In 2002, Karim Aïnouz’s first feature film, Madame Satã, premiered in the Un Certain Regard section of Cannes with a trigger warning attached. One of the first queer feature films to come out of Brazil, it presented an unvarnished representation of a real-life character—João Francisco dos Santos, a street-smart drag queen—which evidently caused concern for the festival organizers. In the event, half of the audience walked out, incensed by a tensely homoerotic sex scene.
Getting fired from a soap opera may have been the turning point in Wayne Wang’s life and career. In 1974, Wang had returned to his native Hong Kong, armed with a graduate degree in film from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. He landed a gig at Royal Television Hong Kong (RTHK), one of the city’s biggest studios, and found himself in the company of such fellow new wave filmmakers as Tsui Hark, Ann Hui, and Allen Fong. Wang recalled: “We were all young with ‘We’re going to change the world’ attitudes
Marina Razbezhkina is a well-known Russian documentary filmmaker, educator, and founder of the largest independent documentary school in the country. Her very original approach to documentary, which combines intimate proximity to the protagonist with raw observational aesthetics, revolutionized the Russian film landscape and became the trademark of her school. Her students most often work as a one-person crew with a lightweight hand-held camera shadowing their protagonists up close. This “hunt for reality,” as Razbezhkina terms the practice, usually results in deeply engaging observational documentaries that completely absorb the viewer into an unfamiliar reality. In this interview Razbezhkina talks about the beginnings of her career, explains the origins and the core of her filmmaking method, and discusses the changing role of documentary in the modern world.
Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera’s recent film The Infiltrators uses a bold mix of film forms to tell the true story of a group of young undocumented activists who intentionally detain themselves in a South Florida immigration detention facility. Styled as a heist film, Ibarra and Rivera weave together verité footage, testimony, and reenactment to produce a compelling argument against immigration detention. In Diana Ruiz’s interview, Ibarra and Rivera discuss the ways in which The Infiltrators problematizes extractive modes of documentary film and how the project’s requisite reenactment brought about unexpected results. They also discuss the creative and political dimensions of “undocumented storytelling,” which relates to the filmmakers’ enduring commitment to depicting fully dimensional representations of immigrants and Latinx experiences.
In this wide-ranging yet intimate interview, the iconic French filmmaker Agnès Varda reflects on her career over tea with Film Quarterly contributing editor Joan Dupont. Varda discusses the themes of feminism and freedom that unite her films, from Le bonheur (1965) to Vagabond (1985) along with her enduring interest in sharing the stories of others, as she did most recently in collaboration with the visual artist JR in Faces Places (2017). Over the course of several conversations, Varda shares insights into her methods and obsessions, her enduring vision and constant reinventions.
Rob White interviews Patricio Guzmán about, Nostalgia for the Light his latest film exploring the aftermath of Chile’s 1973 coup d’état