Ep. 30: Alice Guy-Blaché • Milestone on Strange Victory & I Am Cuba

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Ep. 30: Alice Guy-Blaché • Milestone on Strange Victory & I Am Cuba

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Thu Oct 04, 2018 8:50 am



NitrateVille Radio Episode 30: Alice Guy-Blaché • Milestone on Strange Victory & I Am Cuba

Documentary now, with films about a pioneering woman filmmaker and by two filmmakers working during the Cold War. Note: if you're in New York, two of the films talked about in this episode will play the New York Film Festival on Sunday October 7. (75:56)

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(1:54) Pamela B. Green is the director of Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché, about the pioneering woman film director whose career literally goes back the beginning of cinema (she was in the audience at the Lumieres' first show). Green turned up a vast amount of new material on her life and career, long-unseen photos, letters and more, and tells the story of a woman who helped create a medium and then had to fight for recognition and the rediscovery of her films. It's a fascinating story that goes beyond Blaché herself to explore the detective work constantly changing what we know about, and have saved from, early cinema. Here's the trailer:



Here's the film's site. The film is currently on the festival circuit; it will play the New York Film Festival this Sunday, 10/7, and the BFI London Film Festival twice this month.

Here are two of the films we talk about in particular:





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Dennis Doros and Amy Heller of Milestone Films are two of the best friends underappreciated films have, including silent ones—I talked with him about Lois Weber way back in episode 3. This time I talk with both of them about two Cold War-era documentaries, one from America, one from the USSR—but first, we talk about the Association of Moving Image Archivists, of which Dennis was recently elected president.

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(30:51) Strange Victory, directed by Leo Hurwitz in 1948, offers a disquieting look at the survival of fascist ideas in postwar America—a message that Doros and Heller find very timely today, though in 1948 its clear leftist leanings led to Hurwitz being blacklisted. Here's the link to order the DVD or blu-ray.

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(50:08) Since Milestone first released Mikhail Kalatozov's I Am Cuba (1964) in 1995, the wild visual inventiveness of Kalatozov's long takes have influenced films from Boogie Nights and Casino to The Revenant and the upcoming Roma. As The New Yorker's reviewer Terrence Rafferty noted at the time of the film's rediscovery, "They're going to be carrying ravished film students out of the theaters on stretchers."

Milestone is now reissuing the film based on a new 4K restoration, and they tell the story of how they bet the company on a Soviet film nobody liked, influenced film history, and attracted the attention of the FBI.

I Am Cuba is also playing the New York Film Festival on October 7th; more dates will be announced in the coming months. Here's a clip of the first 5 minutes, including the amazing opening hotel/pool scene. But it will look much better after a 4K restoration!



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Re: Ep. 30: Alice Guy-Blaché • Milestone on Strange Victory & I Am Cuba

Unread post by boblipton » Thu Oct 04, 2018 1:40 pm

Two great interviews this time, Mike. It’s always good to hear from our friends at Milestone, and I look forward to seeing a good print of I Am Cuba.

Of more importance to me, I am impressed by Ms. Green’s attitude towards her research on Mlle. Guy. After dealing with many people whose attitude towards research. as “Here’s our conclusion, now let’s find evidence that supports it,”, her attitude of bugging people for information and then drawing conclusions is almost a novelty. I have long believed that Guy is arguably the first individual who can be callled a movie director. However most writing over the past decade or so has been offered as supporting the authors' own theses of feminism, particularly modern feminism. I look forward to a let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may approach, and an understanding that people a century ago were not 21st century hipsters ... and still did amazing things.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Thu Oct 04, 2018 3:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ep. 30: Alice Guy-Blaché • Milestone on Strange Victory & I Am Cuba

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Thu Oct 04, 2018 1:59 pm

It's interesting in the film, she lets several examples of fairly boneheaded attitudes to Guy-Blaché as a woman stand on their own, no need to gild those lilies, but mostly it's a story of people doing the right thing over time, as well as all the family material that Green herself tracked down, truly out of nowhere, film archive-wise. I've read a couple of the festival reviews and they seem to fixate on the celebrities in the film, where to me that's a very small part of it next to finding that there are massive scrapbooks on the Solax studio in somebody's attic in New Mexico. It seems safe to say that that stuff's discovery and survival would not have been very likely without this film.

Guy-Blaché didn't live to see much of her work recovered, but we can see a lot more now of it— including, one should note, on the Kino women filmmakers set coming next month, as well as on this earlier Gaumont set (released by Kino in the US) in which she gets one of the three discs to herself.
“I'm in favor of plagiarism. If we are to create a new Renaissance, the government should encourage plagiarism. When convinced that someone is a true plagiarist, we should immediately award them the Legion of Honor.” —Jean Renoir

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Re: Ep. 30: Alice Guy-Blaché • Milestone on Strange Victory & I Am Cuba

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Thu Oct 25, 2018 4:56 pm

Here's the new trailer for the 4K restoration of I Am Cuba:



If you want to see the latest movie that seems to draw on its visual style, check out this trailer.
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Re: Ep. 30: Alice Guy-Blaché • Milestone on Strange Victory & I Am Cuba

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Fri Oct 26, 2018 8:32 am

It was amazing to visit Havana and see locations burned into my memory from Soy Cuba looking pretty much exactly the same as in the movie. Always wondered where that famous rooftop swimming pool scene was shot, and from what I can gather, it's the Capri Hotel, which is still there and still looks very similar going by this 360-degree image I found on Google Maps.
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Re: Ep. 30: Alice Guy-Blaché • Milestone on Strange Victory & I Am Cuba

Unread post by milefilms » Fri Oct 26, 2018 10:08 am

Thank you! I never knew it was the Capri!
Dennis Doros
Milestone F&V

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