Japan Society Announces May Screening Events: Sans Soleil, Lumberjack the Monster, and Tampopo

tampopo-janus-filmsJapan Society, a 116-year-old nonprofit organization bridging the U.S. and Japan, today announced it will host three special screenings in May spanning classic Japanese cinema, a lauded documentary, and a major North American premiere. Japan Society is a storied institution that has presented Japanese art and culture for over a century, and its robust Film Program presents over 60 screenings from the silent era through to contemporary cinema all across the year.

Japan Society’s May events begin on May 1 with French filmmaker Chris Marker’s influential 1983 documentary Sans Soleil presented on rare imported 35mm. Driven by the desire to “capture life in the process of becoming history,” Marker traveled the globe and made a sprawling body of work that ruminates on the nature of memory and time. Of the several films he made in Japan, Sans Soleil remains the late director’s greatest achievement.

An unnamed woman narrates the poetic letters and philosophical reflections of an invisible world traveler accompanied by footage of Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Iceland, Paris, San Francisco, and, most significantly, Tokyo—a city whose people, streets, malls, and temples inspire the traveler’s richest observations.
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Med Hondo’s Musical Epic “West Indies: The Fugitive Slaves Of Liberty” New 4K Restoration To Run at Film Forum

West-Indies-The-Fugitive-Slaves-Of-LibertyThe great French-Mauritian director Med Hondo’s spectacular cinematic odyssey “West Indies: The Fugitive Slaves Of Liberty” (1979) will run at Film Forum in a new 4K restoration from Friday, March 22 through Thursday, March 28.

Adapted from Daniel Boukman’s Les Négriers (The Slavers), a play which Hondo directed in Paris in the early 70s, WEST INDIES: THE FUGITIVE SLAVES OF LIBERTY tells the story of French imperialism as a musical extravaganza.

Aboard an enormous hand built wooden slave ship acting as a multipurpose set, the film traverses the West Indies, Europe, and the Middle Passage, spanning over 400 years. Dynamic, intricately choreographed reenactments depict the effects of official French policy upon the colonized, the enslaved, and their descendants. Surveying the actions and motivations of the resigned, the revolutionary, and the powers that be (along with their lackeys), WEST INDIES is a call to arms for a spectacular yet critical cinematic reimagining of an entire people’s history of resistance and struggle.

At $1.3 million, it was the biggest-budget African production ever, as well as the continent’s first musical. Hondo, who wished “to free the very concept of musical comedy from its American trade mark” remained resolute in his vision, refusing to alter the script and rejecting funding offers from Warner Brothers and MGM when they asked for changes. Mixed critical reception in France barred the film from wider release with it gradually slipping out of circulation.
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Tarkovsky’s Haunting Late Masterpiece NOSTALGHIA New 4K Restoration Opens Feb. 21 at Film Forum

ANDREI-TARKOVSKY---NOSTALGHIAAndrei Tarkovsky’s haunting late masterpiece NOSTALGHIA (1983) will run at Film Forum in a new 4K restoration from Wednesday, February 21 through Tuesday, February 29.

In Tarkovsky’s first film made outside the USSR, Russian expatriate Andrei (Oleg Yankovsky, THE MIRROR), wanders wintry Italian landscapes while returning in memory to his homeland. He becomes obsessed with the Botticelli-like beauty of his translator Eugenia (Domiziana Giordano), as well as with the apocalyptic ramblings of a self-destructive wanderer named Domenico (Erland Josephson, THE SACRIFICE). In one of cinema’s most agonizingly suspenseful sequences, the fate of the world is found hanging on a candle’s flight across a dry pool, culminating in an overwhelming final shot.

Written with Tonino Guerra, frequent collaborator of Michelangelo Antonioni (on every film from L’AVVENTURA through BLOW-UP), Federico Fellini (AMARCORD), and Francesco Rosi (ILLUSTRIOUS CORPSES, CHRIST STOPPED AT EBOLI), NOSTALGHIA is a mystical and mysterious collision of East and West, shot with the tactile beauty that only Tarkovsky could provide.

NOSTALGHIA won the Grand Prix du cinéma de creation prize for Best Director (shared with Robert Bresson for L’ARGENT) and the international film critics prize at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival. Soviet authorities prevented the film from winning the Palme d’Or, which hardened Tarkovsky’s resolve to never work in the Soviet Union again.


2024 Sundance Film Festival Announces 91 Projects Selected For 40th Edition


Top L–R: Girls State, Seeking Mavis Beacon, The American Society of Magical Negroes, Layla.
Center L–R: Being (the Digital Griot), Freaky Tales, Love Me, Presence.
Bottom L–R: Porcelain War, Soundtrack to a Coup d’Etat, In the Land of Brothers, A Real Pain.

Yesterday, the nonprofit Sundance Institute announced the 82 films, eight episodic titles, and a New Frontier interactive experience selected for the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. The Festival will take place January 18–28, 2024, in person in Park City and Salt Lake City, with a selection of titles available online nationwide from January 25–28, 2024. This year marks the 40th edition of the Festival, bringing together audiences in Utah and beyond to celebrate Sundance’s rich history of supporting engaging new stories and groundbreaking independent artists. In-Person Ticket Packages and Passes and Online Ticket Packages and Passes are currently on sale and single film tickets go on sale January 11 at 10 a.m. MT.

To kick things off, the Festival will begin at noon MT on January 18 with premieres in Park City, showcasing the range of offerings in this year’s lineup across categories. Adding to the festivities, on the evening of January 18, the Institute will host the Opening Night Gala: Celebrating 40 Years Presented by Chase Sapphire®. The fundraiser will benefit the year round artist support work of the Sundance Institute.

Films will debut in Park City starting January 18, with additional showings in Park City and Salt Lake City over the course of the Festival. Select titles also become available online beginning January 25, including all Competition titles (U.S. Dramatic, U.S. Documentary, World Cinema Dramatic, World Cinema Documentary, and NEXT), as well as additional selections from the feature, episodic, and shorts programs. Audiences can experience the curated online selection exclusively via festival.sundance.org. The online program, as noted below per listing, will allow fans of independent storytelling across the country to enjoy a sampling of the Festival lineup from wherever they are. The short film selections and 40th edition programming for the 2024 Sundance Film Festival will be announced on December 12.

“From the first edition in 1985, Sundance Film Festival has aimed to provide a space to gather, celebrate, and engage with risk-taking artists that are committed to bringing their independent visions to audiences — the Festival remains true to that goal to this day,” said Robert Redford, Sundance Institute Founder and President. “It continues to evolve, but its legacy of showcasing bold work that starts necessary conversations continues with the 2024 program.”

“The Institute takes great pride in the role the Festival plays in advancing our mission to support artists creating audacious work,” said Joana Vicente, Sundance Institute CEO. “This year is especially significant as we look back on our history of showcasing stories that surprise and delight, spark empathy and reflection, and honor our shared humanity. We’re all thrilled for this opportunity to celebrate the power of storytelling as we gather in January to introduce captivating works from acclaimed filmmakers and discover more new voices.”

“Sundance’s passion and power shines through its programming. Curation is Sundance’s secret sauce and we’re energized by the range of films, stories, and artists we’ve watched and selected from around the world,” said Eugene Hernandez, Director, Sundance Film Festival and Public Programming. “This Festival has had a vital history of first impressions: introductions to new talent, new friends, new worlds — our commitment to our artists and our audiences is fundamental to our work. Our programming team, lead by Kim Yutani, has curated 11 days of exciting new voices and stories for the many audiences we serve whether they’re joining us in Utah or experiencing the Festival offerings from afar. Sundance 2024 will be a special year for discovery and community.”
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Official Trailer For Zombie Comedy FINAL CUT From Michel Hazanavicius

Written and directed by Michel Hazanavicius, and starring Romain Duris, Bérénice Bejo, Matilda Lutz, Finnegan Oldfield, the French zombie comedy is set for release in theaters on July 14.

The film screened earlier this month during the Tribeca Film Festival.

Here is the film’s official synopsis:

Oscar® winner Michel Hazanavicius’ remake of Shin’ichirô Ueda’s cult hit One Cut of the Dead follows a director (Romain Duris, L’Auberge Espagnole) charged with making a live, single-take, low-budget zombie flick in which the cast and crew, one by one, actually turn into zombies.

Featuring hysterically unhinged performances from Oscar® nominee Bérénice Bejo (The Artist), Matilda Lutz (Revenge), and Finnegan Oldfield (Corsage), Final Cut is a sly love letter to the art of filmmaking and a blood-soaked, hilarious genre farce with a meta-to-the-max premise.


Film Review: The Struggle And Hope In “The Bicycle Thieves”

By Armando Inquig

In “The Bicycle Thieves,” the harrowing reality of post-war Italy is laid bare. Released during a time of economic hardship in 1948, the film reflects the stark reality of the ruins of war. Directed by Vittorio De Sica, “The Bicycle Thieves” is a cornerstone of Italian neorealism, and often cited as one of the best films ever made.

The film follows Antonio Ricci, luckless yet optimistic in post-war Rome. He is unemployed and desperate for work to support his family. His fortunes seemingly improve when he lands a job that requires a bicycle for posting advertising bills. His wife, Maria, pawns their bed linen to retrieve their pawned bicycle, and Antonio starts work, filled with renewed hope.

However, while at work, hoisting an advertising up a ladder, Antonio’s bicycle is snatched by a man. He chases the thief but loses him in the busy urban sprawl.

Antonio, along with his son Bruno, then sets out to search for the bicycle, which sets off a series of misadventures.

Their search leads them through various districts of Rome, and its economic and social diversity. They visit a market where stolen goods are, but they don’t find the bicycle. Desperation soon sets in as Antonio’s hope starts to dwindle. They encounter an old man who might know the thief’s whereabouts. They follow the suspect to his neighborhood. Antonio then accuses the man, but the suspect is released by the police as there is no proof. As Antonio and Bruno navigate the city, the day wanes and with it Antonio’s virtues.

In a moment of utter despair, he attempts to steal a bicycle himself. He is caught and humiliated in front of a crowd and, most importantly, in front of his son Bruno. The owner, seeing father and son’s distress, chooses not to press charges, and they are released.

“The Bicycle Thieves” culminates with Antonio and Bruno walking hand in hand, swallowed by the crowd, their future as uncertain as when the day began. The bicycle, and the hope it represented, remains lost to them.

De Sica’s portrayal of Antonio’s plight, his fallibility under the shadow of poverty, reflects a universal struggle against societal indifference.

“The Bicycle Thieves” is a poignant depiction of the human condition, a narrative that reaches beyond the constraints of time and place to echo the enduring spirit and trials of humanity.

The Criterion Collection recently released Bicycle Thieves in Blu-ray earlier this year. The 4K digital restoration is a special edition release that includes the previously released documentary from 2003 on screenwriter and longtime De Sica collaborator Cesare Zavattini, directed by Carlo Lizzani.