Focus: World Musicals
With the introduction of sound to the cinematographic lexicon, the Hollywood musical very quickly became one of the preeminent public entertainments of the 1930s. Even now, when one thinks of musicals, one may well be inclined to envision the lavish spectacles of Hollywood or Bollywood. There is a general tendency to overlook the variations on the form, often uniquely characteristic of their national or cultural spheres, that continue to emerge from around the globe. Calgary Cinematheque is pleased to have the opportunity this season to expose audiences to musicals from Hong Kong, Egypt, Iran, Japan, and Indonesia. Musicals are by nature popular entertainment, public art, spectacles meant to be enjoyed by amassed spectators representing a collective body. They are inherently celebratory and communal. Musicals from around the world viewed (and heard) in public space ideally expand our concept and experience of community. Think of these films as locally-global phenomena; experiences grounded in kinship and exultation.
Office is Hong Kong director Johnnie To’s gorgeously art-directed and wholly intoxicating star-studded widescreen musical set before, during, and after the 2008 global financial crisis.
Legendary Egyptian director Youssef Chahine’s Destiny is an opulent, large-scale musical spectacle revolving around 12th century Arab Andalusian philosopher Averröes.
The Happiness of the Katakuris is Japanese provocateur Takashi Miike’s deliciously bizarre song-and-dance remake of the darkly comic Korean film The Quiet Family, telling the story of a family of innkeepers whose guests keep dying and need to be disposed of.
A giddy work of dissident art, No One Knows About Persian Cats follows two recently imprisoned musicians speeding around Tehran on the back of a motorbike, attempting to secure travel documents for a gig in London.
Almost certainly completely unlike anything you have ever seen, Opera Jawa is a strange and alluring musical grown from the rich soil of Javanese culture and tradition, telling a story inspired by the Ramayana.