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Everything That Lasts Causes Trouble at First

Divine in John Waters’s Pink Flamingos (1972)

Sundance has launched a new site with a fresh look, but before we even begin to think about 2024, there’s a lot more in store for 2023. Celebrations of the 120th anniversary of the birth of Yasujiro Ozu peak next month when the Tokyo International Film Festival presents what Variety’s Patrick Frater calls “this year’s biggest and most comprehensive reconstruction of Ozu’s surprisingly varied career.”

San Sebastián opens today and the lineups are set for the Chicago International Film Festival (October 11 through 22), the Lumière Film Festival in Lyon (October 14 through 22), and the Indie Memphis Film Festival (October 24 through 29). Filmmaker, whose new issue features the magazine’s annual survey of 25 New Faces of Independent Film, alerts us to the inaugural edition of Film Fest Knox. Running in Knoxville from November 10 through 12, the new festival will host a six-film American Regional Film Competition, showcasing “exceptional works produced outside the traditional production centers of Los Angeles and New York.”

A quick glance at more goings on:

  • At seventy-seven, John Waters is now gleefully wallowing in the spoils of his full-frontal, career-long war on good taste. There’s a new star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with his name on it and the Academy Museum is currently presenting John Waters: Pope of Trash, a series running through October 28 and an exhibition on view through August 4, 2024. “I’m used to strange things happening in my life by now that you never imagined would happen,” Waters tells Manuel Betancourt in the Los Angeles Times. “Everything that lasts causes trouble at first.” Waters is currently developing an adaptation of his novel Liarmouth, and when the New Yorker’s Michael Schulman asks him if he might just haul off and shoot it guerrilla-style “for ten thousand dollars, like you did with Pink Flamingos,” Waters replies, “No, I wouldn’t want to do that. I’m not shittin’ in the woods anymore!”

  • Celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, Film Fest Gent presents 2x25, a collection of short films pairing composers and filmmakers including Bi Gan, Radu Jude, Jia Zhangke, and Jessica Beshir. In Passing Time, Terence Davies reads a poem he wrote for his late sister over a score by Florencia Di Concilio. “Florencia’s music seems to capture the tentative, bittersweet sensation of remembering,” Davies tells Nick Newman at the Film Stage. Their conversation touches on future plans, and unfortunately, it looks as if Davies’s projected adaptation of Stefan Zweig’s The Post Office Girl has run into a dead end—but he’s already completed the second draft of a new screenplay. The focus of Newman’s brief interview is on poetry, which Davies insists “was designed to be read aloud, to be recited, to be shared communally.”

  • Next month brings new restorations of films shot by Gabriel Figueroa, widely regarded as one of the greatest cinematographers of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema. Emilio Fernández’s Victims of Sin (1951) opens at New York’s Film Forum on October 6, and the BFI London Film Festival will screen Roberto Gavaldón’s Macario (1960) on October 4 and 11. Writing for Outskirts, Nathan Letoré looks back on the Locarno retrospective Spectacle Every Day: The Many Seasons of Mexican Popular Cinema and struggles with the “question of quality—or beauty, or aesthetic power, or whatever you want to call it: that inescapable bugbear of film criticism which one would, theoretically, intellectually, like to be rid of but which one can never quite shake off—as it lies at the heart of why we are cinephiles and not cultural studies scholars.”

  • New York’s Spectacle Theater is currently presenting a series of films by Stephanie Rothman, an independent filmmaker who started out in the mid-1960s as an assistant to Roger Corman. “I endorse every title in the quintet to the fullest (no matter their flaws),” writes 4Columns film editor Melissa Anderson, “above all The Student Nurses (1970), the epitome of the Rothman style: beautifully photographed exploitation films that, while filled with the nudity, violence, and sex mandated by the genre, seriously examine a host of progressive ideas, not least women’s sexual autonomy.” Rothman is also “one of the finest chroniclers of Southern California’s elysian light and scenery.”

  • For Caesura, Mia Ruf has translated a text that Marguerite Duras wrote in conjunction with the premiere of Le camion (1977). Ruf suggests that we receive it “less like a pessimistic screed, presaging certain doom, and more like an argument for resignation, as it is only through the acceptance of doom that one can return to zero and begin to rebuild.” It does indeed begin bleakly: “It’s pointless to keep serving us aspirationally socialist films. Or aspirationally capitalist films. Pointless to keep serving us films about justice to come—social, economic, or otherwise. Films about labor. About merit. Films about women. Youths. Portuguese. Malians. Intellectuals. Senegalese.” And so on. But it ends with a woman in love.

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