Saturday, October 29, 2011

Scenes from the Great Recession

Color in the Pan Teaser from Corbett Jones on Vimeo.

Here's a nice little taste of a documentary about modern day gold seekers in California. The more things change, the more they stay the same. 

The Green Wave, cont.

Some good news for a change.
An Iranian court has overturned the lashing sentence imposed on an actor after she appeared in a film critical of the Islamic republic's repressive policies, according to Amnesty International. Marzieh Vafamehr, who appeared with her head uncovered in the film My Tehran for Sale, was released from prison after her sentence of one year in prison and 90 lashes was overturned on appeal. Vafamehr, wife of the acclaimed film-maker Nasser Taghvai, was arrested in July after Iranian authorities took exception to the film about an actor whose theatre work is banned in Iran.
 The Iranian authorities detained Vafamehr for criticism of the exact repression they enacted upon her and continue to level on many of her fellow actors, filmmakers, and artists. Doesn't the government realize that the more they try to squeeze and silence dissent, the more it will slip out of their iron grasp?

(Video: Trailer for My Tehran for Sale, 2011.)

Kickstarter Project: Elder's Corner

from SIJI on Vimeo.

I recently came across this intriguing project via Teju Cole, who compares it to Buena Vista Social Club.  From the film's Kickstarter page:
Shot against the colorful and gritty backdrop of some of Nigeria’s urban cities particularly Lagos and through the clever use of extensive in depth interviews, archival footage and still photographs, Elder's Corner will take viewers on a musical journey through the country's turbulent and colorful history. It will chronicle and showcase the lives and work of some of the leading exponents of the various musical movements that spawned Afrobeat, Juju, Apala, Highlife and Fuji music.
As of this writing, the project is less than $1500 away from being funded. You can donate here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Green Wave

Perhaps what fascinates me the most about Iranian cinema is the urgent, visceral interaction between the zeitgeist of oppression in the country and the craft the filmmakers use to react to and comment on it. With renowned directors like Jafar Panahi (Offside) and Mohammad Rasoulof (The White Meadows) being arrested and banned from filmmaking by the Iranian regime, the stakes are so high for all filmmakers in Iran that such jeopardy cannot help but coat the characters and stories in their films.

The latest example is Dog Sweat, wherein young Tehranis pursue such innocent desires as alcohol, companionship, and musical expression, all in the face of systematic oppression.

The trailer is reminiscent of another recent Iranian film, No One Knows About Persian Cats. This, the fifth directorial work by Iranian-Kurd Bahman Ghobadi, follows a couple of bandmates as they race around Tehran trying desperately to both secure visas to travel to London for a music festival and plan one last underground concert in their home country before leaving. The film is a wonderful and at times hysterical journey through the electric, boisterous world of illegal music in urban Iran; its a universe that is quite similar to yet terrifyingly different from the one this American viewer inhabits. What might get you played on KEXP in Seattle will get you arrested in Tehran if you are not careful.

Indeed it is true that all cinema, regardless of national origin, reflects the reality it is conceived in to some degree, but the films coming out of Iran, especially since the unprecedented post-election protests and deadly crackdown, seem like a natural and crucial part of the life of that country.