Saturday, 28 March 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 100: Fri Apr 10

No 1: Killer of Sheep (Burnett, 1978): Tate Modern, 7pm

This is the opening night of the LA Rebellion: Creating a Black Cinema season at the Tate. Full details of the films, which are on till April 25, can be found here.

Here is the Tate introduction to the season:
Pioneering, provocative and visionary, the LA Rebellion films form a crucial body of work in post-war cinema. In the late 1960s a number of African and African American students entered UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television, and from the first class through to the 1980s came to represent the first sustained undertaking to forge an alternative Black cinema practice in the United States.

This season will provide the first opportunity in the UK to explore the full extent of this remarkable period and encounter the artists who pioneered counter-cultural and community-based approaches to filmmaking from the 1960s to the 1990s. Ground breaking films range from Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep 1977 to Haile Gerima’s Bush Mama 1975 that are unique reflections on life in the black communities of Los Angeles and recognised as some of the most important films of the 1970s. Drawing on the dynamic social and political climate of the period, the films emerged from the context of the black liberation and anti-Vietnam movements and in solidarity with the international Third Cinema.

Other films re-work conventions of Hollywood cinema to reflect on the black experience from the subtle dramas of Julie Dash to the explosive films of Jamaa Fanaka. Newly discovered masterpieces, from Larry Clark’s Passing Through 1977, one of the best jazz films ever made, to Billy Woodberry’s Bless Their Little Hearts 1984, a remarkable ensemble drama set in south central Los Angeles, have been restored and recognised as landmark films of the period.

Chicago Reader review:
The first feature (1977) of the highly talented black filmmaker Charles Burnett, who set most of his early films in Watts (including My Brother's Wedding and To Sleep With Anger); this one deals episodically with the life of a slaughterhouse worker. Shot on a year's worth of weekends for under $10,000, this remarkable work is conceivably the single best feature about ghetto life. It was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry as one of the key works in American cinema—ironic and belated recognition of a film that, until this recent restoration, had virtually no distribution. It shouldn't be missed.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here and above is the trailer.


No2: The Seventh Bullet (Khamarev, 1972): Cinema Museum, 7.30pm

Here is the Cinema Museum introduction to tonight's offering:
A 35mm screening of USSR/Uzbekistan film, The Seventh Bullet / Sedmaya Pulya (1972), directed by Ali Khamraev (84 mins). This special retrospective screening is part of the 7th Asia House Film Festival, supported by Prudential. The films of Uzbek director Ali Khramraev are long overdue discovery in the UK. This stunning “Red Western” is a real revelation. Adapting the gritty nihilism of Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns to local landscapes, its story unfolds during the Basmachi Revolt of the 1920s, in which Communist reformers sought to suppress an uprising by the Muslim peoples of Central Asia.

Chicago Reader review:
Uzbek director Ali Khamraev enjoyed his greatest success with this 1972 action movie, a prime example of the "Red westerns" that flourished during the Soviet era. With its dramatic landscapes and tense psychological struggles, the movie might pass for one of the classic Hollywood westerns of Budd Boetticher and Anthony Mann, except that the antagonists here are not cowboys and Indians but valiant soldiers of the Red Army and savage Islamists of the Basmachi Rebellion, which unfolded in Central Asia after the Russian Revolution. The hero is a Soviet officer, assigned to a village in the mountains of Uzbekistan, who returns from an expedition to learn that a fearsome rebel leader has slaughtered several locals and indoctrinated the rest; the officer sets off in hot pursuit, confident that he can win back the villagers by schooling them in the glories of communism. The movie is impressive as genre filmmaking, though ultimately—like many of our westerns—it's most fascinating as an expression of state power.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is an extract.

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