10.February.2012: With Berlinale now underway and several smaller festivals just around the corner, it’s a propitious moment to check in with Cannes director Thierry Frémaux about the future of film festivals. Filmmaker’s Ariston Anderson caught up with him at Emir Kusturica’s Küstendorf Film and Music Festival in Serbia. “All over the world, I see young, enthusiastic people going to festivals, paying attention to screenwriters, to directors, to actors, and making a connection,” says Frémaux. “Among the crowd of 500 people, one, two, or three people will be totally changed by the film. And that is the major task.”
Back to Berlinale, David Hudson sounds lukewarm about Benoît Jacquot’s Opening Night feature, Farewell My Queen: “Like so many films that open festivals great and small, Farewell, My Queen, neither very good nor very bad, almost seems designed to avoid offending anyone invited to the Opening Night gala.” But Indiewire’s Eric Kohn writes that the Versailles period piece demonstrates Jacquot’s psychoanalytic precision with “particular acuity, exploring the burgeoning French Revolution not from the perspective of the Queen but her official reader—a natural side character given a welcome starring role.”
As mentioned in an earlier post this week, Béla Tarr’s final feature The Turin Horse opens for a weeklong run at New York’s Film Society of Lincoln Center tonight. The theatrical release prompts a pair of fresh reviews from A.O. Scott for The New York Times and Nicholas Rapold for The Village Voice, both of them offering steep praise but also caution for the difficult waters ahead. In a new interview with Kohn at Indiewire, Tarr is plain about The Turin Horse’s being his last film: “A filmmaker is a nice bourgeois job. But I really don’t want to do it. I’m not a real filmmaker. I’ve always been in it for the people and just wanted to say something about their lives. During these 34 years of filmmaking, I’ve said everything I want to say. I can repeat it, I can do a hundred things, but I really don’t want to bore you. I really don’t want to copy my films. That’s all.”
“Although he passed away last September at the age of 69, George Kuchar will forever remain an immortal of cinema.” So begins the Anthology Film Archive note for a six-part Kuchar retrospective crammed over the next three days at the New York venue. It’s as good a reason as any to revisit the fine remembrance Ed Halter published in this month’s Artforum. “At age sixty-nine, the underground film legend was reportedly the youngest person in the hospice at that moment” Halter writes, “appropriate for a guy who began his career as a teenage director and always retained the energy of a gum-snapping adolescent. Even at the end, he could play the kid with the camera.”
One of Fandor’s featured films of the week focuses on the life of another iconoclastic American original: Monster Road, Brett Ingram’s portrait of animator Bruce Bickford, won Best Documentary at the 2004 Slamdance Film Festival. Also featured is Benjamin Heisenberg’s (grandson of the physicist) superb thriller, The Robber, one of the breakouts of the 2010 Berlinale; an opium-addled Douglas Fairbanks curio called The Mystery of the Leaping Fish; and Nina Paley’s award winning and proudly open source animated feature Sita Sings the Blues.