At Fandor, we see cinema as a cultural conversation that unfolds across place and time. Through shifting positions, universal emotions and holistic power, movies prompt dialogue within our ourselves and with others, over food and drink or on social media threads.
We can all come together in our shared experiences of love and loss, like those invoked by the striking, celebrated Japanese independent film Maborosi. This story of a woman’s journey through grief to peace is one of Japan’s most celebrated films, and one of thirty amazing titles that are brand new to Fandor this week. We’ve got lots of exciting announcements to get you talking and films to get you watching, and we are not afraid to share! Read on, for the latest and greatest in Fandor new and new movies:
Some films are a meta-conversation about cinema itself, like the new project from independent stalwart Alex Cox (Repo Man, Sid and Nancy), Tombstone Rashomon. We love the concept of taking Kurosawa to the O.K. Corral, so we are throwing our support behind the project’s Indiegogo Campaign (now in its exciting final push) as an extension of our ongoing and successful FIXshorts program (more on that later). As part of this combining of forces for film good, we also now have a number of Cox’s features ready for streaming on Fandor, including the redux/re-edit Straight To Hell Returns (source of this week’s featured image). And a featurette from Tombstone Rashomon will premiere on Fandor in the future!
Speaking of art that speaks on art, our new Form + Function Spotlight is a feast for fans of a good design documentary, whether you want to bask in the brilliance of Charles and Ray Eames or ponder the effect of a constructed environment on your life (like in the darkly humorous animated short The Design, pictured).
And of course, we can’t ignore our newest Criterion Picks collection, which introduces our audiences to the long-lost brilliance of Pierre Étaix. Like Keaton, Chaplin and Tati, Étaix’s characters are lightning rods of charisma and pathos that use laughter as an entry point to express a very clear point of view. His distinct, delightfully thought-provoking voice was silenced for decades due to distribution red tape, and now has been able to re-join the ongoing conversation. These newly restored and released films are only available on Fandor for a limited time, though, so don’t wait to get acquainted with them!
Another conversation is also taking place in the Recently Added Films section of the Fandor library: Before creating the iconic monster movie King Kong, filmmaker Merian C. Cooper started his career at Paramount, traveling to distant locales to create films that mixed straight documentary with staged sequences. Two of those 1920s travelogue efforts, Grass, which was filmed on a journey between Turkey and Western Iran and Chang, which chronicles daily struggles for survival in northeastern Thailand, are now available on Fandor. And so is Henry de la Falaise’s Legong: Dance of the Virgins, a technicolor ethnographic drama filmed completely on location in Bali with a plot that seems like classic melodrama up front, but reveals much about Balinese culture (possibly for the first time) to a 1930s Western viewer.
Fast forward to the post-colonial present, and the avant-garde documentary work of director Kevin Jerome Everson. A multi-media artist who has shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art as well as marquee film festivals all over the world, Everson has made his agenda clear: “The main thing I like doing is filming people of African descent, black folks, who are really good at what they do… engaged in something that is an internal language.” From street performers to cowboys, raconteurs to laborers, Everson’s shorts continue the decades-old slippage between representation and presentation that has been evident since the films of Cooper and Falaise, but with the weight of a larger, more complex and generous worldview. Ten of his short films are now available for streaming on Fandor, including our Featured Release of the week, BZV, which was filmed in the Republic of Congo’s Brazzaville (where the airport code is, of course, BZV). Over on Keyframe, Max Goldberg digs into the “documentary cubism” of BZV and the rest of Everson’s oeuvre, and delivers a lot of insight.
Sari Gilman’s Kings Point, the newest short film to premiere on Fandor’s Vessel channel, is also a contemporary documentary, but her subjects are the residents of a Florida retirement community grappling with “the golden years” in a society obsessed with glorifying youth, as well as the less-existential stressors of death and vulnerability. Clocking in at just thirty-one minutes, it’s a perfect serving of perspective to consider over a meal or before bed (in our humble opinion). Two short film offerings now available on Fandor from contemporary Egyptian auteur Omar El Zohairy (including the first Egyptian film to be in the Cannes Film Festival’s Official Selection) also offer a glimpse into a different world, a different frame of dialogue, all for the price of less than forty-five minutes.
Short films are great like that: they’re so satisfying in their compactness and creative with the economy of their timing, and yet so easy to binge on. It’s no secret that we here at Fandor champion shorts. And after the success of our first FIXshorts campaign, which supports our FIX filmmakers in the creation of new short form projects, we had to keep the creative flow going! This week marks an exciting new chapter for FIXshorts that will bring another four original shorts from concept to completion, just before the first five, funded in April after successful Kickstarter crowdfunding, make their exclusive debut in our library. Find out which of our FIXers have new FIXshorts in the works on our Kickstarter Page, and help us spread the word so they can reach their goals!
With that, we’ll live you to a weekend that we hope is full of fulfilling and stimulating conversations, both cinematic and otherwise. We’ll have an abundance of fresh movie wonders to share with you next week!