Filmed in 1965 and just as contemporary now as it was then, Yuri Ilyenko’s directorial debut, A SPRING FOR THE THIRSTY, is a surreal cinematic poem from the cinematographer of Sergei Paradzhanov’s SHADOWS OF FORGOTTEN ANCESTORS. As director-cinematographer of A SPRING FOR THE THIRSTY, Ilyenko has created a parable centering on an old man who lives a secluded life in the desert, alone with only his memories and photographs. His wellspring, once a source of joy and hope for thirsty passersby, is now rarely used. No longer able to find comfort in his memories, he turns all his photographs to face the walls.
Miéville’s first solo feature is a sensitive, emotionally complex portrait of three women: a young opera singer contemplating having a child; her mother, who is torn between two lovers; and her grandmother, who lives a life of solitude. As in so many of Miéville’s films, communication is the theme; each woman must struggle, often against the men in their lives, to find her own voice.
Mani Kaul’s film was funded by the Film Finance Corporation and an independent multi-arts co-operation led by noted painter Akbar Padamsee. Derived from a Rajasthani folk tale, it tells of a merchant’s son who returns home with his new wife only to be sent away on family business. A ghost witnesses the brides’ arrival and falls in love with her. He takes on the absent husband’s form an lives with her. She has his child, which becomes a problem when the real husband returns home. The film focusses on the wife’s life and dispenses with almost any dialogue developing the characters through parallel, historically uneven or even contradictory narratives.
In this, his 1977 feature-film debut, director Kidlat Tahimik, who is widely regarded as the father of independent Philippine cinema, stars as a Filipino jeepney driver who wants to emigrate to America to become an astronaut. Dreaming of an idealized version of the West, he chairs the fan club of the rocket designer Wernher von Braun and is a devoted listener of Voice of America. Traveling in his colorfully decorated extended jeep he arrives in Paris, where his illusions can’t survive.
The young and handsome Kano Sozaburo is admitted to the Shinsengumi, an elite samurai group that seeks to defend the Tokugawa shogunate against reformist forces. Kano is a skilled swordsman, but his physical beauty leads the members of the strictly male group to compete for his affections, generating tensions that threaten to become lethal. In Gohatto, Nagisa Oshima explores the ambiguous forms of masculinity that the samurai code concealed, with a terrific cast including Ryuhei Matsuda, Takeshi Kitano and Tadanobu Asano subtly capturing the dangers of repressed homoerotic desire.
In Ulrike Ottinger’s contemporary reinvention of the famous morality tale, fin de siècle dandy Dorian Gray is reimagined as a drag role, played without comment on the switch by Veruschka von Lehndorff in the male lead. Ottinger’s collision of Oscar Wilde and Fritz Lang features Delphine Seyrig as one “Dr. Mabuse,” the head of a sinister multinational newspaper agency that conspires to create, control, and destroy celebrity figure Dorian Gray. The film is an odyssey through eye-popping tableaux, including a trip to an unforgettable underworld.
A simple yet devout Christian makes a vow to Saint Barbara after she saves his donkey, but everyone he meets seems determined to misunderstand his intentions. Will he be able to keep his promise in the end?
♦♦ Amos Vogel’s “Film as a Subversive Art” ♦♦
Sentenced to life imprisonment for illegal activities, Italian International member Giulio Manieri holds on to his political ideals while struggling against madness in the loneliness of his prison cell.