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Foreplays #9: Len Lye’s "N or Nw"

  • MUBI
Foreplays is a column that explores under-known short films by renowned directors. Len Lye's N or Nw (1938) is free to watch below.New Zealander Len Lye is known, above all, for his experimental short films—such as A Colour Box (1935), Colour Cry (1953), or Free Radicals (1958)—where he would work directly by drawing and painting on or manipulating the film strip in a variety of ways. But, throughout his prolific career, he also worked with classical animation, live-action film (including a series of war documentaries), as well as pieces that combined a number of these techniques. Lye’s incessant curiosity drove him to develop his interests in many different artistic fields: beyond drawing and painting, he took photographs and built kinetic sculptures, and he produced a large body of writing that covers different styles, forms, and genres. N or Nw (1937) is one of the four films Lye did for the
See full article at MUBI »

12 Mind-Blowing Documentaries With 100% On Rotten Tomatoes

Icarus Films

While many still view the documentary as the ugly stepsister of the glamorous feature picture, the truth is that non-fiction has played an important part in the development of film, being just about as old as the art itself. The term itself was coined some 90 years ago by young Scottish academic John Grierson during his review of Robert Flaherty’s 1926 ethnographic piece Moana, a film funded by Paramount Pictures that aimed to document the traditional lives of the Polynesians.

Pioneer Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov developed the genre further with his experimental work in the late 20s and beyond, though the documentary would be taken in a different direction entirely during the 1930s and 40s, used as a war-time tool rather than a means of education or entertainment. It wasn’t until the 1960s that a new generation of young filmmakers in the Us and Europe took steps to
See full article at Obsessed with Film »

From Battleship Potemkin to Baker Street: sightseeing with Sergei Eisenstein

At the height of his notoriety, the great Russian director came to Britain for a whistlestop tour of everything from Bloomsbury to Windsor and Hampton Court. As a new exhibition opens up his dazzling sketchbooks, we reveal a different side of Eisenstein

Sergei Eisenstein was the most notorious filmmaker in the world in 1929, when he made a six-week visit to Britain. Three years earlier, his Battleship Potemkin had created a sensation in Germany and was banned outright in most countries outside Soviet Russia, for fear its impact would incite mutiny and revolution. But it was also admired by all who managed see it, from a young David Selznick starting his career in Hollywood to the British documentary impresario John Grierson, who used a private screening for MPs to extract funding for films to counteract such dangerous propaganda.

Potemkin received its long-delayed British premiere at a glittering private Film Society screening,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

What’s Up Doc?: Pennebaker/Hegedus & Malick Voyage to the Top in November

It’s been a couple months since the last edition of What’s Up Doc? placed Michael Moore’s surprise world premiere of Where To Invade Next at the top of this list and in the meantime much shuffling has taken place and much time has been spent on various new endeavors (namely my Buffalo-based film series, Cultivate Cinema Circle). Finally taking its rightful place at the top, D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hagedus’ Unlocking the Cage is in the midst of being scored by composer James Lavino, according to Lavino’s own personal site. Though the project has been taking shape at its own leisurely pace, I’d expect to see the film making its festival debut in early 2016.

Right behind, the American direct cinema masters is a Texan soon to make his non-fiction debut with Voyage of Time. Just two weeks ago indieWIRE reported that Ennio Morricone, who scored
See full article at IONCINEMA.com »

What’s Up Doc?: Wiseman Rises to New “Heights” & Rivers Shooting “The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers” in Morocco

It’s been a surprisingly interesting month of moving and shaking in terms of doc development. Just a month after making his first public funding pitch at Toronto’s Hot Docs Forum, legendary doc filmmaker Frederick Wiseman took to Kickstarter to help cover the remaining expenses for his 40th feature film In Jackson Heights (see the film’s first trailer below). Unrelentingly rigorous in his determination to capture the American institutional landscape on film, his latest continues down this thematic rabbit hole, taking on the immensely diverse New York City neighborhood of Jackson Heights as his latest subject. According to the Kickstarter page, Wiseman is currently editing the 120 hours of rushes he shot with hopes of having the film ready for a fall festival premiere (my guess would be Tiff, where both National Gallery and At Berkeley made their North American debut), though he’s currently quite a ways away from his $75,000 goal.
See full article at IONCINEMA.com »

What’s Up Doc?: Sheffield & AFI Docs Signal the Summer Fest Drought

Well folks, after a rather long and brutal winter (at least for me here in Buffalo), we are finally heading into the wonderful warmth of summer, but with that blast of sunshine and steamy humidity comes the mid-year drought of major film fests. After the Sheffield Doc/Fest concludes on June 10th and AFI Docs wraps on June 21st, we likely won’t see any major influx in our charts until Locarno, Venice, Telluride and Tiff announce their line-ups in rapid succession. In the meantime, we can look forward to the intriguing onslaught of films making their debut in Sheffield, including Brian Hill’s intriguing examination of Sweden’s most notorious serial killer, The Confessions of Thomas Quick, and Sean McAllister’s film for which he himself was jailed in the process of making, A Syrian Love Story, the only two films world premiering in the festival’s main competition.
See full article at IONCINEMA.com »

What’s Up Doc?: Kent Jones, Asif Kapadia & Luc Jacquet Head to Cannes

It should come as no surprise that Cannes Film Festival will play host to Kent Jones’s doc on the touchstone of filmmaking interview tomes, Hitchcock/Truffaut (see photo above). The film has been floating near the top of this list since it was announced last year as in development, while Jones himself has a history with the festival, having co-written both Arnaud Desplechin’s Jimmy P. and Martin Scorsese’s My Voyage To Italy, both of which premiered in Cannes. The film is scheduled to screen as part of the Cannes Classics sidebar alongside the likes of Stig Björkman’s Ingrid Bergman, in Her Own Words, which will play as part of the festival’s tribute to the late starlet, and Gabriel Clarke and John McKenna’s Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans (see trailer below). As someone who grew up watching road races with my dad in Watkins Glen,
See full article at IONCINEMA.com »

What’s Up Doc?: Les Blank, Alex Gibney & Alex Winter Lead SXSW Charge (February 2015)

Now that the busy winter fest schedule of Sundance, Rotterdam and the Berlinale has concluded, we’ve now got our eyes on the likes of True/False and SXSW. While, True/False does not specialize in attention grabbing world premieres, it does provide a late winter haven for cream of the crop non-fiction fare from all the previously mentioned fests and a selection of overlooked genre blending films presented in a down home setting. This year will mark my first trip to the Columbia, Missouri based fest, where I hope to catch a little of everything, from their hush-hush secret screenings, to selections from their Neither/Nor series, this year featuring chimeric Polish cinema of decades past, to a spotlight of Adam Curtis’s incisive oeuvre. But truth be told, it is SXSW, with its slew of high profile world premieres being announced, such as Alex Gibney’s Steve Jobs
See full article at IONCINEMA.com »

What’s Up Doc?: Latest from Psihoyos & Ross Bros. Lead Sundance Charge (December 2014)

The holidays are winding down and that means we at Ioncinema.com are gearing up for our annual pilgrimage to Park City where an A-list of documentaries is now set to premiere. Earlier this month Tabitha Jackson and the Sundance doc programming team let the cats out of the bag, unsurprisingly announcing much anticipated Us Doc Competition titles such as the Ross Brothers’ Western, Louie PsihoyosRacing Extinction, Marc Silver’s 3 1/2 Minutes and Lyric Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe’s (T)Error, along with some surprises like Bryan Carberry and Clay Tweel’s bizarro Kickstarted doc Finders Keepers (see trailer below). Having been produced by the fine folks behind The King of Kong and Undefeated, the film bears all the markings of its well regarded pedigree, yet appears to be of even odder ilk, following the story that unfolded when a severed human foot was discovered in a grill bought at a North Carolina auction.
See full article at IONCINEMA.com »

Algorithms shortlisted for Grierson: the British Documentary Awards

Algorithms shortlisted for Grierson: the British Documentary Awards
Ian McDonald’s award-winning documentary on India’s young blind chess players, Algorithms, has been shortlisted for a Grierson Award in the Best newcomer documentary category. The Grierson awards are the most prestigious documentary awards in the UK.

“We are really thrilled to make the shortlist”, said Ian McDonald, “It is a great honour and it also means it will bring the story of India’s blind chess community to the attention of an audience in the UK and beyond”.

Directed by British filmmaker Ian McDonald and produced by Indian producer Geetha J, the documentary has already screened at over twenty international film festivals and won six awards, including Best Film at Film SouthAsia in Kathmandu. New York based First Run Features, a leading distributor of independent films in America, acquired the North American rights to the film early this year.

Lorraine Heggessy, Chairman of the Grierson Trust said, “Winning
See full article at DearCinema.com »

Ten Documentaries That Changed The World

Each year at the Academy Awards, two presenters have to conjure new ways of announcing the Best Documentary Feature award without using the words ‘truth’ or ‘honesty,’ and usually fail.

Certainly, documentaries have the Hollywood studios at a disadvantage when it comes to capturing unscripted reality. However, as an independent art-form, the documentary is a fascinating genre with rules of its own, which it constantly rewrites.

To mark the release of Alex Gibney’s latest film, The Armstrong Lie on DVD, here is a selection of ten of the most vital documentaries of the past one hundred years. Films to move, haunt, shock, amuse and stay with you forever.

Man with a Movie Camera (1929)

The start of the ‘Documentary’ movement is often attributed by to John Grierson, the pioneering Scotsman who deduced in the 1920s that cinema, far from being simply a frivolous form of mass entertainment, was a powerful
See full article at HeyUGuys »

Review: Petra Costa's Stunningly Beautiful, Achingly Emotional Documentary 'Elena'

How can one describe Petra Costa's film "Elena"? If it's just the facts, one could say that it's a documentary about Costa searching for answers and understanding about her sister Elena, who committed suicide when she was a child. And yes, it is that, but it is also so much more than that. It's a cinematic rendering of a memory; a visualization of a person long gone, made real again through ephemera. It's a journey through one's own darkness, a deeply personal poem of film that manages to also be incredibly humane and universal. This is avant-garde autobiographical filmmaking at its finest, and the results are stunningly beautiful, and achingly emotional within a lyrical and dreamlike aesthetic. Filmmaker John Grierson defined documentary filmmaking as "the creative treatment of actuality," which has come to be the most apt descriptor for the wide range of films about real life and reality.
See full article at The Playlist »

Silent movies

Think silent films reached a high point with The Artist? The pre-sound era produced some of the most beautiful, arresting films ever made. From City Lights to Metropolis, Guardian and Observer critics pick the 10 best

• Top 10 teen movies

• Top 10 superhero movies

• Top 10 westerns

• Top 10 documentaries

• Top 10 movie adaptations

• Top 10 animated movies

• More Guardian and Observer critics' top 10s

10. City Lights

City Lights was arguably the biggest risk of Charlie Chaplin's career: The Jazz Singer, released at the end of 1927, had seen sound take cinema by storm, but Chaplin resisted the change-up, preferring to continue in the silent tradition. In retrospect, this isn't so much the precious behaviour of a purist but the smart reaction of an experienced comedian; Chaplin's films rarely used intertitles anyway, and though it is technically "silent", City Lights is very mindful of it own self-composed score and keenly judged sound effects.

At its heart,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

TV highlights 08/11/2013

  • The Guardian - TV News
Rugby Union: Leicester v Ospreys | Stobart: Trucks, Trains & Planes | Cold War, Hot Jets | The Nation's Favourite Elvis Song | Greatest Kids' TV Shows | Elvis Costello: Mystery Dance | The Grierson Awards 2013 | Latino Americans

Rugby Union: Leicester v Ospreys

7.30pm, Sky Sports 2

Live coverage of the opening round of the Lv Cup – Aka the Anglo-Welsh Cup – from Leicester's Welford Road stadium. Both teams look in decent shape: reigning English Premiership champions Leicester have started the new season of that competition solidly, and Ospreys have done likewise in the Pro12, only wobbling in a couple of Heineken Cup fixtures against Leinster and Northampton last month. Leicester won this competition in 2012, Ospreys in 2008 – when they beat Leicester in the final. Andrew Mueller

Stobart: Trucks, Trains & Planes

8pm, Channel 5

Doubtless no one is more surprised than Eddie Stobart himself that this fly-on-the-wall series on his logistics empire is now entering its sixth year. This time
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

The Winners of Grierson 2013: The British Documentary Awards

The Winners of Grierson 2013: The British Documentary Awards
In memory of pioneering Scottish documentarian John Grierson (1898-1972), each year The Grierson Trust recognizes the best documentary filmmaking through the British Documentary Awards. This year's first prize winner for Most Entertaining Documentary was awarded to "Nina Conti: A Ventriloquist's Story-Her Master’s Voice" while the time traveling story of the deterioration of the poorest areas of London, "The Secret History of Our Streets: Deptford High Street" was awarded Best Historical Documentary. When Dawn Airey, Chariman of the Grierson Trust opened the evening he commented that, "All the nominations share one thing: the burning desire to reveal the human story at the centre of them." Here is the full list of Grierson winners- Best Documentary on a Contemporary Theme -7/7: One Day in London Best Documentary on a Contemporary Theme -Law of the Jungle Best Documentary on Current Affairs- Syria: Across the Lines Best Arts Documentary-Imagine: The...
See full article at Indiewire »

Michel Brault obituary

French-Canadian director and cinematographer who pioneered handheld camera techniques

Michel Brault, who has died of a heart attack aged 85, was one of the great unsung heroes of cinema. The French-Canadian director and cinematographer could have claimed, in all modesty, to have pioneered handheld camera techniques, leading to cinéma vérité in France (and thus to the Nouvelle Vague) and Direct Cinema in the Us.

It all began in 1958 with Les Raquetteurs (The Snowshoers), which Brault co-directed with Gilles Groulx and shot in 35mm with a relatively lightweight camera carried on his shoulder. The 15-minute film, which explores life in rural Quebec, was seen by Jean Rouch, the French anthropologist film-maker, who invited Brault to France to be chief camera operator on Chronicle of a Summer (1960), in which a cross-section of Parisians are asked to respond to the question: "Are you happy?"

Rouch and his co-director, the sociologist Edgar Morin, were not
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Rooftop Films Review: Petra Costa's Documentary 'Elena'

How can one describe Petra Costa's film "Elena"? If it's just the facts, one could say that it's a documentary about Costa searching for answers and understanding about her sister Elena, who committed suicide when she was a child. And yes, it is that, but it is also so much more than that. It's a cinematic rendering of a memory; a visualization of a person long gone, made real again through ephemera. It's a journey through one's own darkness, a deeply personal poem of film that manages to also be incredibly humane and universal. This is avant-garde autobiographical filmmaking at its finest, and the results are stunningly beautiful, and achingly emotional within a lyrical and dreamlike aesthetic. Filmmaker John Grierson defined documentary filmmaking as "the creative treatment of actuality," which has come to be the most apt descriptor for the wide range of films about real life and reality.
See full article at The Playlist »

This week's new film events

Sheffield Doc/Fest | Dunoon film festival | A Nos Amours | Seret – The London Israeli film and television festival

Sheffield Doc/Fest

Sheffield doesn't quite have the same ring as Cannes or Venice, but in documentary terms it's a fair comparison. This is a market and a meeting place for professionals, and guests this year include Walter Murch, Jonathan Franzen, Trevor McDonald and Captain Sensible, as well as just about every British documentarian you can think of. But this is also the place to see the latest in non-fiction film: 120 films, many of them premieres, on topics ranging from Pussy Riot to Uri Geller's CIA missions, Indonesian genocide, and Bradley Wiggins.

Various venues, Wed to 16 Jun

Dunoon film festival

Edinburgh and Glasgow festivals bring world cinema to Scotland, but this inaugural festival brings Scottish cinema to Scotland, and helps put a seaside town on the cultural map. There are some recent international releases,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Michael Grigsby obituary

Film-maker whose documentaries allowed the subjects to speak for themselves

The documentary film-maker Michael Grigsby, who has died aged 76, strove to convey the experiences of ordinary people, and those on the margins of society. His subjects ranged from Inuit hunters in northern Canada and North Sea fishermen to Northern Irish farmers, Vietnamese villagers and, most recently, ageing American veterans of the Vietnam war.

He made more than 30 films – many of them for Granada TV's World in Action and Disappearing World – which were marked by the way in which they allowed their subjects to speak for themselves. Taking his films back to the communities he had filmed for their approval became a vital part of Grigsby's process of securing trust. Some – like the Inuit – would subsequently use his films to explain their lives to outsiders.

Grigsby's questions were never heard and he abhorred commentary, preferring brief captions or the overlaid voices
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Michael Grigsby

Film-maker whose documentaries allowed the subjects to speak for themselves

The documentary film-maker Michael Grigsby, who has died aged 76, strove to convey the experiences of ordinary people, and those on the margins of society. His subjects ranged from Inuit hunters in northern Canada and North Sea fishermen to Northern Irish farmers, Vietnamese villagers and, most recently, ageing American veterans of the Vietnam war.

He made more than 30 films – many of them for Granada TV's World in Action and Disappearing World – which were marked by the way in which they allowed their subjects to speak for themselves. Taking his films back to the communities he had filmed for their approval became a vital part of Grigsby's process of securing trust. Some – like the Inuit – would subsequently use his films to explain their lives to outsiders.

Grigsby's questions were never heard and he abhorred commentary, preferring brief captions or the overlaid voices
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »
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