Critic Joan Dupont went in search of filmmaker Nelly Kaplan, whom she had met at an awards ceremony in Paris over a decade ago. She was famous for one film, La Fiancée du Pirate (A Very Curious Girl, 1969), which had taken France and the international world of women’s film festivals by storm. She had slipped out of sight; nobody seemed to know where she was or why. At the Cinémathèque Française, there was only a kind of embarrassment when her name was mentioned and no plan to show her films. This past year has seen a resurgence of interest in the work of Kaplan, and the restoration and rerelease of some of her work by Lobster Films. Dupont met with Kaplan at her Paris apartment to discuss past, present, and future.
Editor in Chief, B. Ruby Rich, weighs in on the latest in film and media culture. She recaps the recent Visible Evidence conference that took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina; reviews the content of the current issue, and introduces the important dossier on black film and media.
Syrian Cellphone Documentaries
Rithy Panh’s Exiles
Emiko Omori’s Camera Eye
Virtual Reality: Beyond the Platform
Casting JonBenet, Multiple Maniacs,
Their Finest, The Jewel and the Crown,
Bellas de noche, Plaza del la Soledad
Reports from True/False, Full Frame, Orphans
By happy coincidence, Mexico in 2016 yielded two expert and moving documentaries on women, sex, and aging: María José Cuevas’s Bellas de noche (Beauties of the Night) and Maya Goded’s Plaza de la Soledad (Solitude Square). Both are first-time features by female directors. And both are attempts to reclaim previously neglected subjects: showgirls of the 1970s and sex workers in their seventies, respectively. Moreover, lengthy production processes in which the filmmakers cohabitated with their subjects have resulted in films that are clearly love letters to their protagonists.
The idea that a struggle can be waged via cinema is an appealing one today, as so many other battlefields seem already lost. For me, there is always hope lurking in film and television and, increasingly, online media. Political obstacles may seem insurmountable, but as I am fond of declaring: nobody has to elect a film. You can buy your ticket or download the new season or share the latest upload or streaming evidence and—at press time, at least—no one can stop you.
The Cinémathèque Française in Paris announced it would present a major retrospective of Arzner’s films in March and April. Whatever one might say about the many treasures of the Cinémathèque, one fact is incontrovertible: women film directors have never figured prominently. Could the Arzner program offer a refreshing change in the Cinémathèque’s offerings, perhaps even a sign that traditional French cinephilia is loosening its hold on French film culture? Sadly, not.
James Baldwin: Vocalizing History
Digital Sovereignty Online
Billy Woodberry’s Return to Form
Thriller’s Queer Feminist History
Rotterdam & Sundance Festivals
Writings on Juana Inés, Jackie, Earth
and Kate Plays Christine
RIP John Berger
Editor B. Ruby Rich weighs in on the latest issue of FQ, new revivals in a time of duress, trends in distribution, FQ’s approach to watching, writing, thinking about cinema and media in a time of ongoing political repression, and more.
Interviews with Barry Jenkins, and Maren Ade
Girl Power on Screen in Girlhood, The Fits, Arrival, Into the Forest, and Certain Women
Queen Sugar in Column Debut
Cuban Retrospective at DocLisboa
RIP Juan Gabriel
Chantal Akerman’s sound strategies are defining elements of a unique film language noted for effects that feel close to direct experience and seem to approximate the passing of real time. Drawing from a range of Akerman’s films, from Saute Ma Ville (1968) to No Home Movie (2015), five categories of sound that are of special interest in Akerman’s films are considered: walking, talking, singing (music), exploding, and silence. Local examples are analyzed to give a sense of how, within these five categories, Akerman cultivated an overall tactic of desynchron- ization – often separating layers of sound from one another within the soundtrack, and always working the soundtrack as a whole against the visual image track – to amplify effects of immediacy and temporal complexity, and to generate layers of meaning powerfully but indirectly.