Festival Circuit 2019

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#326 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Aug 31, 2019 2:58 pm

Thanks for the rundown DarkImbecile! I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Uncut Gems, and now can’t wait for Portrait of a Lady on Fire.

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colinr0380
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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#327 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Aug 31, 2019 2:59 pm

Wonderful write up DI! I'm curious about Motherless Brooklyn after seeing the trailer, which seemed a bit jarring and as if it was in two halves: a bit of rather underwhemling larking about involving tourettes and a brief cameo from Bruce Willis until it turns serious and interestingly noir in the second half. I guess that the final film is a mix of both, but am hoping it is weighted a bit more towards its serious side.

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domino harvey
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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#328 Post by domino harvey » Sat Aug 31, 2019 3:02 pm

While anyone sitting down to watch multiple hours of Mark Cousins is to some degree inviting misfortune onto themselves, I’m glad the story had a happy ending! Does this mean the Sciamma will break your 100 point evaluation scale?

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soundchaser
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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#329 Post by soundchaser » Sat Aug 31, 2019 3:05 pm

God, I'm excited about the Sciamma. Have you seen any of her previous work? How does it compare to Naissance des pieuvres?

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knives
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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#330 Post by knives » Sun Sep 01, 2019 7:43 am

She's improved a lot since Water Lilies which felt like her attempting a Fat Girl type film. Since then she's focused more on empathy in peculiar situations and less on how weird to make the audience feel. Even her merely scripted My Life as a Zucchini is great for that sense of empathy.

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colinr0380
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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#331 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Sep 01, 2019 8:04 am

And Girlhood is a great 'rise of a gang leader' film with the main character's arc seeming to be mirroring Tony Montana's in Brian De Palma's Scarface.

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furbicide
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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#332 Post by furbicide » Sun Sep 01, 2019 10:04 am

I liked all of her films until now, but Portrait definitely feels like it’s operating on another plane. Sentimental filmmaking at its best, and would be very close to the best film of the year for me (maybe tying with Peter Strickland’s sublime and insane In Fabric).

PS hope the Cousins documentary gets properly ironed out and ends up doing the project justice – I’ve been really looking forward to seeing that one

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DarkImbecile
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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#333 Post by DarkImbecile » Sun Sep 01, 2019 8:15 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 3:02 pm
Does this mean the Sciamma will break your 100 point evaluation scale?
I’ve never rated a film higher than 98, so I’ve still got some slack at the very end of the bell curve!
DarkImbecile wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 2:48 pm
... and am sitting down to Uncut Gems. Aiming to catch Beanpole, Marriage Story, and Parasite to close out the day.
I attempted to post something longer earlier today just before I had to turn off my phone under threat of excommunication from the festival before the start of A Hidden Life and it appears it didn’t make it through, so I’ll just quickly say that I saw all of those I planned to catch yesterday, and have seen The Report and Malick’s film today. I’m about to catch what’s billed as a restoration of The Unbearable Lightness of Being paired with a tribute and Q&A with Philip Kaufman, followed by Waves. I’ll try to post more reactions when I have time, but having lost the four writeups this morning may put me so far behind that I wait until I get back.

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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#334 Post by DarkImbecile » Fri Sep 06, 2019 7:10 pm

It takes me longer and longer every year to recover from four straight days of sleep deprivation, and that combined with the virus I managed to catch from one of my kids the day before I left pretty much knocked me out the last few days. None of that stopped me from seeing a ton of movies from Friday afternoon to Monday night, thankfully! This was a great festival, with both high peaks and a high floor, and featured some of the more memorable screening experiences I've had, in addition to the more superficial charms of getting to see several stars and directors I respect in person, including Adam Driver, Edward Norton, Greta Gerwig, Eddie Redmayne, Bong Joon-Ho, the Safdie Brothers, and Noah Baumbach, among many others.

I'll rank the 15 features I saw at Telluride this year below (not counting the disastrous attempt at watching a portion of Mark Cousins' documentary detailed above), and add some brief thoughts, as it might be a while before I'm able to write these up more comprehensively.

All-Time Greats: Before this year, I'd only seen one film at Telluride that leaped out to me as an immediate classic (Roma), so to get to have two of maybe the top 10 best film-going experiences of my life in the same festival was quite literally overwhelming.

1.) Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Sciamma) - I've already been about as effusive as possible about this film, so I'll just reiterate: it's fantastic in just about every way.

2.) A Hidden Life (Malick) - If it doesn't quite meet the (for me, very high) bar of being Malick's best film, this is perhaps the most perfect example of the man's inimitable style and structure, expertly layering visual, musical, philosophical, and conceptual meaning into each moment in a way that can uniquely stimulate the emotional and intellectual sides of your brain simultaneously. I've found that reactions to his films, and even any given moment in any one film, can be so personal and dependent on one's background, interests, beliefs that I have no way of knowing whether my response to A Hidden Life will end up being an outlier or not, but I was in or near tears for nearly the entire three-hour runtime, and by the time the credits ran had been emotionally broken down more thoroughly than I have been by any other piece of art in my life. Expressly interested in political concerns as never before, Malick is definitely continuing to stretch in new directions here even if the narrative is nowhere near as loose and experimental as in his other features this decade. If I have a minor complaint, it would be that Malick spends a bit too much time with August Diehl's Franz Jägerstätter in prison around the 2/3 mark, but that sequence may have as much resonance for others as his struggle in the first half to balance his deepest principles against his responsibility to his family had for me. I should also note that the typically stellar cinematography is somewhat of a departure from Malick's recent work with Lubezki, while still maintaining a clear connection to that style; there's a very brief shot near the end of children appearing in a window that might be my favorite of any I've ever seen in one of his films, which is absolutely a high bar to clear.

Very Good to Excellent Films: This is where this year's edition of the festival really stands out. The number of films with exceptional moments, stellar performances, deft screenplays, and seductive images began to get kind of absurd after a while — I couldn't possibly like this many films so much, could I?

3.) Beanpole (Balagov) - I missed Balagov's debut feature Tesnota at Telluride a few years ago, and I'm regretting that quite a bit now. I can always look forward to at least one beautiful yet crushingly depressing Russian or Eastern European drama at this festival, and this examination of two women navigating the difficulties and traumas of postwar Leningrad fit the bill perfectly. With his 24-year old cinematographer Kseniya Sereda, Balagov — who himself looks like he's not old enough to legally drink in the US — incorporates striking color into what is often a bleak, drab subgenre, with rich greens, enveloping reds, and — in one great sequence — cool blues serving the film both visually and on a thematic/character level. Co-star Vasilisa Perelygina's delivery of one of the film's final lines —
SpoilerShow
"It will heal us."
— is absolutely devastating.

4.) Waves (Shults) - Absolutely stunning leap for Trey Edward Shults from It Comes At Night, which I liked well enough, to the ambition and style of this film, a bifurcated drama on the dismantling and reconstitution of an American family under pressures internal and external, social and personal. Great performances all around, but while Kelvin Harrison Jr. will get a ton of attention for a flashier role and Sterling K. Brown will likely get an Oscar as a father whose faith in his own parenting and values are fundamentally shaken, I find myself thinking more of the quietly luminous work by Taylor Russell. The film is kinetic, vibrant, and awash in color, yet Shults takes the time necessary to soak in the details of these characters and their lives and avoids letting the plentiful stylizations overwhelm his core story. Most importantly, I can confirm that while only one Kanye track is used (though at least four by Frank Ocean!), it is well-chosen and placed for maximum impact.

5.) Parasite (Bong) - I would criticize how blunt the satire here is if it weren't so enjoyable to watch play out, and if Bong wasn't clearly poking fun of himself with
SpoilerShow
several characters saying with varying degrees of irony about the childish scribblings of a supposed savant: "Very metaphorical..."
I agree with those in the main thread who can't quite get on board with the highest of the praise from Cannes, but there were enough sublime notes and surprises here to place this among Bong's best and among the best of the year; in particular, the
SpoilerShow
tragedy of the son's final fantasy of rescuing his father was remarkably poignant for being no less pointedly accusatory than the more blunt image of a river of shit flowing downhill from rich to poor.
6.) Marriage Story (Baumbach) - Perhaps Baumbach's warmest, funniest, and most generous script is also packed with razors familiar to anyone who's had a serious relationship end badly, or even just anyone who has been married for more than a decade. While Baumbach tries hard to keep the film's depiction of divorce as even-handed as possible, Adam Driver is almost unavoidably privileged as the representative of Baumbach's personal experience with some of the more intense moments, and absolutely crushes them. The fear, failed communication, mistrust, and shame practically inherent in the situation come across beautifully, and Baumbach never over-indulges in dramatics or plot contrivances, instead marinating us in the complexities of disentangling two deeply connected lives. Also features the best Laura Dern performance in quite some time among a supporting cast packed with fine actors.

7.) Uncut Gems (Safdie Bros.) - Both an extension and a refinement of the spiraling intensity and uncomfortable rawness of Good Time, this sure-to-be-divisive rollercoaster features: delirious camera work; a pounding soundtrack; a manic yet dialed-in performance from Sandler; a stellar supporting cast with a great mix of established character actors like Lakeith Stanfield, unknowns like Julia Fox, real-life sports and music celebrities playing themselves (including a really enjoyable Kevin Garnett performance), and the Safdies' usual handful of non-professionals cast for their remarkable faces. The directors announce their ambitions and their sense of humor early on with a cosmic score, an unrelenting cacophony of diagetic sound, and soaring camerawork showcasing a narrative that begins across the world before
SpoilerShow
delving inside an opal and then literally entering Sandler's asshole.
A fun mainstream breakout for the Safdies that will almost certainly end up as a cult favorite of the next decade's worth of college students.

8.) First Cow (Reichardt) - A warm portrait of male companionship, entrepreneurial spirit, and the precariousness of frontier life, Reichardt's latest is a little lighter and less meaty than some of her more recent films, but ends on such a perfect note (though one that seemed to confuse a not-insignificant number of those in my screening) that I couldn't help but vault it into this tier. Surprisingly dark in terms of lighting while being surprisingly charming and generous to its characters, I'll be excited to see this, one of my final two screenings, again under less exhausted circumstances.

Recommendable:

9.) The Report (Burns) - Probably the most effective 'message' movie I've seen in quite some time. Scott Z. Burns manages to condense an absurd amount of information into a package that manages to be simultaneously dense, entertaining, and disturbing in a surprisingly bi-partisan manner. The script somehow finds room for some choice dialogue and makes space for supporting actors like Corey Stoll, Jon Hamm, Maura Tierney, and Annette Bening to do more than just exposition dump (though there is plenty of that). While certainly aimed at anti-torture liberals, I think many Democrats will be surprised to discover how the film casts doubt on the actions of many of their heroes over the past couple of decades. My most substantial complaint is that Driver's character isn't given quite enough shading or nuance to avoid coming off as a paragon of virtue, but overall this was surprisingly effective.

10.) Diego Maradona (Kapadia) - As I wrote earlier, a remarkably engrossing look at the peak years of one of the best soccer players of all time, and yet another example of Kapadia's skill in compiling footage and voiceover to build a fast-paced, emotional narrative for what could have been a conventional sports doc.

11.) The Assistant (Green) - A sharply pointed look at the environment that enables and excuses a Weinstein-esque abuser, Kitty Green's first narrative feature after documentaries like Casting JonBenet is to be commended for its tight focus and unwillingness to give the audience the certainty, clarity, and consequences they might want. Julia Garner embodies the anxiety, ambition, and insecurity of her newly hired assistant who
SpoilerShow
witnesses clearly the corruptions and compromises of those in a powerful and toxic man's orbit, but because she isn't the target of her boss' most predatory impulses — "Don't worry, you're not his type..." — she never quite has the certainty she needs to push back against those gaslighting and obscuring his actions for their own benefit.
This was one of the buzzier titles toward the end of the festival, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it continue to garner outsize attention for its scale and lack of star power.

12.) The Kingmaker (Greenfield) - Greenfield continues her examination of the banality and corruption of extreme wealth in this profile of Imelda Marcos, the notoriously extravagant former First Lady of the Philippines. Accountability — or the lack thereof — for one's choices was a recurring theme at this festival, and perhaps no film better illustrated the way a society unable or unwilling to hold its central figures responsible for their actions can fall victim to the same leeches they thought had been lanced decades before. With a scale and scope beyond The Queen of Versailles and Generation Wealth, Greenfield successfully illustrates how grasping and entitled those who justify the immense inequality that benefits them can be.

13.) Motherless Brooklyn (Norton) - As I wrote above: not a great film, but certainly interesting enough to make catching some solid performances and craft work not too painful.

14.) The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Kaufman) - I'd never seen this before, and I'd be curious to know if the notable softness of this restoration (completed in 2018 according to the notes) is reflective of the original prints. Anyway, Daniel Day-Lewis and Lena Olin are ridiculously sexy (that mirror scene...), but the film goes on for far too long past the point at which the arcs of the main triad are resolved. The Soviet Invasion of Prague is well-staged, both in what's staged for the film and in the insertion of Day-Lewis and Juliette Binoche into actual footage, and the drama works well enough until the point our central couple are driven out of Prague the second time. I was also extremely tired and fairly sick by the time this screened, so it's possible I'm being overly critical of the seemingly superfluous final half-hour.

Mediocre:
15.) Lyrebird (Friedkin) - The only title I caught that I can't recommend, even this post-WWII drama about illicit art sales to the Nazis has a delightful Guy Pearce devouring the scenery and some better-than-it-deserves cinematography mimicking the style of some of the Dutch masters of the Renaissance. The real Achilles' heel here is the screenplay, which dumbs itself down to the level of a basic-cable TV movie instead of digging more effectively into its themes of artistic authenticity, the value of criticism, and the compromises necessary to survive in wartime; the climactic courtroom scene in particular is head-slappingly simple-minded. The Square's Claes Bang is disappointingly little more than a stolid cipher, and Phantom Thread's Vicky Krieps is given nothing of interest to do. Still, if you see fifteen films at a festival and a C+ crowdpleaser is the worst thing you see, both you and the curators have chosen wisely.

Biggest regrets: The Climb, Coup 53, Family Romance LLC, Ford v Ferrari, Pain and Glory, The Two Popes, Verdict


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lacritfan
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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#336 Post by lacritfan » Sat Sep 07, 2019 4:39 pm

GOLDEN LION for Best Film to:
JOKER by Todd Phillips (USA)

SILVER LION - GRAND JURY PRIZE to:
J’ACCUSE by Roman Polanski (France, Italy)

SILVER LION - AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTOR to:
Roy Andersson for the film OM DET OÄNDLIGA (ABOUT ENDLESSNESS) (Sweden, Germany, Norway)

COPPA VOLPI for Best Actress:
Ariane Ascaride in the film GLORIA MUNDI by Robert Guédiguian (France, Italy)

COPPA VOLPI for Best Actor:
Luca Marinelli in the film MARTIN EDEN by Pietro Marcello (Italy, France)

AWARD FOR BEST SCREENPLAY to:
Yonfan for the film JI YUAN TAI QI HAO (No.7 CHERRY LANE) by Yonfan (Hong Kong SAR, China)

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE to:
LA MAFIA NON È PIÙ QUELLA DI UNA VOLTA by Franco Maresco (Italy)

MARCELLO MASTROIANNI AWARD for Best Young Actor or Actress to:
Toby Wallace in the film BABYTEETH by Shannon Murphy (Australia)

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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#337 Post by dda1996a » Sat Sep 07, 2019 4:54 pm

Awful awards, and not because Joker somehow won the Golden Lion

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Magic Hate Ball
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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#338 Post by Magic Hate Ball » Sun Sep 15, 2019 2:36 pm

Saw my first festival film ever last night at TIFF with Roy Andersson's About Endlessness. Songs remains my favorite of his, though I still haven't seen Pigeon, but the way he's worked himself down from the vaguely connected vignettes of (the slightly superior) You, The Living to what could be described as unconnected micronarratives is kind of astonishing. They remind me of Robert Wilson's video portraits, or of the miniscule paintings in Synecdoche, New York - stillness and reduction almost to absurdity. It's more like browsing a painting gallery than watching a film, where the primary activity is your own rumination. It's not the beefiest film but it's so ethereal that it's almost magical.

It's a little startling seeing teenagers and young adults in an Andersson film - none of whom, notably, have the grey pall of the older characters. It's far and away his most hopeful work.

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domino harvey
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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#339 Post by domino harvey » Sun Sep 15, 2019 3:16 pm

His most famous film is about teenagers, though

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Magic Hate Ball
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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#340 Post by Magic Hate Ball » Sun Sep 15, 2019 4:15 pm

I haven’t seen A Swedish Love Story.

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swo17
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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#341 Post by swo17 » Sun Sep 15, 2019 4:35 pm

Go see Pigeon post haste

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furbicide
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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#342 Post by furbicide » Sun Sep 15, 2019 7:28 pm

A Swedish Love Story is great, but it’s (to my eye) so removed from his later style that it could be by a different director.

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zedz
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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#343 Post by zedz » Sun Sep 15, 2019 10:42 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Sun Sep 15, 2019 3:16 pm
His most famous film is about teenagers, though
It's a great film, but I don't think A Swedish Love Story is more famous than any of his last four features by any measure. You've got a Cannes Jury Prize, a Silver Lion and a Golden Lion spread amongst those. Has his first feature ever been released in the US?

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Lemmy Caution
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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#344 Post by Lemmy Caution » Wed Sep 18, 2019 4:12 am

Just a minor correction:
DarkImbecile wrote:
Sun Feb 03, 2019 6:05 pm
Sundance Awards announced:

Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic
Knock Down the House, Rachel Lears

Audience Award: U.S. Documentary
Brittany Runs A Marathon, Paul Downs Colaizzo
These should be switched.
Knock Down the House is a documentary about AOC and 3 other outsiders who run for Congress.
Brittany Runs A Marathon is a comedy about an overweight party girl deciding to change her life. A friend of mine really enjoyed it.
Both sound good.

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DarkImbecile
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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#345 Post by DarkImbecile » Wed Sep 18, 2019 9:10 am

Good catch! Fixed...

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lzx
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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#346 Post by lzx » Wed Sep 25, 2019 2:09 am

Jgh8xxx wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 3:09 am
Omensetter wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 8:55 pm
Only three films from last year's competition didn't end up with distribution---Ayka, Yomeddine, At War, so I'd say it's odds are still very good.

Competition distribution:
Netflix --- Atlantics
Universal/Focus --- The Dead Don't Die
Sony/SPC --- Frankie / Pain and Glory / The Traitor
Disney/Fox Searchlight --- A Hidden Life
Amazon --- Les Misérables
Columbia --- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
NEON --- Portrait of a Lady on Fire / Parasite
Magnolia --- The Whistlers

Just scanning the competition, I'd say the films most in danger of not getting distribution are Matthias and Maxime and Mektoub My Love: Intermezzo.
Also AT WAR will be released via Cinema Libre in NY and LA this July. So AYKA is the lone holdout from the 2018 lineup!
With Music Box having picked up Sibyl, the four remaining competition titles without NA distribution are:

It Must Be Heaven
Oh Mercy!
Matthias & Maxime
Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo
(which has an impressive 10% score on both Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes)

jlnight
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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#347 Post by jlnight » Thu Oct 10, 2019 7:18 pm

beamish14 wrote:
Fri Aug 30, 2019 12:43 am

I just saw the AMPAS' restoration of Queen of Diamonds at the Hammer. One of those great films that made a splash at festivals during the 90's, but was never widely viewed (see also Dadetown and American Job). Nina Menkes is a really interesting filmmaker who's often compared to
Chantal Ackerman because of the sparse dialogue, use of repetitive motifs in her films, and proudly feminist bent, and her works are often about characters
living in the fringes of American society. Queen of Diamonds is, I think, less than 50 shots and is under 80 minutes long, but it's really quite demanding.
Thanks to this recommendation I ended up seeing the first of the two screenings of this. That blackjack sequence is definitely the centrepiece of Queen of Diamonds. A patience-tester for sure but you have to admire the sheer gall of it. Even better was a question-and-answer session from Nina Menkes herself, where she explained some of the aforementioned repetitive motifs from her other films appearing in this one, and how the Tinka Menkes character was resisting the hetero male standpoint. Or something. It was doubtless feminist related though.

She had only flown in today apparently but on Sunday will be giving a free screentalk at the same venue looking at photos of Hollywood actresses from the 40s to present day and analysing how they are portrayed by the male gaze. Or something.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#348 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Oct 16, 2019 10:30 pm

IFF Boston Fall Focus schedule is up

All showings at the Brattle, with tickets on sale Friday.

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domino harvey
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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#349 Post by domino harvey » Sun Nov 10, 2019 6:45 pm

I'll prob be seeing all the French films playing, but other than those, are there any must-see titles from DC's upcoming European Union Film Showcase?

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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#350 Post by yoloswegmaster » Sun Nov 10, 2019 7:33 pm

Have you seen 'Martin Eden' yet? I've only heard positive things about it.

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