News

AFI FEST Announces Cinema’s Legacy and Midnight Lineups

10/18/2018 12:00:00 AM

In this year’s Cinema’s Legacy program, AFI FEST highlights films directed by women. This section is a celebration of motion picture history and a special opportunity to screen recent restorations of classic and lesser-known films. The festival spotlights six independent filmmakers across subjects and genres, including two world-premiere restorations, and newly struck 16mm presentations: THE CRUZ BROTHERS AND MISS MALLOY (DIR Kathleen Collins, 1980), DRYLONGSO (DIR Cauleen Smith, 1998), THE JUNIPER TREE (DIR Nietzchka Keene, 1990), MEETINGS OF ANNA (DIR Chantal Akerman, 1978), NITRATE KISSES (DIR Barbara Hammer, 1992) and QUEEN OF DIAMONDS (DIR Nina Menkes, 1991).

The Midnight section features an international selection of macabre and provocative genre films: CAM (DIR Daniel Goldhaber), IN FABRIC (DIR Peter Strickland), KNIFE+HEART (DIR Yann Gonzalez) and PIERCING (DIR Nicolas Pesce).

CINEMA’S LEGACY

THE CRUZ BROTHERS AND MISS MALLOY – This charming feature debut from recently rediscovered filmmaker Kathleen Collins (LOSING GROUND), THE CRUZ BROTHERS AND MISS MALLOY follows three Puerto Rican brothers who, under the watchful eye of their father’s ghost, are enlisted to help an eccentric elderly widow restore her home before her own anticipated death. DIR Kathleen Collins. SCR Kathleen Collins, Henry H. Roth, Jo Tavener. CAST Rae Ferguson, Sylvia Field, Cesar Gonzalez, Susan Hurst, Susan Lukas, Jose Machado. USA

DRYLONGSO – While photographing “America’s most endangered species” — the African-American male — Pica Sullivan encounters Tobi, disguised in men’s clothing to avoid her abusive boyfriend. Like its title, DRYLONGSO — an old term meaning “ordinary” — the issues addressed in Cauleen Smith’s powerful and little-seen 1998 film remain appallingly ordinary to young African-American men and women. New 16mm print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive. DIR Cauleen Smith. SCR Salim Akil, Cauleen Smith. CAST Toby Smith, April Barnett, Will Power. USA

THE JUNIPER TREE (EINITREO) – This beautiful restoration exhumes Nietzchka Keene’s unheralded debut, a feminist interpretation of the Brothers Grimm fairytale that underscores the uncertain safety of women in a patriarchal society. Filmed in Iceland, this atmospheric fantasy features a 20-year-old Björk as Margit, who escapes with her sister Katla when their mother is killed for practicing witchcraft. World Premiere of the Wisconsin Center for Film & Theater Research 2018 restoration with funding provided from The Film Foundation and the George Lucas Family Foundation. DIR Nietzchka Keene. SCR Nietzchka Keene. CAST Björk Gudmundsdottir, Bryndis Petra Bragadottir, Valdimar Orn Flygenring, Gudrun S. Gisladottir, Geirlaug Sunna Pormar. Iceland

MEETINGS OF ANNA (LES RENDEZ-VOUS D’ANNA) – In Chantal Akerman’s 1978 masterwork, Anna (Aurore Clément) is a respected Belgian filmmaker on a no-frills European tour promoting her latest film. As Anna travels from city to city, she has a series of startling encounters with different men and women, all of which seem to underscore her uneasy place in an increasingly dreary and anonymous Western Europe. DIR Chantal Akerman. SCR Chantal Akerman. CAST Aurore Clément, Helmut Griem, Magali Noël. France, Belgium, West Germany

NITRATE KISSES – The debut feature from celebrated filmmaker Barbara Hammer, NITRATE KISSES is an experimental excavation of queer histories, a celebration of difference across communities and a lament for histories lost to cultural repression. New 16mm print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive. DIR Barbara Hammer. USA

QUEEN OF DIAMONDS – A seminal work by experimental narrative filmmaker Nina Menkes, this film stars her sister and longtime collaborator Tinka Menkes as a blackjack dealer at a desert casino. The resulting film is a hypnotic trance of white bones and blue sky, the occasional oasis, the dark nights punctuated by neon. Restored by the Academy Film Archive and The Film Foundation, with funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation. DIR Nina Menkes. SCR Nina Menkes. CAST Tinka Menkes, Emellda J. Beech. USA

MIDNIGHT

CAM – Lola (Madeline Brewer of THE HANDMAID’S TALE) is a modern-day camgirl who makes her living through online private chats, but her world is about to turn upside down. Written by former camgirl Isa Mazzei, this thriller is one of the most surprising and intelligent films of the year. DIR Daniel Goldhaber. SCR Isa Mazzei, Daniel Goldhaber. CAST Madeline Brewer, Patch Darragh, Melora Walters, David Druid, Imani Hakim, Michael Dempsey. USA

IN FABRIC – A demonic dress haunts the lives of all that come into contact with it in this sexually explicit, phantasmagoric fever dream. As the garment moves from person to person, it leaves death and destruction in its wake. DIR Peter Strickland. SCR Peter Strickland. CAST Gwendoline Christie, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Hayley Squires, Leo Bill. UK

KNIFE+HEART (UN COUTEAU DANS LE COEUR) – A masked madman stalks across the world of a producer and her film company. What results is a psychosexual slasher set in the world of the 1970s gay porn scene in Paris, from visionary and boundary-pushing director Yann Gonzalez. DIR Yann Gonzalez. SCR Yann Gonzalez, Cristiano Mangione. CAST Vanessa Paradis, Nicolas Maury, Kate Moran, Jonathan Genet, Khaled Alouach, Félix Maritaud, Noé Hernandez, Thibault Servière, Bastien Waultier, Bertrand Mandico, Jules Ritmanic. FRANCE

PIERCING – In Nicolas Pesce’s wicked and kinky black comedy PIERCING, Reed (Christopher Abbott) is a seemingly normal guy struggling to channel some dark urges involving an ice pick. But when he orders a call girl (Mia Wasikowska) with the secret intention of taking his violence out on her, things go disturbingly off-script. DIR Nicolas Pesce. SCR Nicolas Pesce, Ryû Murakami (novel). CAST Christopher Abbott, Mia Wasikowska, Olivia Bond, Laia Costa, Maria Dizzia, Marin Ireland, Dakota Lustick, Wendell Pierce. USA

Pictured at top: THE JUNIPER TREE

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ENAMORADA by Emilio Fernández to open The Classics, Festival of the Films That Will Live Forever 2018

9/11/2018 12:00:00 AM

With the support of the The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, UCLA Film & Television Archive, Televisa, and the Material World Charitable Foundation:

ENAMORADA by Emilio Fernández
to open The Classics, Festival of the Films That Will Live Forever 2018


ENAMORADA by Emilio Fernández had its restoration premiere this year at the Cannes Film Festival and also, had an unforgettable screening at Il Cinema Ritrovato. Now, this extraordinary Mexican film will have its South American premiere in Bogotá, Colombia at the Classics.

Founder and Chair of The Film Foundation, Martin Scorsese stated: " I’m very happy to know that ENAMORADA will open The Classics, and pleased that The Film Foundation is continuing its support for this festival. ENAMORADA, directed by Emilio Fernández, was a huge hit in Mexico and catapulted Pedro Armandáriz and Maria Félix to stardom. The film takes place during the Mexican Revolution and was inspired by Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. This extraordinary restoration, by the UCLA Film & Television Archive and TFF’s World Cinema Project, in association with Filmoteca de la UNAM and Fundacion Televisa, and funded by the Material World Charitable Foundation, highlights the great work of the director, actors, and the film’s legendary cinematographer, Gabriel Figueroa. The soundtrack, restored by Audio Mechanics, includes the beautiful performance of “Malagueña Salerosa,” one of many highlights of this beloved film. I’m grateful to Olivia Harrison and the Material World Charitable Foundation, for their passionate commitment to preserving and presenting this and many other masterpieces of cinema.”

Olivia Harrison, of the Material World Charitable Foundation added: "While my late husband, George Harrison, was growing up in Liverpool, he would watch American horror films and Westerns. At the same time, Martin Scorsese was living in New York City watching Italian Neorealist films, and I was in Los Angeles, watching Mexican films that were constantly playing in my home. Film has an amazing power to transcend time and space to connect and unite all of us. Regardless of where or when you grew up, there are some works of cinema that are timeless and speak to audiences of all backgrounds and generations; ENAMORADA is one of them. It is a film that is very dear to me and I am thrilled that it is screening in Bogotá as the part The Classics."

In its first version, the classics had incredible success, and this year the festival will be national and across three cities in Colombia. "This is a beautiful opportunity to bring all these unforgettable classics to the big screen, which is the place where they belong. I am thrilled with the extraordinary support of The Film Foundation; this festival was created because of them.” Said Co-Founder of the Classics, Juan Carvajal.”

The Classics will take place November 8th - 14th.

The Classics, Festival of the Films That Will Live Forever is supported by The Film Foundation, Cine Colombia, Caracol Cine, British Council Colombia, Park Circus, Mei Lab Digital, Videoactividad & Gas Natural

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56th NYFF Retrospective & Revivals Sections Include Films from Fassbinder, Oshima, Mambéty & More

Leonard Pearce

8/21/2018 12:00:00 AM

Following their impressively varied Main Slate section and Projections lineup, the full slate for Retrospective and Revivals at the 56th New York Film Festival have been announced. After last year’s Robert Mitchum retrospective, this year’s edition is split into three parts, paying tributing to the late Dan Talbot and Pierre Rissient, as well as spotlighting a trio of documentaries that delve into cinema history.

“For Pierre and Dan, two genuine heroes, everything to do with cinema was urgent. This year’s retrospective section pays tribute to both men, who passed away within six months of each other,” NYFF Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones said.

Talbot, founder of New Yorker Films and longtime director of Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, will be honored with personal favorites from Bernardo Bertolucci, Straub-Huillet, Nagisa Oshima, Jean-Luc Godard, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and more. Meanwhile, producer, publicist, distributor, curator, and cinema polymath Pierre Rissient’s section will feature works from Clint Eastwood, Joseph Losey, King Hu, Raoul Walsh, Fritz Lang, and more.

Amongst the Revivals sections, a number of major new restorations will be presented, including Edgar G. Ulmer’s noir classic Detour, Djibril Diop Mambéty’s neocolonialist satire Hyenas, Alexei Guerman’s Khrustalyov, My Car!, Delmer Daves’ The Red House, and more.

Check out the lineup of both sections exclusively below.

FILMS & DESCRIPTIONS

REVIVALS
Detour
Dir. Edgar G. Ulmer, USA, 1945, 68m
Edgar G. Ulmer’s 1945 classic, made at the Poverty Row production company PRC somewhere between 14 and 18 shooting days for $100,000, has come to be regarded, justifiably, as the essence of film noir. Ulmer and his team turned the very cheapness of the enterprise into an aesthetic asset and created a film experience that reeks of sweat, rust, and mildew. For years, Detour was only available in dupey, substandard prints, which seemed appropriate. In the ’90s, a photochemical restoration improved matters, but the quality was far from optimal. Now we have a restoration of a different order, made from vastly superior elements. “To be able to see so much detail in the frame, in the settings and in the faces of the actors,” says Martin Scorsese, “is truly startling, and it makes for a far richer and deeper experience.”

Restored by the Academy Film Archive and The Film Foundation, in collaboration with the Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique, The Museum of Modern Art, and the Cinémathèque Française, with funding from the George Lucas Family Foundation.

Enamorada
Dir. Emilo Fernández, Mexico, 1946, 99m
This wildly passionate and visually beautiful love story from director Emilio Fernandéz and cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa, a follow-up to their wildly successful Maria Candelaria, remains one of the most popular Mexican films ever made. As Farran Smith Nehme has written, it was “one of the biggest hits of Fernández’s career and a high-water mark for nearly everyone involved.” The romance between between a revolutionary General (Pedro Armendariz) and the daughter of a nobleman (Maria Félix) set during the Mexican revolution (in which Fernandéz himself fought) was inspired by The Taming of the Shrew and, for the finale, by the end of Sternberg’s Morocco.

Restoration led by UCLA Film & Television Archive and The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project in collaboration with Fundacion Televisa AC and the UNAM Filmoteca, funded by Material World Charitable Foundation.

Hyenas / Ramatou
Dir. Djibril Diop Mambéty, Senegal/Switzerland/France, 1992, 110m
“When a story ends—or ‘falls into the ocean,’ as we say—it creates dreams,” said the great Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambéty in an interview after the completion of his second film, Hyenas, a wildly freeform adaptation of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s The Visit. A wealthy woman (Ami Diakhate) returns to her—and Mambéty’s—home village, and offers the inhabitants a vast sum in exchange for the murder of the local man who seduced and abandoned her when she was young. “I do not refuse the word didactic,” said Mambéty of his very special body of work, and of the particular plight of African cinema. “My task was to identify the enemy of humankind: money, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. I think my target is clear.” A Thelma Film AG release.

Restored over the course of 2017 by Eclair Digital in Vanves, France. Restoration was taken on by Thelma Film AG (Switzerland).

I Am Cuba
Dir. Mikhail Kalatozov, Cuba/USSR, 1964, 108m
Mikhail Kalatozov’s wildly mobile, hallucinatory film was initially rejected by both Cuban and Soviet officials for excessive naiveté and an insufficiently revolutionary spirit, and went largely disregarded and almost unknown for nearly 30 years. That all changed in the early nineties—a remarkable era in film culture, chock full of rediscoveries—when G. Cabrera Infante programmed it at the Telluride Film Festival, and Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola co-presented a Milestone Films release. I Am Cuba is a one-of-a-kind film experience, a visually mind-bending bolt from the historical blue.

Milestone Film & Video’s 4K restoration from the original Gosfilmofond 35mm interpositive and mag tracks was done at Metropolis Post with Jason Crump (colorist) and Ian Bostick (restoration artist). 4K scan by Colorlab, Rockville, MD.

Khrustalyov, My Car! / Khrustalyov, mashinu! 
Dir. Alexei Guerman, USSR/France, 1998, 150m
The time is 1953, the place is Moscow; the Jewish purges are still on, and Stalin is on his deathbed. When General Yuri Glinsky, a military surgeon, tries to escape, he is abducted, taken to the lowest rungs of hell, and deposited at the heart of the enigma. Alexei Guerman’s deeply personal penultimate film is a work of solid and constant disorientation, masterfully orchestrated. Enigmatic phrases, sounds, gestures, and micro-events pass before our eyes and ears before we or the alternately jumpy and exhausted characters can make sense of them. Guerman’s lustrous black and white images and meticulously constructed soundscape are permeated with the feel of life in a totalitarian society, where something monumental is underway but no one knows precisely what or when or how it will break.

The original 35mm fine grain positive was scanned in 2K resolution on an Arriscan at Eclair, Paris. The film was graded and restored at Dragon DI, Wales. Restoration supervised by James White, Arrow Films; restoration produced by Daniel Bird.

Neapolitan Carousel
Dir. Ettore Giannini, Italy, 1954, 129m
One of the first color films made in Italy, Ettore Giannini’s 1954 film version of his stage musical begins in the present day, with sheet music hanging on a barrel organ blown through the streets of Naples: every individual song tells a story of the history of the city, from the Moorish invasion in the 14th century through the arrival of the Americans at the end of WWII. Giannini assembled an amazing roster of talent for his film, including one-time Ballets Russes principal dancer and Powell-Pressburger mainstay Léonide Massine (who also choreographed), the great comic actor Paolo Stoppa, and a young Sophia Loren.

Restored by the Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory and The Film Foundation with funding provided by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

None Shall Escape
Dir. André de Toth, USA, 1944, 85m
The Hungarian emigré André de Toth directed this unflinching look at the rise of Nazism right before the end of the war, the first Hollywood film to address Nazi genocide. Written by Lester Cole, soon to become a member of the Hollywood Ten, None Shall Escape is structured as a series of flashbacks that dramatize the testimony of witnesses in a near-future postwar tribunal. Alexander Knox is the German everyman, a WWI vet who slowly, gradually accepts National Socialism and becomes a mass murderer. With Marsha Hunt—her career and Knox’s would both be affected by the Red Scare. A Sony Pictures Repertory release.

4K digital restoration from original nitrate negative and original nitrate track negative.

The Red House
Dir. Delmer Daves, USA, 1947, 100m
This moody, visually potent film, directed by Delmer Daves and independently produced by star Edward G. Robinson with Sol Lesser, is something of an anomaly in late ’40s moviemaking, a piece of contemporary gothic Americana. Robinson plays Pete, a farmer who shares his home with his sister (Judith Anderson) and his adopted niece Meg (Allene Roberts). Meg becomes increasingly attached to a sweet local boy (Lon McAllister), and together they venture into the woods in search of a red house that Pete has forbidden them to enter. The emotional heart of The Red House can be found in the extraordinary close-ups of Roberts and McAllister, shot by the great DP (and frequent John Ford collaborator) Bert Glennon.

Restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive and The Film Foundation, with funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation.

Spring Night, Summer Night
Dir. J.L. Anderson, USA, 1967, 82m
J.L. Anderson’s haunted Appalachian romance occupies a proud place alongside such similarly hand-crafted, off-the-grid American independent films as Carnival of Souls, The Exiles, Night of the Living Dead, and Wanda. Made in coal-mining country in northeastern Ohio with local amateur actors, the film is carefully observed (Anderson and his producer Franklin Miller spent two years scouting locations becoming familiar with the place and the people) and beautifully and lovingly realized. Spring Night, Summer Night has had an extremely checkered history, including a release in a version crudely recut for the exploitation market with the title Miss Jessica Is Pregnant. It was invited to the 1968 New York Film Festival, only to be unceremoniously bumped to make way for John Cassavetes’s Faces. Fifty years later, we’re re-extending the invitation and promising that it’s solid.

A Restoration and Reconstruction Project of Cinema Preservation Alliance by Peter Conheim and Ross Lipman. Produced by Nicolas Winding Refn.

Tunes of Glory
Dir. Ronald Neame, UK, 1960, 106m
Ronald Neame’s adaptation of James Kennaway’s novel is a spare, dramatically potent war of nerves, about the power struggle between a tough lower-middle-class Scottish Major due to be replaced as Battalion commander of a Highland regiment and an aristocratic Colonel traumatized by captivity during the war. At its center are two breathtaking performances: John Mills as the Colonel and Alec Guinness, in a genuine tour de force, as the Major (apparently, after they had read the script, each actor had originally wanted to play the other’s role). With Dennis Price, Kay Walsh, Susannah York, and Gordon Jackson.

Restored by the Academy Film Archive and The Film Foundation in collaboration with Janus Films and The Museum of Modern Art. Restoration funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation.

The War at Home
Dir. Glenn Silber and Barry Alexander Brown, USA, 1979, 100m
This meticulously constructed 1979 film recounts the development of the movement against the American war in Vietnam on the Madison campus of the University of Wisconsin, from 1963 to 1970. Using carefully assembled archival and news footage and thoughtful interviews with many of the participants, it culminates in the 1967 Dow Chemical sit-in and the bombing of the Army Math Research Center three years later. One of the great works of American documentary moviemaking, The War at Home has also become a time capsule of the moment of its own making, a welcome emanation from the era of analog editing, and a reminder of how much power people have when they take to the streets in protest. A Catalyst Media Productions release.

New 4K restoration by IndieCollect.

 

RETROSPECTIVE

Tribute to Dan Talbot

Before the Revolution
Dir. Bernardo Bertolucci, Italy, 1964, 105m
Dan Talbot began as an exhibitor, and he started his distribution company, New Yorker Films, for the best possible reason: he saw a film that he loved and he wanted to share it with as many people as possible. The film was Bernardo Bertolucci’s masterful second feature, a deeply personal portrait of a generation gripped by political uncertainty. Set in the director’s hometown of Parma, it follows the travails of a young student struggling to reconcile his militant views with his bourgeois lifestyle (and his fiancée), who drifts into a passionate affair with his radical aunt. One of the key films of the ’60s, Before the Revolution set many aspiring filmmakers on their own autobiographical courses. 35mm print from Istituto Luce Cinecittà.

Straub-Huillet Program:
Machorka-Muff
Dir. Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet; West Germany; 1963; 18m
The Bridegroom, the Comedienne and the Pimp
Dir. Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet; West Germany; 1968; 23m
Not Reconciled
Dir. Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet; West Germany; 1965; 55m
In 1966, Dan and Toby Talbot went to a party thrown by Bertolucci and his friend and co-writer Gianni Amico in Rome. Suddenly, the bell rang. “Shh-sh,” said Bertolucci. “Get rid of the pot! Put the drinks away. The Straubs are here!” That someone would pick up any single film directed by Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet is utterly unthinkable in the context of the present moment, but for decades New Yorker Films handled all of them. These three films, often shown together, are among their very best: an idiosyncratic adaptation of Heinrich Böll’s short story “Bonn Diary,” about a former Nazi colonel cynically reflecting on the sheer stupidity of the bourgeoisie; a three-part short comprised of a nocturnal tour of Munich, a high-speed stage production of Bruckner’s Sickness of Youth, and the marriage of James and Lilith, who guns down her pimp (played by Rainer Werner Fassbinder); and their stunning, thrillingly compressed adaptation of Böll’s novel Billiards at Half-Past. A Grasshopper Film release.

The Ceremony
Dir. Nagisa Oshima, Japan, 1971, 123m
New Yorker developed a close relationship with the filmmaker once known as “the Japanese Godard,” Nagisa Oshima, and they programmed a groundbreaking retrospective of his early films during their brief tenure at the Metro on 100th Street. This disarmingly atmospheric portrait of a family’s collective psychopathology recounts the saga of the Sakurada clan, whose decline plays out over the course of 25 years and multiple funerals and weddings. Operating at the height of his iconoclastic powers, Oshima renders the family’s unraveling with an arresting sense of foreboding and an air of gothic fatalism, enriched by Tôru Takemitsu’s quintessentially modernist score.

Every Man for Himself / Sauve qui peut (la vie)
Dir. Jean-Luc Godard, France/Austria/West Germany/Switzerland, 1980, 87m
“Dan jumped straight to the point,” wrote Toby in her book The New Yorker Theater and Other Scenes from a Life at the Movies. “‘I love your work and would like to distribute anything you make.’” Over the years, New Yorker handled many of Godard’s films, including his return to 35mm character-based storytelling after a decade of experimentation in video. What Godard called his “second first film” is a moving portrait of restless, intertwining lives, and the myriad forms of self-debasement and survival in a capitalist state, with Jacques Dutronc (as “Paul Godard”), Nathalie Baye, Isabelle Huppert, and, in an unforgettable anti-cameo, the voice of Marguerite Duras. An NYFF18 selection.

The American Friend
Dir. Wim Wenders, West Germany/France, 1977, 125m
Dan Talbot and New Yorker Films put the New German Cinema of the 1970s on the map in this country, and one of their key titles was Wim Wenders’s spellbinding adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley’s Game (and a little bit of Ripley Underground). Dennis Hopper is the sociopathic charmer Tom Ripley, transformed by Wenders into an urban cowboy peddler of forged paintings who ensnares Bruno Ganz’s gravely ill Swiss-born art framer into a plot to assassinate a Mafioso. Shot in multiple New York and European locations in low-lit, cool blue and gold tones by the great Robby Müller, this brooding, dreamlike thriller conjures a world ruled by chaos and indiscriminate American dominance. It also features a stunning array of performances and guest appearances by filmmakers, including Nick Ray, Gérard Blain, Sam Fuller, Jean Eustache, Daniel Schmid, and Peter Lilienthal. An NYFF15 selection.

The Marriage of Maria Braun
Dir. Rainer Werner Fassbinder, West Germany, 1979, 120m
“I bought 11 Fassbinders in one shot, like rugs,” Dan told Anthony Kaufman in a 2009 interview. As was the case with every New Yorker acquisition, the motive was not financial. So one can imagine the surprise at their offices when this 1979 film about a poor German soldier’s wife (Hanna Schygulla) who uses her wiles and savvy to rise as a businesswoman and take part in the “wirtschaftwunder” or postwar economic miracle, became an arthouse hit—per François Truffaut, this was the movie that broke Fassbinder “out of the ivory tower of the cinephiles” and earned him the acclaim he had always sought. The Marriage of Maria Braun was also the Closing Night selection of the 17th New York Film Festival.

My Dinner with André
Dir. Louis Malle, USA, 1981, 110m
When Dan read Wallace Shawn and André Gregory’s script for My Dinner with André, he was so excited that he helped Louis Malle procure production funding from Gaumont. The film, an encounter between the two writers playing themselves discussing mortality, money, despair, and love over a meal at an upper west side restaurant (according to Gregory, Malle’s one direction was “Talk faster”), becoming a sensation at the art house, playing to packed houses for a solid year, and a favorite on the brand-new home video circuit. My Dinner with André is entertaining, confessional, funny, moving, and suffused with melancholy and joy…like life.

 

Tribute to Pierre Rissient

Manila in the Claws of Light / Maynila: Sa mga kuko ng liwanag
Dir. Lino Brocka, Philippines, 1975, 124m
Pierre Rissient championed the work of countless filmmakers—as a programmer of the MacMahon Theatre in Paris, as a publicist in partnership with his lifelong friend Bertrand Tavernier, as a scout for Cannes, as a distributor and producer, and always as a lover of cinema with an avid desire to always learn and see more. As Todd McCarthy wrote, it was Pierre who “single-handedly brought the work of the late Filipino director Lino Brocka to the world’s attention.” This searing melodrama, with Bembel Roco and Hilda Koronel as doomed lovers, is one of Brocka’s greatest. “Lino knew all the arteries of this swarming city,” wrote Pierre, “and he penetrated them just as he penetrated the veins of the outcasts in his films. Sometimes a vein would crack open and bleed. And that blood oozed onto the screen.”

A Touch of Zen
Dir. King Hu, Hong Kong, 1971/1975, 200m
Pierre developed a special love for Asia and its many cinemas, and he was the one who properly introduced the great wuxia master King Hu to the west, bringing the uncut version of his masterpiece, A Touch of Zen, to the 1975 Cannes Film Festival. Supreme fantasist, Ming dynasty scholar, and incomparable artist, Hu elevated the martial-arts genre to unparalleled heights. Three years in the making and his greatest film, A Touch of Zen was released in truncated form in Hong Kong in 1971 and yanked from theaters after a week. Four years later, after Rissient saved the film from oblivion and it won a grand prize for technical achievement, the unthinkable occurred: King Hu received an apology from his studio heads.

Time Without Pity
Dir. Joseph Losey, UK, 1957, 85m
Pierre was close to many of the American writers and directors who had been through the blacklist, including Jules Dassin, Abraham Polonsky, John Berry, and Cy Endfield, and he was a great admirer of the films of Joseph Losey (his feelings about the man himself were another matter). Rissient was crucial in bringing attention to this consummately tense noir, one of Losey’s greatest films. The narrative, unfurling at a breakneck pace, chronicles the plight of a recovering alcoholic (Michael Redgrave) with a mere 24 hours to prove the innocence of his son, accused of murdering his girlfriend. The first film that Losey signed with his own name after his flight to Europe in the early ’50s, Time Without Pity established him as an essential auteur in the eyes of French cinephiles.

Play Misty for Me
Dir. Clint Eastwood, USA, 1971, 102m
When Clint Eastwood won his first Oscar, in 1992 for Unforgiven, he thanked “the French” for their support. But it was one French citizen in particular who was there from the start of his career as a filmmaker. Eastwood’s first film, about a casual romantic encounter between a Northern California DJ (played by the director) and a woman named Evelyn (Jessica Walter) that turns harrowingly obsessive, is an essential film from an essential moment in cinema known as Hollywood in the ’70s. While the film was well-received, it was Pierre who recognized that Play Misty for Me marked the debut of a truly distinctive talent. From there, a close and abiding friendship bloomed.

Mother India
Dir. Mehboob Khan, India, 1957, 172m
When we gave this film a run at the Walter Reade Theater in 2002, Pierre was only too happy to provide a simple but eloquent quote: “Air…space…light—that’s Mother India.” This seminal Bollywood film, a remake of Khan’s earlier Aurat (1940), is about the trials and tribulations of Radha (Nargis), a poor villager caught in the historic whirlwind of the struggles endured in her country after gaining its independence from Britain. Striving to raise her sons and make ends meet in the face of poverty and natural disasters alike, Radha endures through the strength of her convictions and her unflappable sense of morality. Mother India is a powerful experience, for both its place in film history and its incarnation of human resilience.

House by the River
Dir. Fritz Lang, USA, 1950, 89m
There were few filmmakers whose work Pierre revered more than Fritz Lang, whom he counted among his friends. When Lang came to the Cinémathèque Française for a retrospective of his work in the late 1950s, Pierre and Claude Chabrol asked him about this wild gothic period melodrama, made at Republic Pictures, starring Louis Hayward and Jane Wyatt, a print of which could not be found and which was still unseen in France. Lang, said Pierre, “could describe shot by shot the first ten, twelve minutes of the film. It was almost as if we were seeing the film.” Pierre not only found a way of seeing House by the River, he acquired the rights and distributed the film himself.

The Man I Love
Dir. Raoul Walsh, USA, 1947, 96m
Raoul Walsh was another honored figure in Pierre’s pantheon. On one occasion, when the subject of one of Walsh’s films came up, Pierre simply whistled in admiration. This 1947 film, somewhere between noir, musical, and melodrama, is one of Walsh’s least recognized and most moving, rich in the “daily human pathetique” that Manny Farber identified as the director’s richest vein. Ida Lupino is the Manhattan lounge singer who heads to Los Angeles to live with her family and start a new life. Bruce Bennett is the musician she falls for, and Robert Alda is the brash club owner who won’t take no for an answer. If one were pressed for a single word to describe this movie, it would be “soulful.”

 

Three Documentaries on Cinema
In this year’s retrospective section, we also include three special and very different documentaries about the movies: a lament for Viennese film critic and festival director Hans Hurch, a portrait of the great cinema pioneer Alice Guy-Blaché, and a tribute to Ingmar Bergman.

Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché
Dir. Pamela B. Green, USA, 2018, 103m
Alice Guy-Blaché was a true pioneer who got into the movie business at the very beginning—in 1894, at the age of 21. Two years later, she was made head of production at Gaumont and started directing films. She and her husband moved to the United States, and she founded her own company, Solax, in 1910—they started in Flushing and moved to a bigger facility in Fort Lee, New Jersey. But by 1919, Guy-Blaché’s career came to an abrupt end, and she and the 1000 films that bore her name were largely forgotten. Pamela B. Green’s energetic film is both a tribute and a detective story, tracing the circumstances by which this extraordinary artist faded from memory and the path toward her reclamation. Narration by Jodie Foster.

Preceded by:
Falling Leaves (1912)
One of Alice Guy-Blaché’s most beautiful films, this two-reeler concerns a girl who tries to keep her consumptive sister alive by magical means.

Music composed and performed by Makia Matsumura. A collaborative restoration for the Alice Guy-Blaché retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Mastered from a 2K scan of a surviving nitrate print received by the Library of Congress in 1983 from the Public Archives of Canada/Jerome House Collection. 2018 Digital restoration produced by Bret Wood for Kino Lorber, Inc.

Introduzione all’Oscuro
Dir. Gastón Solnicki, Argentina/Austria, 2018, 71m
North American Premiere
The new film from Gastón Solnicki (Kékszakállú, NYFF54) is a tribute to his great friend Hans Hurch, one-time film critic and assistant to Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, and director of the Vienna International Film Festival from 1997 to his unexpected death from a heart attack last July at the age of 64. Solnicki pays tribute to Hurch by creating a cinematic form for his own mourning. He doesn’t simply visit his friend’s old haunts, he responds rhythmically, in images and sounds, to Hurch’s recorded voice delivering admonitions and gentle warnings during the editing of an earlier film. Introduzione all’Oscuro is truly a work of the cinema, and a moving communion with a friend whose presence is felt in the memory of the places, the people, the coffee, and the films he loved.

Searching for Ingmar Bergman
Dir. Margarethe von Trotta, Germany/France, 2018, 99m
U.S. Premiere
On the occasion of Ingmar Bergman’s centenary comes this lovely, personal film from one of his greatest admirers, Margarethe von Trotta. This is a tribute from an artist with a such a deep affinity for the subject that it opens to genuine and sometimes disquieting inquiry. In his writings and in his films, Bergman himself strove for an honest accounting and true self-revelation, but it is fascinating to hear and see the observations of loved ones and collaborators (often one and the same), particularly his son Daniel, whose relationship with his father was multi-layered. A rich and quietly absorbing portrait of an immense artist. An Oscilloscope Laboratories release.

Passes for the 56th NYFF, taking place from September 28-October 14 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, are now on sale. Single tickets go on sale on September 9.

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The Jolting “Moonrise,” a John Wayne Romance, and Other Diamonds From the Republic Pictures Vault

Farran Smith Nehme

8/7/2018 12:00:00 AM

Part two of the Museum of Modern Art’s retrospective of this on-the-cheap studio unleashes a fresh arsenal of little-seen discoveries

When last we tuned in to Martin Scorsese and the Museum of Modern Art, back in February, they were presenting the first fifteen entries in “Republic Rediscovered,” a two-part series of thirty restored films out of the approximately one thousand made between 1935 and 1958 at Republic Pictures. Republic was the B-movie factory run throughout its brief, roller-coaster life by former tobacco executive Herbert J. Yates. It was a studio unlike any other, a place that could provide a home both to superstar John Wayne and never-quite-a-star Vera Hruba Ralston, Yates’s sparsely talented girlfriend (and, later, wife). It released acknowledged classics from John Ford and Frank Borzage alongside the best work of lesser lights like John H. Auer and R.G. Springsteen. From August 9–23, MoMA is screening the second batch of fifteen films, handpicked by Scorsese himself, and the result is another grab-bag of the fascinating, oddball, and occasionally downright brilliant output of Yates’s cut-price MGM manqué.

Two films feature John Wayne, one being the opening-night selection introduced by Scorsese, Wake of the Red Witch. Directed by Edward Ludwig (whose 1956 Flame of the Islands is also in the series), it was made during Wayne’s annus mirabilis of 1948, when the other three films with his name on the marquee were Fort Apache, Three Godfathers, and Red River. Like the Hawks film from that crop, Wake of the Red Witch, set in the South Seas in the 1860s, casts Wayne as a heavy, or so it appears it at first. He plays Captain Rall, a hard-drinking, foul-tempered, and violent commander who scuttles his own ship, seemingly so he can go back and steal the fortune in gold bullion it was carrying. It’s more complicated than that, of course — immensely so, as a flashback-tangled plot reveals it’s all part of Rall’s rivalry with Mayrant Sidneye (Luther Adler) for the love of Angelique (Gail Russell).

Wayne played a number of morally ambiguous characters throughout his career, but he didn’t get many movies that foreground a love story as much as this one. Rall’s passion for Angelique (and Wayne’s chemistry with Russell) drives what is a romantic tragedy as much as an adventure story. (“Underrated” is what Wayne biographer Scott Eyman calls Wake.) It had higher production values than the usual Republic adventure, and for Wayne, its emotional importance must have been significant. He named his production company, Batjac, after the trading company in the movie, and after he was diagnosed with and beat cancer the first time in 1964, he began to call the disease “the red witch.”

Much less lavish, but nearly as interesting, is Three Faces West, a Wayne starrer from 1940 that explicitly links the fate of European refugees from the Nazis (played by Sigrid Gurie and an accent-wielding Charles Coburn) and the residents of a Dust Bowl–ravaged farming town in North Dakota. The cinematographer was John Alton, hence some superbly lit dust storms, both day and night. The director was Bernard Vorhaus, who ran afoul of the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1951 (fellow director Edward Dmytryk was one of the ones who fingered him) and spent the rest of his career in Europe, becoming an early mentor to David Lean. The screenwriter was Samuel Ornitz, an outspoken communist and one of the original Hollywood Ten. It’s startling, to say the least, to see John Wayne playing a farmer with such left-wing sympathies. His character fights local anti-immigrant sentiment to get the refugees settled and urges a type of collectivization to undo the damage to what he calls, in his inimitable drawl, “a little ol’ gal we been kickin’ in the teeth — Mother Nature.” Eventually he leads his neighbors west to farm land given to them via a government dam project.

Moonrise, the one incontestable masterpiece in the series, is set in a richly shadowed and spooky South of glittering swamps and abandoned houses, all of it created on Republic sets. Danny (Dane Clark), the doom-haunted son of a father hanged for murder, kills a rich bully (Lloyd Bridges) essentially in self-defense. But traumatized Danny, convinced no one will believe a murderer’s offspring, hides the body in the swamp and goes back to a waterside dance club to continue his courtship of the kind, ethereal Gilly (Gail Russell). Moonrise isn’t really film noir — it takes the humanist point of view that criminals are not born, they’re made, and can be unmade — but it boasts some of the most gorgeous noir cinematography of the era, via John L. Russell. And though Moonrise certainly isn’t a horror movie, it has several genuinely frightening moments, including a jolter of an opening. Directed by Frank Borzage in 1948, this film is a tribute to the way originality could flower at Republic.

Then there’s Fair Wind to Java (1953), described by at least one critic as “the ultimate B-picture” (and once you’ve seen it, that’s hard to dispute). Vera Hruba Ralston often cited Fair Wind as her favorite movie. The Czech former figure skater’s casting as a Balinese dancer named Kim Kim (“My father was white,” the character explains casually) is the strangest in the movie, which is saying something when you have Fred MacMurray as a hard-bitten sea captain named Boll; Virginia Brissac (the grandmother in Rebel Without a Cause) as Kim Kim’s Balinese mother; and English stage veteran Robert Douglas as Pulo Besar, the masked Australian-Dutch pirate. Yet Ralston gives this role all she’s got, whether she’s warning of the wrath of Vishnu or sneaking on deck for a breath of fresh air, with disastrous results. Scorsese has often spoken of his fondness for Fair Wind — and indeed, it is hugely enjoyable in its crazy way, graced by an eye-searing Trucolor palette, barreling plot developments, indifference to plausibility, and dialogue like “It’s a little island called Krakatoa. No one’s ever heard of it!” Republic poured a lot of money into the film (a rarity), and it shows, especially in the volcanic finale, an outstanding example of the era’s special effects.

Fred MacMurray co-stars in "Fair Wind to Java" with Vera Ralston, the wife of Republic Pictures chief Herbert J. Yates.PHOTOFEST

Ralston also appears to have a good time in Allan Dwan’s Surrender (1950), playing a foreign-born femme fatale who upends the friendship between a gambler (John Carroll) and a newspaper owner (William Ching) in the Old West. Dwan’s direction reaches its peak in a climactic chase scene across hills and canyons, shown almost entirely in long shot. A different kind of fatalism haunts the title character (Margaret Lockwood) in Laughing Anne (1953), a melodrama based on a Joseph Conrad play. Anne is a French sex worker, married to a lugubrious prizefighter whose amputated hands have been replaced by weights, but yearning for the love of simple sailor Wendell Corey. With every big scene played at a near-hysterical pitch, this was described by its own director, Herbert Wilcox, as a “very bad film,” but I liked a number of elements: the Technicolor; Lockwood’s interpretation of Anne as the ultimate co-dependent; the exotic-locales-on-the-cheap (it was also shot in the studio, of course); and the twist ending.

Hell’s Half Acre (1954) starts out as a fairly routine crime picture, then midway through plunges off a cliff of violence and cruelty; you will never look at the Maytag repairman the same way after seeing what this movie doles out to Jesse White’s character. Directed by Republic workhorse John H. Auer and shot on location (for once) in Honolulu, it has a large and mostly excellent cast, including Wendell Corey (as good as he ever got) as a racketeer trying to go straight; Evelyn Keyes as the wife he deserted years ago; the always wonderful Philip Ahn as a vicious gangster; Marie Windsor as another hard-bitten dame (the way she sucks down the last of her mai tai is a high point); and Keye Luke as the police chief. Though it has Nancy Gates playing an unconvincing Asian moll, the movie makes less use of stereotypes than many others of the era, and gives Luke’s chief the chance to sardonically tell a confused white witness, “What you’re trying to say is, to you, all Orientals look alike.”

The best family-oriented entry stars Steve Cochran, who was attempting to break free of his film-noir typecasting as an oily psycho ready to beat up the likes of Joan Crawford and Ginger Rogers. Come Next Spring (1956) was directed by R. G. Springsteen, who also made Hellfire, a B-Western that was my favorite discovery of the first Republic series. Ann Sheridan, in one of her last film roles, plays an Arkansas farm wife who’s been raising her kids alone after her alcoholic husband took a powder; Cochran, cast radically against type, plays that husband, home after nearly ten years, dried out and trying to stay that way so he can get to know his kids. Both give lovely performances; their first reunion, delivered with clean sincerity, is a marvel of things left unsaid. Filmed in Trucolor around Sacramento, the movie is sentimental in a way that shouldn’t be taken as a pejorative. It points to what might have been a fresh direction for both Sheridan and Cochran, but it was not to be. For Cochran, that was at least in part due to his own wild-man personality. “Steve was a bastard to work with,” recalled Cochran’s good friend and sometime producer Harrison Reader. “He drank too much, he womanized too much, and for a ten o’clock call, he got there at one. But I loved him dearly.”

Cochran would have been perfect for the villain in Make Haste to Live (1954) — a mobster just out of prison and seeking revenge against Chris (Dorothy McGuire), the wife who put him there. The mobster was played instead by Stephen McNally, and rather well, but the actor lacked Cochran’s sex appeal. As it stands, the film is a B-movie twist on Gaslight, a study in how ready people were (and are) to believe a certain type of personable he-man over a woman. Chris doesn’t lose her mind, but as in the Cukor movie, Make Haste to Live shreds your nerves as the mobster checkmates his wife’s every attempt to free herself. Helmed by William A. Seiter, a great comedy director and favorite of MoMA curator Dave Kehr, the movie uses its New Mexico location most effectively for a final showdown in an ancient burial site under excavation. Seiter’s grandson, filmmaker Ted Griffin, will introduce Make Haste to Liveand Seiter’s unusual underworld dramedy Champ for a Day (1953) on August 17, toward the end of the series. Or this year’s phase, anyway. As Paramount continues to restore the Republic library, which it owns, many of us are eager to see more from the adventurous studio’s unique group of filmmakers.

‘Martin Scorsese Presents Republic Rediscovered: New Restorations From Paramount Pictures, Part 2’
The Museum of Modern Art
August 9–23

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