Along the sidewalks and cafés of Seine-Saint- Denis, groups of young men, dressed in hoodies and streetwear, talk with remarkable bluntness and honesty about love, desire, sex, and race. As one man says “White people experience love They were taught how.” Made with a shattering level of intimacy, Alice Diop’s film is both a cinepoem and a piercing statement on the nature of disenfranchisement.
The title, translated as “the entrance exam,” is an in-depth and intimate look at the students looking to gain a place in La Fémis, one of the most famous and prestigious film schools in the world (Simon herself was the Head of Directing Studies). As the budding cinéastes struggle to find a place, the narrative spends a good deal of time with their interlocutors, pulling back the curtain to reveal the depth of seriousness and care that is extended to the students.
When James Pollard is given a terminal cancer diagnosis, he sets about orchestrating his own death. Like any good theatre producer, he researches options into different modes of burial, and the best means and methodologies of preserving his body after death. This may sound slightly morbid, but the practicality, and often surprising amounts of humour, with which James contends with his situation allows for an openness and freedom in dealing with death.
Katyusha: Rocket Launchers, Folk Songs and Ethnographic Refrains focuses on the role of song as cultural form, following the Soviet war-time hit song Katyusha, the rocket launcher that subsequently took on its name, and the tragic life of the secretly Mennonite Soviet pop star Anna German, who recorded an immensely popular version of the song in 1962.
It starts with a pulse. A single beat of sound From a generic Montreal subway platform to the most far-flung parts of the planet, Elsewhere explores the human passion for movement and the undeniable siren song of travel. This is a film that is felt, as much as witnessed, pushed along by a propulsive soundtrack and zippy animation.
The opening shot in Brûle la mer of roiling storm-tossed seas moving in perpetual motion sets the tone for the cinepoem to come. Elegantly constructed, the film employs the age-old device of someone telling you a story. In this case, the narrative is that of young Tunisian refugees (some 25,000) including Maki and his two brothers, who fled their country after the 2011 Jasmine Revolution.
Part ode, part critique, Bart Simpson’s film Brasilia: Life After Design takes the viewer on a sweetly surreal and slightly melancholic tour of a strange and monumental cityscape. The camera pans across sweeping urban vistas, peers through archways and down the long central axis, capturing images of random city dwellers spaced like birds on a wire around the perimeter of the enormous spaces between buildings.
When a transgender ex-schoolteacher named Karen travels to the US to work with an old cowboy in an extended series of "Pony Play" sessions, the rituals of domination and submission between trainer and trainee must be strictly observed. In the arena where they work, Karen is taught the rigors of donning a bit and bridle, how to walk in ornate leather hooves, and how to pull a cart.
Whether or not they knew it, Hitchcock and his collaborators created a pivotal point in the cultural and cinematic landscapes of North America. Alexandre O. Philippe’s 78/52 seeks to understand just what made that scene so legendary, deconstructing it to explore what each stab of the knife meant for cinema and culture.