Tag Archives: World cinema

The 100 Greatest Foreign Films courtesy of BBC Culture – Number one? Seven Samurai

Seven samurai posterThree years ago, the BBC polled critics across the world to identify the greatest 100 American Movies, followed by Films of the 21st century and Comedies.

Finally, the spotlight fell on ‘Foreign’ films – those not made in the English language. 209 critics from 43 countries took part.

Bicycle thieves poster

The results were not a surprise to Mamoun, who has given and recorded masterclasses on and introductions to many of the films on the list, particularly the first three.

Above all, Mamoun has given masterclasses on The Seven Samurai in many different countries: from Sydney in Australia to Zimbabwe in Africa; the UK, Greece, Denmark, Norway and Bosnia in Europe; Mumbai in India; Colombo in Sri Lanka; Havana in Cuba; Santiago in Chile, South America; and in California, where the masterclass was given in three different venues (UCLA Extension, CalArts, The Psychoanalytic Centre for California).

Tokyo Story posterA 65-minute version (edited from a four-hour session) was recorded for Channel 4’s series Movie Masterclass. Kurosawa productions acquired the licence for the Channel 4 programme, which was screened on Japan’s NHK.

Mamoun’s brief ‘Encounter with Kurosawacan be read here.

 

 

 

 

 

The BBC top 10 list:

10. La Dolce Vita (Federico Fellini, 1960)
9. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000)
8. The 400 Blows (François Truffaut, 1959)
7. 8 1/2 (Federico Fellini, 1963)
6. Persona (Ingmar Bergman, 1966)
5. The Rules of the Game (Jean Renoir, 1939)
4. Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)
3. Tokyo Story (Yasujirô Ozu, 1953)
2. Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio de Sica, 1948)
1. Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, 1954)

In the top twenty foreign films are Pather Panchali (Satyajit Ray, 1955) and The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966).

Mamoun has contributed a 45-minute video  to Criterion’s amazing restoration of The Apu Trilogy.

Mamoun produced The Battle of Algiers for C4’s Movie Masterclass, and he presented it as a masterclass at the BFI Southbank. The film was one of more than 25 films that he has presented at the European Film College, including Ozu’s Tokyo Story and de Sica’s Bicycle Thieves.

Masterclasses and introductions can be accessed on Vimeo.

The full list of films can be seen here

 

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Bicycle Thieves introduction at the EFC online in time for Cannes Classics

The European Film College posts a select number of videos of events screenings and lectures to show in their ‘Screening Room’. A video of my introduction to Bicycle Thieves is now on site: https://vimeo.com/123839527
The  timing of the inclusion of my introduction is to the point, as De Sica’s masterpiece will be shown a at Cannes Classics later this month.

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A few views of ‘A Closer Look – The Apu Trilogy’

Although it has been a while since the release of the magnificent Criterion box set of ‘The World of Apu Trilogy’, it is worth reflecting on some of the the responses to the ‘extra’ Mamoun contributed to the set.

The Criterion forum  Chris Galloway wrote: ‘We next get a piece on the trilogy, featuring the former head of the BFI, Mamoun Hassan. Entitled The Apu Trilogy: A Closer Look, it features Hassan offering a rather thorough examination of the trilogy as a whole, giving detailed analysis of Ray’s framing, how he introduces characters, the flow of editing, and how the visual language of the films can be broken down into “sentences and paragraphs.” He goes through each film, talking about particular scenes and sequences. It’s lengthy at 43-minutes but found it a very strong scholarly supplement that does make up somewhat for the lack of commentaries, an item that I’m surprised is missing from the set.’

Brian Tallerico on RogerEbert.com : “”This is Ray’s first film, and it is amazing.” So says Mamoun Hassan in a fantastic, detailed examination of “The Apu Trilogy” included in the amazing array of special features on the Criterion release. Hassan, the former head of the British Film Institute, breaks down the movies beat by beat, with such attention to detail that you further appreciate the filmmaking in new ways.”

Peggy Earle of HamptonRoads.com cited Mamoun’s extra as the ‘best extra’ in the collection. “Mamoun Hassan, former head of the British Film Institute, gives a fine overview of the trilogy, Ray’s directorial style, and the significance of the three films. He points to Ray’s ability to show emotions with no dialogue, and urges viewers to “give themselves up” to the films. “Ray had ambiguity. And that’s why we participate in his films. He’s given us room to interpret.””

Jake Cole for Slant magazine“For a deeper dive into the films themselves, a 43-minute analysis from filmmaker Mamoun Hassan is so minutely observed that even actors’ body language and orientation to the camera is fodder for discussion.”

It is always nice to be appreciated, and we must acknowledge the work of Abbey Lustgarten of Criterion, who worked with Mamoun on the extra with amazing focus, crafting it into the final product.

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Don’t miss Spanish language Machuca at National Film Theatre, Southbank, London, September 1

machua-01

Image from ‘Machuca’ dir. Andres Wood 2004

Mamoun Hassan will be on hand to introduce Machuca, one of his Spanish language co-productions at the National Film Theatre next week,  Thursday 1 September. It is hoped that a Skype connection will enable him to join David Somerset, who organised the screening, and speak (in English) to director Andres Wood live from Santiago de Chile.

The 2004 film will be shown as part of the education programme of the BFI and coincides with its inclusion as a prescribed film in the Edexcel Spanish A level syllabus from September 2016.

Machuca tells the story of a young Chilean boy and his friends and family during the coup of the 1970s. It is full of period details and features outstanding performances by all the young actors involved. Mamoun co-wrote the script with  Andres and is his most successful film to date, winning 10 international Awards including the Political Film Society of the USA’s award for Democracy, 2006.

Mamoun says,  “The inclusion of Machuca as a prescribed text alongside works by contemporary Latin American and Spanish 21st century cinema giants such as Walter Salles, Guillermo del Toro and Pedro Almodovar is a feather in the cap of Andres Wood, one of the best directors of his generation”

Andres Wood filming Machuca

Making Machuca. The child actors were not professionals

Andres Wood

Andres Wood.

Book tickets at the BFI website https://whatson.bfi.org.uk/Online/default.asp?doWork::WScontent::loadArticle=Load&BOparam::WScontent::loadArticle::article_id=C417E2D7-F7C1-46FD-A5E1-4C4C4C09DEF2&BOparam::WScontent::loadArticle::context_id=8D65B755-C1E5-4731-AF8E-DE96062A5FDA

 

(Free for over 60s)

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Movie Masterclass – Ozu’s ‘Tokyo Story’ at the European Film College

We are pleased to share Mamoun’s masterclass on Ozu’s masterpiece, Tokyo Story. Mamoun has revisited this film several times, but this most recent visit at the European Film College in Ebeltoft allowed him to discuss the film with the students in detail.

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Passport to Cinema: The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974) by Werner Herzog

51EjuEKAvULMamoun would like to thank Dominic Power of the NFTS for inviting him to introduce Werner Herzog’s landmark movie, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser on Monday 2nd November at the BFI Southbank in NFT2.

Mamoun has this to say about the New German Cinema:

It is a mystery how and why a country suddenly finds a distinct cinematic voice and creates a ‘new’ cinema. Political, social and economic factors provide only partial insights. In Europe, the ‘new’ cinema moved from Italy to France, to the UK (culturally colonised by Hollywood, we preferred ‘free’ over ‘new’) to Poland to Czechoslovakia and, in the 70s, to Germany, or, more significantly, West Germany.

600full-ali--fear-eats-the-soul-posterThe creators of the New German Cinema – Werner Herzog, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Margarethe von Trotta, Volker Schlöndorff , Werner Schröter and Wim Wenders, had diverse styles but collectively they were all radical-left/anarchist. At one end, Fassbinder was hostile to all institutions – and individuals as part of institutions – past and present; at the other end, Herzog focused on individuals whose obsessions, delusions, dreams, fantasies, aspirations made them impossible to assimilate – and led them to destruction.

urlThe question that is rarely addressed is how the filmmakers were supported and financed: public funding from the Länder, the federal government and private sector support from television, film distributors and exhibitors ensured the flowering of the talents of the New German Cinema.

Die_BlechtrommelHerzog has to date written and directed 18 features, including epics shot in the Amazon. Fassbinder made 41 films, intimate in scale, in 14 years – 41 ‘personal’ films, while Lindsay Anderson, Tony Richardson and Karel Reisz together made only some 30 feature films in their entire careers. But then our investors didn’t like politics (still don’t) – they followed Sam Goldwyn, who said: ‘If you want to send a message use Western Union’. Commercial viability was (and is) their only criterion. And we know how certain that is…

 

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Mamoun returns to the European Film College – 23rd and 24th September

Children are watching us

I Bambini Ci Guardano 1944 (The Children are Watching us)

Mamoun is looking forward to his yearly visit to the European Film College to give two masterclasses on De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves and  Ozu’s Tokyo Story However there will be a twist. His discussion will also refer to De Sica’s pre-neorealist film The Children are watching Us (1944). He will explore how De Sica’s craft developed but also how certain inspirations persisted.

Under principal Nadia Kloverdahl Reich the College is developing physically and educationally – with a new building and a new faculty amongst many changes. A happy combination of the old and the new. Mamoun looks forward to working with Micah Magee, the new Directing Fiction teacher.

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Introductions to Neo Realism and Pather Panchali at the European Film College

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During Mamoun’s last visit to the European Film College in March, he led two Masterclasses after viewing Bicycle Thieves and Pather Panchali. We are happy to be able to share the introductions that Mamoun gave prior to the screenings. The first is more an introduction to Neo Realist cinema. The second is a welcome return to Sayajit Ray’s Pather Panchali.

Many thanks to Nadia Kløvedal Reich, principal of EFC, and the staff and students at the European Film College.

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An introduction to Ozu’s ‘Late Spring’ at the BFI South Bank, Dec 8th

Late SpringAccording to the lists of 10 and 100 best films the world is a small place consisting primarily of the US and Western Europe. It seems only a small number of films have ever been made as the same ones appear over and over again. Convergence is the first step to entropy. It comes as a surprise to find that Japan exists – thanks to Kurosawa, Mizoguchi and to Ozu whose TOKYO STORY occasionally makes it to the top of the pile. Ozu’s LATE SPRING got to 17 and was called the ‘perfect’ film. It is more important than that.

LATE SPRING is Ozu’s first film with Setsuko Hara as Noriko – and she carries that name, but not the character, in the following two films EARLY SUMMER and TOKYO STORY. The three films are sometimes referred to, somewhat arbitrarily, as the Noriko trilogy.

Ozu is an elusive director. His films appear to be straightforward domestic dramas; the stories are not very different; the characters are played by a repertory of the same actors. In recollection, a scene or a moment from Ozu could come from a number of his films, rather like a Beethoven or Mozart theme when you have to think hard about its context. Soaps work through scattering plotlines outwards; Ozu digs inwards and downwards. LATE SPRING started a process which ended with the sublime AN AUTUMN AFTERNOON.

Mamoun will be introducing LATE SPRING (Banshun) at the BFI South Bank, Screen NFT2, December 8th, 6.10pm.

Mamoun would like to thank Dominic Power, Head of Screen Arts at the National Film and Television School for inviting him to introduce this classic of world cinema.

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Some of the Palestinians

I landed in Beirut with my wife and young family on 19 April 1974 to take up my appointment as Head of Films Branch, UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees). A leftist leader had been assassinated in South Lebanon the previous day and that event is regarded  as the start  of the civil war. A few days later I drove down to Nabatieh Palestinian refugee camp in South Lebanon to film the consequence of Israeli bombing. The camp had been obliterated. A few days later I filmed the effect of bombing in Rashidieh, a camp further down the coast near Tyre.

The brief was to document the services – Housing, Education, Health, Rations – that UNRWA offered the Palestinian refugees.  My immediate boss and chief of the AV division was the legendary Myrtle Winter Chaumeny (writer, photographer, sailor, dancer); the director of Information was John Defrates, the bravest man I have ever met, who was a Navy pilot in the icy waters near Vladivostock during WWll. I was given a fairly free hand but editorial control rested with UNRWA. What I saw in South Lebanon and elsewhere gave me the form of the film: the experience of life in the camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan  – but not the West Bank because Israel refused me entry. Myrtle filmed that sequence.

So the story is about war in Lebanon; life in one the oldest camps near Aleppo established in 1948; work in Baqa’a in Jordan which accommodated thousands of fleeing refugees after the 1967 war;  and education in Ramallah.

Since then everything has changed for the worse for the Palestinian people. The locations for the film are now war zones or something very similar.  The tragedy continues.

Mamoun

The film was invited to the London Film Festival and Teheran Film Festival. A copy is held by The National Film Archive.

Some of the Palestinians is being shown as part of the Refugee season at the BFI South Bank, London. NFT 2, 19th June 2014. Tickets from the BFI ticket office and website.

We would like to give special thanks to David Somerset of BFI education for his support, and including this film in the season.

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