Lars von Trier receives the biggest award in Denmark
The biggest cultural award in Denmark, the Sonning Prize (Sonningprisen) this year goes to Danish filmmaker and screenwriter Lars von Trier, who was elected by a committee..
Armed With Words & Wings
Michael Strunge became the voice of a new generation and a mirror reflection of their identity and life, while he struggled with anxiety and psychotic attacks that pushed him to commit suicide at the age of 27..
THE INSULT (2017)
Civil War Beirut Style

Lebanese film director Ziad Doueiri made headlines recently when authorities in Beirut arrested him at the Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport for questioning about..
The Apu Trilogy
Achingly poignant, beautifully shot, and evocatively atmospheric, Satyajit Ray's classic trilogy is a masterpiece no cinephile can afford to miss. "I can never forget the excitement in my mind after seeing it..
Walk With Me (2017)
A thoroughly meditative cinema

One of the most calming documentaries you’re likely to ever see is “Walk with Me,” a documentation of Zen Buddhists and their community of Plum Village in France..
What Will People Say (2017)
TORONTO 2017: Cineuropa spoke with Norwegian director Iram Haq whose latest film 'What Will People Say' had its world-premiering at Toronto. “I used the knowledge I have to tell a story so we can build bridges..
Silence (2016)
A once in a lifetime movie

Is it moral to allow others to suffer when their suffering can be ended with a single symbolic gesture? Would God want that? Maybe the priest is destined to realize that it’s all right..
Sepideh Farsi preparing The Siren
1980, Abadan. The capital of the Iranian oil industry is resisting an Iraqi siege. Omid, a 14-year-old boy, has stayed back in the city, with his grandfather, waiting for his..
Sohrab Shahid Saless
The Experience of Exile

A visionary and truly transnational artist, Shahid Saless remained a solitary figure throughout his life. Still his films have left an indelible mark..
EUROPEAN FILM AWARDS 2017
The Square sweeps the Awards
Ruben Östlund’s film The Square – and more specifically a comedy – has taken home most of the awards from the European Film Awards ceremony..
Sophie's Choice • Review
Streep is memorable as Sophie

So perfectly cast and well-imagined that it just takes over and happens to you. It's quite an experience. 'Sophie’s Choice' begins as a young Southerner's odyssey to..
'Vanaja' • Movie Review
A wondrous piece of filmmaking
A Sensitive, Engaging movie from a first-time filmmaker. Rajnesh Domalpalli made this poignant 2006 drama as his thesis film for a master's degree at Columbia University..
Invasion (2017)
How Thirsty are you?

'Invasion' is Shahram Mokri’s third feature after Fish & Cat. Both pics experiment “with nonlinear narrative, thriller elements and point of view,” as Variety critic wrote in her..
Half Moon | Niwemang
A road movie unlike any other
The Kurds may not yet have a country, but as long as Bahman Ghobadi keeps making movies they have a national cinema. Bahman Ghobadi's Half Moon is a beautiful and..
Emma Thompson demands
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is brought home

Actress Emma Thompson has accused Boris Johnson of doing “sweet FA” for the British-Iranian woman imprisoned in Iran..
Kedi (2017) • Movie review
As soft and warm as a kitten
Kedi is a cat fancier's dream, but this thoughtful, beautifully filmed look at Istanbul's street feline population offers absorbing viewing for filmgoers of any purr-suasion..
'Young Torless' • Cruelty of Man Is Explored
A great psychological and philosophical treatise on how normal, well-to-do people, can turn themselves into "torturers and sacrificial lambs," as Torless himself states..
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Movie Review
With uniformly great performances throughout the cast and Lanthimos’ stunning eye for detail and composition, this is one of the most unforgettable films of the year..
Until the Birds Return (2017)
My characters are at a turning point in their personal lives, yet they are not and do not want to be actors for change. In the 1990s an unprecedented civil war left 200,000 dead in Algeria, and tens of thousands..
The Divine Order (2017)
A hilarious comedy that hides ill-concealed discomfort
Petra Volpe continues to talk to us about women, and does so by turning the spotlight on a somewhat inglorious episode
Iranian filmmaker Cannot attend stokholm film festival
The acclaimed Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof has been denied exit from Iran and will not be able to attend the Stockholm International Film Festival..
WINDOW HORSES • A Canadian film about Iranian Poetry
A young Canadian poet with Chinese and Persian parents travels to Iran to perform at a poetry festival. Ann Marie Fleming’s..
A Look at “My Brother Khosro”
An intelligent movie dealing with a pain, a pain that without any pessimistic approach is part of a pain of a family, one of whose members has a mental problem..
ON THE BEACH 2017
'This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.' These lines from T.S. Eliot's poem The Hollow Men appear at the beginning of Nevil Shute's novel On the Beach, which left me close to tears..
Al Berto: A Biopic about the life of Portuguese poet
Liberty was there for the taking, but people had not been taught to be free and were not sure exactly what to do with it. Al Berto was ready for Sines, but Sines wasn’t..
Houman Seyyedi talks to CWB
I knew Houman Seyyedi as a very talented actor until I learned about him as a film director and then came the big suprise. After watching the four movies that..
Pouran Drakhshandeh talks about Under the Smoky Roof
Last Thursday, was the opening night of 'Under the Smoky Roof', a social drama directed by Pouran Derakhshandeh at the Fine Arts Theater, Los Angeles..
12 European films awarded At The Warsaw Film Fest
The Polish event’s Grand Prix went to the Chinese feature To Kill a Watermelon. Danish film The Charmer by Milad Alami won Competition 1-2 prize..
LOVING VINCENT (2016)
The final mysterious days in the life of Vincent van Gogh are the subject of investigation in this formally daring work, seven years in the making, that marries live action performance to..
Never Let Me Go
With Never Let Me Go, Mark Romanek has delivered a graceful adaptation that captures the spirit of the Ishiguro novel -- which will be precisely the problem for some viewers..
Interview • Milad Alami
SAN SEBASTIÁN 2017: Cineuropa chatted to Swedish-Iranian filmmaker Milad Alami, whose feature debut, The Charmer, is currently taking part in New Directors at San Sebastián..
Wild (2014)
Mini-Odyssey of a broken character
'I’m going to walk myself back to the woman my mother thought I was.' Powerfully moving and emotionally..
An Iranian film director
On the country's censorship

How does censorship work in Iran? The FRANCE 24 Observers team is publishing a two-part interview about censorship and Iranian cinema..
Mountain | Monte (2016)
Now, at 70 years old, Amir Naderi is a true international filmmaker. After "Mountain" (made in Italy) he is now ready to come home to US and start all over again. "It is just the beginning,"..
10th Annual Iranian Film Festival - San Francisco
Welcome to the 10th Annual Iranian Film Festival – San Francisco. This year, the festival presents 40 films from Iran, USA, Italy, France, Canada..
Shirin Neshat • Interview
VENICE 2017

Iranian artist Shirin Neshat remembers an iconic figure from Arab music on the big screen in Looking for Oum Kulthum, a film in competition in the Giornate degli Autori
VENICE 2017 • Interview
Emre Yeksan's The Gulf

“We live in a period of slow decay, and the smell won’t go away any time soon.” Emre Yeksan’s feature debut, The Gulf, has been premiered in the International..
Video Essay Explores
Orson Welles’ ‘F For Fake’

Most cineastes associate Orson Welles with films like “Touch of Evil” and “Citizen Kane.” But his 1974 oddity, is worth seeking out for those who wish to dig..
‘MOTHER! • VENICE 2017
7 Things to Know About

Darren Aronofsky's 'Mother' centers on a couple whose relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence...
Shirin Neshat • VENICE
'Looking for Oum Kulthum'

“story of an Iranian woman filmmaker, living in exile, who dares to make a film about an iconic Arab singer without being Arabic herself,” Neshat said in her first..
VENICE 2017 • Orizzonti
'Oblivion Verses'

Iranian filmmaker Alireza Khatami is presenting his debut feature Oblivion Verses in Orizzonti at Venice, where Cineuropa spoke to him about fantasy..
VENICE 2017 Competition
'Human Flow'

Artist Ai WeiWei is in the Venice competition with this documentary shot in 2015 and 2016, uncovering the growing crisis of displaced people across the..
Asghar Farhadi begins filming 'Everybody Knows'
The two-time Oscar winner is shooting this European co-production in Spain, with a Spanish-speaking cast headlined by Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz..
The Song Of Scorpions
Anup Singh’s ambitious third feature stars Golshifteh Farahani and Irrfan Khan, following an independent woman as she struggles against hardship and treachery to remain true to her own instincts..
Tokyo Sonata :: Movie Review
An adventurous work both disturbing and ultimately moving. Kiyoshi Kurosawa's first domestic drama is music to general audience's ears..
The Homesman (2014)
A genuine art film
"The Homesman," despite the title, is about women. Women are the center of the action, women drive the action forward, women are not only damsels in..
MONSIEUR IBRAHIM :: Movie Review
Tender but never sappy, Monsieur Ibrahim brings two people of vastly different age and background together in ways that are touching, and telling..
The Innocents (2016)
'The Innocents’ is a profound meditation on a forgotten moment in history. Lou de Laage shines in Anne Fontaine's provocative historical drama. When Anne Fontaine’s “The Innocents” made its..
VENICE 2017 :: Venice Days
Samira Makhmalbaf named as jury president for Venice Days 2017. The Iranian actress and director will chair the jury made up of 28 young viewers from..
NETWORK (1976)
It's never been more timely
Criticised by some at the time for a certain naivety and lack of subtlety, this remains one of the most devastating condemnations of the media's urge to..
Woody Allen & his New Orleans Jazz Band at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival
The iconic filmmaker and clarinet player Woody Allen joins the international headliners at the Copenhagen Jazz Fest
Death And The Maiden
A thought-provoking piece
"Death and the Maiden" is said to be based on events in Chile, but it could take place in any of the many countries where rule is by force and intimidation..
'Insyriated'(2017)
Gripping from start to finish

This nerve-wracking study of life in Damascus won an Audience Award at Berlinale. Hiam Abbass holds together a household under siege in..
Ali & Nino (2016)
A fascinating story of two young people in love who found themselves between East and West cultures during World War I and Civil War when young democratic Azerbaijan Republic got squashed by..
Dangerous Beauty (1998)
Venezia's Hidden Treasure

Based on the true story of Veronica Franco, a well-born Venetian beauty who deliberately chose the life of a courtesan because it seemed a better choice than..
The Polygon People
The Documentary
A First look at the ‘most nuked place on Earth’ where Soviet Union detonated 456 bombs over the course of 40 years. A look at the way locals’ lives were..
‘When God Sleeps’ (2017)
winner of the Golden Heynal

The best music documentary film and hence the winner of the Golden Heynal award at the 57th Krakow Film Festival, by the decision of the Jury under the..
Cannes 2017 • Awards
And the winners are...
Ruben Östlund’s The Square wins the Palme d’Or. Pedro Almodóvar’s jury divided its prizes across a generally deserving spread of films..
Retrospective • Dustin Hoffman • The Graduate
Dustin Hoffman turns 80 later this year, the Irish Film Institute (IFI) takes the opportunity to celebrate the work of Dustin Hoffman, on the occasion of..
Mohammad Rasoulof's
Goodbye | Be omide didar
Another superb piece of work produced in Iran. Let's pause for a minute and reflect on just how difficult it is to get these movies made..
A Master's Final Frames
Cannes 2017

Movingly presented at the largest cinema in Cannes, the Iranian auteur Abbas kiarostami's final film may be the most experimental ever shown at the..
Iranian filmmaker wins major prize at Cannes
Iranian auteur Mohammad Rasoulof's bleak drama "A Man of Integrity" won the Un Certain Regard competition at the Cannes film festival on Saturday..
Kantemir Balagov's 'Closeness' at Cannes
A social realist debut from Kantemir Balagov is an intense film influenced by the Dardenne brothers. For the Un Certain Regard selection at Cannes..
Cannes’ FIPRESCI Prize goes to (Beats Per Minute)
The international critics have crowned Robin Campillo’s film BPM (Beats Per Minute); Closeness and The Nothing Factory also awarded..
The award winners of the Cinéfondation unveiled
Student films from Belgium, Iran and France, awarded at the Cinéfondation. The jury of the Cinéfondation, chaired by Cristian Mungiu, has handed prizes..
The Golden Eye goes to 'Faces, Places' at Cannes
The film by Agnès Varda and JR has won the award for the best documentary screened across the various Cannes selections this year..
'They' (2017)
Movie Review • Cannes 2017

A minor-key portrait of an identity crisis. Jane Campion executive produced Iranian-born director Anahita Ghazvinizadeh's debut feature..
Susan Sarandon talks film and politics • Cannes 2017
In the run-up to the screening, Sarandon, who was named an ambassador for the beauty brand last year, sat down with WWD to talk film..
Loveless (2017)
Cannes 2017 • Movie Review

Such a haunting experience that it remains absorbing even when it doesn't go anywhere. Russia has always been a cold and dreary place in the cinema of..
Get Out (2017)
With the ambitious and challenging “Get Out,” Jordan Peele reveals that we may someday consider directing the greatest talent of this fascinating actor and writer..
Karim Moussaoui
Interview • Cannes 2017

Cineuropa met up with Karim Moussaoui to discuss his first film 'Until the Birds Return', presented in the Un Certain Regard section at the 70th Cannes Film..
Alejandro Jodorowsky's 'Endless Poetry' (2016)
Alejandro Jodorowsky's 'Endless Poetry' is the most accessible movie he has ever made, and it may also be the best. It's Felliniesque and moving..
The Other Side of Hope
Movie review

Five years after Le Havre, Finland’s deadpan morose-romantic master delivers the second part of a prospective ‘dockyard trilogy’ with this..
Lerd (2017) • Cannes
Interview with M. Rassoulof
Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rassoulof represents Iran at the Un Certain Regard competition section of the 70th Cannes Film Festival with his latest film ..
Arnaud Desplechin talks about 'Ismael’s Ghosts'
CANNES 2017: French director Arnaud Desplechin talks about Ismael’s Ghosts, which was screened out of competition at the opening of the 70th Cannes Film..
Happy End (2017)
Cannes Film Festival
First Clip from Michael Haneke’s ‘Happy End’ Features a Very Unhappy Dinner Party. After all, this is the director behind such films as 'The White Ribbon,' 'Amour..
Vanessa Redgrave Sparks
'The Loves of Isadora'

Karel Reisz' biographical portrait of Isadora Duncan stars Vanessa Redgrave as the famed modern dancer, who gained notoriety for her revolutionary..
Wild Tales (2015)
An inventive Argentinian film
Argentina’s “Wild Tales” comes as such an extraordinary surprise. Perhaps the best multi-story feature this reviewer has ever seen..
Noureddin Zarrinkelk
Life Achievement Award

A tribute to legendary Iranian/American animation director, writer and illustrator. Born on April 10, 1937 in Iran, Zarrinkelk founded the first school of Animation..
"The Idea of a Lake"
By Milagros Mumenthaler
Finding inspiration in the true story of a woman whose father disappeared during the civilian-military dictatorship in Argentina..
Tehran Taboo (2017)
First animation in Critics’ Week

In his animated drama, the German-Iranian filmmaker paints a dark picture of the metropolis, a city of prohibitions..
The Day Will Come
London Film Festival 2016
Based on real stories from a boy home called ‘godhavn’, where lots of boys were victims of violent and sexual abuse and medical experiments...
Respiro (2003)
The Critics' Week Grand Prize Winner at Cannes 2002

A cheerful, life-affirming film, strong in its energy, about vivid characters ; using mental illness as an entertainment..
Southside with You (2016)
Barack and Michelle Obama's First Date
A mostly-true account of the first date between Barack Obama and his wife Michelle. A look back on a fateful..
History of the Festival de Cannes
A NEW FESTIVAL IS BORN

The first edition of the Festival was originally set to be held in Cannes in 1939 under the presidency of Louis..
Hidden Reserves:
Immortality, but at what price?
Vienna in the near future. An insurance company has created a system in which people do not even have a right to..
Slavoj Zizek's
The Pervert's Guide to Ideology

You don't have to share Slavoj Zizek's materialist philosophy to find his analyses of culture and movies witty, insightful..
The Birth of a Nation
Biblical passion and Cheesy emotion
Nate Parker’s heartfelt account of Nat Turner, the slave who led a rebellion in 1830s Virginia, is conventionally paced..
Graduation (2016)
A Study of Grubby Bureaucratic Compromise

Graduation marks yet another well-written and powerfully acted look at morality and societal decay from..
Incendies (2010)
A Powerful, Disturbing film
Adapted from the 2003 play by Wajdi Mouawad, twins Jeanne and Simon leave Canada for the Middle East to fulfill their mother’s final wish..
Spotlight (2015)
The Power Of The Press

The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese..
Before the Flood (2016)
An Inconvenient Truth
Here is a heartfelt, decent, educational documentary about the most important issue of our time – climate change – presented by A-lister Leonardo DiCaprio..
I, Daniel Blake (2016)
Winner of the Palme d’Or

I, Daniel Blake marks yet another well-told chapter in director Ken Loach's powerfully populist filmography. Returning to filmmaking after saying..
"Razor’s Edge: The Legacy of Iranian Actresses"
A look at the often controversial role of women in Iranian cinema during the secular period from the 1930s to the Islamic Revolution in 1979..
Afghan Film Festival
12-21. April 2017

After much planning and inspirational talk, we can finally unveil a special cultural event on Danish soil: Afghan Film Festival in Copenhagen..
Bahman Ghobadi's
‘Rhino Season’

Produced by Martin Scorsese, this is the first film Ghobadi has made in exile. The work of a great talent marshaling all of his powers as a cinematic storyteller..
Dying for a Song
"Art is education, art is existence, its everything"

A documentary about the musicians being persecuted for raising their voices against political, cultural or religious..
A Simple Plan • Review
A Frozen Setting Frames a Chilling Tale
"You work for the American Dream--you don't steal it." So says a Minnesota family man early in "A Simple Plan," but he is..
Macon Blair’s
'I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore' (2017)

What's delightful about Macon Blair’s movie is how consistently the film challenges our worst assumptions..
Blue Jay (2016)
A trip down memory lane
Meeting by chance when they return to their tiny California hometown, two former high-school sweethearts reflect on their shared past..
Paterson (2016)
'I breathe poetry'

Set in the present in Paterson, New Jersey, this is a tale about a bus driver and poet. The film adds another refreshingly unvarnished entry to..
To Walk Invisible (2016)
A serious Brontë biopic
We finally have a biographic film that feels modern, in that it takes into account all we now know about the lives of the Brontë sisters, and throws away old..
Ixcanul (2016)
Life doesn't regenerate without untameable fury

You can sense the director's respect for his subject in the movie's unhurried dramatic rhythms, its grounding in..
A Man Called Ove • Review
Swedish Oscar nominee for Foreign Language Film for Oscars 2017, tells the familiar story of the curmudgeonly old man whose grumpy life is brightened by forces beyond his control..
Oscars 2017
Foreign language Oscar nominees decry 'climate of fanaticism in US'. The six directors in the running for this year’s foreign language Oscar have issued a joint statement blaming..
Berlinale 2017 • Awards
The 2017 Berlinale awards have just been announced. Ildikó Enyedi’s Hungarian drama 'On Body and Soul' won the Golden Bear for best film at the Berlin Film Festival on Saturday...
A Quiet Passion (2016)
The story of American poet Emily Dickinson from her early days as a young schoolgirl to her later years as a reclusive, unrecognized artist. This poised and painterly rendition of the..
Maren Ade's Toni Erdmann
The clash of personalities
Toni Erdmann pairs carefully constructed, three-dimensional characters in a tenderly funny character study that's both genuinely moving and..
Tom Ford's 'Nocturnal Animals' (2016)
Well-acted and lovely to look at, Nocturnal Animals further underscores writer-director Tom Ford's distinctive visual and narrative skill...
Asghar Farhadi Won’t Attend Oscar Ceremony
The Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, whose film “The Salesman” is nominated for an Oscar in the best foreign-language film category decided to not attend..
Barry Jenkins’ masterful “Moonlight”
'Moonlight' uses one man's story to offer a remarkable and brilliantly crafted look at lives too rarely seen in cinema...
Film Review: Pablo Larraín's Neruda (2016)
"Inventive, intelligent, and beautifully filmed, Neruda transcends the traditional biopic structure to look at the meaning beyond the details of its subject's life."..
Iranian actress to boycott Oscars
The lead actor in an Iranian drama nominated for an Oscar in the best foreign language film category has said she will boycott this year’s ceremony..
Oscar nominations to: Land of Mine and Silent Nights
Martin Zandvliet's "Land of Mine" and Aske Bang's "Silent Nights" will be taking part in the world's most prestigious film event, selected as nominees in..
Pouran Drakhshandeh talks about Under the Smoky Roof
Last Thursday, was the opening night of 'Under the Smoky Roof', a social drama directed by Pouran Derakhshandeh at the Fine Arts Theater, Los Angeles. We had the opportunity to interview the director after the screening..
12 European films awarded At The Warsaw Film Fest
The Polish event’s Grand Prix went to the Chinese feature To Kill a Watermelon. Danish film The Charmer by Milad Alami won Competition 1-2 prize..
LOVING VINCENT (2016)
The final mysterious days in the life of Vincent van Gogh are the subject of investigation in this formally daring work, seven years in the making, that marries live action performance to..
Never Let Me Go
With Never Let Me Go, Mark Romanek has delivered a graceful adaptation that captures the spirit of the Ishiguro novel -- which will be precisely the problem for some viewers..
Interview • Milad Alami
SAN SEBASTIÁN 2017: Cineuropa chatted to Swedish-Iranian filmmaker Milad Alami, whose feature debut, The Charmer, is currently taking part in New Directors at San Sebastián..
Wild (2014)
Mini-Odyssey of a broken character
'I’m going to walk myself back to the woman my mother thought I was.' Powerfully moving and emotionally..
An Iranian film director
On the country's censorship

How does censorship work in Iran? The FRANCE 24 Observers team is publishing a two-part interview about censorship and Iranian cinema..
Mountain | Monte (2016)
Now, at 70 years old, Amir Naderi is a true international filmmaker. After "Mountain" (made in Italy) he is now ready to come home to US and start all over again. "It is just the beginning,"..
10th Annual Iranian Film Festival - San Francisco
Welcome to the 10th Annual Iranian Film Festival – San Francisco. This year, the festival presents 40 films from Iran, USA, Italy, France, Canada..
Shirin Neshat • Interview
VENICE 2017

Iranian artist Shirin Neshat remembers an iconic figure from Arab music on the big screen in Looking for Oum Kulthum, a film in competition in the Giornate degli Autori
VENICE 2017 • Interview
Emre Yeksan's The Gulf

“We live in a period of slow decay, and the smell won’t go away any time soon.” Emre Yeksan’s feature debut, The Gulf, has been premiered in the International..
Video Essay Explores
Orson Welles’ ‘F For Fake’

Most cineastes associate Orson Welles with films like “Touch of Evil” and “Citizen Kane.” But his 1974 oddity, is worth seeking out for those who wish to dig..
‘MOTHER! • VENICE 2017
7 Things to Know About

Darren Aronofsky's 'Mother' centers on a couple whose relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence...
Shirin Neshat • VENICE
'Looking for Oum Kulthum'

“story of an Iranian woman filmmaker, living in exile, who dares to make a film about an iconic Arab singer without being Arabic herself,” Neshat said in her first..
VENICE 2017 • Orizzonti
'Oblivion Verses'

Iranian filmmaker Alireza Khatami is presenting his debut feature Oblivion Verses in Orizzonti at Venice, where Cineuropa spoke to him about fantasy..
VENICE 2017 Competition
'Human Flow'

Artist Ai WeiWei is in the Venice competition with this documentary shot in 2015 and 2016, uncovering the growing crisis of displaced people across the..
Asghar Farhadi begins filming 'Everybody Knows'
The two-time Oscar winner is shooting this European co-production in Spain, with a Spanish-speaking cast headlined by Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz..
The Song Of Scorpions
Anup Singh’s ambitious third feature stars Golshifteh Farahani and Irrfan Khan, following an independent woman as she struggles against hardship and treachery to remain true to her own instincts..
Tokyo Sonata :: Movie Review
An adventurous work both disturbing and ultimately moving. Kiyoshi Kurosawa's first domestic drama is music to general audience's ears..
The Homesman (2014)
A genuine art film
"The Homesman," despite the title, is about women. Women are the center of the action, women drive the action forward, women are not only damsels in..
MONSIEUR IBRAHIM :: Movie Review
Tender but never sappy, Monsieur Ibrahim brings two people of vastly different age and background together in ways that are touching, and telling..
The Innocents (2016)
'The Innocents’ is a profound meditation on a forgotten moment in history. Lou de Laage shines in Anne Fontaine's provocative historical drama. When Anne Fontaine’s “The Innocents” made its..
VENICE 2017 :: Venice Days
Samira Makhmalbaf named as jury president for Venice Days 2017. The Iranian actress and director will chair the jury made up of 28 young viewers from..
NETWORK (1976)
It's never been more timely
Criticised by some at the time for a certain naivety and lack of subtlety, this remains one of the most devastating condemnations of the media's urge to..
Woody Allen & his New Orleans Jazz Band at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival
The iconic filmmaker and clarinet player Woody Allen joins the international headliners at the Copenhagen Jazz Fest
Death And The Maiden
A thought-provoking piece
"Death and the Maiden" is said to be based on events in Chile, but it could take place in any of the many countries where rule is by force and intimidation..
'Insyriated'(2017)
Gripping from start to finish

This nerve-wracking study of life in Damascus won an Audience Award at Berlinale. Hiam Abbass holds together a household under siege in..
Ali & Nino (2016)
A fascinating story of two young people in love who found themselves between East and West cultures during World War I and Civil War when young democratic Azerbaijan Republic got squashed by..
Dangerous Beauty (1998)
Venezia's Hidden Treasure

Based on the true story of Veronica Franco, a well-born Venetian beauty who deliberately chose the life of a courtesan because it seemed a better choice than..
The Polygon People
The Documentary
A First look at the ‘most nuked place on Earth’ where Soviet Union detonated 456 bombs over the course of 40 years. A look at the way locals’ lives were..
‘When God Sleeps’ (2017)
winner of the Golden Heynal

The best music documentary film and hence the winner of the Golden Heynal award at the 57th Krakow Film Festival, by the decision of the Jury under the..
Cannes 2017 • Awards
And the winners are...
Ruben Östlund’s The Square wins the Palme d’Or. Pedro Almodóvar’s jury divided its prizes across a generally deserving spread of films..
Retrospective • Dustin Hoffman • The Graduate
Dustin Hoffman turns 80 later this year, the Irish Film Institute (IFI) takes the opportunity to celebrate the work of Dustin Hoffman, on the occasion of..
Mohammad Rasoulof's
Goodbye | Be omide didar
Another superb piece of work produced in Iran. Let's pause for a minute and reflect on just how difficult it is to get these movies made..
A Master's Final Frames
Cannes 2017

Movingly presented at the largest cinema in Cannes, the Iranian auteur Abbas kiarostami's final film may be the most experimental ever shown at the..
Iranian filmmaker wins major prize at Cannes
Iranian auteur Mohammad Rasoulof's bleak drama "A Man of Integrity" won the Un Certain Regard competition at the Cannes film festival on Saturday..
Kantemir Balagov's 'Closeness' at Cannes
A social realist debut from Kantemir Balagov is an intense film influenced by the Dardenne brothers. For the Un Certain Regard selection at Cannes..
Cannes’ FIPRESCI Prize goes to (Beats Per Minute)
The international critics have crowned Robin Campillo’s film BPM (Beats Per Minute); Closeness and The Nothing Factory also awarded..
The award winners of the Cinéfondation unveiled
Student films from Belgium, Iran and France, awarded at the Cinéfondation. The jury of the Cinéfondation, chaired by Cristian Mungiu, has handed prizes..
The Golden Eye goes to 'Faces, Places' at Cannes
The film by Agnès Varda and JR has won the award for the best documentary screened across the various Cannes selections this year..
'They' (2017)
Movie Review • Cannes 2017

A minor-key portrait of an identity crisis. Jane Campion executive produced Iranian-born director Anahita Ghazvinizadeh's debut feature..
Susan Sarandon talks film and politics • Cannes 2017
In the run-up to the screening, Sarandon, who was named an ambassador for the beauty brand last year, sat down with WWD to talk film..
Loveless (2017)
Cannes 2017 • Movie Review

Such a haunting experience that it remains absorbing even when it doesn't go anywhere. Russia has always been a cold and dreary place in the cinema of..
Get Out (2017)
With the ambitious and challenging “Get Out,” Jordan Peele reveals that we may someday consider directing the greatest talent of this fascinating actor and writer..
Karim Moussaoui
Interview • Cannes 2017

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NOSTALGHIA

NOSTALGHIA
Posits Irreconcilable Worlds as a Russian Leaves the USSR Behind

By Robert Avila, Keyframe
March 15, 2014

In this crisis-ridden age, few filmmakers redeem the art of cinema as a moral force with the persistent invention and resolute vision of Andrei Tarkovsky.


Nostalghia (1983)

Nostalghia (1983) was Andrei Tarkovsky’s sixth feature film, and the first feature he made abroad. Although he didn’t know it at the time, it marked the great Russian filmmaker’s permanent break with the Soviet Union. He would never go back, and he would make only one more film, The Sacrifice, before dying of cancer, in exile, in late-December 1986, at the age of 54. (Nota bene: Although Nostalghia was his first feature on foreign soil, he and co-screenwriter Tonino Guerra had preceded it in 1982 with another Italian-made film, an interesting and thematically related travel documentary for Italian television called Tempo di Viaggio.)

If Nostalghia represents a major break in the above sense—and represented too Tarkovsky’s own disrupted, transplanted state of mind at the time—it was above all, however, a continuation and culmination of an artistic vision whose depth, originality and cohesion have few parallels in the history of cinema.


Nostalghia (1983)

Already with Andrei Rublev, his 1966 masterpiece, Tarkovsky had flagged the moral function of art as a major concern. Even there, and in subsequent films, especially The Mirror (1975), he incorporated elements of his own biography in his philosophical and moral musings on time, place, memory, faith and personal as well as social redemption. As early as Solaris (1970), the interplay of conscience and civilization’s detachment from spiritual values took place against a backdrop of ecological imbalance. By the time of Stalker (1979), the work that immediately precedes Nostalghia, this imbalance had become outright catastrophe—an aspect that gave Stalker prophetic overtones in the aftermath of Chernobyl (or today, on the third anniversary of Fukushima, among other dire environmental calamities).

In tandem with these thematic concerns, Tarkovsky crafted a cinematic language that would not merely express them but would be the primary, non-narrative vehicle of their development. Nostalghia represents a further advance in Tarkovsky’s concept of cinema—a concept very much distinct (and antithetical) to the widely influential ideas of Sergei Eisenstein, who prized the cut and the juxtaposition of images as the essence of film language. For Tarkovsky, cinema at its purest was a form of sculpting in time (a phrase he used for the title of his book on the subject). What mattered, therefore, was allowing the viewer the opportunity to share in the flow of time. The director became highly adept at the long take, exploring carefully constructed mise-en-scène through exquisitely controlled camera movement. At the same time, Tarkovsky deliberately blurred the lines between inner and outer worlds—between the psychological or spiritual realm of his characters and the material “reality” around them. Nostalghia’s startling use of lighting, for example—its shape-shifting undulations of light and shadow within single scenes—is a key strategy for expressing, and dynamically joining, these realms. As a stylistic strategy, it advances techniques seen in Stalker and used to consummate effect in his last film, The Sacrifice (1986).

Both in theme and stylistic invention, then, Tarkovsky’s sixth film builds on what came before and clears the way for what lay ahead. It also remains a magnificent film on its own, characterized by a languid, moody and thrilling beauty as well as a compelling moral urgency that feels undiminished, indeed reinforced by the intervening decades.


Nostalghia

That does not mean Nostalghia is an easy film, or without faults. (Its initial critical reception in the U.S. was mostly dismissive if not scornful, as it was for his work in general.) Like all his major films, Nostalghia is thoroughly anti-commercial and departs decisively from the usual narrative conventions. Its strategies can feel varyingly successful as well. As with all of Tarkovsky’s work, Nostalghia bears, and almost demands, repeated viewings in order to fully glean its rich detail—much of it tied to a set motifs across all his films, which have a cumulative order and a self-referential quality of their own.

Nevertheless, the impression Nostalghia makes on a first viewing is immediate, its lush visuals and dreamy, melancholic atmosphere evoking precisely a world unto itself that is also, paradoxically, a re-introduction to our own. Moreover, for contemporary audiences reared on Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, the films of Michael Haneke, or Wong Kar-wai, for example, it can be a joy, and hardly a forbidding task, to enter Nostalghia’s unrushed sculpting—its purposefully ambiguous dreamscapes; masterfully long takes and majestic tracking shots; elliptical, pensive narratives; oblique relationships, and often stern characters. They require a different kind of viewing than a Hollywood movie, naturally, but just about any cinephile or adventurous newbie can attune readily to the film’s pace and logic, and derive great rewards for the effort.


Nostalghia

Inner and Outer Worlds

Nostalghia concerns a homesick Russian poet, tellingly named Andrei (played by a brooding, inward, yet charismatic Oleg Yankovsky), who leaves wife and family to come to Italy and research the biography of an 18th-century Russian composer named Sosnovsky (based on the real-life composer Maksim Beryózovsky). Sosnovsky was a serf, we learn, whose talent was such that his master allowed him to travel abroad, but his longing for Russia brought him back to servitude, and eventually he took his own life. (The loose parallel between the filmmaker and his protagonist is thus doubled in a paralleling between the protagonist and his own subject.) Andrei, terribly homesick and distracted himself, makes unenthusiastic visits to two historic sites with the help of his interpreter, the beautiful and smitten Eugenia (played by a vital Domiziana Giordano). While visiting the second site, Saint Catherine’s baths, Andrei hears about a local eccentric who locked up his family for seven years awaiting the apocalypse. Andrei suddenly appears interested, and asks to meet him. It is clearly the man’s faith that attracts Andrei’s curiosity.

“I don’t understand ‘faith.’ What is it?” he asks Eugenia, meaning the question literally. After she translates the word into Russian, he says of Domenico, “Why do they say he’s mad? He’s not mad. He has faith.” She notes that there are many such “lunatics” around Italy since the asylums closed, as their families refuse to take them in. “We don’t know what madness is,” says Andrei. “They’re troublesome, inconvenient. We refuse to understand them. They’re alone. But they’re certainly closer to the truth.”



Indeed, the man in question, Domenico (played by Ingmar Bergman stalwart Erland Josephson, who is equally brilliant in the somewhat related role of Alexander in The Sacrifice), is a kind of holy fool. He asks Andrei to carry out a task that he has been prevented from accomplishing himself: carrying a lighted candle across the baths. Later, Eugenia, who finally leaves Andrei in frustration at his lack of interest in her, calls him from Rome from whence Andrei is about to fly home. She tells him Domenico is in the city, and he is asking if Andrei has fulfilled what he asked of him. Andrei, tired and suffering from a heart condition, nevertheless delays his flight to return to the baths, where he painstakingly attempts three times to cross them with the lighted candle. At the same time, Domenico delivers a sermon to a strangely artificial-looking crowd from atop a large statue, which culminates in a desperate act. Their destinies entwined, each achieves a deeply ambiguous goal out of all normal, rational calculation.

Nostalghia’s minimal plot, while important, is subordinate to the film’s visual language, which conveys powerfully a set of ruminations on faith, memory and desire in an automatonic civilization running blindly toward destruction. A few primary details early on set the tone and the terms for these concerns.


NOSTALGHIA

The opening title sequence, in black and white—the film tacks between black-and-white and color throughout, the former sequences seemingly tied to the worlds of memory and dreams, although this becomes less strict or certain a delineation as the story proceeds—appears over a misty bucolic scene that slopes down and away from the camera, inhabited by a family who also walk away from us, toward a river in the distance, a dog (a German shepherd who appears throughout) accompanies them, and a horse stands in the distance. The next scene is in color but of a very subdued quality, distinct from the previous scene yet perhaps not so far away from it either. A car rolls up with a man and woman inside. Again, we’re in the countryside; again there is a mist rolling through it (mists, clouds, rain and dripping water pervade the film, as throughout Tarkovsky’s work). From their few words together we gather we are in Italy, presumably in the present. They have driven a long way to look at an ancient site. The man (Andrei) decides he’s had enough of these “beauties” and will not go inside. He and the woman (Eugenia) emerge from the car and head off separately up a narrow path.

Inside the church, Eugenia approaches the famous painting on the wall, Piero della Francesca’s Madonna del Parto (Madonna of Childbirth), before which a bank of votive candles glows brightly. She barely has time to consider it before a man, the sacristan, asks her if she wants a baby too, or is asking God to spare her. She answers that she’s just looking. The man, whose dramatic face now appears in the foreground turning to the camera, answers that the presence of mere onlookers (non-supplicants, nonbelievers) tends to mean nothing happens. “What is supposed to happen?” asks Eugenia. “Whatever you like,” he answers. “Whatever you need most. But you should at least kneel down.”


NOSTALGHIA

Thus, in its opening moments, Tarkovsky opens the philosophical and moral ground of the film—or reopens it, since the question of faith, the tortured mingling of material and spiritual realms, is central to his oeuvre. Indeed, it is almost as if we were back in the Zone, in the mystical, wish-granting Room of Stalker. Here, however, the “foreignness” and the crumbling grandeur of Italy, at once ancient and modern, provide a particular lens of their own.

Eugenia at first starts to kneel but changes her mind, visibly uncomfortable with the idea. Her proud and beautiful figure looks a little ridiculous in the aborted attempt. She is a woman thoroughly associated here with the modern age.

Meanwhile, Andrei’s lack of interest in the Francesca painting (he never bothers to go inside and look at it) sounds the central note of his character, one already flagged by the title: He cannot enjoy or engage with his surroundings, remaining tied to an unyielding yearning for the past and for home. His condition is one of profound alienation, which the actor Yanoksvky plays with a fine combination of superiority and helplessness.


NOSTALGHIA

The final scene in the church shows Eugenia staring into the portrait of the Madonna of Childbirth as if in a mirror (mirrors and paintings both being evocative objects across Tarkovsky’s body of work), but also as if at an impossible distance, some perfect outer limit defined by art and, simultaneously, the motherhood the character will never know.

From here the film cuts to a close up, in black and white, of Andrei’s face, a striking shot and our first real image of him. As Andrei turns his head we see too the odd streak of grey in his hair (reminiscent of that in the similarly melancholic protagonist of Solaris, or the pattern in the title character from Stalker). A feather, almost the same shape and color of this streak, floats by and down to the ground. We see Andrei looking over to a dacha in the distance (the family home, which will return in later scenes), a just barely perceptible white figure with what appear to be wings crosses before it.

Through a startling set of images like these in its opening sequences, the film develops its frankly religious and philosophical themes. Cinematographer Giuseppe Lanci (rightly famed for his work with director Marco Bellocchio) paints a superb double world throughout, in light and motion that draw forth often simultaneously the psychical and physical realities of the main character.


NOSTALGHIA

The Russian concept of “nostalgia,” as Tarkovsky himself stressed, is a distinctive blend of feelings of love and loss, a melancholic association with that from which one is separated. References by Andrei to the untranslatable nature of poetry (significantly, Tarkovsky references here his own poet-father, Arseny Tarkovsky) and the corresponding need to eliminate all borders between countries mark out a kind of despair and idealism at once. Such feelings resonate as a crisis of faith, with overtly social overtones, as Andrei’s alienation—as well as the inspiration awakened in him by Domenico—takes place against a materialistic civilization dangerously divorced from nature by a narrow, instrumental rationalism.

If Nostalghia’s focus on redemption and spiritual transcendence tends to cast the artist in the lofty part of seer and even savior, Tarkovsky’s genius gives us grounds for at least entertaining the idea. Ultimately, human beings will no doubt deliver themselves or be lost, but the role of the artist as a guide and spur to consciousness and conscience is no luxury but a necessity, and even a prerequisite of art. As Tarkovsky put it in Donatella Baglivo’s 1984 documentary portrait, A Poet in Cinema, “The artist exists because the world is not perfect.” In this crisis-ridden age, there remain few filmmakers who redeem the art of cinema as a moral force with the persistent invention and resolute vision of Andrei Tarkovsky.


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