Jesse Cumming

Genus Pan (Lav Diaz, Philippines)

By Jesse Cumming / December 22, 2020

By Jesse Cumming Marking Lav Diaz’s return to Venice four years and two features after winning the Golden Lion for the nearly four-hour The Woman Who Left, Genus Pan has invited easy jokes about its relative brevity by Diaz standards, clocking in as it does at a relatively efficient 156 minutes—even though it is, in fact,…

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The Home and the World: Three Films by Ruchir Joshi

By Jesse Cumming / September 22, 2020

In a recent article published in advance of the restoration and rerelease of his work, filmmaker and writer Ruchir Joshi detailed the context for creative Indian documentary in the late ’80s, just as he was developing his practice:

Independent documentary makers tended to attempt only two or three kinds of non-fiction films: Films commissioned by NGOs, “activist” films around a social or political issue about which the filmmaker felt passionately, and films to do with culture, usually traditional craft or performance.

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Together We’re Willing to Take Any Risk: The Films of Han Ok-hee and Kaidu Club

By Jesse Cumming / September 23, 2019

In 1974, a group of students from the prestigious Ewha Womans University in Seoul formed South Korea’s first feminist film collective, Kaidu Club. Shepherded by the group’s de-facto president Han Ok-hee, the other members—who participated with varying degrees of involvement over the Club’s five years of existence—also included the painter Kim Jeom-seon, as well as academics and artists Lee Jeong-hee, Han Soon-ae, Jeong Myo-sook, and Wang Gyu-won. As the “Club” designation might suggest, the group was committed to both the promotion and production of experimental cinema, which was still in its domestic infancy.

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2minutes40seconds (Han Ok-hee, South Korea) — Wavelengths

By Jesse Cumming / September 6, 2019

By Jesse Cumming Published in Cinema Scope #80 (Fall 2019) “There are two prejudices in pre-existing cinema: filmmaking is a male job and the movie should be fun. We, as outsiders, will break these biases.”—Han Ok-hee, 1974 In 1974, a group of students from the prestigious Ewha Womans University in Seoul formed South Korea’s first…

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Atlantics (Mati Diop, France/Senegal/Belgium) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Jesse Cumming / September 3, 2019

By Jesse Cumming Published in Cinema Scope #79 (Summer 2019) In 2012, when French-Senegalese filmmaker Mati Diop pitched her anticipated debut feature Atlantics as part of Locarno’s Open Doors initiative, the film went by the title Fire Next Time. While much in the film has changed in the time between its initial conception and its…

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Festivals: Rotterdam | Anchors Aweigh: Zhu Shengze’s Present.Perfect.

By Jesse Cumming / March 26, 2019

In 2014, the Chinese government first outlined its plans for a “social credit system,” a massive project that utilizes various data-collection tools to rank the good standing of the country’s citizens, set to be fully implemented by 2020.

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Dead Souls (Wang Bing, France/Switzerland) — Wavelengths

By Jesse Cumming / September 6, 2018

By Jesse Cumming Published in Cinema Scope 75 (Summer 2018)   Watching Wang Bing’s Dead Souls at Cannes a few days apart from a restored screening of Safi Faye’s Fad Jal (1979), the citation by Hampâté Bâ that opened the latter felt particularly resonant, with its declaration that “In Africa, when an old man dies,…

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Ephraim Asili’s Immeasurable Equations

By Jesse Cumming / September 28, 2017

By Jesse Cumming If it is not here It must be there For somewhere and nowhere Parallels In versions of each other …. where Or even before something came to be —Sun Ra, “Parallels” (1970) Described as “A Video Film on Space and the Music of the Omniverse,” Ephraim Asili’s Points on a Space Age (2009)…

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Fluid Frontiers (Ephraim Asili, USA/Canada) — Wavelengths

By Jesse Cumming / September 7, 2017

By Jesse Cumming Published in Cinema Scope 72 (Fall 2017) If it is not here It must be there For somewhere and nowhere Parallels In versions of each other …. where Or even before something came to be —Sun Ra, “Parallels” (1970) Described as “A Video Film on Space and the Music of the Omniverse,”…

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