9.March.2012: South by Southwest opens today, and The Austin Chronicle has loads of coverage. Several writers tackle the fest’s slate of documentaries, with Anne S. Lewis interviewing Caveh Zahedi about his surprising commission from the United Arab Emirates’ Sharjah Art Foundation for The Sheik and I; Marc Savlov rounding up films and panels on the state cyber activism; and Leah Churner filling in the back-story of Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me. Filmmaker’s Scott Macaulay rounds up twenty films and panels he’s excited about (Bill and Turner Ross’s lyrical documentary about New Orleans, Tchoupitoulas, is in the first slot). Fandor’s own Jonathan Marlow will participate in the “Your Film’s Unique Digital Distribution Strategy” panel on Saturday afternoon, and later that evening Fandor will be throwing a party for the premiere of the Zellner Brothers’ Kid-Thing at Zax Austin. No less than nine of the brothers’ earlier films are currently streaming on Fandor.
The premiere edition of Film on the Rocks Yao Noi opens tonight and runs through March 13. Co-curated by Tilda Swinton and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the “celebration of cinema” will take place on the Thai island Yao Noi. AnOther talks with Swinton about the festival and about her choice to add John Berger’s Bento’s Sketchbook to a joint message in a bottle. She describes Film on the Rocks as “more a playpen [than a festival], a hiatus—a happening…the ultimate luxury: time to look around you in a new place.”
After premiering at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, the Pathé 4K digital restoration of Marcel Carné’s beloved 1945 film Children of Paradise opens at Film Forum tonight for a three-week run. It also plays at San Francisco’s Castro Theater this Saturday, March 10. The folks at the Criterion Collection have posted an instructive short video on the film’s restoration. For The Village Voice, Melissa Anderson writes that “[Jean-Louis] Barrault’s silent, white-faced character has long been the film’s most indelible image. Seen anew (I last saw this masterwork 20 years ago), his Baptiste, delicate, bashful, and wraith-like, makes for a fascinatingly incongruous romantic lead—which somehow makes Children of Paradise even more touching.”
William J. Broad reports for The New York Times that after diving down five miles into the New Britain Trench off Papua New Guinea last Wednesday, Avatar director James Cameron plans to plunge even deeper below the surface to reach the Challenger Deep in the western Pacific, “an alien world thought to swarm with bizarre eels and worms, fish and crustaceans.” “[Cameron] wants to spend six hours among them,” Broad writes, “filming the creatures and sucking up samples with a slurp gun.”
Oscar-nominated Footnote opens in New York and Los Angeles today. A.O. Scott begins his review for The New York Times, “It is a truism that academic arguments are so passionate because the stakes are so small. Footnote, a wonderful new film from the American-born Israeli director Joseph Cedar, at once affirms this conventional wisdom and calls it into question.” J. Hoberman weighs in for Tablet: “Footnote, the absurdist tragedy by New York-born, Israeli-raised Joseph Cedar, is a movie of such cosmic inconsequence that hyperbole is inevitable. So here goes: If immersing oneself in the history of the Jews is the essence of the Jewish condition, Footnote is the most Jewish movie since The Jazz Singer, or at least in the 50-odd years since Jerry Lewis staged The Jazz Singer on TV.” Cedar’s earlier film, the decidedly serious Beaufort, is streaming now on Fandor.