film January 22, 2014 By Sophie Mollart

From Godfrey Reggio’s <em>VISITORS</em>. Courtesy of: Cinedigm

From Godfrey Reggio’s VISITORS. Courtesy of: Cinedigm

visitors header2 Godfrey Reggio
Featuring a stream of up-close human faces (and one preternaturally inquisitive gorilla), against a stark black backdrop, Godfrey Reggio’s striking, trancelike new feature is in some sense a continuation of his Qatsi trilogy: Koyaanisqatsi (1982), Powaqqatsi (1988) and Naqoyqatsi (2002). Spearheaded by Reggio, an indisputable cine-poet, in collaboration with the venerable avant-garde composer Philip Glass, it brings to mind the undeniable power of an unremitting gaze.

Glass’s unmistakable score serves as something far beyond the emotional punctuation we’ve come to expect from film music, instead providing a sparring partner to the images that Reggio describes as a kind of dance. “He’s writing a full symphonic score that covers the entire length and breadth of the film; Philip in effect provides the emotive narrative. His music doesn’t illustrate the image while its proceeding on a separate track – its like a dance partner, each partner has to create their own individuality, but together they make the trot, you can’t do one without the other.”

Their collaboration dates back to late-seventies, when Reggio was intent on pursuing the then little-known Glass to score his debut feature, Koyaanisqatsi. “He was a genius in my opinion, but he wasn’t acknowledged or accepted at that point. His music is polyrhythmic, it doesn’t illustrate anything, and it’s totally cinematic, you almost can’t miss how to edit it.

1 2 3 4 5


Greenspace, film March 6, 2013 By Jordan Sayle

The Cuyahoga River on fire/First Run Features

The Cuyahoga River on fire/First Run Features

title97 Setting the World Ablaze

A warming climate isn’t the only source of heat these days. There is, in fact, another source of burning intensity. Organized groups of protesters amped up the temperature in their own fashion by taking to the nation’s capitol in a recent display of opposition to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. As clarion calls to address climate change spread, it’s worth remembering that demonstrations and fights of resistance have stoked the environmental movement since its inception. These measures have succeeded in numerous cases throughout the years to protect communities from exposure to hazardous waste and to save endangered species or threatened ecosystems.

The ferocious fire that inspired the name of Mark Kitchell’s new documentary isn’t the sooty, pollution-fueling combustion of coal or the burning of rainforests. A Fierce Green Fire, now in limited release, is named rather for the life-sustaining inner flame that the conservationist Aldo Leopold once observed in the eyes of a dying wolf and for the corresponding zeal that has fueled the efforts of environmentalists for nearly five decades. The very same passion that was on display last month in Washington has fed the movement for generations through often bitter fights and against long odds.

In the time since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was published and the Sierra Club was victorious in blocking the construction of dams in the Grand Canyon, activists have been busy responding to an evolving set of practices that threaten our land, wildlife, water, and air.

1 2 3 4 5

Book, Features, Greenspace, film November 15, 2012 By Jordan Sayle

<em>The Dust Bowl: An Illustrated History</em>/Chronicle Books/Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, TX

The Dust Bowl: An Illustrated History/Chronicle Books. Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, TX.

dustbowlheader The Dust Bowl
The southern portion of the Great Plains was especially hard-hit during the Great Depression. Along with financial hardship, an environmental catastrophe of biblical proportions hung like a black cloud over the region. Severe drought in areas where the farmland had been overextended led in many cases to the drying up of an entire way of life and every conceivable thing around it. The Dust Bowl now gets the Ken Burns treatment with a new PBS documentary and an accompanying book. Burns and his collaborator, the producer and writer Dayton Duncan, consider this seminal event to be “the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history.” At a time when numerous other events are giving the Dust Bowl a run for its money in that distinction, Mr. Duncan spoke to PLANET about the lessons worth learning from this chapter in our past.
 
Can you describe your working relationship with Ken Burns and how you arrive upon chapters in American history that you decide to explore?

We’re both drawn to topics that are uniquely or quintessentially American. I have the best job in the world, because the films that I write and produce are about topics that I’ve suggested, from The West and Lewis and Clark to The National Parks and The Dust Bowl. I have a great interest in the connection between our land and our people, and how that interplay has affected our nation’s history.

1 2 3 4

film November 13, 2012 By Chloe Eichler

postop115 DOC NYCdocnyc header DOC NYC
Now in its third year, the IFC Center’s DOC NYC is one of the most consistently absorbing and downright important showcases for documentary film. The buzziest entries this year are The Central Park Five, Ken Burns’ look at the 1989 “crime of the century” rape, and Alison Klayman’s portrait of Ai Weiwei, which PLANET profiled here. But the best thing about DOC NYC is its knack for finding lesser-known gems. The festival ends this Thursday, but there are still five standout films that are screening—some more than once—over the next few days.

1 2 3 4 5 6


Fashion, film September 20, 2012 By Aiya Ono

Shirt by A. Sauvage

Shirt by A. Sauvage

ASAUVAGEHeader A. Sauvage
Few fashion houses have a a mantra like D.E.– Dress Easy, and a film showcased at the Sundance Film Festival.. The orchestrator behind it all: Adrien Sauvage, founder of the House of A. Sauvage. In 2011, Sundance film Festival showcased This is Not A Suit, a sort of existential enquiry about the designer and his collection, reminiscent of Absurdist plays such as those by Samuel Beckett. The film features Sauvage in a room in solitude, as a voice over explains,“the art of D.E.”

The film is also the title of an ongoing project that involves Sauvage dressing those close to his heart–from filmmakers and musicians like Spike Jonze, Terry Gilliam, and Eliot Sumner, to sports veterans like Sauvage himself, who was a professional basketball player during his youth. Changing focus from sports to the art of Savile Row at 20, every representation of Sauvage’s brand is striking. His methodology of creating suits according to activity (for example, what is the perfect suit for grabbing a cup of coffee?), the presentation of his collection, both still and in motion, and the words used to string all elements together–Sauvage is a creator who knows what he’s doing and it comes through in everything he does. Sauvage’s aim is to create a timeless existence, unconfined by seasons and trends. As the voice over states in This is Not A Suit, Sauvage indeed “constructs his own time” and this is what makes his brand so seductive.

Slideshow

1 2 3

Art, film June 15, 2012 By Sophie Mollart

Marina Abramović. Photo Credit: David Smoler

Marina Abramović. Photo Credit: David Smoler

header14 The Artist Is Present
Over the stretch of her thirty-year tenure as performance art’s matriarch, Marina Abramovic has unceasingly pushed the boundaries of the corporeal. In the Spring of 2010, the Museum of Modern Art housed a retrospective of her performances to date, as a troupe of young artists re-enacted highlights of her earlier work. The centerpiece of the show, The Artist is Present, is explored this month in a new documentary. Evolving from a previous performance – Nightsea Crossing – in which she and Ulay, her former lover and collaborator, would sit silently, eye to eye, hour upon hour. This time, Ulay was to be replaced by whoever should wish to partake, as the audience was invited to silently commune with Abramovic for the duration of their choosing.

Filmmaker Matthew Akers originally approached the prospect of filming Abramovic with a healthy skepticism: “I had been to school for sculpture and I’d never witnessed great performance art so I was suspicious. When I met her she was incredibly charming, we hit it off right away, but I told her, if we do this, you can’t have any editorial control, that means if I find out stuff that’s less flattering to you, you’re going to have to let me use that. She said – listen little baby – she calls everyone little baby – you can have total control, I’ll give you the keys to my apartment, don’t worry – and about a week later she gave me the keys to her apartment.”

1 2 3 4 5

film May 9, 2012 By Sophie Mollart

<em>Patience (After Sebald)</em> screening at Film Forum from May 9

Patience (After Sebald) screening at Film Forum from May 9

patienceheader Patience
It has been suggested that the Rings of Saturn – fragments of dust, ice crystals and meteoric debris that rotate the sixth planet from the sun – once formed a moon that wandered into the planet’s gravitational pull, was shattered by its tidal effect, and set consequentially into a perpetual orbit.

German-born writer W.G. Sebald’s most well known work follows a similar course – an accumulation of dispersed fragments, a spiritual homelessness that accompanies his pursuit for the location of the self in space. Transplanted to the east coast of England in 1970 – it was in the Suffolk countryside where Sebald formed his work of meandering, elliptical power.

Documentary filmmaker Grant Gee, best known for his film Joy Division, celebrates Sebald’s journey in his new work Patience (After Sebald). “In Sebald’s book Austerlitz, a character compiles old family photographs, images of places and locations in his past, in the hope of unlocking the secret of his trauma. He does this playing a game of patience – or solitaire, in English. I connected to that idea, using structure and montage in order to unlock something.’’

1 2 3 4


Greenspace, film May 3, 2012 By Jordan Sayle

Las Vegas Fountains/ATO Pictures

Las Vegas Fountains/ATO Pictures

title88 H2Over?
It is quite literally everywhere. It covers 70% of the Earth’s surface and accounts for approximately 60% of our own composition. The thought that we could be running out of water seems unimaginable, and yet the combination of overuse, contamination, and the effects on the water cycle posed by climate change likely makes water the most unstable and therefore the most valuable resource of the 21st Century. The UN estimates that 3.4 billion people may suffer water shortages by 2025, and the problem stands to worsen from there forward.

Oscar-winning filmmaker Jessica Yu illustrates in her new documentary that water strains are fast becoming a vital concern not simply for a portion of the world’s population but for just about all of us. She recently spoke to Planet about directing “Last Call at the Oasis” and the things she learned along the way:

1 2 3 4 5

film April 13, 2012 By Marina Zogbi
Whit Stillman (director) on set Photo by Kerry Brown, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Whit Stillman (director) on set
Photo by Kerry Brown, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

stillmanheader2 Whit Stillman
Filmmaker Whit Stillman’s small, idiosyncratic body of work is highly regarded, even venerated, by a discerning group of moviegoers. Arch, witty dialogue; cheerful but flawed characters; and a touch of social commentary mingle easily in his ensemble dramedies. It’s impossible to mistake a Whit Stillman film for anyone else’s.

His first feature, Metropolitan (1990), about a set of young, upper class New Yorkers, was full of razor-sharp dialogue and savage wit, yet it rang true emotionally and was embraced by many from less privileged backgrounds. Barcelona (1994), starring Taylor Nichols and beloved Stillman favorite Chris Eigeman, was a similar comedy of manners, but set abroad with considerably raised dramatic stakes. The relatively big-budget The Last Days of Disco (1998), starring Chloë Sevigny and Kate Beckinsale, along with Eigeman, may have been a box office disappointment, but it too boasted sharp dialogue, excellent performances, and engrossingly imperfect characters – the Stillman trifecta.

Which brings us (14 years later) to Damsels in Distress, a more lighthearted film, though set in a somewhat familiar milieu – an insular East Coast college campus – and featuring typically self-important yet fragile characters. Actress of the moment Greta Gerwig stars as Violet, ringleader of a group of girls who are figuring out their love lives while trying to save their fellow students from depression, bad odors and general low standards, mainly through dancing. Though Taylor Nichols has a small role as a teacher, Eigeman is noticeably absent.

1 2 3 4 5 6

film April 5, 2012 By Sophie Mollart

Pres. Mohamed “Anni” Nasheed. Chiara Goia.

Pres. Mohamed “Anni” Nasheed. Chiara Goia.

headerislandpres The Island President
As democracy flaps its butterfly wings across the Arab world– creating ripples from Tunisia to Wall St. – events foreshadowed back in 2008, when a small Islamic state in the Indian ocean elected their first democratic president. The Maldives, known primarily for it’s idyllic beaches, a paradise for the super wealthy, is the world’s lowest-lying nation, making it particularly vulnerable to the rising sea levels brought about by the changing climate. Their new leader, Mohammed Nasheed, a civil rights activist, had been imprisoned and tortured under the rule of the former dictator, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Documentary filmmaker Jon Shenk (The Lost Boys of Sudan) was immediately drawn to Nasheed’s story:

“It just kind of jumped off the page, he came into office and started saying things about the environment that one wishes their leaders would say. I was just attracted to him because of the package of it – new in office, leading up to Copenhagen, the fact that it involved climate – which is an issue I really care about, and the fact that it could be a human story. At the time, it was like, wow – this is proof, a dictatorial Islamic country can turn into a democracy without violence. It was amazing. And then when we met him it was like, this guy, he’s a one in a billion kind of character – he’s handsome, he’s charismatic, he’s personable, he’s fun to hang out with. So we pitched him the idea.”

1 2 3 4 5