'La Haine' movie proves prophetic: Paris when it boils
As the fall 2005 riots in the poor, crime-ridden Parisian suburbs continue into their ninth day – having now spread to other French cities – I would like to recommend screenwriter-director Mathieu Kassovitz's 1995 movie La Haine / Hate, a socially conscious, anti-establishment effort that chronicles the drifting lives of three young Parisian outcasts: a Jew (Vincent Cassel), an Arab (Saïd Taghmaoui), and a black man (Hubert Koundé).
Despite Kassovitz's hipper-than-thou direction and his tendency to overemphasize the obvious, La Haine is worth a look because of its ever-timely subject matters: poverty, social injustice, bigotry, violence, repression – which may have an immediate French setting, but that are in fact universal.
Considering the cross-border threats of crime and upheavals fueled by social disenfranchisement; terrorism fueled by intolerance and religious/political fanaticism (among other social ills); global warming – and its resulting natural catastrophes – fueled by greed and corruption; and potential interspecies pandemics fueled by ignorance and political apathy, only the braindead could still see Planet Earth as a place inhabited by disparate tribes, and subdivided into first, second, and third compartments.
We all share the same world and it's the only one we have. La Haine begins and ends with a warning: if things continue as they are, it's only a matter of time before we experience our own planetary Big Bang – and time is running out fast. But who's paying attention?
Reeling 2005: Chicago Lesbian and Gay Film Festival
The 24th Chicago Lesbian and Gay International Film Festival a.k.a. Reeling 2005 kicked off on Nov. 3. Billed as “the second-oldest lesbian and gay film festival in the world,” Reeling presented on opening night Marco Kreuzpaintner's German drama Summer Storm / Sommersturm, described as “a sexy, evocative coming-of-age story that defies the stereotypes of the genre to deliver a fresh and gratifying vision of young gay athletes in love.”
Other Reeling 2005 highlights include:
- Angelina Maccarone's German drama Unveiled / Fremde haut, the tale of an Iranian lesbian seeking asylum in Germany.
- Peter Paige's Say Uncle, a American production about a “a quirky gay artist” whose best friend is platonically in love with him.
- The festival's closing night gala presentation, George Bamber's U.S.-made romantic comedy The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green, based on Eric Orner's comic strip character, and featuring Daniel Letterle, Diego Serrano, David Monahan, and Meredith Baxter.
Reeling 2005 comes to a close on Nov. 12. More information here.
Vincent Cassel La Haine movie photo: Canal+.
Amazonas Film Festival: Claudia Cardinale and Roman Polanski expected to attend
The Amazonas Film Festival - Mundial de Filme de Aventura (“World Festival of Adventure Films”) kicked off on Nov. 4, '05, in the Brazilian city of Manaus, located in the heart of the Amazon jungle. Lasse Hallström's An Unfinished Life, starring Robert Redford, Jennifer Lopez, and Morgan Freeman, was the opening night gala presentation.
Expected guests include veteran Claudia Cardinale, the female lead in Werner Herzog's 1982 Amazonian epic Fitzcarraldo; Best Director Oscar winner Roman Polanski (The Pianist); and Victoria Abril, whose credits include Pedro Almodóvar's Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! and High Heels.
The Amazonas Film Festival is being held at the Amazonas Opera House, a renaissance-style theater built in 1896 during the boom years of the region's rubber plantations. Eight international adventure films will vie for the top award; there will also be a competitive sidebar featuring eight “ethnic and/or wildlife” documentaries, in addition to a Brazilian short film competition. Norman Jewison (In the Heat of the Night, The Hurricane) will head the feature film jury.
The week-long festival, which claims its chief objective is to “alert the public of the need to protect and defend” the Amazon ecosystem, ends on Nov. 10. More information here.
'Gallipoli' documentary revisits devastating World War I campaign
Director Tolga Örnek on his documentary Gallipoli / Gelibolu:
Of course, it's not my goal to shock people, but it's my goal to display the conditions and how horrific it was. And I want to take the glory and the polish out of war, because when we glorify battles, when we mythicize, like make campaigns into mythical stories, I think we really undermine the actual suffering that takes place, the actual horrors that take place. So I think the response, the overall response that we got in Australia in the preview screenings, where people responded to this, people got this from the film, people understood that war is not glory, war is not polished. As in the film, at the end of the film, it's mud, disease, death, and fear.
In 1915, more than 100,000 people lost their lives – most of them Turkish soldiers – in the Winston Churchill-planned Gallipoli campaign, which became one of the Allied Force's most disastrous World War I debacles.
Partly narrated by Jeremy Irons and Sam Neill, Gallipoli – which doesn't sound at all like something intended for the Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down crowd – is not to be confused with the 1981 Peter Weir anti-war drama featuring Mel Gibson, Mark Lee, Bill Kerr, ahd Harold Hopkins.
Tolga Örnek quote via Peter Thompson's article on Gallipoli.
Image of Amazonas Film Festival opening night movie An Unfinished Life with Robert Redford: Miramax Films.
U.K. Jewish Film Festival highlights: 'Fateless,' 'The Bee Season'
The 2005 U.K. Jewish Film Festival, which kicked off today, Nov. 5, will screen more than 400 films, including the following:
- Lajos Koltai's Holocaust drama Fateless / Sorstalanság, starring Marcell Nagy in the title role and featuring Daniel Craig.
- Scott McGee and David Siegel's The Bee Season, starring Juliette Binoche and Richard Gere;.
- Anat Zuria's Sentenced to Marriage / Mekudeshet, a documentary showing how the Israeli court system treats women as second-class citizens.
“Our festival enables a huge diversity of Jewish films to be seen by the public,” says festival director Judy Ironside. “From short films, films about Orthodox Jewish lesbians, and Israeli rappers, to feature films starring some of Hollywood's biggest names.”
Judy Ironside quote via the European Jewish Press.
More information on the U.K. Jewish Film Festival here.
One-year anniversary of Theo van Gogh's murder
In the Christian Science Monitor, Bruce Mutsvairo's “Divided Dutch mark anniversary of Van Gogh murder” discusses how the brutal murder of director Theo van Gogh (Baby Blue, 06/05) has polarized Dutch society. On Nov. 2, '04, van Gogh was murdered by a Muslim fanatic offended by his televised short film Submission: Part I, perceived by some as an attack on Islam.
“The [Christian Democrat-led] government policy has been too harsh and in violation of civil rights, especially in the long term,” says Maurits Burger, a terrorism expert at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations. “The continued bashing of Islam that has been taking place has caused widespread damage. The bitterness and resentment has increased within the Muslim community, which is why it is difficult to reconcile this split.”
More Nov. 2005 news: AFM opens in Santa Monica, U.S. Republican representative accused of influence peddling
Below are a few more 2005 news tidbits:
- According to the 26th American Film Market organizers, AFM 2005 opened on Nov. 2 in Santa Monica, California, “with a record number of exhibitors, buyers, screenings and market premieres.” A record 419 companies from 33 countries will be presenting films at “the world's largest motion picture trade event, including film and television companies, financial institutions, sponsoring organizations and trade media.”
Festival organizers expect more than 7,000 participants at AFM 2005. More information here.
- The Los Angeles Times reports that U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher – a Republican from Huntington Beach, California – “used his influence to open doors in Washington” for movie producer Joseph Medawar, who had previously optioned for $23,000 a screenplay written by Rohrabacher, about a “conservative” U.S. war veteran.
Medawar, whose credits in various producing capacities include little-seen late '80s and early '90s releases such as Hardbodies 2, Slaughterhouse Rock, and Sleepwalkers, has recently pleaded not guilty to a 23-count federal indictment alleging that the producer has defrauded dozens of investors by selling $5.5 million of stock in his company, Steeple Enterprises.
- The Australian embassy in Beijing is sponsoring the 2005 Australian Film Festival, which has been scheduled for two consecutive weekends, Nov. 4–6 and 11–13. The festival will showcase several of Australia's most important movies of the last five years, including Kevin Carlin's The Extra; David Caesar's Mullet; Phillip Noyce's Rabbit Proof Fence; and Sue Brooks' Japanese Story, starring Toni Collette of Muriel's Wedding, The Hours, and The Sixth Sense fame.
Image of U.K. Jewish Film Festival entry Fateless with Marcell Nagy: Magic Media.
Norwegian movie series
To celebrate Norway's independence centenary, the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater will present the 29-film series A Luminous Century: Celebrating Norwegian Cinema between Nov. 12–19. The series was organized in collaboration with the Norwegian Film Institute, with the support of the Consulate General of Norway in New York.
The series consists of samples from the Norwegian film output from the early 1920s to the present, including Gunnar Sommerfeldt's 1921 drama Markens Grode / The Growth of the Soil (Nov. 13, Sun., 1:30pm), adapted from Knut Hamsun's novel; Olle Nordemarand's Academy Award-winning 1950 documentary about the sea expedition of Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl, Kon-Tiki (Nov 20, Sun., 1:30pm; Nov 27, Sun., 2:45pm); Edith Carlmar's 1959 drama Ung Flukt / The Wayward Girl (Nov. 12, Sat., 7:15pm; Nov. 22, Tue., 1:30pm), starring 20-year-old Liv Ullmann in her first film role as a defiant young woman in love (Ullmann will introduce the film at the Nov. 12 screening); and an updated adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's En Folkefiende / An Enemy of the People (Nov. 19, Sat., 9:00pm; Nov. 21, Mon., 1:00pm) directed by Erik Skjoldbjærg (Insomnia).
Los Angeles Latino Film Festival Awards
The Rita Award for Best Picture: Las Mantenidas sin sueños directed by Vera Fogwill and Martín De Salvo (Argentina)
Best Director: Miguel Littin for La Última luna / The Last Moon (Chile)
Best Screenplay (tie): Habana Blues, written by Benito Zambrano and Ernesto Chao (Spain / Cuba / France) and Cidade Baixa / Low Town, written by Sergio Machado and Karim Ainouz (Brazil)
Opera Prima / First Film: Las Mantenidas sin sueños by Vera Fogwill and Martín De Salvo (Argentina)
Audience Award (tie): Habana Blues by Benito Zambrano (Spain / Cuba / France) and O Casamento de Romeo e Julieta / The Marriage of Romeo and Julieta by Bruno Barreto (Brazil)
Choices for consideration by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for a Best Foreign-Language Film nomination:
Las Mantenidas sin sueños by Vera Fogwill and Martín De Salvo (Argentina)
La Ultima Luna by Miguel Littin (Chile)
Habana Blues by Benito Zambrano (Spain / Cuba / France)
Best Documentary: Invierno en Bagdad / Winter in Baghdad directed by Javier Corcuera (Spain)
El Cielo gira / The Sky Turns by Mercedes Rodriguez (Peru)
Relatos desde el encierro by Guadalupe Miranda (Mexico)
Best Short: La Canada by Carlo Corea (Mexico)
The Treasure of the Snails by Cristian Jimenez (Chile)
Cuco Gomez-Gomez Is Dead by Francisco Lorite (USA)