Classics

Die Letzten Heimposamenter (1973)
Yves Yersin
Switzerland
112′
At the beginning of the 1970s: Who are the people who practice the dying craft of home posing in Baselbiet? And what problems do they have to contend with? Exciting and moving picture of social and economic contexts and dependencies and living monument of a once flourishing craft. A milestone of Swiss documentary filmmaking
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The Beekeeper - O melissokomos (1986)
Theo Angelopoulos
Greece
122′
In THE BEEKEEPER, alienation and despair have so mestastasized in the film's central figure that he's virtually one of the walking dead. Spyros, a man soured by a secret, incestuous love for his daughter, on the day of her wedding, gives up his position as a schoolteacher, his wife, his home and his city to take up again the profession of his father and grandfather before him traveling across Greece to the town in which he was born and first learned to tend the bees, following the traditional beekeeper's route, looking for flowers that will produce the best honey, a wanderer obsessed by his job. Like a bee returning to its hive after searching for food he visits his old friends and his childhood home looking for threads to bind him to the present. He drives from town to town revisiting his old haunts and comrades relighting and reliving his history in his memory, trying to reconcile his past ideals with a swiftly changing nation that makes him feel uncomfortable. At some point he picks up a promiscuous young hitchhiker who sporadically tags along with him during his journey and seems to represent a new generation without memory and unconcerned with the past, drifting from one place to the next, flitting between the blinking lights of motor vehicles, gas stations, diners, cheap hotels and traffic signs along the dark, wet glistening roadways of present-day Greece. He becomes obsessed by her. She both irritates and entices him. What he seeks in her is a contact with the future. But for her the future is a casual encounter with the next moment. In the impossibility of their relationship there is a profound despair of a man without a future. He senses a rupture, but it's not the traditional one of the conflict of generations. It's really a rupture of language. He cannot communicate, even with love, with the body. From that comes his crisis of despair. Toward his end, he takes refuge in an abandoned cinema called the Pantheon. There, mocked by the sterile white screen above him, he tries - and fails - to bring himself to life in an attempt to connect sexually with the young hitchhiker but there can be no connection between these people from different worlds, either physical or emotional. For Spyros the past is everything, for her it is nothing. In Angelopoulos' words, «It's the conflict between memory and non-memory.» In the long run she only reminds him of his loneliness and isolation. Unable to come to come to terms with the present, betrayed by the past, wary of the future, Spyros falls back into silence and isolation and returns to his hives, abandoning himself to the stings of his bees.
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Terra em transe - Land Entranced (1967)
Glauber Rocha
Brazil
108′
El Dorado, a fictional country. Paulo, a poetry-writing intellectual, oscillates between the political extremes. First he devotes himself to the right-wing conservative Diaz, until he sees through the latter’s pseudo-religious fascism. Then he takes the side of Vieira, the populist reformer who wants to free the country of its misery. But Paulo’s true love is for Sara, the communist who works for Vieira. Paulo is forced to realize that both are interested only in power, not in change, and that they are willing to use any means to achieve their end. Disappointed and despairing, he sets off on his own path as a revolutionary, a path on which Sara is no longer able to follow him. He is shot and dies a lonely death, with a gun in his hand, sending a signal for others to take up arms. The lasting relevance of this masterpiece lies in the scene of long agony before Paulo dies. Sara calls out the question to him, “What does your death prove?” And he answers, “The victory of beauty and justice!” Glauber Rocha trusts in culture’s power of survival and connects it with the necessary struggle for social justice.
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Downpour (1972)
Bahram Beyzaie
Iran
130′
Bahram Beyzaie’s debut feature about a well-meaning schoolteacher in Tehran who's embattled by changes of fortune, was enormously successful in its time, but had fallen out of view in post-revolutionary Iran. This version presents the film as restored in 2011 by the World Cinema Foundation at Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna/L’immagine Ritrovata laboratory, with the involvement of Bahram Beyzaie himself.
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After the Curfew (1954)
Usmar Ismail
Indonesia
103′
A little-known, passionate tale of a revolutionary hero returning to civilian life after the liberation from Dutch colonial rule that took top honours at Indonesia’s Citra Film Awards, 1955. Lewat Djam Malam (After the Curfew) is a passionate work looking directly at a crucial moment of conflict in Indonesian history: the aftermath of the four-year Republican revolution which brought an end to Dutch rule. This is a visually and dramatically potent film about anger and disillusionment, about the dream of a new society cheapened and misshapen by government repression on the one hand and bourgeois complacency on the other. The film’s director, Usmar Ismail, is generally considered to be the father of Indonesian cinema, and his entire body of work was directly engaged with ongoing evolution of Indonesian society. He began as a playwright and founder of Maya, a drama collective that began during the years of Japanese occupation. And it was during this period when Ismail developed an interest in filmmaking. He began making films for Andjar Asmara in the late 40s and then started Perfini (Perusahaan Film Nasional Indonesian) in 1950, which he considered his real beginning as a filmmaker. Lewat Djam Malam, a co-production between Perfini and Djamaluddin Malik’s company Persari, was perhaps Ismail’s greatest critical and commercial success.
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Alyam, Alyam (1978)
Ahmed El Maanouni
Morocco
87′
Set in a small village in the Moroccan countryside, Alyam, Alyam tells a story culled from the lived reality of young men almost forty years ago while still remaining very much of the present day. A young man named Abdelwahed pins his dreams of a better life for himself and his family on travelling to France and finding work there. As the eldest of eight children, he becomes the principal caretaker and breadwinner for his family after his father passes away. He fills out forms and waits for his work permit to arrive. Meanwhile, Hlima, his recently widowed mother who’s reticent to let him go, tries in vain to dissuade him and enlists the help of Abdelwahed’s grandfather too. As the days flow by to the cadence of life in the countryside, marked by the hardships of farming, Abdelwahed waits. All he can do is wait. Straddling fiction and documentary, Alyam, Alyam is Ahmed El Maanouni’s first narrative feature, and the first Moroccan film ever to be selected at the Cannes Film Festival. Recently restored, the film’s splendor and finely crafted editing has become available once again for cinéphiles and new generations to discover.
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with bonus
Cairo Station (1958)
Youssef Chahine
Egypt
73′
Melodrama and thriller, social drama and love story in one, the masterly feature film by the Egyptian director Youssef Chahine, made in 1958, is located entirely on the station grounds. The old Madbouli is the owner of a kiosk at Cairo's main railway station. One day he finds a half-starved, poor man at the edge of the tracks. Madbouli feels sorry for the sad-looking, limping farmer Kenaoui and hires him as a flying newspaper salesman. At work, Kenaoui meets the beautiful Hanouma every day, who also earns her living at the station by supplying travellers with lemonade drinks. Kenaoui falls for the cheerful woman and makes it his goal to marry her. Lonely and in obsessive longing, he cuts out lightly dressed women from magazines in his hut at the edge of the train station in the evening, hanging his walls with them. Although he knows that Hanouma is already promised to the suitcase porter and trade unionist Abou Serih, one day he reveals his feelings to her and proposes to her. Her rejection, soaked with mockery and ridicule, drives Kenawi further into a rage-drenched obsession for Hanuma. Restored version.
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Jazz on a Summer's Day (1958)
Bert Stern
United States
83′
Set at the Newport jazz festival in 1958, this documentary mixes images of water and the town with performers and audience. The film progresses from day to night and from improvisational music to Gospel. It's a concert film that suggests peace and leisure, jazz at a particular time and place.
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A Touch Of Zen (1971)
King Hu
Taiwan
179′
A lady fugitive on the run from corrupt government officials is joined in her endeavors by an unambitious painter and skilled Buddhist monks.
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Reconstruction - Anaparastasi (1970)
Theo Angelopoulos
Greece
101′
The film is based on an actual event, the murder of a Greek worker living in Germany by his barmaid wife Eleni and her lover Christos, who falsify the evidence of the husband's return to Germany but are suspected by a sister-in-law and eventually accuse each other of the crime. A woman murders her husband, upon his return home after a long absence, with the complicity of the lover who has relieved her loneliness. Costas Ghoussis, an emigrant recently returned to his native country, is coming back from the fields, a shovel on his shoulder. He pushes open the garden gate in front of his house and calls his wife: Eleni! She does not answer; the reason: she is hidden behind the door of the kitchen with another man, Christos, a gamekeeper, the lover that she took during her husband's absence. Just as Costas crosses the threshold he is attacked and strangled. Despite their precautions, a relative of the victim suspects them and alerts the police. The criminals confess their crime. The reconstruction is that of the examining magistrate, whose inquiries are interspersed with sequences of the crime - although the actual murder is never shown - and with a social documentary which a TV unit (including the director himself) is making about the crime and the village. From the very first sequence, audience knows who was killed and how and who did it. The film closes as it began, cutting back to the husband's return to indicate an order which has been ruptured.
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Bab'Aziz (2005)
Nacer Khemir
Tunisia
100′
The story of a blind dervish named Bab'Aziz and his spirited granddaughter, Ishtar. Together they wander the desert in search of a great reunion of dervishes that takes place just once every thirty years. With faith as their only guide, the two journey for days through the expansive, barren landscape.
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Bakushu - Early Summer (1951)
Yasujiro OZU
Japan
125′
Noriko, still single at the advanced age of 28, lives contentedly in an extended family household that includes her parents and her brother's family. An uncle's visit prompts the family to find her a husband.
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Madadayo (1993)
Akira Kurosawa
Japan
134′
For his final film, Akira Kurosawa paid tribute to the immensely popular writer and educator Hyakken Uchida, here played by Tatsuo Matsumura. Madadayo is composed of distinct episodes based on Uchida's writings that illustrate the affection and loyalty felt between Uchida and his students. Poignant and elegant, this is an unforgettable farewell from one of the greatest artists the cinema has ever known.
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The Bad Sleep Well (1960)
Akira Kurosawa
Japan
151′
A young executive hunts down his father's killer in director Akira Kurosawa's scathing The Bad Sleep Well. Continuing his legendary collaboration with actor Toshiro Mifune, Kurosawa combines elements of Hamlet and American film noir to chilling effect in exposing the corrupt boardrooms of postwar corporate Japan.
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Yojimbo (1961)
Akira Kurosawa
Japan
110′
The unemployed samurai Sanjuro (stunning as usual: Toshiro Mifune) travels through 19th century Japan to a remote mountain village, where two hostile family clans fight for supremacy by all means. Sanjuro skillfully takes advantage of the rivalries, takes sides here and there and plays both groups against each other in his daring intrigue game.
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Tokyo Story (1953)
Yasujiro OZU
Japan
137′
The Hirayamas travel from their hometown of Onomichi to Tokyo to visit their adult children. But the younger generation make them feel more in the way than welcome. It also emerges that their son’s career as a doctor and their daughter’s as a hairdresser are nowhere near as successful as the couple were led to believe from afar. The only one who really makes an effort to spend time with them is their daughter-in-law, Noriko, the widow of the Hirayama’s son who went missing in the war. On the journey home, mother Hirayama is taken seriously ill and the couple have to make an unscheduled stop in Osaka, where another of their adult children lives. In a succinct, objective and non-judgemental manner, Yasujirō Ozu uses images which are as simple as they are magnificent to tell the story of family estrangement and the isolation inherent in modern society. Ozu himself considered Tōky ō Monogatari his "masterpiece" and the 1963 Retrospective of the Berlin International Film Festival, the "film-historical screenings", was dedicated to him. This is the international premiere of the digitally restored version made by Japanese production company Shochiku.
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Akasen Chitai - Street of Shame (1956)
Kenji Mizoguchi
Japan
86′
Five fates of women from Tokyo's brothel district in the 1950s are the focus of Kenji Mizoguchi's last film, who devoted the majority of his works to the historical and social situation of Japanese women. The theme is shaped by socio-critical commitment, human sympathy and unspeculative openness.
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Sansho Dayu - Sanshi the Bailiff (1954)
Kenji Mizoguchi
Japan
124′
Sansho Dayu is a film about a couple of children from a rich house at the end of the 12th century who fall into the hands of the bailiff. He owes his reputation as an exemplary feudal lord to the merciless exploitation of his slave army. Mizoguchi fluently tells this old legend of need and revenge in beautiful pictures.
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Banshun - Late Spring (1949)
Yasujiro OZU
Japan
108′
Twenty-seven-year-old Noriko lives with her widowed father, a university professor, in a small house in the tranquil surroundings of northern Kamakura. He is completing a scientific manuscript, aided by his assistant, Hattori. Professor Sonomiya is concerned for his daughter s welfare, and one day suggests she marry Hattori. Noriko only laughs at his suggestion because she is quite happy with her life and knows that Hattori is already engaged. Her aunt Masa, the professor s sister, is the next person to try out her matchmaking skills, and she talks Noriko into meeting Mr Satake. Although Noriko quite likes him, she rejects all thoughts of marriage because she doesn t want to leave her father all alone. When she meets Professor Onodera, an old friend of her father s, in a museum one day and he tells her that he has just remarried, Noriko can hardly disguise her dismay. One of Ozu's favorite themes is the opposing desires of and friction between members of a family even though they feel deep affection and loyalty to each other. Inevitably, these interactions within a family, and particularly the problems which arise between parents and children, will result in some sort of separation. For Noriko it is the separation of marriage, in other Ozu stories it may mean being employed away from home or death. While Ozu is saddened by these events, he also recognizes that they are unavoidable. This awareness of the inherent transience and sadness of human existence is what the Japanese call mono no aware." Beverley Bare Buehrer
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Stray Dog (1949)
Akira Kurosawa
Japan
122′
He is still young, the actor who should become known around the world with masterpieces like "Rashomon" or "The Seven Samurai". Here, Akira Kurosawa has created a thriller against the background of the recent and completely unprocessed Japanese war past, of which many of the characters, whether woman or man, talk. "Stray Dog" plays during the sultry hot summer in Tokyo in 1949. The young and completely inexperienced inspector Murakami (Toshiro Mifune) gets his loaded service weapon stolen from his jacket pocket in an overcrowded bus. Murakami is beside himself. He fears the worst consequences for his still young career. Together with his older colleague Sato from the theft department, he sets out on a search for traces of the thief. While we roam about the Japanese post-war setting with him, he gains experiences and learns to keep calm from the old and experienced colleague Sato. Women who are involved in what is going on are also snarling at him as a greenhorn. An impressive milieu study by Akira Kurosawa, in which the master proves himself in the genre film and shows us what he is capable of in narrative, atmospheric and visual terms.
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Dersu Uzala (1975)
Akira Kurosawa
Japan
136′
A military explorer meets and befriends a Goldi man in Russia’s unmapped forests. A deep and abiding bond evolves between the two men, one civilized in the usual sense, the other at home in the glacial Siberian woods. The film won the 1976 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, the Golden Prize and the Prix FIPRESCI at the 9th Moscow International Film Festival and a number of other awards.
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Drunken Angel (1948)
Akira Kurosawa
Japan
98′
In this powerful early noir from the great Akira Kurosawa, Toshiro Mifune bursts onto the screen as a volatile, tubercular criminal who strikes up an unlikely relationship with Takashi Shimura’s jaded physician. Set in and around the muddy swamps and back alleys of postwar Tokyo, Drunken Angel is an evocative, moody snapshot of a treacherous time and place, featuring one of the director’s most memorably violent climaxes.
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Akibiyori - Late Autumn (1960)
Yasujiro OZU
Japan
129′
Seven years after the death of a close friend, three middle-aged men plan to arrange a marriage for the dead man’s daughter. But 24-year old Ayako doesn't really want to marry; she would rather continue taking care of her widowed mother. So the three men decide that the best course is to marry off the rather comely mother, Akiko, before the daughter … preferably to one of them. This plants seeds of estrangement between mother and daughter, and the latter begins to seriously consider one of the proposed marriage candidates … «Good grief, it's all very complicated,» we hear at the height of the comic-melancholy imbroglio. Director Yasujiro Ozu tells us the story in the simplest possible, yet artful, way, in images tinged with softness, both in color and language. Late Autum is the third to last film by the great Japanese director and only one of four color movies in his oeuvre. In honor of the 50th anniversary of his death and the year in which he would have turned 110, the original negatives have been used for digital restorations done in consultation with former members of Ozu's crew.
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La Salamandre (1971)
Alain Tanner
Switzerland
114′
Rosemonde the Salamander is a young girl who gets by thanks to low-paid jobs of all kinds. She is suspected of attempting to kill the uncle with whom she lives. A journalist and a writer are hired to get to the bottom of this mystery, as the basis for a television film scenario. They are unsuccessful however. The truth about Rosemonde and her special appreciation of life continue to elude these two amateur detectives.
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Siamo italiani (1964)
Alexander J. Seiler
Switzerland
76′
More than 500 000 Italians live and work in Switzerland. They are considered a „problem“. An over-employed economy needs their labour – a small nation of distinct peculiarity perceives them as foreign objects. They live beyond the barrier of a different language. Discussed as a problem, they remain unknown as human beings.
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Quand nous étions petits enfants (1961)
Henry Brandt
Switzerland
90′
The daily life in the primary school of Taillères, in the La Brévine valley, is filmed over the course of an entire school year, from 1959 to 1960. Henry Brandt's film, which won the Vela d'argento in Locarno in 1961, is a unique testimony to pedagogical processes, with a tender observation of the relationship between the young protagonists, their place of birth and the adult world.
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Il Bacio di Tosca (1984)
Daniel Schmid
Switzerland
87′
Giuseppe Verdi's «finest work», as he himself described it, still stands today on the Piazza Buonarroti in Milan. It is the «Casa di riposo», founded by Verdi in 1896 for «people who are less fortunate than I» - people who never made a big career, and people who have long spent their dream salaries. Today they live, all long forgotten, in a small room with a suitcase full of memories.
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Visages d'enfants (1925)
Jacques Feyder
Switzerland
117′
Faces of Children (Visages d'enfants), a masterpiece, was filmed on location in the Haut-Valais region of Switzerland, with spectacular mountain scenery adding important atmosphere to the characters' complex emotions. The film is about the effect on a sensitive boy (again Jean Forest, who is heartrending) of his mother's death and his father's remarriage.
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Heidi und Peter (1955)
Franz Schnyder
Switzerland
89′
The second part of the famous story on Heidi. Returning from Frankfurt, she applies her new knowlegdes.
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Der Berg (1990)
Markus Imhoof
Switzerland
102′
1922: For the first time, the lonely weather station on the Säntis summit is occupied by a married couple. The unemployed Joseph Manser marries the pregnant Lena overnight and thus gets the post. But the weather warden couple have an adversary who feels cheated out of the job - he wants to take command on the mountain and climbs after the two. A showdown ensues at the weather station. - The film is based on true events.
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HD Soldier Läppli (1959)
Alfred Rasser
Switzerland
112′
Läppli is arrested as a supposed opponent of the army and misses the general mobilisation. Eventually he arrives at the barracks after all. There, as HD Läppli, he drives every superior mad in record time with his obtuseness and sense of justice.
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Le retour d'Afrique (1973)
Alain Tanner
Switzerland
107′
An ode to liberated speech and to the power of words, “those one speaks to others, those one speaks in silence”, Alain Tanner’s third film is inspired by a poet and a poetic text which deeply affected him as a young director: Cahier d’un retour au pays natal, written in 1939 by Aimé Césaire. A poem extolled by the Surrealists, this seminal flow of anti-colonial thinking by the West-Indian-born poet is the bubbling spring which inspires the gestures and words of the film’s main character, Vincent (François Marthouret), a 30-year-old from Geneva.Weighed down by the monotony and boredom of his life as a well-off westerner, he sells all his possessions and decides to leave for Algeria with his fiancée. The subject is clearly that of escape from one’s place of belonging, a Rimbaudesque theme dear to Tanner, which is here directly linked to the Third Worldist discourse of the 1960s and 1970s. But the strength of the film lies in the way it turns this thinking on its head: on the eve of their departure, chance circumstances prevent the couple from leaving. Instead, they decide to pursue their dream of escape by living hidden away in their empty apartment. Again, Tanner shows that it is the inner mileage travelled that matters, not the arrival at a destination; the posing of a question rather than the answer. As the director says at the beginning of the film: “Speaking words can be an act in itself, it can also be a substitute for action.” This is an important precept for the understanding of Tanner’s cinema: poetry is a form of action, and having it in mind, reciting it, can help to give a new shape to reality: in the film’s final scene, the couple decide to have a child.
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Off season (1992)
Daniel Schmid
Switzerland
89′
The scene of the action is a closed-down, dilapidated hotel in the Swiss mountains which has been lying empty for some time. The hotel used to belong to the narrator’s grandparents, and it was there that he was born and brought up. He visits the hotel for the last tim with the intention of losing himself in memories connected with the old building.
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Der Fall (1972)
Kurt Früh
Switzerland
102′
In this Swiss film noir a private investigator stumbles onto a case involving blackmail and an oversexed, under-aged girl. He finds the girl, and, tragically, becomes involved with her.
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The Unknown Man of Shandigor (1967)
Jean-Louis Roy
Switzerland
96′
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The Lacemaker (1977)
Claude Goretta
Switzerland
103′
The shy Pomme (Isabelle Huppert) meets the philosophy student François on holiday in Normandy. François becomes her first lover and she moves in with him: head over heels in love, the young and inexperienced couple return to Paris with big dreams. But their social and cultural differences stand in the way of happiness. The student she had unconsciously saved herself for will, without meaning to, ruin Pomme.
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Messidor (1979)
Alain Tanner
Switzerland
123′
Project initially entrusted to Maurice Pialat, who had already begun to film it under the title of “Meurtrières” (see the special edition of Les Inrockuptibles devoted to Pialat), Messidor is based on a crime story which hit the headlines in France in the 1970s: two adolescent girls run away and go on a criminal spree which ends in their deaths. On the face of it, this subject is remote from the world we associate with Tanner, since a violent story of this kind and its social background would seem to impose the realistic, even naturalistic form always shunned by the Swiss director. Moreover, Tanner is instinctively averse to filming physical violence. “Killing a person”, he says, “is generally a gratuitous special effect.” Consequently, of all Tanner’s films Messidor is the only one in which someone dies of non-natural causes. It is also Tanner’s most sombre work, characterised by a despair unmitigated by his usual verbal and situational humour. This is because Tanner accepted the project only on condition that he could recast the original idea and use this violent story as a vehicle for more personal preoccupations: the limits of freedom (already treated in his previous film) are here related to the girls’ frantic flight in the Swiss countryside. What interests him is the possible sullying of this place of excessive peace and quiet, now transformed into a field of experience and criminal fun-and-games by the two characters..
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Charles mort ou vif (1969)
Alain Tanner
Switzerland
91′
The film paints the portrait of an old man who decides to abandon his comfortable bourgeois way of life and live with a Bohemian couple. There he rediscovers his freedom to think and his joie de vivre.
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Seelische Grausamkeit (1961)
Hannes Schmidhauser
Switzerland
99′
On a summer morning, the opening of the trial in the Zurich District Court is announced for 8 o'clock. On trial is the divorce case of Marlene Faber and Nick Merk. The couple is waiting outside the courtroom for their divorce and is reviewing their marriage once again: From the honeymoon over the first quarrels until the end.
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Matlosa (1981)
Villi Hermann
Switzerland
94′
Alfredo seems to lead the life of so many Ticinese families born in the valleys, who now only go back to their native village for the weekend. But Alfredo doesn’t longer experiences the journey as a form of escapism, but as an obsessive rite which is repeated over and over again. Alfredo has lost his own identity.
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Downpour (1972)
Bahram Beyzaie
Iran
130′
Bahram Beyzaie’s debut feature about a well-meaning schoolteacher in Tehran who's embattled by changes of fortune, was enormously successful in its time, but had fallen out of view in post-revolutionary Iran. This version presents the film as restored in 2011 by the World Cinema Foundation at Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna/L’immagine Ritrovata laboratory, with the involvement of Bahram Beyzaie himself.
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After the Curfew (1954)
Usmar Ismail
Indonesia
103′
A little-known, passionate tale of a revolutionary hero returning to civilian life after the liberation from Dutch colonial rule that took top honours at Indonesia’s Citra Film Awards, 1955. Lewat Djam Malam (After the Curfew) is a passionate work looking directly at a crucial moment of conflict in Indonesian history: the aftermath of the four-year Republican revolution which brought an end to Dutch rule. This is a visually and dramatically potent film about anger and disillusionment, about the dream of a new society cheapened and misshapen by government repression on the one hand and bourgeois complacency on the other. The film’s director, Usmar Ismail, is generally considered to be the father of Indonesian cinema, and his entire body of work was directly engaged with ongoing evolution of Indonesian society. He began as a playwright and founder of Maya, a drama collective that began during the years of Japanese occupation. And it was during this period when Ismail developed an interest in filmmaking. He began making films for Andjar Asmara in the late 40s and then started Perfini (Perusahaan Film Nasional Indonesian) in 1950, which he considered his real beginning as a filmmaker. Lewat Djam Malam, a co-production between Perfini and Djamaluddin Malik’s company Persari, was perhaps Ismail’s greatest critical and commercial success.
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Alyam, Alyam (1978)
Ahmed El Maanouni
Morocco
87′
Set in a small village in the Moroccan countryside, Alyam, Alyam tells a story culled from the lived reality of young men almost forty years ago while still remaining very much of the present day. A young man named Abdelwahed pins his dreams of a better life for himself and his family on travelling to France and finding work there. As the eldest of eight children, he becomes the principal caretaker and breadwinner for his family after his father passes away. He fills out forms and waits for his work permit to arrive. Meanwhile, Hlima, his recently widowed mother who’s reticent to let him go, tries in vain to dissuade him and enlists the help of Abdelwahed’s grandfather too. As the days flow by to the cadence of life in the countryside, marked by the hardships of farming, Abdelwahed waits. All he can do is wait. Straddling fiction and documentary, Alyam, Alyam is Ahmed El Maanouni’s first narrative feature, and the first Moroccan film ever to be selected at the Cannes Film Festival. Recently restored, the film’s splendor and finely crafted editing has become available once again for cinéphiles and new generations to discover.
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with bonus
Cairo Station (1958)
Youssef Chahine
Egypt
73′
Melodrama and thriller, social drama and love story in one, the masterly feature film by the Egyptian director Youssef Chahine, made in 1958, is located entirely on the station grounds. The old Madbouli is the owner of a kiosk at Cairo's main railway station. One day he finds a half-starved, poor man at the edge of the tracks. Madbouli feels sorry for the sad-looking, limping farmer Kenaoui and hires him as a flying newspaper salesman. At work, Kenaoui meets the beautiful Hanouma every day, who also earns her living at the station by supplying travellers with lemonade drinks. Kenaoui falls for the cheerful woman and makes it his goal to marry her. Lonely and in obsessive longing, he cuts out lightly dressed women from magazines in his hut at the edge of the train station in the evening, hanging his walls with them. Although he knows that Hanouma is already promised to the suitcase porter and trade unionist Abou Serih, one day he reveals his feelings to her and proposes to her. Her rejection, soaked with mockery and ridicule, drives Kenawi further into a rage-drenched obsession for Hanuma. Restored version.
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Alyam, Alyam (1978)
Ahmed El Maanouni
Morocco
87′
Set in a small village in the Moroccan countryside, Alyam, Alyam tells a story culled from the lived reality of young men almost forty years ago while still remaining very much of the present day. A young man named Abdelwahed pins his dreams of a better life for himself and his family on travelling to France and finding work there. As the eldest of eight children, he becomes the principal caretaker and breadwinner for his family after his father passes away. He fills out forms and waits for his work permit to arrive. Meanwhile, Hlima, his recently widowed mother who’s reticent to let him go, tries in vain to dissuade him and enlists the help of Abdelwahed’s grandfather too. As the days flow by to the cadence of life in the countryside, marked by the hardships of farming, Abdelwahed waits. All he can do is wait. Straddling fiction and documentary, Alyam, Alyam is Ahmed El Maanouni’s first narrative feature, and the first Moroccan film ever to be selected at the Cannes Film Festival. Recently restored, the film’s splendor and finely crafted editing has become available once again for cinéphiles and new generations to discover.
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Bab'Aziz (2005)
Nacer Khemir
Tunisia
100′
The story of a blind dervish named Bab'Aziz and his spirited granddaughter, Ishtar. Together they wander the desert in search of a great reunion of dervishes that takes place just once every thirty years. With faith as their only guide, the two journey for days through the expansive, barren landscape.
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Den muso - the daughter (1975)
Souleymane Cissé
Mali
85′
A young mute woman is raped and becomes pregnant, with disastrous consequences within her family. The film also sketches the social/economic situation in urban Mali in the 1970s, particularly in relation to the treatment of women.
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Finye (1982)
Souleymane Cissé
Mali
105′
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with bonus
Hyènes (1992)
Djibril Diop Mambéty
Senegal
111′
In Colobane, people expect the return of Linguère Ramatou, a former local girl now rumored to be richer than the World Bank. But her generosity has its conditions: she offers a check of ten billion for the death of Dramaan Drameh who refused to admit that he was the father of her child 30 years ago. "Life made made me a whore, now I'm turning the world into a brothel" she tells the citizens of Colobane.
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Sankofa (1993)
Haile Gerima
Burkina Faso
119′
Powerful, moving and highly acclaimed, director Haile Gerima’s Sankofa is a masterpiece of cinema that has had a transformative impact on audiences since its release in 1993. This empowering film tells a story of slavery and of the African Diaspora from the perspective of the enslaved, challenging the romanticizing of slavery prevalent in American culture. Sankofa was developed from 20 years of research into the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the experiences of African slaves in the New World. The film represents complex characters and empowering moments of resilience that assert humanity in the face of subjugation. Unlike Hollywood’s depiction of slavery, Gerima presents the often suppressed history of slave resistance and rebellion and represents the enslaved as agents of their own liberation. The story begins with Mona (Oyafunmike Ogunlano), an African American model on a fashion shoot at the former slave castles in Cape Coast, Ghana. Mona undergoes a journey back in time and place to a slave plantation in North America where she becomes Shola, a house slave, and experiences the suffering of slavery firsthand. In becoming Shola and returning to her past culture and heritage, Mona is able to recover her lost slave identity and confront her ancestral experience. Shola’s interactions with her fellow slaves are marked with humanity and dignity, most notably with Shango (Mutabaruka), a rebellious field slave, and Nunu (Alexandra Duah), one of the few slaves to remember her life in Africa before being stolen by Europeans. The film’s narrative structure follows the concept of "Sankofa," an Akan word that signifies the recuperation of one’s past in order to comprehend the present and find one’s future. Allyson Nadia Field, ucla
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Mortu nega (1988)
Flora Gomes
Guinea-Bissau
92′
The story of a woman who searches through the country for her husband, a resistant, while the war for independence is raging. She finds him at last and saves his life. When peace finally arrives, they have to learn how to be together again and start living in a destroyed land.
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Al asfour - The Sparrow (1972)
Youssef Chahine
Egypt
102′
The Sparrow fascinates with its parallel strands of action. The various ways of encountering a criminal trader, namely by a police officer and a journalist, are ultimately only traces that lead to the tip of an iceberg: the corruption of Egyptian society on the eve of the Six-Day War.
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Toula ou le génie des eaux (1973)
Moustapha Alassane
Niger
72′
The gods have declared the drought of the country. There seems to be no hope. A holy man summoned by the king requires the sacrifice of a young woman to put an end to their anger. A young man in love decides to go in search of water to save the girl from a tragic end, but when he returns with good news it's too late: the genie had his satisfaction and Toula has already disappeared in the holy swamp.
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Terra em transe - Land Entranced (1967)
Glauber Rocha
Brazil
108′
El Dorado, a fictional country. Paulo, a poetry-writing intellectual, oscillates between the political extremes. First he devotes himself to the right-wing conservative Diaz, until he sees through the latter’s pseudo-religious fascism. Then he takes the side of Vieira, the populist reformer who wants to free the country of its misery. But Paulo’s true love is for Sara, the communist who works for Vieira. Paulo is forced to realize that both are interested only in power, not in change, and that they are willing to use any means to achieve their end. Disappointed and despairing, he sets off on his own path as a revolutionary, a path on which Sara is no longer able to follow him. He is shot and dies a lonely death, with a gun in his hand, sending a signal for others to take up arms. The lasting relevance of this masterpiece lies in the scene of long agony before Paulo dies. Sara calls out the question to him, “What does your death prove?” And he answers, “The victory of beauty and justice!” Glauber Rocha trusts in culture’s power of survival and connects it with the necessary struggle for social justice.
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La muerte de un burócrata (1966)
Tomás Gutiérrez Alea
Cuba
84′
The story begins with the death of a model worker, who is buried with his labor card as a badge of honor. However, his widow is told she needs that card to claim the benefits she is entitled. The story then takes several surreal turns, as the family of the dead man try to recover the precious card from the grave.
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Hombre mirando al sudeste (1986)
Eliseo Subiela
Argentina
109′
Man Facing Southeast is a drama-science fiction film fro Argenina, written and directed by Eliseo Subiela. It was selected as the Argentine entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 60th Academy Awards.
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Nostalghia (1983)
Andrei Tarkowski
Italy
126′
Andrei Gortchakov, a Russian writer, travels through Italy in the footsteps of a fellow composer to write his biography. With great sensitivity for the emotions of those who are far from their country, Andrei Tarkovski, supported by his Italian co-writer Tonino Guerra, draws a meeting of cultures and periods.
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The mirror - Zerkalo (1975)
Andrei Tarkowski
Russia
107′
Alyosha, a 40-year-old filmmaker, falls seriously ill. He remembers his past and collects the memories that marked his life: the house of his childhood, his mother waiting for the improbable return of her husband, the poems of his father, his wife and his son that he has not seen for a long time, the tumult of the Second World War.
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Battleship Potemkin (1925)
Sergej M. Eisenstein
Russia
49′
The revolution film par excellence, here in the German needle-tone version of 1930: The film presents a dramatized version of the mutiny that occurred in 1905 when the crew of the Russian battleship Potemkin rebelled against their officers. Battleship Potemkin was named the greatest film of all time at the Brussels World's Fair in 1958. In 2012, the British Film Institute named it the eleventh greatest film of all time.
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The Coat (1926)
Grigori Kosinzew Leonid Trauberg
Russia
80′
A minor clerk, Bashmachkin, replaces his threadbare overcoat with one made from the finest materials he can afford. Then one evening ruffians beat him up and steal his cherished new garment. The actors’ highly stylized gestures border on modern dance, and Bashmachkin’s world, especially as he begins to lose his grasp on reality, is powerfully rendered with looming shadows, oblique camera angles and eccentric architecture.
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Die seltsamen Abenteuer des Mr. West im Land der Bolschewiken (1924)
Lew Kuleschow
Russia
77′
Travelled to the Soviet Union with many prejudices, the American businessman Mr. West has to correct his view of the Soviets after several adventures at the end of his journey. Silent movie grotesque that ironically glosses the erroneous opinions of the West about the USSR. A film historical document worth seeing. (Dictionary of International Cinema)
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The Cranes Are Flying (1957)
Michail Kalatosow
Russia
91′
Veronika and Boris come together in Moscow shortly before World War II. Walking along the river, they watch cranes fly overhead, and promise to rendezvous before Boris leaves to fight. Boris misses the meeting and is off to the front lines, while Veronika waits patiently, sending letters faithfully. After her house is bombed, Veronika moves in with Boris’ family, into the company of a cousin with his own intentions.
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Das Mädchen mit der Hutschachtel (1927)
Boris Barnet
Russia
93′
Can you find happiness in the big city? The young hat maker Natascha, who lives with her grandfather in a suburb covered in winter snow, has to commute by train from the village to Moscow to deliver her creations to the extravagant Irene's hat shop. For the administration, Irene claims Natascha to be her subtenant in order to be able to have more living space. The clumsy railway official woos the lovely country girl with his ravishing smile. But she enters into a fictitious marriage with the provincial Ilya in order to get him a room in Moscow. With an apparently worthless lottery ticket, which Irene's husband gives to Natascha, the entanglements become turbulent. Boris Barnet describes the contrasts between city and country and the new living conditions in Moscow in a stylish and socially critical way. Three great acting talents, Anna Stén, Iwan Kowal-Samborski and Vladimir Fogel, form the triangle of relationships. Originally ordered as a vehicle to advertise the State Lottery, the film made the studio rich and the natural talent director Boris Barnet famous as the founder of lyrical comedy.
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Loves of a Blonde (1965)
Milos Forman
Czech Republic
80′
The head of a shoe factory persuades the army to hold manoeuvres nearby: So his workers can meet men at a ball. But the pot-bellied reservists are anything but attractive. Utilizing a brief hint of freedom, The Love of a Blonde throws an undisguised, humorous and tender look at Czechoslovakia in the 1960s and the ridiculousness of its functionaries.
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Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)
Robert Bresson
France
95′
The story of a donkey Balthazar as he is passed from owner to owner, some kind and some cruel but all with motivations beyond his understanding. Balthazar, whose life parallels that of his first keeper, Marie, is truly a beast of burden, suffering the sins of humankind. But despite his powerlessness, he accepts his fate nobly.
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The Beekeeper - O melissokomos (1986)
Theo Angelopoulos
Greece
122′
In THE BEEKEEPER, alienation and despair have so mestastasized in the film's central figure that he's virtually one of the walking dead. Spyros, a man soured by a secret, incestuous love for his daughter, on the day of her wedding, gives up his position as a schoolteacher, his wife, his home and his city to take up again the profession of his father and grandfather before him traveling across Greece to the town in which he was born and first learned to tend the bees, following the traditional beekeeper's route, looking for flowers that will produce the best honey, a wanderer obsessed by his job. Like a bee returning to its hive after searching for food he visits his old friends and his childhood home looking for threads to bind him to the present. He drives from town to town revisiting his old haunts and comrades relighting and reliving his history in his memory, trying to reconcile his past ideals with a swiftly changing nation that makes him feel uncomfortable. At some point he picks up a promiscuous young hitchhiker who sporadically tags along with him during his journey and seems to represent a new generation without memory and unconcerned with the past, drifting from one place to the next, flitting between the blinking lights of motor vehicles, gas stations, diners, cheap hotels and traffic signs along the dark, wet glistening roadways of present-day Greece. He becomes obsessed by her. She both irritates and entices him. What he seeks in her is a contact with the future. But for her the future is a casual encounter with the next moment. In the impossibility of their relationship there is a profound despair of a man without a future. He senses a rupture, but it's not the traditional one of the conflict of generations. It's really a rupture of language. He cannot communicate, even with love, with the body. From that comes his crisis of despair. Toward his end, he takes refuge in an abandoned cinema called the Pantheon. There, mocked by the sterile white screen above him, he tries - and fails - to bring himself to life in an attempt to connect sexually with the young hitchhiker but there can be no connection between these people from different worlds, either physical or emotional. For Spyros the past is everything, for her it is nothing. In Angelopoulos' words, «It's the conflict between memory and non-memory.» In the long run she only reminds him of his loneliness and isolation. Unable to come to come to terms with the present, betrayed by the past, wary of the future, Spyros falls back into silence and isolation and returns to his hives, abandoning himself to the stings of his bees.
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The suspended step of the stork (1991)
Theo Angelopoulos
Greece
136′
While working on a story in the border area, a young journalist discovers a divided town bisected by a river which is also the national frontier. He observes a surreal wedding in which the bride and her family stand on one shore and the groom and his relatives on the other, lost under a cold sky: figure in a landscape who only delude themselves that they are masters of the earth and their destiny The town, a remote ghost town, almost forgotten at the end of the world, has been named «waiting room» by the locals because most of its inhabitants are refugees from different countries many of whom have crossed the border illegally at some time or other and are now waiting for their turn to leave and start life anew «somewhere else.» In the course of his investigation he also comes upon an aging, reclusive refugee, who lives there cultivating a field. But the young journalist believes he is a famous Greek politician who disappeared years before, leaving behind him many unanswered questions. The man's identity is never resolved but the hapless refugees and divided village allow the reporter to understand his despair over the human condition. Theo Angelopoulos weaves yet another poetical allegory on the great open questions of our turbulent age. The film is very contemporary in its treatment of borders, refugees and a changing world since the fall of communism in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. «Being a refugee is an internal condition more than an external one, says one of the characters in the film. And later on he also says, «We've passed the borders but we're still here. How many frontiers do we have to pass to get home?» Do politicians really care? Does anyone? Finally, there is the image of the stranger standing on the bridge poised over the dividing line between the two countries. He has one leg suspended in mid air, like a stork. «If I take one more step I am... somewhere else, or... I die.»
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Voyage to Cythera - Taxidi sta Kythira (1984)
Theo Angelopoulos
Greece
139′
Cythera, in Greek mythology, is the isle of dreams where one can dedicate oneself to happiness (or the pursuit thereof). In this quest within a quest, the tale of the father's return is told as if from the point of view of his son Telemachus and as if Telemachus were a filmmaker, as well as a middle-aged man with a son of his own. A film director, tired of the illusions and fictions of his profession, searches for a story of substance by attaching himself to an old man, a recently returned political exile. The man, away in the Soviet Union for 32 years and now stateless, finds himself at the beginning of a journey, not the end, and Angelopoulos evokes the past, present and future to bridge the gap between reality and the imagination. VOYAGE TO CYTHERA is about an old man - the country's leftist past - who cannot become reconciled to his country's present or perhaps it is Greece that is not ready to come to grips with its past. In the end the old man is set adrift on a raft headed away from Greece into international waters, with no home to steer toward, joined by his wife a latter-day Penelope who, despite the fact that this man is more a stranger than a husband to her after so many years, chooses to share the rest of her life with him and in doing so accepts all of his past, his sorrow, his politics and his failed dreams. It is a journey to the dark side of Greek history where it crosses paths with myth.
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Ein launischer Sommer (1968)
Jiri Menzel
Czech Republic
76′
Capricious Summer is a Czechoslovak comedy directed by Jiří Menzel. It is based on the novel Rozmarné léto (Summer of Caprice) by the Czech writer Vladislav Vančura. It was listed to compete at the 1968 Cannes Film Festival, but the festival was cancelled due to the events of May 1968 in France. The film depicts a humorous story of three men, a colonel, a priest and a bath-keeper, during rainy summer days.
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Firemen's Ball (1967)
Milos Forman
Czech Republic
73′
A volunteer fire department throws a party for their former boss with the whole town invited, but nothing goes as planned.
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I Pugni in Tasca (1965)
Marco Bellocchio
Italy
108′
Ale, a deeply disturbed young man subject to seizures, benignly decides to murder members of his dysfunctional family for altruistic reasons.
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Shortcuts - Postriziny (1981)
Jiri Menzel
Czech Republic
98′
Brewery owner Francin lives in a happy marriage with the all too beautiful Maryška. His life is turned upside down by the unexpected visit of his eccentric brother Pepin. Maryška finds a kindred soul in Pepin and falls into the modernization pull of the 1920s, to which she can't help but give in. Shortcuts, the film adaptation of a story by Bohumil Hrabal, became very successful with the audience in Czechoslovakia.
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Landscape In The Mist - Topio stin omichli (1988)
Theo Angelopoulos
Greece
120′
LANDSCAPE IN THE MIST is a film about the void. It is a film about despair, about the failure of contemporary society. The prodigal father who figures in almost every Angelopoulos film here has evaporated into his mythical essence - leaving his children to become the wanderers in search of him. In the «chaos», two children appear, little Alexandros and his older sister Voula. In order to exorcise their loneliness, they invent a secret universe for themselves, inhabited by their dreams. Every night they go to a train station to watch the departure of a train to Germany, where they have been deceived by their mother (herself an off-screen presence) into believing that their absent father is living. One night they finally dare to get on the train. But their voyage turns out to be hazardous and pointless and disappointing. They confront suffering, physical and moral illness, jealousy, evil and death, if also love - as many ordeals and rites as initiations. Evading the half-hearted pursuit of the police and uncaring relatives, sneak onto trains, hitchhike in vans and lorries, and suffering poverty, rape and exploitation, take a dangerous leap of faith, an eerie plunge into liberation and danger. The familiar Greek landscape - the cafes, the depopulated towns and deserted beaches - are played for a strangely harsh fairytale quality, seen through the eyes of two children whose introduction to the real world borders on the surreal. The film is filled with extraordinary, unforgettable moments that are at once real and hallucinatory and contains intriguing references to other Angelopoulos' films. The children even encounter the Travelling Players now, thirteen years later, without a stage to act on, their costumes put up for sale. At the end Alexandros tells Voula the same story from Genesis that she told him at the start: «In the beginning there was chaos.» The children do finally reach the border, but of course there is no border with Germany and perhaps the river they cross is actually the Styx and perhaps their whole journey was a search for order in a chaotic world.
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Lerchen am Faden (1969)
Jiri Menzel
Czech Republic
94′
Larks on a String is a Czech film directed by Jiří Menzel. The movie was banned by the Czechoslovak government. It saw release in 1990 after the fall of the Communist regime. Menzel tells the stories of various characters considered bourgeois by Czechoslovakia's communist government in the 1950s, who have been forced to work in a junkyard for the purposes of re-education.
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Reconstruction - Anaparastasi (1970)
Theo Angelopoulos
Greece
101′
The film is based on an actual event, the murder of a Greek worker living in Germany by his barmaid wife Eleni and her lover Christos, who falsify the evidence of the husband's return to Germany but are suspected by a sister-in-law and eventually accuse each other of the crime. A woman murders her husband, upon his return home after a long absence, with the complicity of the lover who has relieved her loneliness. Costas Ghoussis, an emigrant recently returned to his native country, is coming back from the fields, a shovel on his shoulder. He pushes open the garden gate in front of his house and calls his wife: Eleni! She does not answer; the reason: she is hidden behind the door of the kitchen with another man, Christos, a gamekeeper, the lover that she took during her husband's absence. Just as Costas crosses the threshold he is attacked and strangled. Despite their precautions, a relative of the victim suspects them and alerts the police. The criminals confess their crime. The reconstruction is that of the examining magistrate, whose inquiries are interspersed with sequences of the crime - although the actual murder is never shown - and with a social documentary which a TV unit (including the director himself) is making about the crime and the village. From the very first sequence, audience knows who was killed and how and who did it. The film closes as it began, cutting back to the husband's return to indicate an order which has been ruptured.
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Sans soleil (1983)
Chris. Marker
France
104′
Chris Marker, filmmaker, poet, novelist, photographer, editor, and now videographer and digital multimedia artist, has been challenging moviegoers, philosophers, and himself for years with his complex queries about time, memory, and the rapid advancement of life on this planet. Sans Soleil is his mind-bending free-form travelogue that journeys from Africa to Japan.
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Closely Watched Trains (1966)
Jiri Menzel
Czech Republic
89′
The young Miloš Hrma, who speaks with misplaced pride of his family of misfits and malingerers, is engaged as a newly trained station guard in a small railway station during the Second World War and the German occupation of Czechoslovakia. He admires himself in his new uniform, and looks forward, like his prematurely-retired railwayman father, to avoiding real work. The sometimes pompous stationmaster is an enthusiastic pigeon-breeder with a kind wife, but is envious of the train dispatcher Hubička's success with women. Miloš holds an as-yet platonic love for the pretty, young conductor Máša. The experienced Hubička presses for details of their relationship and realizes that Miloš is still a virgin. The idyll of the railway station is periodically disturbed by the arrival of the councillor, Zednicek, a Nazi collaborator, who spouts propaganda at the staff without success. At her initiative, Máša spends the night with Miloš, but in his youthful excitability he ejaculates prematurely before achieving penetration and then is unable to perform sexually; and the next day, despairing, he attempts suicide. He is saved, and a young doctor explains to him that ejaculatio praecox is normal at Miloš's age. The doctor recommends Miloš to "think of something else" (at which point Miloš volunteers an interest in football), and to seek the assistance of an experienced woman. During the nightshift, Hubička flirts with the young telegraphist, Zdenička, and imprints her thighs and buttocks with the office's rubber stamps. Her mother sees the stamps and complains to Hubička's superiors, and the ensuing scandal helps to frustrate the stationmaster's ambition of being promoted to inspector. The Germans and their collaborators are on edge, since their trains are being attacked by the partisans. A glamorous Resistance agent (a circus artist in peacetime), code-named Viktoria Freie, delivers a time bomb to Hubička for use in blowing up a large ammunition train. At Hubička's request, the "experienced" Viktoria also helps Miloš to resolve his sexual problem. The next day, at the crucial moment when the ammunition train is approaching, Hubička is caught up in a farcical disciplinary hearing, overseen by Zednicek, over his rubber stamping of Zdenička's backside. In Hubička's place, Miloš, liberated by his experience with Viktoria from his former passivity, takes the time bomb and drops it from a semaphore gantry, that extends transversely above the tracks, onto the train. A machine-gunner on the train, spotting Miloš, sprays him with bullets, and his body falls onto the train. With the Nazi collaborator Zednicek, winding up the disciplinary hearing, dismissing the Czech people as "nothing but laughing hyenas" (a phrase actually employed by the senior Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich, the implicit retort to his jibe comes in the form of a huge series of explosions that destroys the train. Now Hubička and the other railwaymen are indeed laughing - to express their joy at the blow to the Nazi occupiers - and it is left to a wistful Máša to pick up Miloš's uniform cap, hurled across the station by the power of the blast. (wp)
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