Documentary

Deadline, 2003

Another highlight in what has proven to be an especially strong line-up for domestic-related human rights issues, Deadline follows the last weeks of outgoing Illinois governor George Ryan, a conservative Republican who had been closely following the cases uncovered by Northwestern University journalism students whose term project had led to the exoneration of 13 death… read more »

Romances de terre et d’eau, 2002

A reverent, humbling, and impassioned observation of life among the landless, peasant farmers of the semi-arid Carriri region of Ceará in northeastern Brazil, Jean-Pierre Duret and Andrea Santana’s poetic ethnographic documentary Romances de terre et d’eau bears the deep humanism and trenchant, sociopolitical commitment of its venerable producers, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. Insightfully filmed near… read more »

State of Weightlessness, 1994

Filmed after the dismantling of the Soviet Union at a time when the U.S. space station project (then called Freedom) that had been championed by Ronald Reagan was similarly facing its own crisis of survival after a series of deep budget cuts (partly in response to shifting political considerations and administrations), Maciej Drygas’s The State… read more »

Hear My Cry, 1991

Filmed during the breakup of the Soviet Union, Hear My Cry captures the essence of Maciej Drygas’s articulate and insightful film essays on the rupture between official record and human history, the impossibility of absolute truth, and the malleable nature of collective memory. The theme of revisionist history is prefigured in the film’s opening shot,… read more »

La Peine perdue de Jean Eustache, 1997

Angel Díez’s reverent and elegiac rumination on the iconoclastic, deeply personal cinema of Jean Eustache, La Peine perdue de Jean Eustache (The Lost Sorrows of Jean Eustache) hews closer to essay film than straightforward documentary, a muted, brooding tone piece where loss, grief, and mourning are reflected in the images of empty spaces, fragmented figures,… read more »

La Vie moderne, 2009

In an episode in Richard Copans’s autobiographical essay, Racines, an elderly man provides Copans with a tour of his grandparents’ house in Picardy, explaining that, like the expression “to put under glass” something that is cherished, he was inspired to convert the modest, turn of the (nineteenth) century home into a museum as a means… read more »

Seventeen, 1983

One of the highlights from Film Comment Selects this year was the screening of Joel DeMott and Jeff Kreines’s underseen cinéma vérité film, Seventeen, a reverent and candid cross-cultural portrait of working class high school students from Muncie, Indiana that was once deemed objectionable for broadcast on PBS (the film had been commissioned as part… read more »

The Boys of Baraka, 2005

On a typical summer night in inner city Baltimore, a children’s game of cops and robbers shootout plays against the morbid backdrop – undoubtedly in familiar imitation – of a real-life police arrest of a teenager on a neighborhood street. A single statistic posted on black screen provides a sobering context to the children’s “art… read more »

Hieronymous Bosch’s Garden of Delights, 1980

Filmed by Jean Eustache for the television program, Les Enthousiastes, Hieronymous Bosch’s Garden of Delights presents a series of unstructured observations, free associations, and interpretations on the third panel of Bosch’s well-known oil on wood triptych by Eustache’s friend, Jean Frapat before a small captive audience. From the onset, Eustache creates a wry and playful… read more »

Numéro Zéro, 1971/2003

Composed as an uninterrupted conversation with Jean Eustache’s sprightly, talkative, nearly blind, septuagenarian maternal grandmother, Odette Robert, Numéro Zéro prefigures the studies in narrative construction of Une Sale histoire in its illustration of performance and interpenetrating film reality. Inspired by their conversation during an afternoon stroll, the film reflects Eustache’s assumed role as archivist, creating… read more »

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