Rushes: Noche | Poitras | Cannes

24.April.2012: Slant’s Ed Gonzalez describes Una Noche, a Havana-set film that made its North American premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival last Thursday, in this way: “Granted unprecedented and unbelievable access to shoot in the city, New York filmmaker [Lucy Mulloy] uses a small army of nonprofessional actors, the very pawns of Fidel Castro’s revolution, to tell the story of three disillusioned teenagers who make the fateful choice of leaving their homeland behind, to make the treacherous 90-mile journey from Havana to Miami with nothing but the clothes on their backs and a sack full of stolen food.” That story has taken on added resonance now that only of those three actors ended up in New York for the festival: the other two appear to have defected once arriving in Miami. The Huffington Post reports that “Mulloy, who wrote the film after visiting Cuba and meeting ‘so many people [who] had connections to stories about people who had left,’ said she’s also concerned about the well-being of her actors. ‘I just hope that they’re safe and well,’ she said.”

Documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras also made headlines for border crossings a few weeks ago when Glen Greenwald reported that she has repeatedly been harassed by the Department of Homeland Security. Poitras led a “surveillance teach-in” with NSA whistleblower William Binney and security researcher Jacob Appelbaum as part of the Whitney Biennial last Friday, and Indiewire’s Bryce J. Renninger has a report: “Binney went into great detail about the ways that the government, with the help of private security companies, is devoting scores of servers to storing all of our phone calls and emails…This process, to which a whole new NSA server facility in Utah is devoted, is the subject of Poitras’ new film.  Throughout the talk, Poitras stood by her computer, breaking the conversation up with archival clips of members of the NSA, FBI, and other government institutions struggling to define their policies on surveillance of U.S. citizens.” R. Emmet Sweeney has a broader report on the rest of the Biennial’s film and video offerings up at the Film Comment blog.

Cannes announced its full Critics’ Week lineup yesterday with artistic director Charles Tesson providing an overview of the selections. Back at the Film Comment blog, Robert Koehler has a must-read critique of the official selection lineup announced last week. “To get a sense of how overweight the selection is in favor of Cannes regulars, note that an additional eleven of the Cannes 22 have been here before, some with prizes,” writes Koehler. He points out the absence of women, of course, but also the strange fact that “all but one of the directors making their first trip to Cannes are either American or Australian.” Finally, “The pattern is clear, of a (semi) old boys’ network, a sharply drawn camp of favored filmmakers.”

Dario Argento fans will want to have a look at Daniel Kasman’s striking collage of stills from the giallo master’s Deep Red. The film shows on Thursday as part of an ongoing retrospective at New York’s Museum of Arts and Design.

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