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

  • Issue 84 Table of Contents

    INTERVIEWS *The Act of Living: GianfrancThe Act of Living: Gianfranco Rosi on Notturnoo Rosi on Notturno By Mark Peranson*Reconstructing Violence: Nicolás Pereda on Fauna By More →

  • The Act of Living: Gianfranco Rosi on Notturno

    “The night scares me so much,” confesses a courageous Yazidi pre-teen girl to a therapist, remembering the period when she and her younger sister were captured by ISIS. Anyone who was seen crying would be killed, they were told; it turned out to be a vacant threat, but the sisters were still beaten, and now they are attempting to exorcise their memories by drawing pictures of them. Does it help? We never find out. More →

  • Reconstructing Violence: Nicolás Pereda on Fauna

    There’s a point in nearly every Nicolás Pereda film when the narrative is either reoriented or upended in some way. In the past this has occurred through bifurcations in story structure or via ruptures along a given film’s docufiction fault line. Pereda’s ninth feature, Fauna, extends this tradition, though its means of execution and conceptual ramifications represent something new for the 38-year-old Mexican-Canadian filmmaker. More →

  • I Lost It at the Movies: Charlie Kaufman’s Antkind and I’m Thinking of Ending Things

    “It’s all planned, but it isn’t thought out,” wrote Pauline Kael in her review of A Woman Under the Influence (1974), a nifty bit of critical jiu-jitsu turning John Cassavetes’ much-theorized—and, during Kael’s reign at The New Yorker, much-derided—technique of spontaneous improvisation within a dramatic framework against him. More →

  • Open Ticket: The Long, Strange Trip of Ulrike Ottinger

    One of the most surprising things about Ulrike Ottinger’s new documentary Paris Calligrammes is how accessible it is. Some cinephiles may be familiar with Ottinger based on an 11-year period of mostly fictional productions that were adjacent to the New German Cinema but, for various reasons, were never entirely subsumed within that rubric. Others are quite possibly more aware of her later work in documentary, in particular her commitment to a radical form of experimental ethnographic cinema. More →