Did You See This?

“Love and Honor and No Money”

Hollis Frampton in 1975

Around this time last year, Film Comment editor Nicolas Rapold called the True/False film festival “one of the most outstanding annual showcases for documentary film.” The lineup for the 2020 edition is now set and it features a special focus on this year’s winners of the True Vision award, Bill and Turner Ross. The brothers’ Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets—“strong work,” writes Filmmaker’s Vadim Rizov, “easily my favorite thing the Rosses have done”—premiered at Sundance last month and now heads to Berlin. True/False 2020 will run from March 5 through 8 in Columbia, Missouri.

This week’s highlights:

  • Late in 1972, the renowned film historian Donald Richie, who was Curator of Film at the Museum of Modern Art at the time, invited Hollis Frampton, already an icon of the American avant-garde, to take part in a complete retrospective: “It is all for love and honor and no money is included at all.” Frampton must have mulled this over for a couple of weeks before composing a point-by-point response, and the Belgian site Sabzian has now posted the remarkable letter. “I venture to suggest that a time may come when the whole history of art will become no more than a footnote to the history of film . . . or of whatever evolves from film,” wrote Frampton. “Already, in less than a century, film has produced great monuments of passionate intelligence. If we say that we honor such a nascent tradition, then we affirm our wish that it will continue. But it cannot continue on love and honor alone.” As for how film is faring now, Sabzian has invited Olivier Assayas to deliver this year’s State of Cinema address in Brussels on March 27.
  • Another Belgian site, photogénie, has just today rolled out its first issue edited by Maximilien Luc Proctor and featuring contributions from five of his fellow participants in the Young Critics Workshop at the Film Fest Gent. “The Eye of Time,” a phrase borrowed from P. Adams Sitney, a leading historian of avant-garde cinema, is the theme, and the essays address not only the challenges posed by such long works as Gregory Markopoulos’s Eniaios cycle (1948–1990), Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980), Béla Tarr’s Sátántangó (1994), and Marcel Ophuls’s The Troubles We’ve Seen (1994), but also the sense that the short films of Vjekoslav Nakić are “suspended in eternal time.”
  • Locarno in Los Angeles is running through the weekend, and tomorrow night, Pedro Costa will be on hand to take part in a Q&A following a screening of his Golden Leopard winner, Vitalina Varela. The film focuses on a woman who arrives in Lisbon from Cape Verde to discover what she can about her deceased husband, but it’s also “more than an encounter with her,” writes Patrick Holzapfel at Kino Slang, “it’s an exchange. An exchange between the drama of Vitalina and the power of cinema, the imagery of Costa with the anger of Vitalina. It’s not a conflict between cinema and life, it’s a form of togetherness.”
  • While our minds are on Los Angeles, the UCLA Film & Television Archive has announced that it’s partnering with the Mary Pickford Foundation to digitally remaster and preserve three films featuring the woman who was known in her day as “America’s Sweetheart”—The Little American (1917), Amarilly of Clothes-Line Alley (1918), and The Love Light (1921). The Archive is particularly well-known for its collection of works associated with the movement that arose in the 1960s and ’70s on its own campus. Noela Hueso recently spoke with one of the progenitors of the LA Rebellion, Charles Burnett, whose Killer of Sheep (1977) will screen on Tuesday at the Lumiere. “I didn’t tell people in my neighborhood that I was studying film until I did Killer of Sheep and brought my filmmaking there,” says Burnett. “I was trying to demystify filmmaking in the community. I wanted kids to see what making a film was like, to show them that they could do the same thing.”
  • You may have heard that we’re teaming up with Neon on forthcoming special editions of Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite—which of course, made history on Sunday when it became the first film in a language other than English to win the Oscar for best picture—and Bong’s 2003 comedic thriller Memories of Murder. “The streets of Seoul are as much a character in Parasite as the actors themselves,” writes Choe Sang-Hun in the New York Times, “and they played a formative role in shaping Mr. Bong’s politicized worldview and intense focus on the searing inequality in the pulsing city of ten million people.” Because Parasite has piqued global interest in Korean cinema, the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw has put together a set of recommendations in the form of a ranked list with notes on works by such directors as Bong, Park Chan-wook, Lee Chang-dong, Hong Sang-soo, Lee Jeong-hyang, Kim Jee-woon, Im Kwon-taek, Jeong Jae-eun, and Kim Bora.

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