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Germaine Dulac’s Princess Mandane (1928)

On Wednesday, we noted that festivals around the world were putting the finishing touches on their fall lineups. Since then, the New York Film Festival has rolled out two more programs, Spotlight on Documentary, including new work from Errol Morris and Roberto Minervini, and a series of Special Events headlined by the newly completed and restored film that Orson Welles shot throughout the late 1970s, The Other Side of the Wind. Before Venice opens this coming Wednesday and the fall frenzy begins in earnest, you’ll want to catch up with these five highlights of the past week:

  • Catherine Grant, a professor of Digital Media and Screen Studies at Birkbeck, University of London, is celebrating the tenth anniversary of her invaluable resource, the “pluralist, pro bono, and purely positive” Film Studies for Free. Today’s she’s posted a celebratory round of over a hundred links to freely accessible books, doctoral theses, essays, and much more—and she’s included two short video tributes to the late Aretha Franklin.
  • A survey of work by Germaine Dulac, the French filmmaker and theorist who would become a pioneer of avant-garde and feminist cinema, opens today in New York before heading to Los Angeles in September. “Dulac would come to believe in cinema as a totalizing force, a medium capable of concrete human emotions and visual abstraction in equal measure,” writes Michael Koresky in his latest “Queer & Now & Then” column for Film Comment. “For her, there was an ideal of ‘pure cinema,’ an internal landscape made of impressionistic forms and movements that she experimented with, mostly throughout the 1920s and ’30s.” Writing for AnOther, Thea Hawlin emphasizes Dulac’s influence on the Surrealists, and in particular, Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí.
  • Since winning the Grand Prix Cannes, Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman has been racking up enthusiastic reviews, with many critics calling it Lee’s strongest film in years. Nonetheless, Sorry to Bother You director Boots Riley—a major Spike Lee fan who’s quick to credit his artistic mentor for inspiring his own career—has posted a point-by-point “political critique.” In short: “It’s a made up story in which the false parts of it try to make a cop the protagonist in the fight against racist oppression.” Now Charles Mudede, a screenwriter and regular contributor to the Stranger, has come to the film’s defense, arguing that “Riley failed to see the biggest thing in the film, which has nothing to do with the cops. It’s about establishing a bond between two groups that have a long and very painful history with white supremacy.”
  • For a dozen years now, David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson have been blogging at Observations on Film Art, a site originally intended as a source of supplemental material and updates to their essential textbook, Film Art: An Introduction. “It immediately became something more informal,” writes Thompson, and yet, every year, just before the fall semester begins, she finds relevant posts from the past twelve months and creates a chapter-by-chapter index—and this is the first one to include videos that she, Bordwell, and Jeff Smith have been posting monthly on the Criterion Channel at FilmStruck.
  • Andrew Bujalski, whose new film Support the Girls opens today, and who’s just written a piece for us about “one of the great wonderments of cinema,” an eleven-minute sequence in John Cassavetes’s Opening Night (1977), has been asked by Grasshopper Film to list his ten favorite films of the past ten years. His selections include works by Chantal Akerman, Olivier Assayas, and Kelly Reichardt. Grasshopper’s gathered quite a collection of top tens over the past couple of years, including lists from Pedro Costa,Apichatpong Weerasethakul,Agnès Godard,Bertrand Bonello, and Matías Piñeiro.

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