The Wicker Man (1973)

By Moira Sullivan

On the idyllic Scottish islet of Summerisle, the best fruits and vegetables, livestock and crops grow. Wickerman is a film about this island directed by Robin Hardy based on the 1967 novel Ritual by David Pinner.

Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) arrives by seaplane and in the distance, the local men reluctantly send over a dinghy so he can come ashore. The men are rustic, provincial and salty and that goes for pretty much for all the inhabitants of this islet. Sergeant Howie is looking for a missing child - Rowan Morrison. He first stop is at the shop run by Mrs. Morrison who lives with her young daughter. He helps her fill in the color for a drawing of a rabbit. "Everyone knows Rowan, silly", she says,  "and is mostly likely playing in the field". - "A rabbit, silly!". This is the first of many tricks that Sergeant Howie experiences. At the local inn he is served a meal from cans - not fresh produce that the island is known for. He fi…

Girls of the Sun

By Moira Sullivan

Girls of the Sun directed and written by French filmmaker Eva Husson is in San Francisco and one of three films made by women selected for the official competition at Cannes last May. It is an ambitious effort that tells the story of female soldiers called the "Girls of the Sun" battalion, based on a true story from August 2014 set in the Sinjar Mountains of northern Iraq. This was Yazidi territory with 300,000 inhabitants. It becomes the prime target of ISIS attacks in genocidal warfare affecting  Yazidi’s who do not escape in time. The female battalion is committed to rescuing their young boys forced to attend Jihadist schools. The impetus to their bravery is born out of misery - 2000 women and children are driven to destinations in Raqqa in Iraq where they are sexually assaulted, tortured, sold as slaves or forced to marry.

Since a woman’s army is unusual for a film (Born in Flames (1984) by Lizzie Borden is a classic example of "speculative fiction…

Animation Show of Shows - 20th Anniversary - review

By Purple

If you are like me and wish to escape the madness unfolding  in our current daily news, then I prescribe a healthy dose of animation and urge you to leave your bunker and get yourself into a cinema this weekend to check out the Animation Show of Shows.  Now in its 20th year, the Animation Show of Shows continues its ongoing mission to seek out and share a carefully chosen  crop of new animation from around the globe.

This year, the Animation Show of Shows features 15 short films that cover a broad spectrum of styles and narratives.  The program starts off strong with an award winning crowd pleaser  "The Green Bird" which delightfully depicts one bird-creatures persistent efforts to keep its egg safe.  This is soon followed by director Andrew Chesworth's sweet short film "One Small Step" which warms the heart while reminding us to keep shooting for the stars. Handkerchiefs might be a good idea.

 My  personal favorite films include "Grands Canons&…

Venice keeps women off the Red Carpet to protest marginalization of women

By Moira Sullivan
This year’s Venice Film Festival has one of the best lineups in years primarily because the competition is full of former award-winning directors that are well known. To get into the lineup without such a background is rare. It is worth mentioning that only one woman, Jennifer Kent, is among the competition this year with The Nightingale which debuts September 5. Venice did not grant women the red carpet to make a protest of the marginalization of women in the competition and festival president Alberta Barbera defers to the overall society where he believes the real problem of gender inequality lies.

Several of these films will be available soon to view on Amazon and Netflix in the next months. Venice has avoided the problem these streaming platforms had at Cannes in May which requires that a film be released in French theatres first before streaming or will not have a debut.

The remake of Suspiria directed by Luca Guadagnino will soon be released on Amazon, but m…

Ramin Bahrani's "Fahrenheit 451" in midnight screening at Cannes

Fahrenheit 451 premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May with Michael B Jordan, Michael Shannon Sofia Boutella and director Ramin Bahrani in attendance. It was a midnight screening at the festival and presented out of competition because the new rules at Cannes are that the films in competition must premiere in France first and not on a streaming platform, in this case HBO where the film is now out. There is also a new rule at Cannes that no selfies are allowed on the red carpet, but being an out of competition film, several of the minor female characters of the cast were seen taking selfies. The selfie phase actually came about when A list stars like Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie started taking pictures at the festival of themselves. In a real twist the stars who are emulated by fans wanted souvenirs of their ascent up the red carpet and steps leading into the Palais. For most actors it is still a big thing. At the midnight screenings everything can happen, and it is a venu…

Nadine Labaki’s Capernaum wins jury prize at Cannes

Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki’s Capernaum in competition at the 71st Cannes was clearly a strong contender for the Palme d'or  with powerful innovative shots by Christopher Aoun, skilled editing by Konstantin Bock and layering with a dynamic soundtrack by Khaled Mouzanar also the film’s producer.

Zain (Zain Al Rafeea) is a young 12 year old boy who watches his sister Sahar married off as a young girl by his parents and runs away as protest. He is taken in by Rahil (Yordanos Shiferaw), an Ethiopian woman with a young son she treats with love and affection but when she doesn’t return home Zain finds himself becoming a nursemaid in the slums of a middle eastern city trying to find food and shelter. In inverted narrative order, we learn why he later decides to sue his parents for bringing him into the world. But Zain has an elaborate plan and his solitary actions help to create reforms in his society. 
Capernaum is an investigation of lost children who are sold into homes where th…

Alice Rohrwacher's "Happy as Lazzaro" shares best screenplay award at Cannes

The best screenplay award at Cannes in the official selection went to Happy as Lazzaro written and directed by Italian filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher (shared with Jafar Panahi)  It follows the trail of her previous film The Wonders, winner of the Grand Prix in 2014. Both films deal with a return to living conditions in rural areas in a time lapse during industrialization and are enchanting narratives. In The Wonders a young family lives off the land and harmonious raises bees even if the local authorities want to make sure the children are getting a proper education.

In Happy as Lazzaro, a colony of tobacco leaf pickers are subjected to unfair labor practices by the marchioness who owns the land. They are subject to pay docks and must attend compulsory religious education taught by the marchioness herself. Her family lives in luxury whereas the leaf pickers must also serve the family at mealtime and due menial chores. They are deprived of education and live a substandard life. All until …