Film festivals are essential in the process of increasing diversity in the range of films released globally. We like to support as many of these festivals as possible and the 20th Annual ‘Films From the South’ Festival is currently running in Oslo until October 17. A highlight of the festival is a programme of screenings of all the 12 films restored by the World Cinema Foundation. On October 10 there is a gala screening of one of the restored films, Mário Peixoto’s Limite (Brazil 1931), with new music from the Norwegian composer/musician, Bugge Wesseltoft. This prestigious event will be held at the home of Norwegian National Opera and Ballet. (Details of the event here.)
Limite was first announced as a conservation project at Cannes in 2007. The Mário Peixote website offers background and links to a dossier produced for the Cannes event and an essay on the film and its importance for contemporary Brazilian film.
“The World Cinema Foundation (WCF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and restoring neglected films from around the world – in particular, those countries lacking the financial and technical ability to do so.
Established by Martin Scorsese, the Foundation supports and encourages preservation efforts to save the worldwide patrimony of films, ensuring that they are preserved, seen and shared. Its goal is to defend the body and spirit of cinema in the belief that preserving works of the past can encourage future generations to treat film as a universal form of expression.” (from the WCF Mission Statement)
Since 2007, the WCF has restored the following films (some of which have been reviewed on this blog):
Redes (Mexico/1936) by Fred Zinnemann, Emilio Gómez Muriel
Revenge (Mest, USSR/Kazakhstan 1989) by Ermek Shinarbaev
Two Girls on the Street (Két lány az utcán, Hungary/1939) by André De Toth
A River Called Titas (Titas Ekti Nadir Naam, India-Bangladesh/1973) by Ritwik Ghatak
The Eloquent Peasant (Shakavi el Flash el Fasi, Egypt/1969) by Shadi Abdel Salam
A Brighter Summer Day (Taiwan/1991) by Edward Yang
The Night of Counting the Years (Al Momia, Egypt/1969) by Shadi Abdel Salam
Dry Summer (Susuz yaz, Turkey/1964) by Metin Erksan
Touki Bouki (Senegal/1973) by Djibril Diop Mambéty
The Housemaid (Hanyo, South Korea/1960) by Kim Ki-Young
Forest of the Hanged (to be completed) (Romania/1965) by Liviu Ciulei
Trances (Trances/El Hal, Morocco/1981) by Ahmed El Maanouni
The Films From the South programme offers many more delights (download programme). The programme looks very strong on the recent output from South Korea and Mexico and also on Asia and Latin America generally. African films are clearly still difficult to get hold of but there are a few here and I’m certainly intrigued by writer-director Mohamed Amin’s Bentein Men Masr (Egyptian Maidens, Egypt 2010) by described as “an Egyptian version of Sex and the City”.
There is another welcome appearance for Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s Un homme qui crie (A Screaming Man) (2010, Chad/France and Belgium) but just as Haroun needs French funding, some of the other ‘African films’ are also made by filmmakers operating out of wealthier countries. It would be good to see more indigenous production but every chance to put Africa on screen through co-production is worth exploring and here there is a new Tom Tykwer film Soul Boy (2010) made as a co-production with Kenya and co-directed by local filmmaker Hawa Essuman. Stolen (Australia/Morocco 2009) is a documentary feature that has provoked strong feelings. Australian filmmakers Daniel Fallshaw and Violeta Ayala (from Bolivia) travelled to a refugee camp run by the Polisario, the liberation group fighting for the independence of the Saharawi peoples of the Western Sahara. The filmmakers accompanied a refugee returning to visit her mother still in a camp on a trip sponsored by the UN. On the trip they claim to have discovered evidence of the slavery of Black Saharawis in the camps (see the film’s website). The Polisario have reacted with counter-claims in the Australian media as the film is screened at international festivals. Stolen has a Facebook page (briefly taken down but now re-instated). Stolen is screened in a strong documentary strand that includes an appearance by Kim Longinotto, the UK documentarist who has specialised in films about women’s struggles in many parts of the world and the festival is screening her latest doc Pink Saris (UK 2010) as well as 2008’s Rough Aunties. (We hope to feature a London Film Festival report on Pink Saris.)
There are many more interesting films at the Films From the South Festival and after investigating this year’s programme, we’ll certainly be considering how to get to Oslo in the future.