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Despite New French-Lingo Project, Asgar Farhadi: "I Will Never Emigrate from Iran"

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • March 13, 2012 11:35 AM
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  • 1 Comment
After winning the best foreign language film Oscar for "A Separation" and causing further political-cultural tremors inside his country, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi will be reportedly going to France for his next film, and not the one originally planned, according to Variety. The trade reports that Farhadi will work with Gallic producer Alexandre Mallet-Guy ("Taxidermia," "Cold Souls"), and that specific casting and story details will be announced nearer to the Cannes Film Festival in May.

A Certain Tendency of the Documentary Cinema

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • March 9, 2012 8:15 AM
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  • 2 Comments
The celebrity-driven nonfiction film has become an unwelcome mainstray of the documentary form recently. Not only is Oscar-winning director Davis Guggenheim ("An Inconvenient Truth") directing commercials for none other than public persona #1 Barack Obama, but a whole slew of pop-docs are premiering at the Tribeca Film Fesival next month, with new films on Joseph Papp, musicians such as Queen and Tony Bennett, and sports figures such as the Red Sox's Tim Wakefield and the Met's R.A. Dickey. There's also star-studded docs on digital cinema ("Side by Side," featuring James Cameron, David Fincher, George Lucas, etc) and Morgan Spurlock's latest "Mansome" (with interviews with Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, Paul Rudd, Zach Galifianakis, etc). And do I care? Not really.

Is Adam Curtis the World's Most Important Political Filmmaker? Or Just a Wacko Conspiracy Theorist?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • March 8, 2012 9:33 PM
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  • 0 Comments
British TV journalist and filmmaker Adam Curtis, director of "The Power of Nightmares," is currently receiving a retrospective at New York galley e-flux, and if you haven't heard of this most essential documentarian, now's your chance to see his dizzyingly paranoid, and highly astute examinations of history, society and power. This weekend, they're screening his latest monumental 2011 work "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace," which connects Ayn Rand and her "Fountainhead" beliefs to an entire system of Sillicon Valley, economic and computer-worshipping excess that has put us in the mess we're in now. (Alan Greenspan was once a disciple of Rand's.)

The New Greek Wave? "Dogtooth," "Attenberg," "Alps" Reflect National Unease

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • March 8, 2012 9:46 AM
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  • 2 Comments
It's a crappy time to live in Greece right now. But it's not so bad to be a Greek filmmaker.  As economic austerity measures cripple the country, and the suicide rate has jumped 40%, a wave of bold, innovative films have been coming out of the country, of late, most notably from filmmakers Athina Rachel Tsangari, whose "Attenberg" opens this week in New York, and "Dogtooth" director Giorgos Lanthimos, whose latest "Alps" has been receiving critical acclaim on the festival circuit.

Iran's Movie Diplomacy: How Can We Attack A Country With Such Great Cinema?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • March 6, 2012 9:29 AM
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  • 1 Comment
In 2006, I wrote this headline, "How Can We Attack A Country With Such Great Cinema?" for a blog post, precipitated by a New York Times story I wrote about a number of Iranian films playing at that year's Tribeca Film Festival. Nearly six years later, the headline--and the thoughts behind it--seem as relevant as ever. With the success of Asghar Farhadi's "A Separation" (an Oscar win, the highest-grossing Iranian film in the U.S. ever, and the most successful foreign film in many months) at the same time as we're seeing escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran over its nuclear ambitions, it seems little has changed. Except, I guess, this time, we have a more reasonable head of state.

Where are you going to #OCCUPYTHECINEMAS today?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • March 2, 2012 9:18 AM
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  • 1 Comment
While I can't say my grassroots cinephilic political action has gotten the kind of wide-reaching attention as I had hoped, I'm happy to report that #OCCUPYTHECINEMAS was picked up by the Canadian press in recent days, in the country's largest urban weekly, the Georgia Straight, and Toronto's Globe and Mail. Why have the U.S. media not championed this Day of Action, in which moviegoers have been charged with giving their support to indie films and art-house theaters in protest of Hollywood and the MPAA's restrictive policies towards copyright laws, Internet piracy, movie ratings, international quotas and a host of Machiavellian strategies to dominate the media-sphere.

Where You Should #OCCUPYTHECINEMAS This Friday

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • February 29, 2012 9:20 PM
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  • 1 Comment
If you haven't heard about #OCCUPYTHECINEMAS, this Friday's Day of Action to protest corporate cinema, please read my previous post and sign the petition. Now that you're ready to join the campaign against the restrictive, monopolizing ways of Hollywood and support a more independent, democratic cinema, where do you go from here? To the art-house, my friends!

Jafar Panahi Awaits Prison, As Iran Celebrates Oscar Win and New "Film" Opens

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • February 28, 2012 8:08 PM
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  • 0 Comments
After the Oscar win for "A Separation" and the release, starting this Wednesday, of Jafar Panahi's "This Is Not a Film" at the Film Forum, fans of Iranian cinema are probably celebrating. But let's not forget: Panahi remains in the same virtual prison seen in his triumphant, solitary masterpiece, even as the film itself has the freedom to travel. The reviews of "This Is Not a Film" are stellar ("a great film," "extraordinary," "deft and ironic," "inspiring as it is heartbreaking"), but Panahi still sits at home, awaiting to begin his six-year prison sentence. According to those close to the filmmaker, he has little legal recourse left, and must face his unjust punishment.

Cinemas in Solidarity: Standing Together Against the Corporatization of Movies

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • February 28, 2012 9:06 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Now that we can move beyond the shallow, desparate spectacle of the Academy Awards, I want to direct your attention on the eve of the #OCCUPYTHECINEMAS Day of Action this Friday to a new initiative called Cinemas in Solidarity, a grassroots movement of independent movie theaters standing in solidarity with OWS and against the corporate multiplexing of America.

Do the Spirit Awards Still Suck?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • February 25, 2012 9:57 PM
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  • 6 Comments
In 2006, I wrote a post called "Why the Spirit Awards Suck," which criticized the indie awards event mainly for giving into glossy pressures and doing nothing to distinguish itself from its big brother AMPAS's Oscar ceremony the following day. "My apologies to everyone who enjoyed themselves at Saturday's Spirit Awards, but the event has officially proven itself to be a self-congratulatory waste of indie spirit and totally irrelevant on a larger scale," I wrote. "Everyone knows that the most talked-about movies that emerge from the Spirits are the same big studio-indie productions that go on the following night to win Oscars."

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