TOKYO-GA: Ozu, A Relic Of The Cinema (An Excerpt From The Script TOKYO-GA)

If our century still had any shrines... if there were any relics of the cinema, then for me it would have to be the corpus of the Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu. He made fifty-four films in all, silents in the twenties, black-and-white films in the thirties and forties, and finally colour films until his death in 1963 – on 12 December, his sixtieth birthday.

Ozu's films always tell the same simple stories, of the same people, in the same city of Tokyo. They are told with extreme economy, reduced to their barest essentials. They show how life has changed in Japan over forty years. Ozu's films detail the slow decline of the Japanese family and the collapse of national identity. They don't do it by pointing aghast at the new, American, occidental influences, but by lamenting the losses with a gentle melancholy as they occur.

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SUGAR: Interview With Writer/Directors Anna Boden And Ryan Fleck

Jason Wood: With your follow-up film to Half Nelson was there a conscious decision to extend your sights beyond American borders?

Anna Boden/Ryan Fleck: Not really, but filmmaking is an excellent excuse for travel. Generally, we are compelled by a certain character and go wherever that character takes us.

JW: What was the starting point for the journey that Sugar undertakes? I understand that Ryan was a big baseball fan and this then led to research concerning the thousands of athletes from the Dominican Republic that go through the minor league system.

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Cannes ’82 – The Guests of Room 666

Though imprisoned at the time in his home country, Turkish director Yilmaz Güney, along with Costa-Gavras (Missing), was awarded the Palme d’or for Yol. Fitzcarraldo earned Werner Herzog the Best Director prize. Romain Goupil received the Caméra d’or for Half a Life.

Other guests of Room 666 who had features in the main competition were Robert Kramer (A Tout Allure), Michaelangelo Antonioni (Identification of a Woman), Jean-Luc Godard (Passion), Susan Seidleman (Smithereens) and Wenders himself (Hammett).

Un Certain Regard included Paul Morrissey (Forty Deuce), Jean-Luc Godard (A Letter to Freddy Bauche), Ana Carolina (Heart and Guts) and Mahroun Bagdadi (Little Wars).

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What is the attraction of the documentary form for you?

Wim Wenders: First of all the spontaneity it allows for. All my documentaries have opened up and presented themselves to me on very short notice. And then you’re confronted with the reality of a situation, and you try to find the form for it. You “react”. Fiction usually works the other way around. You act.

Were your influences for documentary the same as fiction film or did you look to other filmmakers for inspiration?

My fictional work always included a “documentary tendency”. I was always happy to let as much “reality” as possible enter my stories. I base my work on a strong sense of place, and that applies to fictional as well as documentary films. But while I learned a lot about the language and grammar of filmmaking from the American Cinema (Ford, Mann, Ray, Fuller, Hitchcock…), I can’t really quote “documentary influences”. That is more a self-made form for me, and was initially leaning more to diary-films or essays than to “classic” documentaries. I do admire some documentary filmmakers, though. Pennebaker, Chris Marker, just to name two.

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A TRICK OF THE LIGHT: Max Skladanowsky - A Cinematic Innovator

Max Skladanowsky was one of the true innovators of early cinema. The son of a glazier, he was born in Berlin on 30 April 1863. Employed by the Hagedorn workshops, who specialised in the manufacture of props and lighting for theatres, he trained in photography, glass painting and optics, learning how to construct the magic lanterns that were popular at the time.

In 1879, along with his older brother Emil, he accompanied his father, Carl, around Germany and neighbouring countries, presenting dissolving magic lantern shows. In 1890 Max and Emil constructed a mobile mechanical theatre which they took on tour the following year, and to Vienna, Budapest and Scandinavia in 1892.

Around this time, the brothers constructed a chronophotographic camera, designed for unperforated Kodak roll film and using a worm-gear intermittent movement. Their first footage was shot on 20 August, 1892. It featured forty-eight frames of Emil.

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