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Pitch People: Restoring A 25-Year-Old Cinematic Documentary into 4K

Pitch People

Pitch People is a feature documentary that takes an energetic look at the pitch business, a dynamic world that started in Europe, made its way to the U.S. boardwalks, and exploded on worldwide television in the 1990s. The film was completed in 1999. It was well-received at various festivals and independent film venues but a year later, it was still incomplete. It was missing an audience, partially due to it never having a formal theatrical release. In 2020, production and postproduction stopped due to the pandemic. With advanced filmmaking tools available and new ways of making people aware of a film, I decided to restore the film and make it again available. The effort would utilize idle equipment and provide a…  Read more

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“There is No Nice Way to Bulldoze a School”: Basel Adra and Yuval Abraham on No Other Land

A man in a blue t-shirt lies on a rocky landscape.No Other Land

Co-directed by an Israeli-Palestinian collective of four, No Other Land was filmed in the West Bank, in Masafer Yatta, where Israeli military and increasingly civilians have forced Palestinians out from their villages. Premiered at the 74th Berlinale, the debut feature won both the juried documentary award and the Audience Award in its section, Panorama—amply deserved honors for its adroit, affecting and infuriating portrayal of a tight-knit Palestinian community resisting Israel’s relentless campaign of expulsion. Basel Adra and Yuval Abraham, two of the co-directors, are also extensively on screen. Adra, whose father was also an activist, offers the film’s primary eyes and ears, both through the offenses he hustles to record at mortal risk—he’s essentially a war photographer who lives inside…  Read more

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“I Want All The Lesbian Experiences I Can See On Film”: Tricia Cooke on Drive-Away Dolls

A woman and man, both wearing face masks, watch a monitor on-set.Tricia Cooke and Ethan Coen on the set of Drive-Away Dolls

Directed by and co-written with collaborator and husband, Ethan Coen, filmmaker and editor Tricia Cooke’ Drive Away Dolls (or Dykes, per the end credits) finds her doing sapphic donuts around classic movies like Kiss Me Deadly and even a little North By Northwest. As Jamie (Margaret Qualley) and Marian (Geraldine Viswanathan) decide to take a trip to Tallahassee, they’re dogged by inept criminals seeking a package and suitcase in the back trunk of the car the pair have rented. If the road trip movie and film noir have long been exercises to explore the American psyche and the landscape’s possible past and future, Drive Away Dolls’ future is rooted in its picaresque and picturesque conception of community, ping-ponging from one…  Read more

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“We Always Sought Out Photos with Movement”: Klára Tasovská on Her “Nan Goldin of Soviet Prague” Doc I’m Not Everything I Want to Be

I'm Not Everything I Want to Be (Photo © Libuše Jarcovjáková)

”The only way to survive is to take photos,” declares Libuše Jarcovjáková, the iconoclastic star/narrator/guide of Klára Tasovská’s visually arresting (and eye-catching titled) I’m Not Everything I Want to Be. Nominated for the Teddy Documentary Award at this year’s Berlinale, the all-archival film is a globetrotting, black and white trip back in time (primarily to the 80s and 90s) viewed entirely through the rebelliously inquisitive eyes of this  “Nan Goldin of Soviet Prague” (in the words of curator Sam Stourdzé). And words. For not only did Jarcovjáková obsessively collect images of both her defiantly unglamorous self and her decidedly adventurous life, she kept copious diaries of that wild inner-outer journey as well. Indeed, throwing caution to the wind, the outlaw shutterbug goes…  Read more

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Doc Fortnight 2024: The Axis of Big Data, Preemptive Listening, Small Hours of the Night, Silence of Reason

Two men in straw hats walk through a rice field.The Axis of Big Data

MoMA’s annual Doc Fortnight begins as the Berlinale winds down, allowing the fest to grab freshly premiered titles from there, Rotterdam and Sundance (from the latter, opening night selection Realm of Satan, Soundtrack to a Coup d’Etat and Black Box Diaries). This year’s 23rd edition has 13 features, six shorts and three “evenings with”; I was able to sample about half of the work one way or another. Days after Zhou Tao’s The Periphery of the Base Berlinale premiere, his conceptually immaculate The Axis of Big Data makes its North American premiere here. The milky grey background of the opening title card is revealed to be the shell of a server as the camera slowly moves left, establishing a visual premise:…  Read more

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