The Museum of Modern Art in New York City presents its 2011 Documentaries Fortnight, a two-week program of outstanding documentary films from around the world, from February 16 to 28, celebrating the festival's 10th anniversary. The schedule includes 20 feature-length documentary films representing 14 countries, and thematic programming that focuses on independently made contemporary Chinese documentaries and on the legacy of New Day Films, the first distributor to be run by and for filmmakers. Most of the films are having their World, US or New York premeries at MoMA's Documentary Fortnight.
Almost Married (2010)Screening with Countryside 35x45 (see below). Directed by Fatma Bucak, an art photographer, who returns to Turkey after several years living in Italy, intent upon telling her very traditional father that she plans to marry an Italian. During her stay, she encounters other Turkish women and explores their approach to marriage and romance. Italy. In Turkish with English subtitles. 60 min. U.S. premiere.
The Arbor (2009)
Clio Bernard uses an unusual amalgam of documentary and narrative styles to reveal the hard life and times, and body of work of the English working class playwright Andrea Dunbar, who wrote three highly acclaimed autobiographical plays before she died at age 29. Great Britain, 90 mins.
Countryside 35x45 (2009)Screens with Almost Married (see above). In Russia, a provincial photographer goes from one Siberian village to another, taking 35 x 45 mm passport photographs of all the inhabitants for the newly required Russian identity papers. The subtle exchanges between the photographer and each of the villagers, even under his great duress to get the job done, creates a wonderful intimacy. Directed by Evgeny Solomin. Russia. In Russian with English subtitles. 43 mins. U.S. premiere.
Criada (2009)Filmmaker Matías Herrera Córdoba chronicles the life of 53-year-old Hortensia, who lives in El Puesto, a small town in the verdant rural north of Argentina. Born in Patagonia as a member of the Mapuche indigenous group, she was taken at the age of 13 to Catamarca to become a maid. Since that time she has been part of one family and, like many criadas (raised maids), is not free. This film is a stunning portrait of the servant-master relationship that still exists in many countries around the world. Profiling Hortensia, the director creates tremendous emotional tension as he shows her toiling ceaselessly, serving her wealthy patrons without complaint. Argentina. In Spanish with English subtitles. 75 mins. U.S. premiere.
The Desert of Forbidden Art (2010)Written, produced, and directed by Amanda Pope and Tchavdar Georgiev, the film chronicles the life and times of Russian painter and archeologist Igor Savitsky, who collected forbidden Russian avant garde art works beginning in the late 1950s, created a museum in Uzbekistan to house them, and discovered an unknown school of artists established after the Russian Revolution of 1917 that was influenced by the Islamic culture. The story is told through use of archival photographs, interviews with people now living in Uzbekistan and writings by Savitsky and other artist's, as read by Ben Kingsley, Sally Field, and Ed Asner. The film brings attention to this endangered priceless collection. Shot in Uzbekistan. 80 min. NY premiere.
El Ambulante (The Peddler) (2009)
A film about filmmaking, The Peddler follows a man as he travels to small towns throughout Argentina to make dramatic films with the local townspeople. For the price of meals and a month's accommodations, he works with local authorities, recruits actors, devises a plot, ingeniously creates set pieces, and shoots the film; the entire town becomes involved. Once the film is screened, he packs his bags and heads for another town. Argentina. In Spanish with English subtitles. 84 min.
El Bulli: Cooking in Progress (2010)For six months of the year, heralded chef Ferran Adrià and his team of experts concoct new dishes for the 30 course menu of the world famous El Bulli Restaurant. The documentary reveals their behind-the-scenes process, an artistic laboratory of tasting, smelling, designing and carefully recording each new idea, then selecting their top choices. Directed by Gereon Wetzel. Germany. In Spanish with English subtitles. 108 min. U.S. premiere.
I Wish I Knew (2010)Eighteen people from Shanghai, Taipei, and Hong Kong recall their lives in Shanghai from the 1930s to 2010. After the Chinese Communists‘ victory in 1949, thousands of Shanghainese left for Hong Kong and Taiwan. Leaving meant being separated form home for 30 years, remaining meant suffering through the Cultural Revolution and other Chinese political upheavals. Directed by Jia Zhangke. China. In Chinese with English subtitles. 118 mins. US premiere.
Katka (2010)This film follows a young junkie over 14 years—beginning in 1996, when she is in a Sananim therapy community in the town of Nemcice—as she slowly spirals deeper into addiction. Her travails include boyfriends, a pregnancy, theft, prostitution, and physical and psychological deterioration. The film keeps viewers entranced and filled with hope for her recovery. Directed by Helena Třeštíková. Czech Republic. In Czech with English subtitles. 90 mins. U.S. premiere.
My Fancy High Heels (2010)While filming a series of stories about clothing design and manufacture, filmmaker Ho Chao-ti discovered how complicated it is to make a pair of shoes. Her fascinating, surprising film follows the trail of shoes, from women in sophisticated high heels on Manhattan's streets to the manufacturers and young female assembly line workers in China who make them. China. In English and Chinese with English subtitles. 56 min. U.S. premiere.