Filtering by: CWC 2016-17

NOCTURAMA (2016)
Mar
27
7:00 PM19:00

NOCTURAMA (2016)

NOCTURAMA | Dir. Bertrand Bonello | 2016 | 130 min | PG-14
Presented in French with English subtitles

Nocturama is a bold work that speaks to our contemporary times with its razor sharp depiction of a group’s attack against their own society and culture. The film is divided into two distinct parts which depict the planning, execution and aftermath of a series of attacks around Paris.

In the first part, a multiracial group of young Parisians goes about executing a wave of attacks around various Paris locations with a precisely synchronized plan. The second part shows the aftermath of those attacks as the group seeks refuge in a multi-level department store while Paris is thrown into chaos outside the department store. Packed with plenty of tension, Nocturama manages to strip away any ideologies about the group’s motives but instead uses their attack as an abstract study about contemporary consumerist society that is driven by money, fear and endless wars. As a result, Nocturama is one of the most relevant films to have been made in recent years!

Awards
2016 INDIEWIRE CRITICS' POLL - 2nd PLACE (Best Undistributed Film) 
2016 LISBON & ESTORIL FILM FESTIVAL - NOMINATION (Jaeger/LeCoultre Best Film Award)
2016 MAR DEL PLATA FILM FESTIVAL - WINNER (Special Mention, Cinematography | Léo Hinstin), NOMINATION (Best Film, International Competition | Bertrand Bonello) 
2016 - PRIX LOUIS DELUC - NOMINATION (Best Film | Bertrand Bonello)
2016 - SAN SEBASTIAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL - WINNER (SIGNIS Award | Bertrand Bonello), NOMINATION (Golden Seashell, Best Film | Bertrand Bonello)
2016 TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL - NOMINATION (Platform Prize | Bertrand Bonello)
2016 - VILLAGE VOICE FILM POLL - WINNER (VVFP Award, Best Undistributed Film)
2017 - LUMIERE AWARDS, FRANCE - NOMINATION (Best Film | Bertrand Bonello, Best Director | Bertrand Bonello, Best Cinematography | Léo Hinstin)
2017 - ONLINE FILM CRITICS SOCIETY AWARDS - WINNER (OFCS Award, Best Non-U.S. Release)

Nocturama is the fourth title in our CONTEMPORARY WORLD CINEMA series. One-time opportunities to find rising masters and see critically acclaimed, under-exposed world cinema.

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THE ORNITHOLOGIST (2016)
Mar
23
7:00 PM19:00

THE ORNITHOLOGIST (2016)

THE ORNITHOLOGIST | Dir. João Pedro Rodrigues | 2016 | 117 min | PG
Presented in Portuguese, Mandarin, and Latin with English subtitles

Portuguese director João Pedro Rodrigues’ The Ornithologist is a majestic and mesmerizing film that transcends genres and constantly transforms itself. The film starts by following Fernando (played by Paul Hamy), an ornithologist, who goes off to a remote northern part of Portugal to study birds, both by foot and kayak. He is so focused on studying the birds that he almost drowns in the river. Fernando is rescued by two female pilgrims who are lost and far away from their intended path towards Santiago de Compostela. The rescue, followed by an unexpected series of events, diverts Fernando deeper into the forest to a place where myth, fables, and religious symbols all live side-by-side.

Shot in glorious widescreen by Rui Poças, The Ornithologist is an adventure film that skillfully layers the story of St. Anthony with thematic elements of science, religion, nature and philosophy and garnishes everything with the essence of Anthony Mann’s Westerns. The end result is a creative cinematic ride that is inventive, delightful, and completely unpredictable! 

Awards
2016 CHERIES-CHERIES - WINNER (Grand Prize Chéries-Chéris, Feature Film | João Pedro Rodrigues, Prix du Public | João Pedro Rodrigues)
2016 HAMBURG FILM FESTIVAL - NOMINATION (Critics Award | João Pedro Rodrigues)
2016 LOCARNO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL - WINNER (Best Director, Main Competition | João Pedro Rodrigues), NOMINATION (Golden Leopard, Best Film | João Pedro Rodrigues)
2016 GHENT INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL - NOMINATION (Grand Prix | Best Film)
2016 DENVER INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL - WINNER (Krzysztof Kieslowski Award, Special Honorable Mention | João Pedro Rodrigues "For its striking visuals, daring symbolism and unique approach we'd like to give a special mention to Joao Pedro Rodrigues' The Ornithologist."), NOMINATION (Krzysztof Kieslowski Award, Best Film | João Pedro Rodrigues)
2016 SAN SEBASTIAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL - NOMINATION (Zabaltegi Section, Competition | João Pedro Rodrigues)
2017 CINEUPHORIA AWARDS - NOMINATION (Best Film - National Competition | João Pedro Rodrigues, João Figueiras, Diogo Varela Silva, Best Director - National Competition | João Pedro Rodrigues, Best Actor - National Competition | Paul Hamy, Best Supporting Actor - National Competition | Xelo Cagiao, Best Screenplay - National Competition | João Pedro Rodrigues, Best Cinematography - National Competition | Rui Poças, Best Costume Design - National Competition | Patrícia Dória) 

THE ORNITHOLOGIST is the final selection in our CONTEMPORARY WORLD CINEMA series. One-time opportunities to find rising masters and see critically acclaimed, under-exposed world cinema.

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A special tribute to master director Abbas Kiarostami
Mar
9
7:00 PM19:00

A special tribute to master director Abbas Kiarostami

TAKE ME HOME | Dir. Abbas Kiarostami | 2016 | 16 min paired with
76 MINUTES AND 15 SECONDS WITH ABBAS KIAROSTAMI | Dir. Seifollah Samadian | 2016 | 76 min

Cinema lost one of its greatest voices in 2016 when master director Abbas Kiarostami suddenly passed away. In a special tribute to his legacy, the Calgary Cinematheque is showing the beautiful short film Take Me Home, the last work that Kiarostami completed. Following the short film is the lovely documentary 76 Minutes and 15 Seconds with Abbas Kiarostami directed by Kiarostami’s long time collaborator, Seifollah Samadian, who worked as a cinematographer with Kiarostami for over 25 years. The documentary, which includes excerpts from various films and projects that Kiarostami worked on, brings new insight into how Kiarostami went about realizing his vision and created some of the most beautiful films ever made. The title refers to the film’s length of 76 minutes and 15 seconds but is also a reference to the age of Kiarostami when he passed away at the age of 76 years and 15 days. Both Take Me Home and the documentary highlight the artistic genius of Abbas Kiarostami and will allow film fans to view/revisit his works with a new understanding of his style.

Our tribute to Abbas Kiarostami is the sixth evening in our CONTEMPORARY WORLD CINEMA series. One-time opportunities to find rising masters and see critically acclaimed, under-exposed world cinema.

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THE HUMAN SURGE (2016)
Feb
9
7:00 PM19:00

THE HUMAN SURGE (2016)

THE HUMAN SURGE | Dir. Eduardo Williams | 2016 | 100 min
Presented in Spanish, Portuguese, and Cuebano with English subtitles.

Eduardo Williams’ stunning debut feature takes us on a remarkable journey around the globe, spanning three continents. The Human Surge is structured in three parts starting off in Argentina (Buenos Aires) before moving to Mozambique (Maputo) and finishing its whirlwind global tour in the Philippine province of Bohol. In each of its three segments, the film depicts young people who are either trying to make ends meet by taking on different jobs or those who are in between jobs. Technology plays a key part in these different jobs and that also nicely ties in with the film's theme of exploring the impact of the internet and computers in our modern world. The film depicts an entire global cycle of jobs from manufacturing of computer parts all the way to how people use computers and the internet to earn money.

The internet and its wired/wireless network allows people to easily communicate around the world, thereby shrinking our planet. Williams has smartly used this network connectivity and shrinking of the world to depict jaw-dropping original cinematic transitions between the three parts. He has even managed to plug nature and its picturesque landscapes into our wired world. The end result is a film that is never short on movement, as it follows its characters through a network of paths, ranging from almost invisible paths to rugged larger-than-life trails.

Each path and subsequent journey is crafted with its own unique visual technique. The Argentine segment is filmed using 16 mm, while the images in Mozambique are filmed with an inventive mix of a Blackmagic pocket camera and 16mm, and a RED camera captures the tiniest details of the lovely Philippine environment. As a result, each segment has its own distinguishing colour palette and texture which matches the rhythm of the story. In keeping pace with its characters and the story, the camera is never static but hovers and wanders around its characters. In some sequences, the camera is freed from the confines of space and time thereby achieving movements that defy belief.

The end result is a film that takes us on a breathtaking journey of our non-stop, constantly shifting world. Winner of the Golden Leopard award in the Filmmakers of the present category at the Locarno Film Festival, The Human Surge signals the arrival of a talented new director.

Awards
2016 LOCARNO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL - WINNER (Best First Feature - Special Mention | Eduardo Williams, Golden Leopard - Filmmakers of the Present: Golden Leopard | Eduardo Williams)
2016 MAR DEL PLATA FILM FESTIVAL - NOMINATION (Best Latin-American Film, Latin-American Competition | Eduardo Williams)

The Human Surge is the fifth title in our CONTEMPORARY WORLD CINEMA series. One-time opportunities to find rising masters and see critically acclaimed, under-exposed world cinema.

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AFTER THE STORM (2016)
Jan
12
7:00 PM19:00

AFTER THE STORM (2016)

After the Storm is the latest film from Japanese master Hirokazu Kore-eda. In all his films, Kore-eda always manages to depict the tensions and relationships within a family with plenty of beauty, intelligence and genuine emotions. After the Storm continues this mature exploration of family dynamics and depicts how individual family members cope after a divorce.

In After the Storm, Ryota (Hiroshi Abe) is a prize winning novelist who is down on his luck. He hasn’t finished his second book and has to work as a private detective to pay his bills. He is divorced from his wife but is determined to find a way to be relevant in his son’s life again. Yet, he can barely pay for child support and loses any money he earns on gambling. Set in the outskirts of Tokyo, After the Storm uses a smart mix of humour and honesty to depict the unexpected paths people find themselves in.

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KAILI BLUES (2015)
Nov
10
7:00 PM19:00

KAILI BLUES (2015)

A doctor travels to his hometown to rescue his nephew, in the process confronting his traumatic past, in Chinese director Bi Gan’s aesthetically remarkable debut.

Time plays in an endless loop in “Kaili Blues,” forcing audiences to constantly revisit, and reassess, the past. For a rural Chinese doctor, facing bygone traumas is both a literal and figurative, fugue-enshrouded act, and one that’s recounted by debut writer-director Bi Gan with trance-like grace, as his film segues seamlessly between reality and memory. An entrancing off-kilter trip through both internal and exterior landscapes where the old is being torn down in favor of the new, this import heralds an assured new cinematic voice, even if its oblique nature portends meager domestic theatrical prospects.

In the rundown province of Kaili, physician Chen Sheng (Chen Yongzhong) tends to patients with the aid of an elderly assistant (Zhao Daqing) with whom he discusses meaningful dreams involving deceased mothers’ shoes floating through the water, and long-lost lovers returning for visits. Amidst these trips down memory lane, Chen also contends with his ne’er-do-well half-brother Crazy Face (Xie Lixun), whose neglect of his young son Weiwei (Luo Feiyang) infuriates Chen for reasons at once obvious and mysterious. Their feud peaks when Chen learns that Crazy Face — more interested in playing cards and shooting pool with friends than caring for his progeny — has dumped Weiwei with Monk (Yang Zuohua), an elderly man who hails from Chen’s hometown of Zhenyuan.

This opening narrative material is elliptically edited, with the action flowing freely between points of interest whose connections are only subtly implied. In snippets of dialogue spread across various scenes, “Kaili Blues” gradually hints at details about Chen, from his prior prison stint, to his potential connection to Monk (a former gangster acquaintance with a tragedy-fostered fixation on watches), to his abandonment at the hands of his mother as a child. In doing so, it takes on the quality of a waking dream, one in which relationships and emotions are suggested — often via narrated readings of Chen’s mournful poetry — rather than overtly stated.

Determined to reclaim Weiwei, Chen embarks on a journey to Zhenyuan, and once there, “Kaili Blues” itself sets out on a 41-minute handheld single take that charts the protagonist’s path in and around the town of Dangmai. In this muddy locale, where new construction projects are taking place alongside dilapidated old structures — a development that echoes the impending demolition of Chen’s archaic Kaili house — the doctor hitches a ride on teenager’s (Yu Shixue) unreliable motorbike, travels for a brief time in a flatbed truck with a pop band (with whom he’ll later perform), has his shirt mended by a beautiful seamstress named Yangyang (Guo Yue) who plans to return to Kaili as a tour guide (and is being pursued by Yu’s biker), and gets his hair washed by a beautician (Liu Linyang).

During this tour-de-force sequence, Bi’s camera takes turns following not only Chen but the other men and women he encounters, in the process elucidating their strained relations, their yearning to escape their present environment and their possible connection to Chen — whose own backstory eventually emerges through an oblique tale he recounts about a former “friend.” Wang Tianxing and Liang Kai’s handheld cinematography often calls direct attention to itself, bobbing and jostling about as they mount or disembark from (their own unseen) vehicles, and dipping and swaying as they track their subjects through muddy streets and down narrow staircases. Yet such self-conscious messiness is married to masterful choreography, and lends the proceedings a precarious uneasiness that’s in tune with Chen’s predicament.

Throughout, Bi repeatedly indulges in circular imagery, including timepieces (both real and drawn on walls), buttons and 360-degree camera pans around downtrodden Kaili locales. Those sights speak to Chen’s recurring confrontation of inescapable old wounds (and attempts to not have Weiwei suffer the same fate he once did), just as moving trains function as counterbalancing symbols of time’s inexorable forward march. Led by performances imbued with barely concealed sorrow, regret and longing to come to terms with that which has been lost, “Kaili Blues” affords a view of people, and a nation, caught in between a haunting yesterday and — as implied by the film’s conclusion — a hopeful tomorrow.

Nick Schager, Variety

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VIOLENT (2014)
Oct
13
7:00 PM19:00

VIOLENT (2014)

Calgary Cinematheque is pleased to partner with Media Darling to present the long-awaited Calgary premiere of VIOLENT (2014) at the Knox United Church, Thursday October 13th. For advance tickets, please click HERE.

IndieWire says:

On the surface, there’s no real reason why “Violent,” the debut feature film from Canadian director Andrew Huculiak, should be set so specifically in Norway, and be led by a Norwegian actress whose dialogue and voiced-over thoughts are also in Norwegian. But as the film draws you in, or rather quietly casts its heady spell of sound and atmosphere around you, that eccentric choice begins to make a compelling kind of sense. Not only does Huculiak’s outsider’s eye give rise to some extraordinary cinematography (via DP, editor and co-writer Joseph Schweers), of Norway’s countryside, towns and cities, but thematically too it feels like, standing at this deliberate remove, the filmmakers can more easily shift between subjective, intimate moments and the broader, ontological themes they illustrate. Not only that, but as non-Norwegian speakers ourselves, the voiceover segments take on a sort of musical quality: while we read the subtitles to understand the meaning of what’s being said, the sounds of speech become part of the film’s plangent, evocative sonic landscape. All of which is to say that, after taking a little while to reach us, “Violent” evolved into a small triumph of clear-eyed, full-hearted, poetic curiosity and perspective and is probably our personal find of the festival.

The film is subdivided into five sections, each in chronological turn telling the story of a short period in the life of our young main character, Dagny (an endearing performance from Dagny Backer Johnsen, who resembles a Norwegian Olsen sister). The story segments are separated by interstitial moments of surreal imagery and dreamlike abstraction—houses floating in the air, people hovering above the streets, macro closeups of rain falling, cut with vaguely apocalyptic shots of furniture tumbling weightless around rooms in extreme slo-mo. And over these striking images, Dagny’s voice repeats what comes to be a mantra, that we don’t really understand until the film’s closing moments: “It feels like water. It feels like electricity. It sounds like the humming of a fridge…”

The music video, Arcade Fire-y vibe of these short intertitles is understandable—Huculiak is better known as the drummer for Canadian band We Are The City, has worked on the his own music videos before and seems to be part of a kind of collective of polyglot talents: aside from Schweers pulling unusual triple duty writing, editing and lensing, Huculiak’s other co-writers are fellow band member Cayne McKenzie and Andrew’s brother Josh Huculiak, whose other film credit is as cinematographer on this year’s “A Brony Tale to which Schweers and Andrew Huculiak also contribute. The close-knit nature of these collaborators is perhaps one reason that they’ve managed to do so much with such limited resources—filmed in just thirteen days, “Violent” was wholly independently funded and had an on set crew of no more than five people. And of course, We Are The City provide the impressive soundtrack (the band’s most recent album is also titled Violent), which is a great asset to the film’s moody atmospherics—all distorted loops, degrading reverb and crescendoing wordless humming, which lends the small, focused film an occasionally epic edge.

We probably shouldn’t dwell too much on the film’s abstract interludes, however, as while they’re impressively achieved and very well shot, they are not the major discovery of the movie. In fact early on we found the self-consciously enigmatic mood evoked therein a little frustrating, and even a little too familiar in its music promo montage format. No, the real surprise here is the story segments themselves: each titled with the name of a person in Dagny’s life, they are warm and human and well observed, and while the aesthetics remain impeccable, we get a real sense of Dagny’s life, interior and exterior, from these glimpses. In fact, the film works just as well as a portrait of a very specific time in a young person’s life as they leave their home town and take their first, faltering steps into adult independence.

Particularly of note is the middle section, titled “Bengt” after the family friend for whom Dagny goes to work in Bergen. Bengt himself is a brilliantly well-drawn character (played with great sympathy by newcomer Tor Halvor Halvorsen), a lonely hardware shop owner whose palpable desire for Dagny starts as comedy, turns toward tragedy and ends up somewhere darker, making this segment the most self-contained and dramatic of the five. But the other stories are strong in different ways (apart maybe from the first which feels the weakest) and feature Dagny’s relationship with everyone from her best friend Embla, to new crush Andrew, to her kind Grandfather, who provides the film’s gentle but oddly satisfying revelation at the end. In fact, in its meticulous framing (unusual to see hand-held camerawork that has such respect for composition), lyrical, but dark-edged tone and precise, shimmery score, the film reminded us a little of a less cerebral, non-sci-fi “Upstream Color,” which if you know us at all you’ll know is high praise.  

It’s not spoiling anything to say that “Violent” is actually a series of goodbye—each segment ends with Dagny bidding another character farewell. And almost without us noticing the cumulative weight of all of these moments had built by the end to something unexpectedly moving. It’s slow to start and only gradually shucks off that rather archly self-serious art-experiment vibe, but when “Violent” hits its drummer’s-rhythm stride it becomes more than the sum of its parts, beautiful as they are: it becomes a sincere expression of a generous curiosity about some of life’s bigger questions, and an attempt to find, in the act of leave-taking, some wisdom and a kind of grace.

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