Dispatches from Zurich Film Festival 2014: Part 1

Urban perfection! Impeccably curated cinema! International glamour! The 10th edition of the Zurich Film Festival kicked off September 25, and MovieMaker editor-at-large Peter Weed is reporting from the frontlines with this festival blog. Check back for more of his daily posts.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tonight I’m headed to the Zurich International Film for MovieMaker Magazine, with, I hope, all of my cords and communication devices packed away. The highlight of my five nights at the festival promises to be a one-on-one interview with Frederick Wiseman, whom I have admired for some time. I watched a screener of his latest, National Gallery, last night. It’s a compelling look at the multi-faceted translation that takes place in the museum world. Worth trying to track down, which can be difficult.

national-gallery-2014-frederick-wiseman-04

A still from National Gallery

While editing mountains of film, Wiseman manages to create subtle, quiet narratives via juxtaposition of scenes that reveal themselves slowly. It’s a pleasure to be engaged intelligently vs. being hit over the head with aggressive narration and the unfortunate proliferation of overly designed graphic devices found in too many of our contemporary docs. (It was fun to see the graphic devices in The Kid Stays in the Picture, an early entry in the graphic sweeps, but I’m afraid it spawned too many followers.) The interplay of scenes in a Wiseman film reminds me of the play within a good sonnet sequence (Donne) or of a thematic collection of poems such as Herbert’s religious poems. Somehow Wiseman’s scenes hang together, telling rich stories. He finds his narratives in the white spaces between his scenes.

Enough for now. More after tomorrow’s night’s gala opening. I’m such a gala opening guy.

ZFF3

Pretty people jamming at an afterparty

 

Friday, September 26, 2014

So, the Antonio Banderas Presser

Guess what the first question was about? His place in Spanish film? The germ of the idea for Automata, his new film? The creative liberation of working on a no-budget film and not being answerable to a room full of suits? Nope. The thoughtful first query was about the state of his relationship with Melanie Griffith. Of course.

He handled it more gracefully than the question deserved and moved on.

Banderas is here with an interesting new film, Automata, a low-budget sci-fi piece, with nods to Silent Running, another sci-fi film done on a shoestring. Banderas appeared with Gabe Ibanez, a talented Spanish director who did the well-received Hierro. Ibanez fanned himself and talked about the production challenges of shooting low-money sci-fi. I interview Ibanez tomorrow afternoon and look forward to his take on a return to more humanistic sci-fi. I’m not planning any gossip questions.

ZFF2 Rats

DJing rats

From Rags to Riches

Last night’s afterparty was rather jarring after watching Get on Up, where James Brown was whupped and whupper. Chadwick Boseman was fine as the Godfather of Soul. Quite fine. And likable in person. With images of the most dire poverty in mind (cue prostitute mother and abusive father) we walked next door to the Audi afterparty. Tattinger flowed in great rivers as black suited men and alarmingly thin women  wove from feeding station to feeding station. Over three walls of rapidly filled champagne glasses were clasped, and delicate finger food picked at by delicate fingers. From my razor-thin knowledge of German I didn’t overhear much talk about cinema. There were, however, giant rats DJing. MM

Read Peter’s blog, the Maltese Cross, here. Photographs courtesy of the Zurich Film Festival, September 25 to October 5, 2014.

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