Entries tagged with “documentary”.


Cunoştiinţa mea cu filmele regizorului german Werner Herzog datează de vreo patru decenii. Cândva, în anii 70, cinematograful Magheru de pe bulevard, în apropiere de Piaţa Romană devenise ‘cinematograf de artă’. Cred că a fost chiar şi cinematecă pentru o anumită perioadă. Acolo, într-una din rarele ferestre prin care se mai strecura câte o rază de cultură în perioada îngheţului ideologic inaugurat în 1971 de in-faimoasele Teze din Iulie, s-a organizat o ‘Săptămână a filmului din Republica Federală Germană’. Nu ştiu cum şi de de a scăpat acest eveniment filtrului cenzurii, poate a fost o ‘obligaţie’ contractuală a părţii române din sistemul de relaţii căruia în România i se spunea ‘destindere’ iar în Germania de Vest ‘Realpolitik’. Cert este că atunci, în acea săptămâna am cunoscut filmele câtorva dintre realizatorii generaţiei de cineaşti reprezentând ‘Noul Film German’ care devenise unul dintre curentele cele mai interesante ale anilor 70 ai cinematografiei internaţionale. Dintre toate filmele văzute atunci cel mai puternic m-a impresionat ‘Aguirre, spaima zeilor’ – o drama istorică plasată în perioada ‘la conquista’ – colonizarea spaniolă a Americii de sud – avându-l în rolul principal pe extraordinarul actor Klaus Kinski. Numele regizorului filmului era Werner Herzog.

 

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5275828/mediaviewer/rm746066176

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5275828/mediaviewer/rm746066176

 

Cariera celui pe care Francois Truffaut l-a numit cândva ‘cel mai important regizor în viaţă’ a avut parte de numeroase suişuri şi coborâşuri. Face parte din generaţia lui Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Margarethe von Trotta, Volker Schlöndorff, şi Wim Wenders şi după anii ’80 şi-a diversificat preocupările şi eforturile artistice şi şi-a împărţit timpul în trei direcţii principale: regia de filme de ficţiune, de operă şi de filme documentare. În domeniul operei (în care înregistrase succese remarcabile între 1986 şi 2002) nu a mai creat decât un singur spectacol în ultimii 15 ani. Filmele sale de ficţiune din ultimele decenii au fost cam toate ‘eşecuri remarcabile’ şi de public şi de critică, dar niciodată neinteresante. Criticul de film american Roger Ebert scria că până şi eşecurile lui Herzog sunt ‘spectaculoase’. Domeniul filmelor documentare pare a fi cel care i-au dat cele mai multe satisfacţii şi s-au bucurat de o primire foarte apreciativă în ultima vreme. Filmul său cel mai recent din această categorie ‘Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World’ are că temă istoria, prezentul şi viitorul Internetului. Un subiect care desigur că mi-a trezit interesul şi care ocazionează o întâlnire unică între pasiunea mea pentru cinematograf şi unul dintre realizatorii cei mai interesanţi ai industriei filmului, şi profesia (şi pasiunea) mea – Internetul. Un motiv în plus este faptul că filmul este produs (sau producţia este sponsorizată) de compania Netscout Systems, fondată în 1984 de Anil Singhal, al cărui nume apare pe generic, companie care a creat produse şi aplicaţii de măsurare a performanţei reţelelor informatice dintre care cele mai cunoscute sunt ‘sniffer’-ul şi probele de monitorizare a traficului Ethernet.

 

    sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5275828/mediaviewer/rm1819271424


sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5275828/mediaviewer/rm1819271424

 

Cele zece episoade ale filmului tratează în ordine oarecum cronologică începuturile Internetului, prezentul cu realizările şi problemele sale, şi viitorul cu oportunităţile şi riscurile lui. Primul episod deşi scurt a trezit interes şi a creat nostalgie celor care au trăit epoca începuturilor comunicaţiilor între calculatoare, sau care – ca mine – au avut ocazia să-i cunoască personal pe câţiva dintre eroii acelor vremuri. Leonard Kleinrock (în fotografia de mai sus) este unul dintre cei care a participat la prima încercare de a stabili o comunicare între calculatoarele universităţilor californiene din Los Angeles şi Stanford. Dulapul electric (de fapt un calculator cu o putere de calcul infimă faţă de orice telefon mobil astăzi, dar un vârf al tehnologiei de la sfârşitul anilor 60) care a iniţiat comunicaţia în cămăruţa care apare în film a încercat să trimită cuvântul ‘log’ pentru a se lega (a se loga) la calculatorul aflat la distanţă. Doar că primul mesaj trimis vreodată pe Internet a întâlnit şi primul ‘bug’ şi a cauzat şi primul ‘crash’, aşa încât a treia litera din cuvântul l-o-g nu a mai apărut în cealaltă parte. A rămas doar acel ‘lo’ de la începutul titlului filmului care oferă ocazia unui joc de cuvinte în limba engleză folosind expresia ‘lo and behold’ care semnifică surpriza unui eveniment pe care l-am putea numi astăzi în limbaj hi-tech şi ‘disrupting ‘.

 

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5275828/mediaviewer/rm2688291840

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5275828/mediaviewer/rm2688291840

 

Fiecare dintre celelalte nouă segmente abordează din perspective diferite relaţia între tehnologiile informatice şi de comunicaţii şi lumea în care trăim sau lumea viitorului. Cititorii rubricii CHANGE.WORLD se vor găsi în multe dintre ele pe un teren familiar, căci majoritatea tematicilor descrise au fost abordate de-a lungul anilor în articolele mele. Există de exemplu segmente despre inteligenţa artificială şi aplicaţiile ei în transporturi inteligente, despre începuturile Web-ului şi perspectivele dezvoltării hipertextului, despre securitatea comunicării pe Internet şi insuportabila uşurinţă a atacurilor de securitate, despre legătura dintre jocurile electronice şi evoluţia programelor inteligente. Câteva alte subiecte au fost abandonate pe parcursul producţiei, de exemplu cele legate de plăţile electronice şi moneda bitcoin, deşi materialul filmat există şi poate cândva va apare şi public. Apar persoane şi personalităţi cunoscute între care Bob Kahn, Elon Musk şi Tim Berners-Lee. Şi despre ei am discutat în acest spaţiu cu diverse ocazii. Unele episoade au o tentă mai pesimistă şi discută pericolele comunicării – impresionant fiind cel în care apare o familie care deplânge publicarea fotografiilor copilului pierit într-un accident circulaţie, incident tipic lipsei de discreţie şi sensibilitate în comunicaţii atât de răspândită din păcate pe Internet. Nu toate au legătură directă cu Internetul – de exemplu fenomenul sensibilităţii faţă de undele electromagnetice este cunoscut, studiat şi tratat în diferite feluri (cel prezentat în film este doar una dintre opţiuni) dar nu este legat direct de reţeaua globală ci mai degrabă de comunicaţiile radio. Facem cunoştiinţă însă cu acest prilej cu una dintre acele comunitatati anarhiste care încearcă să trăiască în insule sociale fără legătură la reţeaua globală. Tehnica intervieverii folosită de Werner Herzog este cea a interogării din off (nu îi vedem niciodată chipul), cu întrebări puse cu calm şi precizie germană (subliniată de accentul vocii), însă care evident ghidează interlocutorii şi crează liantul şi firul raţionamentului dezvoltat în film.

 

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5275828/mediaviewer/rm2688291840

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5275828/mediaviewer/rm2688291840

 

Interesul lui Werner Herzog pentru Internet şi tehnologie este de dată recentă. Până cu câţiva ani în urmă, Herzog putea fi considerat un ‘tehno-sceptic’, iar atitudinea să faţă de anumite aplicaţii internetice cum ar fi platformele sociale era net negativă. Lucrurile s-au schimbat în momentul în care a abordat acest proiect dar punctul de vedere umanist, întrebările tranşante venite din direcţii neaşteptate, o doză nedisimulată de precauţie şi chiar de pesimism în legătură cu interactia între natură umană şi tehnologie rămân trăsături distince ale acestui film care abordează altfel decât suntem obişnuiţi Internetul şi comunicaţiile în masă. Abordând tema ‘viselor’ şi prezentând combinaţia dintre Internet şi inteligenţă artificială că una dintre direcţiile cele mai promiţătoare tehnologic, dar şi dintre cele mai intrigante şi poate chiar şi periculoase dintre posibilele trasee în viitor, Herzog se plasează în avangardă tehnologică, dar interesant, nu şi cea a ficţiunii căci tema a fost abordată de scriitori ai genului science-fiction cu multe decenii în urmă, un exemplu cunoscut şi la noi fiind polonezul Stanislaw Lem şi al său ‘Solaris’. Va deveni Internetul (generalizare a entităţilor dotate cu inteligenţă artificială) complet autonom? Iar după ce se va întâmpla – problema doar de timp – care va fi diferenţa între aproape perfectele maşini gânditoare şi imperfecţii indivizi care compun omenirea? Capacitatea de a visa? Cea de a iubi? Se pot îndrăgosti şi pot visa roboţii? Dar Internetul?

 

(articolul a aparut in revista culturala Literatura de Azi – http://www.literaturadeazi.ro/ )

It is probably better sometimes to see a film after the buzz is over in order to appreciate it – its good as well as its weakest parts. The break-through film of Alma Harel was very much talked about when it was released a couple of years ago. I have seen it only now and I can probably better enjoy its best parts, as well as wonder about other without necessarily being influenced by the chorus of praise (some justified) which accompanied its release.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1758576/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1758576/

 

The landscape seems to belong to a post-apocalyptic film. On the deserted shores of a sea that was born by an accident a small community of people deprived of almost everything tries to survive. Yet this is not the planet after an atomic war, and this is not the Sea of Aral either, but a real landscape and real people in the state of California, in a place located at measurable distances from all the services available in one of the most sophisticated states of the USA. The destinies of several people are being followed in parallel. A boy with behavioral problems whose parents went to jail are may be in danger of being denied parenthood if they get in any kind of more trouble. A teenager who was born and raised in the violent suburbs of a big city and has seen death and violence, and came here in the search of the right path for overcoming his social condition. An old man who survived a life of working in the oil fields but never abandoned his passion for booze, smoking, women. All the stories are human and credible and real. This may look like art fiction, but is actually a documentary of a special kind.

 

(video source dogwoof)

 

The art dimension of the film is provided by the each of the characters dancing at some point in time. Each of the dancing episodes is so well integrated in the whole movie that it looks quite natural. Dancing may not be part of their real life, but Alama Harel made it look like it is. Yet here comes also the problematic aspect of the film. We get a glimpse of life in one very extreme area of today’s America, with its people. It’s real life and yet there is some manipulation here, because there was a cameraman (maybe the director herself) some place to catch what looks like pieces of truth. It’s beautiful but I could not escape a feeling of artificiality. Yet Alma Arel is certainly a film-maker to follow, Let us see what subjects she will pick next.

If this story happened in the USA it would have been labelled as the American Dream story. An Italian immigrant comes to the new country with his three kids. A few years later he receives citizenship. The younger of the children dreams to become a movie star. He starts to sing in clubs, enjoys some success, tries doing movies, it’s a failure, does more music for another two decades, then returns to the big screens. He becomes one of the most successful singers AND actors of his generation, a symbol of the new country. He is even considered to have good chances to be elected president. A success story. It’s just that it did not happen in the USA but in France. A French Dream and Success Story. The name is Ivo Levi, better known as Yves Montand. My cousin who knows it all or almost says that the name was given to kid Ivo by his friends in Marseille who were laughing at his mother shouting to him ‘Ivo, monta!’ when he was too late getting back home.

 

source avaxhome.ws

source avaxhome.ws

 

Patrick Rotman‘s TV documentary brings to screen the biography of Yves Montand. It may look like an easy task, as Montand was filmed copiously on stage, on screen, in his private and public life, so there was plenty of material to chose from. It is also a challenge for the documentary director as he has to filter the material, assemble it and give it a chance to become a portrait and a story. The story of the life of a big artist, but one that demands respect without becoming adulatory, one that presents the disputable aspects of the biography (and there have been a few of these as well) without falling into cheap sensationalist. One that leaves us with the complete story and portrait of the man and of the artist. While choosing a conservative chronological way of describing the biography and the work of Montand, Rotman in my opinion succeeded, he stood well by the challenge. His portrait of Montand is interesting, the story is well told, no (important) skeletons stay in the closet (maybe with the exception of the old age parenting dispute), and the film is interesting to watch and listen to. To his credit most of the songs figuring in the film are not yet on youTube so there is one more reason for the fans of Montand’s music to look for this film and see it in cinemas (if possible) or on the net (if available).

 

(video source CulturClub France)

 

The almost two hours of projection allow the time to develop the story of the rags-to-Olympia career of the singer which passes through the encounter with Edith Piaf, of the love story of almost a life with Simone Signoret, of the crisis of their relationship when Marylin Monroe interfered. Most interesting however were for me the episodes related to the political engagement of Montand. The singer and the actor was what the Communists call ‘a road companion’ or even a little more than that, playing into the hands of the Communists and the Soviets until and including the year 1956, when he went to a triumphal tour in Moscow, Leningrad and other East Block cities right after the Soviet bloody crushing of the Hungarian anti-communist revolution. His direct contact with the realities beyond the Iron Curtain were however also a trigger to his awaking, He not only realized the lies of the Soviet system, but also departed from the tradition of his family (his father had become a Communist in opposition of Mussolini in his native Italy, his brother was a Communist and a syndicalist leader).  Starting with 1968, the year of the Soviet invasion in Czechoslovakia Yves Montand became an active fighter for human rights against all totalitarian systems, left or right. He opposed dictatorship in Greece, Argentine and Chile, but also the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and he supported the movements for democracy in Poland and Czechoslovakia which eventually led to the fall of the Wall in Berlin and of the Iron Curtain in Europe. In the 80s he sang in Israel in support of the fight to allow free immigration of Jews from the Soviet Union.

 

(video source Anna Screengazer)

 

The best parts in the film are however the musical ones, with a lot of original and well documented clips from the early periods of Montand’s career, including the concerts on Broadway in 1960 which fulfilled his dream (and possibly the dream of his parents) to reach the shores of America and be successful there. The film career of Montand seems a little bit neglected relative to the musical one, Montand was a huge actor, but we are shown too few and told only scarce things about his film career. The magic of stage seems to have conquered director Rotman, and he succeeds to pass it to the viewers, at the expense of other dimensions of the personality of the artist. Yet there is much in this film that is worth seeing and much to learn and love about the personality of Montand. If you are not already in love with him you have good chances to fall under the spell of Ivo Livi dit Yves Montand after having seen this film.

Two of the five documentary films competing for the Academy Awards (‘Oscars’) that will be distributed a few days from now deal with the conflict between Jews and Arabs, between Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land. The Gatekeepers was distributed commercially and is on screens for several weeks here in Israel, while ’5 Broken Cameras’ was presented on cable TV a couple of months ago, and this week it was broadcast again, including an almost prime time spot scheduled for tonight on the most popular mainstream commercial channel. This is a good thing, and for the Israeli audiences both movies are highly relevant, as they show different aspects and different perspective of the conflict. There are many differences of course in styles, approaches, characters but the reality is the same, a complex reality with many pieces of puzzle and the more you know, the better.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt2125423/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt2125423/

 

The concept and the story of the making of ’5 Broken Cameras’ is pretty unusual. Israeli film-maker Guy Davidi met in 2005 Emad Burat, a Palestinian inhabitant of the village of Bil’in. This place is well known in the area because the wall of separation between Israel and the Palestinian territories passes in the neighborhood, separating inhabitants from their fields and orchards, and this led to several lawsuits and permanent protests and confrontations with the army some of which turned violent, which were also widely covered by the Israeli and international press and TV. Emad received in 2005 a first camera from Davidi, a camera which covered not only the incidents around the construction of the wall, but also the life of the inhabitants and of the family, the permanent tension between occupation, protests and the need to run normal lives. Since then he is filming until today, actually if I am not mistaken being a cameraman became his profession. In time five cameras broke, most of them during the various incidents, and the cameras themselves became together with the material that was filmed part of the testimony.

 

(video source movieclips TRAILERS)

 

At no moment does the film make the claim that it is impartial. It would be an impossible claim to make as the five cameras are hold by a person directly involved in the conflict, the commentary is made by the same person, and what we see and hear is a part of the close and harsh reality the author and his family lives in. Eventually both ’5 Broken Cameras’ and ‘The Gatekeepers’ despite their differences share the same problem. Their contents are highly relevant for the Israeli audiences, and the Israelis should watch them in order to understand the consequences of the occupation, the suffering of the other side, the dangers of the status-quo and of the lack of progress in the peace process. However, this is not the whole picture, this is one piece of a complex puzzle, of a long history, complicated present and uncertain future. Of course, there is that much one film (or two films) can show, and reflecting one aspect of the reality is important. The film should be taken for what it is, and the piece of reality that this film is showing should not be confused with the whole reality, as as part of the truth does not equal the whole truth.

Israelis abide to very few myths. In a young country that is a melting pot of people coming from almost one hundred different countries, where a majority of the population is either born some other place or belong to the second generation of children of immigrant parents, what unites even more than the shared traditions (respected in various manners and to very different levels of obedience) or the common history which is for many yet to be learned (if not to be written) are above all the permanent external menaces perceived in many moments, rightly or wrongly, as existential dangers. In such moments the trust of the nation is not that much focused on politicians but on the people who defend the country, some with the arms in hands, other in wars that are more secret than visible. The heads of the military and the heads of the security services – the legendary spy agency Mossad and the internal Security Service ‘Shin-Beth’ as it is called in this film  are living legends for most of the Israelis. Until recently some of them were known only by their initials as long as they lived and were active. Their opinions count, and when they converge, as seems up to a certain extent to be the case in this film, people listen. The first major achievement of director Dror Moreh and the team that made this film is to have brought together six of The Gatekeepers, the former heads of the internal security service of Israel and make them talk about the history of the service, the war on terrorism, the relations with the Palestinian neighbors of Israel, the situation of Israel today, and the perspective ahead. The convergent views of these men should worry all Israelis who have seen or will see the film.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt2309788/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt2309788/

 

There is a lot of good and interesting information that is presented in this film, but of course, not all history and the whole complexity of the conflict could have been brought on screen in a documentary that lasts about 90 minutes. Lacking facts will certainly expose the film to critics from all directions, but these critics would be to some extent unfair. In fact for the Israeli audiences there is nothing completely new here, investigative reporting in the Israeli press, TV documentary movies, and books written by political experts and historians have exposed sometimes in much more details different aspects of the stories presented in this film. What is new and different is the candid manner the makers of the movie succeed to make the six different personalities who successively lead the service talk about the events that took place in the last 45 years, their meaning, their implications. Attentive spectators who also know the differences between the views and positions of the six leaders will perceive also the differences between their opinions and their approaches into presenting the facts, but overall a fascinating perspective is built by getting together their testimonies and the history of the area in the period between the Six Days War and today, the initial euphoria, the lost opportunities, the achievements and the mistakes in the fight against terror, the moral dilemmas and the price of the occupation, the human risks and morality of lack of morality of some of the methods – all come together in a perspective which is amplified by the coherent message delivered by each one of the speakers. If you search for information in this film you will not get the whole picture, and I am quite sure that the film will be much better understood from this point of view by Israelis than by audiences abroad. If you look for the historic trends and for indications about things to come, it’s mandatory viewing, and it does not look like good news, but rather like a very strong warning signal from people who were in the middle of the policy making and security actions of Israel.

 

(video source SupaDupaMovieTrailer)

 

I believe that this film should be seen by as many people as possible and debated in Israel. Best would be probably a screening on prime time TV, but I am not optimistic about this happening soon as prime time TV in Israel seems to be almost fully booked by (i)reality shows. At least, by now The Gatekeepers is distributed commercially and the audiences seem to be interested. However, the more echoes may come from abroad, especially as the film is a candidate for the Oscar in the documentary category, certainly if it also wins the award. The editing of the film is smart, the combination between historical footage and computerized effects puts even more life into the illustrations, and the permanent images of the big screens as a symbol of the technology used to permanently supervise the territories is haunting. I have seen however much more sophisticated technical means put at work in documentaries. ‘The Gatekeepers’ is eventually a talking heads movie and is important because of the stories that the talking heads tell and the message that they deliver.

 

 

 

I met Olivia in a few Internet discussion lists where we were both subscribed. Olivia is a pen name, she introduces herself as a teacher in Connecticut, the state that was at the time of the posting in the news because on (another) tragedy that took place in a school from all places, a tragedy which human mind and soul (for those humans who have minds and souls) have a hard time to cope with. The subject of this posting is however different. Olivia has seen a film about Aristides de Sousa Mendes, a Righteous Among Nations, a man who dared to not obey in order to keep his faith and humanity in times of darkness. (she wrote In Romanian) about the Man and the film and she allowed me to share this with the readers of The Catcher in the Sand.

———–

Film artistic francez cu puternice tonuri documentare, despre ce a facut a facut Sousa Mendes, consulul general al Portugaliei in Frantza in timpul celui de-al doilea rzboi mondial.
Tata a 15 copii, 14 cu la sotia Angelina Mendes, Sousa Mendes s-a considerat catolic. El si-aformulat practicarea credintei in felul urmator
Am sa ma aliez mai curand cu Dumnezeu impotriva omului decat cu omul impotriva lui Dumnezeu.
Nu am inteles ce a vrut sa spuna decat  dupa ce s-a terminat filmul.

source http://www1.yadvashem.org.il/yv/en/righteous/stories/mendes.asp

 

Pus in fata unei situatii imposibile Mendes nu a ezitat sa-si urmeze credinta intr-un Dumnezeu care l-a invatat sa fie  uman si drept iar  omul la care se referea era presedintele Portugaliei Salazar.

Salazar a dat ordin tuturor consulilor Portugaliei in tarile europene afectate de razboi sa nu dea nici un fel de viza eventualilor refugiati temandu-se de un influx de imigranti in Portugalia care ar putea debalansa neutralitatea aproximativa a tarii. Mendez care a asistat la ororile cozilor de refugiati infricosati, infometati, obositi la ambasada lui a hotarat ca nu va asculta ordinul si a emis 30 de mii de vize celor care nu aveau incotro si trebuiau sa paraseasca tara. Alternativa lor ar fi fost moarte sigura. A facut asta cu sacrificii imense, pericol permanent si epuizare fizica. A fost ajutat in aceasta actiune de proportii doar de secretarul consulatului si fiul lui cel mare. Printre cei care au primit vize au fost cetateni rusi, polonezi, romani, francezi, belgieni, refugiati politici, indivizi alungati din tarile de origine care nu aveau unde sa se duca, evrei inainte de arestarea spre camerele de gazare, invalizi bolnavi, bogati, saraci. Ulterior istoricii au declarat aceata actiune a consului Mendes ca mai extinsa operatie de salvare de vieti omenesti indeplinita de un singur individ. Mendes a fost interpelat pana la urma de serviciul secret portughetz si i s-a interzis sa mai emita vize. Acest serviciu secret imi aminteste de securitatea romaneasca tot in mana unui dictator, si la fel de brutala. Fortat sa se intoarca in Portugalia natala, lui Mendes i s-au retras toate drepturile politice si sociale, nu mai avea voie sa munceasca, copiiilor lui li s-a interzice sa mearga la universitati sau sa lucreze, si deci Mendes si-a continuat restul vietii in saracie. A refuzat sa paraseasca Portugalia si sa primeasca ajutor de la cei pe care i-a salvat, printre care se afla si Rothschild cu familia lui, oameni extrem de generosi. Speranta lui Mendes a fost ca il va face pe Salazar, crestin practicant si el  sa inteleaga ca gestul de neasculare a ordinelor a fost dictat de constiinta si religia pe care o practicau amandoi. Salazar l-a umilit pentru tot restul vietii lui, neacordandu-i nici macar o audientza.

(video source CINEMA2000PT)
Am vazut filmul (Desobeir – O Consul de Bordeus) la invitia unor vecini portughezi, vizionare organizata de asociatia portugheza din oras. La vizionare a fost si nepotul lui Mendes, unul din multii desigur, locuieste actualmente in Montreal unde de fapt s-a si nascut. La inceputul filmului a spus cateva cuvinte de introducere, mai nimeni din sala nu auzise de Mendes. La sfarsit spectatorii au avut posibilitatea sa-i puna intrebari. Si au fost multe. Asa am aflat ca dupa moartea lui Mendes s-a inceput o munca intensa pentru reabilitarea lui. Guvernul Suares l-a reabilitat integral i-a recunoscut toate titlurile si drepturile si si-a cerut iertare din partea parlamentului portughez familiei care a suferit atat. Chipul lui Mendes astazi este pe timbre portugheze, numele lui este incrustat pe monumetul de la Yad Vashem din Israel, cu titlul de Drept intre Natiuni (Righteous Among The Nations). Filmul, jucat impecabil de actori francezi este prezentat in sali mici dar in toata america de nord unde au ajuns multi dintre supravietuitori care au primit viza semnata de el. De asemenea filmul este material didactic in Portugalia.Cineva din sala a intrebat de ce aceasta poveste nu e repovestita de un mare regizor si distribuita larg. Nepotul lui Mendes nu a stiut ce sa raspunda dar sunt sigura ca idea nu i-a fost straina. Dupa film s-a servit o gustare, mancaruri specific portugheze. In fundal cineva canta un Fado, noi spectatorii printre mese parca pluteam inaltati de acesta poveste, impartaseam impresii, si atunci in seara acea,m-am simtit portugheza si catolica dar in special mandra ca sunt parte din rasa umana. Asta a facut pentru mine Mendes in seara acea.
——–
Si un documentar despre Aristides de Sousa Mendes pe care l-am gasit pe Internet

(video source Joao Sousa)

Reading some the interviews that Wim Wenders gave about Pina I learned that this film ended to be something quite different from what the director originally intended. While fascinated a long time by Pina Bausch’s creation and especially Cafe Muller, Wenders could not find for a long time the appropriate means of expression to make a film about it. And then something happened – technology developed and 3D came back with a revenge. The revelation was that 3D and filmed dancing are a perfect fit. The result is a film which is unique in its way, hard to enter in any category, a good example actually of how relative and futile categories are.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1440266/

 

What we get on screen is a portrait and a homage to Pina Bausch. While Wim Wenders authored many documentaries about music or history of cinema, this film is not the usual documentary, neither is it a biography (no chronology, no theoretical analysis of her work), but a portrait of an artist who was among the few who revolutionized her discipline, a portrait assembled from testimonies from the dancers who worked with her (although some say no words) and most of all by her art as it was filmed and brought to screen. Maybe the best description I found is the one in the German sub-title of the movie – a Tanzfilm, a Dance Movie.

 

(video source indieculturebox)

 

There are indeed a great deal of beautifully filmed ballet scenes, in different environments, and here we see the hand of a master director, as almost all required innovation in building the sets and making them look like belonging to a cinema event, not to a filmed performance. As I am a fervent spectator of filmed performances of contemporary dance on Mezzo TV especially, I am pretty familiar with the genre.  Wenders succeeds here to work the synthesis, and Pina is both a ballet performance of first class and a cinema event combining the best of the two arts and amplifying it by the power of 3D. The usage of the technology results not only in viewers seeing better and more clearly the performance and the sets (these too), but also making them part of the creative process. In several scenes in the film we see Pina Bausch during repetitions mixing with the dancers, watching and talking with them, working together as a team. With the 3D effect the spectators become part of the work process, part of the show, part of the homage Wenders brings to the great choreographer.

 

 

I spent last night an evening with the Brubecks. The host was the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and the art film festival Epos now at its third edition. Unfortunately I knew too little about the event in the past years and this year I learned about it too late, but this is something to follow in the years to come. The evening program started with the excellent documentary In His Own Sweet Way directed by Bruce Ricker and produced by Clint Eastwood about and with Dave Brubeck and continued with a concert by Darius Brubeck, mostly dedicated to his father’s works.

 

(video source improvisedsolo)

 

The title of the film is inspired by one of the most famous pieces composed by Dave Brubeck (here is on a recording in 1964, with his quartet including preferred saxophonist partner and friend Paul Desmond). It is also a defining story line which is followed with off-voice commentaries in a rather conventional and chronological manner, but gets enriched at each stop by a rich and significant melt of interviews made by the musician during his long career with media figures like Walter Cronkite, and commentaries on the music of Brubeck by experts and artists like Yo-Yo Ma or Sting, and most than all the music itself.  Archived clips take us from the music of the debut years to the 2007 Newport festival concert, and then some music played specially for this film.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwNrmYRiX_o

(video source sixsix)

 

This is the story of a fabulous life, which started in California, continued on the European second world war theaters where his talent is quickly discovered and put to the service on entertaining and raising the moral of the troops and the formal musical studies with Darius Milhaud. The 50s brought him the recognition, the formation of the famous Dave Brubeck Quartet which would accompany him for almost two decades and fame, as jazz was entering mainstream and Brubeck was the first musician in the genre who made the cover of TIME Magazine in 1954. He was also a breakthrough artist in what concerns the penetration of jazz in the popular music attention and hit parades. Take Five above (which also gave the name of the concert last night) was recorded in 1961 and made it to the top in many countries around the world.

 

(video source HAaatUPacific)

 

Brubeck was also part of the first generation of ‘Jazz Ambassadors’ program initiated in 1958 by the State Department, which took the best American jazz musicians in tours world-wide making them known one of the most original forms of art brought to the world by America. This was how American jazz music and some of its bigger musicians reached Romania in the late 60s and start of the 70s. These tours also were a great opportunity for the musicians to be exposed to the music played in other countries and continents. From that period he drew inspiration for pieces like Blue Rondo a la Turk recorded in 1962, this was fusion before the word was applied at all in the musical field.

 

(video source faridb2000)

 

Here he is at an award ceremony at the Kennedy Center in 2009, honored by some of the finest musicians that America has, including his sons. This comes by the end of one of the best music documentaries that I have seen lately, the portrait of an artist whose whole life is music, who loves music and makes people who see and listen to him love it.

 

 

The concert that followed had Darius Brubeck as main performer at piano, with the excellent British saxophonist Dave O’Higgins, and local drummer Shay Zalman and contra-bassist Tal Ronen in the band. Darius is an experimented and articulate pianist, whose luck was to be born in such a family of gifted musicians but this may also have been his handicap because of the comparison everyone immediately draws to his father. His own Web site can be accessed at http://dariusbrubeck.com/. O’Higgins is an excellent saxophonist who would deserve being invited here as separate guest in one of the international jazz series. Both played mostly from the repertoire of the Brubeck Plays Brubeck group they are part of (it is also the name of Dave’s first solo album recorded in 1956). The success and the enthusiastic response of the audience was immediate. A great jazz evening.

A Web site worth being visited is Brubeck Music dedicated to the music of Dave Brubeck and of the members of the whole clan.

As an interesting trivia for my Romanian friends, Darius spent some time in Romania in the last few years playing music and teaching, and his most record To and Fro’ was recorded in concert in May 2010 at the Hungarian Theatre, in Cluj-Napoca.

I am using these days of vacation to catch back with a huge log of reading books and seeing films accumulated during the year. I will of course be able to clear up only a fraction of them. Among these are a few music documentary films, and the first one was Robert Muggee’s Gospel According to Al Green made in 1984.

 

source http://www.kalamu.com/bol/2008/08/11/al-green-%E2%80%9Clay-it-down%E2%80%9D/

 

This film is an interesting snapshot of a career that spins already for almost half a century. Born in Arkansas in 1946, Green made to himself a name since the mid-60s on the scene of soul music, which enjoyed a great success and was promoted widely, nationally in the US and internationally together with other trends (like pop, rock and folk) of the musical revolution of the ‘flower power’ generation.

 

(video source misclasicos)

 

Of the material available on youTube Take me to the River (one of the best known of his own compositions) seems a good example of the type of music Al Green was singing at that time – rhythmic, sensual, charismatic R&B and soul.

 

(video source jamaisledimanche)

 

And then, in 1974 the change happened. A personal life incident (described by Green in the documentary film in a different version than the one recorded by other sources like the Wikipedia entry dedicated to the singer) triggered a process of returning to religion, and in only a couple of year we see Green becoming a reverend and buying his own church (this is also described in the documentary).

More and more gospel takes precedence in his records and performances. From this period here is Jesus is Waiting, a fascinating rendition, about which I will quote two comments from youTube, which reflect the mix of spirituality and musical fascination that was felt by his fans and followers:

- as a lifetime atheist, this is the closest ive ever been to god

- That’s the sexiest Lords Prayer I have ever heard lol!


(video source eubank12)

 

The documentary itself includes testimonies by Al Green’s musical partners about his beginnings, about the road to success, and his transformation from a soul to a gospel artist. The musical parts are recorded in one of his performances at a military base, and in his own church in Memphis – and this is certainly the most interesting part, as it documents how music becomes part of the religious discourse and ceremonies, and how the word gospel truly merges and combines its two meanings.

From this period Amazing Grace is one of the good exemplifications.

 

(video source dtvmusic)

 

As I said the film was made in 1984, at a time when his life was mostly dedicated to religion and as a singer he was singing only gospel. More than a quarter of century later we know however that as his career continued, Green returned to some of his non-religious songs, in a tentative to regain some of the success of his younger years. Here he is still introduced as ‘reverend Al Green working the crowds in a televised show in 2010, singing one of his initial successes Let’s Stay Together (a love ballad), with a voice that sounds amazingly young.

The 1984 film catches Green at a point in his evolution, which did not follow exactly the expected track. Asked in the film how he sees his life and career 20 or 30 years later, he predicts an universal acceptance of the gospel, and him as a priest of it. It is however more to the non-religious soul music that he is still known today, while the religious fulfillment did not disappear but was pushed back more to the space of his private life.

 

I knew nothing about Stefan and Franciszka Themerson before seeing the documentary directed by Wiktoria Szymanska on ARTE TV. The film starts by filming the couple of artists – he was a writer, a composer and a film maker, she was a painter and illustrator at their old age, settled in Britain. It was the end of a long road that took them from their native Poland where they began as avant-garde artists in the 1920s, to Paris, the capital of arts in the 30s. When war broke Franciszka flew to England, Stefan stayed for a while in occupied France (that was the only time when they were separated after they had met), then joined her. They made films with the Polish propaganda studios during the war, and then stayed in England for the coming decades.

 

source http://deckert-distribution.com/film-catalogue/art-music-culture/themerson-themerson/

 

In the dull after-war British landscape they created colorful and merry art, were in the center of the artistic and intellectual life and opened an editing house Gaberbocchus Press. Here they translated and made known to the English readers some of the earlier decades French experimental writers and poets like Alfred Jarry and Guillaume Apollinaire. In the 60s Franciszka worked stage sets for theater in Sweden, and then the two moved for a few years in the Netherlands. They spent their final years in England, and died a few months apart one of the other.

 

source http://strawdogs.wordpress.com/2011/05/03/franciszka-themerson/franciszka-themerson-4/

 

Here is one of drawings created by Franciszka typical to the style she used in the many book illustrations that she created.

 

(video source richubertson)

 

The first minutes of the documentary filmed presented by ARTE can be seen here. The film traces the lives of the two artists, their multiple directions and means of expression, their careers with ups and downs but first of all it is a love story of two charming people who seem to have radiated goodness and joie de vivre – the joy of living and creating to all who met them and now remember them dearly.

 

(video source BolVVVerk)

 

Calling Mr. Smith (you can see it above) is the first of the two films made by the Themersons in England during the war. It tells about the atrocities committed by the Nazis in occupied Poland.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6_pe29WgQM

(video source sellarco)


Here is Oko I Ucho (The Eye and The Year), the second film made during the war at the Polish Studios in London in 1944/45, an example of experimental animation inspired by four songs by the Polish composer Karol Szymanowsky.

 

sourcehttp://www.themersonarchive.com/pageCmed.htm

 

Franciszka’s style change towards the end of her life, she painted om larger canvases on almost abstract representations in a more dramatic mood. Here is ‘And so it goes’ - painting from 1977.

Seeing this documentary made me think that some of the avant-garde artists of the 20th century resemble the Renaissance artists in their multiple means of expression, their holistic view of the world, their thirst of exploring, discovering imagining. The Themerson Archives Web site allow all of you to learn more about these two wonderful artists and people – http://www.themersonarchive.com/index.htm