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What Ever Happened To These 5 Foreign-Language Filmmakers?

by The Playlist Staff
June 18, 2012 2:54 PM
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Denys Arcand
Denys Arcand
Who: Arguably Quebec's most successful director, Arcand broke out internationally with "The Decline of The American Empire" in 1986, and followed it up fairly swiftly with the controversial, but strong, "Jesus Of Montreal" (1989). He's had three of Canada's five best Foreign Language Oscar nominations, including winning for "The Barbarian Invasions," his best known film, in 2003, as well as picking up a nod for Best Original Screenplay that year too.
Years Away From The Game: It's been five years since "The Age Of Ignorance" (also known as "Days Of Darkness") closed Cannes in May 2007.
What Happened: Well, the reception for "The Age Of Ignorance," which completed the trilogy of 'American Empire' and "The Barbarian Invasions," was pretty cool at Cannes (as is so often the case for closing films), and even the Academy, who arguably love him more than the critics, snubbed him for the project. Arcand's 70 now, and the savaging may have lessened his desire to work somewhat, as there's barely been a whisper of another feature project since, as far as we can tell. That being said, there have been signs of life, including a cameo alongside fellow Canadian legend David Cronenberg in "Barney's Version" a few years back. And at the start of this year, to mark the 150th anniversary of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, a retrospective of his work was featured at Montreal's lone arthouse, Cinéma du Parc, and he produced some new work including a short film made in collaboration with artist Adad Hannah, entitled "Safari." It's... not in the top class of his work, perhaps, but it's at least a sign that more work might be on the way.
What To Watch: "The Barbarian Invasions" is probably the best intro to his work -- it's certainly his most accessible film. "Jesus Of Montreal" is probably a good call, though perhaps not around your religious auntie.

Otherwise, two of the more high-profile missing cases should be returning fairly soon: Juan Antonio Bayona, who made an excellent debut with Guillermo Del Toro-produced ghost story "The Orphanage," has been away for five years, but has a highly promising follow-up on the way with the English-language tsunami drama "The Impossible," with Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor. Meanwhile, after a pair of terrific films with "Time Out" and "Heading South," Laurent Cantet won the Palme D'Or at Cannes in 2008 for "Entre les murs," or "The Class," which also picked up a Foreign Language Oscar nod. He's been absent for a while, but his version of Joyce Carol Oates' "Foxfire" is due later in the year, and is almost a dead cert to play in Toronto.

As for those we haven't heard from in a while, it's four years since Gotz Spielmann's Oscar-nominated "Revanche" without more from the Austrian director, and four since Hou Hsiao-Hsien's "Flight of the Red Balloon" -- he's meant to be working on an eagerly-awaited martial arts project called "The Assassin," but the start date seems to be put back every time it gets close to being made, and there's no sign if it's actualy gone before cameras. Also M.I.A: Li Yang, who's had difficulties with the Chinese authorities, and hasn't made anything since 2007's "Blind Mountain" (a close to the trilogy started with "Blind Shaft," entitled "Blind River" was in the works, but hasn't materialized), while "Goodbye, Dragon Inn" director Tsai Ming-liang has been absent since 2009's French-language Cannes entry "Face."

- Christopher Bell, RP & Oliver Lyttelton

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  • elizabeth | June 19, 2012 2:50 PMReply

    Picking up on the Indiewire article discussing lack of female filmmakers at Cannes this year(and every year) and the general lack of female directors anywhere....this list should have been exclusively women.....comprised of some of the women from anywhere in the world who at some point made an interesting film (despite the odds) but were unable to make a follow-up....nevermind in 4 or 5 years but.....ever. I know it's a reality, but it's a tough one to take lying down. and yeah...I'm a woman (producer).

  • Christopher Bell | June 19, 2012 3:02 PM

    That's a good idea for a different list, but no need to discredit this one.

  • Huffy | June 19, 2012 2:45 PMReply

    I still think that Pulse is the ballsiest, most ambitious horror film since The Shining. Eerie as hell too.

  • Nic | June 19, 2012 9:25 AMReply

    Benicio Del Toro and Mathieu Amlric are in "Jimmy Picard", the next Desplechins'movie.

  • d | June 19, 2012 9:35 AM it says above. On page 2.

  • Jimbo | June 19, 2012 3:04 AMReply

    And what about Gilles Mimouni, who made such a magnificent and assured debut film with 'L'Appartement' fifteen years ago and hasn't be heard of since?

  • Juan | June 18, 2012 8:57 PMReply

    Lucrecia Martel is not a good filmmaker

  • Christopher Bell | June 19, 2012 12:55 AM

    All good (not familiar with Pintille -- but will check out) but different kind of piece. The ones mentioned here made serious waves somewhat recently, and in that sense, you'd expect them to hit back with something else much more quickly.

    I think maybe that piece would be good to question why nobody cares about these filmmakers anymore -- especially Jansco and Erice, with "Spirit of the Beehive" and "The Red And The White"/"Elektra" being so astonishing and respected. They all have movies in the 00s -- some even as recent as 2011 -- but does anyone really know about them? Not just us as an audience, but no festival play either?

  • ralch | June 19, 2012 12:33 AM

    No - she is a great filmmaker.

    Whatever happened to Victor Erice, Lucian Pintilie and Hugo Santiago. Pity no one follows up on Miklos Jancso. He's over 90 and still working.

  • Edward Davis | June 18, 2012 11:33 PM

    Double wrong (ouch, seriously).

  • d | June 18, 2012 9:55 PM


  • MAL | June 18, 2012 3:48 PMReply

    I have seen almost all of Kurosawa's films. My favourites are Pulse and Cure but I have been challenged but never disappointed by his work. TIFF (where Cure was my first Kurosawa experience) has been a huge supporter of his films as well, bringing each of his newest films to Toronto when they are available. And about 10 years ago, TIFF had a director's spotlight on him, showcasing many of his films to that date. I certainly look forward to whatever he does next.

  • MS.HU | June 18, 2012 3:28 PMReply

    Denys Arcand's next film is entitled Deux Nuits/Two Nights. More about here, in French:

  • Arch | June 18, 2012 3:12 PMReply

    Kudos for pointing out Kiyoshi Kurosawa ... really really amazing director! I'll just add that horror fans may want to check his 2001 TV movie Korei/Seance (or maybe his 1989 release Sweet Home, a bit different from later work but a fun flick!), drama fans (?) may want to check Jellyfish.

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