Fatih Akin & Armenia" »
Friday, April 17. 2015
Jutta Brendemühl: Maria, your films often revolve around damaged characters, women who won’t conform, won’t live up to external expectations, won’t play by “the rules". Like Rita, the obstinate young mother in MADONNAS, played by the spectacular Sandra Hüller, or Ines in your recent DAUGHTERS, portrayed as petulant yet vulnerable by Kathleen Morgeneyer. What attracts you to showing contemporary women in complex social and private circumstances?
Maria Speth: “Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.” (Kant) The crooked is part of human nature; part of nature in general. An attempt to make things straight is only possible to a limited extent. The crookedness then leads to defiance, non-conformity and vitality.
JB: Your characters are far from “nice” or easily likeable. Still, one walks away thinking if not caring about them. Continue reading "Maria Speth Retrospective: (En)Gendering Precarity" »
Monday, April 13. 2015
It was only four years later, in 2007, that a group of American journalists blew Alwan’s cover, blaming him for the drawn-out war. But Alwan shows no remorse. To this day he takes pride in his role as the man who helped oust Saddam Hussein.
Continue reading ""War of Lies": a conspiracy of silence" »
Monday, April 13. 2015
"I often find a starting point for my compositions in the accidental recordings of a film's raw footage and research materials: a noise, a buzzing sound, a sentence in a language I don't speak but that touches a string. With these two films, it was the main characters' faces that got me started. Continue reading "Doc Music: "Waves“, "Censored Voices“..." »
Thursday, April 9. 2015
Jutta Brendemühl: In Toronto this spring, you will be showing your 2013 short film “Playing Ball”, filmed at the historic abandoned Michigan Theater in Detroit. Why Detroit, and what was your particular perspective on the space?
Corinna Schnitt: I am really interested in public and urban spaces in general, how a place was meant to be used and how differently it actually might be used in the end. Detroit is a city that really interests me. In this case the theatre has been used as a parking garage since the 70s. I like this pragmatic social solution: There is lack of parking and no demand for a theatre (that was build back in the years of silent movies with space for a whole orchestra).
JB: “Playing Ball” could be a documentary -- if it wasn’t for a man and a woman, dressed for work, playing basketball in the space. Why anchor —or dislocate— these (already curiously staged) protagonists in a theatre-turned-parking lot? What is the interplay between architecture and social action in your work?
CS: Looking around the theatre, I found a basketball net. Continue reading "Whispering to flowers: video artist Corinna..." »
Monday, March 30. 2015
The world premiere of POSSESSED BY DJINN by the Jordanian-Palestinian film-maker Dalia Al-Kury (DE/JO), who investigates a controversial and little known aspect of Islamic culture: the belief in djinn, is programmed in the World Showcase. ORIGINAL COPY by Florian Heinzen-Ziob and Georg Heinzen will have its world premiere in Screen to Screen. The first feature-length documentary by Florian Heinzen-Ziob is about Mumbai's last movie poster artist and his struggles to pass on his legacy to the next generation.
A world or international premiere at the IDFA in Amsterdam, Europe's largest documentary festival, and a North American premiere at the Hot Docs in Toronto - that's something no less than three German films and co-productions have managed this year. Two of them are graduation films from the Film Academy Baden-Württemberg: Continue reading "12 German films at Hot Docs 2015" »
Wednesday, March 25. 2015
BELTRACCHI - THE ART OF FORGERY is a highly entertaining feature documentary film about the greatest European art forgery scandal in post-war history. It shows the painter Wolfgang Beltracchi doing what he considered his profession: forgery. Beltracchi’s paintings are not copies, however. They were invented by him yet could clearly be assigned to a particular artist. No galleries, no experts had any doubts of their authenticity and they made Beltracchi rich. He finally made the mistake that blew his cover.
BELTRACCHI - THE ART OF FORGERY was directed by Arne Birkenstock (SOUND OF HEIMAT – GERMANY SINGS!, 12 TANGOS – ADIOS BUENOS AIRES), who received the German Film Award in Gold for the “best children’s feature” for his 2011 film CHANDANI – DAUGHTER OF THE ELEPHANT WHISPERER. Arne Birkenstock was born in Siegen in 1967 and studied economics, politics, history and Romance philology in Cologne, Buenos Aires and Córdoba. His father was Beltracchi’s defence attorney.
Here's the director on the unique circumstances of creating this documentary:
How long have you known the Beltracchis?
Wolfgang and Helene Beltracchi were in custody for one and a half years before their trial and they were sentenced in the fall of 2011. I didn’t meet them until after that.
How were you able to shoot with the Beltracchis; aren’t they still in prison?
Following their sentencing, Wolfgang and Helene Beltracchi were let out of jail for about three months and then began their open prison sentence. That means that although they spent the night in prison, they were permitted to work outside it during the day. It was during this time that the film was made with them.
Continue reading ""Beltracchi - The Art of Forgery"..." »
Friday, March 13. 2015
"As we are traveling we adjust our perspective on things, places and people. Traveling allows us to reevaluate our preconceptions, our past and current standpoints. It forces us to speak new languages - both in words and in image production.
In my videos I like to generate humour by presenting discrepancies between imagined and factual realities. But despite the humour, I am seriously trying to find out how we imagine things ... and based on what? Continue reading "#MOVEON #MediaArt: Isabell Spengler" »
Thursday, March 5. 2015
We are closing our 6-film series with a Müller & Girardet double bill on March 10 of montages of melodramas of the 1950s and 1960s, starring the likes of Lana Turner, Tippi Hedren, and Grace Kelly, as well as the artists' re-edits of excerpts from 40 Hitchcock films, revealing motifs, cliches and recurring plot lines. I asked Toronto-born Robin Curtis --a filmmaker, curator and professor for the "Theorie und Praxis audiovisueller Medien" at the Institute for Media and Culture Studies at Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf and the co-author of “Matthias Müller – The Memo Book”-- to relate the two films in the program:
"In the 1980s and 1990s we depended on videotapes to access that particular form of collective memory that Hollywood films maintain. Clips of elegantly appointed homes and the women that inhabit them are gleaned from such tapes of melodramas and thrillers and are woven together in HOME STORIES, one of the earliest of Matthias Müller’s many found footage films, to form one seemingly continuous movement in a single cinematic space. HOME STORIES lays bare the bones of these genres, with the specifics of each individual narrative already having been picked away through editing. Continue reading "Copy & Paste: On Matthias Müller &..." »
Tuesday, March 3. 2015
"Modern capitalism, there has to be something sexy about it. Years ago, racketeers hid themselves away in a temple. Like thieves, they were ugly, devious, conniving. These days they are breezy, charming, healthy, Buddhist. But we still portray this world in old pictures, caricatures. We don’t have a picture of it, no story. These new pictures and new stories, that was what YELLA was about for me.
I’m not familiar with this world of business negotations. I can only guess what it’s like and I didn’t want to build on hunches. People often base this world on something that they already know. So I watched Harun Farocki’s 2004 documentary film NOTHING VENTURED. In his film, Continue reading "GOETHE FILMS: Petzold & Farocki collaborating" »
Wednesday, February 25. 2015
The L.A. Times reviewed Herzog's newly released NOSFERATU treatment recently and commented on the Murnau-Herzog relationship:
“I should caution you, it’s not a remake.” When Werner Herzog gives a warning, it is advisable to heed it. So do not call his 1979 film “Nosferatu The Vampyre” a remake of the 1922 film "Nosferatu” by F.W. Murnau. Rather consider it an interpretation or tribute. In his review of the initial release of the film, Los Angeles Times critic Kevin Thomas called it “a film of astonishing beauty and daring… not a horror picture but one of eerie wonderment and bizarre spectacle.”
The story of the film is familiar as a man named Jonathan Harker (Bruno Ganz) is called on a long journey to the remote castle of Count Dracula (Klaus Kinski). The count later appears in the city with seeming designs on Harker’s wife Lucy (Isabelle Adjani).
But Herzog made the saga all his own with a stirring, spaced-out soundtrack by the band Popol Vuh, Continue reading "Copy & Paste: 'It's not a remake' -..." »
Friday, February 20. 2015
Early producers of moving images borrowed copiously from each other, reshooting, restaging, recasting, and flat-out copying the short subjects circulating in an emerging film industry. The eventual regulation of property and copyright in the new medium did not put a stop to the practice of remaking, but rather defined how remaking would continue in a legal and institutional framework. Continue reading "GOETHE FILMS March: Copy & Paste, from..." »
Friday, February 13. 2015
Name & role: Piers Handling, Director and Chief Executive Officer of TIFF, Toronto International Film Festival since 1994
This is my 29th Berlinale.
What’s your “mission” at Berlinale 2015?
To keep Toronto visible and to make our international contacts aware that we are present and vigilant. I see key contacts in the industry in Berlin - sales agents, producers, filmmakers - especially from Europe, as most of them attend. I get a feel for how they felt about last year's Toronto festival; if there were any major issues, what we could improve etc. I also see films just to keep my hand on the pulse, especially films in the Forum, as well as some of the competition titles from non-American directors, as many of the major art house names premiere in Berlin. I talk about our year-round initiatives, what is going on in our building, TIFF Bell Lightbox and how it is doing. Last year I had numerous meetings around our David Cronenberg exhibition which travelled to The Eye in Amsterdam and whose next stop is Italy.
Most interesting film you ever found at the Berlinale:
What a difficult question. I'll start with Pedro Almodovar's LAW OF DESIRE which I saw at my first Berlinale. Continue reading "Berlinale People: Piers Handling, TIFF CEO (CA)" »
Thursday, February 12. 2015
Name & role: Andra Takacs, international entertainment professional & travelling (Toronto-based) film buff
This is my 1st Berlinale – and my expectation of it:
I’m very keen on the Wim Wenders retrospective. As I am attending the festival for the “back half”, I’m glad I won't be so caught up in the opening weekend hype of a festival.
Your favourite international film festival & why?
To date, no festival has been able to top the Toronto International Film Festival for the breadth of film programming and the ability to draw the talent. I live for the post-screening Q&A sessions and am impressed by the presence of directors & actors at the 2nd or 3rd screening of their films.
How many films do you see a year – & why?
I see about 250 films a year in theatres. Continue reading "Berlinale People: Andra Takacs (CA)" »