Dec 31, 2021

Top 95 Premiere Viewings of 2021 (2000-2021 Edition)

This year, I was pretty generous with ratings, finding myself surrounded by almost 100 highly appreciated films (including some not-so-fresh, but newly discovered titles), which is why I decided to sort them out into eight thematic categories. As you may already assume, Thrills & Chills, Mysteries & Monstrosities is dominated by horror genre, yet there are a few dark thrillers, atmospheric / perplexing and sci-fi flicks included for the diversity sake. Down the Rabbit Hole is high on fantasy or deep in magic realism, whereas Future Imperfect & Disturbances in Kafkaland blends features of dystopian and/or Kafkaesque qualities. A variety of formally or stylistically challenging experiments oft-unsparing of the viewer come together in No Compromise! complemented by another ten unconventional, but more accessible flicks of Beautiful Weirdos. Named after Björk’s 1993 single, Big Time Sensuality is a domain ruled by (panesexual) Eros, though it holds some surprises, and Still Waters Run Deep synthesizes lyrical, methodical and slow cinema into a gentle organism. Finally, self-explanatory Action! is the most entertaining among these ‘selections’, with B-movie spirit soaring into the sky.


1. Mad God (Phil Tippett, 2021)
2. Antlers (Scott Cooper, 2021)
3. Far From the Apple Tree (Grant McPhee, 2019)
4. Junk Head (Takahide Hori, 2017)
5. The Night House (David Bruckner, 2021)
6. Gwleđđ / The Feast (Lee Haven Jones, 2021)
7. Come True (Anthony Scott Burns, 2020)
8. Some Southern Waters (Julian Baner, 2020)
9. Dýrið / Lamb (Valdimar Jóhannsson, 2021)
10. Limbo (Soi Cheang, 2021)
11. Invisible Alien (Jintao Lu & Dawei Zhang, 2021)
12. Nagwonui bam / Night in Paradise (Hoon-jung Park, 2020)
13. Ventajas de viajar en tren / Advantages of Travelling by Train (Aritz Moreno, 2019)
14. De Uskyldige / The Innocents (Eskil Vogt, 2021)
15. Hunted (Vincent Paronnaud, 2020)
16. The Night (Kourosh Ahari, 2020)
17. The Awakening of Lilith (Steven Adam Renkovish, 2021)
18. Aragne no Mushikago / Aragne: Sign of Vermillion (Saku Sakamoto, 2018)
19. Oxygen (Alexandre Aja, 2021)
20. The Dark and the Wicked (Bryan Bertino, 2020)


1. Śniegu już nigdy nie będzie / Never Gonna Snow Again (Malgorzata Szumowska & Michal Englert, 2020)
2. Ryū to sobakasu no hime / Belle (Mamoru Hosoda, 2021)
3. The Rainbowmaker (Nana Dzhordzhadze, 2008)
4. Batokin Yasokyoku / Nocturne of the Horse-headed Fiddle (Takeo Kimura, 2007)
5. Eld & lågor / Swoon (Måns Mårlind & Björn Stein, 2019)
6. Miao Xian Sheng / Mr. Miao (Lingxiao Li, 2020)
7. The Burial of Kojo (Blitz Bazawule, 2018)
8. Jiang Ziya / Legend of Deification (Teng Cheng & Li Wei, 2020)
9. The Green Knight (David Lowery, 2021)
10. Das kalte Herz / Heart of Stone (Johannes Naber, 2016)
11. Віддана / Felix Austria (Christina Sivolap, 2020)
12. Xin shen bang: Ne Zha chong sheng / Nezha Reborn (Ji Zhao, 2021)
13. The Blazing World (Carlson Young, 2021)
14. Cryptozoo (Dash Shaw & Jane Samborski, 2021)
15. Bright: Samurai Soul (Kyohei Ishiguro, 2021)


1. Сентенция / Sententia (Dmitry Rudakov, 2020)
2. Den Næstsidste / The Penultimate (Jonas Kærup Hjort, 2020)
3. Služobníci / Servants (Ivan Ostrochovský, 2020)
4. The Wanting Mare (Nicholas Ashe Bateman, 2020)
5. Ja teraz kłamię / I Am Lying Now (Paweł Borowski, 2019)
6. Alephia 2053 (Jorj Abou Mhaya, 2021)
7. Baz ham sib dari? / Have You Another Apple? (Bayram Fazli, 2006)
8. Ukkili kamshat / The Owners (Adilkhan Yerzhanov, 2014)
9. Undergods (Chino Moya, 2020)
10. The Trouble with Being Born (Sandra Wollner, 2020)


1. Az itt élő lelkek nagy része / Most of the Souls That Live Here (Ivan & Igor Buharov, 2016)
2. Северный ветер / The North Wind (Renata Litvinova, 2021)
3. Aapothkalin Trikalika / The Kali Of Emergency (Ashish Avikunthak, 2016)
4. The House That Eats the Rabbit (Cosmotropia de Xam, 2021)
5. The Lost Record (Ian F Svenonius & Alexandra Cabral, 2020)
6. Homo Sapiens Project (201) (Rouzbeh Rashidi, 2021)
7. Night Has Come (Peter van Goethem, 2019)
8. How the Sky Will Melt (Matthew Wade, 2015)
9. Annette (Leos Carax, 2021)
10. Das Massaker von Anröchte / The Massacre of Anroechte (Hannah Dörr, 2021)


1. Titane (Julia Ducornau, 2021)
2. The Nowhere Inn (Bill Benz, 2020)
3. Hogtown (Daniel Nearing, 2014)
4. L’extraordinaire voyage de Marona / Marona’s Fantastic Tale (Anca Damian, 2019)
5. Безразличие / Indifference (Oleg Flyangolts, 2010)
6. The Goddess of 1967 (Clara Law, 2000)
7. Spoguli / In the Mirror (Laila Pakalniņa, 2020)
8. Prisoners of the Ghostland (Sion Sono, 2021)
9. Wolf (Natalie Biancheri, 2021)
10. Carro rei / King Car (Renata Pinheiro, 2021)


1. Aviva (Boaz Yakin, 2020)
2. Jìyuántái qihào / No. 7 Cherry Lane (Yonfan, 2019)
3. Show Me What You Got (Svetlana Cvetko, 2019)
4. Blanche comme neige / Pure as Snow (Anne Fontaine, 2019)
5. Split (Deborah Kampmeier, 2016)
6. Playdurizm (Gem Deger, 2020)
7. Senso ’45 / Black Angel (Tinto Brass, 2002)
8. Demonios (Marcelo D’Avilla e Marcelo Denny, 2019)


1. Muukalainen / The Visitor (Jukka-Pekka Valkeapää, 2008)
2. Armugan (Jo Sol, 2020)
3. Lúa vermella / Red Moon Tide (Lois Patiño, 2020)
4. Das Mädchen und die Spinne / The Girl and the Spider (Ramon & Silvan Zürcher, 2021)
5. The Card Counter (Paul Schrader, 2021)
6. Ste. Anne (Rhayne Vermette, 2021)
7. The Man Who Knew 75 Languages (Anne Magnussen & Paweł Dębski, 2016)
8. Atarrabi & Mikelats (Eugène Green, 2020)
9. Ofrenda / Offering (Juan Mónaco Cagni, 2020)
10. Daughters (Hajime Tsuda, 2020)
11. Mariphasa (Sandro Aguilar, 2017)
12. Nadzieja / Hope (Stanislaw Mucha, 2007)


1. The Spine of Night (Philip Gelatt & Morgan Galen King, 2021)
2. Free Guy (Shawn Levy, 2021)
3. The Suicide Squad (James Gunn, 2021)
4. Майор Гром: Чумной Доктор / Major Grom: Plague Doctor (Oleg Trofim, 2021)
5. Zach Snyder’s Justice League (Zach Snyder, 2021)
6. The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf (Kwang Il Han, 2021)
7. Mortal Kombat (Simon McQuoid, 2021)
8. Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms (Ethan Spaulding, 2021)
9. America: The Motion Picture (Matt Thompson, 2021)
10. Boss Level (Joe Carnahan, 2020)

And I would also like to honorably mention five series which I enjoyed the most, even though I’m not a big fan of the format:

1. Hausen (Thomas Stuber, 2020)
2. Crisis Jung (Baptiste Gaubert & Jérémie Hoarau, 2018)
3. Masters of the Universe: Revelation (Kevin Smith, 2021)
4. Crna svadba / Black Wedding (Nemanja Ćipranić, 2021)
5. Invincible (Robert Kirkman, 2021)

Dec 30, 2021

Top 100 Premiere Viewings of 2021 (Pre-2000 Edition)

Judging by the number of entries on the following list – arranged chrono-alphabetically, one film per author – my time machine got seriously overheated during 2021, with the 60’s emerging as the most visited period. I caught up with some critically acclaimed classics, discovered a plethora of underappreciated arthouse and B-movies, enjoyed delightfully oddball trash flicks, and eventually got lost in the enchanted labyrinth of imaginative high fantasies, sophisticated film-noirs, moody gothic horrors, peculiar sci-fi offerings, as well as formally challenging, quirky and queer cinema. If you search through the blog or my Facebook profile, you’ll find a few words written on most of the included titles... 

The Dance of the Paroxysms | The Thief of Bagdad | The Uninvited

1. The Hands of Orlac (Robert Wiene, 1924)
2. The Thief of Bagdad (Raoul Walsh, 1924)
3. The Dance of the Paroxysms (Jorge Brum de Canto, 1929)
4. About Nice (Boris Kaufman & Jean Vigo, 1930)
5. Ecstasy (Gustav Machatý, 1933)
6. Mad Love (Karl Freund, 1935)
7. Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)
8. The Climax (George Waggner, 1944)
9. The Uninvited (Lewis Allen, 1944)
10. The Beast with Five Fingers (Robert Florey, 1946)

Body and Soul | Corridor of Mirrors | Fabiola

11. Under the Bridges (Helmut Käutner, 1946)
12. Body and Soul (Robert Rossen, 1947)
13. Adventures of Don Juan (Vincent Sherman, 1948)
14. Corridor of Mirrors (Terence Young, 1948)
15. He Walked by Night (Alfred L. Werker & Anthony Mann, 1948)
16. Alias Nick Beal (John Farrow, 1949)
17. Fabiola (Alessandro Blasetti, 1949)
18. Follow Me Quietly (Richard Fleischer, 1949)
19. Roman Holiday (William Wyler, 1953)
20. The Wild One (László Benedek, 1953)

The Cranes Are Flying | East of Eden | Amphibian Man

21. Dementia (John Parker & Bruno VeSota, 1955)
22. East of Eden (Elia Kazan, 1955)
23. Marianne of My Youth (Julien Duvivier, 1955)
24. The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1957)
25. The Lady in Black (Arne Mattsson, 1958)
26. The Long, Hot Summer (Martin Ritt, 1958)
27. Hercules in the Haunted World (Mario Bava, 1961)
28. Night Tide (Curtis Harrington, 1961)
29. Amphibian Man (Vladimir Chebotaryov & Gennadiy Kazanskiy, 1962)
30. Fire and Ice (Alain Cavalier, 1962)

The Depths | The Demon | The Servant

31. Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962)
31. A Dream Play (Ingmar Bergman, 1963)
33. Flaming Creatures (Jack Smith, 1963)
34. The Demon (Brunello Rondi, 1963)
35. The Depths (Nikos Papatakis, 1963)
36. Night of the Eagle (Sydney Hayers, 1963)
37. Sweet Skin (Jacques Poitrenaud, 1963)
38. The Servant (Joseph Losey, 1963)
39. Vertigo (Karel Kachyňa, 1963)
40. The Golden Fern (Jirí Weiss, 1963)

Men and Women | The Masque of Red Death | Eye of the Devil

41. Castle of Blood (Antonio Margheriti & Sergio Corbucci, 1964)
42. Crypt of the Vampire (Camillo Mastrocinque, 1964)
43. Men and Women (Walter Hugo Khouri, 1964)
44. The Masque of Red Death (Roger Corman, 1964)
45. The Mysterious Magician (Alfred Vohrer, 1964)
46. Empty Dream (Hyun-mok Yoo, 1965)
47. The 10th Victim (Elio Petri, 1965)
48. The White Moor (Ion Popescu-Gopo, 1965)
49. Before Tonight Is Over (Peter Solan, 1966)
50. Eye of the Devil (J. Lee Thompson, 1966)

The Girl | Invasion | Paul

51. Face to Face (Roviros Manthoulis, 1966)
52. Murderers’ Row (Henry Levin, 1966)
53. Detour (Grisha Ostrovski & Todor Stoyanov, 1967)
54. Fire! (Gian Vittorio Baldi, 1968)
55. I, the Executioner (Tai Katō, 1968)
56. Signs of Life (Werner Herzog, 1968)
57. Summer (Marcel Hanoun, 1968)
58. The Girl (Márta Mészáros, 1968)
59. Invasion (Hugo Santiago, 1969)
60. Paul (Diourka Medveczky, 1969)

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds | The Garden of Stones | The Swimming Pool

61. Princess (Herman Wuyts, 1969)
62. The Swimming Pool (Jacques Deray, 1969)
63. King of the Reindeer (Pavel Arsenov, 1970)
64. Queens of Evil (Tonino Cervi, 1970)
65. Zacharaiah (George Englund, 1971)
66. The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (Paul Newman, 1972)
67. Sensuela (Teuvo Tulio, 1973)
68. The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (Gordon Hessler, 1973)
69. Pavle Pavlović (Mladomir ‘Puriša’ Đorđević, 1975)
70. The Garden of Stones (Parviz Kimiavi, 1976)

Chess of the Wind | God’s Gift | Beasts

71. Chess of the Wind (Mohammad Reza Aslani, 1976)
72. Beasts (Živko Nikolić, 1977)
73. Lost Soul (Dino Risi, 1977)
74. Hallucinations of a Deranged Mind (José Mojica Marins, 1978)
75. Midnight Cowboy (John Schlesinger, 1978)
76. The Bermuda Depths (Tom Kotani, 1978)
77. God’s Gift (Gaston Kaboré, 1982)
78. The Harlem Valentine Day (Shigeru Izumiya, 1982)
79. Breathless (Jim McBride, 1983)
80. Háry János (Zsolt Richly, 1983)

Vigil | The Tribulations of Balthazar Kober | Luminous Woman

81. The Beast and the Magic Sword (Paul Naschy, 1983)
82. Variety (Bette Gordon, 1983)
83. Dorian Gray in the Mirror of the Yellow Press (Ulrike Ottinger, 1984)
84. Vigil (Vincent Ward, 1984)
85. Zygfryd (Andrzej Domalik, 1986)
86. Luminous Woman (Shinji Sōmai, 1987)
87. The Forest Woman (Nicolae Margineanu, 1987)
88. The Tribulations of Balthazar Kober (Wojciech Has, 1988)
89. War Requiem (Derek Jarman, 1989)
90. Pink Ulysses (Eric de Kuyper, 1990)

Cavafy | The Garden | Luminous Motion

91. The Blue Note (Andrzej Żuławski, 1991)
92. American Cyborg: Steel Warrior (Boaz Davidson, 1993)
93. Mazeppa (Bartabas, 1993)
94. Hammer and Sickle (Sergey Livnev, 1994)
95. Mechanical Violator Hakaider (Keita Amemiya, 1995)
96. The Garden (Martin Šulík, 1995)
97. Cavafy (Yannis Smaragdis, 1996)
98. No Sympathy for the Devil (Dimitris Athanitis, 1997)
99. Luminous Motion (Bette Gordon, 1998)
100. Shattered Image (Raúl Ruiz, 1998)

Best Premiere Viewings of December

1. The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (Paul Newman, 1972)

Joanne Woodward gives a force-of-nature performance in a bitterly funny, emotionally intense and tautly directed drama whose depressing visuals are elevated by colorful characters. The strong impression it left me with can be summarized in a line that brought tears to my eyes: “My heart is full!” A masterpiece.

2. Shatranj-e baad / Chess of the Wind (Mohammad Reza Aslani, 1976)

Banned in 1979 by Iran’s new regime, and more than three decades later rediscovered and restored, Chess of the Wind is a film of incredible cinematic power, one that has been compared to masters such as Ophüls, Visconti and Parajanov. Its multi-layered, decidedly anti-patriarchal tale of greed and oppression, as well as of gender and class struggle opens as a moody melodrama, transforms into a Shakespearean tragedy, then gradually approaches the psychological thriller domain where it remains during the climactic twenty minutes. All the while, it is handled with extraordinary formal discipline and intelligence that find support in a most elegant art direction, picturesque cinematography and hauntingly tense score synthesizing experimental jazz and traditional Persian music. A gorgeously furnished mansion which serves as the (claustrophobic) setting becomes a character in its own right, pulling the viewer into a dense microcosm of intrigue. On top of that, Chess of the Wind introduces a couple of strong female leads – brilliantly portrayed by Fakhri Khorvash and Shohreh Aghdashloo – whose relationship is subtly infused with lesbian subtext. 

3. Śniegu już nigdy nie będzie / Never Gonna Snow Again (Malgorzata Szumowska & Michal Englert, 2020)

Szumowska & Englert invoke the spirit of Tarkovsky through direct references to the master’s work in nostalgia-imbued dreams and visions of their hero – a young, enigmatic immigrant from the East, Zhenia (Alec Utgoff in a career-defining role) who speaks several languages and works as a masseur-turned-hypnotist guru of a wealthy gated community somewhere in Poland. However, even the peculiarly cinematic and often darkly humorous ‘reality’ of the duo’s surrealist drama shimmers with numerous moments of stark visual poetry, providing you with a hauntingly enchanting experience. Gently wrapped in moss-colored velvet, their satirical blade cuts deeply into the wounds of modern society, as if reaching for some long-buried truth, with Zhenia embodying that very truth – the secrets we may never know. There’s an almost saintly aura surrounding him and – complemented by his broad shoulders – making him the object of both spiritual and carnal lust for the poor wretches he regularly visits, armed with a portable massage table, and healing powers. So, if you’re looking for a delicately mysterious, charmingly doomy and/or ecologically conscious film, Never Gonna Snow Again is the one you shouldn’t miss. 

4. Miao Xian Sheng / Mr. Miao (Lingxiao Li, 2020)

A promising debut for Lingxiao Li, Mr. Miao is a lush, somewhat esoteric fantasy adventure which betrays the influences of wuxia films, Hayao Miyazaki, and to a certain degree, anime series Mushishi. It follows a couple of mysterious ‘tracers’, elder Liang Yan and his disciple Ding Guo, on their quest to eradicate so-called Equinox Flowers which possess corruptive powers, albeit being hosted exclusively by kindhearted souls. Faced with the dilemma of killing a few good men and women to save the world from debauchery, they travel the land struck by poverty and ravaged by crime, with the orders of titular (and unseen) entity as their only guide...

Episodic in its narrative structure, Mr. Miao is reminiscent of a road movie set in the mythologized version of ancient China where fire cicada sloughs have higher value than money... and thy neighbor. The fever dream-like journey towards the answers hidden in Thousand Buddha Cave feels simultaneously perplexing and fairly intoxicating, all by virtue of lovely hand-drawn designs, painterly backgrounds, and mellifluously melancholic score, all wonderfully complementing each other. The surreal, or rather mystical beauty of the world infused with magic and slight humor (code: ducks) reaches its full bloom in the cathartic finale which depicts the decisive battle in a transcendental whirlwind of light and colors.

5. Strip-tease / Sweet Skin (Jacques Poitrenaud, 1963)

Oh là là! Strip-tease gets transformed into fine art with a hint of camp in Jacques Poitrenaud’s entertaining drama starring Nico as a starving ballerina, Ariane, who breaks through the world of exotic dancing, and catches the eye of a rich and handsome playboy, Jean Loup (Jean Sobieski). The sadness in her big, round eyes, gorgeous B&W cinematography and energetic soundtrack by Serge Gainsbourg and Alain Goraguer (who would work on the cult animated film Fantastic Planet 10 years later, then compose scores for adult films in the late 70’s) make for an absolutely charming combination.

6. Віддана / Felix Austria (Christina Sivolap, 2020)

“People see only what they want to see. People yearn for illusions.”

Directed with a great sense of style that brings to mind Jeunet and Gondry, Christina Sivolap’s feature debut is a charming period piece heavily inspired by magic realism in its approach to storytelling, as well as by Art Nouveau in its enchanting visual flourishes (many kudos to costume designer Lesia Patoka and art director Aleksandr Batenev). Set in a small Austro-Hungarian town at the turn of the 19th century, this fantasy drama chronicles the tale of a maid with the heart of gold, Stefania, who spices up the life of her half-sister mistress, Adela, and her husband, Petro, with delicacies that are so meticulously shot that you can almost smell their aroma! And what adds extra flavor to the viewing pleasure is the sparkling chemistry between the leading actresses Marianna Januszewicz and Alesya Romanova, whose characters appear to be founded on Grimm-like opposites.

7. Ste. Anne (Rhayne Vermette, 2021)

Existing in a liminal space between fiction and documentary / deeply personal film and archetypal pseudo-myth / family drama and haunting mystery, and resisting every attempt to be clearly defined, ‘Ste. Anne’ feels like a cinematic equivalent of a half-forgotten childhood memory turned into snow that covers the abstract landscape of the filmmaker’s very soul. Warmly shot on 16mm, it eschews both narrative and structural conventions in favor of a poetic, evocative, mysterious and contemplative atmosphere which shrouds you in a hand-woven tapestry of non-sentimental familiarity... 

8. De Uskyldige / The Innocents (Eskil Vogt, 2021)

Told and shot from the children’s perspective, The Innocents – not to be confused with Jack Clayton’s 1961 masterpiece – is a deliberately paced, densely atmospheric and emotionally harrowing drama with supernatural / horror elements thanks to which it fills you and leaves you with the feeling of uneasiness bordering pedophobia. Vogt elicits brilliant, eerily natural performances from young debuting actors, whereby Sturla Brandth Grøvlen’s delicate cinematography coupled with a brooding score by Pessi Levanto makes their world in equal measures alluring and unwelcoming...

9. Wolf (Natalie Biancheri, 2021)

(read my short review HERE)

10. Xin shen bang: Ne Zha chong sheng / Nezha Reborn (Ji Zhao, 2021)

The Chinese mythology surrounding prince Nezha gets a steampunk upgrade in the sophomore feature from Ji Zhao who debuted alongside Amp Wong in a gorgeous 2019 wuxia fantasy White Snake. A simple, yet undying story of good vs. evil seems to be there only for the animators to demonstrate their enviable talents, because it is the colorful, aesthetically stunning visuals that carry you through the film. The beautifully lit industrial setting which takes cues from 1920’s Shanghai and 1940’s Hollywood crime movies poses for a retro-futuristic dystopia in which the water shortage is caused by ancient deities reincarnated as arrogant magnates. What they (and some protagonists) lack in the character development department is compensated by fascinating designs, not to mention breathtaking action sequences that involve everything from exciting moto-races to spectacular taming of raging dragons. Judging by one of the post-credit scenes, the amazing universe of Nezha Reborn will be expanded next year...

Dec 29, 2021

Kinoskop Spin-Off Vol. 6: Towards 2022

A cold December day feels much cozier with tactile textures of films shot on celluloid soothing your eyes. For that reason, Kinoskop presents another selection of recently released, publicly available shorts, to give you a boost of inspiration for the upcoming year.

The 6th spin-off opens with Howard Davidson’s Reflections – a loving homage to American photographer Francesca Woodman (1958-1981) – which introduces a mesmerizing interplay of light and shadows, model Anna Berg (in her birthday suit) embodying the spirit of the tragically short-lived artist. This delicately and melancholically erotic meditation finds a complementary continuation in performative piece Being in the Touch by Margarita Raeva who aspires to re-establish and strengthen the primordial connection of human body and nature through CG manipulations of a 16mm footage. Also not shying away from nudity is Vira-Lata’s visually liberating music video Medo for Brazilian indie rockers Terno Rei; a vivid, borderline sci-fi exploration of inner thoughts of three young people trapped in a confined space, and yearning to run wild and free.

Another great example of coping with isolation through externalizing one’s own imagination is oneiric dance-monodrama Nightscape by choreographer and director Jenna Borisevich whose heroine portrayed by Billie Rose Owen turns her living room into an intimate fairy tale, as cinematographer Robert Mentov captures her elegant moves in warm earthy tones and energizing hues of violet. Digging deeper into solitude caused by pandemics is Theo Le Sourd’s Sometimes I Wonder – a sensual, wistfully diaristic dive into the memories of a young New Yorker, Jospehine, whose wanderings around the city and small, yet precious moments spent at home are accompanied by calming voice-over. Yearning for love and contact is strongly felt in the following entry, See You Again, as well – director Hector Prats and German singer and songwriter Roosevelt (born Marius Lauber) deliver a colorful, retro-futuristic / synth-pop take on a virtual world, a limbo where bonding through bytes may prove truer than life.

Choreographed dance returns in Cara Stricker’s ritualistic, techno-surrealist fantasy Every Step Is a Prayer that takes cues from biomimicry, Afro-futurism, somatic healing and symbology of Seminole & Miccosukee tribes indigenous to Miami area, pulling you into a utopian universe based on a harmonious coexistence between our body and the land, nature and technology, individual and collective. Romy Martini’s Les trois citrons keeps us still in the domain of fairy tales, deconstructing Goldilocks and the Three Bears into an abstract garden-adventure, with titular beasts replaced by lemons, and lost heroine’s identity remaining a puzzle. An extra dose of quirkiness paired with a punkish attitude comes with Daffodil by Daniel Rodriguez who depicts a deadly romance of a couple ‘with secret professions’ (code: contract killers). And last but certainly not least is a super-grainy mystery If You Had Known surrounding a suitcase with a creepy rabbit mask not unlike the one worn by the character of Frank in Donnie Darko. This uncanny, Lynchian short is the final entry in the Bunny trilogy by German filmmaker Lars Kemnitz.

Program duration: 54:53
(Click on the titles to watch the films.)

Reflections | Howard Davidson | 2021| USA | 6:42 | Super 8

Being in the Touch | Margarita Raeva | 2021 | Russia | 8:13 | 16mm

Terno Rei – Medo | Vira-Lata | 2021 | Brazil | 4:28 | 16mm

Nightscape | Jenna Borisevich | 2021 | Canada | 4:30 | 16mm

Sometimes I Wonder | Theo Le Sourd | 2021 | USA | 5:42 | 16mm & 35mm

Roosevelt – See You Again | Hector Prats | 2021 | Spain | 4:44 | 16mm

Every Step is a Prayer | Cara Stricker | 2021 | USA | 8:34 | 35mm

Les trois citrons | Romy Martini | 2021 | Australia | 3:07 | Super 8

Daffodil | Daniel Rodriguez | 2021 | USA | 3:20 | Super 8

If You Had Known | Lars Kemnitz | 2021 | Germany | 5:33 | Super 8

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Dec 23, 2021

Wolf (Natalie Biancheri, 2021)

 “One day... we’ll run wild together.”

When we’re first introduced to a protagonist, Jacob (George MacKay), he wears nothing but his birthday suit, surrounded by lush greenery of the forest. As he frolics in the dirt, believing to be a wolf, we can feel his joy and freedom washing all over us. However, his rapture turns out to be a short-lived reverie, because he is about to be institutionalized for the treatment of species dysphoria. Once he is caged under the wakeful eye of Dr. Mann aka The Zookeeper (Paddy Considine), he meets a lovely, enigmatic girl, Cecile (Lily-Rose Depp), who prowls the hallways at night, a wild cat hissing in her soul...

An allegory of identity / gender crisis triggered by a past trauma, or simply a middle finger in the ugly face of societal hypocrisy; an anti-conformist fable that dares to be different as in ‘self-consciously crazy and stubbornly defiant to so-called normality’? Regardless of what the answer may be, Wolf brings a breezy breath of fresh air to the world of arthouse dramas, flirting with mystery and even coming close to generate uneasiness characteristic of more atmospheric offerings in the horror genre. Although it rarely bites, this snarling beast often shows its sharp teeth, but also allows itself to be cuddly, if you’re willing to accept its imperfections. Embracing weirdness with its imagined paws, it earns comparisons to certain Greek films of recent times, particularly in its clean, starkly composed frames, yet it stands on its own (four legs). Topping the beautiful cinematography, clever production design, as well as excellent use of music is MacKay’s utter devotion to the demanding role which sees him howling, growling, micro-expressing, and mastering the wolf movements in what’s one of the best physical performances of the year. In his externalization of inner animal, Depp proves to be a perfect partner, at times invoking the melancholic spirit of Bartas’s muse Yekaterina Golubeva (1966-2011).

Dec 22, 2021

A Selection of Recent Artworks (X)

Verità, per Sempre / Истина, заувек / Truth, Forever

Falso Paradiso / Лажни рај / Fake Paradise

L'Entità / Ентитет / The Entity

L'Ipotesi della Lacrima Divina / Хипотеза о божанској сузи / The Hypothesis of Divine Tear

Una Favola della Buonanotte / Прича за лаку ноћ / The Bedtime Story

Il Serpente della Notte / Змија ноћи / The Snake of Night

La Lampada Meravigliosa / Чудесна лампа / The Wonderful Lamp

Dec 3, 2021

Crisis Jung (Baptiste Gaubert & Jérémie Hoarau, 2018)

Embodying Jungian concepts of Animus and Anima in a tragic, archetypal (super)hero named after the famed psychiatrist and forced to embark on a post-apocalyptic road of individuation (well, sort of), this short series marks the most fascinating anomaly amongst the weirdest milestones in the history of (French) animation. Madder than Mad Max, heavier than Heavy Metal, wilder than Dead Leaves (apparently, that’s also possible), and gorier than the most notorious of ultra-violent old-school anime, such as Fist of the North Star, it revels in gratuitous transgression of the John Waters kind, decidedly vulgar iconoclasm that places a glowing halo over Ken Russell’s opus, and unapologetically hyper-sexualized / gender-non-conforming imagery that reaches its climax in a coitus of divine proportions.

Armed with a sharp satirical blade, it comes across as an absurdist, steroid-fattened, pseudo-philosophical parody of every (cartoon) show based on ‘magical transformation + monster of the week’ formula, but it simultaneously pays a loving homage to all those pulp action fantasies that it unabashedly draws (read: sucks in the most perverse sense possible) inspiration from. It employs repetition to a ‘running gag’ effect, as Jung – turned by his own despair into a broken-hearted legend of the wastelands (and accompanied by trans-femme version of Mary Magdalene) – faces the demons of Tenderness, Tolerance, Confidence, Charity, Compassion, Maturity and Fortitude, before the final duel against Little Jesus (alien creature that is, ironically, colossally obese) whose pink excrement produces eggs from which the villains are hatched. Did I mention the chainsaw-dicked henchmen, spiritualization of cannibalism and poetry recited in the rain of blood? And let’s not forget the esoteric influence of The End of Evangelion and the fabulously rampant flamboyancy that brings to mind Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. If all of this sounds like too much, let me assure you it is, but it does operate like a well-oiled machine whose over-the-top / in-your-face appearance makes it one of the most boldly and subversively imaginative inventions.