Tuesday, July 25, 2006

[DL] - Chinese Shorts

Two short Chinese documentaries will be screened at Die Rote Loge in Berlin, an "avant goût" of Directors Lounge's forth-coming special on independent Chinese films.

In association with Zhu Rikun (Fanhall Studio), two Chinese shorts will be screened during the first part of the night. These works are independent documentaries, shot in DV. They are portraits of the common people in mainland China, each differ in circumstances, but both are set in a railway environment.

(Xu Xin, 2004, 18 minutes)
Spring Festival is coming. In China, it is the time for family reunion and people keep up the tradition of returning home for the New Year celebration, especially the migratory workers who have been away from their hometown all year long struggling for a living in big cities. A cheap train ticket is their first choice. So begins the annual overcrowding of railroad transportation...

SARS in Beijing (Wang Shiqing, 2003, 15 minutes)
In the spring of 2003, Beijing was hit by an outbreak of atypical pneumonia called SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). The epidemic sparked off a public panic and soon, people were fleeing the city in droves. On May 8, 2003 I decided to go to Beijing’s West Railway Station to film and interview some of the travelers. This film is a record of the events I witnessed that day in the station.

Rote Loge Simon-Dachstrasse 22, (next to Revalerstrasse)
S- and U Warschauer Brücke

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Saturday, July 15, 2006

59th Locarno Film Festival - The Line-up

59th Locarno International Film Festival 2006

Locarno Festival Website

The Press Kit of the festival can be now downloaded on their website.
  1. Locarno 2006
  2. Open Doors
  3. Industry Office
  4. Retrospective Aki Kaurismäki
  5. Swiss Films in Locarno
In English
In French
In Italian
In German

The programme

The Piazza Grande
International Competition
Filmmakers of the Present Competition
Filmmakers of the Present
Jeonju International Film festival
Talking About Cinema
The Leopards of Tomorrow
Amongst the Asian films present there :

#in The Piazza Grande :
- Nomad by Sergej Bodrov (Kazakistan, 2006) World Premiere
#in the International Competition :
- Fu Sheng by Sheng Zhimin (China, 2006) World Premiere - First Feature
- Don't Look Back by Kim Youngnam (South Korea/Japan, 2006) - International Premiere - First Fiction
- Digital Short Films by Three Filmmakers : Talk to Her by Eric Khoo, Darezhan Omirbayev, Pen-ek Ratanaruang - International Premiere
in Filmmakers of the Present Competition
- Love Story by Kevin Tong (Singapore/HK, 2006) - International Premiere
- Tarachime by Naomi Kawase (Japan/France) - World Premiere i
- Who is Haoran by Yishu Yang (China, 2006/Fanhall Production) - World Premiere - First Feature, documentary produced by Zhu Rikun


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Dream Walking at the FID

The International Film Documentary of Marseille will start tomorrow.
For the 17th edition, the festival offers an official selection, with an international and french competition and parallel screens including "All Nights' in which Dream Walking is scheduled.

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Monday, July 03, 2006

International Film Festival of La Rochelle

International Film Festival of La Rochelle

Festival of La Rochelle

The 34th La Rochelle International Film Festival will be held from Friday, June 30th to Monday, July 10th, 2006.
Aside of the Retrospectives (John Houston, Harold Lloyd, Maurice Ronet), tributes are given to Bulle Ogier, Roman Polanski, Brother Quay and Hirokazu Kore-Eda.

Concerning the Asian films, are screened the following :

Walking on the Wide Side (Han Jie, China/France, 2005 - 89 min - 35 mm - colour)
Original title: Bu Fa Fen Zi

A gripping study of drifting youth in the mining province of Shanxi, Northern China in the early nineties. Experimenting with new found freedom in a post-socialist economy, three high school boys, "sworn brothers", dream of liberty, carefreeness, and easy money. But life catches up with them... They are forced to face reality and wake up to a life similar to that of their parents, which they had tried to escape from.

Screenplay: Han Jie
Photography: Xu Wei, Li Hong Jian
Music: Sheng Zi
Editing: Zhang Yifan
Sound: Bei Bei, Chan Ting
Production: Xstream Pictures, Les Petites lumières
Cast: Bai Paijiang (Xiping), Guo Qiang (Liu Liu), Hou Jing (Erbao), Zhang Xingxing (Dongdong), Lu Jie (Guangxie), Tian Zhaoting (Xiaosi)
Source: Les Petites lumières
Co-produced by Jia Zhangke, the film was awarded at the last Inernational film festival of Rotterdam.

- Election 1 (Johnnie To, HK, 2005 - 101 min - 35 mm - colour)
The time has come, as it does every two years, for the senior members of Hong Kong's oldest Triad, The Wo Shing Society, to elect a new chairman. Fierce rivalries emerge between the two eligible candidates. Lok, respected by the Uncles is the favourite to win. But his rival Big D will stop at nothing to change this, including going against hundreds of years of Triad tradition and influencing the vote with money and violence.

Screenplay: Yau Nai Hoi, Yip Tin Keung
Photography: Cheng Siu Keung
Music: Lo Tayu
Editing: Patrick Tam
Production: Milkyway Image Ltd
Cast: Simon Yam (Lok), Tony Leung Ka Fai (Big D), Louis Koo (Jimmy), Nick Cheung (Jet), Cheung Siu Fai (Mr So), Lam Suet (Big Head), Lam Ka Tung (Kun)
Source: ARP Sélection

- Election 2 (Johnnie To, HK, 2006 - 93 min - 35 mm - colour)
Lok has been elected and has total power. Jimmy, a member of the Triad, wants to become an honest businessman. The Chinese make him an offer: if he takes over the Triad, then he will be allowed to trade legally with China.

Screenplay: Yau Nai Hoi, Yipo Tin Shing
Photography: Cheng Siu Keung
Music: Robert Ellis-Geiger
Editing: Law Wing Cheong, Jeff Cheung
Production design: Tony Yu
Production: Milkyway Image
Cast: Louis Koo (Jimmy), Simon Yam (Lok), Nick Cheung (Jet), Cheung Siu Fai (M.So), Wong Tin Lam (Oncle Teng)
Source: ARP Sélection

- Takeshis' (Takeshi Kitano, Japan, 2005 - 98 min - 35 mm - colour)
Beat Takeshi lives an overbooked and often unreal life as a show biz celebrity. His look-alike, a shy cashier, is an unknown actor impatient for his big break. After an encounter with Beat and following several frustrating auditions, the latter seems to lapse mysteriously into an imaginary state where aspects of Beat's real life and his violent on-screen personality are mixed up.

Screenplay: Takeshi Kitano
Photography: Katsumi Yanagijima
Music: Nagi Oyuncular
Editing: Yoshinori Ota, Takeshi Kitano
Production design: Norihiro Isoda
Production: Office Kitano
Cast: "Beat" Takeshi Kitano, Kotomi Kyono, Kayoko Kishimoto, Ren Osugi, Susumu Terajima, Tetsu Wanatabe, Akihiro Miwa
Source: Bac Films


[non-Asian] - RIP Fabian Bielinsky

Fabian Bielinsky, Argentinian director, 47, died in Brazil on June, 29th.

SAO PAULO, Brazil (Reuters) - Argentine film director Fabian Bielinsky, who shot the critically-acclaimed Nine Queens crime caper, died of a heart attack in Sao Paulo, Brazil, consulate officials said on Thursday. He was 47.

Bielinsky was in Brazil doing casting for commercials. He died on Wednesday night in his hotel.

Nine Queens, shot in 2000, won a total of 21 awards at international film festivals and in 2004 gained a Hollywood remake, Criminal, which was less successful.

In the original movie, two con artists played by Ricardo Darin and Gaston Pauls try to swindle a stamp collector by selling him fake rare stamps.

His latest film was "El Aura" (The Aura), this week garnered six Silver Condors, the Argentine equivalent of the Oscar.


Saturday, July 01, 2006

Notes on some Asian films

so hot, too lazy to write....

Last Asian films seen :
Chinese :
Sunflower by Zhang Yang with Joan Chen (2005), a family subject drama which was okay (despite the constant soft piano music) but I probably prefered Quitting. Joan Chen who plays a mother wasn't recognizable, she played very well.
Huayao Bride in Shangrila by Zhang Jia Rui (2005) .

HK :
Viva Erotica by Derek Yee (1996) with Leslie Cheung, Shu Qi and Karen Mok, which was enjoyable to watch
Two films that I will not recommend and not much worth watching (Half Twin by Yip Wai Ying, 2006 and Fear Of Intimacy by Vincent Chui, with Tony Leung Ka Fai, 2004).

Japanese :
Haze, the latest Shinya Tsukamoto film (lasts about 50 mins, 2005).
Best not to be claustrophobic! It's about a man (Shinya Tsukamoto) who suddently wakes up and finds himself stucked in a narrow, concrete room in a prison like without knowing why and how he ended up there. He tries to escape. Quite of a twisted movie, may watch it again. Rather gory, and I guess it's just pure "horror" and angst (with bits of flesh and corpses lying or floating everywhere, with panicky, petrified, horrified facial expressions on close-ups...).

Otakus in Love by Suzuki Martsuo (2005) with Ryuhei Matsuda. Based on a manga, the film is a rather fun & stylized movie, some good parts.
A Blue Automobile by Hiroshi Okuhara (2004), which was okay, quiet almost minimalist with hardly any dialogue and a succession of static shots and some dreamy scenes. The film is about a young man who works in a music shop and performs as a DJ in some bars, he had an accident when he was a child which injured one of eyes and now wears dark glasses (the film develops typical contemporary Japanese themes however, the drifting youth, suicide attempt... mixed with a triangular love affair...).
I've watched the series of Female Scorpion
(I had only seen Scorpion: Female Convict 701 before) with very charismatic Meiko Kaji :
Female Convict Scorpion Jailhouse 41 (Shunya Ito, 1972)
Female Prisoner #701 Scorpion: Beast Stable (Shunya Ito, 1973)
Scorpion - Female Prisoner 701: Grudge Song (Yasuharu Hasebe, 1973) which was I think the weakest, or perhaps I got tired of watching all in a row).