Thursday, October 31, 2013

Another Year, Another BIFF

1. The Past dir: Asghar Farhadi
At the very first BIFF I attended I saw four films. The last of those films was Farhadi’s About Elly and I’m convinced that when the workers tore down the Regent Cinema a year or so later they found a chair with my hand prints imprinted in it. Aside from being nerve-wracking About Elly was the first film I ever saw that hinged on an entirely different set of cultural norms to those I was familiar with. All of which is a rather long winded way of saying that I have no intention of missing a Farhadi film.

2. Outrage Beyond dir: Takeshi Kitano
The only previous Takeshi film I’ve seen is Hana-bi. Having said that, I love that film’s curious mixture of brutal violence and goofy sentiment. I also love its idiosyncratic editing and marvelously suspenseful bank heist scene. In short it’s long past time that I saw another – even if it is the rather tepidly received Outrage Beyond.

3. The Missing Picture dir: Rithy Panh
This film’s reception plus its premise of brutal history mixed with dollhouse reconstructions makes it a must see.

4.  Fallen City dir: Zhao Qi – and 5. ‘Til Madness Do Us Part dir: Wang Bing
Ever since I went to Rotterdam in 2012 and saw films like Bachelor Mountain, Shattered, Born in Beijing and Apuda DV, ethnographically minded documentaries from China have been one of my favorite film types – a feeling reinforced by seeing Petition and Three Sisters recently. Documentaries seem so much more revealing when they focus on their subjects’ behavior or when the interviewer actually leaves space for the interviewed to really express themselves. And the rapid change, dramatic rural/urban divide and history in China create so much rich subject matter to be mined. So of course I’m seeing the two Chinese documentaries at BIFF – especially the one by Wang Bing, the acknowledged master of the form.