THE WHITE MEADOWS (Mohammad Rasoulof, 2009)

In the course of writer-director Mohammad Rasoulof’s Keshtzarhaye Sepid, the boatman Rahmat visits five islands off Lake Urmia in Iran, the third largest saltwater lake on Earth. Each of the islands is composed of salt, which has banished all growing greenery (trees, grass, all other plants) and drained inhabitants of vitality and, perhaps, hope; thus […]

INDIA: MATRI BHUMI (Roberto Rossellini, 1958)

Artist and film critic Fred Camper has named Roberto Rossellini’s India: The Great Mother—but more widely called, simply, India—one of his three favorite films. Andrew Sarris called it “one of the prodigious achievements of the [twentieth] century.” And Jean-Luc Godard, no less, has likened it to “the creation of the world.” Last Sunday, I watched […]

WIND FROM THE EAST (Dziga Vertov Group—Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Gorin, Gérard Martin, 1969)

Initially creating leisurely rural scenes, both contemporary and “period,” and playing these off a dense, repetitive aural collage of politically-minded voiceovers, Le vent d’est is Jean-Luc Godard’s heartfelt response to the disarray and demoralization of the French Left in the wake of May ’68. Shot in Italy and made by the filmmaking collective to which […]

REDACTED (Brian De Palma, 2007)

In 2006, in Mahmoudiyah, during the U.S. military occupation of Iraq subsequent to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, a gang of U.S. soldiers raped, killed and burned 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi before murdering her mother, grandfather and six-year-old sister in an attempted cover-up of their crimes against the teenager. Writer-director Brian De Palma, […]

DOWN THERE (Chantal Äkerman, 2006)

Interviewer: “[S]o many of your films have to do with travel and moving from place to place—” Chantal Äkerman: “You mean nomadisme. Well, I’m Jewish. That’s all. So I’m in exile all the time. Wherever we go, we are in exile. Even in Israel, we are in exile.” Traditionally, documentaries “document” external realities. In 2006, […]