Did You See This?

Evolution of the Art

Pedro Costa’s Ossos (1998)

Each year, the retrospective at the Locarno Film Festival tends to become one of the most impactful events on the calendar. Last summer’s retrospective revived interest in popular Mexican cinema, and in 2022, we suddenly couldn’t get enough of Douglas Sirk. Curated by Ehsan Khoshbakht, The Lady with the Torch: The Centenary of Columbia Pictures promises, above all, variety when Locarno’s 2024 edition runs from August 7 through 17.

“Think the fast-talking career women of screwball comedies, or think existentialist cowboys, prophetic anti-fascist quickies, or unsettling ‘problem pictures,’” says Khoshbakht of the series featuring forty titles, including work by John Ford, Howard Hawks, Frank Borzage, Dorothy Arzner, Fritz Lang, George Stevens, and Phil Karlson. “Once upon a time there was a brilliant exchange between art and commerce, between the system and the artist, and this retrospective will celebrate that.”

Before turning to a few of this week’s highlights, we need to note the passing of Louis Gossett Jr., who won an Emmy for his portrayal of a slave in eighteenth-century Virginia in Roots, the miniseries that took America by storm in 1977, and an Oscar for playing a hard-driving Marine drill sergeant in Taylor Hackford’s An Officer and a Gentleman (1982). Gossett was eighty-seven.

  • Thousands of tapes in fifty storage boxes make up the Martin Scorsese VHS Tape Collection now housed at the University of Colorado Boulder, which is also the home of collections from Stan Brakhage and Ken and Flo Jacobs. “The renowned director and film preservationist, it turns out, was also, for decades, a prolific guerrilla archivist,” writes Jake Malooley for the Guardian. The tapes, recorded from television broadcasts over several years, are now to be digitalized—and analyzed. “What kind of 1980s viewing list led to cinematic masterpieces like The King of Comedy and The Last Temptation of Christ?” wonders John Klacsmann, an archivist at Anthology Film Archives. “I’m certainly curious to know.” Variety’s Nick Vivarelli, in the meantime, talks with Father Antonio Spadaro about his conversations with Scorsese, which have recently been published in Italy as Dialoghi sulla fede. Scorsese and Kent Jones are currently adapting Shusaku Endo’s 1978 novel A Life of Jesus, and production is slated to begin some time this year.

  • “Let us place Alejo Moguillansky on the map of international cinema,” declares Jhon Hernandez, introducing a package at Lucky Star on the work of the Argentine filmmaker and a cofounder El Pampero Cine, the collective whose other members include Mariano Llinás, Laura Citarella, and Agustín Mendilaharzu. Along with an interview, the collection features a diary that serves as Hernandez’s “attempt to honor the playfulness of Moguillansky’s films, the structural games, the changes in velocity, but also the serious commitment to his cinema,” and a translation of an essay by Moguillansky and Rodrigo Moreno (The Delinquents), “In Praise of a Castaway: Jacques Rozier.”

  • Savanah Leaf will discuss her debut feature, Earth Mama (2023), with cinematographer Jody Lee Lipes and then introduce a screening of Pedro Costa’s Ossos (1998) this evening at New York’s Metrograph. Introducing a transcript of a discussion with Costa which took place last September in Bucharest, Flavia Dima notes at Sabzian that his “seven feature films—from O Sangue (1989) to Vitalina Varela (2019)—have put forward a total artistic project: proposing both a radical shift in the field of political cinema that revolutionizes the representation of marginalized, exploited individuals, and a method of artisanal creation that is small-scaled, self-owned, autonomous and radically different in rhythm from the vast majority of modern film production. And although his cinema bears such a unique aesthetic signature that it is one of the most instantly-recognizable of our time, his influences run the gamut of the great masters: from John Ford to Robert Bresson, and Jacques Tourneur to Straub-Huillet.”

  • Alice Rohrwacher “has become one of the must-see filmmakers on the international circuit,” writes Manohla Dargis in her review of La chimera for the New York Times. Talking with Rohrwacher for Filmmaker, Elissa Suh notes that she “continues to pay debt to forebears of Italian cinema like Ermanno Olmi while also infusing her film with a symbolic surrealism and neorealist class consciousness reminiscent of the respective likes of Pier Paolo Pasolini and Roberto Rossellini.” At one point, the conversation turns to cinematographer Hélène Louvart. “We are two bodies, one soul,” says Rohrwacher. Cinema “has evolved over time, so we go from 16 mm to Super 16 to 35 mm. They’re all archaeological incarnations of film’s evolution, and we kept and combined them all in a single movie.”

  • A full month after this year’s Berlinale wrapped, many are still weighing the repercussions of one of the most controversial editions in recent memory. For Reverse Shot, Nicolas Rapold writes about three winners of top awards that immediately became points of contention in the German press: Basel Adra, Yuval Abraham, Hamdan Ballal, and Rachel Szor’a No Other Land, Mati Diop’s Dahomey, and Guillaume Cailleau and Ben Russell’s Direct Action. In the Notebook, Laura Staab argues that the Berlinale, “typically perceived as more political than Cannes and Venice,” betrayed its reputation this year by siding with its subsidizers and sponsors rather than with its filmmakers, and Daniel Kasman spotlights two standouts, Sohrab Shahid Saless’s Time of Maturity (1976) and Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Chime. “Both offer a sophisticated cinematic space that is at once social, economic, political, architectonic, emotional, and psychic,” he writes. “They suggest you can start with the individual to understand something about a society; their inclusion in the program suggests how a festival can start with individual films to build an expansive experience for the audience.”

Don’t miss out on your Daily briefing! Subscribe to the RSS feed.

You have no items in your shopping cart