12 items from 2015
Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World: Levinson’s Afghan Exploration Prizes Diversion
After a unique pit stop in found footage horror with 2012’s The Bay and an underrated Philip Roth adaptation in 2014 with The Humbling, Barry Levinson returns to his particular predilection for boundary pushing, politically topical subject matters in Rock the Kasbah. It’s a very loosely based version of the true account of Setara Hussainzada, a woman who sang on national television in Afghanistan’s version of “American Idol,” known as “Afghan Star,” even though it’s illegal for women to sing.
More along the lines of Levinson’s Man of the Year (2006) than Wag the Dog (1997), as scripted by Mitch Glazer (his first excursion since 2010’s appalling Passion Play), the title seems as woefully out-of-touch as it is unwarranted. Oddly unsympathetic, even as it depicts a subversive act of rebellion within a ruthlessly patriarchal and misogynistic culture, »
- Nicholas Bell
Top prizes at the Busan Film Festival were shared between Iranian director Hadi Mohaghegh’s “Immortal” and Kazakh director Yerlan Nurmukhambetov’s “Walnut Tree.”
Prizes for the New Currents competition section were announced Saturday morning and selected by a jury headed by Taiwanese actress, director and screenwriter Sylvia Chang.
The awards were formally presented to the winners Saturday evening at a closing ceremony ahead of the screening of Chinese film “Mountain Cry.” The closing ceremony took place under the rain and with attendees wearing rain jackets.
Kurdish singer Helly Luv performed “Revolution,” a song from Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi’s “A Flag without a Country.” According to Kim Ji-seok, the festival’s executive programmer, the festival had kept Luv’s performance under wraps until the very last minute, as she has repeatedly threatened by the Islamic State. “Revolution” conveys a message of peace and anti-war, as well as anti-is. New »
- Sonia Kil
Kim Dong-ho, co-founder and former chairman of the Busan Film Festival, will head the jury that decides the prizes for this year’s Asia Pacific Screen Awards.
He will be joined on the jury by director Mostofa Sarwar Farooki (“Television”), Chinese academic Zhang Xianmin, Malaysian filmmaker U-Wei Bin Hajisaari, Russian writer-director Alexei Popogrebsky and Iranian actress Negar Javaherian.
Kim and Farooki were in attendance Sunday at a ceremony in Busan to announce the Apsa jurors and nominations for the Apsa Unesco Award, which is presented annually for outstanding contribution to the promotion and preservation of the cultural diversity.
Nominees are China’s Zhang Miaoyan for “A Corner of Heaven” (Tiantang Jiaoluo); Russia’s Ella Manzheeva for “The Gulls”; Turkey’s Senem Tuzen for “Motherland”; Palestine’s Hany Abu-Assad for “The Idol”; and Australia’s Stephen Page for “Spear.”
“The Apsa Unesco Award is a very important and unique accolade, »
- Patrick Frater
The plight of children in wartime, often a central concern in the work of Bahman Ghobadi, comes once more to the fore in “A Flag Without a Country,” a moving if scattershot documentary portrait of two individuals — a singer and a pilot — reaching out to some of the young Kurdish refugees that have recently poured into Iraq from Syria. Drawing an arc between his subjects’ memories of earlier conflicts and Isis’ murderous present-day onslaught, Ghobadi fashions a loose-limbed tribute to Kurdish resilience that walks a thin line between despairing and inspiring; if the resulting dispatch feels fragmentary and incomplete, the persistence of violence and unrest in the region suggests it could scarcely be otherwise. Expect festivals to fly this particular “Flag” on the strength of its director’s rep and timely subject matter.
The first and more engaging of the film’s subjects is Nariman Anwar, a thirtysomething pilot and »
- Justin Chang
The 20th Busan International Film Festival (Biff) has announced its line-up of 304 films from 75 countries with 121 world and international premieres.
Gala Presentations will include Hou Hsiao-hsien’s The Assassin, Jia Zhangke’s Mountains May Depart, Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash and the world premiere of previously announced Busan-Youku collaboration project Color Of Asia - Masters, directed by Im Sang-soo, Naomi Kawase, Wang Xiaoshuai and Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
- email@example.com (Jean Noh)
South Korean festival grows focus on alternative, experimental and “adventurous” cinema.
Held in a sunny Southern city with traditional houses and some of the hands-down most delicious food you’ll find in Korea, the Jeonju International Film Festival (Jiff) is celebrating its 16th edition with multiple sold out cinemas.
The fest has always been focused on supporting and promoting alternative, experimental and “adventurous” cinema. From its inception, Jiff put its money where its mouth is - producing a different triptych of digital films every year. Directors such as Jia Zhang-ke, Pedro Costa, Bong Joon Ho, Eric Khoo, Claire Denis and Bahman Ghobadi have participated.
Last year, Jiff went from producing three shorts annually to three features with an aim to help get them more festival play and theatrical releases.
“We wanted to heighten out rate of involvement and let the directors unfold their creativity as much as they wanted,” said Jiff programmer »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Jean Noh)
French actress and long-time Alain Resnais collaborator to preside over jury to select the best first film presented at the 68th Cannes Film Festival.
Sabine Azema has been named president of the Caméra d’or Jury at this year’s Cannes Film Festival (May 13-24).
The jury selects the best directorial debut presented in Official Selection (In Competition, Out of Competition and Un Certain Regard), Critics’ Week or Directors’ Fortnight, which this year represents 26 films.
French actress Azema, who won her first César in 1985 for Bertrand Tavernier’s Cannes Competition title A Sunday in the Country, follows in the footsteps of Bong Joon-Ho, Gael García Bernal, Carlos Diegues and Nicole Garcia.
Azema is known for her nearly three-decade collaboration with director Alain Resnais for whom she has performed as the tragic heroine in Love Unto Death (1984), then in Mélo (1986) for which she was awarded her second César.
Other Resnais films in which she has performed include Smoking »
- email@example.com (Michael Rosser)
Arriaga, who was the Fipresci Latin American Personality of the Year in 2014, boasts a filmography that includes three collaborations as a screenwriter with three-time Oscar-winner Alejandro González Iñárritu (“Love’s a Bitch,” “21 Grams” and “Babel”), as well as “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada” with Tommy Lee Jones, which won the best screenplay prize for Arriaga at Cannes; “The Night Buffalo” with Jorge Hernández Aldana; and “The Burning Plain,” which Arriaga also directed, premiered in Venice in 2008 and starred Charlize Theron, Kim Basinger and Jennifer Lawrence.
He has also written the novels “The Guillotine Squad” (1991), “A Sweet Scent of Death” (1994), “Night Buffalo” (1999) and the book of short stories “Retorno 201” (2006). His novels have been translated into 18 languages.
Based on Arriaga’s concept »
- Christopher Pickard
Running April 9-15, and now celebrating its fourth edition, the International Film Festival of Panama reps one of the world’s most quickly consolidating festivals in two of its nascent but fast-growing film regions: Central America and the Caribbean.
There’s a relationship. Launched in 2012, Piff has a mission, in industry and international terms, to serve as a platform for Central America and the closer Caribbean countries, and as a driver for further growth, said Pituka Ortega Heilbron, Iff Panama director, who runs the festival with Diana Sanchez, the Toronto Fest programmer for Latin America, Spain and Portugal, serving as its artistic director.
That is an exciting mission. Boosted by multiplex construction, Central America box office was $94.8 million in 2012 and soared 13% in two years to $107.2 million in 2014, per Luis Vargas, Rentrak managing director for Mexico, Central America, Caribbean, Colombia and Venezuela.
Central America’s 2014 top 10 was packed out exclusively by Hollywood family and action fare, »
- John Hopewell
Taking place April 4-19, the festival will feature over 200 films, including recent world premieres from Sundance and Berlin.
Istanbul Film Festival has unveiled the lineup to its upcoming edition, taking place from April 4-19.
This year will feature over 200 films from 62 countries, as well as free talks and workshops by film-makers and masterclasses. New sections at this year’s festival include a special focus on cinema of the Balkans and a focus on German animation.
The festival’s international competition includes the likes of Cédric Kahn’s Wild Life, Quentin Dupieux’s Reality, Francesco Munzi’s Black Souls and Thomas Vinterberg’s Far from the Madding Crowd, while the national competition will screen Ali Atay’s Lemonade, Selim Evci’s Secret and Mehmet Eryılmaz’s The Visitor, among others.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Ian Sandwell)
Written and directed by Batin Ghobadi
Batin Ghobadi’s debut feature is an elusive crime drama that unfolds in the mountainous borderland of Iraqi Kurdistan. The younger brother of Bahman Ghobadi, best known for A Time for Drunken Horses, the writer-director was born in the region, albeit on the Iranian side of the border, and its troubled history resonates obliquely throughout the film. It is suggested that the region is engaged in a period of modernisation, through major construction projects and crackdowns on corruption, but its landscape remains rugged and primal, its men desolate and wracked with guilt.
The title character (Hossein Hasan) is a troubled police officer, suffering from a secret illness and haunted by a traumatic childhood memory. He is called on to investigate the sudden disappearance of a site worker, Morad (Feyyaz Duman) who was travelling home after completing a short-term contract, carrying his earnings with him. »
- Rob Dickie
Irrfan Khan continues to do Indian cinema proud all over the world.
Just when he is covering himself with another round of high encomium for his performance in Anup Singh's Qissa, news comes that Irrfan is all set to do another international project to be directed by the very talented Qissa director Anup Kumar.
Apart from her mesmerizing looks, the rebellious actress is known for her presence in internationally celebrated movies including Dariush Mehrjui's Santouri (The Santoor Player), Bahman Ghobadi's Half Moon (winner of the Golden Shell at the 2006 San Sebastian Film Festival), and the late Rasool Mollagholipoor's M for Mother (Iran's nominee for the 2008 Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category)
After posing nude for a French magazine Farahani was apparently banned from entering her home-land Iran.
Her coming »
- Subhash K. Jha
12 items from 2015
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