CHRONICLE OF A SUMMER (Jean Rouch, Edgar Morin, 1961)

This monumental film by anthropological documentarian Jean Rouch and sociologist Edgar Morin, Chronique d’un été (Paris 1960), marks the invention of cinéma vérité, the name given it by Rouch. An unconcealed “living camera,” “a highly portable lightweight camera connected to a synchronized sound recorder” (Sadoul), was used by the cameraman accompanying an interviewer who asked […]

A FILM UNFINISHED (Yael Hersonski, 2010)

From Israel and Germany, Yael Hersonski’s Shtikat Haarchion examines “Das Ghetto,” the hauntingly silent, black-and-white film, full of indelible Jewish faces, that the Nazis made to document life in the Warsaw Ghetto in May 1942, just two months before they began deporting these Jewish ghetto prisoners to death camps such as at Treblinka. Hersonski’s documentary […]

CINEVARDAPHOTO (Agnès Varda, 2004)

Cinévardaphoto comprises a trio of documentaries by Agnès Varda, each of which involves photographs. These short films were made at different points in Varda’s career.      The first one is amazing. “Ydessa, the Bears, and Etc.” revolves around Toronto curator Ydessa Hendeles, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, whose exhibit of voluminous photographs including teddy bears, especially […]

HOTEL TERMINUS (Marcel Ophüls, 1988)

“He looked like an ordinary man.” “Do you know I’m Jewish?” Marcel Ophüls, son of Max, asks when a former associate of Klaus Barbie, the “Butcher of Lyon,” insists that Barbie didn’t dislike Jews. This moment electrifies in the brilliant, intricate 4½-hour Ophüls documentary Hôtel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie; it splits […]