Film Festivals

The 1999 Toronto International Film Festival—fifth and final in a series of articles by David Walsh

The importance of knowing something about the world

7 October 1999

Thirty years ago it would have been widely accepted that objective knowledge about society and history was an asset for a filmmaker. Of course some took advantage of their audience at the time and made works that were merely radical tracts, not enduring works of art. The better film artists, however, adopted a serious attitude toward social life and aesthetics. Today by and large such an attitude is considered a hindrance. Pastiche, improvisation, surface gloss are highly valued; art is apparently produced by the organization of clever accidents. This is a temporary state of affairs, but a costly and destructive one. Art, including bad art, has consequences.

The 1999 Toronto International Film Festival—fourth in a series of articles by David Walsh

Some problems the cinema is equipped to deal with

5 October 1999

The partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 was an historic tragedy of terrible proportions. One million Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims died in its communalist aftermath, some 14 million people were forced to leave their homes—the greatest human migration ever recorded. Shadows in the Dark is an effort by Indian filmmaker Pankaj Butalia to trace out the enduring psychological legacy of partition.

The 1999 Toronto International Film Festival-third in a series of article by David Walsh

Films from Taiwan and China

2 October 1999

This seems to me a legitimate question: is the fact that one is so astonished by the best films from Taiwan a tribute to the remarkable advances in filmmaking made in that country, or does it simply underscore the general weakness of cinema in much of the rest of the world? Put another way: is the strength of the Taiwanese films merely a relative phenomenon, or does it contain an absolute element? I don't know if it's possible to answer this in any precise way, but I suspect that both factors come into play.

The 1999 Toronto International Film Festival— second in a series of articles by David Walsh

A dry bone in a stream

The Wind Will Carry Us, written and directed by Abbas Kiarostami, based on an idea by Mahmoud Ayedin

28 September 1999

I felt that Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami's The Wind Will Carry Us was the most complex and intellectually challenging film at the recent Toronto festival. To a certain extent, it was in a category by itself.

The 1999 Toronto International Film Festival

First in a series of articles by David Walsh

24 September 1999

Cinema, good and bad, has an ever larger audience. Many factors account for this, but one fact of life struck me after ten days at the Toronto film festival: even the least developed figures in films are more appealing, as a rule, than the individuals who dominate political and social life. This has international application, but seems particularly true for the United States. It is positively painful, after having immersed oneself in 45 films or so from various countries, to be confronted once again by the coarseness, stupidity and general vileness of American politicians and media personalities.

An interview with Deepa Mehta, director of Earth

"If people want to separate they should understand what it would really mean"

By Richard Phillips, 6 August 1999

Indian-born director Deepa Mehta spoke with Richard Phillips last month following her attendance at the Melbourne International Film Festival. The festival, like its Sydney counterpart, screened Earth, Mehta's latest work. The film, based on the novel Cracking India by Bapsi Sidhwa, deals with the 1947 partition of India, as witnessed by a child. Earth will be released world-wide in mid-September with Australian screenings beginning in Melbourne on September 16 and Sydney showings sometime in October.

1999 Sydney Film Festival

A conversation with Petr Lutsik

"To show there is still something alive in the soul of the people"

By Richard Phillips, 17 July 1999

Petr Lutsik, the 39-year-old Ukrainian born film director of Outskirts began his formal education in the film industry after he had graduated from the Moscow Institute of Steel Technologies in 1982. Lutsik enrolled at the Moscow Film Academy, specialising in scriptwriting, and went on to work as an assistant director and administrator for the Uzbekfilm Studio in 1984-85 before collaborating with Alexei Samorijadov on scripts for eight feature films. Outskirts, released in 1998, is his directorial debut.

1999 Sydney Film Festival

Works of genuine artistry, worthy efforts and some others

By Richard Phillips, 15 July 1999

Every film festival presents its patrons with a dilemma. What to choose from the large and varied array of work screened? What "cinematic windows" to look through? The general principle that I follow is to first see the movies recommended by WSWS reviewers from other film festivals. This is imperative given that the majority of these films will never be shown on commercial release in any Australian cinemas.

1999 Sydney Film Festival

An interview with Bertrand Tavernier

"My job is to dream and invent, and out of this produce something that will change the world"

By Richard Phillips, 10 July 1999

Bertrand Tavernier, veteran French film director, screenwriter and producer is a warm and gregarious man with an encyclopaedic knowledge of American and international film. In a cultural environment dominated by cynicism and the promotion of historical ignorance, Tavernier is a rare figure, someone genuinely concerned about what is happening to working people, deeply hostile to anti-immigrant racism and like-minded legislation, and determined to help create the artistic and intellectual environment that will produce progessive social change. Tavernier spoke with World Socialist Web Site reporter, Richard Phillips during the Sydney Film Festival.

The San Francisco International Film Festival - Part 6

Some older or lesser known films

By David Walsh, 17 May 1999

One of the pleasures of the San Francisco festival is the opportunity to see older films, many of which would be difficult to see in any other circumstance. The festival organizers find various pretexts to present such works, this program and that, but I think, at heart, they simply value the opportunity to screen rare and unusual works, and I am grateful for it.

David Walsh on the San Francisco International Film Festival--Part 5

Sixteen films, briefly

15 May 1999

Arturo Ripstein is a leading Mexican filmmaker. Born in Mexico City in 1943 and the son of a film producer, Ripstein grew up in the movie industry. While still at university he worked as an assistant to famed Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel on The Exterminating Angel (1962). At the age of 21 he directed his first film, based on a script by Gabriel Garcia Márquez and Carlos Fuentes. Since that time he has directed 20 more.

David Walsh on the San Francisco International Film Festival--Part 3

Some films from the Balkans and Africa

11 May 1999

The San Francisco festival screened three films from the former Yugoslavia: Black Cat, White Cat, directed by Emir Kusturica, The Powder Keg by Goran Paskaljevic and The Wounds by Srdjan Dragojevic.

David Walsh on the San Francisco International Film Festival--Part 2

Conversations with three filmmakers

8 May 1999

While in San Francisco I spoke to Aktan Abdykalikov, the director of Beshkempir--The Adopted Son, a sensitive film from the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan. Abdykalikov, an unassuming and intelligent man, explained, through a Russian translator, that he had grown up in a village some 20 miles from the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek and still lived there.

David Walsh on the San Francisco International Film Festival--Part 1

The anatomy of melancholy

6 May 1999

I recently attended the first week of the San Francisco film festival, which ends May 6, and saw a good many films, some of them genuinely valuable and fascinating. When I was not watching a screen, I was walking up and down hills, or gazing out at the bay. We can't help ourselves; we are continually looking at new phenomena or trying to make sense, or more sense, of familiar ones.

The Berlin Film Festival - Part 4

Two German films about fascism

By Stefan Steinberg and Bernd Reinhardt, 11 March 1999

Two German feature films presented at the recent Berlin film festival approached the theme of fascism from very different standpoints and with varying degrees of success. Aimee and Jaguar,by German director Max Faerboeck, opened the official competition at this year's festival. Based on the life of Lilly Wust, now 85 and living in Berlin, it deals with her love affair with the Jewish woman, Felice Schragenheim. When they first meet, Lilly already has four children and a husband on the Eastern front. Under such circumstances, Lilly considers filing for divorce and begins living with Felice. It is 1943 in Berlin, two years before the end of the war.

The 49th Berlin Film Festival: Part 3--documentary films from Germany, Switzerland and Austria

By Stefan Steinberg and Bernd Reinhardt, 10 March 1999

In addition to some international contributions addressing the issue of fascism, this year's Berlinale was marked by a significant number of German films dealing with this subject. Several films examined the persecution of the Jews during the Third Reich and in light of the campaign against foreign workers in many European countries today, including Germany, and the rise of extreme right-wing tendencies, these works have a particular relevance. In addition, a number of documentary films at the festival probed pressing social issues, including the situation in the states of the former GDR (Stalinist East Germany) where mass unemployment has led to a pronounced social polarization.

The 49th Berlin Film Festival: Part 2--the latest from Tavernier and a film from Turkey

By Stefan Steinberg and Bernd Reinhardt, 4 March 1999

Two films of considerable merit at the Berlin Film Festival were the new work from veteran French director Bertrand Tavernier, It All Starts Today, and a new film from Turkey, Journey to the Sun.

The 49th Berlin Film Festival: Part 1

By Stefan Steinberg and Bernd Reinhardt, 3 March 1999

Two correspondents from the World Socialist Web Site attended the recent 49th Berlin Film Festival, viewing some 40 of the 350 films on offer there from all over the world. The winner of the main prize, the Golden Bear, was the fine American anti-war film The Thin Red Line, which has already been reviewed on the WSWS. In our selection of films to review we paid less attention to Hollywood and European blockbusters that will shortly be appearing on general release, but sought out less well-known international productions, as well as examples of new German cinema.

“Not to banalise, not to rewrite, but to keep the discussion going”: Radu Mihaileanu’s Train of Life

By Stefan Steinberg, 26 November 1998

The 8th Cottbus Film Festival of young East European film was also the venue for the German premiere of Train de Vie ( Train of Life) by the Rumanian director Radu Mihaileanu. The film is guaranteed a controversial reception should it reach German audiences (up until now it has no German distributor), above all for its subject matter—the use of humour in dealing with the deportation of the Jews during the Second World War.

A review of recent east European cinema

Film festival in Cottbus, Germany—November 11-15

By Stefan Steinberg, 24 November 1998

A visit to the annual festival of young east European film in the German city of Cottbus provides a glimpse of the enormous problems confronting cinema and filmmakers in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe following the restoration of capitalism.

Pennebaker and Hegedus: seminal figures in American documentary film

By Richard Phillips, 12 August 1998

This is the last in the series of articles on the 45th Sydney Film Festival.

David Walsh looks at the San Francisco film festival

Blacklisted film director John Berry honored

By David Walsh, 9 June 1998

This is the last in a series of articles about the 1998 San Francisco International Film Festival

The Apostle

Robert Duvall's false objectivity

By Kate Randall, 24 March 1998

In addition to starring in The Apostle, Robert Duvall wrote, directed and produced the film. Duvall worked on the project for 10 years, and put up his own money to finance the production when none was forthcoming from Hollywood. It must be said that Duvall the actor outshines Duvall the director in this film. He stars as Euliss "Sonny" Dewey, an aging, fiery Pentecostal preacher from Texas.

The 48th Berlin International Film Festival

A number of valuable new works

By Stefan Steinberg, 3 March 1998

At first glance the Berlin International Film Festival presented a bewildering array of films from dozens of countries. A perusal of the reviews and documentation was necessary to determine which films appeared to go beyond mere Hollywood-type entertainment and offer fresh and challenging material.