Archive for June, 2009

Original 1969 reviews of “Duet for Cannibals”

June 23, 2009

It was tough to find any straightforward reviews of Susan Sontag’s directorial debut, but there was certainly a lot written about the film in 1969.

Here’s an interesting article in the NY Times previewing the film, and discussing it’s creation (click for a bigger image):

The film itself is discussed in this Vincent Canby piece about the NY Film Festival. This is the heart of the Duet review:

“The key to the enjoyment of the film…can be found in Miss Sontag’s essays. It’s not becuase the film recalls either Godard or Bresson, about whom Miss Sontag has written with extraordinary insight. Rather it’s because the film adamantly refuses interpretation on any level but he surface one. It simply is what it is, a self-contained comedy of set pieces, some of which sort of remind you of events (political and psychological) out-side the film without ever actually representing those events.”

(On a related note, this article also talks about Eric Rohmer’s My Night at Maud’s, which is currently playing through Thursday at NWFF. Says Canby, “[Maud’s] was, for me, the finest film in the festival.”)

Finally, here is a negative review of the film from Films in Review. However, the description only makes me want to see the movie more. Sontag’s methods of filmmaking sound remarkably modern (“Her story-line is a pretzel she probably twisted around from day to day as she was shooting”) and intriguing. It’s also simply interesting to see a critic rip into Sontag so harshly.

Duet for Cannibals plays NWFF June 24-25 at 8pm.

Toronto Unveils 26 Titles

June 23, 2009

Toronto International Film Festival began disclosing its line-up today. As usual a number of titles perk my interest including new titles from Manoel de Oliveira, Alain Resnais, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Tsai Ming-liang, Hong Sang-soo, Corneliu Porumboiu, and Elia Suleiman. Here’s the announced line-up thus far.


Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl
Manoel de Oliveira, France/Portugal/Spain North American Premiere Famed filmmaker Oliveira, who celebrates his 101st birthday this year, tells the tale of Macario’s obsession with the enticing blond he spies from his window. Little does he know that she will end up stealing much more than his heart.

Les Herbes Folles
Alain Resnais, France North American Premiere From modernist master Alain Resnais comes a romantic adventure based around the simple act of losing a wallet.

Air Doll
Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan North American Premiere This compelling tale of a blow-up doll that becomes a real person and abandons her status of mere sex object comes to life with the superb performance of Korean actress Bae Doo-na.


Fish Tank
Andrea Arnold, United Kingdom North American Premiere Andrea Arnold’s assured follow-up to Red Road is a taboo-breaking love story about a violent teenaged girl transformed by desire for her mother’s new boyfriend.


Tsai Ming-liang, France/Taiwan/The Netherlands/Belgium North American Premiere A tableau vivant adorned with Tsai Ming-Liang’s signature aesthetic portrays a special homage to the Nouvelle Vague and the Louvre, which co-produced the film and hosted its shooting.

Raya Martin, France North American Premiere Mimicking early silent films, Independencia creates a lush metaphor that plays with cinematic illusions and the cultural and mythical history of the Philippines.

Alain Cavalier, France North American Premiere Filmmaker Alain Cavalier turns his personal grief of becoming a widower into a first-person subjective documentary that focuses on his diary entries.

Chris Chong Chan Fui, Malaysia North American Premiere Poetic, observant and allegorical, Karaoke juxtaposes a young man’s idealism with the reality of a changing Malaysia through karaoke videos.

Pen-Ek Ratanaruang,Thailand North American Premiere A haunting supernatural love affair set in a mysterious forest between a nymph and a couple who have drifted apart.

To Die Like a Man
Joao Pedro Rodrigues, Portugal/France North American Premiere In order to forgive and be forgiven for the slights endured over a long life as a transsexual club performer, Tonia devolves her body back into a male form and seeks reconciliation with her estranged son.


Adrian Biniez, Uruguay/Germany/Argentina/The Netherlands North American Premiere Security guard Jara falls in love as he supervises staff through the closed-circuit cameras at a supermarket. First voyeur, then guardian angel, he protects and pursues the cleaning woman who has unknowingly captured his heart.

The Happiest Girl in the World
Radu Jude, Romania/The Netherlands North American Premiere Family conflict produces comedy in this story of a young girl who wins a car in a lottery and her scheming parents who insist on selling it.

Ermek Tursunov, Kazakhstan North American Premiere A love story among the ragged steppes of ancient Kazakhstan is told in beautiful and poetic images, as a young love struggles to survive in the face of uncontrollable external factors.

La Pivellina
Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel, Austria/Italy North American Premiere A small abandoned girl is sheltered by a circus woman in this tale of courage, loss and togetherness.

Samson and Delilah
Warwick Thornton, Australia North American Premiere Teenagers Samson and Delilah live in an isolated Aboriginal community in the Central Australian desert. Their outsider status draws them closer together and they come to depend on each other when tragedy strikes.

Should I Really Do It
Ismail Necmi, Turkey North American Premiere The concepts of real life and fiction, documentary and drama, are explored in this real-life feature which follows the unbelievable life of Petra, a German woman living in Turkey.

Contemporary World Cinema

Eyes Wide Open
Haim Tabakman, Israel North American Premiere A gay love story set in the heart of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem, where the belief that love conquers all results in societal pressures and threats of violence.

Alejandro Fernandez Almendras, Chile North American Premiere A warm family saga which follows 24 hours in the life of a poverty-stricken provincial family in central Chile.

Like You Know It All
Hong Sang-soo, Republic of Korea North American Premiere Delightfully comic exploration of the emotional and social geography of an art-house film, directed by Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo.

Jessica Hausner, Austria/France/Germany North American Premiere In order to escape her isolation, wheelchair-bound Christine makes a life-changing journey to Lourdes, the iconic site of pilgrimage in the Pyrenees Mountains.

Men on the Bridge
Asli Oezge, Germany/Turkey/The Netherlands North American Premiere The stories of six men working on an Istanbul bridge are told by the original characters, in this mosaic depicting real persons exposing their lives and aspirations.

My Year Without Sex
Sarah Watt, Australia North American Premiere A tender story from Australia highlights the realistic ups and downs of a family in the year following a parent’s emergency medical procedure.

Police, Adjective
Corneliu Porumboiu, Romania North American Premiere A witty portrait of life in the small town of Vaslui, the sophisticated Police, Adjective builds on the promise of Porumboiu’s debut 12:08, East of Bucharest.

The Time that Remains
Elia Suleiman, France/Belgium/Italy North American Premiere This semi-biographic film, divided into four historical episodes, portrays the daily life of Palestinians in 1948 who were considered a minority, even in their homeland.

The Wind Journeys
Ciro Guerra, Colombia North American Premiere Ignacio, a former traveling musician, makes one final trip across the country following his wife’s death. He is joined by a teenaged fan, and together they explore the possibilities that life has in store for them.

For Those Who Saw Rembrandt’s J’Accuse

June 23, 2009

Can I recommend The New York Times piece today on Peter Greenaway’s series “Nine Classical Paintings Revisited”, a part of which Rembrandt’s J’Accuse screened this past weekend as part of SIFF’s best-of-the-fest.

A Rare Screening of Duet For Cannibals

June 22, 2009

As promised in my much earlier post regarding Agnes Varda and Susan Sontag at 1969 NYFF, this Wednesday we screen Sontag’s first feature DUET FOR CANNIBALS, one of the rarest screenings of our series. Tracking a print of this title down was much more difficult than I anticipated. Fortunately a copy resides in the fabulous Swedish Film Archive, who was generous enough to loan us a copy of the print.

In 1969, the film enjoyed limited theatrical engagements in New York, London a select few other cities. I’m not even certain if the film ever made its way to Seattle. We screen the film just twice.Then it will make its way back to Stockholm where it will sit in an archive until someone else decides its important enough to go through the trouble, both financial and logistical, of screening the film in the United States.

Interestingly enough, I discovered that Sontag came to Seattle for treatment of the cancer that ultimately took her life. A photo of Sontag, taking by long time friend Annie Leibovitz, leaving Seattle after treatment can be found here.

Children’s Film Festival Call for Submissions

June 22, 2009

Attention Filmmakers: We are now accepting entries for the 5th Annual Children’s Film Festival Seattle, to be presented January 22-31, 2010 at Northwest Film Forum.

Last year, Children’s Film Festival Seattle presented 86 films from 25 countries. Children’s Film Festival Seattle 2010 will take place in Northwest Film Forum’s two cinemas, with screenings offered to both the general public and school groups. Dates for the 2010 Festival are January 22 – 31, with additional screenings for school groups scheduled Monday – Friday, February 1 – 19.

Find out more about guidelines and entry forms at the festival’s website.

Announcing “Live at the Film Forum”

June 18, 2009

Northwest Film Forum proudly announces “Live at the Film Forum,” a season of collaborative art performances!

Live at the Film Forum brings together artists from a variety of backgrounds, including dance, performance art, music and animation to create new work integrating the art of cinema

“Live at the Film Forum” is a series of commissioned performances that stem from and reflect cinema’s inherent collaborative quality, experimentation and energy. It is a continuation of Northwest Film Forum’s long history of presenting live events that explore new forms of the cinematic arts and include artists of various disciplines. The series offers a bold and unique live experience that explores art, ideas and community, and creates a living cinema.

“This series is an exciting new program for the Film Forum,” says Executive Director Lyall Bush. “But we have been doing some kind of ‘Live at the Film Forum’ for over a decade. This just formalizes and frames it.”

Program Director Adam Sekuler adds, “Our inaugural season includes an exciting mix of established and emerging artists. We’re pulling from the city’s artistic history with projects like Invisible Seattle’s trial of the sixties ‘In the Shadow of the Sixties,’ similar to their earlier 1980’s mock trial of Tom Robbins. We’re also providing a platform for new artists like Paris Hurley, whose ‘Bridging Wounds’ begins as a purely filmic experience that comes to live and is brought into the audience’s physical space using light, dance and live music.”

In its inaugural 2009/10 season, “Live at the Film Forum” will present four events that incorporate the shared efforts of pioneering Northwest artists. These performers have been chosen to make use of new presentation methods, and to develop innovative techniques for their varied art forms.

“Live at the Film Forum” will bring together a diversity of artists and audiences to engage the senses, excite the mind and enliven the city.

The 2009/10 season includes the following projects:

Sep 17 – 19
Bridging Wounds, a collaboration between Paris Hurley (Degenerate Art Ensemble, Kultur Shock), Ezra Dickinson (Zoe Scofield, The Maureen Whiting Company), Jamie Iacoli (i&m), Tilla Kuenzli (The Maureen Whiting Company), Amanda Moore (filmmaker), and Paul Walsh (Degenerate Art Ensemble, X-Ray Press), who integrate original music, movement, and animation to explore the connection between words and perception.

Dec 10 – 12
In the Shadow of the Sixties, a series of shows where the performance collective Invisible Seattle work with a menagerie of contemporary artists, including angel-headed ex-hippies, hip-hop angels, street bands that battle and a gospel choir staging a trial as performance, or a performance as a trial interrogating the sixties,

Mar 25 – 27 , 2010
too is an ecstatic interplay of live and recorded movement by dancers Amy O’Neal and Ellie Sandstrom. The duo interacts with strangers, friends, acquaintances and family in dance of physical extremes. Drawing inspiration from the rural/urban divide, karaoke, and Japanese love hotels, too ruminates on the increasing challenges of human contact in a fractured and complex technological age.

May 13 – 15 , 2010
Condomillenium is a performance spectacle written and directed by Marya Sea Kaminski. Inspired by the transformation of Seattle’s Pike-Pine corridor and developed from interviews with politicians, activists, developers, children, comedians, and construction workers, this event brings performance, video, live music and absurd fantasy together to paint a picture of our evolving urban landscape and the places we call home.

Individual tickets are available for $15 or $12 for NWFF members. Season passes are $50 or $40 for NWFF members. Choose from Thursday Opening Nights Package, Friday Nights Package or Saturday Closing Nights Package. Tickets are on sale at

Original 1969 review of “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice”

June 18, 2009

Bob & Carol was one of several late 60s movies to tackle issues related to the “sexual revolution.” (My Night at Maud’s, which plays with Bob & Carol, also explores the subject.)

Here’s a review from Film Quarterly that notes the interesting style in which the film was made and how the actor’s helped in crafting a natural feeling satire of American married life (click for bigger version:

Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice plays NWFF June 19-25 at 9:15pm.

Original 1969 reviews of “irresistible” My Night at Maud’s

June 18, 2009

This one by Vincent Canby predicts My Night At Maud’s will “prove irresistible.” He even dared to call the film “civilized!” (but added a qualifier, of course). Full text here (click for larger image):

As Canby mentions, Maud’s is the first of Rohmer’s Six Moral Tales to be released in the US (it was number 4 of 6 in the series to be completed). The following article discusses the overall growth and success of French films in 1969 (click for larger version):

My Night at Maud’s plays NWFF June 19-25 at 7pm.

Allan King Dead at 79

June 16, 2009

One of the filmmakers who convinced me that the Canadian film industry deserves way more respect then it gets abroad was filmmaker Alan King, who over the weekend died of a brain tumor at the age of 79. A couple years back we featured King in our series on the Canadian New Wave. I first experienced King’s work at the Toronto International Film Festival who honored him with a retrospective in the festival. King was the first in a series of Canadian awakenings I found myself experiencing at the festival.

“A giant of Canadian cinema has departed the scene,” said Piers Handling, director of the Toronto International Film Festival.

“Unquestionably, one of the most influential filmmakers to have ever stepped behind a camera in the country, actually. Allan’s impact on the documentary is right up there among some of the major international documentary filmmakers in the world.”

Renoir, who saw King’s early work declared him “A great artist”. I second the statement. I had the pleasure of meeting King in Minneapolis back in 2004 when I brought him to the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival for his film DYING A GRACE.I found him to be a kind and gentle man, whose commitment to the craft was unquestionable. He’s a must see for both filmmakers and film lovers, and I for one will miss him dearly.

Here’s a recap of his career:

Skid Row, 1956: A CBC documentary about alcoholic men on Vancouver’s East Side.

Warrendale, 1967: King’s first feature doc is an unflinching look at emotionally disturbed children in an institution. It shares the British Academy’s Best Foreign Film Award with Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow Up.

A Married Couple, 1969: King’s second feature doc chronicles a couple on the brink of divorce and was featured at the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes in 1970.

Come on Children, 1973: Sees young Toronto residents trying to live on a farm without their parents to see how they fare.

Who Has Seen The Wind, 1976: King’s first dramatic feature won the Grand Prix at the Paris International Film Festival and the Golden Reel Award for the highest grossing Canadian film of the year.

Who’s in Charge?, 1983: King returns to the documentary form with a portrait of unemployment.

The Dragon’s Egg, 1999: Captures the emergence of democracy in Eastern Europe through the eyes of a group of Estonians.

Dying at Grace, 2003, and Memory for Max, Claire, Ida and Company, 2005: Deal with issues of aging and Alzheimer’s.

EMPz 4 Life, 2006: Explores the racial stereotyping of young black men in Toronto.


“Little Dizzle” scheduled for encore in “Best of SIFF” series

June 14, 2009

David Russo’s “The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle” will be back for a Seattle encore screening as part of SIFF’s “Best of SIFF” series. The film will screen June 21 at 8:30pm at SIFF Cinema.

“Best of SIFF” gives audiences a chance to see the audience favorites that they might have missed during the festival.

Tickets and more details here:

More on Little Dizzle at