The month of March arrived this week, and with it, nineteen new Fandor films! Lest some of these titles slip through the cracks, we try to take a moment every week to round up great new releases that may have escaped your notice. This week, many of our new films probe the intersection of physical and political landscapes and explorations of how one moment, one person, one act can reverberate through generations. But if the 24-hour news cycle and the election-year chaos has you down, fear not! We’ve also got some fabulous and fun films that are refreshingly diverting. Let’s just dive right in, shall we?
It has been 5290 days (and counting) since the titular attacks of September 11, but this collection of shorts was made just one year after the tragedy. Eleven filmmakers, including Ken Loach, Sean Penn and Mira Nair, take eleven minutes each to respond to the event with their own short films, and together these 121 minutes of footage provide a moving time capsule of cinematic responses and a powerful reminder of a cataclysm that is still felt even as time marches forward.
Historical drama Diplomacy examines a time, long before the attacks of November 2015, when the Paris was almost snuffed out — this time, by the Nazi forces during WWII. It focuses on two men: the German officer ordered to demolish beloved landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre before the arrival of Allied forces, and a Swedish diplomat who sneaks into the general’s office to dissuade him from the plan. What follows is a superbly well-acted game of diplomatic chess with the City of Light teetering in the balance.
Rather than probing the potentially catastrophic loss of a home and a cultural touchstone, Terrace of the Sea, which was produced at Harvard University’s Sensory Ethnography lab (like Fandor essentials Leviathan and People’s Park, among many others) illuminates the reality of exile and the state of uncertainty for Palestinians living on the banks of southern Lebanon. The film follows one family of fishermen in this “temporary” camp, which has existed as such since 1948, using their photographs as a jumping-off point for a conversation on memory, loss, home and inevitability.
The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi and 27 Years Without Images is much, much more than just the latest addition to this very excellent Fandor Movie List: It’s also a story of exile, set in Lebanon. The subjects are a politically motivated filmmaker (Adachi) and the daughter of a prominent leader in the Japanese Red Army militant left-wing terrorist organization. If you’re not familiar with this period of history, and the relationship between the JRA and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, this film is a must-see. It’s rare that a documentary so perfectly conflates cinematic technique with subject matter. It makes an excellent pairing with political hijacking documentary and Fandor film Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y.
We’ll wrap up this roundup with something completely different — a two-film “dessert course”, if you will, that makes for lighter and sweeter fare than these provocative and evocative investigations. If you want to enjoy a classic piece of Old Hollywood featuring trailblazing actress and filmmaker Ida Lupino in what’s widely considered one of her best roles, look no further than The Gay Desperado (pictured in this week’s featured image), a triumphant and delightful musical satire of the gangster films that ruled the box office back in the day. This flick was out of distribution for a long time, but was finally restored a decade ago and has now made the transformation from celluloid to online streaming! Fandor is proud to be a home for these kinds of historical treasures.
The Heart of the World is likewise a sendup of a cinematic trope, but this time it’s wonderful Winnipegger Guy Maddin lampooning the silent films of Soviet-era propaganda. This lovely short clocks in at just six minutes, but that didn’t stop multiple critics from naming it one of the best films of 2000.
These are just some of the great movies we wanted to highlight this week. We have more amazing titles publishing every day! As always, we’ll be back next week with more of our newest releases. Until then, keep your eyes on the Fandor New Releases page for updates. Happy watching!