We begin in London because there’s quite a unique and timely event opening today and running through the weekend. Writing for Sight & Sound, Ehsan Khoshbakht sets the stage by recalling an open air screening of fan’s Charlie Chaplin supercut that happened in Iran in the 1920s and was recalled fondly by André Malraux. “Since that time, Iran has continued to reinvent cinema and its rituals in the most unpredictable ways. This most treasured art form remains the subject of controversial politics, censorship and bans, such that the story of cinephilia in Iran is one of forbidden love. London’s Open City Docs Fest is celebrating the intense passion for film and its possibilities that persists among Iranians, in a series of documentaries that reflect ‘cinemadoosti’—the Persian word for cinephilia. But how exactly are we to understand cinemadoosti?”
He pursues the answer throughout his following paragraphs and tomorrow afternoon he’ll be discussing this as well as more practical concerns with Iranian filmmakers: Celluloid Underground: Tales of Cinephilia from Iran happens at 4pm and is dedicated to Mahnaz Mohammadi, “the Iranian filmmaker and women’s rights activist who has been sent to the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran to serve out a five-year sentence for participating in peaceful protests.”
As Nick Vivarelli reports for Variety, Mohammadi’s imprisonment has been stirring international outrage. France’s Film Directors’ Guild (Société des réalisateurs de films) has posted a petition that’s so far collected over a thousand signatures, including those from Hiam Abbas, Chantal Akerman, Bertrand Tavernier, Laurent Cantet, Tony Gatlif and Cedric Klapisch.
Fei Mu’s Spring in a Small Town (1948) opens this weekend and will be slowly touring the UK throughout the summer. “It is a powerful, yet exquisitely subtle emotional drama,” writes the Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw, “something to be compared with Ophüls, or Mizoguchi, or with a Hollywood studio picture by Douglas Sirk or an early David Lean.”
And Bruno Dumont‘s Camille Claudel 1915 finally sees its UK release. As Graham Fuller notes, writing for Sight & Sound, it “depicts three days in the life of the sculptor when she was a virtual prisoner at the Mistral-whipped Montdevergues asylum in Montfavet, in south-eastern France” and “is spare, harsh and minimalistic, as one would expect.” At the Arts Desk, Demetrios Matheou writes that Dumont and his lead, Juliette Binoche, “conjure everything we need to know about the psychological torture Claudel must have gone through, the loneliness and desperation, the frustration of an artist no longer able to make art and a human being no longer trusted to exist in the world. There is little told of her history, her previous life; Binoche in close-up is all we need.” More from Nigel Andrews (Financial Times, 5/5), Peter Bradshaw (Guardian, 4/5) and Violet Lucca (Little White Lies).
New York. Light Industry opens its preview of tomorrow evening’s conversation with Jean-Pierre Gorin with a quote from Kent Jones: “How on earth did this Sorbonne-educated son of Jewish Trotskyites, onetime student of Althusser, Lacan, and Foucault, pre-1968 Marxist firebrand and partner in crime of Jean-Luc Godard wind up in Greater San Diego making these peculiarly all-American movies?”
“In our era of hashtag feminism, few chronicles of the movement’s second wave remain as bracing as the restless documentary Town Bloody Hall by direct-cinema stalwarts D. A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.” As Melissa Anderson explains at Artforum, the “Dialogue on Women’s Liberation” moderated by Norman Mailer on April 30, 1971, in Manhattan was one of the rowdiest debates in a very rowdy era. Hegedus and Pennebaker will be at MoMA tomorrow evening for a post-screening Q&A.
Eric Rohmer’s A Summer’s Tale opens at Lincoln Plaza Cinema today, “and having a heretofore-unseen work by Rohmer in a movie theatre is as salutary as basking in a ray of June sunshine,” writes Glenn Kenny at RogerEbert.com. “Like many of his later pictures, this is a story of the romantic foibles of some attractive, self-conscious, but hardly self-aware young adults. Rohmer had an almost uncanny knack for using the mercurial predilections of the young as a launching pad for smart but not oppressive philosophical observations. Here, he tackles the age-old question once articulated by the Loving Spoonful as ‘Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?'” More from Jonathan Kiefer (Voice) and Keith Uhlich (Time Out New York).
Chicago. “Interviewers always found Altman reluctant to talk about the movies he directed before M*A*S*H,” writes the Reader‘s J. R. Jones, “and he had even less to say about his screenplay for Corn’s-A-Poppin’ (1955), a low-budget musical comedy shot in his native Kansas City, Missouri. Altman biographer Patrick McGilligan calls it “one of the worst movies ever made,” and most books about Altman don’t even mention it. But that hasn’t stopped the Northwest Chicago Film Society from carrying out a meticulous restoration of Corn’s-A-Poppin’ that will receive its Chicago premiere Monday at Music Box. For NWCFS founders Rebecca Hall, Julian Antos, and Kyle Westphal, the movie is not only a notable piece of juvenilia from a legendary filmmaker but a crackpot gem in its own right.”
Berkeley. The Mizoguchi retrospective that’s been making the rounds arrives and the Pacific Film Archive and, in the San Francisco Chronicle, G. Allen Johnson notes that Kinuyo Tanaka, “who stars in seven of the films in the archive’s series, was Mizoguchi’s muse and, through her amazingly subtle, heartbreaking performances, can almost claim co-authorship of his films (she later became one of Japan’s few female studio directors).” Kenji Mizoguchi: A Cinema of Totality is on through August 29.
Venice, whose 71st edition runs from August 27 through September 6, has named Ann Hui president of the International Jury of Orizzonti, aka the Horizons section somewhat akin to Cannes’ Un Certain Regard. What’s more, Hui’s newest film, The Golden Era, will close the festival.
“If the first batch of titles from this years Fantasia International Film Festival is any indication, it promises to be a banner year.” Kurt Halfyard‘s got Round 1 at Twitch. Fantasia 2014 happens in Montreal from July 17 through August 5.