Greetings Soldiers and Cinephiles,
I wanted to give everyone an update on the some of the film events that will going on around Philadelphia in the next week.
Tonight Thursday Oct. 14th Flux is kicking off their bi-monthly film screenings with Short Films by Kenneth Anger beginning at 7pm.
Sunday Oct. 17th Wooden Shoe movie screening will feature Jean-Luc Godard's 1967 film La Chinoise. This is the first in a series of films that is being curated by our friend Ben Webster. Other films will include Oshima's Night and Fog in Japan and Chris Marker's Grin without a Cat. I highly recommend attending these screenings and will keep you updated with the times and dates for all of them. You can also check out some of Ben's writing on his blog, which you can link to from here.
The big event starting this week, of course, is the Philadelphia Film Festival. Well, it would be exciting if they had decided to play some really good and interesting films, but instead, as usual, have decided to play it safe and pick the most mundane Sundance approved films. The lineup is lackluster to say the least. I have been going through the films today and reading reviews and watching trailers and, honestly, there is not a lot I can recommend. There probably are one or two good new films playing here, but considering the price of admission ($12 with no student discount available! You have to be kidding me!) it isn't really worth taking the chance. Besides, most of the films they are playing already have distributors and will most likely be playing at the Ritz in the near future, so why waste the $12? It's a pretty sad state of affairs; film festivals used to be a place for true cinephiles to gather and see the most cutting edge and original undiscovered films and now? What are film festivals now? Just a chance to network and schmooze; it is not even really about cinema anymore. It all about money and sponsorship and bullshit. There is essential cinema being made now, we all know that to be true, but 99% of film festivals do not play it. This is the problem not only with film festivals, but with American independent film in general. Whereas, an independent film used to be exactly that: films made by filmmakers working outside of the establish or the confines of a studio; now "indie" is a genre. There certainly are "indie" films and, quite frankly, they are crap. Film festivals such as the Philadelphia Film Festival are totally unwilling to seek out the truly challenging, avant-garde, and interesting films being produced today in an actual independent way, outside of the mainstream. There are very few festivals or venues for these types of films anymore (Anthology Film Archive in New York is one of the rare exceptions which I can think of off the top of my head). Film has become so compartmentalized and commercialized in every aspect and in every sector. It may be time for the old film festivals and old modes of distribution to die. Something new needs to happen! $12 fucking dollars for a film festival ticket (upwards of $20 for the New York Film Festival)?! Fuck you! Cinema and art should be easily accessible to everyone and should, for the most part, be free or as cheap as possible. Shooting Wall has been discussing forming our own film festival where submission and admission would be completely free; and we could show films of all lengths, forms and styles by filmmakers who are as frustrated as we are by the state of mainstream cinema (and don't fool yourselves IFC, Sundance or the myriad of other film festivals out there, you ARE mainstream cinema). If you are a film festival or a distribution/production company or a theater that is unwilling to at least partly play or proliferate truly groundbreaking and unique cinema which may not have mass appeal, but does have appeal to people who are legitimately interested in cinema, then you are mainstream and you are the problem. The Philadelphia Film Festival is only a small part of a growing problem. There are much bigger enemies of cinema and much worse offenders (Sundance, I am talking to you!), but it is symptomatic of the bigger problem at hand, the problem which Shooting Wall is attempting to bring to light and then crush with cinema!
Below are a list of the only things I can truly recommend seeing at Philadelphia Film Festival, everything else, see at your own discretion. Almost all the recommendations are from known directors, who have made interesting work in the past.
Film Socialism by Jean-Luc Godard
Carlos by Olivier Assayas
Certified Copy by Abbas Kiarostami
Heartbeats by Xavier Dolan
The Housemaid 1960 version by Kim Ki-Young and 2010 version by Sang-Soo Im
The Last Circus by Alex de la Iglesia
Page of Madness (1927) by Teinosuke Knugasa
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives by Apichatpong Weerasethakul
White Material by Claire Denis
That's about it. Honestly, you can probably see more cutting edge and interesting contemporary cinema at home. I recommend watching films by Lucrecia Martal, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Tsai-Ming Liang, Azazel Jacobs, Sofia Coppola, Claire Denis, Gerardo Naranjo, Harmony Korine, Carlos Reygadas, Lynne Ramsay, Guy Maddin, Craig Baldwin, Albert Serra (also best dressed), etc etc. etc. There are many many more hugely talented and undiscovered filmmakers out there making real cutting edge cinema.