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From Canyon Cinema to Outer Space

Nathaniel Dorsky’s Abaton (2017)

To the official selection announced yesterday, Cannes has added its lineup of short films and Cinéfondation selections slated to compete next month. Claire Denis will preside over the jury. Also previewing its 2019 edition, Karlovy Vary has announced that it will present a program commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, the premiere of a new restoration of Juraj Herz’s The Cremator (1969), and tributes to Egyptian director Youssef Chahine, cinematographer Vladimír Smutný, and writer and photographer Miloš Fikejz. Meantime, Tribeca, which opens on Wednesday, has unfurled its long list of jurors.

On to this week’s highlights:

  • Two years ago, Canyon Cinema, one of the country’s foremost independent distributors of avant-garde and experimental cinema, launched a touring retrospective to mark its fiftieth anniversary. That tour has now led to the launch of Canyon Cinema 50, an all but inexhaustible resource of deep historical background and smartly edited links to further reading on hundreds of artists and filmmakers. At the moment, the spotlight is on the late Barbara Hammer. Next Thursday, a selection of her early works will screen at the Roxie in San Francisco, and Canyon has posted a video interview and a new essay by curator Susannah Magers. Spend the weekend exploring the work of other major artists, too, such as Stan Brakhage,Chick Strand, or Nathaniel Dorsky—who, by the way, will be presenting his Arboretum Cycle at the National Gallery of Art in Washington on May 25.
  • In the run-up to the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s celebration of its fiftieth anniversary, Film Comment carries on dipping into its archive and making articles available online for the first time. Recent selections include Molly Haskell’s 1991 appreciation of Audrey Hepburn and Jan Dawson’s 1974 interview with Robert Altman. This week, it’s Kent Jones’s enthusiastic endorsement of Francis Ford Coppola, a timely choice, given that the director has recently declared his intention to realize the ambitious science fiction project that’s been on his mind for decades. Megalopolis “will be a production on a grand scale,” Coppola has told Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr. In 2002, Jones argued that “what’s so touching is the way he attempts to share the oceanic vastness of his imagination with his audience. Thus the very public tug of war between projects both manageable and unmanageable, real and unreal, between supreme confidence and punishing self-doubt, and between the grand gesture and the intimate exchange.”
  • With High Life now rolling out to more cities beyond New York and Los Angeles, Claire Denis has been giving interviews right and left. One of the most delightful so far is Barry Jenkins’s in the New York Times. And don’t miss the story she tells Interview’s Brooke Huseby about hanging with the late Agnès Varda and their encounter with Jean-Luc Godard and Anne-Marie Miéville. High Life in the meantime has also gotten Darren Hughes thinking about the ways critics have lagged behind Denis’s evolution as a filmmaker. In a piece for the Notebook, one of the most essential reads of this past week, Hughes argues that Denis’s filmography “was never as uniform as the popular critical conversation suggested and has become even less so in recent years.” And Cristina Álvarez López notes that Denis has linked Bastards (2013) with High Life, “declaring that it is important to talk about what is considered taboo in a time of puritanism.”
  • Mention of the L.A. Rebellion will likely have you thinking of filmmakers such as Charles Burnett, Julie Dash, Haile Gerima, and Billy Woodberry, all of whom studied at UCLA’s film school at some point between the late 1960s and mid-1980s. They drew inspiration from what was known in the mid-twentieth century as Third World Cinema and their influence can be seen in the work of younger artists currently active in Los Angeles. Time is Running Out of Time: Experimental Film and Video from the L.A. Rebellion and Today, an exhibition on view at Art + Practice through September 14, showcases work spanning nearly five decades. Writing for Hyperallergic, Erica Rawles finds that the sheer volume of what’s presented can make the show “feel just as inspiring as overwhelming.” Still, these works “convey the nuanced and often subtle intersections of race, gender, and class with an honesty that prioritizes expression and experimentation over winning a specific audience’s attention.”
  • This past Sunday, Farran Smith Nehme opened a poll on Twitter, asking, “Which 1970s movie has the bleakest fadeout?” She offered four contenders: Philip Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), John Schlesinger’s The Day of the Locust (1975), Peter Yates’s The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), and Roman Polanski’s Chinatown (1974). Within just a few hours, more than 2,500 votes were cast, and Chinatown was the clear winner. But that’s only half the fun. The other half comes with scrolling down the phenomenally long thread that follows. Farran encouraged write-ins, and they came in droves, laced with commentary.

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