Zidane: a 21st Century Portrait

Does a footballer deserve a feature-length film dedicated to him? Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno have come up with a very ambitious project, and full marks for completion but....

Will Zidane: a 21st Century Portrait emulate the career of the great player or will it turn him into a 92 minute Psycho?

See the review of the film that's been released in selected cinemas today here.


French cinematographer Raoul Coutard's life story part of People's Archives

A scene from Jules et Jim. (C) Sédif Productions.

The life story of the legendary French cinematographer, Raoul Coutard, is now freely available from Peoples Archive, an online video on-demand archive that features some of the world’s greatest thinkers, creators and achievers of our time.

Speaking in French, and presented with or without English subtitles, Raoul Coutard talks for more than 8 hours about his life and work, the French New Wave and also gives us an insight on what it was like working with great filmmakers. His films include Godard's A bout de souffle (Breathless), Le mépris (Contempt) and La Chinoise, Truffaut's La peau douce (The Soft Skin) and Jules et Jim (Jules and Jim), Costa-Gavras' Z and L'aveu (The Confession) and, more recently, works from Philippe Garrel and Guillaume Nicloux.

Tamsin Newmark, director-producer of the Peoples Archive says: Raoul Coutard's life story is a welcome addition to our Film section and filming one of the most influential and emblematic French cinematographers was a wonderful opportunity. Not only does he give us the chance to better understand the world of cinematography but he also enables us to delve into the mind of a great achiever. Raoul Coutard's influence on Cinema and cinematography is undeniable and he remains one of the key figures of the New Wave. We are delighted to have the opportunity to share and preserve his incredible life story.

Raoul Coutard’s life story is available to view for free on the Peoples Archive website and will also be available to buy on DVD-ROM in the coming year. Downloads for iPods and other mobile devices will soon be offered on the site as well as through the Google Video Store. Peoples Archive currently contains 32 life stories, totalling over 200 hours of video, divided into 4501 segments. The Archive is grouped into five sections: Science, Film, Literature, Masters and Medicine, with two new sections, Art and Activists, being introduced in the coming months. Future plans include filming with the filmmakers Sydney Pollack and James Ivory, the architect Sir Norman Foster and the spy writer John Le Carré.


Online viewing: Rio Cine Festival

The organisers of the Rio de Janeiro film festival have teamed up with the popular Porta Curta streaming site to show 17 of the competing films from the festival's Première Brasil section. You can also vote for your favourites.

Fest Rio +


San Sebastian film festival: clips

Google Video already has a selection of clips with footage of the goings-on at the San Sebastian film festival. Speaking of which, Kamera's newswire received information from one of its PR friends that Tom DiCillo's new film, Delirious, is being screened at the Spanish festival. 'Delirious' sees DiCillo reunite with Steve Buscemi. While I haven't seen the film to vouch for it, the storyline sounds like DiCillo classic. Here's a description:

"Small time paparazzo Les (Steve Buscemi) has a big mouth and big dreams, but try as he might, he can’t quite talk himself into the right parties to get that one great exclusive photo. He meets Toby (Michael Pitt), a homeless kid who is drawn to the bright lights of New York City and “hires” him as his assistant.

But the two are drawn to each other and become friends. Although Toby enjoys the glamour and excitement of Les’ lifestyle he still retains a compelling innocence and naiveté that draws Les to him. Toby also has vague dreams of his own; to become an actor.

Luck intervenes for Toby when he accidentally meets K’Harma Leeds (Alison Lohman), a beautiful pop diva. As their unlikely love blossoms Toby finds himself torn between a chance to follow his dreams of becoming an actor and to fulfill his obligation to Les. When Toby leaves Les for a part on a Reality Show, partly by sleeping with the show’s casting director Dana (Gina Gershon), their blossoming friendship immediately falls apart.

As Toby’s fortunes continue to rise, Les tries to reach out, while also maintaining a bitter resentment toward his former protégé…"

Festival site

Google video

Agnès Varda's video installation

A tip for those passing through Paris until 08 October: the doyenne of the Novelle Vague (and the movement's only significant female presence behind the camera), Agnès Varda, has prepared a series of video installations called L'Ile et Elle as a result of a commission from the Fondation Cartier.

Update: Agnès Varda will be in London on 28/10 for a talk at the Cine Lumiere, where she will be presenting Cinévardaphoto. The programme includes three films chosen by director Varda, all dealing with photos and together forming a meditation on what photography and the artistic impulse mean to her. Ydessa, the Bears, and etc... is about an artist/curator who is obssessed with collecting pictures of people with teddy bears from the early years of the 20th century. Ulysse is an examination from 1982 of a photo Varda took in 1954. Salut les Cubains, the earliest of the three films, looks at the Cuban revolution via a photo exhibition mounted some 10 years after the event.

Further info +


London Film Festival

When the London Film Festival announced its programme a few days ago, I went straight to the experimental section to see what was on offer. I was pleasantly surprised to see two films on two American underground luminaries: Anger Me, about Kenneth Anger and Jack Smith and The Destruction of Atlantis about Jack Smith, both curated by the ever reliable Mark Webber.

Anger was a legendary pioneer of independent filmmaking who used to hang out with the Stones, made the homoerotic Scorpio Rising (1964) and wrote the infamous book Hollywood Babylon. Smith, on the other hand, worked in the pre-Warhol New York art scene and was heavily influenced by kitsch 1940s star Maria Montez, blending film with experimental theatre, fashion and photography. His most famous film, Flaming Creatures, is "an epic fantasy, featuring blonde vampires and bohemians cavorting amid a tangle of naked bodies". A baroque genius.

Excerpt from Anger's Lucifer Rising (1972)

Jack Smith's short Scotch Tape (1963)

Festival site


Filmosophy and Harmony Korine

Wallflower, the London-based publisher specialised in film theory, has rung in to tell us about an event connected to one of their upcoming titles, and soon to be reviewed on Kamera, Filmosophy, by Daniel Frampton, filmmaker and theorist, founding editor of the online salon Film Philosophy. The event will take place on Sunday 15 October 12noon and will include a screening of Julien Donkey-Boy, followed by a conversation between director Harmony Korine and Frampton. Very likely to sell fast, so book your ticket now on 020 7837 8402 (Renoir in London's Bloomsbury).


David Thomson's Suspects

In anticipation to the No Exit Press re-release of David Thomnson's fabulous book Suspects, in which the narrator writes short biographies of classic film noir characters and then these characters start to meet each other outside the films as if they were real people with real needs and passions, here are some Noir classics culled You Tube, the universe's converging point for all things that move. Kamera will be running an interview with Thomson soon, so watch this space.

Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard

Edward Robinson in Scarlet Street

Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity

Okay, this is not footage from a film but Joan Crawford was the star of one of the greatest Noir films ever, Mildred Pearce (1945), which is not to found on YT. However, I did find this bizarre interview with a tipsy Crawford arriving at an aiport in America in 1968.


Orson Welles' wine commercial

Orson Welles remains one of my all-time favourite film personalities and this video showing what Gawker described as a "long-debauched Orson Welles drunkenly slurring his way through a few takes on the Paul Masson wine commercials from the 1970s" brings Welles even closer to my heart. Salud!

Touching Politics

The Goethe-Institut London will be presenting between Wednesday 20 September and Tuesday 26 September a series of films selected from the archives of the Freunde der Deutschen Kinemathek, Berlin, under the banner Touching Politics. The mini season is curated by film practitioner Florian Wüst.

Set against the backdrop of outstanding moments in 20th century history, the four programmes combine avant-garde classics, and rarely screened documentary and experimental films by filmmakers such as Kenneth Anger, Bruce Baillie, Hollis Frampton, Joris Ivens, Sharon Lockhart, Hans Richter, or Joyce Wieland. Made between 1926 and 1994, the twenty-two films of these programmes present an "exemplary synthesis of artistic vision and political engagement, of autobiographical approaches and social contexts, of sensuousness and conceptual rigour". Florian Wüst will introduce the first two screenings.

The Freunde der Deutschen Kinemathek in Berlin is one of Germany’s most important film institutions. It maintains an archive and runs a distribution branch that share an extensive international collection of historical and contemporary feature, documentary and experimental films characterised by their formal experimentation as well as their engagement with social and political issues.

Goethe-Institut London


Milano Film Festival

After Venice, it's time for the Milano Film Festival, which starts on Friday 15 September. According to the organisers, the event's aim is "to promote and give young and less known directors a chance to emerge". The films are screened without being divided into categories. They will all be screened in original language with Italian and English subtitles, and their directors are invited to present their works to the festival audience.

Full programme +

Venice 2006 winners

The Golden Lion went to Sanxia Haoren (Still Life) by Jia Zhang-Ke, the Silver Lion for Best Director went to Alain Resnais for the film Private Fears in Public Places and Ben Affleck got the Coppa Volpi award for Best Male Actor for his role in Hollywoodland. Check out the rest of the winners of the Venice festival here +


Destricted: not a turn-on

Ever the film anthropologist, yesterday I tried to see the art/porn flick Destricted, currently showing in London. A group of short films directed by Marina Abramović, Marco Brambilla, Matthew Barney, Larry Clark, Gaspar Noe, Richard Prince and Sam Taylor-Wood, Destricted was curated by New York-based arts man Neville Wakefield. Sadly, the screening was sold out, which seems to indicate that sex continues to sell, despite the current media saturation of sexual imagery that is enough to make the idea of a chastity vow seem like a viable protest option.

I will try again tomorrow because I'm very curious to see what the artists/filmmakers have come up with (I haven't taken the vow yet, you see). I personally think the one name involved in the project that makes absolute sense is Larry Clark's because blurring the line between art and pornography is his leitmotif - but where is Bruce LaBruce? And why Sam Taylor Wood? While I can't give you my personal verdict on Destricted, here's a round-up of reviews around the web.

Film Threat claimed that "as a sociological statement on human sexuality, it’s practically worthless". Future Movies didn't like it either and said: "Whatever most of the filmmakers here were trying to achieve, it sheds no light on porn, simply reproducing it at its most trite, stale and unimaginative." Deep Focus's review was a bit more lubed. It said, "Destricted is as hit-and-miss as you'd expect of a collection of art-porn shorts." I also found an interview with Larry Clark on Nerve magazine about his contribution to the project and I particularly liked his correction of the information previously given to the interviewer that all collaborators had had talks with Neville about what they would do. Said Clark, "My deal was, they gave me the money, I made the film, they didn't know what I was doing until I sent them a rough cut of the film." Clark, it must be said, is blessed with a delightful penchant for straight talking and incapability to use art world lingo, an aspect of his rebel personality that I experienced first-hand when I saw him at the ICA last year.


Venice's blonde ambition

Maybe I'm imagining things, but this year's edition of the Venice Film Festival seems like a blond fest, or at least that's what it appeared to me when I was checking the photos that arrived at Kamera's picture desk. Why, even Juliete Binoche, who's been a patron saint of brunette film stars since she became a brunette film star in the 1980s, has shown up at the sinking city doing an impersonation of Nastassja Kinski in Paris Texas. Maybe they all got inspired by the golden mane of the lion or something...
(pictured: Juliette Binoche, Scarlett Johansson, Guillermo Del Toro, Douglas McGrath, Catherine Deneuve, and Aaron Eckhart)


Venice Film Festival

Our man in Europe, film journalist Boyd van Hoeij, who runs the superb European-films.net site, gives us the lowdown on the sometimes not so dolce vitta behind the scenes at the oldest and, according to Boyd, worst organised film festival in the world.

Read more +