In March of 2020 a revolution will begin in Saudi Arabia. But the country’s royal family and even that now infamous bad boy MBS — as the crown prince is known for short — needn’t worry about getting ready with armies and bodyguards. They just need to sit back, relax and enjoy the show.Read More
In ‘Family Romance, Llc’ Werner Herzog finds a new way to work through the difficulties life throws our way — outsource them to an agency specializing in family connections. He does it with his usual flair for our human ridiculousness and making the impossible seem real. During the junket following the screening, I loved listening to my esteemed colleagues’ confused explanations of stories they thought they’d seen like this one in documentaries, or even completely convinced this was a reality film, instead of fiction. And Herzog himself quite perfectly, calmly and smoothly shooting down each and all of their perplexed ideas.
‘Family Romance, Llc’ was a Special Screening at this year’s Festival de Cannes.Read More
There has been a certain je ne sais quoi in the air here in Cannes, and I wasn’t able to quite put my finger on it. It bothered me, someone always good at defining a moment, person or place, that I couldn’t put that feeling into words. Then I attended the press conference for Luca Guadagnino’s ‘The Staggering Girl’ and I had a ‘EUREKA!” moment. So bear with me for a moment while I get to that…Read More
Yes, there was a flash taxi strike at the airport in Nice yesterday, just as my flight was getting in. No, they were not prepared for an action by all taxi drivers to block the roads accessing the airport, so no vehicle of any sort could get in or out of the airport. Yes, there is a tramway track recently built which reaches terminal 3 but no, there was no tram traveling on it. So everyone had to walk for miles, with luggage in tow, under the sweltering sun, to reach an overcrowded train, through overpasses and station underpasses (read: lots and lots of stairs) mimicking the zombies in Jim Jarmusch’s Cannes opening night film.
Welcome to the glamorous life of a journalist covering the Festival de Cannes! If I hear one more time what a wonderful opportunity it is for me to be doing what I do, I’ll strangle someone. Then, I might actually begin to get the attention I deserve.Read More
I know, most critics go to the Festival de Cannes looking forward to the Competition titles and maybe will grant themselves the joy of viewing the Un Certain Regard selection. But I’ll admit I’m more of a sidebar person, and while I will view a few great titles in the main lineups, my craves lay more in the Quinzaine (Directors’ Fortnight) and Semaine de la Critique.Read More
As a young girl, I remember watching anything that had Alain Delon in it. I had a super crush on him and, lucky me, no film of his was deemed inappropriate by my parents. So along with Luchino Visconti’s ‘The Leopard’ and ‘Rocco and his Brothers’, I also caught Delon in films like ‘The Swimming Pool’, ‘Zorro’ and yes, even ‘The Concorde… Airport ‘79’. In fact, from the latter I required that a friend of the family who knew how to knit make me a royal blue crew neck wool sweater that looked just like his. I would find you a photo but I would have to watch that entire film all over again and well, I’ve moved on from my pre-pubescent crush. And my taste in film has highly improved.
But Alain Delon remains the fascinating man, the sultry sex symbol that could even steal women away from Mick Jagger. And this year’s he’s the Festival de Cannes honorary Palme d’Or recipient. Kudos to the festival for finally getting the reclusive actor to accept their coveted lifetime award.Read More
As I learned at this year’s Qumra, held by the Doha Film Institute, the grand dame of French New Wave cinema Agnès Varda was all about finding the stories, the viewpoints that no one else would bother with. The Festival de Cannes, in its poster just unveiled for the 72nd edition of the festival, pays homage to La Varda but also to her indomitable spirit by showing the filmmaker on her first cinematic venture perched high up on a platform, atop the shoulders of a crew technician. She’s is looking to capture that image, that viewpoint which no one else would have even thought about. She is Varda, in all her perfectly humble and adventurous attitude. The same Varda who asked me, to my utter disbelief, if I’d liked her “little film” a few years ago in Cannes.Read More
I tweeted about this beauty a couple of weeks ago and stand by my word. I’m typically not a zombie kinda girl but utter Jim Jarmusch’s name and I can’t watch it fast enough. So the buzz was deafening around ‘The Dead Don’t Die’ from the time the first images of the film were released, building up to a cacophony of joy when the trailer was first shown. And don’t even get me started on Adam Driver. I mean, the man is taller than Bill Murray, which is saying a lot, and all the handsome of a young Keanu Reeves, plus acting talents to boot.
Then, this morning Cannes announced it will open its 72nd edition of the festival with the Jarmusch film, in Competition no less. On Tuesday May 14th, on the screen of the Grand Théâtre Lumière, the film by the American director and screenwriter will be this year’s first Palme d'Or competition screening.Read More
Most directors whose features you are watching in cinemas today started out making short films. It’s a fact that short narratives and documentaries are the stuff future filmmaker build their craft on and the Ca 'Foscari Short Film Festival recognizes that through and through. In their press release for the upcoming ninth edition of the event, which will run from March 20th to the 23rd, the following statement made me realize just how much they believe in the learning power of the ‘Short”.Read More
It is obvious from the moment one steps on a Qatar Airways aircraft that cinema is important in Doha. I mean, just going through the entertainment system on my particular flight, I found ‘Rebecca’ by Hitchcock, Barry Jenkins’ hauntingly touching and all too true ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’, Paul Dano’s intimate portrayal of a family struggling to remain a single nucleus ‘Wildlife’ and even the 2019 Best Picture Oscar winner ‘Green Book’.
Qatar knows good cinema and nowhere is that better understood than in the welcoming arms of the Doha Film Institute.Read More
I’d long heard about the Rotterdam International Film Festival and yet had never personally been here. IFFR will hereafter be a much craved stop on my itinerary of world cinema events. I can’t wait to see what next year has in store.
So what makes this cinephiles’ festival filled with independent gems, languid culture-filled days and inspiring evening talks by the masters so addictive? Well, that — what I just said. Turns out there is no festival in the world quite like IFFR.
And here are a few favorites of mine from this year’s edition.Read More
In a 2014 article in The Guardian, Pakistani-American comedian Aizzah Fatima described one of her first auditions. “One of the roles I auditioned for was ‘Terrorist No 2’s girlfriend,” she admitted tongue in cheek.
Of course, that’s the destiny of most actors who don’t fulfill the blue-eyed-blond-hair requirements of playing your average “as good as apple pie” American. Yet time and time again, while our leaders fight it and even try to build up walls to prevent it, the very greatness of our good ol’ U.S. of A. lies in its immigrant population as well as its indigenous tribes. And the culture that is most often exported and celebrated around the world as “American” is a mixture of African, tribal, native and otherwise ethic music, dance and art. And that’s never vanilla in flavor now, is it?!Read More
One of the most beautifully mysterious actors of our time, Mr. Ralph Fiennes will be in Cairo, presenting his latest directorial project ‘The White Crow’ — about a childhood idol of mine, ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev — and for a conversation with the audience inside the massive Cairo Opera House. Moderated by yours truly.
It’s a momentous event, but I almost missed it.Read More
If ever there was an upcoming event that felt outrageously exciting, almost too jam packed with greatness (could there ever be such a thing!) it’s the Marrakech International Film Festival — which will take place from November 30th to December 8th, 2018 in the beautiful Moroccan city. Now in its 17th edition, the festival took a year off in 2017 and is coming back stronger, better and more action-packed than ever.Read More
You talk exceptional women and few garner as much unanimous adoration as legendary filmmaker, photographer and artist Agnes Varda. Then you think versatile actresses, women who have transformed themselves from super popular soap opera stars to beloved movie icons and the name Robin Wright immediately comes to mind.
Well, as it turns out both of these legendary women in their own right, or “Wright” if you pardon the pun, will be honored with the Etoile d’Or Award under the starry sky of the Moroccan city of Marrakech this December.Read More
That I’m excited about the upcoming Marrakech Film Festival — which will take over the Moroccan city from November 30th to December 8th — is no secret. Apart from loving this country of spices, colors and incredible food, the Marrakech Film Fest has always held a special kind mystique for me. And with their new reorganized staff and crew, some of the most prestigious names in cinema circles (see all of them listed at the bottom of this post) my excitement has only grown stronger.
But this morning, when the festival announced director James Gray at the helm of their Competition Jury, I burst into downright joy. Let me explain.Read More
How would you cope with being told you have a terminal illness?
That is a question I’ve asked myself often these days, as I deal with people I love getting ill and the recent death of my father. Where do you find the strength to go on, when you know the days are numbered and how do you continue to be a functioning member of society when probably all you wish to do is go into the woods and hide?
Well, in Natalya Merkulova’s and Alexey Chupov’s haunting, beautiful and at times painfully truthful film ‘The Man Who Surprised Everyone’ which screened in the Orizzonti section in Venice, the real life husband and wife team tackle the difficult question.Read More
This year's Venice Film Festival seemed to carry a special soundtrack, like a mixtape of our collective thoughts and hopes and wishes. For a future where we are finally able to learn from our past and stop thinking that our opinions count individually. For a world where we will discover, finally, a middle ground in shades of grey, instead of living everything in either black or white.
Here is my Venezia 75 Mixtape.Read More
'The Day I Lost My Shadow' by Soudade Kaadan won the Lion of the Future – “Luigi De Laurentiis” Venice Award for a Debut Film Jury at the 75th Venice Film Festival. It's a win to be celebrated for all women filmmakers, of course, but also for Syrian filmmakers who, since the start of the war in 2011 have all but disappeared. Scattered around foreign lands, their voices and visions have become the true casualties of this conflict.
In her film, which world premiered at the festival in the Orizzonti section, Kaadan uses the metaphor of personal shadows as a way to show how the war strips people of their humanity and hope. When Sana, played by the beautiful Sawsan Arsheed, goes out looking for a gas canister so she can cook for her son, she is pulled into a three day nightmare that eventually ends the way everything ends in Syria... I'll leave that to your imagination and perhaps your first viewing of the film.Read More
Think back to the last time a film redefined love for you. That felt like a magical discovery then, didn't it? For me, cinema exists at its best when it does something that changes me -- and of course I want that change to be for the better.
In Claire Burger's touching follow up to her Cannes Camera d'Or winner 'Party Girl' -- which she co-directed with Marie Amachoukeli and Samuel Theis -- I found a new fatherhood role model. For a woman whose own father was at best unavailable throughout my teenage years and beyond, Burger's wondrous father figure Mario (played by the spellbinding Bouli Lanners) is a revelation and offers a sense of newfound hope. His quest to be a good father to the young Frida (the perfectly rebellious Justine Lacroix) and the teenage Kiki (cool and flirty Sarah Henochsberg) takes the audience on a journey of discovery along with the characters.
But 'C'est ça l'amour' is a multilayered film and so it's no surprise that, among quite a few strong and beautiful stories featured in this year's Giornate degli Autori line up, Burger's film ended up walking away with the top prize -- the GdA Director's Award.Read More