'Buddha' quotes: Adolescent filmmaker Hana Makhmalbaf discusses 'Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame' at San Sebastian Film Festival
“As an 18-year-old girl who lives in Iran today and who faces very specific ideological, political and social pressures, I have a lot to say,” explains Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame Teheran-born director Hana Makhmalbaf, “… Even though my film was not made in Iran, it shows my desire to speak of collective suffering, in Iran as well as in Afghanistan.”
Makhmalbaf's feature-film debut, Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame / Buda as sharm foru rikht was screened yesterday, September 22, 2007, at the San Sebastian Film Festival.
Giant Buddha statues blown up by Taliban fanatics
Written by Marzieh Meshkini, the Franco-Iranian Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame is set in central Afghanistan's Bamiyan Valley, where the Taliban blew up two rock-carved giant Buddhas in 2001. The film tells the story of a six-year-old Afghan girl (Nikbakht Noruz) struggling to receive a formal education in a society that, American occupation or no, remains rabidly patriarchal. Teachers are indifferent to the girl, while fellow schoolmates are downright hostile; at one point, she is physically attacked by a gang of boys playing “Taliban vs. Americans.”
Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame reminds me of Siddiq Barmak's 2003 drama Osama, in which the titular young girl (Marina Golbahari) living under Taliban rule must try to pass as a boy in order to help her widowed mother and grandmother. The girl's suffering notwithstanding – and she does suffer in the hands of vicious, deranged Muslim males – the one scene from that film that immediately comes to mind is a shot of a little boy limping his way across a long, long hallway half-destroyed by bombs.
Hana Makhmalbaf quote: Agence France Presse.
Nikbakht Noruz Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame photo: San Sebastian Film Festival.
'Funny Games' movie 2007 remake: Michael Haneke revisits sadistic themes of his 1997 German film
In his upcoming 2007 movie Funny Games, the English-language remake of his sadistic 1997 German-language thriller, Michael Haneke not only tortures a happy, well-to-do, bourgeois family, but also, it seems, the audience. In the New York Times, John Wray offers the following thoughts about Funny Games:
“The premise of Funny Games is simple: a likable, prosperous, well-adjusted family … is visited at the family summer house by two well-dressed young men claiming to be guests of the neighbors. Over the course of the next hour, these two polite, articulate strangers force the family to take part in progressively more sadistic contests, periodically stepping outside the film's action to speak to the viewer directly. The technique of the 'dramatic aside' is nothing new … but in the context of an otherwise straightforward thriller, it's profoundly disturbing. The young men make no secret of their disdain for their victims; but the bulk of their contempt is reserved for the audience.”
Michael Haneke movies
Born on March 23, 1942, in Munich, Michael Haneke began working on television in the mid-'70s. Haneke's first big-screen directing credit was The Seventh Continent / Der siebente Kontinent (1989), but his film career would truly take off only after the first Funny Games movie, featuring Susanne Lothar, Ulrich Mühe (The Lives of Others), Frank Giering, Arno Frisch, and Stefan Clapczynski. The first Funny Games was a contender for the 1997 Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
The 2001 psychological / sex drama The Piano Teacher / La pianiste, starring Isabelle Huppert, Benoît Magimel, Annie Girardot, and Susanne Lothar, helped to solidify Haneke's reputation as a filmmaker tackling difficult – or sensational – themes. Next came Time of the Wolf / Le temps du loup (2003), with Huppert, Béatrice Dalle, Patrice Chéreau, Olivier Gourmet, and Brigitte Roüan; and the 2005 European Film Award-winning psychological / political thriller Hidden / Caché (2005), with Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche, and, once again, veteran Annie Girardot.
2007 'Funny Games' remake cast
The 2007 Funny Games movie remake features Best Actress Academy Award nominee Naomi Watts (21 Grams), Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nominee Tim Roth (Rob Roy), Michael Pitt, Brady Corbet, Devon Gearhart, Boyd Gaines, Siobhan Fallon, Robert LuPone, Linda Moran, and Susi Haneke a.k.a. Susanna Heineke.
Funny Games will premiere at the London Film Festival next month. It opens in the United States and Canada on March 14, 2008.
Michael Pitt in 2007 Funny Games movie photo: Celluloid Dreams.
'Persepolis' movie: Animated feature is France's submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award
Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud's Persepolis is the French entry for the 2008 Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award. Based on Satrapi's autobiographical graphic novels, the black-and-white animated film chronicles the travails of a young girl growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution of the late 1970s. (Image: Persepolis movie. See also: “'Persepolis': Possible Palme d'Or Winner.”)
Chiara Mastroianni, most recently seen in Christophe Honoré's Love Songs / Les chansons d'amour, provides the voice for the adolescent / adult Marjane Satrapi character. Also in Persepolis' French-language voice cast are Simon Abkarian; Mastroianni's mother, veteran Catherine Deneuve (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Tristana, Best Actress nominee for Indochine); and seven-decade-plus film veteran Danielle Darrieux (Mayerling, 5 Fingers, The Earrings of Madame de…, The Greengage Summer, 8 Women). An English-language version features the voices of Mastroianni, Deneuve, Sean Penn, Iggy Pop, and Gena Rowlands, among others.
'Persepolis' irks Iranian government
As to be expected, Persepolis has angered some in the Iranian government. In fact, Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud's film was reportedly pulled from this year's Bangkok Film Festival due to pressure from Teheran.
Earlier this year, Persepolis shared the Jury Prize (akin to third-best in competition) at the Cannes Film Festival. The film has also been screened at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals, and it is scheduled to close the New York Film Festival on October 14, 2007.
The three-person jury that selected Persepolis consisted of Thierry Fremaux, general manager of the Cannes Film Festival; Margaret Ménégoz, film producer and president of Unifrance, France's film-promotion office; and Alain Terzian, president of the French Academy of Film Arts and Sciences.
Sony Pictures Classics will release Persepolis in the U.S. on December 25.
Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud's Persepolis movie image: Sony Pictures Classics.
Jon Stewart to Host, Gil Cates to Produce 2008 Oscar Telecast
Jon Stewart (right), one of those appallingly rare comedians who are actually funny and witty, will host the 80th Academy Awards telecast, as Oscar show producer Gil Cates announced today. This will mark Stewart's second stint as Oscar host. (His first Oscar show was in 2006. Stewart also hosted the Grammy Awards in 2001 and 2002.)
Since 1999, Jon Stewart has been host and executive producer of Comedy Central's uproarious The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, which also happens to be infinitely more informative than most anything on CNN and MSNBC – not to mention Fox.
The Daily Show has won four consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series, and has received two Peabody Awards for excellence in radio and television broadcasting. In 2004, Stewart and the writers of The Daily Show authored America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction, which was awarded the Thurber Prize for American Humor. The book remained on the New York Times bestseller list for 46 consecutive weeks.
As per the Academy's press release, upon hearing of this new gig Stewart remarked, “I'm thrilled to be asked to host the Academy Awards for the second time because, as they say, the third time's a charm.”
Personally, I found he did a solid job in his Oscar-hosting debut – the first time in years that I actually managed to watch a good portion of the show. (I still cringe when I remember that Crash was voted best film of the year, but I do chuckle when I remember the “ad” claiming that “Dame Judi [Dench] is no dame.”)
The 80th Academy Awards telecast will be Gil Cates' 14th assignment as show producer – more than any other individual. Previous Oscar telecasts produced by Cates (left) have garnered 99 Emmy nominations and 25 Emmy Awards. Cates himself won an Emmy in 1991 for producing the 63rd Annual Academy Awards telecast.
Cates, a former member of the Academy's Board of Governors, has served as producing director of UCLA's Geffen Playhouse since 1994. He has also served as dean of UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television and is a former two-term president of the Directors Guild of America.
In addition to his theater work, Cates has also directed motion pictures (I Never Sang for My Father, Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams) and television productions (Absolute Strangers, Consenting Adult).
Photos: © A.M.P.A.S.