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Thursday, August 31, 2006

SFC takes a break


We regret that there will be no filmclub screenings until October 5th -- this is due to a number of forthcoming projects (GALVANIZE, CARIFESTA, and KAIRI film festival).

We will however be back with an improved space... In the first week of October.

Until then -- thanks for your support


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Blogging about film II

The Jamaican writer Marlon James, prompted by two films, last year's Shooting Dogs (about the Rwandan genocide) and the soon to be released The Last King of Scotland (about Idi Amin), sounds off today about a particular brand of filmmaking: the type of film where "all these white boys are in blackest Africa trying to save the blackies because they so want to make a difference. Not in Africa, mind you, but their own lives." He asks:

"Am I the only one sick of this bullshit? I see the trailer for The Last King of Scotland and it reminds me of Shooting Dogs, which reminds me of The Serpent and The Rainbow, which reminds me of Tears of the Sun, which reminds me of Zulu! Which reminds me of Shaka Zulu, which reminds me of King Solomon's Mines, which reminds me of Tarzan, which reminds me of The African Queen, which reminds me of Patrick Swayze's horrendous City of Joy, which reminds me of Dances With Wolves which reminds me of Apocalypse Now which reminds me of Heart of Darkness, the novel that all but invented this formula. Take a white man, add savages noble and ignoble, stir and great god 'a moighty, lookee there at the spanking new (though bruised and battered) white man that floats to the top. The black, brown and yellow people, they stay down in the mix."

And in a previous post, James comments on an often unremarked phenomenon of contemporary cinema: the Magic Nigger:

"His mission in life is to bring attention to the white people around him. The Magic Nigger is no Bojangles. In fact most times the Magic Nigger is more intelligent, more refined and just plain smarter than the white hero. He is not really the good guy, but like Will Smith in The Legend of Bagger Vance, his purpose is to make the good guy better. The Magic Nigger's purpose is to humanize the bitch as Wanda Sykes did for Jane Fonda in Monster In Law. His purpose is to help the white man tap into his latent humanity as Morgan Freeman did for Miss Daisy; to have him recognize his inner power, as Morgan Freeman did for Jim Carrey in Bruce Almighty; or to introduce him to cool new gadgets as Morgan Freeman did for Christian Bale in Batman.... He is the noble savage transmogrified in a three-piece suit. His purpose is to add the third dimension to the white character, not himself. Some people view this as progress."

Friday, August 25, 2006

Chinese Film Festival

There was no SFC this week, but there is a Chinese Film Festival on this weekend in Port of Spain. Details:

The Chinese Bicentennial Committee will be showcasing a series of Chinese movies.

Where: Chinese Association, St Ann's
When: Thursday 24th August to Saturday August 26th: 8:00 p.m. nightly.
Admission: Free

Thursday Aug 24: Shanghai Triad
Cast: Gong Li, Li Baotian, Wang Xiaoxiao, Sun Chun
Rated: R (Violence, mature themes)
Running Length: 1 Hour 48 minutes
Synopsis: Shanghai Triad delves deeply into the workings of Shanghai's gangland during the 1930s. Reminiscent of Prohibition-era Chicago--and therefore depicting the universality of organized crime--Shanghai Triad is a fascinating, though, imperfect, look at the lure and power of greed to corrupt and destroy.

Friday Aug 25: The Road Home
Cast: Ziyi Zhang, Honglei Sun, Hao Zheng
Rated: G
Running Length: 1 Hour 29 minutes
Synopsis: The Road Home is a simple touching and tender love story about a city businessman Luo Yusheng returning to his home village in North China for the funeral of his father, the village teacher.

Saturday Aug 26: To Live
Cast: Ge You, Gong Li, Niu Ben, Guo Tao, Jiang Wu
Rated: No MPAA rating (Mature themes, violence)
Running Length: 2 Hours 13 minutes
Synopsis: This is a story whose underlying central theme is expressed in the title: through all the struggles, hardships and moments of rare magic and joy, the characters continue their lives. No matter how bleak the circumstances appear, the only choice is to go on.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

BTW: No SFC tonight

In case anyone was wondering--there's no SFC tonight--check this space next week for info on the next screening.

Coming soon: Galvanize

SFC regulars: check out the website for Galvanize, a new contemporary arts programme that opens in Port of Spain on 14 September. Galvanize is the brainchild of artist Mario Lewis, and is supported by CCA; it includes nine artists' projects, a series of conversations covering art, literature, architecture, and music, and performances by SFC favourites jointpop and 12.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

This week at SFC: Road to Guantanamo

Thursday August 3rd

Road to Guantanamo (Michael Winterbottom & Mat Whitecross/UK/2006/ 95')

The thematic sequel to Winterbotton's In This World (screening # 83 at SFC) that follows a trio of British-Arab nationals who inadvertently joy ride into Afghanistan only to be picked up and then re-located to Guantanamo Bay for torture and interrogation.

Those wishing to see the events of recent headlines fully fleshed out will appreciate much that this film has to offer.

What some people fail to grasp, in light of events like Abu Ghraib and the recent suicides at Guantanamo, is that any kind of amoral behavior by the ground troops stems from those above. If the people at the top are corrupt, then it filters down and these types of events are the results. The Bush administration is doing much to eclipse the Nixon version in every negative way possible and this film only confirms the inadequacy of Mr. Rumsfeld at the helm of US military participation overseas.

This film is not action packed or tension filled, but a long, slow wide-eyed observation of what effect an invading force can have on those that have emigrated away from their native lands and then decide to return. Passivity and curiousity can easily be mistaken by paranoid ground troops as collusion with the enemy, and plain old visitors like the 'Tipton 3' can find themselves in a world of trouble.

The short version of this story is that four young men from the Midlands of England (of Pakistani descent) decide to attend a friend's wedding and are then drawn into a 'touring' party to go 'watch' the Americans invade Afghanistan and possibly help any innocent victims of the occupation forces. The four are captured and three are deemed 'dangerous' enough to be sent to Guantanamo Bay for further interrogation. These British nationals were eventually freed and returned to England, but not until after a long, cruel, and decidedly inconsequential 'debriefing' process had been perpetrated by US military against these three young men. It must be said that the Three have a somewhat opaque story about how exactly they came to be in Afghanistan, which the director takes at face value. But the burden of proof does not lie with the Three, who were entitled to a presumption of innocence, the rule of law and human rights.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

This week at the SFC: The Red Shoes

Thursday August 10th

The Red Shoes (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger/UK/1948/134')

STUDIOFILMCLUB is pleased to be screening Powell and Pressburger's THE RED SHOES. Last year's screening of the same duo's Black Narcissus was certainly one of SFC's most memorable presentations. The Red Shoes is the tragic and romantic story of Vicky Page, the brilliant young dancer who must give up everything if she is to become a great ballerina. It is Powell and Pressburger's most famous film. Creators of classics such as Black Narcissus, A Matter of Life and Death, and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, they were renowned for their use of brilliant colour and wonderful costumes, and, with the exhilarating cinematography of Jack Cardiff, were among the most influential film makers of their time. The Red Shoes is one of the finest examples of their work, and has become an inspiration to artists, film makers and musicians all over the world.