9.April.2012: Salon political columnist Glenn Greenwald files a disconcerting report of acclaimed documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras’ longstanding trouble with the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Patrol. According to the article, Poitras has been stopped by agents most of the 40 times that she has left and re-entered the country since the release of her 2006 portrait of an Iraqi doctor, My Country, My Country. Especially worrisome, “She has had her laptop, camera and cellphone seized, and not returned for weeks, with the contents presumably copied. On several occasions, her reporter’s notebooks were seized and their contents copied, even as she objected that doing so would invade her journalist-source relationship.” The spur to this article was a particularly hostile exchange last Thursday night following Poitras flight to Newark from England. Greenwald reports that DHS and CBP agents told Poitras that she was not allowed to take notes of her questioning. “After she advised them that she was a journalist and that her lawyer had advised her to keep notes of her interrogations,” Greenwald writes, “one of them, CBP agent Wassum, threatened to handcuff her if she did not immediately stop taking notes.” Poitras’ most recent documentary, The Oath, is currently streaming on Fandor.
The Criterion Collection won’t be releasing A Hollis Frampton Odyssey until April 24, but Anthology Film Archives paid tribute to Frampton this weekend with a special presentation of the polymath artist-philosopher’s 35mm slides by scholars Ken Eisenstein and Michael Zryd. Criterion posted a few of these images on their blog along with a little explanation from Eisenstein: “Over the years, materials left behind by Frampton [who died in 1984] have been making their way to Anthology via the efforts of the executrix of Frampton’s estate, Marion Faller . . . This collection (mostly papers and film) includes a number of slide trays filled with mysterious groupings.” And in case you missed them the first time around, there was a flurry of posts last month on The New York Times’ City Room blog pertaining to Frampton’s ingenious document of a Manhattan walking route, Surface Tension.
R. Kurt Osenlund looks ahead to 15 of this summer’s most anticipated films, beginning with the latest Sacha Baron Cohen romp, The Dictator.
“Our example today is The Polar Express (Robert Zemeckis, 2004), one of the earliest in the current wave of 3D films, made when Bush-Cheney and the neo-cons had begun to seriously determine history and when the first responsibility of a loyal American was to lend credence to the idea that 9/11 had surprised our officials.” That’s avant-garde filmmaker Ken Jacobs, launching into a fascinating discussion of the related ideological imperatives of mainstream religion and 3D filmmaking for the Film Comment blog.
Another salient follow-up on the Easter/Passover weekend comes courtesy of Philip French’s review for The Guardian of a new Masters of Cinema DVD release of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s The Gospel According to St Matthew: “Shot in stark, grainy black and white on austere locations in impoverished southern Italy and based solely on St Matthew’s gospel, it is neorealist in style but draws on 500 years of Christian art.” You can stream Pasolini’s earlier feature, Accattone, at Fandor now.