Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Ugly Swans (Russian: Гадкие лебеди)

A 2006 Russian science fiction film directed by Konstantin Lopushansky, based on the novel of the same name by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. The film is often compared to Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker, also adapted from a Strugatsky book.

The film's plot is loosely based on the novel, with some superficial differences. The story has been adjusted slightly to contextualize it in the "near future," with the main character Victor Banev recast as a UN envoy to the town of Tashlinsk, where a mysterious group has taken the town's children to an isolated boarding school. Here in the school the children are taught the enlightened philosophy of the group. The major departure from the novel's plot is in the ending.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Ruling Class (1972)

Peter O'Toole leads the cast in this musical, imaginative allegory of class and empire in decay. A member of the House of Lords dies in a shockingly silly way, leaving his estate to his son. Unfortunately, his son is insane: he thinks he is Jesus Christ. The other somewhat-more respectable members of their family plot to steal the estate from him. Murder and mayhem ensues. Peter O'Toole, Alastair Sim & Arthur Lowe star.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

“A Path So Twisted”: Thinking Wildly With and Through Punk Feminisms

Jack Halberstam, professor of American studies and ethnicity, gender studies and comparative literature at the University of Southern California, has written five books, including Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal (2012). A popular speaker, Halberstam lectures on topics such as subcultures, sex and media, and gender variance. In the 1980 queer punk film Times Square, two teenage girls, sensing a mutual instinct for rebellion, escape from a psychiatric ward in New York City, don garbage bags and become part of the discarded denizens of Times Square. Pammy and Nicky and the queer worlds they inhabit are regarded by a homophobic world as obstacles to a safe and clean city. This talk will explore with Pammy and Nicky the potential of the unsafe and unclean. Taking terminology from a Patti Smith song at the core of the film as a vocabulary for punk feminism, we’ll venture into the wild world and genders of Times Square to unlearn the lessons of compliance that are nested within discourses of improvement, recovery and health.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Don Juan, or If Don Juan Were a Woman / Don Juan ou Si Don Juan était une femme (1973)

Roger Vadim's 1973 film that represents a high point of an era of gender politics. As Vadim himself stated;
My attitude to women is accepted today in a way that it wasn't when I started out as director. But today woman overreact - they pretend to be free on an intellectual and sexual level but because of our Christian traditions sex is always associated with guilt. Now however it's possible for a woman to have the same relationship with sex as a man - a man who is a lover can be a Don Juan whereas women like that were always considered whores or femmes faciles. But I think a woman can be free without being a whore. A female Don Juan can exist nowadays without a sense of guilt.

He later elaborated:
Don Juan is the end of a period - problems about love and sex, cruelty and romanticism on an aesthetic level - and I wanted to finish that period with Brigitte because I started with her as a director (And God Created Woman). Underneath what people call "the Bardot myth" was something interesting, even though she was never considered the most professional actress in the world. For years, since she has been growing older, and the Bardot myth has become just a souvenir, I wanted to work with Brigitte. I was curious in her as a woman and I had to get to the end of something with her, to get out of her and express many things I felt were in her. Brigitte always gave the impression of sexual freedom - she is a completely open and free person, without any aggression. So I gave her the part of a man - that amused me.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Slaves to the Underground (1997)

A riot grrrl film that portrays something of the grunge culture of the 1990s.

The film is set in Seattle's mid-90s grunge scene where a female rock group, 'No Exits', is on the verge of signing a record deal. However, the relationship between the band's singer Suzy (Ryan) and guitarist Shelly (Gross) is under threat when Shelly's ex-boyfriend Jimmy (Bortz) reappears on the scene. Shelly had left Jimmy because his friend had raped her. But he doesn't know that - up to now. Shelly has fallen in love with the band singer Suzy in the meantime. But she still loves Jimmy, too. So she moves to him again, but Suzy doesn't like that all. Especially because she is becoming a feminist. The conflict is about to threaten the band...

The film deals with issues of love, sexuality, feminism, rape, lesbianism, subcultures, and alienation.

The Untold History of the United States Chapter 3: The Bomb

History is increasingly denied in the popular politics of today. Here is an account of the final days of World War Two and how the Cold War erupted. It is a terrifying account of Power, Fear and Greed. It is an account we should all remember. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Dark Science

The story of an early 20th century expedition to find the 'missing link' with the Indigenous people of Australia.

In 1910, a scientist called Erik Mjöberg led the first Swedish expedition to Australia. An entomologist by trade, Mjöberg’s brief was to document the native wildlife, but his underlying motivation was to explore the idea that Aborigines were the missing link between ape and man. Landing in Derby, Western Australia, he bought supplies, hired a bullock team and set off into the Kimberley with his increasingly fractious team, battling heat and flies until they got their first glimpse of “one of the oldest races in the world - the Australian negroes”.

Describing the Aborigines as “ugly”, “Neanderthal-like” and possessed of an “animalistic cunning”, Mjöberg set about plundering and desecrating their grave sites and smuggling the remains back home—actions that were to have lasting consequences for all concerned.

Shot in remote regions of the Kimberley in Australia and in Stockholm and Varberg Sweden, Dark Science uses diary sources, stunning black and white footage from the expedition and excerpts from Mjöberg’s novel Wings of Poison to provide a shocking glimpse into the mind of early 20th century Western man.

The remains Mjöberg took from the Kimberley were returned to Australia in 2004 by the Swedish Government, the first repatriation of human remains by a major European Museum.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Manufacturing Dissent

The story of the far right government of Queensland, Australia from 1968-1989. Nineteen years of conservative rule, made possible by a electoral gerrymander, corrupt police, corrupt politicians and a system of intimidation and violence that permeated all dimensions of society. My parents were politically active against the government in Queensland in the 1970s, as a result our phone was tapped and we were harassed by police and government officials.

This video presentation is a documentary-based analysis of the role of the media in the political strategy of former Queensland Premier, Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen.

The video documentary was submitted as part of a thesis for a Master of Arts degree at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in July 1997.

The documentary was compiled by Debra Beattie, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Sources include:
The Sunshine System (1986) Quentin Dempster and Ross Wilson (50 minutes)
The Moonlight State (May 1987) ABC Four Corners, Chris Masters (reporter), Andrew Olle (presenter) and Peter Manning (executive producer) (59' 59")
The Battle For Bowen Hills (1975) Peter Gray and Garry Lane (Crowsfoot Films) (21 minutes)
Earth First (1987) Gaia Films Jeni Kendall (director/producer) and John Seed (producer) (54 minutes)
If You Don't Fight, You Lose (1978) Leslie Mannison, Joseph Monsour and Ian Curr (24 minutes)
The Whole World Is Watching (1982) Amanda King and Peter Gray (25 minutes)
Friends And Enemies(1987) Tom Zubrycki, Jotz Productions (88 minutes)
Portrait Of A Premier (1978) Brian Benson
State Of Shock (1989) David Bradbury
Joh's Jury (1993) ABC Television, Ken Cameron (98 minutes)
Bruce Dickson footage (1977)

Laurie Anderson's "The Dream Before" is sung by Christine Johnson, recorded at one of the early performances of Women In Voice at the Sitting Duck (cafe and performance venue) in Brisbane in the early 1980s.

Lyrics: History is an angel being blown backwards into the future
He said: History is a pile of debris
And the angel wants to go back and fix things
To repair the things that have been broken
But there is a storm blowing from Paradise
And the storm keeps blowing the angel backwards into the future
And this storm, this storm is called Progress.

Inspired by Walter Benjamin
Lyrics by Laurie Anderson
Performed by Christine Johnson

Monday, August 15, 2016

Albert Camus's “The Human Crisis” read by Viggo Mortensen, 70 years later

On April 28, 2016 a reading by Viggo Mortensen of a speech by Albert Camus, and roundtable discussion with Viggo Mortensen, Alice Kaplan and Souleymane Bachir Diagne.

00:20 Introduction by Shanny Peer, Director of the Maison Française
05:35 Introduction by Alice Kaplan, Professor of Yale University
11:50 Reading of 'The Human Crisis' by Viggo Mortensen
56:50 Discussion with Viggo Mortensen, Alice Kaplan and Souleymane Bachir Diagne

Albert Camus originally delivered this lecture on “La Crise de l’homme” on March 28, 1946, to a very full house at the McMillin Academic Theatre at Columbia University, on his first and only trip to the United States. 70 years later, to celebrate Camus’s visit to New York and Columbia, his lecture will be delivered in a dramatic reading by the actor Viggo Mortensen, in a version newly translated into English by Alice Kaplan.

The event will be introduced by Shanny Peer and by Alice Kaplan, who will share new research from her forthcoming book, Looking for the Stranger: Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic, to bring alive Camus’ U.S. visit and provide a context for his lecture. After the reading, Bachir Diagne and Alice Kaplan will be joined by Viggo Mortensen for a panel discussion about Albert Camus’ influence, his impressions of the U.S., and his reception in this country as a leading voice of the postwar generation of French intellectuals.

Participants: Viggo Mortensen has consistently earned acclaim for his work in a wide range of films. Some of these include Jauja, Loin des hommes, The Two Faces of January, A Dangerous Method, The Road, Eastern Promises, Appaloosa, A History of Violence, and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He has received various nominations and awards from groups including the Screen Actors Guild, the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Apart from acting in movies and plays, Mortensen is a poet, photographer, and painter. He founded and is the editor of Perceval Press, an independent publishing house specializing in poetry, photography, painting, and critical writing.

Souleymane Bachir Diagne is Professor of Philosophy and French and Chair, Department of French, Columbia University. 

Alice Kaplan is the John M. Musser Professor of French and chair of the Department of French at Yale University. 

This event is organized in partnership with The Albert Camus Estate and is part of a series of events taking place in New York on the theme of "Camus : A Stranger in the City" (March 26 – April 19 / @camusnyc2016) commemorating the 70th year anniversary of Camus’ visit to the United States.

If you want to see the Q&A with Viggo Mortensen about the movie Far from Men, a video is available here: 

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Trashed - The Peace Convoy (1986)

BBC documentary on the peace convoy that police attacked when the convoy attempted to travel to the 1985 Stonehenge Free Festival in Wiltshire, England.

Surplus: Terrorized into Being Consumers (2003)

An award winning Swedish documentary film on consumerism and globalization, created by director Erik Gandini and editor Johan Söderberg.

It looks at the arguments for capitalism and technology, such as greater efficiency, more time and less work, and argues that these are not being fulfilled, and they never will be.

The film is about our world, the modern civilisation that eats more than needed. It's not very much information that is physically showed, it is the pictures in symbiosis with music that is the real strength in this flick. The film leans towards anarcho-primitivist ideology and argues for a simple and fulfilling life.

To add comment to the film, I believe we cannot return to a pre-industrial, agrarian or hunter gather society that is referenced in the film via John Zerzan. . Millions will die if we do. Of course millions are already dying if we don't. It is for this reason that the psychosis of consumption based capitalism depicted in this film is just that much more insane. It is a system where profit and the accumulation of capital are the goals of life and the entire global state and social apparatuses are structured toward those ends.

At the same time these apparatuses are depleting the life support system for the entire planet at an alarming rate when we consider that life has existed on earth for billions of years. It really is crazy if we understand that the estimated number of the Earth's current species range from 10 million to 14 million, of which about 1.2 million have been documented and over 86 percent have not yet been described.

The current extinction rate is approximately 100 extinctions per million species per year, or 1,000 times higher than natural background rates. We have barely scratched the surface for understanding how this planet works. The system that brings about this destruction is also the system that drives everything from our homes to how we eat. Accordingly we are trapped, nourished by the disease so to speak.

We are constantly congratulating ourselves on the extent of human knowledge, as promises of development are consistently tied to the present economic system. We are trapped unless we can peacefully alter the system to such a degree that sustainability is assured. This is the challenge of the next century.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Ghettomoto (Ghetto Fire)

Against a backdrop of post election violence follow the journey of self-discovery of Timothy Mwaura, a ghetto poet from Kangemi Kenya. Screened at the London International Documentary Film Festival 2011
A phone call from the frontline of post election riots in Kenya opens the story of Timothy Mwaura a ghetto poet and rapper who gives an eyewitness account of his experience of the aftermath of the recent tribal tension. Through the eyes of a ghetto poet, from the red dirt streets of Kamgemi, a ghetto in Nairobi, this documentary follows a journey of rediscovery of the roots, culture, and politics of Tim's people; his search for peace and understanding amidst war torn Africa.
Ghetto Motto follows Timothy's efforts to redefine his identity in Kenya in 2008 as he tries to find balance between his concept of nationalism and tribal roots, as pressures from the current political situation force people to takes sides in this government and opposition party endorsed retribution.
The movie looks at the aftermath and the stories of some survivors of Kenya's recent tribal unrest and how music and poetry can begin to heal the divide and damage from this conflict and evolve social consciousness.

Monday, August 08, 2016

WR: Mysteries of the Organism (1971 - Eng. Subs)

What does the energy harnessed through orgasm have to do with the state of communist Yugoslavia circa 1971? Only counterculture filmmaker extraordinaire Dušan Makavejev has the answers (or the questions). His surreal documentary-fiction collision WR: Mysteries of the Organism begins as an investigation into the life and work of controversial psychologist and philosopher Wilhelm Reich and then explodes into a free-form narrative of a beautiful young Slavic girl’s sexual liberation. Banned upon its release in the director’s homeland, the art-house smash WR is both whimsical and bold in its blending of politics and sexuality.

It Happened Here: The Story of Hitler's England (1964 - Full)

A black-and white 1964 British World War II film written, produced and directed by Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo, who began work on the film as teenagers. The film's largely amateur production took some eight years, using volunteer actors with some support from professional filmmakers. "It Happened Here" is set in an alternate history where the United Kingdom has been invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany. The plot follows the experiences of an Irish nurse working in England, who encounters people who believe collaboration with the invaders is for the best whilst others are involved in the resistance movement against the occupiers and their local collaborators.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Sanema shaman initiation

Bruce Parry joins Sanema shamans, hoping for an insight into their spirit world. This is a sequence from the film Tribe: Sanema.