Last year, Special Medallion winner Serge Bromberg wowed audiences with his stage show of early cinema. This year, he brings a still more spectacular program: the history of 3D from 1900 on. One highlight: the first Georges Méliès 3D, unintentionally made possible by the then-common practice of filming two versions of movies at once with cameras placed next to each other. Glasses will be provided.
Hot off a stunning Nike commercial for the World Cup that was an Internet sensation, director Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel, TFF 2006), returns with this story of a tortured man who, after a diagnosis of cancer, must come to terms with the failures in his life. Javier Bardem’s virtuosic performance won him the best actor award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Film historian Stig Björkman weaves together a wondrous array of clips, interviews and behind-the-scenes footage to deepen our understanding and appreciation of the great Ingmar Bergman. The program includes two films—Images from a Playground (2009, 29 min.) and … but Film Is My Mistress (2010, 66m)—that together offer a rich perspective on modern cinema. Among those interviewed are Harriet Andersson, Woody Allen, Olivier Assayas, Bernardo Bertolucci, Arnaud Desplechin, John Sayles, Martin Scorsese, and Lars von Trier.
Former tributee Mike Leigh (Secrets and Lies, Happy-Go-Lucky, Naked, Life Is Sweet) turns in another wise, funny and painfully true story steeped in the reality of working-class British life. In Another Year, a couple (Leigh regulars Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen) provide comfort to a number of troubled, lonely people (including one played wonderfully by Lesley Manville), while adapting to the changes that life brings.
Underappreciated at the time of its release, Danny Boyle’s Millions is ripe for a reappraisal after the runaway success of TFF 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire. With Boyle’s trademark empathy and buoyant storytelling, Millions tells the story of two young motherless boys living in a non-descript suburban housing development who have several hundred thousand pounds literally fall into their laps. Each takes his own approach to learning the value of money, and the ensuing complications bring the family together in unexpected and heartwarming ways.
Of Gods And Men
Based on a true story, Of Gods and Men is a stirring portrait of a group of French monks living in a monastery outside an Algerian village. When civil war breaks out in the 90s, they are suddenly threatened by the specter of Islamic extremists. Xavier Beauvois’s serene yet powerful film, winner of Cannes’ Grand Prix, offers marvelous performances and a rich, complex exploration of the nature of faith in the face of great danger.
Happy People: A Year in the Taiga
With collaborator Dmitry Vasyukov, Werner Herzog created this marvelous study of a village in one of the most inhospitable places in the world, the frozen taiga of Siberia. As gorgeous as it is perilous, the isolated landscape has bred a group of people resourceful and independent, with a way of life largely unchanged for centuries. Happy People offers a rich, at times awe-inspiring look at a surprising earthly paradise.
Gentle and affable, Jack Cardiff doesn’t immediately strike one as the kind of man who could be a giant of cinema history. In fact, Cardiff is one of the greatest cinematographers of all time, and perhaps the greatest innovator in the use of color in film. Loaded with anecdotes and classic clips—particularly from Cardiff’s many collaborations with Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger—Cameraman is a breezy treat of cinephilia.
Mikhail Kalatozov made a career out of fitting his fiercely personal artistic vision into the demands of making films for and under the Soviet state. With the breathtaking romanticism of Telluride favorites like The Cranes Are Flying (rediscovered with help of the festival) and I Am Cuba, Kalatozov claimed his place as one of the giants of post-war Soviet cinema, all while working under extremely difficult political circumstances. This savvy study of the man and his work offers a fascinating look at a filmmaker whose reserved personality belied an oeuvre that bursts with passion.
Moguls and Movie Stars
The early days of the film industry bear little resemblance to the studio system of today, full of unlikely stars and outsiders turned moguls. This fascinating, nostalgic look back, produced for longtime friends of the Festival, Turner Classic Movies, tells the story of the birth of cinema as a reflection of the American Dream, a wild frontier settled at breakneck pace by ambitious pioneers.
Drawing on the realist and poetic traditions of masters like Dziga Vertov and Artavazd Peleshian, Harutyun Khachatryan’s latest film transforms a simple story of a lost buffalo recovered at a refugee camp on the border of Armenia and Azerbaijan into an intensely elemental expression of the scars or war. Set in a desolately beautiful landscape, bisected by barbed wire and still smoldering from war, Border evokes the lingering mistrust and continued suffering through rigorous juxtaposition of sound and image, creating a tour-de-force of pure cinema.
Music Makers of Blue Ridge
In 1964, legendary musician and impresario Bascom Lamar Lunsford combed the Blue Ridge Mountains in search of talent for his Asheville Mountain Music Festival. He invited 22-year-old New York filmmaker David Hoffman to join him. The result is a fascinating, gorgeous, at time mystical journey into the world of mountain folk and culture, featuring the greatest talents of the era and a list of familiar songs: “East Virginia Blues,” “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” “Blue Ridge Mountain Blues,” “Heavenly Light Is Shining” and Lunsford’s “Mountain Dew.”
On ‘Being There’ With Richard Leacock
The seminal documentary filmmaker Richard Leacock began making movies at age 14, served in the military as a combat photographer, shot Louisiana Story for Robert Flaherty and then seized the opportunities presented by new filmmaking technologies: quiet, light 16mm cameras that allowed filmmakers to shoot unobtrusively. As such, Leacock helped launch direct cinema, a kin to cinéma verité. In the 50 years since, Leacock made films that Henri Langlois called “perhaps the most important documentaries since the brothers Lumière.” This insightful portrait presents Leacock, from 1972 to the present.
Never Let Me Go
Keira Knightley, Andrew Garfield, Carey Mulligan, Charlotte Rampling and Sally Hawkins highlight the stellar cast of this adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s incredible novel, set in a dystopian Britain. Three childhood friends, living in a sheltered boarding school, must reconcile their love for each other with their divergent fates. Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo and many groundbreaking music videos including Johnny Cash’s “Hurt”) brings Ishiguro’s modern classic to the screen with style to burn.
Pygmies in Paris
Festival regular Mark Kidel (Kind of Blue, Ravi Shankar, A Journey with Peter Sellars) directed this insightful, troubling story of a group of Bayaka pygmies brought to Europe for performances. Though obviously well intentioned, the musicologist-impresario Louis Sarno, who arranged the visit, becomes part of the commodification of tribal cultures for fans of “world music.”