With the passing of Polish director Andrzej Wajda earlier this week, the world lost a true cinematic luminary. Over his sixty-year career Wajda became Poland’s best-known filmmaker, creating politically-motivated, envelope-pushing, and hope-inspiring work that earned an Academy Award for lifetime achievement, a Palme d’Or, a Silver Bear, and many other nods from critics and festivals alike. On Fandor, we’re proud to carry five films made at both the earliest and latest stages of his career, so whether you’re a total newbie to Wajda’s oeuvre or your taste already tends towards top-notch foreign drama, consider queuing one up (and pouring one out) in the near future. Over on Keyframe, there are plenty of extra-credit readings to help take your Wajda viewing to the next level.
Even as we mourn the loss of such a powerful artistic voice, we’ve also got a lot to celebrate and commemorate, not least of which is Indigenous People’s Day. In honor of the native inhabitants of North, Central, and South America, we’ve put together a movie list full of Fandor films that uplift their voices, examine their lives, and acknowledge their sizable contributions to world culture and history. In this moment of struggle over the Dakota Access Pipeline, it seems especially important to be mindful of the way in which we frame and re-frame history.
Speaking of history, “Ada Lovelace Day” was also observed this past week. Why not mark the occasion with the fascinating film Conceiving Ada (featured in this week’s main image), which was created by multi-disciplinary media artist Lynn Hershman Leeson? No, your eyes are not deceiving you — that’s Tilda Swinton playing the titular heroine, who is widely considered one of the world’s first computer programmers. She worked with Charles Babbage on his Analytical Engine, and is thought to have written the very first algorithm, ever. Yes, you can thank Lady Lovelace for Fandor’s uncannily-good personalized film recommendations, among many other things! In Hershman Leeson’s DIY-sci-fi movie, Lovelace’s life is illuminated through the experimentation of a modern-day scientist named Emmy, who creates a kind of DNA-driven time travel.
And as if that weren’t enough to cram into one week’s time, today (Friday) also marks the thirty-ninth anniversary of the great “pie-ing” of anti-gay activist Anita Bryant. If you don’t know what or who we’re talking about, Jay Rosenblatt’s earnest experimental doc I Just Wanted to Be Somebody is a great place to start.
With that, we’re moving on from the topical to the time-sensitive: If you’re into documentaries, especially those with a musical bent or ones that explore the “other side” of celebrity, then slide over here and give Chasing Fortune a moment before it leaves the Fandor library! You’ll see the guy who won the right to front legendary rock band INXS try to put the pieces back together after the spotlight leaves him cold. J.D. Fortune is his name, for those who weren’t tuned into the show Rock Star: INXS, and getting back on top of the fame machine is his game. Will he be able to scrounge up a comeback? You’ll just have to watch to find out, but make sure you do so before October 25th. You can care all you want — everybody does, yeah that’s okay.
We’ll wrap up this week’s roundup with another bit of time-sensitive news, specifically a crowdfunding campaign! With less than a week to go, the re-booted Camera Obscura Film Society’s Kickstarter project needs your help in order for the second year of its “Annual Report” to become a reality. This three-day festival of “unique, antique and experimental” films will take place at the historic Hotel Petaluma in mid-November, and contributing to the campaign at various levels will get you event passes, film society membership, and all kinds of great swag. For more on the history of Camera Obscura film society and the “Annual Report,” check out this informative write-up over on Keyframe.
With that, we’ll be back next week with lots of seasonally-appropriate cinema sure to put you in the Halloween spirit. Until then, happy Indigenous People’s Day, happy Ada Lovelace Day, and happy watching!