9.February.2012: Iconoclastic auteur Abel Ferrara is in San Francisco with 4:44 Last Day on Earth actress Shanyn Leigh tonight for opening night of the San Francisco Independent Film Festival. Earlier in the week Ferrara contributed “ten lessons on filmmaking” to Filmmaker, the first of which is “Being independent is now like being the loneliest man in the world.” What’s more, The New York Times reported that Ferrara confirmed his upcoming project about the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair with Gérard Depardieu as DSK in an interview Le Monde. Back to 4:44, Pasquale Cicchetti wrote admiringly about the film for Reverse Shot after it played last year’s New York Film Festival: “Many at the festival audience I saw it with were taken aback by the odd mix of grand narrative and bare-bones aesthetic. Yet hidden within Ferrara’s distinctly disordered approach, 4:44 achieves an unexpected, powerful simplicity. Thanks to the characters’ divergent yet spiritually complementary paths, the end is reversed into a luminous beginning: a closing message of love and human faith.” Not everyone was so taken. Writing for Cineaste after the film’s Toronto International Film Festival screening, Richard Porton compared the film unfavorably to Béla Tarr’s The Turin Horse (which opens for a weeklong run at the Film Society of Lincoln Center this Friday): “The Turin Horse, with its intimations of apocalyptic gloom, puts to shame recent American indie films such as Jeff Nichols’s Take Shelter and Abel Ferrara’s ludicrous 4:44: Last Day on Earth, that take on our current economic and political malaise with clumsily applied dollops of allegory and inept dialog.”
Cheryl Eddy runs down some of the SF IndieFest’s other dark titles in her overview for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, including the Belgian mafia movie (and Oscar nominee) Bullhead, Australian crime film Snowtown, heavy metal doc Last Days Here, and Finisterrae, a surrealist Spanish film that won a Tiger Award at last year’s International Film Festival Rotterdam.
As previously announced, this year’s Berlinale opens tonight with Benoît Jacquot’s Farewell My Queen, a Versailles-set period piece with Diane Kruger as Marie Antoinette. Indiewire’s Peter Knegt names ten Berlinale films he has high hopes for, and The MUBI Notebook’s David Hudson collects trailers of five of the films playing in competition, including the new one from Berlin School director Christian Petzold.
Tracing a line from Berlin to the American midwest, the Gene Siskel Film Center has announced the full lineup for its 15th annual European Union Film Festival running from March 2–29. The Chicago Reader’s Ben Sachs calls it a “commendable program” and draws attention to the Chicago premieres of Bruno Dumont’s Outside Satan; Dogtooth director Yorgos Lanthiimos sophomore effort, ALPS; a trio of digital shorts by Claire Denis, Jean-Marie Straub, and José Luis Guerin commissioned for the 2011 Jeonju Film Festival; Jan Hrebejk’s Innocence; and Ulrich Köhler’s Sleeping Sickness. Finally, the True/False Film Fest in Columbia, Missouri announced its full slate of documentaries last night. The festival runs from March 1-4.