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NOTES ON FILM & RESTORATION

9/9/2021 1:30:00 PM

Sambizanga, newly and immaculately restored by the Cineteca di Bologna and The Film Foundation, is a movie that will probably be new to many people. For anyone who cares about the cinema, for anyone who wants to make cinema, it is as essential to know well as Sunrise or Vertigo or 2001. It is “noteworthy” because it is the very first African feature directed by a woman, Sarah Maldoror, and it is a touchstone in surveys of political and revolutionary cinema. But those are official historic and academic categories that are worlds away from the immediate experience of the film itself, which is totalizing: it comes at the viewer from all directions at once. It is grounded in life as lived, and every single scene develops with layer upon layer of intimate homebound gestural and visual detail—the preparation of food, the calming of a baby resisting sleep, the baiting of a fishhook all become living events. And the story of dueling searches for an Angolan freedom fighter during the very early days of the resistance who’s been seized from his home unfolds by way of constant cross-cutting that operates at the pace of the characters, who must walk everywhere to share news and messages: on the one hand, a lifelike tension is built; on the other hand, a portrait of a community at a particular moment in time is created. And the cross-cutting also becomes a matter of rhythm: like all great films, Sambizanga has a heartbeat. And it constantly pulses with beauty. It is an experience of colors and textures, visual and sonic. The wife’s long journey with her baby on her back is an event—visually, musically, dramatically—as is the often-cited scene where a tailor who works in the movement speaks a simple truth while he cuts fabric: “There are no whites, neither mulattos nor blacks. Only the rich and the poor. The rich are the poor’s enemies, they see to it that the poor stay poor.” The speech is extremely quotable and Maldoror would echo the sentiment in public (“The color of a person’s skin is of no interest to me,” she said in a 1991 interview, and added: “For me, there are only the exploiters and the exploited, that’s all”), but it only comes fully alive as part of the whole. The political, the dramatic and the aesthetic are not just interwoven in Sambizanga—they are one in the same.

A few words about Sarah Maldoror, a remarkable artist. She was born in France in 1929 with the family name Ducados, and she later named herself after the hero of the Comte de Lautréamont’s novel Les Chants de Maldoror. Like the Senegalese filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambéty, she began in theatre. When she was in her 20s she co-founded Les Griots, the first all-black theatre company in France. She was drawn to the cinema by her first viewing of Battleship Potemkin, and she studied film at VGIK in Moscow alongside Ousmane Sembène (they would be followed later by Souleymane Cissé and Abderrahmane Sissako). Maldoror went to live in Algeria during the crucial years after the eight-year war for independence, and she worked as an assistant to William Klein and Gillo Pontecorvo—on The Battle of Algiers—before embarking on her first short, Monangambeee, co-written by her husband Mário Coelho Pinto de Andrade, one of the key figures in the Angolan liberation movement. The first feature she actually shot, Guns for Banta, was financed by the Algerian FLN (National Liberation Front), whose representatives seized the film from the editing room because Maldoror was driving the focus toward the women’s point of view—“In the end, wars only work when women take part—they don’t have to hold a bazooka but they have to be present” she later said as she reflected on the experience, which ended with her leaving Algeria. Sambizanga, an adaptation of José Luandino Vieira’s 1961 novel The Real Life of Domingos Xavier (also co-written by Andrade), was shot in forty days with a cast largely comprised of Angolan militants. It was impossible to work in Angola at the time, so the film was shot in the neighboring Congo. Sambizanga was released to considerable international acclaim (it was picked up for distribution here by New Yorker Films and favorably reviewed in the then all-powerful New York Times), but for all African and Africa-based filmmakers the international acclaim is bittersweet at best. Maldoror, like Sembène, like Cissé and Sissako, like Safi Faye and Mati Diop, made her films “first of all for Africans, for African people, those who know what Africa is and those who don’t know, although they think they do.” Making the films was only one step—getting them shown on a grand scale was another matter entirely.

“African women must be everywhere,” said Maldoror, who passed away in March of 2020 at the age of 90, from COVID. “They must be in the images, behind the camera, in the editing room and involved in every stage of the making of a film. They must be the ones to talk about their problems.” Like Agnès Varda, she had no patience for empty gestures or half-measures. She made 42 films in all, shorts and features and documentaries, films of all shapes and sizes and orientations. She made her last public appearance in May of 2019, at retrospectives of her work in Spain, and she said something so simple, direct and true that it takes my breath away: “Education doesn't begin with a book, but rather with an image. Children experience cinema and that makes them dream. To help them, we need to get back to poetry, theater and cinema…

Children must, from a very young age, go to the movies and read poetry, to build a better world.”

- Kent Jones

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SAMBIZANGA (Angola/France, 1972, d. Sarah Maldoror)
Restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project and Cineteca di Bologna at L’Image Retrouvée in association with Éditions René Chateau and the family of Sarah Maldoror. Funding provided by Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation. 

This restoration is part of the African Film Heritage Project, an initiative created by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers and UNESCO – in collaboration with Cineteca di Bologna – to help locate, restore, and disseminate African cinema.

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NOTES ON FILM & RESTORATION

8/31/2021 6:15:00 PM

What are the differences between seeing a movie at home and seeing it projected on a big screen? Back in the 80s, when the film critic Serge Daney decided that a VHS was the equivalent of a photographed reproduction of a painting, the answer was clear. Now, not so much.

The first answer that comes to mind for many people is “community,” the feeling of sharing a viewing experience with strangers. Even before the pandemic, the tendency has been to skew the theatrical experience closer to the convenience and coziness of home viewing, and to skew home viewing further in the direction of sensorial richness. On the one hand, reserved stadium seating; on the other hand, bigger screens and more elaborate sound systems and higher and higher resolution.

And now, of course, it’s possible to see films at home while they’re still playing on big screens. Of course, this has been true of older films for a long time. For those of us lucky enough to live in cities with repertory houses, the majority of the programming can be duplicated at home.

But can it really be duplicated?

What is the difference creating a new HD master of a film and actually restoring it?

On the one hand, this is a technical matter. “Technically, there are significant differences in sound and picture processes,” writes Schawn Belston, my old friend and one of the real heroes of film restoration. “HD color space is different than Theatrical, so we usually work in the theatrical (P3) space and then create r709 (HD) after. Similarly, audio dynamics are different between Theatrical and Home, requiring mixes specifically creatively imagined for the different experiences.”

“HD remasters can be beautiful and are frequently made with great care and artistry,” he elaborates, “and they can even be used to create DCPs for distribution. The line between ‘HD master’ and ‘restoration’ has definitely gotten blurrier as technology and creative savvy have improved.” Anyone who has paid close attention to the extraordinary work done by Lee Kline at Criterion will agree with Schawn, although not everyone has Lee’s sensitivity or attention to detail.

We really need to understand that an HD transfer and a 4K restoration do not simply differ in terms of quality and information, but they serve completely different purposes,” writes the Cineteca di Bologna’s Cecilia Cenciarelli—another good friend, another true hero(ine).Restoration, in the way we intend it, draws from figurative art. In Europe the urge to ‘restore’ emerged in the mid-eighteenth century (although we know that Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel was repaired as early as the sixteenth century due to water damage), but it was not before the 1930s that this field was fully theorized, assigning a new status to in-depth research and study.”

A proper restoration should have an eye to longevity as well as all types of viewing experiences,” says Schawn, “notably the original experience of seeing a film on a large screen in a theater.”

“Restoring entails researching the history of the piece of art (the film),” says Cecilia, “its color, texture, style, just as you would with an ancient fresco. The final objective is always two-fold: immediate accessibility (through home video release, which today means many different things, of course) and long-term preservation: creating film elements that can last and extend the film's life for 50-80 years.” It’s worth reiterating that film is still the only proven long-term preservation medium.

Another obvious but important point: the work of actual restoration costs money. It is labor-intensive and time-consuming, it is logistically complex, and it stands or falls on the presence of people with the knowledge and sensitivity of Schawn and Cecilia and their dedicated co-workers and peers.

Whenever I’ve written about any given title in this series of posts, it’s been with the underlying thought that whoever reads them will try their best to see those titles on a big screen, whenever possible. That goes for The Film Foundation’s two most recent restorations, funded by the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation—All That Money Can Buy, otherwise known as The Devil and Daniel Webster (a collaborative effort undertaken by UCLA, with Janus Films, MoMA and the Library of Congress) and King Vidor’s Hallelujah (Library of Congress). When you watch the restorations of these two extraordinary films, think of the work that, to paraphrase Dickens, recalled them to life.

- Kent Jones

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ALL THAT MONEY CAN BUY (1941, d. William Dieterle) 
Restored by UCLA Film and Television Archive and The Film Foundation in collaboration with Janus Films, The Museum of Modern Art and the Library of Congress. Restoration funding provided by the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation. 

HALLELUJAH (1929, d. King Vidor)
Restored by the Library of Congress and The Film Foundation. Funding provided by the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation. 

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NOTES ON FILM & RESTORATION

8/20/2021 3:00:00 PM

Il Bidone, recently restored by The Film Foundation and the Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata, in collaboration with Titanus, has always been considered one of Federico Fellini’s “minor” works. True enough, I guess. Just as Poor Folk is “minor” Dostoyevsky and Pericles “minor” Shakespeare: when you’re in territory that exalted, the word “minor” ceases to be of much use.

Il Bidone started life as a picaresque comedy about Italian swindlers in the key of Lubitsch, inspired by real con men. The picaresque part stayed intact, but the deeper that Fellini went with his research, the less potential for humor he saw. The con men he encountered were largely ruthless, pitiless and misanthropic, and I suppose that accounts for the film’s unusual tone, often balanced but sometimes wavering between farce and melodrama, as well as Fellini’s relative distance from the material. “After the playfulness of I Vitelloni and the vertiginous total commitment of La Strada,” writes Tullio Kezich in his Federico Fellini: His Life and Work, “[Fellini] feels oddly detached from Il Bidone.”

According to Kezich, the director had wanted Bogart for the lead but had to drop the idea because of the actor’s rapidly declining health; according to Charlotte Chandler’s I, Fellini, he never liked Bogart as an actor in the first place. Fellini thought of Frank Sinatra and Pierre Fresnay before he saw a poster of Broderick Crawford in All the King’s Men, and he had his Augusto.

The original 150-minute cut had a disastrous premiere at the Venice Film Festival, and the film was subsequently shaved down to successively shorter versions. The restored version preserves the 112 minute in-between cut, and it’s difficult to imagine the film needing more. It is true that the film becomes far more “prosaic” for much of its last third than anything in the total immersions that are La Strada or Nights of Cabiria, which came before and after. But the better part of Il Bidone is remarkable, a portrait of a man who is becoming spiritually and physically sickened by his own actions but who doesn’t know how to do anything else: his own forward motion is making him nauseous.

Il Bidone is an essential piece of Fellini’s collected body of work, one of our greatest treasures. We have to guard it with our lives.

- Kent Jones

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IL BIDONE (1955, d. Federico Fellini)
Restored by the Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory and The Film Foundation in collaboration with Titanus,
with funding provided by the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation.

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59th New York Film Festival Revivals Announced

8/17/2021 12:00:00 PM

Film at Lincoln Center announces Revivals for the 59th New York Film Festival (September 24 – October 10, 2021). The Revivals section showcases important works from renowned filmmakers that have been digitally remastered, restored, and preserved with the assistance of generous partners.

“We are delighted to share this year’s particularly strong Revivals lineup,” said Florence Almozini, FLC Senior Programmer at Large. “The section showcases groundbreaking works by John Carpenter, Mira Nair, Melvin Van Peebles, Nina Menkes, Wendell B. Harris Jr., Michael Powell, and more, in masterful restorations. One of the biggest satisfactions of programming Revivals within this festival is looking back at cinematic treasures of the past and seeing their continuity and relevance with today’s cinema. We think this selection is both a celebration and a thought-provoking adventure, and we hope audiences will enjoy exploring it, whether they are seeing these films for the first or 20th time.”

Festival Passes on sale through Sunday only!

The Revivals section connects cinema’s historical significance and present-day cultural influence through a selection of world premieres of restorations, rarities, and more. Highlights from this year’s slate include two world premieres: a vibrant restoration of Michael Powell’s Bluebeard’s Castle and a 4K restoration of John Carpenter’s taut Los Angeles crime thriller Assault on Precinct 13. Additional highlights include Nina Menkes’s The Bloody Child, an innovative deconstruction of the war film; Márta Mészáros’s Golden Bear–winning AdoptionMississippi Masala, Mira Nair’s incisive examination of race relations featuring a breakout performance by Denzel Washington; Melvin Van Peebles’s Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, hailed by Huey Newton as the “first truly revolutionary Black film ever made”; Christine Choy and Renee Tajima-Peña’s documentary’s Who Killed Vincent Chin?, a stirring, absorbing elegy for justice unserved; Christopher Petit’s Radio On, a road trip like no other, with an incomparably atmospheric soundtrack featuring the likes of David Bowie, Devo and Kraftwerk plus an eclectic array of appearances including Sting and Lisa Kreuzer; Songs For Drella, the evocative concert film by Lou Reed and John Cale, directed by legendary cinematographer Ed Lachman and recorded at the Brooklyn Academy of Music; Jack Hazan and David Mingay’s Rude Boy, following Ray Gange’s (as himself) radical ascent from sex-shop employee to roadie for The Clash against the backdroup of the rising British right wing; Govindan Aravindan’s Kummatty, a watershed achievement in Parallel Cinema; Sarah Maldoror’s Sambizanga, a harrowing portrait of anti-colonial struggle; Wendell B. Pierce Jr.’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize–winning debut, Chameleon Street; and James Baldwin: From Another Place, Baldwin’s reexamination of well-established attitudes about modern society when living in a different country. Revivals also includes the feature debuts of two trailblazers of independent cinema, born a generation apart: Lynne Ramsay (Ratcatcher) and Joan Micklin Silver (Hester Street).

The NYFF59 Revivals presentation of Mississippi Masala is sponsored by Turner Classic Movies.  

The Revivals section is programmed by Florence Almozini and Dan Sullivan with program advising by Gina Telaroli.

NYFF59 will feature in-person screenings, as well as select outdoor and virtual events. In response to distributor and filmmaker partners and in light of festivals returning and theaters reopening across the country, NYFF will not offer virtual screenings for this year’s edition. 

Proof of vaccination will be required for all staff, audiences, and filmmakers at NYFF59 venues. Further details about this process will be announced in the coming weeks. Additionally, NYFF59 will adhere to a comprehensive series of health and safety policies in coordination with Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and state and city medical experts, while adapting as necessary to the current health crisis. Visit filmlinc.org for more information.

Presented by Film at Lincoln Center, the New York Film Festival highlights the best in world cinema and takes place September 24 – October 10, 2021. An annual bellwether of the state of cinema that has shaped film culture since 1963, the festival continues an enduring tradition of introducing audiences to bold and remarkable works from celebrated filmmakers as well as fresh new talent. 

Festival Passes are now on sale through this Sunday, August 22 only. NYFF59 tickets will go on sale to the general public on Tuesday, September 7 at noon ET, with early-access opportunities for FLC members and pass holders prior to this date. Learn more here. Support of the New York Film Festival benefits Film at Lincoln Center in its nonprofit mission to promote the art and craft of cinema. NYFF59 press and industry accreditation applications remain open through August 27.

FILMS & DESCRIPTIONS

Adoption
Márta Mészáros, Hungary, 1975, 87m
Hungarian with English subtitles

Márta Mészáros’s fifth feature, which won the Golden Bear at the 1975 Berlin International Film Festival, follows 43-year-old Kata (Katalin Berek), a tough yet lonely factory worker who wishes to have a child with her married lover. But she soon crosses paths with Anna (Gyöngyvér Vigh), a young girl who has been in and out of homes for “troubled” teenagers, and their quickly cultivated bond leads Kata to conclude that she could be ready for single motherhood and that she should try to adopt. Beautifully lensed, vividly traced, and defiantly unsentimental, Adoption finds Mészáros bringing her own documentary background to bear on this masterful parable about female self-actualization in 1970s Hungary. A Janus Films release. New 4K digital restoration undertaken by The Hungarian National Film Fund and approved by director Márta Mészáros.


Assault on Precinct 13
John Carpenter, USA, 1976, 91m
World Premiere of 4K Restoration

John Carpenter’s taut L.A.-set thriller chronicles a small group of cops, administrators, and crooks holed up in a decommissioned police station and their efforts to survive the night when a merciless street gang shows up seeking revenge for a loss in their ranks. With the lines of communication to the rest of the city cut off and a dwindling supply of guns and ammunition with which to fend off the hordes of killers outside, it’ll take an unlikely alliance for this motley crew to make it out alive. The soundtrack of Assault on Precinct 13 alternates between gunfire and silence, tense conversations and Carpenter’s own blaring synths, yielding an evocative aural backdrop for a stark, elemental tale of survival in the face of impossible odds. A CKK Corporation release. New 4K restoration from the original camera negative by Deaf Crocodile Films. 


The Bloody Child
Nina Menkes, USA, 1996, 86m

Nina Menkes’s third feature is a visionary deconstruction of the war film, a fragmentary and hallucinatory investigation into the psychic currents that converge around a single moment. Drawn from a Los Angeles Times article, The Bloody Child centers on a Gulf War veteran who is arrested in the Mojave Desert while digging a grave for his wife, whom he has apparently murdered. What follows is an achronological succession of fragments: of time, of the man’s interiority, and of the culture shared by his fellow soldiers. Featuring a cast that includes Menkes’s sister Tinka and real-life servicemen, The Bloody Child is a haunting meditation on violence and its consequences upon the interiorities of those who enact it on behalf of the state. An Arbelos Films release. New restoration by The Academy Film Archive and The Film Foundation, with funding provided by the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation.


Bluebeard’s Castle
Michael Powell, West Germany, 1963, 60m
German with English subtitles
World Premiere of Restoration

The second-to-last feature directed by Michael Powell without his co-Archer Emeric Pressburger, Bluebeard’s Castle is an adaptation of Béla Bartok’s expressionist opera (which itself featured a libretto by the Hungarian film theorist Béla Balázs), produced for West German television. Bass-baritone Norman Foster stars as the titular wife-killer as he takes on a new bride (the Uruguayan mezzo-soprano Ana Raquel Satre). At the time of its 1918 premiere, Bartok’s opera was thought to be nearly unperformable due to the sheer abstraction of its onstage action; Powell and production designer Hein Heckroth use that abstraction as a glorious pretext to craft a vividly colorful, intensely stylized mise en scène, indelibly visualizing the psychodrama of Bartok and Balázs’s take on the Bluebeard folktale. Restored by the BFI National Archive and The Film Foundation in association with The Ashbrittle Film Foundation. Restoration funding provided by the BFI National Archive, The Louis B. Mayer Foundation and The Film Foundation.


Chameleon Street
Wendell B. Harris Jr., USA, 1989, 94m

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 1990 Sundance Film Festival, Wendell B. Harris Jr.’s debut feature endures as a brilliant satirical examination of the place of race and class in the performance of American social life. Harris himself stars as William Douglas Street Jr., a real-life con man from Detroit who, disillusioned with working for his father, sets about reinventing himself—and then again, and then again—successfully impersonating a vast succession of journalists, lawyers, athletes, and even surgeons in the process. Harris’s film boldly shape-shifts to match its subject’s own chameleonic transformations, yielding not just a landmark work in American independent cinema but also a singular meditation on the mutability of American identity that’s dense with aesthetic and political ideas. An Arbelos Films release.
New 4K restoration by Arbelos Films.

Screening with:

James Baldwin: From Another Place
Sedat Pakay, Turkey, 1973, 12m

This gorgeously filmed document finds James Baldwin in Istanbul musing about race, the American fascination with sexuality, the generosity of the Turks, and how being in another country, in another place, forces one to reexamine well-established attitudes about modern society. New 35mm print, preserved by the Yale Film Archive through a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation, with additional thanks to Cinema Conservancy.


Hester Street
Joan Micklin Silver, USA, 1975, 89m

Among the great cinematic portraits of Jewish life in America, Joan Micklin Silver’s debut feature is anchored by her own screenplay (adapted from Abraham Cahan’s 1896 novella Yekl: A Tale of the New York Ghetto) and an unforgettable, Oscar-nominated performance by Carol Kane. Kane stars as Gitl, one half of an Eastern European Jewish couple alongside Yankel (Steven Keats). Upon arriving in New York’s Lower East Side in the late 19th century, Gitl finds that Yankel, who’d come over to America before her and their young son Yossele, has acclimated to their new country fairly well—but he has also begun an affair with a dancer, and Gitl finds herself in an unenviable situation in a strange new place. Hester Street meticulously reconstructs this bygone haven for Jewish immigrants to masterfully paint one woman’s journey to assimilation and her arrival at the crossroads of tradition and modernity. A Cohen Media Group release. Restored in 4K in 2020 from the 35mm original negative by Cohen Film Collection at DuArt Media Services.


Kummatty
Govindan Aravindan, India, 1979, 90m
Malayalam with English subtitles

Embodying a watershed moment in Indian film history, Govindan Aravindan’s fourth feature is one of the great achievements of the Parallel Cinema, of which Aravindan was a key member—a movement which also included such masters as Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak. A poetic work informed by folklore and early cinema alike, Kummatty tells the tale of a trickster “bogeyman” who descends upon a village in Malabar year after year, drawing children whom he transforms into animals through sorcery. Aravindan’s camera synthesizes mythology and documentary, alchemically conjuring a singular kind of magical realism through the glorious accumulation of sensually photographed details and a delightful array of Méliès-esque cinematic sleights of hand. Restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project and Cineteca di Bologna in association with General Pictures Corporation and the Film Heritage Foundation at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory. Funding provided by the Material World Foundation.


Mississippi Masala
Mira Nair, UK/US, 1991, 118m

Denzel Washington stars opposite Sarita Choudhury in Mira Nair’s second fiction feature, which endures as a seminal screen romance of the 1990s. Choudhury is Mina, a Ugandan Indian from Kampala whose family leaves Uganda after the implementation of Idi Amin’s policy of forcefully expelling all Asians from the country. They wind up in Greenwood, Mississippi, living with relatives and trying to reconcile the trauma of their involuntary exile with assimilating to American culture. Some 17 years pass before Mina falls for a self-employed carpet cleaner, Demetrius (Washington), and their romance puts them in conflict with the local Black and Indian-American communities—not to mention Mina’s family. At once a powerful parable and a deeply personal work, Mississippi Masala remains an incisive examination of race relations and the tension between passion and tradition. A Janus Films release. New 4K digital restoration undertaken by The Criterion Collection and supervised by director Mira Nair and cinematographer Ed Lachman.


Radio On
Christopher Petit, UK/West Germany, 1979, 104m

A sui generis deconstruction of the road movie, Christopher Petit’s Radio On rates, by any measure, among the coolest films of the late 1970s. Its plot is minimalist: a man (David Beames) drives from London to Bristol upon learning of his brother’s suicide, seeking to learn more about the circumstances of his death. But this journey grows increasingly strange as he crosses paths with a succession of eccentric characters (including memorable appearances by Sting and Lisa Kreuzer). Shot by Wim Wenders collaborator Martin Schäfer, Radio On’s spare, hypnotic beauty is propelled even further by its incomparably atmospheric soundtrack, featuring Kraftwerk, David Bowie, Devo, Robert Fripp, and others. A Fun City Editions release. Restored by the BFI and Silver Salt Restoration from 4K scans of the original Ilford black and white 35mm negative and 35mm fine grain elements preserved in the BFI National Archive.


Ratcatcher
Lynne Ramsay, UK/France, 1999, 93m

Lynne Ramsay’s brilliant career was launched with this, her debut feature, a raw yet lyrical meditation on childhood set in 1970s Glasgow. After his friend is accidentally drowned during some boyish roughhousing, poor young James (William Eadie) comes to terms with his guilt over the death and struggles to make sense of the abject squalor and cruelty of his environment. An unsentimental, surprising, and richly evocative work suffused with haunting imagery and unvarnished performances, Ratcatcher is one of the signature cinematic debuts of the late 1990s, a film that scours the urban decay of working-class Glasgow to unearth the hopes and dreams of its marginalized residents, however bleak their current circumstances. A Janus Films release. New 4K digital restoration undertaken by The Criterion Collection and supervised by director Lynne Ramsay and cinematographer Alwin Küchler.


The Round-Up
Miklós Jancsó, Hungary, 1966, 87m
Hungarian with English subtitles

Miklós Jancsó’s breakout film was this spellbinding drama set in the aftermath of the 1848 Hungarian Revolution. After the Hapsburg monarchy succeeds in suppressing Lajos Kossuth’s nationalist uprising, the army sets about arresting suspected guerillas, who are subjected to torture in an effort to extract information about outlaw highwayman Sándor Rózsa’s band of partisans, still waging armed struggle against the Hapsburgs on the outside. Jancsó’s camera stays in constant, hypnotic motion, taking in the developing dynamics and antagonisms between the prisoners and their captors, meditating upon and exalting its characters’ resistance and perseverance in the face of brutal, authoritarian repression. A Kino Lorber release. Restored in 4K from its original 35mm camera negative by the Hungarian National Film Archive.


Rude Boy
Jack Hazan & David Mingay, UK, 1980, 133m

One of the great rock movies and an absorbing, richly detailed document of the United Kingdom as it exits the 1970s and enters the 1980s, Jack Hazan and David Mingay’s film follows Ray Gange (essentially playing himself) as he quits his Soho sex-shop gig to hit the road with one of the most exciting, influential bands on the planet: The Clash. Accompanying them to such iconic performances as the 1978 Rock Against Racism concert in London’s Victoria Park and in the studio for the recording of Give ‘Em Enough Rope, Ray finds himself amid the swirling winds of change as musical subcultures rise to push back against the ascendant British right wing. An unforgettable film portrait of a place, a time, and a band, Rude Boy is still as cool and galvanizing as it was at its 1980 Berlinale premiere. A Metrograph Pictures release. The restoration, grading, and remastering of Rude Boy was produced by Mark Rance for Watchmaker Films, London. The audio was restored and remastered by Matt Bainbridge at Blue Cat Productions, London. The restoration process was supervised and the final masters were approved by Jack Hazan.


Sambizanga
Sarah Maldoror, Angola/France, 1972, 102m
Portuguese with English subtitles

A searing, indelible portrait of anti-colonial struggle in 1970s Africa, Sarah Maldoror’s adaptation of a novella by the Angolan writer José Luandino Vieira was banned by the Angolan government until the country obtained its independence from Portugal in 1975. Sambizanga follows Maria (unforgettably and alluringly portrayed by Cape Verdean economist Elisa Andrade) as she tries to pick up the pieces after her husband, a secret anti-colonial activist, becomes a political prisoner. Co-written by Maldoror’s husband Mário Pinto de Andrade (himself a leading figure in the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola), Sambizanga is a forceful, stirring evocation of the Angolan population’s plight before the revolution and their intensifying political consciousness during it. Restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project and Cineteca di Bologna at L’Image Retrouvée in association with Éditions René Chateau and the family of Sarah Maldoror. Funding provided by Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation. This restoration is part of the African Film Heritage Project, an initiative created by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers and UNESCO—in collaboration with Cineteca di Bologna—to help locate, restore, and disseminate African cinema.


Songs for Drella
Ed Lachman, USA, 1990, 55m

Lou Reed and John Cale perform their titular album dedicated to Andy Warhol in this stripped-down, evocative concert film by legendary cinematographer Ed Lachman. Written and recorded three years after Warhol’s death, the album’s lyrics embody an ambitious synthesis of points of view: Warhol’s own; an omniscient perspective on the events of his life and the current events that served as the backdrop for his life; and finally, Cale and Reed’s own impressions of their late friend and collaborator. Lachman films their performance with a disarming directness and cinematographic restraint, permitting the seductive atmosphere and unvarnished beauty conjured by this masterpiece from two Velvet Underground pioneers to stand in powerful relief. 4K scan from original 16mm A & B roll negatives supervised by Ed Lachman. Soundtrack transferred from the original artist approved 24-bit film mix master courtesy of Rhino Entertainment, a Warner Music Group Company.


Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song
Melvin Van Peebles, USA, 1971, 97m

Among the all-time great American independent films, Melvin Van Peebles’s visionary third feature marked nothing short of a cinematic revolution. “Dedicated to all the Brothers and Sisters who had enough of the Man” (as announced by one of the film’s opening title cards), Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song stars Van Peebles as Sweetback, an orphan abandoned in an LA brothel in the 1940s who grows up to become a sex-show performer. During a run-in with the LAPD, Sweetback saves a Black Panther from a brutal assault by the police but finds himself on the lam, beginning a picaresque journey in which he encounters Black militants, hippies, biker gangs, old flames, and the clergy as he tries to flee to Mexico. A frenetic work of restless invention with an iconic soundtrack (courtesy of a then-unknown Earth, Wind & Fire), Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song was hailed at the time by Huey Newton as the “first truly revolutionary Black film ever made… [and] presented to us by a Black man.” A Janus Films release. 4K digital restoration approved by filmmaker Mario Van Peebles.


Who Killed Vincent Chin?
Christine Choy and Renee Tajima-Peña, USA, 1987, 82m

Not so much a documentary murder investigation as a meticulously constructed meditation on the race relations, economic forces, and failings of the American legal system that comprised the backdrop for the murder of a Chinese-American automotive engineer in Detroit in 1982, Christine Choy and Renee Tajima-Peña’s documentary’s Who Killed Vincent Chin? remains a stirring, absorbing elegy for justice unserved. Drawing from interviews with Chin’s family and friends and Chin’s killer, automotive assembly-line worker Ron Ebens, along with a wealth of archival footage, Who Killed Vincent Chin? paints a complex and tragically relevant portrait of an America roiled by socioeconomic unease, the crisis of the automotive industry (Ebens wrongly believed Chin to be Japanese during their terrible encounter), and the prevalence of xenophobia. Restored by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Film Archive and The Film Foundation, in association with the Museum of Chinese in America. Restoration funding provided by the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation, with additional support provided by Todd Phillips.

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