Forget Frozen. Perhaps the best film taking place on frozen water (think ice) is The Ice King(Film Movement). With a mix of new interviews, crisp footage and a treasure-trove of archival materials, Emmy-nominated documentarian James Erskine takes viewers on an emotionally resonant journey through John Curry’s remarkable life and career. Curry transformed ice skating from a dated sport into an exalted art form. Coming out on the night of his Olympic win in 1976, he became the first openly gay Olympian in a time when homosexuality was not even fully legal.
Toxic yet charming; rebellious yet elitist; emotionally aloof yet spectacularly needy; ferociously ambitious yet bent on self-destruction, Curry was a man forever on the run: from his father’s ghost, his country, even his own self.
Above all, he was an artist and an athlete whose body time and time again—sometimes against his will—became a political battlefield. This documentary uses Curry’s life and accomplishments to chart both the evolution of competitive ice skating and of the gay movement of the ’70s and ’80s that culminated in the onslaught of AIDS, which he was diagnosed with in 1987 and which contributed to his death in 1994.
On the Beautiful Blue Danube: Creating the Music ofThe Ice King
Film Movement has the knack to move things around . . . actions that move film fans to explore genres, watch movies previously unknown to them, introduce themselves to new directors, new actors, new talent.
We took such actions this year and discovered a trove of treasures; films that moved us to tears and laughter and the promise to keep our minds and hearts open.
A small sampling of Film Movement flicks that must be added to your must-see list:
Oh! The genius of Fritz Lang . . . M, Metropolis, Fury, Scarlet Street, Rancho Notorious, Clash By Night, The Blue Gardenia, The Big Heat. After more than two decades of exile in Hollywood, the master filmmaker Lang triumphantly returned to his native Germany to direct a lavish two-part serialized cliffhanger from a story he co-authored almost 40 years earlier: 1959’s The Tiger of Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb, which together would become known as Fritz Lang’s Indian Epic.
Operating outside the Hollywood system and given more freedom and resources than he had seen in years, Lang returned to remake the exotic adventure The Indian Tomb, which he originally helped to pen in 1921 but didn’t have the opportunity to direct himself. With breathtaking location shoots, a large international cast, elaborate sets and a jungle’s worth of danger and treachery, Lang crafted a blend of evocative images and montage that, in the twilight of his career, once again proved him a virtuoso of film form.
Initially released in America as Journey to the Lost City, a radically condensed 90-minute version, these exotic masterpieces are finally presented in all their original splendor, featuring more than three hours of breathtaking cinematography and cliff-hanging suspense, in this new 4K restored edition. The release of the film is cinematic history.
It’s been described as “less a swan song than a meteor shower rendered in Technicolor”, a fab phrase that we wish we came up with. Cassandro the Exotico! is a stirring feature portrait of a lucha libre legend in his waning years in the ring. The latest documentary portrait from director Marie Losier, whose 2011 film The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jay followed the gender reassignment journey of musician and artist Genesis P-Orridge, puts the spotlight on another, very different gender-bending LGBTQ+ performer.
Famed as much for his flamboyant drag and sky-high pompadour as for his show-stopping kicks and flips, 47-year-old Saul Armendariz — known in the wrestling ring as Cassandro — is a champion “exotico” wrestler, a luchador who performs in drag with generous doses of camp vamping between back-breaking suplexes. His trailblazing ascent as one the industry’s first openly gay wrestlers has resonated internationally for a quarter century- the story of an underdog and a queer icon simultaneously fragile and mighty. Losier captures the moving, at times humorous, and always colorful dualities of this legendary figure with her talent for forging intimacy with a subject while celebrating his individuality broadly.
The film, shot entirely on 16mm film,follows the “Liberace of the Lucha Libre” in his final years of competition, struggling with opponents and the cruel passage of time, while melding tender encounters and larger-than-life fight scenes into a stylish whole that reflects the vivid textures and hues of a dazzling life in sport.
Dazzling, daring and diversely different, Cassandro the Exotico! is the Best Film Movement Film of the Year!
We never had heard of Arvo Pärt, but That Pärt Feeling The Universe of Arvo Pärt introduced us to the most performed living composer in the world. Who knew?
He is considered to be something of a recluse, and his person and work have rarely been documented on film. In this documentary we get to know Pärt as an artist combining an incredible sensitivity with humor and energy in his work.
The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s celebrated philosophical children’s book about friendship, love and respect, is one of the world’s most widely translated literary works. In The Miracle of the Little Prince, director Marjoleine Boonstra visits the people who have translated this little masterpiece from French into Tibetan, Tamazight (North Africa), Sámi (northern Finland and Scandinavia) and Nawat (El Salvador). All of these languages are under threat. Passionately enthusiastic language researchers, teachers and translators talk about how the observations of an alien prince on earth are interpreted in their own culture.
They also recall the first time they read the book, and, naturally enough, discuss the linguistic challenges they faced how do you translate water faucet if there’s no such term in your world? This original approach and the exquisite, calm cinematography allow for the telling of personal stories that are as bizarre, human and painful as the experiences of the titular prince. It s a film that inspires wonder a testimony to the imagination and the solace and liberation it offers.
Bursting with the colorful street style and music of Nairobi’s vibrant youth culture, Rafiki is a tender love story between two young women in a country that still criminalizes homosexuality. Kena and Ziki have long been told that “good Kenyan girls become good Kenyan wives”. But they yearn for something more. Despite the political rivalry between their families, the girls encourage each other to pursue their dreams in a conservative society. When love blossoms between them, Kena and Ziki must choose between happiness and safety.
Initially banned in Kenya for its positive portrayal of queer romance, Rafiki won a landmark supreme court case chipping away at Kenyan anti-LGBT legislation. Featuring remarkable performances by newcomers Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva, Rafiki is a hip tale of first love.
The Mad Adventures of “Rabbi” Jacob, a riot of frantic disguises and mistaken identities, has been magnificently restored in 4K and has been released on Blu-ray fpr the time in North America.
Victor Pivert, a blustering, bigoted French factory owner, finds himself taken hostage by Slimane, an Arab rebel leader. The two dress up as rabbis as they try to elude not only assassins from Slimane’s country, but also the police, who think Pivert is a murderer.
Pivert ends up posing as Rabbi Jacob, a beloved figure who’s returned to France for his first visit after 30 years in the United States. Adding to the confusion are Pivert’s dentist-wife, who thinks her husband is leaving her for another woman, their daughter, who’s about to get married, and a Parisian neighborhood filled with people eager to celebrate the return of Rabbi Jacob. A hoot!
Umar Bin Hassan hasn’t even hit 70 yet, but he walks with difficulty and there’s sadness and fatigue in his eyes. As a member of The Last Poets, a group of performance poets who expressed the progressive spirit of the times starting in the late ’60s, he was a major influence on later hip-hop artists. In one of his best-known pieces, “Ni****s Are Scared of Revolution”, he criticizes his black brothers’ destructive, macho behavior.
Scared of Revolution, based on Christine Otten’s book, The Last Poets, concentrates on Hassan’s personal life, in which he still fights his demons. He grew up poor with a violent, unpredictable father, which in turn left him with an inferiority complex. In the course of his adult life, he has had a string of bad relationships and left children without a father figure. In his darkest hour, he also battled a crack addiction.
“Deep inside, Umar was scared of the revolution himself,” says fellow member of The Last Poets Abiodun Oyewole. But, as this intimate documentary portrait shows, Hassan takes control of his life again, breaks the destructive cycle and does his best to be the devoted father and grandfather that he was never fortunate enough to have.
We save the best for last. With an emphasis on “best”.
Since its launch in 2015, the Film Movement Classics label has been dedicated to seeking out distinctive films of the past from around the globe, and offering these digitally restored classics to cineastes everywhere. We go excited—truly, really excited—when we found out that Film Movement has acquired a baker’s dozen of British classics from the ’40s-’60s for Blu-ray and digital release on the Film Movement Classics label beginning this month.
That gasp you just heard? That was me. Yes, that excited.
Each of these new home entertainment releases has been digitally restored for optimal enjoyment, and each release will feature numerous bonus features for an unparalleled viewing experience.
The first two British classics to be released on December 20 are The Titfield Thunderbolt and Passport to Pimlico,both hailing from Ealing Studios, whose output from the ’40s and ’50s helped define the Golden Age for British Cinema and the birthplace of the most delectable crop of films to decorate postwar cinema.
The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953), the first Ealing comedy to be made in color, tells the story of the inhabitants of Titfield, who endeavor to prove that their single-track railway is the only form of transport for the village. The villains of the piece are two unsavory characters who have introduced a smart brand new single-decker bus to Titfield. Crump and Pearce, owners of the bus company, are determined to cease the running of the Titfield train, by fair means or foul. The film starred Ealing regulars including Stanley Holloway, Naunton Wayne, George Relp, John Gregson and Hugh Griffith. Extras on the Blu-ray include, “Making The Titfield Thunderbolt“, “The Lion Locomotive” and a Locations featurette; Home Movie Footage from Cinematographer Douglas Slocombe; Slocombe on Charles Crichton audio interview, the original trailer and an archival stills gallery.
Starring Stanley Holloway, Hermione Baddeley, Margaret Rutherford and Paul Dupuis, Passport to Pimlico (1949) is one of the most whimsically charming Ealing films from director Henry Cornelius. When an accidental explosion of an undetonated WWII German bomb unearths a buried cellar containing both fabulous riches and an unknown royal charter from King Edward IV that cedes the surrounding land to the last Duke of Burgundy, the town of Pimlico is turned upside down.
Since the charter has never been rescinded, the London district of Pimlico is now legally the long-lost Duchy of Burgundy, and therefore no longer subject to British law, including postwar rationing and pub closure hours. The locals, quick to see the opportunities, do their best to take full advantage of the situation. Extras include a Locations featurette with Film Historian Richard Dacre; an interview with BFI Curator Mark Duguid; a restoration comparison and an archival slideshow.
Yes, dear readers, as Film Movement Classics reveals other releases, we will be the first to let you know. For instance . . .
The next release, arriving on February 18, 2020, is The Alastair Sim Blu-Ray Collection. Though he is perhaps best known for his role as Scrooge in the 1951 film adaptation of A Christmas Carol, Scottish character actor Alastair Sim is one of the best-loved and most prolific actors in classic British comedy. Often appearing in multiple roles, he starred in more than 50 films beginning in 1935 and was both critically acclaimed and unfailingly popular, regularly topping the cinema-goers popularity polls. This specially-curated set includes Hue and Cry (1947), Laughter in Paradise (1951), The Belles of St. Trinian’s (1954) and School for Scoundrels (1960).
We tell us this so that any cash Santa brought you must be set aside so you can buy this invaluable collection.
It’s a mystery within a mystery within the painting “The Garden of Earthly Delights”, is the most famous and intriguing work by Hieronymus Bosch. He’s an artist who is as much as an enigma as his highly symbolic and detail-rich paintings; in 2017 the world celebrated his 500th anniversary.
Now, through unique exclusive access granted by the Prado Museum, such as witnessing the processes of X-raying and restoring the painting, Bosch: The Garden of Dreams from director José Luis López-Linares seeks to answer centuries-old questions about the painter and painting, as well as to explain the inspiration both have had on artists, writers, philosophers and musicians through the years. Save the date: The flick releases on May 14 from Film Movement.
Interviewees in the documentary include such notable figures as Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushdie, Renee Fleming, William Christie, Philippe de Montebello, Ludovico Einaudi and John Eliot Gardiner.
We remember Antonio Lopez from the ’70s and ’80s . . . somewhere in our archives is a poster for one of his exhibitions, boldly signed and safely ready for eBay one day.
But not before we check out Antonio Lopez: Sex Fashion & Disco (Film Movement)from filmmaker James Crump. The film is a vibrant time capsule of the decadent world of ’70s haute couture as viewed through the eyes of Lopez, the dominant fashion illustrator of the era whose distinctive drawings graced the pages of Vogue and Elle. In his obituary, The New York Times called Lopez a “major fashion illustrator.”
A Puerto Rican native raised in the Bronx, Antonio was a seductive arbiter of style and glamour who brought urban street elements to a postwar fashion world desperate for change and diversity. Counted among Antonio’s discoveries were iconic beauties such as Grace Jones, Jessica Lange and Jerry Hall. Antonio’s inner circle was also comprised of celebrated photographer Bill Cunningham and rival designers Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent. All these characters and more come together to create a vivid portrait of Antonio Lopez and the revolutionary fashion world he helped create.
Through archival footage and stills of studio life in Carnegie Hall, infamous venues such as Max’s Kansas City and Hotel Chelsea and original interviews with principal characters from the time, Crump takes audiences back to the swinging seventies when fashion designers and their entourages gained the prominence of rock stars.
Antonio Lopez: Sex Fashion & Disco features interviews with Lange, Pat Cleveland, Warhol superstars Donna Jordan, Jane Forth and Patti D’Arbanville, as well as revered fashion photographer Bill Cunningham in his very last interview, and fashion world luminaries including Grace Coddington, Joan Juliet Buck, Michael Chow, Bob Colacello, Corey Tippin and Paul Caranicas. The film which Interview called “dazzling,” perfectly captures Lopez and his entourage, blithely on a quest for beauty and pleasure before the decade, saturated by drug use, addiction and sexual promiscuity came to a crashing halt.
Rare archival footage
Bill Cunningham interview excerpts
Bonus Short Film — You Can’t Do Everything at Once, But You Can Leave Everything at Once (Directed by Marie-Elsa Sgualdo | Switzerland | 15 minutes) A mesmerizing and fantastic tale of a young woman’s life constructed from a variety of archival footage.
In the wake of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, a man named Malin, a Russian literature professor at the University of Havana, is sent to translate for the Soviet children who have been brought to Cuba for medical treatment. While adapting to this emotionally demanding job, the Berlin Wall falls and a deep economic crisis hits the island. But Malin is so entrenched in the lives of the Chernobyl Children that he fails to notice his own family suffering. Now he must find a way to put the fractured pieces of his life back together and become a better person along the way.
We offer Un Traductor (Film Movement), a flick that was nominated for a 2018 Sundance Grand Jury Prize in World Cinema competition. It also captured the Best Director Golden Goblet for the Barriuso brothers at the Shanghai International Film Festival.
Rodrigo Santoro, one of Brazil’s most acclaimed actors, plays Malin. And he plays the role brilliantly!
The U.K.’s official submission for Best Foreign Film for this year’s Academy Awards is I Am Not a Witch. The movie, now on DVD from Film Movement, from the Zambian-born Welsh director Rungano Nyoni, is a striking satire about witchcraft in contemporary Zambia.
When nine-year-old Shula is accused of witchcraft, she is exiled to a witch camp run by Mr. Banda, a corrupt and inept government official. Tied to the ground by a white ribbon, Shula is told that she will turn into a goat if she tries to escape. As the only child witch, Shula quickly becomes a local star and the adults around her exploit her supposed powers for financial gain. Soon she is forced to make a difficult decision – whether to resign herself to life on the camp, or take a risk for freedom.
At times moving, often funny and occasionally surreal, I Am Not a Witch offers spellbinding storytelling with flashes of anarchic humor, showcasing Nyoni as the birth of a significant new screen voice. Festival audiences and juries also agreed, bestowing more than 20 nominations on the film, including the AFI Fest Audience Award and a BIFA nod for “Best British Independent Film”.
Sex! Betrayal! Corruption! Such facts of life unravel in a Copenhagen hotel, where nine disparate lives intersect by chance or fate.
A hotel manager peers into the abyss of his empty life, leading to devastating consequences for himself, his wife and his mistress.
A Spanish stewardess reaches out for intimacy and finds it in a most unexpected way.
A reserved concierge is forced out of his shell by a shocking event, and an Albanian refugee gets a chance to avenge his wife, but ends up discovering something surprising instead.
An Official Selection in Competition at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Room 304 (Film Movement), director Birgitte Staermose’s debut feature, will make home audiences think twice before booking a hotel room again.
Sweeping in scope yet full of intimate moments, Film Movement’s The Paris Opera, offers a candid look behind the scenes of one of the world’s foremost performing arts institutions. Over the course of one tumultuous season, director Jean-Stéphane Bron nimbly juggles multiple storylines, from ballet and opera rehearsals, to strike negotiations, last minute crises and ticket disputes, revealing the dedication of the talented personnel who bring breathtaking spectacles to the stage night after night.
It’s Autumn 2015 and, at the Paris Opera, new director Stéphane Lissner is putting the finishing touches to his first press conference. Backstage, artists and crew diligently prepare to raise the curtain on a new season with Schönberg’s opera, Moses and Aaron. However, the announcement of a strike and arrival of a 2000-pound bull in a supporting role complicate matters greatly. As the season progresses, more and more characters appear, playing out the human comedy in the manner of a documentary Opera. Enter promising young Russian singer, Mikhail Tymoshenko, who begins at the Opera’s Academy; in the hallways of Opera Bastille, his destiny will cross paths with that of Bryn Terfel, one of the greatest voices of his time. And Lissner will have to weather star choreographer Benjamin Millepied jumping ship soon after taking over as director of ballet at Palais Garnier. But when the terrorist attack at The Bataclan plunges the city into mourning, the company recognizes the show must go on.
For those who need a bit on enlightening when it comes to director and screenwriter Joseph W. Sarno, known as the “Ingmar Bergman of Porn” and the “Chekov of Soft-Core”, we offer some bare facts, a dose of the naked truth. Sarno’s early black and white films are praised for their chiaroscuro lighting and their complex psycho-sexual plots, but it was his more explicit art-house film, Inga, shot in Sweden in 1968, that brought him international attention. Never a fan of explicit triple-X filmmaking, Sarno continued to write and direct adult films through the ’70s and ’80s, often working under a pseudonym or offering his director’s credit to the film’s female lead.
Film Movement Classics has partnered with Film Media and Something Weird to release new HD restorations of two Sarno classics on Blu-ray for the first time: All the Season of Sodomand Vibrations.
For years, only poorly-preserved prints were available for retrospective screenings; now, cinema aficionados will be able to screen Sarno’s classics, restored to a pristine state for optimal viewing. (New 2K theatrical masters were created for each film.) Packaged together, this exclusive collection, also featuring specially-produced extras such as an interview with Sarno himself and audio commentary, will be available on Blu-ray. Other special features include commentary by Film Historian Tim Lucas and Joe’s wife, Peggy Steffans-Sarno and a booklet featuring liner notes from Lucas.
Shot back-to-back with Vibrations in 1968, All the Sings of Sodom has the sexploitation auteur at the top of his game in this penetrating study of ambition, romance and lust set inside the world of fashion photography. Encouraged by his agent, Henning, a struggling New York City photographer, begins a daring portfolio of his model, Leslie. But all too soon, jealousies erupt when another model vies for his camera and bed in this elegantly filmed time capsule of late ’60s New York.
In Vibrations, aspiring writer Barbara moves to Manhattan to jump-start her career and sex life, but ends up typing manuscripts. Alone at night, she listens to the sound of her sexy neighbor as she entertains herself and her friends with the aid of her vibrator. When her extroverted sister, Julie, comes to town, Barbara is forced to confront her repressed sexual desires.
What if D-Day had failed and the Third Reich continued to roll across Europe? Following in the alternate history footsteps of The Man in the High Castle and Fatherland,Resistanceshines a light on the little-known British Resistance Organization (BRO), Winston
Churchill’s top-secret and highly trained civilian army designed to wreak havoc on occupying enemy forces. This BAFTA Award-winning revisionist drama will be available on DVD and Digital on March 7 from Omnibus Entertainment, the specialty label of award-winning independent and foreign film distributor Film Movement.
Starring Michael Sheen, Andrea Riseborough, Iwan Rheon and Tom Wlaschiha, Resistance, based on the acclaimed novel by Owen Sheers is set in Nazi-occupied Britain. D-Day has failed, and, as Panzer divisions and Nazi troops sweep westward across the dispirited countryside, Sarah Lewis (Riseborough), a young Welsh farmer’s wife, awakens to find that her husband, along with all the other men are gone, presumably having fled the village to join the top-secret BRO.
Shortly thereafter, a small Wehrmacht platoon arrives in the pastoral countryside and sets up an outpost in the valley to root out the resistance. And when the severe winter forces them to cooperate with the locals, Sarah befriends the commanding officer, Albrecht (Wlaschiha), and the lines between collaboration, duty, occupation and survival are put to the test. Called “a beautiful, elliptical war film with the haunting qualities of a ghost story” by Empire Magazine, Resistance was nominated for the prestigious Cinevision Award at the Berlin Film Festival and a BAFTA Cymru Winner for Best Actress (Sharon Morgan).
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