Okay, I’m still having trouble getting back here everyday with topics. I’m going to stop promising stuff and just get into the habit of writing instead of waiting for inspiration to strike me. Today is just going to be recommendations however because why the hell not? Note some of these movies are separated into multiple parts! Tomorrow I will do short films. It’s already queued up.
Cheick Oumar Sissoko – Genesis
(entire film available with English subtitles. Separated in 10 parts)
Genesis is a visually stunning film of the Biblical story of the house of Abraham, told from an African perspective. Based on chapters 33-37 of the book of Genesis, the film portrays the bitter rivalry between the brothers Jacob and Esau, which threatens to engulf both clans in a never-ending cycle of violence.
Jacob the Hebrew herder has tricked his older brother Esau (famed African musician Salif Keita) out of his birthright, so Esau and his tribe of nomadic hunters plot revenge on Jacob and his people. Their Cannanite cousins, led by Hamor, are drawn into the conflict. When Jacob’s daughter Dina is abducted by Hamor’s son Sichem, he allows them to marry. But Jacob’s sons are still angry, leading to further violence.
Unlike Hollywood’s sanitized versions of the Bible, Genesis shows men driven as much by greed and anger as by devotion to God. Using the striking African landscape, director Sissoko creates a powerful story of hatred and revenge that resonates in many parts of the world today.
Fernando E. Solanas – Social Genocide
No English subtitles for this one unfortunately.
After the fall of the military dictatorship in 1983, successive democratic governments launched a series of reforms purporting to turn Argentina into the world’s most liberal and prosperous economy. Less than twenty years later, the Argentinians have lost literally everything: major national companies have been sold well below value to foreign corporations; the proceeds of privatizations have been diverted into the pockets of corrupt officials; revised labour laws have taken away all rights from employees; in a country that is traditionally an important exporter of foodstuffs, malnutrition is widespread; millions of people are unemployed and sinking into poverty; and their savings have disappeared in a final banking collapse. The film highlights numerous political, financial, social and judicial aspects that mark out Argentina’s road to ruin. –Trigon Film
Sidney Meyers – The Quiet One
The story of a lonely young boy growing up in Harlem. Using a semi-documentary technique, the film-makers realistically capture the hostile environment which leads the boy to delinquency. The youth is sent to Wiltwyck School for rehabilitation, where a psychiatrist and counselor try to break through the wall of silence which the boy uses to hide his fear and bitterness. —IMDb
Bert Stern – Jazz on a Summer’s Day
In 1958, Bert Stern took a film crew to Newport, Rhode Island for the Newport Jazz Festival. No film has ever presented a greater array of talent in a more complementary fashion. Thelonious Monk builds a lovely version of “Blue Monk” and Anita O’Day sings “Sweet Georgia Brown” and “Tea for Two,” with Jack Teagarden and Louis Armstrong performing “Rockin’ Chair.” Eric Dolphy plays with the Chico Hamilton Quartet, and Mahalia Jackson, Dinah Washington, Chuck Berry and the George Shearing Quintet also perform. What a movie! –Telluride Film Festival
Charles Burnett – Nightjohn
Sarny, a 12-year-old slave girl in the ante-bellum South, faces a relatively hopeless life. Then Nightjohn arrives. A former runaway slave who bears telltale scars on his back, he takes Sarny under his wing and, in exchange for a pinch of tobacco, secretly begins to teach her to read and write, a crime punishable by death. “Words,” he says, “are freedom. Slavery is made of words: laws, deeds and passes.” –IMDb
Haile Gerima – Harvest: 3000 years
I’m always moved by films made out of necessity, by people who simply had to pick up a camera and shoot, to tell a story that no one else was telling. Particularly when those films are made under challenging circumstances. It’s easy for us, in the United States and in Europe, to take our systems and traditions for granted. Making a movie is always hard, but making a movie in an undeveloped nation, during a state of unrest, for and about a population that will have little chance of ever seeing it, is next to impossible.
The great Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima came to UCLA to study filmmaking in the early 70s, and it was during that time that he conceived and made the film that you’re about to see, in a beautiful new restoration from the Cineteca di Bologna. Harvest 3000 Years was shot on black and white 16mm, over two weeks during Gerima’s summer vacation, with non-actors speaking Amharic, during the civil wars. It was made on the run, right after the overthrow of Haile Selassie and right before the installation of a military dictatorship. On top of everything else, Gerima was prepared to adapt the theme of his film to the most recent political developments. Difficult conditions, you might say. I’d call them all but impossible.
That sense of impossibility pervades every frame of Harvest 3000 Years. It has a particular kind of urgency which few pictures possess. This is the story of an entire people, and its collective longing for justice and good faith. An epic, not in scale but in emotional and political scope. —Martin Scorsese, World Cinema Foundation
Harvest 3000 years (Mirt Sost Shi Amit) provides an epic and harsh picture of peasant life in contemporary rural Ethiopia, which despite a few indications of modernity still seems to be immersed in a different time. It is the description of the fight and resistance of a people against the abuse of large landowners, conveyed with the power of militant and avant-garde cinema. It evokes the history of Italian colonialism, which has left its indelible traces on the black and white of the frames.
Harvest 3000 years, filmed by Haile Gerima in 1976, is a timeless masterpiece, a visual poem that possesses the power, expressiveness and physicality of silent film. It represents a cry for help, a condemnation that shows itself through a clear and solid form of cinema in every frame.
Gerima narrates the days of the peasants, from when they awake at dawn to sunset, from their work in the fields to housework, with documentary precision and visionary intensity, from a viewpoint in which crude realism is contaminated by depths inhabited by nightmares, dreamlike and sometimes grotesque signs, and by a gallery of unforgettable faces carved in (cinematic) time.
With Harvest 3000 years, and his other works, Haile Gerima, Ethiopia’s most important filmmaker and an invaluable exponent of the African diaspora, has created an original and necessary genre, examining the history and memories of the Ethiopian people, of deported African slaves and the African-American community. —Giuseppe Gariazzo
Born in Flames – dir. Lizzie Borden
Set ten years after the most peaceful revolution in United States history, a revolution in which a socialist government gains power, this films presents a dystopia in which the issues of many progressive groups – minorities, liberals, gay rights organizations, feminists – are ostensibly dealt with by the government, and yet there are still problems with jobs, with gender issues, with governmental preference and violence. In New York City, in this future time, a group of women decide to organize and mobilize, to take the revolution farther than any man – and many women – ever imagined in their lifetimes.
Hour of the Furnaces: Notes and Testimony on Neocolonialism, Violence and Liberation.
Part 1 Neocolonialism and Violence.
“This legendary underground film criticized neo-colonialism and called for the overthrow of the Argentine government. Intended to be a film which “the System finds indigestible,” La Hora was made and distributed outside of the commercial film industry. Because watching the film was illegal, the film transcended bourgeois entertainment: “We also discovered that every comrade who attended such showings did so with full awareness that he was infringing the System’s laws and exposing his personal security to eventual repression. This person was no longer a spectator; on the contrary, from the moment he decided to attend the showing, from the moment he lined himself up on this side by taking risks and contributing his living experience to the meeting, he became an actor, a more important protagonist than those who appeared in the films.”
Note: The other two parts are also available on Youtube with closed captions in English, German, and French.
María Luisa Bemberg – I, the Worst of All
Set in 17th-century Mexico during the Inquisition, this tragedy chronicles the true story of a rebellious, highly educated nun—writer/poet Sister Juana Ines de la Cruz (1651-1695)—who is persecuted for her radical ideas, after her mentors, the Spanish Viceroy and his wife, return to Europe
Full movie with English subtitles.