Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Tribeca Film Festival Matches George Lucas with Stephen Colbert: “I’m gonna tear you a new one, George" Tribeca Film Festival Matches George Lucas with Stephen Colbert: “I’m gonna tear you a new one, George" 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work The Eerie Connection Between 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' and 'Tomorrowland' The Eerie Connection Between 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' and 'Tomorrowland' Digging Into the Cannes Lineup: More Vet Auteurs and Women, No Netflix Digging Into the Cannes Lineup: More Vet Auteurs and Women, No Netflix Ryan Gosling in Talks for 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Damien Chazelle's 'La La Land' Ryan Gosling in Talks for 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Damien Chazelle's 'La La Land' You Can Now Read Over 200,000 Leaked Sony Emails and Documents You Can Now Read Over 200,000 Leaked Sony Emails and Documents Watch: The New 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Trailer Has Landed Watch: The New 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Trailer Has Landed Watch the Teaser Trailer for Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' Watch the Teaser Trailer for Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' Russia Bans Tom Hardy Thriller 'Child 44,' "A Bloody Mass of Orcs and Ghouls" Russia Bans Tom Hardy Thriller 'Child 44,' "A Bloody Mass of Orcs and Ghouls" Watch: This Exclusive Tribeca Trailer Promises a Vérité Southern Gothic in Malick Vein Watch: This Exclusive Tribeca Trailer Promises a Vérité Southern Gothic in Malick Vein 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO) 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO) 'Queen of Earth,' Starring a Gloriously Unhinged Elisabeth Moss, Goes to IFC 'Queen of Earth,' Starring a Gloriously Unhinged Elisabeth Moss, Goes to IFC LA Film Fest Adds 10 Buzzy Indies and First-Ever TV Gala to Lineup LA Film Fest Adds 10 Buzzy Indies and First-Ever TV Gala to Lineup Cary Fukunaga Takes Over Long-Stalled 'The Alienist' as TV Series Cary Fukunaga Takes Over Long-Stalled 'The Alienist' as TV Series Why the Istanbul Film Festival Cancelled Its 2015 Competition Why the Istanbul Film Festival Cancelled Its 2015 Competition The Dramatic Story Behind Satyajit Ray's 50s Masterpiece 'The Apu Trilogy' (Exclusive) The Dramatic Story Behind Satyajit Ray's 50s Masterpiece 'The Apu Trilogy' (Exclusive) The New Ladder: Anatomy of Indie Women's Picture 'Farah Goes Bang' The New Ladder: Anatomy of Indie Women's Picture 'Farah Goes Bang' Lars von Trier's Last Cannes Q & A: "Stupid" Statements, Melancholia, "I Am Not a Nazi," Dunst, Cruz Lars von Trier's Last Cannes Q & A: "Stupid" Statements, Melancholia, "I Am Not a Nazi," Dunst, Cruz

San Francisco International Film Festival 55: 'Abramovic,' 'Neighboring Sounds,' and Kenneth Branagh

Thompson on Hollywood By Meredith Brody | Thompson on Hollywood May 2, 2012 at 4:19PM

Kind of a light Festival day: viewed a DVD that I loved, saw a new movie onscreen that was a first feature and reminded me why we go to film festivals, went to a cocktail party that didn’t feel like one, and attended Kenneth Branagh’s tribute for the Founder’s Directing Award. First up, the DVD: “Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present.”
0
"Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present."
"Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present."

Kind of a light Festival day: viewed a DVD that I loved, saw a new movie onscreen that was a first feature and reminded me why we go to film festivals, went to a cocktail party that didn’t feel like one, and attended Kenneth Branagh’s tribute for the Founder’s Directing Award.

First up, the DVD: “Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present.” For years I’ve been on the fence about Abramovic: sometimes I thought she was a terrific self-promoter and narcissist who relied on cheap and obvious stunts, often involving violence and/or nudity. Other times I was able to acknowledge that “terrific self-promoter and narcissist” was part of the job description of a performance artist (or even artist, tout court ), and that the work could actually be compelling. I wasn’t able to see the retrospective show at MOMA from which the title of the documentary is drawn. For the duration of the show the artist was present literally: all day she sat across from a changing array of people who stayed as long as they chose, wordlessly.

During the show I became addicted to a portion of its website that showed portraits of each of the people who sat across from her, plus one new photo of Marina taken each day, for the performance piece that she created for the show. The information included how long they sat (times ranged from one minute to the entire seven-hour day, probably enraging the people patiently lined up for their turn), and the comments section sometimes identified who the sitters were. I was drawn to both the faces and the cult quality that the piece engendered, revealed in the comments.

The reverent, engaging documentary showed me more than I knew about her, and afterwards I felt more generous and open to both the artist and her body of work. The last section, covering the performance piece, gave me more of a “you are there” feeling than I’d had obsessively tracking the sitters online.

Then I went to see “Neighboring Sounds,” a 2-hour-and-ten-minute Brazilian debut feature that arrived with the imprimatur of the Rotterdam Film Festival and the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s influential New Directors/New Films series.  Director Kleber Mendonça Filho has previously made shorts and documentaries (some of which can be viewed online).  “Neighboring Sounds” follows the assorted inhabitants (some middle class, some wealthy, and their staff) of a few blocks in the Brazilian coastal city Recife, after they hire a nighttime security patrol. Work, parties, visits to country houses: the episodic structure meanders its way to a surprising conclusion that seems to come from another genre entirely. Filho has an interesting eye, his actors gave naturalistic performances that felt of a piece, and as the tone varied, the rhythm of the film stayed constant. One of the better films I’ve seen at SFIFF, and from a young director to watch.

This article is related to: San Francisco International Film Festival, Festivals, Festivals, Kenneth Branagh, Marina Abramović The Artist is Present


E-Mail Updates