News to Me: Locarno, Peter Fonda, and John Coltrane
Award-winners Vitalina Varela and Pedro Costa at the Locarno Film Festival (Photo: Marco Abram)
1) The Locarno Film Festival wrapped up this weekend, with Portuguese filmmaker Pedro Costa winning the festival’s Golden Leopard for his latest feature Vitalina Varela. Awarded by an international jury headed by French filmmaker and novelist Catherine Breillat, honors also went to Height of the Wave (from South Korean director Park Jung-bum), which took home the Special Jury Prize, and Damien Manivel, who won the Leopard for Best Direction on his French/South Korean co-production, Les Enfants d’Isadora. You can hear our thoughts on these movies and more on the latest episode of The Film Comment Podcast.
2) Actor, director, and writer Peter Fonda passed away over the weekend at the age of 79. The son of Henry Fonda and the younger brother of Jane Fonda, Peter was a major figure in the counterculture movement of the ’60s, starring in the 1969 classic Easy Rider (which he also produced and co-wrote). Fonda’s career continued on both sides of the camera for decades, with his work in Ulee’s Gold earning him a nomination for Best Actor at the 1998 Academy Awards. Said the Fonda family in a statement, “In honor of Peter, please raise a glass to freedom.” Godspeed.
3) It’s 2019, and there’s a new John Coltrane album set to be released next month. That’s right, Blue World, a collection of recordings of the classic John Coltrane Quartet, will be released by Impulse! Records, Coltrane’s longtime label. Recorded at Van Gelder Studios on June 24, 1964, 10 minutes of the 37-minute album was originally used as the soundtrack for Gilles Groulx’s Québécoise new-wave film, Le chat dans le sac (“The Cat in the Bag,” 1964), which you can watch for free here. Blue World hits stores and streaming services on September 27.
4) If you can’t find the movie you were looking for on the Criterion Channel, chances are it might be on BFI Player. The film institute is embracing the modern movie-watching experience—unlike Cannes—with a new streaming service recently launched in the U.S. Featuring classics as well as new releases, the platform boasts collections for a variety of genres and time periods, as well as a remarkable collection of home movies, educational documentaries, and shorts.
5) Type “Laos Film” into Google and you’ll notice the first row of posters to pop up are all of films made after 2012. After years of political turmoil upset the country’s artistic culture, Laos is emerging with a new cinema despite limited production resources. Though only four movie theaters populate the Southeast Asian country, its capital city hosts the annual Vientienale, while Luang Prabang Film Festival is hosted in the former royal capital every December. Anysay Keola, a director credited with helping establish a Lao New Wave, explores Lao-Thai relations in the crime thriller Red Mekong, which screened at Locarno last week. Still curious? Culture Trip made a list of 10 films to watch before visiting Laos, and the team over at Asian Film Festivals (AFF) has provided some recommendations from all of the film festivals on the continent.
6) Speaking of Thailand, this summer marks the 10th anniversary of the Thai Film Archive’s re-establishment as a public organization focused on celebrating international cinema through curated series and preserving Thai films—a not-so-simple task due to the regional climate and fragile condition of the reels. The TFA recently featured the photography of cinematographer Thae Prakasvudhisarn in a Google Arts and Culture slide, whose work captured Thai life through film and news broadcasts as it unfolded during the 1950s and ’60s.
7) Mia Hansen-Løve’s next project, Bergman Island, recommenced shooting this summer. The film follows a screenwriting couple spending a summer on Färö Island, of Ingmar Bergman fame. Last year in Film Comment, Olivier Assayas ruminated on the Swedish director’s legacy on his 100th anniversary: “It’s hard for me to find Bergman in contemporary cinema . . . I see his absence as a terrible void.”
8) The Cinémathèque Française is gearing up for a retrospective on Nicholas Ray, screening 27 of his films over the course of a month. The American director, best known for his work on American classics Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and The American Friend (1977), passed away 40 years ago this summer. Ray gave his final interview to director Kathryn Bigelow in 1979 while taking a break from working with Wim Wenders; read it on the Nicholas Ray Foundation website.
9) Yorgos Lanthimos teamed up with Matt Dillon for the “twisted” fantasy Nimic, Lanthimos’ foray into short films, which premiered at Locarno. The Greek director is currently at work on Pop. 1280, an adaptation of Jim Thompson’s 1964 crime novel.
10) The experimental animation of NYFF Projections alumna Jodie Mack is, perhaps temporarily, available for home viewing. The director, who has created 16mm stop-motion films employing intricately patterned fabrics, spoke a few months ago at Film at Lincoln Center about her film The Grand Bizarre. We leave you this week with Mack’s 2003 film Two-Hundred Feet: