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.
Manifesto is the flagship in our Spotlight on Troublemakers. It is the good ship trouble that carries a pirate crew of muckrakers, disturbers of the peace, radicals, revolutionaries, and, of course, cinéastes, embodied in the words of this century’s great cultural and political manifestos. Rabid dissent and gonzo defiance are given voice by actress Cate Blanchett in the guise of a baker’s dozen of characters.
While people in the West use smartphones to live healthier, happier lives, the construction of such devices has horrific health effects on the people who actually make them. Complicit shines a light on the dark irony of the global electronic manufacturing industry in China, where 90% of the world’s consumer electronics are produced, including 70% of its cell phones.
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.
Without preamble, Ambulance opens on a community in panic. A bomb has just fallen, turning the home of filmmaker Mohamed Jabaly’s neighbour into a pile of rubble. So begins a close-up view of war that barely gives us time to catch our breath, let alone consider the broader context.
French-Canadian filmmaker François Jacob captures life in contemporary Norilsk (the city alone produces 20% of the world’s nickel) with a roaming camera, depicting the city and its residents with care and curiosity. A mix of black and white archival footage and a minimalist piano score softens the industrial-strength grimness.