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OffBeat Cinema 4


OffBeat Cinema 4

–– Editorial ––

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–– Contents –– 4 Column Stag Films: Transcending Boundaries Before Boundaries Existed by Jennifer Lyon Bell 8

One Screen La vida de los peces (The Life of Fish, 2010) by Caridad Botella

10 On Screen The Myth of the American Sleepover: One Night for a Lifetime by Nicola Bozzi 13 DVD Review American Dream Trilogy (2005/2007/2008) by Paola Pistone

19 Interview On iPhone Performative Filmmaking with Seth Carnes 23 OffBeat's Choice Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1968 Queer Manifesto: Teorema by Gianluca Turricchia 26 Column Cinema is Undead by Luuk van Huët 29 Action on the Negative: Yasmine Kassari’s L’Enfant Endormi by Baylee Brits

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16 Reportage “Cinema & Society”: Where Has Theory Gone? by Odile Bodde


OffBeat Cinema 4 Stag films, the world’s first sexually explicit films dating from the very beginning of cinema’s history, qualify as a stellar example of true underground cinema. Stags, also called “smokers” or “blue movies”, surfaced in 1907 and persisted in similar form and content up through the beginning of the 1960’s.

Stag Films: Transcending Boundaries Before Boundaries Existed by Jennifer Lyon Bell Illegal in every country in which they were made (including the USA, many Western European countries including the Netherlands, Russia, Argentina, and North Africa), these 35mm and 16mm reels were quietly circulated by traveling exhibitors carrying the films by hand. Word of mouth would bring groups of men together in private viewing locations like fraternities and men’s lodges. All-male groups would watch a series of five to ten of these 10-12 minute films in an evening, and for many men this was their first riveting experience of clearly seeing sexual acts – not least because their own girlfriends

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OffBeat Cinema 4 and wives insisted on making love in a darkened bedroom. As I learned when co-curating the New York Museum of Sex’s long-running Stag film exhibition “Stags, Smokers, and Blue Movies: The Origins Of American Pornographic Film” in 2005 with stag and pornography expert Professor Joseph Slade, unpacking porn’s history offers myriad ways to better understand and contextualize our current attitudes about sexuality. During our research together, I discovered dozens of interesting features of stag films that have informed my own work as an erotic filmmaker, but one of the most basic is that stag offers a chance to see sexual representation before the massive codification by sub-genre that one sees today in modern pornography. As a result of thinking about stag films, we can get a fresh perspective on the possible relationships between classification, personal sexual experience, and sexual representation. For modern viewers, one of the most salient elements of typical porn is the subgenre-specific coding that goes into the production, distribution, and marketing of different films and clips. Labeled clearly as, for example, “Amateur”, “Anal”, or “Asian” (to cite the first three in a typical alphabetical list), most modern porn viewers actually have to be fairly sexually savvy to navigate the tidal wave of filmic content. They need to harness their working knowledge of different sexual techniques (like anal sex), all the possible permutations of physical qualities (relative breast and penis size, racial categorizations, specially created adult-film categories like “Redhead” and “MILF”, and so on) and production techniques and sexual performance styles that might enable one to decide, for example, if one prefers watching amateur couples in their homes or watching glamorous high-profile studio contract stars in professionally-styled big-budget productions. The bane of the modern subgenre system, of course, is that it not only reflects mental categorization and preference, but significantly affects it as well. Though a whole article could certainly be written on this topic alone, it’s easy to see that detailed genrefication in porn, as in other film genres, can force viewers to prioritize their individual wishes at the expense of an overlap, particularly if the internet interface or DVD description restricts each film to one category. And good films can get lost in the fray if they don’t feature an

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One of the most interesting and illuminating elements of stag film is that this subgenre system is largely not yet in place. One reason, of course, is simple volume. Unlike the millions of porn films available today to anyone at the click of a button, the sum worldwide total of currently existing stag films is only about 1700. Though scholars know that the original total was higher because many stag films were destroyed or still languish forgotten in basements and attics, historically it was simply not possible for the average stag viewer to have the chance to view very many in his lifetime. The genre system was not necessary because stag viewers rarely had a choice. Men who were invited to a stag event at their fraternity or men’s club usually were treated to whatever the traveling film exhibitionist had managed to cobble together. As a result, it’s refreshing to now see a chapter of pornographic cinema that resists today’s entrenched current classifications. For starters, the body types common in stag films, while varied, are overwhelmingly “average” by today’s standards. There was no “porn industry” back then, and as a result, no industry aesthetic standards to maintain. Breasts appear in all matter of different shapes and sizes, including saggy and small, and penises are not-infrequently quite small by today’s porn standards. The former might be acceptable in today’s true “amateur” porn, but the latter isn’t, and it’s refreshing to see porn films where it doesn’t seem to matter. While stag films’ varied body shapes to some extent reflect each

decade’s changing fashions in weight and silhouette, they more generally call attention to the bizarre state of much mainstream studio porn today, in which a few certain silhouettes (slender female bodies with large firm breasts, for example) have come to dominate the imagery at the expense of all others. The specific sexual acts depicted in stag films might also intrigue modern viewers for their resistance to today’s genre labels. The sex depicted is largely “vanilla” heterosexual fellatio, cunnilingus and vaginal-penile intercourse with a fair amount of lesbian sex thrown in, but certain common stag sex acts aren’t so usual today. When I watched stacks and stacks of stag DVDs during my research for the New York Museum of Sex exhibition, I was surprised by how many films featured a urination scene. For example, the oldest surviving and perhaps most well-known stag film A Free Ride (a.k.a. A Grass Sandwich, 1915) starts with a man offering two female hitchhikers a lift. When he stops the car for a urination break, they spy on him excitedly, decide to urinate together in front of a nearby tree, and eventually a threesome ensues. In the days of stag, urination seems to be primarily used as a narrative device to get characters to expose their genitalia (or partially disrobe) in a believable way. Usually the film progresses quickly beyond that point. However, today’s urination films are a subgenre unto themselves. Urination is rarely a starting act in an otherwise vanilla modern porn film. Whether urinating alone or on a partner (“Golden Showers”), in many clips this act is the sum total of the event, surpassing even the sex itself. And in some countries like the UK, no matter how urination is handled (even in

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obvious fetish or body-specific focus.


OffBeat Cinema 4 Matías Bize, 84 min Script: Matías Bize and Julio Rojas In Spanish with Dutch subtitles

La vida de los peces (The Life of Fish, 2010 by Caridad Botella Winner in the category Best Latin American Film at the Spanish Goya Awards 2011, La vida de los peces tells a subtle but confronting story about the inescapable passage of time and the regrets we might have about decisions taken in the past. Continuing to display a taste for stories grounded on the doubt and difficulties that love relationships bring along, Chilean director and writer Matías Bize has put together a touching film every adult can relate to. Which thirty-something hasn’t been to an old friend’s reunion where people mostly talk about the past nostalgically? Who hasn’t wandered through a path paved with the words “what if…”? The film takes place in just one setting, something Bize had already tried in En la cama (In Bed, 2005), and therefore relies heavily on dialogues, acting and art direction. The story opens with 33-year-old travel writer Andrés (Santiago Cabrera) who is back in Chile for a short while, after ten years of life in Berlin; he is spending his last evening at an old friend’s birthday party. Slowly, it becomes clear something terrible

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On Screen

Sat 07 - The director will attend for Q&A - Sábado, una película en tiempo real (2003, English subtitles) - La vida de los peces (2010)

La Vida de los Peces

Sat 14 - En la cama (2005) Dutch subtitles - Lo bueno de llorar (2006) English subtitles

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Time is the main omnipresent issue in the name of the film. This is well accentuated by the use and abuse of slow motion camera-work, which follows the protagonist’s steps, almost in real-time, from room to room, through the animated and yet silent background of the party. The party (and life) goes on while Andrés escapes from participating in it, having the conversations, away from the sight of the others, under the tamed light or through the filter of a fish tank. La vida de los peces is easy on the eye but ruthless on the soul. Bize’s only sin is his nostalgia, which translates into too many bittersweet remarks and heavy dialogues. There is even nostalgia towards the graphics of the video game Space Invaders, which is put against modern digital aesthetics, which can seem a bit redundant as the story itself is nostalgic enough.

Rialto presents, in cooperation with LAFF (Latin American Film Festival) and EYE Film Institute, a retrospective with Matías Bize:

Photo: Constanza Valderrama

happened in the past, which led Andrés to his own exile, leaving the love of his life, Beatriz (Blanca Lewin), behind. Engaging in existential conversations with various key characters while he is preparing to leave the party, Andres takes us on a trip through all the different stages of life: his friends, Mariana’s (Antonia Zeger) pregnancy and her baby in the cradle, teenage boys, girls in their twenties and the old lady of the house. Andrés remains the distant spectator who isn’t part of any of them; this fact is strengthened by the fact that he leads and earns his life as a passer-by tourist. “The hard part is to stay and to deal with the every day life”, says one of his old friends. Yet at the party the past catches up with this handsome traveler until it stares him right in the face and it becomes time to take new decisions.


OffBeat Cinema 4 Whether American or not, you know what a sleepover or pajama party is, if anything, because of the movies. I, for one, have seen my share of teenage comedies and college flicks, from the mainstream hits focused on stoner odysseys to the more introspective indie films. Still, although fundamentally nothing new, The Myth of the American Sleepover came as a refreshing view to me. Clearly the movie places itself on the indie and arty end of the spectrum, honoring preceding classics with soft images and subtle cleverness. The film has been compared to Gus Van Sant's Elephant, but unlike his later Last Days – which dealt with the demise of a Kurt Cobain clone – it really does smell like the teen spirit of the legendary Nirvana song.

Caption?!

The Myth of the American Sleepover: One Night for a Lifetime by Nicola Bozzi 10


On Screen

Set in a Detroit suburb on the last night of summer, the plot follows four story lines that revolve around personal searches for romance, acceptance, maturity or revenge. The protagonists are a group of teens, boys and girls of different ages, all looking for a last good time before fall comes and sweeps them all back to school or to college, away form their suburban homes. There is the young blonde with the labret piercing, encouraged by her geekier friend to try and kiss an older guy at the pool party; the lonely searcher following an almost ghostly vision of the ideal girl - glanced at the supermarket - through the night; the creepy stalker hanging onto the memory of a couple of twins he took theater class with; the betrayed girl of an unfaithful boyfriend having her revenge at the other girl's party. Throughout all these mini-plots, sex, love or a simple kiss are all that is at stake but the story is built on the impal-

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Caprion?!

There is something paradoxical about the way American suburbia is so present as a mnemonic reference for us all, the Western youth. Those white houses, with their green lawns, are so iconic that we are seduced into believing they are an archetype, instead of a very specific architectural typology, predominant in a very specific geographical context. Another paradox underlies the mix of excitement and boredom that teenagers populating this environment seem to experience - as represented with a special glow in Ghost World, from the Daniel Clowes comic. Clowes' kids may sport subcultural accessories but his retroinfused style makes his illustrations look less detailed and site-specific than they actually are, a sort of rounded atmosphere that blurs the edges of the characters and the places portrayed. From its very name, Ghost World takes the form of a suspended memory, a sleepy cavalcade infused with the strange thrill that is so typical of any tale of American youth. From Ferris Bueller's Day Off to American Pie, the threshold to college is a period of pioneering conquers and life-changing revelations. College is that buffer zone where adult codes coexist with unrelenting desires, where parents' expectations loom and pile up on peer pressure. And it's the place of sex and (Animal) frat houses, too. College kills the ghost world that preceded it and, with its completion, marks the end of that American Beauty – music and sex – which director Sam Mendes obsessively chased in his first movie (a good example of a European feeling nostalgia for

The Myth of the American Sleepover

pable tension of social codes, attraction, and unsaid truths. As well as, of course, its mythical landscape.


OffBeat Cinema 4 someone else's past).

mythifying the streets, the living rooms, the trees, the swimming pools.

The Myth of the American Sleepover

– toilet paper the neighbors' houses – stands somewhere near the end of the pre-college ghost world and the poster illustration echoing Clowes is the first signal of this. The colorful ensemble of protagonists poses in a group shot, drawn as graphic novel versions of themselves, the clothes simplified to brand-free templates, the colors flattened to one tone each. Rather than Ghost World the movie, David Robert Mitchell's first fea-

– make out on chipped steps – ture film is dense with the same type of suspended tension we find in the comic – in which you have the time to look at the images and absorb them before you read the text balloons. In fact, the dialogues are definitely not the highlight here: they are dry and leave all the confused frills of common conversation to the imagination. The tension radiates from the eyes of the protagonists, which fill the gaps between the words, telling a story of their own. And it soaks up the whole environment,

It's clear we are floating in a dimension where, for one night, anything can happen. The characters wander through fullness and voids, friendly crowds and metaphysical wastelands – highways, woods, abandoned halls – where adults are either absent or asleep. Before the morning comes, the city is free for the kids to toilet paper the neighbors' houses,

– swim drunk – swim drunk or make out on chipped steps. After that, the daily parade of roles and rules will reclaim its domain, everyone distanced by the cleansing awkwardness of the morning light. Until then though, it's time to be courageous and daring, to reach out despite a deep solitude that all the protagonists have to struggle with. Each of the four main characters has a moment in which to separate from their friends and undertake their personal search on their own, eventually reaching somewhat of a goal that was not necessarily what they were envisioning. The clear definition of a rainy, sleepless dimension of its own makes The Myth of the American Sleepover something different from Ghost World's pop cultural geography and far from Elephant's tragic acceleration towards an Event. The film is closer to Michelangelo Antonioni's silent wanderings, where the characters

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DVD Review

by Paola Pistone Two years ago the American film critic A. O. Scott defined “Neo-Neo Realism” as a tendency of recent independent American cinema that breaks away from the Hollywood tradition and turns the attention to subjects rarely acknowledged by mainstream films, employing techniques that resemble the tradition of post-war Italian cinema. Such a tendency responds, according to Scott, to an “urge to escape escapism”, to affirm realism as an aesthetic strategy in order to “counter the tyranny of fantasy” imposed by both politics and mainstream cinema, and ultimately to try to find an answer to the question “what kind of movies do we need now?”

A.O. SCOTT – 'Neo-Neo Realism, American Directors Make Clear-Eyed Movies for Hard Times': www.nytimes. com/2009/03/22/ magazine/22neorealism-t. html?_r=1

American Dream Trilogy

American Dream Trilogy (2005/2007/2008) ––

(Photo: Jon Higgins)

Ramin Bahrani, USA, 91 / 86 / 84 min Cast: Ahmad Razvi, Alejandro Polanco, Souleymane Sy Savane Distributed by De Filmfreak

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Iranian-American screenwriter and director Ramin Bahrani is one of the young filmmakers indicated by Scott as the representatives of a supposedly “Neo Neorealist” phase in contemporary American cinema. The three feature films shot by Bahrani (Man Push Cart, 2005; Chop Shop, 2007; Goodbye Solo, 2008) all deal with the struggles of characters living at the margins of society and striving to achieve a better life than the one they lead, although the plots do not offer easy fulfilment to their “American dream”.


OffBeat Cinema 4

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(Photo: Jon Higgins)

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DVD Review

Although the three films show a certain engagement with social and political problems shared among contemporary societies, such as economic hardship, immigration and precarious employment, Bahrani's accent is always on the individuals and on the angle of the world they inhabit. The films do not unfold a theme, nor do they reduce the stories of their characters to socio-political allegories; instead they observe and carefully (re) construct certain fragments of reality.

The director transfers these realities to the screen with a style that tends to conceal the meticulous work behind the film, in order to keep the attention of the viewer on the subjects, rather than on any technical or aesthetic feature. A nearly invisible camera work, the absence of musical score, and the employment of unknown actors (the cast of the first two movies is composed of non-actors, and while the protagonists of Goodbye Solo are professionals, none of them had previously played leading roles), are all strategies to avoid compromising the credibility of the impression of reality that the films want to achieve. The impression of truth, together with Bahrani’s graceful humanism, is fundamental in encouraging the viewer to engage with the characters, appealing to the spectators’ responsibility to take the characters' existence outside the movie theatre. And in the attempt of bringing those lives from the screen to the “real” world of the viewers seems to lie the director’s answer to Scott’s question: “what kind of movies do we need now?”

American Dream Trilogy

And it is from the direct contact with those realities that all three films came into existence. The protagonist of Man Push Cart is modelled on the life of Ahmad Razvi, the movie's main actor, a Pakistani bartender who worked as a push cart vendor; Chop Shop was inspired by the real lives of children working in the area of Shea Stadium; the idea behind Goodbye Solo arose from the encounter between the director and a Senegalese taxi driver, with whom Bahrani spent several months, accompanying him in his night shifts.

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Ahmad, the main character of Bahrani's first feature, Man Push Cart, is a Pakistani street vendor selling coffee and bagels in the streets of New York, and trying to save enough money to buy his own push cart. Alejandro, the young protagonist of Chop Shop, is a twelve-year old Latino boy who earns his living selling candies in the subway and working at construction sites, and strives to achieve a better life for himself and his sixteen-year old sister Isamar. He finds a job and accommodation in a wrecking yard nearby New York’s Shea Stadium, a desolated industrial area known as “The Iron Triangle”. Like Ahmad, Alejandro plans to buy his own food van and works hard to collect the necessary money. Goodbye Solo is set in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and is the story of the friendship between Solo, a Senegalese taxi driver who dreams to become a flight attendant, and William, an American elderly man who offers him a considerable amount of money to take him on a one way journey to a place called Blowing Rock, where the current of the wind makes objects float upwards into the sky. Solo realizes that William intends to commit suicide, and accepts the unusual request only to prevent the old man to accomplish his plan.


OffBeat Cinema 4 From 28 March to 1 April the Rietveld Art Academy organized the five-day conference “Cinema Clash Continuum: Film and History in the Age of Godard”. I attended the program called “Cinema & Society: Where Have the Subversives Gone?” Which, you have to admit, sounds promising.

“Cinema & Society”: Where Has Theory Gone? by Odile Bodde While scanning the program I noticed that the guests and topics of Cinema & Society had very little to do with Godard, but this also made me curious. The program’s description posed an interesting question: "In an age of global unrest, growing control and command by the State, and a stifling grip of the mainstream consensus culture, filmmakers may wonder if they can be subversive at all. It may be that the requirements of protest result in the sacrifice of originality and artistic inventiveness. Is that too high a price for a filmmaker to pay?" However, the three speakers BAVO (Gideon Boie), artist Jonas Staal and scholar Miodrag Suvakovic, who were featured be-

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Reportage idea what the beliefs of this spokesperson of artistic participation really were when inviting him.

Cinema and Society

fore the main section on American filmmaker Lech Kowalski, hardly shared any mutual relationship. There was no link explicated between the three with cinema, subversion in the age of Godard, or with Lech Kowalski’s films. Despite this aporia, “spokesperson of artistic participation” BAVO and artist Jonas Staal were interesting because their work related to political issues in the Netherlands today. BAVO was introduced to the audience as having written the pamphlet Too Active to Act, which supposedly "wipes the floor with Dutch neo-liberal cultural policy" and states that “artists have become ‘cultural therapists’ and ‘conflict managers’ with neighborhood projects that camouflage the real issues of vandalism and property speculation.” However, BAVOs actual agenda proved otherwise when he proclaimed that “artists should profit from these neo-liberal political parties, should not simply reject them, but should seek an active attitude in working together with these parties. Artists have a lot more in common with Geert Wilders than seems at first instance: both fight for an increased sense of personal freedom and discipline.” This subversive proclamation stirred up the audience but made painfully clear that the program's curator, Stefan Majakowski, obviously had had no

Miodrag Šuvaković

during the conference. Instead, Staal connected his art projects to a sense of subversion by showing how art can become subversive through the contexts that he creates for them. But instead of feeding this back into the projects that were mentioned on the website, he gave us three new individual case studies in which he showed how art and politics can meet, intensify and mock each other. He did not further interrogate the implicit and problematic relationship between art and politics. After the three introductions, curator Majakowski undertook an interview with Lech Kowalski, whose film Born to Lose: The Last Rock and Roll Movie (1999) was shown at the end of the program;

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BAVO (left), Jonas Staal (right)

Artist Jonas Staal is known for The Geert Wilders Works, The Geert Wilders Work — A Trial I – II, and The Barack Obama Project in which he "displays an ingenious concept combining an original visual language with questions of political correctness regarding race." However, none of these projects were touched upon or analyzed with regards to their content


OffBeat Cinema 4 a "monument to Punk culture and independent filmmaking". Majakowski showed a plenitude of fragments from Kowalski’s work (a lot of which focuses on Punk music), which were accompanied by extensive comments from the filmmaker. Despite the fact that Kowalski has definitely made interesting documentaries, the curator behaved more like an old friend and admirer of Kowalski, turning the conversation into a fan interview that idolized the filmmaker, rather than a tantalizing eye-to-eye one would expect from a meeting like this. The two-hour section was little more than a director’s cut with a live voice-over. Neither Kowalski nor Majakowski analysed the fragments on their subversive traits, or took a critical stance towards the film’s implicit or explicit themes - let alone to Kowalski’s position of filmmaker framing the characters from a highly subjective position.

All images from: www.gerritrietveldacademie.nl/ project/cinema-clash-continuum-in-retrospective

Only the scholar in art theory Miodrag Suvakovic provided proper insight, highlighting different sides and layers of subversion in relation to art and cinema and thus tying some of the program’s loose ends together. Suvakovic implicitly demonstrated the shortcomings of Majakowski’s set-up; the program lacked thorough theoretical and objective ana-

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Interview

–– On iPhone Performative Filmmaking –– Caridad Botella: Watching the video I see different layers of content, the object filmed is one of your own art projects, about movement and music combined, about the process of shooting the movie, it’s also an open narrative. What do you want to communicate with this film?

Seth Carnes

For the February issue of Off Beat Cinema, I interviewed Seth Carnes about his work in the field of Live Cinema. On this occasion, I approached him on account of his first short film, “iheart variation 003”, shot with an iPhone4 and the result of filming a performative art project which took place in a hotel in New York City.

Seth Carnes: These variation projects fit within the greater iheart project, which is an exploration of symbolic language and its living contextualization, the flux of its meaning across time and filtered through culture. On the large black Velcro wall, one can see 15 framed black symbols on white; they are limited edition prints created with artwelove.com, who also helped set up this show at the Roger Smith Hotel. Alone, any symbol represents an idea; in juxtaposition, the meanings change, and so comes the idea of symbol variations as not only representing new meanings for the grouped symbols, but a total artwork as sculpture, installation, print, and human interaction and interpretation. The film attempts to capture these ideas across time.

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CB: Did you have any kind of script or is it organic work?


OffBeat Cinema 4

iHeart Variation 003

SC: The “script� for this film is closer to an improvisational jazz, dance performance or theatre set-up, i.e. variable actions within set parameters. The basics: within a party in a hotel lobby and foyer, invited guests, hotel guests, or random passersby came together to create variations of printed artworks stuck to a Velcro wall. The variation order and who made then generate spontaneously, based on who arrived first and showed interest. You can see at the start of the film that people are more sober, it’s less crowded and noisy, and as the variations progress, so does the energy flow. Each variation essentially became a vignette, both in start and stop, who participated, and the feeling of the musical score created live on the spot by Gyan Riley. CB: Image and music are obviously very intimately related, can you tell me about the process of putting both together? How does the narrative of the image relate to the music and vice versa? SC: The film aims to capture art as alive

and vibrant, in the moment, whether artmaking, music score on location, or the filming process itself. The most static feature is the time-lapse film footage that serves as the anchor, in one set place, taking one photo every 2 seconds for the duration of the night. In the edit, I attempted to reformulate the energy, gestures and identity of each variation and all of them as a cohesive group made in one evening. On the link between image and music, Gyan is an amazing artist and performer, and we talked beforehand only once about how to best capture the audio of his live score. He just came in, set up, sat down and started playing unique compositions based on the energy of a given variation in progress. I love working with him because he comes with no ego and a heap of talent, so helpful in collaborative artistic process. CB: How is the process of shooting with an iPhone? SC: Apple created an easy gestural in-

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Interview terface for shooting with the iPhone. With just one button push it starts recording HD video and audio straight onto its hard drive. With gestural smart phone cameras, anyone can shoot video, even children who cannot read yet. That said, it remains a camera at core, that requires skill to frame and capture moments that will enter into a film’s narrative.

SC: This is my first film specifically shot and edited with iPhones as cameras. The decision to shoot with multiple iPhones relates to the concept of the film and the art show performance it aimed to capture, a one-night performative art party in an NYC hotel lobby. I originally planned to record only in time lapse, but this seemed too removed from the gestural, performative and improvised parts of the piece. Capturing this energy needed more angles, more recording of gesture, and cameras and their operators themselves embedded within the action and therefore, the film.

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shop.artwelove.com

Seth Carnes

CB: Why did you decide to shoot this movie with an iPhone? Had you used a cell-phone for shooting a movie before?

CB: How do you get the videos into Final Cut Pro and how was the process of editing, post-producing? SC: Raw iPhone footage is recorded in H.264 so I transcoded all of it into the Apple ProRes codec, along with the timelapse video, to make for a smoother time in Final Cut Pro. It’s possible to record and edit a film within the iPhone alone, but my film has so many sources and the live musical score from Gyan Riley; I needed a professional application to tie it all together. CB: Some filmmakers who have used phone cameras say it’s less intimidating and more intimate to film with a cell-phone. There also an element of working more with the whole body and less with the eye. How did it feel for you to shoot with a camera that fits the hand?

www.rogersmitharts.com

gyanriley.com

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SC: In NYC at least, people are so used to seeing iPhones in constant use, using them as cameras helped maintain the informal atmosphere desired in this film. And yes, filming with them is intimate and tightly connected to the body, hand


OffBeat Cinema 4 and eye. iPhone video is not true HD, it’s 1280x720 pixels, compressed and pretty grainy... there are also unique optical effects that bend and blur what’s captured when the phone or what it’s recording is in fast motion. This makes it a special format and camera, a bit like the Super 8 for the 21st century.

CB: How do you plan to distribute the film? SC: Through the Internet mostly. I’ll likely send it to a few film festivals. It’s a nice document to show in a possible retrospective down the line, and great one for far in the future when it will seem quite antiquated.

CB: What are the advantages of using an iPhone, which enabled the narrative and film to unfold as it did? Did you find any disadvantages?

CB: How do you see the future of film making using mobile media? SC: The devices will become smaller and more powerful, increasingly merging with our senses and body. I know that may read scary to some, but it’s inevitable. We will see amazing and terrifying artistic outputs from this radical change. For example, Apple or somebody else will soon make eyeglasses featuring frames with small cameras and microphones on left and right side, lenses with overhead displays and augmented reality, GPS, wireless networking, and earbuds on the backside for sound into the ear. Devices will jack into the optic nerve and we’ll be able to throw a handful of hummingbird drone cameras into the air; the US military already has them in use. Reality is catching up to science fiction.

SC: The iPhone and smart phones like it are becoming physical extensions of the human body into digital networks and augmented reality. As Marshall McLuhan said, our nervous systems are extending into the electric networks, and the iPhone is now a primary conduit. This can be seen by how many smart phones increasingly stay in people’s hands at all times, rather than stored into their bag or pocket. Some of this dynamic appears in this film, where subject and object, organic and mechanical eye, living and recorded life, begin to show signs of merger. It’s also a nice way to document an art show on the cheap.

– People are so used to seeing iPhones, using them as cameras helped maintain the informal atmosphere – 22


OffBeat's Choice Ever since its first appearance at the Venice Film Festival in 1968, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Teorema has occupied an awkward position in film history by breaking the taboo governing the non-representation of homoeroticism. Even after the proliferation of the “gay cinema” subgenre and its normalization within the mainstream, the film’s precise collocation is no less a trouble now than at the time of its release.

Teorema

Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1968 Queer Manifesto: Teorema –– by Gianluca Turricchia

of analyzing a (male) homosexual psyche, but of investigating what has led to the liberation of queer – nonnormative – sexualities and what social implications this process entails. For this reason Teorema is first and foremost a film of 1968, and a good deal of its queerness is contained in the ambivalence of being both a product of and a critique against that wave of change that affected the past century

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For instance, unlike a good deal of “gay cinema”, Pasolini deliberately chooses not to focus on the gay character’s inner struggle on his way out of the closet. He does not inscribe the homosexual’s vicissitudes into the cliché of the coming of age story. Instead, the movie both complicates and relegates those narratives to a marginal position: it is not a matter


OffBeat Cinema 4 so deeply (even though not on the same terms). Teorema starts unexpectedly in the guise of a documentary. An aerial shot of a factory plant forms an allusion to the ongoing social struggle that familiarly typifies our representation of those years. As soon as the perspective narrows down and a journalist interviews a bewildered factory worker, we suddenly hear that this particular battle in the class struggle is over since the factory’s capitalist owner, Paolo (Massimo Girotti), has granted his workers full control of the plant in an unannounced, immense act of generosity. How could such a choice ever emerge? Pasolini moves the camera behind the exclusive walls of Paolo’s upper class household in Milan where it finds an estranged ambiance. The milieu’s airtight isolation from outside affairs reveals a counterintuitive choice for unpacking the spirit of May ’68 that is embodied by

a mysterious, charming guest visiting the family (Terence Stamp). He divulges neither his name nor his background: silent as to what his identity might be, the only thing he reveals of himself is his passion for Rimbaud’s poems. A detail that colors the guest’s function in a tone that is poetic in its most literal sense – in the Greek etymology of poiéo, “to make” – as an art of giving shape to life. Similarly, each encounter between the mysterious guest and an individual member of the household conjures a change in the latter that is none other than a reconfiguration of their singular existence and a subsequent crisis of their identities. This subversion takes the form of a sudden illumination – Les Illuminations being the title of one of Rimbaud’s works – that ends up “awakening” another self within the alienated character, resonating with Rimbaud’s catchphrase “je est un autre” (I is another). Fueling this “otherization” is

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OffBeat's Choice an intense yearning that the movie renders by repeatedly taking shots of the guest’s crotch, suggesting those characters deeply desire the stranger: they all want him to enter their life, and fill the void of their bourgeois existence from which they seek “liberation”.

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Finally, what use does Teorema make of “queer”? If not as an adjective defining an intimate quality of the story, Teorema claims “queer” as a verb to reframe family narratives. It addresses a double-edged critique of both home and work, while registering how the disintegration of those spaces opens up previously unimagined ways for desiring bodies to cross each other. Thus the film establishes a continuum between economic production and sexual reproduction, only to register them being undone and redone by a new regime of power ultimately disentangled from the traditional father figure wielding the rights of property and hedonic taboo. Instead, power makes its appearance as a young, ambiguous stranger; an angelic - or diabolic – lover that perversely enchains his subjects by creating in them, along with new needs and desires that are posited as repressed, the conditions for their very next liberation: simply, more desire. Is there any way out of this?

Teorema

The guest’s sudden departure completes this ambivalent liberation: their family bond is finally broken and everyone tries to fulfill their newly created individual desire. Emilia (Laura Betti) leaves the house where she served as a maid and becomes a miracle-worker in her native peasant village. The once respectable mother and wife (Silvana Mangano) turns into a promiscuous predator. Her daughter Odetta enters a psychiatric hospital, while Pietro discovers his homosexuality, and subsequently forsakes his studies to become an artist. Last but not least, here is the reason why Paolo, like a renewed Saint Francis, strips himself from his earthly belongings as a sign of desertion from a society he no longer wants to be part of.


OffBeat Cinema 4 A reaction to Peter Greenaway's lecture: the Death of Cinema

Cinema is Undead by Luuk van Huët On the 2nd of April, the renowned filmmaker, critic, artist and VJ Peter Greenaway gave an animated lecture (in both the literal and the figurative sense of the word) on his views of the current state of cinema in a packed screening room at Kriterion. The lecture was hosted by Jeffrey Babcock, the driving force behind the underground cinema scene in Amsterdam, who introduced Greenaway as a “Baroque Futurist” to a captive audience. Greenaway then proceeded to eloquently and wittily argue that cinema as an art form has been dead for almost 30 years, and that films suffer under a number of tyrannical conditions. I’ll do my humble best to recap his argumentation and will then offer a reaction to his statement, which acknowledges the current (deplorable) state of cinema but will present a different point of view. Even though I have sampled the classical canon of culture as a student of Cultural Studies and are in awe of Greenaway’s extensive cultural baggage, I find that my frame of mind has been formed, by and large, by popular culture, which gives me a different perspective on the matter. Greenaway identified 1983 as the exact year of the cinema’s demise, when it was made obsolete in comparison to television by the pandemic proliferation of the infrared remote control. Greenaway then posited that every art form goes through a process of creation, then consolidation and finally rebellion when someone comes along who manages to throw all the established rules away. Greenaway credits the Dutch

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Masters of painting as the predecessors of cinema as they were the first to examine the manipulation of artificial light. He furthermore identifies Eisenstein as the inventor of montage, the vocabulary of cinema; D.W. Griffith is named for introducing narrative into cinema – which Greenaway still considers a heinous crime – and Godard as the one who took all the rules and threw them out of the window. The first tyranny of cinema, according to Greenaway, is the tyranny of text. As scripts are composed of written text, he argues that we are still visually illiterate. Furthermore, he states that the structure of most films is based on novels, with a beginning, middle and end. The second tyranny of cinema is the tyranny of the frame. Greenaway says it’s an artificial structure and that a fixed frame is not conducive to an immersive cinema experience. The third tyranny of cinema is the tyranny of the actor. Actors, according to the evening’s lecturer, are trained to pretend they’re not being watched. Actors, in his opinion, are used as pretense vehicles, asked to fuck or die on our behalf. The fourth tyranny of cinema is the tyranny of the camera. The camera a very stupid object in the estimation of this filmmaker; it only records what you put in front of it.

zombie uprising, like those presented in the Trilogy of the Dead by George Romero or the ongoing graphic novelization The Walking Dead. The film industry is in panic, as the world would be in such an event, and blockbusters are not unlike ravenous groups of brainless undead, devouring everything in their paths. Like the undead, zombies are a violent bunch, but since they reproduce by biting other humans, they don’t need to have sex. Which is just like the blockbusters predilection for showing graphic violence but being extremely ambivalent and prudish when it comes to sex. And like the endless stream of remakes, sequels, prequels, adaptations of theme park rides and board games – and the merchandising and video games that accompany them – zombies are relentlessly repetitive and unimaginative. They regurgitate the living and turn them into dead matter, endlessly consuming until nothing is left. The zombie is the pinnacle of mindless capitalism and the modern blockbuster is, in this way, its real-life counterpart. But all is not lost: in every good zombie film, there’s a plucky band of survivors who fight the zombies and the bad guys who inevitably try to profit from the carnage. The cinematic counterpart to these survivors? Alternative, independent and art house cinema, of course!

Cinema is Undead

Personal Column

How can you recognize these survivors

I think cinema is akin to a world after a

– brazen – from the decomposing, moaning masses? Easy! These are the qualities cinema has to cultivate in order to survive the

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With this all-too-brief recap of Greenaway’s lecture out of the way (and I apologize for not doing his eloquence justice and any inadequacies I may have written down here), I’d like to postpone a direct reaction and instead offer an alternative point of view.


OffBeat Cinema 4 cinematic apocalypse: Films have to be Brazen in order to survive. Films that dare to show things in unflinching detail, which doesn’t mean

– resourceful – torture porn or graphic violence, but emotional intensity and bravery instead. Filmmakers need to take risks, not make cookie-cutter films based on theme park rides or board games.

celebrate every facet of life and give you reasons to be grateful for living are needed to keep cinema out of the hands of the undead.

– involvement – Filmmakers should also have Vision. They should be able to look beyond their next project or film and develop a long-term point of view, be encouraged to work together with other filmmakers and artists. If anything should be considered dead, it should be tunnel-vision!

Filmmakers have to be Resourceful to make their films with minimal budgets and skeleton crews instead of sprawling sets and a crew numbering in the thou-

Last but not least, we need Everyone. Not just you, kind reader, but we need to actively involve ourselves in cinema in order

alive

brave

sands. This doesn’t necessarily mean every film should be a Cassavetes-like kammerspiel: the sci-fi road movie Monsters boasts special effects equal to any studio film, but cost less than a million to make.

to keep it alive. Actively promote the films that rocked your world to those around you, visit your local underground cinema vigorously (and those across town as well), offer to do the vegan catering for a zombie film, become a fluffer for a feminist porn film, firebomb a multiplex (kidding), whatever it takes!

Films have to be Alive. The shambling

– visionary – blockbuster horde is lifeless and soulless, independent films should by contrast be full of life, spirit and vitality. Films that

And yes, my final conclusion is a corny acronym: cinema needs to be BRAVE. I told you my frame of reference is from popular culture, so just roll with it. Be Seein’ Ya Some More!

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Film Review

–– Action on the Negative: Yasmine Kassari’s A day after their wedding in the countryside of northeastern Morocco, a young bride, Zeinab, is left alone by her husband as he joins his countrymen to work clandestinely in Europe. Zeinab discovers that she is pregnant. Not wanting her baby to be born before her husband's return, she prolongs her pregnancy. Time passes. Her husband does not return.

L'Enfant Endormi

Yasmine Kassari’s 2004 film L’Enfant Endormi (“The Sleeping Child” or “The Sleeper”) explores negative aesthetics through a narrative that looks at the contretemps of communities changed by economic migration. The plot synopsis is as follows:

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L’Enfant Endormi is focussed not on the story of migration or the migrant’s life away from the home they left, but instead on the sense of absence that persists in their wake; the palpable absence in their homes and villages, which are left in a negative existence that is mirrored in the film’s visual aesthetics, where the use of external focalisation generates a sensate experience of negativity. Several times the camera pans over a landscape devoid of people or animals, the only movement and sound being that of the wind: everything is static but for the air. The camera’s failure to move, indeed its temporary surrender to time, sees the visual effect of the film capitulate to photography and landscape painting, an aesthetic rendering which has visual links to the landscape painting of Turner or Wyeth.


OffBeat Cinema 4

Still from L’Enfant Endormi by Yasmine Kassari. Source: Les Photos du Film. 2004.

The plot of L’Enfant Endormi develops only according to the exchanges between the men abroad and the women at home, exchanges that occur predominantly via filmed messages sent across the Mediterranean, presumably because the villagers are (textually) illiterate. The wives who remain in the village send their own brief filmed messages back to the men, and, after a dearth in communication, the narrative culminates in Zeinab sending her husband a photograph of herself, her niece and her mother-in-law. Here, we are dealing less with mediated communication – i.e. the issue of interface – but rather the exchange of tapes as media artefacts.

– 'Exposure is the action on the negative' – Kodak, Exposing Film – But perhaps the most interesting way in which the film revolves around the negative is in fact not intra-diegetically, but rather in the action of film upon the narrative. The reference to the film negative is a subtractive aesthetic gesture: the narrative, propelled by the transport

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Film Review of film, is constrained by its reference to its own visual source, an effect that is redoubled through the story of the “sleeper”. The method of prolonging the pregnancy is a traditional practice based on the myth that a healer can provide a talisman – a small inscription sealed in casing - that puts the foetus to sleep, in order to be awakened later by washing the talisman. Once created, the sleeper maintains inert life. Rendered static through a text sealed in copper, it carries authority not through hermeneutics but through hermetics, a term that is especially significant given its double meaning: besides being an adjective meaning “complete and airtight”, it refers to magical practices.

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The sleeper, a product of the absence of Halima’s husband, dually bears and represents a negative temporality akin to the filmic negative - sealed from light at the peril of erasing the (foetal) image - which exemplifies the negative time of the village and the traversal of this time through film. What is most interesting here is that the negative is achieved through an aesthetic, not through the better-known visual acts of negation such as détournement. The film begs a wider theoretical question of the possibility of a negative aesthetic (indeed, the visual positive of negativity), which expands into the idea of a medium-specific negative: what would the negative aesthetic be in digital media?


Movie

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De Balie Cineville Talkshow: Howl (2010) Rob Ep20:00 stein and Jeffrey Friedman, USA, 84 min

Kriterion L’Armee des Ombres (Army of Shadows, 22:00 1969) Jean-Pierre Melville, Fr. 140 min

Rialto A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (1982) 11:00 Woody Allen, USA, 88 min

Location

MAY AGENDA

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De Melgeweg House By The Cemetery (Quella Villa Ac19:00 canto Al Cimitero, 1981) Lucio Fulci, It. 82 min. In English

Kriterion Guizi lai le (Devils on the Doorstep, 2000) 22:00 Wen Jiang, China, 139 min

Rialto A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (1982) 11:00 Woody Allen, USA, 88 min

15:00 IDFA: Inside Job (2010) Charles Ferguson, USA, 108 min.

Kriterion Very Short Film Festival – JELTE

La vida de los peces (The Life of Fish, 2010) Chile, 84 min. In Spanish with Dutch subtitles

Rialto Matías Bize retrospective, attended by the director for Q&A (Sat 07 only) Sábado, una película en tiempo real (2003) Chile, 65 min. In Spanish with English subtitles

De Melgeweg What have they done with Solange? 19:00 (Cosa Avete Fatto a Solange?, 1972) Massimo Dallamano, It. 110 min. In English


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Kriterion Very Short Film Festival – JELTE

De Melgweg Terrore All ‘Italiano - Italian Giallo until June 6 retrospective

10

De Melgweg Bird With Crystal Plumage (L’ucello Dalle 19:00 Piume Di Cristallo, 1970) Dario Argento, It. 1970, 92 min. In English

Kriterion Very Short Film Festival – JELTE

Filmhuis Cavia Solntse (The Sun, 2005) Aleksandr 20:30 Sokurov, Rus. 110 min

The Movies Premiere: Water for Elephants (2011) Francis Lawrence ,USA, 122 min

Rialto Premiere: The Human Resources Manager (2010) Eran Riklis, Isr./Ger./ Fr., 103 min

Filmhuis Cavia Solntse (The Sun, 2005) Aleksandr 20:30 Sokurov, Rus. 110 min

Rialto A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (1982) 19:00 Woody Allen, USA, 88 min

Kriterion IDFA: A Film Unfinished (2010) Yael Hersonski, Isr./ Ger., 89 min.

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Rialto A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (1982) 19:00 Woody Allen, USA, 88 min


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13

Lo bueno de llorar (2006) Sp. In Spanish with English subtitles

Rialto En la cama (In Bed, 2005) Chile, 84 min. In Spanish with Dutch subtitles

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Filmhuis Cavia Ruhr (2009) James Benning, Ger. 120 min 20:30

Kriterion Premiere: Monsters (2010) Gareth Edwards, UK, 94 min

Premiere: Made in Dagenham (2010) Nigel Cole, UK, 113 min

Rialto Premiere: La vida de los peces (The Life of Fish, 2010) Matías Bize, Chile, 84 min. In Spanish with Dutch subtitles

De Melkweg Amer (Bitter, 2009) BE, FR Hélène Cattet & 19:00 Bruno Forzani 86 min. In French * Premiere with additional shorts by the directors

Filmhuis Cavia Ruhr (2009) James Benning, Ger. 120 min 20:30

De Balie Martin Koolhoven’s Cinema Egzotik pres20:00 ents: Vietnam Madness Platoon (1986) Oliver Stone, USA, 120 min Jacob’s Ladder (1990) Adrian Lyne, USA, 113 min

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Premiere: Mine Vaganti (2010) Ferzan Ozpetek, Italy, 110 min. In Italian

Cinecenter Premiere: Welcome to the Rileys (2010) Jake Scott, USA, 110 min

Rialto Premiere: Mine vaganti (2010) Ferzan Ozpetek, Italy, 110 min. In Italian with Dutch subtitles

Filmhuis Cavia Sanxia haoren (Still Life, 2006) Zhang Ke 20:30 Jia, China, 111 min

Rialto Sommaren med Monika (Summer with 19:00 Monika, 1953) Ingmar Bergman, SWE, 96 min

Kriterion Movies That Matter: When They Are All Free (2011) James Rogan, UK, 67 min


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De Melkweg Strange Vice of Mrs Ward (Lo Strano 19:00 Vizio Della Signora Wardh, 1971) Sergio Martino It., 81 min. In English

Kriterion Die Brücke (The Bridge, 1959) Bernhard 22:00 Wicki, Ger. 103 min

Kriterion Cinema Eutopia: Arabian Night

16:00 One Fire Ignites Another (2010) Stacey Lee & Clare van den Berg, NL, 52 min. documentary

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De Melkweg Blood and Black Lace (Sei Donne Per 19:00 L’assassino, 1964) Mario Bava It., 84 min. In English

Kriterion De Slag in de Javazee (1995) Niek Koppen, 22:00 NL. 135 min

Rialto Sommaren med Monika (Summer with 11:00 Monika, 1953) Ingmar Bergman, SWE, 96 min

Carancho (2010) Arg. 107 min

Rialto Pablo Trapero retrospective: Mundo grúa (Crane World, 1999) Arg. 90 min

Rialto Jong: Les triplettes de Belleville (2003) 19:30 Sylvain Chomet, Fr. 80 min

De Melkweg Animator The Previews - monthly pre19:00 premiere of a Japanese Anime

Filmhuis Cavia Sanxia haoren (Still Life, 2006) Zhang Ke 20:30 Jia, China, 111 min


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Filmhuis Cavia Koridorius (The Corridor, 1995) Sharunas 20:30 Bartas, Lith., 85 min

Cinecenter Premiere: Howl (2010) Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman, USA, 85 min

The Movies Premiere: Rien Ă declarer (2010) Dany Boon, Fr. 108 min, In French, with Dutch subs

Rialto Filmfestival CinĂŠma Arabe until June 1

Filmhuis Cavia Koridorius (The Corridor, 1995) Sharunas 20:30 Bartas, Lith., 85 min

Rialto Sommaren med Monika (Summer with 19:00 Monika, 1953) Ingmar Bergman, SWE, 96 min

Kriterion Submarine Channel in Kriterion


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Kriterion Ballada o soldate (Ballad of a Soldier, 22:00 1959) Grigori Chukhrai, USSR, 1959, 88 min

Rialto Sommaren med Monika (Summer with 11:00 Monika, 1953) Ingmar Bergman, SWE, 96 min

Leonera (Lion’s Den, 2008) Arg. 113 min

Rialto Familia rodante (Rolling Family, 2004) Arg. 103 min


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