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4 items from 2011

Close up: Ken Russell 1927-2011

1 December 2011 10:10 AM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

The acclaimed, eccentric director of Women in Love and The Devils died this week, prompting tributes from the press and former colleagues

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Ken Russell died this week, leaving behind a body of work that shocked and surprised, teased and titillated. He was, said Xan Brooks in our early news story a man of "wild drama, gaudy conflagrations and operatic flourishes", a "juggler of high and low culture who invariably courted controversy".

Russell's career path - from his documentary work for the 1960s BBC series Monitor, to the short films he made at home in later years - was hard to map. His most infamous and innovative works - The Devils, Altered States - flashed by in the wake of semi-hits Women in Love (which won him an Oscar in 1971) and Tommy. He was, said friends an "iconoclast" (Venessa Redgrave). "Fearless, eccentric and silly" (Melvyn Bragg). "Capable of »

- Henry Barnes

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Daily Briefing. Ai Weiwei @Iffr

18 November 2011 6:52 AM, PST | MUBI | See recent MUBI news »

The International Film Festival Rotterdam has announced that, as part of its Hidden Histories program, it'll be screening work by Ai Weiwei, "six long films which he refers himself to as 'social documentaries' and four documentary art videos. There is a remarkable difference between Ai's sometimes highly conceptual art videos and his social documentaries. For the latter, he acts — before and behind the camera — as a committed research journalist, persistent to bring injustice in the open." Ai Weiwei was, of course, arrested in Beijing earlier this year, imprisoned for 81 days and released in June, though he's still not allowed to leave Beijing. Hidden Histories will feature new work by other Chinese documentary filmmakers as well, including He Yuan, Yu Guangyi and Xu Tong. The 41st edition of the Iffr runs from January 25 through February 5.

More events. Craig Baldwin for the San Francisco Cinematheque on this evening's program: "The selection of »

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Is Terrence Malick assuming Stanley Kubrick's mantle?

1 July 2011 4:09 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Terrence Malick's latest could be his first direct challenge to Stanley Kubrick's supremacy. John Patterson admires the audacity

The Tree Of Life suggests that Terrence Malick has now elected to engage openly and directly with the director he superficially most resembles: Stanley Kubrick. Both "reclusive" – or just intensely private – and gestating movies over decades with intense perfectionism, each man has constructed a genre distinct unto itself, built on an instantly recognisable style and underpinned by complete creative control. But Malick's wispy, gossamer qualities, his organic, handheld imagery – always seeking wonder in harmony and balance – seem in total opposition to Kubrick's head-on, locked-down fish-eye compositions, his fanatically precise tracking-shots, sudden upsurges of brutal violence and abiding pessimism.

But somehow they are united, yin-yang style, by Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, with which Malick seems to be in some kind of debate throughout The Tree Of Life. Picture the 24-year-old, »

- John Patterson

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Close up: The man who wasn't there

26 May 2011 8:52 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Smothered in sunshine, dripping with glitz and jingling with cash, the Cannes festival is the place for film folk to be unseen

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The secret to success at a film festival? Well, first of all, don't make films, or, if you must, do so only sparingly. Then forget about all that red carpet nonsense; in fact forget about publicising your work completely – the artist doesn't have to be a salesman. And lastly, when the festival offers you its top prize, don't, whatever you do, go along to pick it up. The event will lap up any photo non-opportunities you can throw its way. If you can follow these basic rules you are well on the road to glory, as Terrence Malick proved at Cannes at the weekend.

The enigmatic American auteur scooped the Palme d'Or in the south of France this week with his fifth film in 38 years, »

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