29.March.2012: The Cannes Film Festival announced yesterday that its Cinéfondation and short films jury will be headed by Belgian writer-director Jean-Pierre Dardenne. Along with his brother Luc, Jean-Pierre is no stranger at the French festival: Rosetta and The Child both won the coveted Palme d’Or, and The Kid with a Bike took home last year’s Grand Prix.
BAMcinemaFest announced its fourth annual program yesterday. The festival is set to run from June 20–July 1. The L Magazine’s Mark Asch describes it as “perhaps the major NYC launching pad for the independent American films that make their debuts west of the Mississippi at the outset of the year.” Among those films that premiered at Sundance or SXSW are Craig Zobel’s Compliance, So Yong Kim’s For Ellen, Ry Russo-Young’s Nobody Walks, and Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s Detropia.
The San Francisco Bay Guardian’s Dennis Harvey pens an appreciation of 1968 film Pretty Poison ahead of its screening at the Castro Theatre in a new 35mm print tonight. “Certainly 20th Century Fox had no great expectations from Poison,” he writes, “which seemed eminently disposable: A small-town thriller with medium-watt stars [Tuesday Weld and Anthony Perkins], a first-time director (Noel Black had only done Skaterdater, a prize-winning ’65 short about suburban boarders), and a TV scenarist (Lorenzo Semple Jr., just off the Batman series). Expecting to dump it into drive-ins and second-run houses, they opened in one New York City theater without a press screening, then were taken aback when Pauline Kael and Newsweek sought it out and praised it to the skies.”
For The New York Review of Books Jonathan Mirsky writes about “Interviews Before Execution,” a popular Chinese reality television show that was on until last December. Mirsky explains that the literal meaning of the title: “The presenter was Ding Yu, a pretty young woman, always carefully dressed with colorful scarves and blouses; in each episode, she would interview on camera a condemned murderer who was about to face a firing squad or a lethal injection. While Beijing has long been known for its use of capital punishment, the practice has usually been kept out of official media apart from exceptional cases…With Ding Yu’s five years of interviews, however, capital punishment was brought directly into Chinese homes—and with government endorsement.” Watch Zhao Liang’s Crime and Punishment on Fandor for a decidedly more critical take on Chinese criminal sentencing.
Fandor has four new featured films online, and they’re all ensemble pieces. Egyptian director Youssef Chahine‘s 1958 film Cairo Station uses a train station as a nexus of social tensions; adventurous French New Wave director Jacques Rivette’s 2009 film Around a Small Mountain circles a circus; Luis Buñuel’s Eastmancolor Death in the Garden takes to the jungle with a group of political revolutionaries; and Céline Danhier’s Blank City doc sizes up the fertile ground of No Wave New York. Finally, Fandor is sponsoring day one of a three-part retrospective dedicated to legendary avant-garde filmmaker Bruce Baillie opening at the Ann Arbor Film Festival tonight. Make sure to read Michael Sicinski’s piece on Quick Billy, one of several Baillie films streaming at Fandor.