By Mark Peranson

When the history of 2020 is written, if we make it that far, the disruption of the usual mechanisms of exhibition, production, and distribution of cinema will (rightly) appear as a footnote, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There are more important crises to manage, but here’s not the place to deal with them in any satisfying way. If the last issue appeared just as COVID-19 was locking us all indoors, this one is born as people are emerging onto the streets, not to head back to normalcy, but to express anger. So I’m sure the last thing you want to hear from me are complaints—after all, we are still publishing, and a physical issue no less.

To make a long story short, many challenges were faced for this issue; the first, financial, was resolved thanks to the additional support provided by the Canada Council for the Arts, for which we are grateful. In terms of content, I also decided to concentrate more than usual on new work which is readily available to be seen online or on physical home-based media, whether in terms of the DAU project, which is currently in the process of being released on demand on the internet, one installment per week or so; made-for-television/streaming series such as Trigonometry and Ozark; films that have skipped proper theatrical releases due to circumstance (all the Currency reviews); film festivals which moved onto the internet (Visions du Réel, Images); and even musical performance (music is a thread which connects a number of the pieces, a careful reader will discover).

What we will cover next time around it’s too early to say. However, unlike a certain apocalyptic contributor in these pages, I am confident that soon enough we will all be back in the cinema, attending festival screenings, cinematheques, and seeing Tenet, because cinema, as it is currently defined—namely a theatrical, communal experience—is part of culture. (I do think that many festivals and distributors have seen the advantages of virtual screenings, and the near future will include online components.) Coronavirus survivor Christian Petzold’s Undine, which was scheduled for theatrical release soon after the Berlinale, will be hitting cinemas the first week of July. And one of the films of the year—regardless of what gems can be mined from the “Cannes 2020 label” or anything that might show up in a truncated Venice—merits inclusion as a statement of one direction of what represents a legitimate cinematic future. 

C.W. Winter and Anders Edström’s eight-hour The Works and Days (of Tayoko Shiojiri in the Shiotani Basin) premiered in the initial Encounters competition at the Berlinale, where it was the deserved winner (full disclosure etc. etc., but I didn’t make the thing), and has yet to have a public screening since, nor have the filmmakers consented to an online showing. As theatres start to open up and festivals migrate back into the real world, readers will have the opportunity to spend a full day in a cinema and watch this film soon—distribution deals have been done for North America, France, and Japan, with other countries pending (Grasshopper will also be giving Winter and Edström’s fiction debut, 2009’s The Anchorage, a proper release in the US). Feel free to skip over the first ten pages that follow until your time comes if you’re concerned with spoilers.

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From the Magazine

  • Cinema Scope 83 Table of Contents

    Interviews *DAU. Diary & Dialogue. Part One: A Living World, by Jordan Cronk The Land Demands Your Effort: C.W Winter (and Anders Edström) on The More →

  • The Land Demands Your Effort: C.W Winter (and Anders Edström) on The Works and Days (of Tayoko Shiojiri in the Shiotani Basin)

    Though the process of watching the onset of life’s end yields gut-wrenching moments, some recorded, some reconstructed, it makes little sense to extract one scene from the whole picture, as the film’s ultimate strength lies in its refusal to privilege, well, anything: an image of a tree means as much as a visit to an onsen, three people walking in the dark, a farmer hoeing her land, or a black screen with no image at all, only an intricately composed soundscape (as the quote introducing the film reads, “Until the moment you are dead you can still hear”). Make no mistake: though mortality is front and centre, this is a salute to the possibilities provided by cinema, a celebration of life. More →

  • DAU. Diary & Dialogue. Part One: A Living World

    At the press conference for the premiere of DAU. Natasha at this year’s Berlinale, director Ilya Khrzhanovsky pre-empted questions regarding the controversial methods involved in the realization of his 14-year passion project—collectively known as DAU—by contrasting the experiences of his actors with the everyday lives of their Soviet-era characters. “All the feelings [depicted in the film] are real,” he said, “but the circumstances are not real in which these feelings happen. More →

  • The Math of Love Triangles: Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Trigonometry

    The most arresting image in the new BBC Studios series Trigonometry (airing in the US this summer on HBO Max and in Canada on CBC Gem) comes in the fifth episode, when restaurateur Gemma (Thalissa Teixeira), in the middle of a difficult Nordic honeymoon getaway with her new husband Kieran (Gary Carr), goes on an evening field trip to see the Northern Lights. As Kieran sulks back at the hotel, she gazes up at a display that imbues the uncanny sensation—for the character, as well as the audience—of a planetarium-show special effect despite its you-are-there authenticity. More →

  • In Search of the Female Gaze

    The trope of a woman removing her glasses to suddenly reveal her great beauty is as familiar as it is eye-roll-inducing. She never looks that different, but her status as an erotic object changes immediately and immensely. A classic example is Dorothy Malone as a bookstore clerk in The Big Sleep (1946), but more recently there is Rachel Leigh Cook descending the stairs to the saccharine sounds of “Kiss Me” in She’s All That (1999). Give up your active gaze, this convention seems to say, and you will be alluring. More →