Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Die Beunruhigung / Apprehension (Lothar Warneke, 1982)

Sunday May 19th 2019, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Die Beunruhigung / Apprehension (Lothar Warneke, 1982). 100 minutes. In German with English subtitles. Doors open at 20.00, Jeffrey’s intro and film start at 20.30

These days we have such a prejudiced view of the former East Bloc, as if it was totally a one-sided thing that never changed, and in our arrogance, we demonize it without the slightest idea what we are talking about. Believe it or not, in the former East Germany there was an effort to make a cinema that was free of propaganda – both the so-called ‘Soviet realism’ of Russia, but also the fake romantic propaganda of Hollywood. And in two areas the East German cinema thematically excelled – they were ‘anti-war’ and ‘pro-women.’ So in the GDR there was an entire genre exploring the real-life situation of women. By contrast, in the so-called “democratic” west women were mostly relegated to side roles in movies – often as secretaries or housewives or love interests. Today we have female super-hero films, but they are as ridiculous as the former roles, and are about as empowering as a shot of arsenic. Because of the recent ‘me too’ movement, there have been a few more films highlighting the female situation… but they don’t hold a candle to what was happening in East Germany 40 years ago.

What is this film about? It doesn’t have a huge overarching story, but rather focuses more on a specific situation. Our main character Inge is a mid-thirties social worker and a single mother, magnificently portrayed by actress Christine Schorn. She is told she has breast cancer, possibly malignant. The entire film is about her thoughts and emotions, her conversations and behavior. It is based on an autobiographical novel by the popular GDR writer Helga Schubert. The style is stripped-down, allowing real discussions to occur about real things. In a way, this film is like a cinematic detox session that cuts the audience off from all spectacle, cheap tricks and quick thrills. Personally, I found it exhilarating. It’s a biting flick, made even more heart-wrenching by its unsentimentality, and Its documentary-like edge also makes it valuable as a poignant document of East Berlin in 1981.

Film night at Joe’s Garage, cozy cinema! Free entrance. You want to play a movie, let us know: joe [at] lists [dot] squat [dot] net

Sugar Cane Alley / La Rue Cases-Nègres (Euzhan Palcy, 1983)

Sunday May 12th 2019, Sugar Cane Alley / La Rue Cases-Nègres (Euzhan Palcy, 1983). 103 minutes | French | English subtitles | Doors: 20:00, Film 20:30

Sugar Cane Alley is set in Martinique and directed by Euzhan Palcy who was born there. Casting back to the 1930s, based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Joseph Zobel.
Jose attends school at the insistence of his grandmother, who does not want him to end up working in the fields, the probable fate of most of his class. Jose is successful academically, but for a poor black boy the course of his life is never going to be straight-forword in a country where blacks working sugarcane fields were still treated harshly by their white employers.
It is the first film by Euzhan Palcy, made in 1983, on a limited budget, it went on to win 17 awards, including getting Sundance support. This launched her carrier so that her next film Dry White Season (1989) she was the first black woman to direct a film for a major studio. We will be showing Dry White Season in ‘The Budapest’ at the end of the month. It’s a more graphic, and gritty, film. Where Sugar Cane Alley maintains the perspective of a young black boy, Dry White Season opts for the white slave owner who comes to the realization of the situation.

Film night at Joe’s Garage, cozy cinema! Free entrance. You want to play a movie, let us know: joe [at] lists [dot] squat [dot] net

Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Blame it on Fidel! (Julie Gavras, 2006)

Sunday April 12th 2019, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Blame it on Fidel! (La faute à Fidel!) directed by Julie Gavras, 2006. 99 minutes. In French with English subtitles. Doors open at 20.00, Jeffrey’s intro and film start at 20.30

This film focuses on a little nine-year-old girl named Anne who has grown up in Paris in the 1960s. Her father is a lawyer and the family is doing fine. But in 1970 everything starts changing. Her uncle has gone to Spain to fight some politician called Franco (the dictator). Anne’s father also starts bringing in activists from Chile into their home, where strategies are debated. As the apartment fills up with people from all over the world, the atmosphere becomes tense and serious, and little Anne finds herself being taken care of by a host of people rather than just her mother and father. She is told that Mickey Mouse is a fascist, and her father decides to share all of his money with everyone, not just spend it on the family. Anne has lost her comfortable Parisian bourgeois life, and her radical parents try to explain the reasons to her, but she understands nothing of it…. which is understandable!

That is the premise of this film, and it is both funny and insightful to see how all this unfolds. As those who frequent my cinemas realize, France is the only country that allows women to make movies on a large scale. Here we have female director Julie Gavras, the daughter of Oscar winning Greek director Costa-Gavras, who made such legendary films as Z and Missing. Since he was a politically-charged filmmaker, one has to feel that director Julie Gavras is drawing on her own experiences as a child. So many films today are just bad copies of other movies. Not this one… this is a poignant, witty, and unique gem.

Film night at Joe’s Garage, cozy cinema! Free entrance. You want to play a movie, let us know: joe [at] lists [dot] squat [dot] net

Lipstick Under My Burkha (Alankrita Shrivastava, 2016)

Sunday April 7th 2019, Lipstick Under My Burkha by Alankrita Shrivastava, 2016, 117 minutes. Hindi with English subtitles. Doors open at 20.00, intro and film at 20.30.

An indian black comedy by Alankrita Shrivastava about four small-town Indian women their secret world – their acts of rebellion and their sex lives – and their trying to break free from the conservative society they live in. As a result, the Indian film certification initially banned the film as being too “lady-oriented”

“In a culture where female actors do ‘item songs’ – in which they dance among crowds of ogling men and the camera mindlessly moves up and down their bodies – a small, independent, spirited films like Lipstick Under My Burkha threatens to challenge the status quo.” – Alankrita Shrivastava

Film night at Joe’s Garage, cozy cinema! Free entrance. You want to play a movie, let us know: joe [at] squat [dot] net

Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Black and White in Colour (Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1976)

Sunday March 31st 2019, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Black and White in Colour / La Victoire en chantant, Noirs et Blancs en couleur, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1976, 92 minutes. In French with English subtitles. Doors open at 20.00, Jeffrey’s intro and film start at 20.30

When I was attending university during the protest-fueled 1970s, this was one of the most popular films screened on campuses. It captured the spirit of the time, when people understood colonialism and the anti-war demonstrations were blazing. This film is set during 1915 and is a biting look at both colonialism and war, but one with a wicked sense of humor. Just the title of the film already shows a playful satirical wit. This was the first film by Jean-Jacques Annaud, who later went on to make The Lover and Name of the Rose.

This flick centers on two European outposts in central Africa, one French and one German. The French soldiers are pretty lazy and mostly concerned about food and sex, and are just waiting for retirement… while the Germans are more interested in regulations and disciplining their black servants (slaves) to march correctly. Communication is slow at such an outpost (no internet back then), it only comes in newspapers sent from Europe that arrive six months late. From such a newspaper the French discover something that the Germans don’t know yet – their two countries have been at war since August of 1914! The French decide they have to do something about this, take action first and defend their country. What unfolds is a devastating satire about imperialism and the tragic results of World War One.

Filmed on location on the Ivory Coast, it is based on Annaud’s own experiences while working in Cameroun as part of his French national service. While he was there he read a history book of the country, and about the great battle of Mora when Europeans caused African tribes to war with their own neighbors. In the last 30 years this film has almost completely vanished, which is pretty shameless… especially since this movie won the academy award for best foreign film in 1976.

And just to be clear: up to today only one film from sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) has ever won an Academy Award for best foreign-language movie, and it was this one, a French production flying under the flag of the Ivory Coast. This pretty much shows how racism is alive as ever, and is still kicking. So I think it is about time we dust this flick off and throw it on the big screen again after decades of absence. It remains totally relevant today, since it seems our mentality about imperialism, racism and war haven’t improved even a bit.

Film night at Joe’s Garage, cozy cinema! Free entrance. You want to play a movie, let us know: joe [at] squat [dot] net

Libertarias (Vicente Aranda, 1996)

Sunday March 24th 2019, Libertarias (Vicente Aranda, 1996), 131 minutes, in Spanish with English subtitles. Doors open at 20.00, film at 20.30.

Spain, 19 July 1936. The revolution has begun in a city near Barcelona. María, an innocent young nun, flees her convent when revolutionaries invade the area and finds refuge in a brothel. Here she meets a group of “Libertarias,” anarchist militia women who are fighting not only Franco, but also the conservative attitudes toward women that prevail as well in the revolutionary ranks. The group is led by hard-liner Pilar, whose seconds-in-command are the clairvoyent Floren and the big-hearted prostitute Concha. Pilar quickly feels a strange fascination for this young nun whose father is a fascist. On their way to the front, the group runs into a defrocked priest who joins up with them and falls in love with María. There are three main locations: the vicinity of Barcelona, the trenches, and Saragossa. Aranda describes the daily existence of these anarchist freedom fighters, not without a touch of humor, as in the scene when Floren does an imitation of Linda Blair in The Exorcist. When the protagonists arrive in Saragossa, the streets are strewn with bodies and weeping women. María catches her first glimpse of the face of war and her sympathies, despite her background, go out to the freedom fighters. The defrocked priest arrive with the strange news that the anarchist leader Durutti has forbidden women to go to the front: the militarisation of politics has won out over utopian ideals.
Libertarias is an epic of sorts that mixes documentary, tragedy, romance, comedy, objectivity and introspection in order to dramatize not only a war for freedom, but also a more underground struggle, the war between the sexes.

Film night at Joe’s Garage, cozy cinema! Free entrance. You want to play a movie, let us know: joe [at] lists [dot] squat [dot] net

Transit Levantkade

Sunday 3rd february 2019, Film night: Transit Levantkade by Rosemarie Blank. 1991 | 82 minutes | In Dutch with English subtitles. Doors: 20:00, Film 20:30

This creative documentary captures, in a way, the end of Amsterdam’s wild three decade run of alternative culture. The Berlin wall has fallen, the east-block is no longer a viable possibility, and everything slides into the American de-regulated free-market ideology – and that means that everything that doesn’t make a profit has to be stamped out. Here in Amsterdam that change was more extreme and painful than most other places, simply because Amsterdam was so different than anywhere else.

The Levantekade in Amsterdam’s east harbor was one of the last large-scale alternative spaces to be destroyed. It was a place anyone who didn’t have money could go, a sort of no-man’s land where people could live and create freely. It was a place for those who didn’t fit in. It was a place for the homeless, emigrants and artists and they both created and lived their own alternative culture. Sure, it was rough to live there, but it could also be beautiful for those who valued freedom and had their own vision. This film documents these ‘urban Indians’ and charts the last days before the police came in to remove everyone for the bulldozers. In an act of ritualistic defiance some chose to set fire to their self-made homes, their own creations, rather than leave them to be destroyed by a wrecking-ball. Rosemarie Blank’s film is composed of flickering grainy black and white images which have a rough poetry about them. They depict a dark shadow that is overtaking this playground of the imagination. The mood is a haunting death fugue, and soon these people and the refuge they created, would soon be written off as road-kill for the gentrification and financialization of the city. This film, which digs deep into Amsterdam’s past, is more than anything else an ode to a special way of living… and is especially crucial to see today when even the ADM, leagues outside the city, isn’t allowed to exist as a free space.

Film night at Joe’s Garage, cozy cinema! Free entrance. You want to play a movie, let us know: joe [at] squat [dot] net

Palestinian Film: Chronicle of Disappearance (Elia Suleiman, 1996)

Sunday 23 December 2018, Palestinian Film: Chronicle of Disappearance (Elia Suleiman, 1996). 88 minutes. In Arabic with English subtitles. Doors open at 20:00, Film starts 20:30.

After spending more than a decade in New York, Palestinian director Elia Suleiman returned to his homeland in 1992 to make his first feature film. Chronicle of a Disappearance is an extended meditation of the contemporary life of Palestinians in “the Holy Land.” Elders recount absurdly funny tales and jokes; Russian emigres talk about tourism’s ravaging of the country; tourists pontificate about Israeli politics; and a young Palestinian actress struggles to find an apartment, while Suleiman, himself a character, tries to figure out what kind of film he should make. Suleiman weaves these narratives together with extraordinary irony and grace.

Film night at Joe’s Garage, cozy cinema! Free entrance. You want to play a movie, let us know: joe [at] squat [dot] net