Forest of Pressure: Ogawa Shinsuke and Postwar Japanese Documentary by Abé Mark Nornes

By examining the evolution of postwar Japanese documentaries – and in particular, the singular output of the Ogawa Pro film collective under the leadership of the charismatic, if autocratic and impractical filmmaker Ogawa Shinsuke – Abé Mark Nornes’s book, Forest of Pressure: Ogawa Shinsuke and Postwar Japanese Documentary aligns closer to a socio-ethnographic study of… read more »

The Master of Apipucos, 1959

Originally conceived as an installment in a two-panel portrait of prominent Brazilian intellectuals (and family friends), Joaquim Pedro de Andrade’s The Master of Apipucos captures a day in the life of author and sociologist, Gilberto Freire whose highly influential book, The Masters and the Slaves examined the unique essence of Brazilian identity through the framework… read more »

Garrincha, Joy of the People, 1962

Something like a kindred spirit to Hiroshi Teshigahara’s José Torres in its mundane observations of the dedicated craft and everyday rituals of a champion sportsman, Garrincha, Joy of the People is an affectionately rendered and thoughtful, if somewhat idealized portrait of Manoel Francisco dos Santos, affectionately called “Garrincha”, the Brazilian football star considered to be… read more »

A Poet of the Castle, 1951

A companion piece to Joaquim Pedro de Andrade’s short film, The Master of Apipucos, The Poet of the Castle is a reverent portrait of beloved Brazilian modernist poet – and de Andrade’s godfather – Manuel Bandeira. Plagued by delicate health throughout his lifetime stemming from a childhood bout of tuberculosis, Bandeira’s daily ritual intrinsically reflects… read more »

About Baghdad, 2004

In an episode near the conclusion of the film, the expatriate poet and writer Sinan Antoon, having been allowed entry into the military secured Shaheed Monument – an architecturally impressive outdoor memorial commissioned by Saddam Hussein to honor the fallen Iraqi martyrs of the Iran-Iraq War (in a macabre, self-aggrandizing gesture to commemorate the 700,000… read more »

Sweetgrass, 2009

During the Q&A for Sweetgrass, Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor indicated that they had spent three years filming sheepherding through the Beartooth Mountains on what had initially been conceived as a family activity for the summer because of a desire to capture the last time that a pair of ranchers – hailing from the one… read more »

Wall, 2004

Favorably recalling the rigorous imagery, desolation, and despiritualized landscapes of Chantal Akerman (most notably, in the opening sequences of the U.S.-Mexican border wall and off-camera interviews of From the Other Side), Wall is an evocatively shot, visually understated, and meditatively paced exposition on the social, political, economic, and psychological repercussions of the Israeli government’s long-term… read more »

Septiembres, 2007

At the end of an earlier Festival of Song contest, inmate and reigning singing champion, Norma García, a Mexican national serving a ten year sentence for unwittingly carrying contraband for a friend during a holiday trip to Spain, returns to her narrow cell after briefly basking in the limelight before a captive audience and bids… read more »

Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie?, 2001

Nearly twenty years after Harun Farocki paid homage to the profound influence of Straub/Huillet’s cinema by filming their exhaustive rehearsal process during preparations for the shooting of their film Class Relations for the documentary Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet at Work…, Pedro Costa captures their equally exacting process of editing their feature film, Sicilia! in… read more »

The Back of the World, 2000

Composed of three self-encapsulated, cross-cultural, slice-of-life, quotidian portraits that are intrinsically connected by the pervasive sentiment of marginalization – economic, political, ethnic, racial – Javier Corcuera’s The Back of the World is an understatedly observed, indelible, and provocative examination of the inextricable social cycle of poverty, exploitation, disenfranchisement, and disposability. The first chapter, entitled The… read more »