ReelPolitik

Political Pics on Khmer Rouge and Palestinian Occupation Win Cannes Prizes

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 25, 2013 4:27 PM
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It's not the first time a documentary has won a top prize in Cannes -- Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" paved the way in 2004 -- but it's still a rare day in France when nonfiction takes center stage. On Saturday, the awards in the Un Certain Regard sidebar were handed out, with Cambodian filmmaker Rithy Panh's "A Missing Picture," about Cambodia's nightmarish 1970s dictatorship, winning top honors. The runner-up prize went to Palestinian born "Paradise Now" director Hany Abu-Assad's latest "Omar."

Rasoulof's "Manuscripts" Flouts Iranian Censors, Invites Controversy

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 24, 2013 2:02 PM
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Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof, who has been sentenced to a single year in jail by authorities in his home country, unveiled his latest movie in Cannes, "Manuscripts Don't Burn" yesterday; and it promises to only make matters more difficult for the courageous filmmaker. Like fellow Iranian director Jafar Panahi, who has been banned from making movies and sentenced to a longer prison term, the country's Judicial punishments appear to have done little to dampen their creative and activist spirits.

Why ITVS should be held accountable and "Citizen Koch" should be called "Citizen Corp"

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 23, 2013 11:04 AM
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  • 1 Comment
By not further commenting on its role to pull out of Tia Lessin and Carl Deal's documentary "Citizen Koch," ITVS, the prominent independent documentary funding organization, is shooting itself in the foot—and potentially alienating filmmakers. When I reached out to ITVS for further comment on Jane Mayer's New Yorker story, which suggests that the film was suppressed because of conservative billionaire David Koch's support of PBS, they refused to comment further.

The Anti-"Milk": Will "Behind the Candelabra" Get Tarnished as Homophobic?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 21, 2013 9:48 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Watch out, GLAAD. While filmmaker Steven Soderbergh's Liberace bio-pic "Behind the Candelabra" presents a complex, ambiguous portrait of the famous flamboyant performer, the gay establishment could end up chastising the film for its unflattering depiction of a kind of "predatory homosexuality," as Variety critic Peter Debruge described it in a review from its Cannes Film Festival premiere, calling the movie the "anti-'Milk.'"

Cannes front-runner Asghar Farhadi can't escape politics of "The Past"

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 20, 2013 10:00 AM
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A front-runner for Cannes' top prize, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi's "The Past," does not, on its surface, take up the dicey social and political questions that hovered around the surface of his foreign-language Oscar-winner "A Separation." But being an Iranian filmmaker, who has made a film under the auspices of Iran's Ministry of Culture, Farhadi can't escape politics altogether. As he said during the Cannes festival, "There are two kinds of censorship," he told reporters. "You have official censorship which works in a certain way. But there is also self-censorship. You impose it on your innermost self."

"My Neighbourhood" Exposes Israelis Brutal Displacement of Palestinian Families

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 17, 2013 2:55 PM
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"I hate them, I hate them for a reason," says Mohammed El Kurd, the young boy who is at the center of Julia Bacha's Peabody-winning short film "My Neighborhood," which bracingly shows the experiences of Palestinian families being displaced from their homes in East Jerusalem by brutish Orthodox Jewish settlers. Making the film all the more topical, on the day of the film's award this coming Monday, the Supreme Court in Israel will prepare a hearing on another eviction of a Palestinian family.

Jia Zhang-ke's "A Touch of Sin" Divides Critics, Adds Bloodshed to Critique of Capitalist China

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 16, 2013 9:22 PM
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Jia Zhang-ke's latest "A Touch of Sin" is dividing critics in Cannes, but the bigger surprise is that Chinese officials haven't censored the film. This more mainstream depiction of Jia's trademark themes of dislocation, alienation, and social and economic inequality in the "new" China will only get further potential international play and more attention, given the film's genre elements.

Who is "Politizane" and What's Next for the Income Inequality Viral Video

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 15, 2013 12:56 PM
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  • 1 Comment
I'm a little late to pseudonymous filmmaker Politizane's viral income inequality video, which peaked in March and has now ratcheted up more than 6 million views on YouTube. Thanks to Errol Morris's Twitter feed, I finally caught up to the vide, and I can see why this powerful but simple use of digital tools coupled with some solid and alarming facts has made such powerful waves in cyberspace. But who made it? And will he strike again?

Abrams' New "Star Trek" Loaded with Political Parallels: Kirk as Obama

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 14, 2013 8:14 PM
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  • 8 Comments
Oops, Hollywood did it again. It seems every big-ticket summer movie these days gets loaded with overt political content. First, it was "Iron Man 3"; now it's the latest "Star Trek" installment. You people sometimes think I make this shit up. But judging from the early reviews, "Into Darkness" is the most obvious popcorn appropriation of international geopolitics since, well, "Iron Man."

Will "Gatsby"'s Anti-Semitism Cost it Oscar Noms?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 14, 2013 9:35 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Movies with racist portrayals of African Americans haven't hurt their Oscar chances much--consider "Secretariat" or "Million Dollar Baby" or any number of well-meaning racially-charged movies that had problematic representations of African Americans ("The Help," "The Blind Side," "Crash," "Driving Miss Daisy"). But anti-Semitism is a different story. Remember the campaign against "A Beautiful Mind" because its character John Nash was an alleged anti-Semite?

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