16.January.2012: On Sunday the New York Times reported that the Obama administration had announced its opposition to the Congressional bills known as the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act, pleasing many in the technology industry while angering the Motion Picture Association of America and other copyright powerhouses. Rupert Murdoch tweeted in apparently earnest outrage, “So Obama has thrown in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy, plain thievery.” This was followed today by news that Wikipedia would shut down its services on Wednesday in protest of the copyright bills.
Jonathan Rosenbaum has posted his 2010 essay on Abbas Kiarostami’s Shirin on his blog, making excellent use of stills from the film. He writes, “By focusing almost exclusively on the fiction of women watching a commercial feature that we can hear but never see—a feature that in fact doesn’t exist, apart from it manufactured soundtrack—one might even say that Kiarostami, an experimental, non-commercial filmmaker par excellence, is perversely granting the wish of fans and friends who have been urging him for years to make a more ‘accessible’ film with a coherent plot, a conventional music score, and well-known actors.”
The Palm Springs International Film Festival wrapped today, and Susan Doll reports on a thread of strong female performances at Movie Morlocks. Among many award winners, Béla Tarr’s The Turin Horse won the FIPRESCI Award for Best Foreign Language Film, while the same critics’ jury awarded Best Actress to the ensemble cast from A Separation and Best Actor to Matthias Schoenaerts for his role in Bullhead. Slovak film The House won the New Voices/New Visions prize for debut film, and Mexican director Tatiana Huezo Sanchez won the John Schlesinger Award for her debut documentary, The Tiniest Place. The full list of awards is here.
Eric Kohn scores an interview with Spike Lee at Indiewire. Lee’s new film, Red Hook Summer, is premiering at Sundance without a theatrical distributor in the bag. It’s set in Brooklyn and concerns the borough’s gentrification since the time of Do the Right Thing. Of the long layover since his last theatrical film, 2008’s Miracle at St. Anna, Lee tells Kohn, “There are just certain films that, in today’s tough environment, I was not gonna do. But you might get a better welcome on cable. That’s just the reality.”