Rushes: Sundance | Soviets | Wiseman | Nelson

Frederick Wiseman, CRAZY HORSE

11.January.2012: Sundance announced that veteran indie actress Parker Posey will host this year’s award ceremony on January 28. On the same release, Sundance divulged the juries that will be deciding on those awards. Among the notables are “Beavis and Butt-head” creator and Idiocracy director Mike Judge, The Hurt Locker star Anthony Mackie, and investigative documentary filmmaker Charles Ferguson. In other festival news, Rotterdam released its full Tiger Awards slate this morning.

Another announcement from Berlinale that this year’s Retrospective launches a long-term partnership between the section’s traditional organizer (Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen) and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. This year’s program, “The Red Dream Factory. Mezhrabpom-Film and Prometheus 1921-1936,” will screen in New York in April after showing in Berlin from February 9 through 19.  The series excavates the history of the unusual interwar partnership between Russian producer Moisei Aleinikov and German “red media entrepreneur” Willi Münzenberg that produced films by Vsevold Pudovkin and Boris Barnet among many others. Relating to the same era of film history, Flicker Alley recently received a Heritage award from the National Society of Film Critics for its DVD box set “Landmarks of Early Soviet Film.” All of the films included on the set are available to stream on Fandor (see left-hand column).

Documentary aficionados take note: Filmmaker’s Daniel James Scott has posted an extensive interview with verité legend Frederick Wiseman in honor of the filmmaker’s Legacy Award for his 1967 debut Titicut Follies at tonight’s Cinema Eye Honors at the Museum of Moving Image. Wiseman’s latest film, Crazy Horse, a close look of the famous Paris cabaret club, opens next week at Film Forum before fanning out for a wider release. The Cambridge filmmaker is characteristically precise when it comes to the function of editing: “At least 50 percent of editing my films has to do with an attempt at an analysis of human behavior. The basic question is “Why?” Why does somebody ask for a cigarette at a given moment? Is there an explanation for the choice of one word rather than another? What’s the significance of the dress that a woman is wearing? Why does a client come to a welfare center wearing his military uniform? Why does someone pause in mid sentence? Is there an explanation for a change of tone? I mean, these are the kind of evaluations one is always making in ordinary experience when you meet people… In film editing it is more formalized and constant.” Wiseman goes on to discuss practicalities of fairness in documentary, funding, and the exercise regiment that’s allowed him to remain a mobile cinematographer into his 80s.

Finally, from Academy Film Archive preservationist Mark Toscano comes the sad news that San Francisco filmmaker Robert Nelson has died. The program notes for a San Francisco Cinematheque tribute to Nelson’s work last May summed up his influence this way: “Known for prankster experimentalism and on-the-spot invention, the films of San Francisco native Robert Nelson are among the defining landmarks of the post-Beat American underground of the 1960s and 70s.” Toscano’s deeply informed remembrance is a must read for those interested in the adventure of avant-garde cinema.

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