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What remains of ‘May 68′ forty years later? The nostalgy of student movements? The myth of an accomplished social revolution? The acknowledgement that the best or the worst is still to come? Or a mere media and commercial anniversary? The debate is open and is actually all the more relevant since forty years have gone by and we have now reached a time when conclusions and maybe actions should be taken whether they come from those who think May 68 was a failure or from those who stand up for a legacy that would now address broader stakes and issues. May 68 is in any case a major anchor in French political, economical and social history that has undoubtedly led to an acknowledged ‘freedom of speech’ and thrown the bases of a society that hopes for a better change. What happened, what’s really changed and what’s still to come is what we’d like to highlight forty years later through a selection of different films -fictions or documentaries- that can’t be missed.
THE PICK OF THE WEEK BY... JOHNNIE TO A prolific Hong Kong filmmaker and a keen admirer of Sam Peckinpah, Francis Ford Coppola and Akira Kurosawa, Johnnie To is highlighted on the international stage in 2000 with The Mission, then Breaking News presented at 2004 Cannes Film Festival and Election 1 and 2 at 2006 edition, not to mention the recent Exiled, Triangle or Mad Detective. By creating his own produciton company, Milky Way Image Company, in the mid-1990s, Johnnie To has granted himself all the independence he needs to assert his own style and give a new breath to Hong Kong cinema after its retrocession to China. In his new feature, Sparrow (in French theaters on June 4), he has paid tribute to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg by Jacques Demy, the pick of the week therefore!
PEDRO COSTA AND THE STATE OF THE WORLD Presented last year at Cannes Director’s Fortnight, The State Of The World (O Estado Do Mundo) -read the full review here- is an initiative commissioned by the Gulbenkian Foundation, a Portuguese private institution of public utility whose statutory aims are in the fields of arts, charity, education and science. Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian was a petrol magnate of Armenian origin and also a passionate and prolific art collector. For its 50th anniversary, the Gulbenkian Foundation asked six filmmakers to make a 15-minute film: Pedro Costa (Colossal Youth), Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Tropical Malady), Chantal Akerman, Wang Bing (West Of The Tracks), Vicente Ferraz (Soy Cuba, O Mamute Siberiano, which examines the creation and exhibition of Kalatozov’s Soy Cuba) and video artist Aysiha Abraham. Pedro Costa introduces here the project during the French premiere in Paris.
APRIL 26 - MAY 11 Mats Ek: The House of Bernarda and A Sort Of... at Paris Opera (Palais Garnier). Known for his ability to evoke psychological depth with a blend of classical and modern technique, the Swedish choreographer presents two of his classic pieces. In The House of Bernarda, he has adapted a tragic play by Frederic Garcia Lorca, setting the dramatic ballet to a score of Bach and traditional Spanish music whereas A Sort Of... combines Ek’s dance with the minimalist sound of the Polish composer Henryk Gorecki.
APRIL 30 - MAY 11 Teuvo Tulio Retrospective at French Cinémathèque in Paris. Hardly known outside of his country, Tevo Tulio (1920-2000) has distinguished by making a number of melodramas he has branded with the Finnish soul to the point Aki Kaurismäki usually refers to him as one of his masters of cinema. That retrospective enables us to (re)discover his work through seven films.
A three-hour edit of images covering ten key years of world history: 1967-1977, 'From Vietnam to Che's death', 'May 1968 and all that', 'From Spring in Prague to the Common Program of Government in France', 'From Chile to - to what?'. Official images, footage, rushes, forgotten reels are the material of that major work in Chris Marker's filmography that ends with the following rolling end credit: "The actual authors of this film are the numerous cameramen, sound engineers, witnesses and activists, the works of whom constantly oppose to those of authorities that would want us deprived of any memory." A Grin Without A Cat comes into a necessary and remarkable 2-disc set including five other films and a 20-page booklet with texts by Chris Marker and Régis Debray.
In Paris in the 50s, a lonely young boy discovers a solitary bright magic red balloon and the two form an instant bond of friendship. Wherever the boy goes, the balloon is not far behind, which arouses surprise and envy... The Red Ballon won the Golden Palm for Short Films in 1956 and also the Best Screenplay Academy Award. It is a captivating film which relates a simple tale of childhood innocence and fantasies, it is probably also one of the most successful films to capture the essence of childhood, with the discovery of bright as well as sad realities. This DVD edition also includes the short film White Mane. Both films have been restored.
Gus Van Sant adapts Blake Nelson's novel by making a beautiful film about youth and the representation of a point of view. Van Sant follows the rhythm of the book and multiplies visual and sound effects to make his character stand out on the tight rope -between childhood and adulthood. Caught in the realms of that tightrope exercise, the main character will have to face adult situations with childhood responses. Gus Van Sant achieves here a modern and bold film, the cinematography of which is brilliantly accomplished by Christopher Doyle (Wonk Kar-Wai's director of photography). The DVD includes many interesting special features (interview with Gus Van Sant and documentary buy Luc Lagier among others).
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