Monday, August 29, 2011

Korkoro aka Freedom (2009)

Director: Tony Gatlif
Country: France
Runtime: 106 min

A Gypsy family travels the French roads during the Second World War, followed by Little Claude, a young boy seeking a new family after his parents "left and never returned". Upon reaching a town where they traditionally stop for a few months and work in vineyards, they learn that a new law forbids them from being nomadic. Theodore, the town's mayor, and Miss Lundi, the schoolteacher, protect and help the Gypsies. Despite this, They are arrested and placed in an internment camp. Theodore manages to rescue them and gives them a piece of property where they must settle. But the Gypsies' deeply ingrained thirst for freedom makes this sedentary lifestyle difficult to bear. After Theodore and Miss Lundi are arrested for resistance, the Gypsies decide they must get back on the move in order to remain free.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Mother and the Whore (1973)

The Mother and the Whore

Director:Jean Eustache


One of the most important French films of the 1970s, Jean Eustache's marathon drama focuses on three twentysomething Parisians in a bizarre love triangle: Alexandre (Jean-Pierre Léaud) is a seemingly unemployed narcissist involved with both a live-in girlfriend (Bernadette Lafont) and a Polish nurse (Franoise Lebrun) whom he picked up at a café and with whom he begins a desultory affair. Clocking in at over 3 1/2 hours, the movie focuses less on plot than on the confused and ambivalent interrelations of these three lost souls. As such, it becomes a searing document of the aftermath of Paris's social and sexual revolutions of the Sixties, particularly the uprisings of May 1968. These characters know that they are supposed to be free and liberated, but they don't quite know how to go about it, or how to make it work in practice, and their efforts don't seem to make them any happier. In the guise of a plotless style seemingly borrowed from cinéma vérité documentaries, Eustache unfolds a critique of both the illusory liberations of his social moment and the dead-end heritage of his cinematic moment. By casting Jean-Pierre Léaud, an icon of the French New Wave who first made his name as the star of Franois Truffaut's pioneering The 400 Blows (1959), Eustache sets out to rewrite the conventions of a French New Wave that had changed from a revolutionary film movement into a formulaic mainstream style. Despite its deceptively rambling manner, the film effortlessly intertwines its characters' psychological dilemmas with a portrait of its cultural moment with a revision of a wide swath of film history from Truffaut's Jules and Jim to Jean Renoir's Rules of the Game to Ernst Lubitsch's Design for Living. This experimental classic is not for all viewers, but it's an unforgettable, and historically indispensable, experience for those who can stick with it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ballad of Narayama(1958)

Ballad of Narayama
Director:Keisuke Kinoshita
Country: Japan
Runtime: 1:38

Based on the novel by Shichiro Fukuzawa, Narayama Bushiko is a haunting and deeply affecting portrait of love and humanity struggling against the rigidity of tradition, obedience, and sense of duty. Using jarring, anachronistic imagery and unusually stylized artificial lighting, Keisuke Kinoshita presents a relevant examination of the pervasive national ideology of wartime Japan that underscores the dichotomous, and often self-destructive conflict between personal conscience and social conformity: the idiosyncratic fusion of traditional (kabuki) and modern (film) dramatic media; the perversion of cultural and moral norms within the primitive society (disrespect for elders, disposability of life, regression of human logic into base instincts for survival); and the incongruous, final shot that juxtaposes ancient and contemporary images to evoke timelessness, passage, and transience. Inevitably, Narayama Bushiko becomes a haunting allegory on the perils of blind allegiance, martyrdom, and repression - a humanist reflection of the profound introspection, cultural erosion, and ideological ambivalence of postwar Japan.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Directed by Kim Ki-duk
Country:South Korea

Arirang is
about Kim Ki-duk
playing 3 roles in 1.
Through Arirang I climb over one hill in life.
Through Arirang I understand human beings, thank the nature, and accept my life as it is now.

We are now...
in the terrestrial world lurking with desires,
in the ghostly world lurking with sorrow
in the imaginary world lurking with dreams,
with no beginning nor end,
slowly going crazy.

What is affection that it still remains all around me decaying?
It’s still stuck to the crown of my head, testing my emotions.
It’s still hiding deep within my heart, testing my sense of compassion.
If I didn’t give my heart, they would be bad people erased from memories but if I gave my heart, I couldn’t let them go till the day that I die as despicable people.
Let’s mercilessly kill each other in our hearts till we die.

Even today
I hold back as I get angry
I laugh as I get jealous
I love as I despise
And forgive as I quiver with the urge to kill.
I will kill
Myself, who remembers you.

South Korea, winter 2010-11. Film-maker Kim Ki-duk is shown living in a skeletal hillside home in the country, with just a cat for company. He chops his own wood, eats plain, simple food, sleeps in a tent inside the house and, claiming to be unable to make films any longer, interviews himself in a confessional-cum-obituary. Occasionally, he sings the melancholic Korean folk song Arirang. Finally, he drives into Seoul to take vengeance against those who "betrayed" him.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Mahabharata (1989)

The Mahabharata (1989)
Director:Peter Brook
Country: UK/France/USA and others
Runtime: 325min

The story is based on a two-thousand-year-old Indian epic poem that runs to 100,000 verses, making it four times longer than the Bible and seven times longer than the Odyssey and the Iliad combined. Boiled down, it can be seen as a simple tale of rivalry between warring members of the same family, the Pandavas and the Kauravas, but it's so much more than that, taking in religion, philosophy, spiritualism, war, love, life and death. Brook and long-time writing collaborator Jean-Claude Carriere originally produced a nine-hour stage production of the epic in the early Eighties, before "re-imagining" it as a five-hour TV drama.
The epic tells the tale of two sets of cousins, the Pandavas, the five sons of Pandu, the king of Hastinapura, and the Kauravas, the one hundred sons of Pandu's brother, Dhritarashtra. The eldest brother of each set of cousins claims the throne of Hastinapura for himself and a struggle arises between them. At first the kingdom is divided, but, as a result of a gambling match, the eldest of the Pandavas, Yuddhishtira, loses his half, and he and his brothers are forced into exile for thirteen years. They are to be given back their kingdom upon their return from exile, but when the eldest of the Kauravas, Duryodhana, refuses to do so the two sets of cousins gather their armies and go to war.
There are 16 main characters, each with their own story, and the non-linear narrative is weighed down by a labyrinth of subplots, digressions and a bewildering array of voices and perspectives. This can be confusing, but it also frees the film from the normal constraints of 90-minute filmmaking. Vyasa, the narrator, not only retells the story but also appears in it himself, often going back in time to emerge as an old man in his own family's story. There are also some nice touches of the surreal and the fantastic. Vyasa narrates his story to a young boy in the company of the demi-god Ganesha, a half-man, half-elephant deity who quietly transcribes the story like a dutiful secretary. As with other epics, such as the Odyssey and the Iliad, the gods and goddesses play a central role in events - one woman is impregnated by the sun, another by the wind.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011



Director: Amitabh Chakraborty



Bengali Fakirs are Islamic people who live in Bengal, in Eastern India. The Bengalis are the second largest ethnic language group who practice Islam. The Fakirs are Bengali with their own typical ethnic, cultural and geographical mix. In their practice of Islam they have extended it’s scope over the complex multiplicities of their own land.

The Fakirs believe that to know oneself is to know God. There is no higher entity than Man. In fact, they search for Allah in Man. Through the practice of this indigenous form of Islam, called 'Marfat', they keep Islam open-ended. 'Marfat' is passed on in the oral tradition through songs.

'Bishar Blues' undertakes a journey to understand 'Marfat' through encounters with various Fakirs and their songs.

Winner of:
Golden Lotus, Best Film award in the 54rth National Awards Nonfeature section;
National awards also for Best Audiography and Best Editing;

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Filme do Desassossego aka Disquiet (2010)

Filme do Desassossego aka Disquiet
Director: João Botelho
Country: Portugal
Runtime: 120

Lisbon, nowadays. A room in a house in Rua dos Douradores. A man invents dreams and establishes theories about them. The very essence of dreams becomes physical, palpable, visible. The text itself becomes matter in it's musical sonority. And, before our eyes, this music felt in our ears, in our brain, in our heart, spreads trough the street where he lives, trough the city that he loves most of all, and trough the whole world. Disquieted movie about fragments of an infinite and trapped book, of an almost mad flamboyance, but, of a brilliant clarity. The solar moment of Fernando Pessoa's creation. The absolute and perfect loneliness of the I, outer and hopeless. God am I!, also wrote Bernardo Soares.


It is late night in a café. A typical young intellect in his early twenties with sharp black eyes peering through black steel framed glasses is muttering that the modern method of measuring time is wrong and staring at a young man who is slouched with a face that looks pale, indifferent, and worried, all at the same time. Modernist poet Fernando Pessoa, who had keen observations of the dailiness of modern times in Lisbon in the 1910s, The Book of Disquiet, which Pessoa wrote in 1913, and the character of Bernardo Soares, into whom Pessoa projected his identity, all come to life in Lisbon in the 21st century through this film. The film is based on The Book of Disquiet, a diary about the distance between feelings of loneliness and the monotonous reality of daily life written by Bernardo Soares who goes back and forth between the accountant's office where works as an intern and his room, both of which are located on Rua dos Douradores in Lisbon, and may have been an impossible project to bring to the big screen; much like Joseph Strick’s attempt with James Joyce's Ulysses and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Nevertheless, João Botelho began this project that everyone advised him against with the conviction that the quality of cinematic time, which resists the chronological flow of time and is able to illustrate daily life in a fragmented and musical rhythm, was the optimal vessel in presenting the extratemporel text that refuses to be confined to the limitations of a ‘book’. The characters in the film and the additional incidents become existences themselves in no time and become a part of the present of 2010. (Park Jinhee)


The Book of Disquiet, “composed” by a mysterious and modest bookkeeper’s assistant, named Bernardo Soares, heteronymous of Fernando Pessoa, is translated in 37 languages and distributed throughout the whole world. It is the most read and distributed book of the poet, a puzzling and unmatchable literary adventure. In a brilliant analysis professor Eduardo Lourenço said that Fernando Pessoa, the most prodigious cultural myth of the XX century is, today, definitely larger than Portugal. There has never been a creative genius that identified so completely with the heart of the city where he was born, that matched almost exactly the tangle of streets that he walked through, and described as no one could, with the infinity of people who he came across with and described with the “gaze of god”, in a Lisbon that is the centre of a world without centre. How premonitory Pessoa can be, isn’t that the way the world is today?
Speaking of labyrinths, identification, and brilliant minds, who can deny that Joyce is Dublin, Kafka is Prague, and Borges is Buenos Aires? What if, like in the case of Pessoa, the identification is perfect, why not, then, to say, once and for all, that although Pessoa is bigger than the country, Lisbon and Pessoa are the same thing. Especially when the “Book” has changed forever the quotidian and fabulous poet’s city, and has projected him (and us with him) to the limits of the universe, fulfilling the Portuguese destiny written in the enigmatic final verses of the “Mensagem”: “To haunt the world, definitely building a new, spiritual and poetic empire.”
“My nation is the Portuguese language”
This sentence from the Book of Disquiet represents, to me, our biggest invention since the XVI century Discoveries. 28 years ago, when in a mix of innocence and outrage I dared to do a film (“Conversa Acabada”) based on the correspondence exchanged between Fernando Pessoa and Mário de Sá Carneiro, I had “in my power” apart from the personal objects of the poet, of incalculable value –glasses, silver cigarette case, ivory cigarette holder and even the handwritten journals of Mário de Sá-Carneiro, noted and amended by Pessoa, with the blue cover - the famous chest, “pregnant” with kilometers of unedited fragments, many of which would latter constitute the several versions of this rambling Book of Disquiet. In the presence of that mythic chest (“the myth is the nothing that is everything”), the studio where I directed the film turned into a cult place, a kind of a church, and the act of filming turned into something sacred. I was 30 years old. The film was made and remained forever. Today the chest is empty, but the ghost of Pessoa still inhabits it, probably laughing of the perturbation or anxiety that was caused to so many people when a shapeless sea of papers became a universally known work. The trap of a genius, a perfect puzzle and brilliant because all the solutions are different and none is definitive.
“It is impossible to film the Book of Disquiet” everyone tells me. Maybe, I say, but I also say that departing from a timeless text, a text that has no end, and that is unique, it is possible to create the FILM OF DISQUIET that does not want to be the book (the cinema is a very different thing from the literary art) but a disturbing film, that resists time and that lives up to the fragments from which it departs.
Today, having the perfect conscience of the risks I’m taking, I want to face the “brilliant monster” not for the sake of experimentation or artistic dilettantism, but for the sake of cinema, that I love above anything, and of the Portuguese language, that is also my nation.
The international approval and respect that the Portuguese cinema has conquered in the last 30 years, was granted by a series of prototypes, films that have no match in any place in the world, that, while exhibiting an enormous freedom, represent one of the biggest artistic creations that this country ever produced. Some are better, some are worse, I know, but every single one is original, unique, the most part of them constituting a great and beautiful cinema, that resists time and that makes everyone proud.

Cinema isn’t just one thing, but wonderful hundreds of ways to film.

Jean- Luc Godard

What modern movies lack is wind in the trees.

D. W. Griffith

Everyone knows, and I do as well, that cinema it’s not the “what” (what action takes place), nor the “when” (when did it took place), but the “how” (how do you film it). Different directors, departing from the same text, or the same script, make completely disparate films. Thus let us explain the way of filming THE FILM OF DISQUIET. Abstraction it’s cinema’s impossible dream, but to try to reach as close to it as possible, fighting for the progress of the ideas and forms, it’s the ambition that, today, a worthy and free filmmaker must chase. It is the best form of respect we can have for those who are still to come, our children and grandchildren.
Hence, what I want is to bring the text to the present, to a time outside the time when it was created, and to the future, refusing the historical reconstitution of the period film, refusing the psychology and the sociology, deathly enemies of the art, trying to reach the matter of transcendence, the physics of the soul, creating irresistible emotions. The spectators are human beings, with a heart, a brain, feelings and intelligence.
There is in The Book of Disquiet two small and precious texts that were decisive to structure the film and the way of filming it. One of the texts is about the grand autonomy of the sonority of texts that, when read, out loud or in a low voice, elevate themselves way up their creator, making the writing become bigger than the one who created it; The other small text is about the notion of time and its distortion, idea that adjust perfectly to the notion of cinematographic time. “Time” in cinema can and should be matter and truth, but it never is the time of life. There is also a small saying on light: “The same light illuminates the faces of the saints and the shoes of the common man”. I don’t need anything else to be happy.
To reach the grain of the voice, to find the rhythms of truthful and grand music of the fragments of the book. Read it, out loud, or in a low voice, as Pessoa says. The grip you feel in your chest isn’t that of a glorious happiness? Doesn’t your eyes become flooded with tears and your brain fizzy? Distorting time and images, to question our way to look at them (utilization of different speeds, ralenti, accelerations and even anamorphic lenses, steamed up, out of focus) to paint the space with excessive colors, non realistic, but also to make them faint, almost disappear, reach the pale shades, until the purity of the grey range, of the black and white. I don’t propose an experimental film, but a just film, that respects the idea and the grandiosity of that astonishing “Book”.

Characters and Sets. If the “Book” and the “City” must overlap everything else, I must abandon the obvious iconography usually related to Pessoa – the little man with a Jewish look, with a hooked nose, a hat, glasses and a mustache - ( to the character of Fernando Pessoa I leave the glasses because I’m interested in using them as a narration element and as a material idea of an altered sense of vision). Also, and more importantly, the absolutely fictional character of Bernardo Soares will be a contemporary man, of a regular look, undistinguishable from the rest of the common mortals, but with the anguish and the desperate tedium of a modest employee, today’s equivalent to the modest bookkeeper’s assistant, that, many years ago, Pessoa made ramble trough Lisbon, maybe without leaving its room or the office in the Rua dos Douradores. And I only keep the Rua dos Douradores because it is an integrant and fundamental part of the creation of the “Book”. Today Bernardo Soares should live in the outskirts, spend several desperate hours kept in traffic jams to arrive to work, or in crowded public transports, be our equal, the same as people all around the world. But I will make him ride the subway and attend places from the present day, abandoning the Pessoa itinerary that is closer to tourism than it is to the truth.
However, Lisbon will still be a mysterious city, labyrinthine and deep, of an unquestionable beauty and light. “Oh Lisbon, my home!”
Every other character and incident that involve him are, in the vertigo of the sounds of the sentences that make them exist, part of the disquiet of the year of 2009 of our era.
Economy and distribution: In the year of 2008 the 120th anniversary of the birth of Fernando Pessoa was celebrated. It is time to attack, using the means I possess - cinema -, a unique text, and give it to the young generations, so thirsty of images and sounds and so disconnected to the books. Lets make an effort, I assure you that hundreds of thousands of eyes and hears will see this film throughout the years. Today, the cultural tourism is the main responsible for the horde of people from foreign countries that continuously invades Lisbon, How many thousands sit in the chair next to the statue of the poet in the Brasileira’s terrace? How many thousands wouldn’t buy the DVD of the “Film of Disquiet” if it exists, in Portugal and throughout the world?


João Botelho is the Portuguese filmmaker of memory, whose films seek to transform the physical into the metaphysical and to render ideas and poetry physical. His work is based on the word, a creative approach that is almost more poetic than cinematographic and which was already demonstrated in his debut feature, Conversa Acabada (1982), a conversation between two great Portuguese writers, Fernando Pessoa and Mário de Sá-Carneiro, that could be defined as an epistolary framework for an examination of what is articulated through different times and fashions: a conversation that is anything but ‘finished’ (‘acabada’).

His subsequent films include Hard Times (1987) and Aqui na Terra (1993), for which he wrote the screenplay. In 1999 he was in the Venice Film Festival with Se a Memória Existe which received a good critical reception. He returned to Venice with Quem és Tu? (2001) from a novel by Almeida Garrett called Frei Louis de Sousa, and in 2005 with O Fatalista, from Diderot’s celebrated novel, which played in competition. His most recent feature is A Corte do Norte (2008), which was featured in the third Rome Film Festival.

A decidedly Lusitanian cinema, a cinema of poetry and memory, a silent Portuguese farewell…

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Namibia Crossings (2004)

Namibia Crossings (2004)
Director: Peter Liechti
Country: Switzerland
Runtime: 90

The Hambana Sound Company is a chamber orchestra, initiated and devised by Bernhard Göttert to present a ’sound portrait’ of Namibia in collaboration with musicians from Switzerland, Zimbabwe, Angola, Russia and Namibia.

During its tour in 2001, the Hambana Sound Company staged more than seven concerts in different regions, inviting local artists to participate. The music presents a mixture of traditional melodies and dances, contemporary songs as well as extemporised experiments.

”In NAMIBIA CROSSINGS (...), Liechti accompanies the Hambana Sound Company, a diverse multicultural group of musicians and singers, on a concert tour across Namibia. The film documents an ambitious musical project (...), the aim of which is not only to bring together the most various musical styles - from classical through jazz to traditional African music - but also to provoke a fundamental encounter between cultures. Using only minimal commentary, Liechti records the results of this artistic experiment: both the successful, mostly musical, moments, as well as the worsening conflicts within this heterogeneous ensemble. The film is not a chronicle of a failure: on the contrary, it points out the difficulties of the continuing need for self-determination in a globalized world.”
Constantin Wulff

Aita AKA Father (2010)

Aita AKA Father (2010)
Director:José María de Orbe

An oddly poignant hymn to memory, time, and place, José Maria de Orbe’s Aita (Father) may appear to be about two custodians of a dilapidated Basque Country estate, though make no mistake: the central character is the frail 13th Century mansion whose nooks and crannies are revealed throughout the course of the film’s stately duration. Ostensibly a documentary on the property and its occasional inhabitants, de Orbe’s film crisply conflates fictional and nonfictional practices with an eye towards the experimental, resulting in a personal essay on the intrinsic and spiritual value of the house in question. (de Orbe inherited the mansion from family, and spent three years filming it.) Once home to aristocrats or a decadent class, the building’s origins are unavoidable when contemplating its image on screen; cinematically, it conjures up allusions to the dwindling dynasty in The Leopard; while politically, it seems inseparable from the region’s war-torn past (namely, the Spanish Civil War). But de Orbe is more fascinated by the architecture’s waning life force than he is the ancestral context or historical burden of the site—a fading, if still breathing entity which history moves continuously through, rather than weighs heavily on.

Periodically, de Orbe’s gaze will pause on a muffled conversation between the groundskeeper and caretaker, or an excitable group of school children touring the house—brief human interludes, which merely serve to remind us that people no longer occupy the space, and quite the opposite of advancing any sort of plot, boldly draw attention to a sense of absence and decay (such as when the place is ransacked by vandals one night). If this strategy around dignifying the building’s existence sounds aggressively minimalist, it is, however there is more to de Orbe’s film than speaking the stark visual language of contemporary art cinema. Aita is beautifully edited, and the finite length in which shots are held—never too long, never too short—imbues the static camerawork with a lightness of being while allowing us to lose ourselves within the frame. And as we explore the interior space with our eyes—guided, in part, by the majestic play of natural and artificial light (as in the film projections creatively used to illuminate rooms in darkness)—the sound of ageing is unmistakable. In one scene, the elderly caretaker (Luís Pescador, who tends to the property in real life) presses his ear against the wall of a corridor, catching the echo of a choir whose voice warmly reverberates throughout the ailing structure. Like a seashell, the mansion is a receptacle for ambient murmurs—an elusive leak, the creak of a staircase, or an uncanny silence—and de Orbe amplifies these noises as an evocation of memory and time passing. While it’s perfectly justified in the festival’s “Go Slow” section, Aita is slow cinema at its most heightened and alert, giving improbable life and dimension to a derelict old house.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Kağıt (2011)

Kağıt (2011)
Directed by: Sinan Cetin
Country: Turkey
Runtime: 105 min

“Kağıt” (Paper) stars Öner Erkan as Emrah, a young man with a passion to make movies. As he directs his debut film, he hits bureaucratic roadblocks, first in receiving a certificate of eligibility to film on the grounds that it threatens the unity of the state, and later when he finally tries to release the film, the shooting of which proved so difficult. Bureaucrat Müzeyyen (Asuman Dabak) becomes the symbol of Çetin’s dysfunctional and autocratic state, turning every stage of filmmaking into hell. Emrah takes revenge on the woman by kidnapping her.


Filmmaker, movie mogul, commercial powerhouse and larger-than-life public persona Sinan Çetin has taken a break from making ads to return to the silver screen with ‘Kağıt’ (Paper), a not-so-subtle autobiographical metaphor about one man fighting bureaucracy to make a film. ‘Kağıt’ is the latest testament to Çetin’s contradictory stance toward the state.

It would be unfair to call Sinan Çetin just a filmmaker, despite the broadness of the term. He has remained a hovering presence over Turkey’s pop culture for two decades whether he makes movies or, as is generally the case, does not. Çetin is a persona who is much larger than the sum of his parts. It’s a rule of thumb that nearly all popular figures generate their unique brand of devoted fans and followers, along with haters of a similar fervor. With Çetin, the number of fans and followers has diminished and are arrayed against an impressive number of detractors that include other filmmakers, movie critics and viewers. The director, however, has chosen to show the finger to anyone who deigns to tarnish his work and his persona and has managed to maintain his position in Turkey’s culture scene and his currency among the artistic elite. Çetin is a director, producer, writer, actor, publisher, commercial powerhouse, movie mogul and a real estate mogul. His directorial debut, “Bir Günün Hikayesi” (Story of A Day), goes back to 1980, when he wowed critics and audience as a promising newcomer. His subsequent films “Çirkinler de Sever” (Ugly But In Love) and “Çiçek Abbas” (Abbas in Flower), both in 1982, received positive reviews as well. Interestingly, the early 1980s is a period Çetin doesn’t much care to remember yet alone be proud of. Since then he has directed, produced and wrote the occasional blockbuster, as well as the flop. Çetin is now more associated with the hundreds of expensive, extravagant and award-winning commercials he directs and produces. He is also rumored to own half of Istanbul’s Cihangir neighborhood, where his production company Plato Film and film school Plato Okul are located. (-DailyNews)

Thursday, August 04, 2011

The Eye Above the Well (1988)

The Eye Above the Well (1988)
Director:Johan van der Keuken
Country: Netherlans
Runtime: 94 min

A poetic depiction of life and ritual in the south Indian state of Kerala. We see how knowledge is passed down from generation to generation: within the family, through the village economy, and especially from teachers to students. Performance footage shows how song, dance, martial arts, and religion constitute the building blocks of a culture. Written by International Film Circuit

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Satah Se Uthata Aadmi (1980)aka Arising From The Surface

Satah Se Uthata Aadmi (1980)aka Arising From The Surface
Director: Mani Kaul
Country: India
Runtime: 106 minutes

Gopi ... Ramesh
Vibhuti Jha Madhav
Satyen Kumar
M.K. Raina Keshav

Satah Se Uthata Aadmi is regarded by many Indian film scholars as Mani Kaul's most superior work. It is also a very rare film which I finally got around to yesterday after two and a half years of intense search. It was the only Mani Kaul film to be shown at Cannes where it was competing for the Un Certain Regard in 1980. Here's a brief review of the film from The Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema by Ashish Rajyadhyaksha and Paul Willeman:

Kaul’s film addresses the writings of Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh (1917-79), one of the main representatives of the Nai Kavita (New Poetry) movement in Hindi. Muktibodh also wrote several short stories, one of which provides the film with its title, and critical essays. The film integrates episodes from Muktibodh’s writings with material from other source, including a reinvented neo-realism derived from Muktibodh’s literary settings. The narrative is constructed around 3 characters. Ramesh (Gopi) iis one who speaks and enacts Muktibodh’s writings, functioning as the first-person voice of the text; his two friends, , Madhav (Jha) and Keshav (Raina), are Ramesh’s antagonists and interlocuters esp. in the debates about modernity. Kaul gradually minimizes the fictional settings until, in the remarkably shot sequences of the factory, the audience is directly confronted with the written text itself. Kaul had begun his studies of Dhrupad music, the classical North Indian music known mainly for its extreme austerity, and derived a number of cinematic styles from this musical idiom which have continuously influenced his films since, e.g. the continuously mobile camera, the use of changing light patterns and the importance of improvisation.

Satah Se Uthata Aadmi is candidate alongside such other works as Chattrabhang and Maya Mrigaya as being one of the most obscure Indian films particularly in the contemporary DVD era. The film on the literature of Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh, a left-leaning Hindi author from India's turbulent '60s and '70s, recreates Muktibodh's literary settings quite effectively. However the concerns in both the form and content of the film, including lines from Muktibodh's iconic poem Andhere Mein are adapted by the director to create a work very much in line with his previous masterworks Uski Roti(1969) and Duvidha (1973). In fact the work can be studied as a combination of the two distinct approaches, that of the pure object in Uski Roti and its sensorial effect on a constantly changing society in Duvidha. Kaul starts by appropriating the events according to the text but gradually reduces the narrative signifiers until in the gorgeous factory sequences the spectator is confronted with the written text itself. Kaul had begun his studies in the austere form of Indian music, Dhrupad and used its leading vocalist Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar to render (Raga) Bilaskhani Todi. Kaul transforms this form of music into a cinematic idiom where the form emerges first through exacting (calculating) and then by approximations (improvising) A remarkable film by Mani Kaul

Hanji (2011)

Hanji (2011)
Directed by: Kwon-taek Im
Country: South Korea
Runtime: 118 min


Low-ranking civil servant Pil Yong (Park Joong Hoon) has things hard looking after his disabled wife(Ye Ji Won). He takes charge of a hanji project in hopes it will bring him a promotion. His wife comes from a family of hanji masters. One of his tasks include working with quarrelsome filmmaker Ji Won (Kang Su Yeon), who is shooting a documentary about hanji. Though he knows little about the subject to begin with, the more he learns about hanji, the more it takes on a new significance for him and the world around him. Written by 2004hkfan

In the past, Im Kwon Taek brought the traditional Korean folk music of pansori to the silver screen in his internationally renowned films Sopyonje and Beyond the Years. For his 101st film and first HD feature, the legendary director weaves a handsome, modern fable around another Korean tradition, Hanji, or paper art. The film is both informative and poetic in its exploration of the art of traditional papermaking and its role in the mediation of past and future, old and new, in present-day Korea. Acclaimed actor Park Joong Hyun stars as the flawed everyman whose eye-opening journey into hanji is shared by the audience. Leading actress Kang Su Yeon reunites with the director 20 years after starring in Im’s classic Come, Come, Come Upwards.