Video Essays: Kevin B. Lee kommt zur Berlinale

4. Februar 2016

Nachdenken über Filme mit filmischen Mitteln – das sind Video-Essays. Kevin B. Lee ist einer der eifrigsten  Propagandisten und selbst einer der profiliertesten Macher dieser neuen Form der Auseinandersetzung mit Film. Wir hatten hier schon auf seine Bestenauswahl für das vergangene Jahr hingewiesen.

Nun kann man ihn zusammen mit dem koreanischen Video-Essayisten Kogonada auf der Berlinale erleben. In Reference to: Visual essays  heißt die Veranstaltung, auf der beide ihre Arbeit vorstellen und diskutieren wollen:

„Recent years have seen the increased popularity of short online videos that explore films or the œuvre of a director by reworking and commenting on shots and scenes to reveal new insights. These visual essays – produced by everybody from fans to film critics and academics – quote, remix, pay homage and draw references between movies, film history, journalism and pop culture. Both hailed internationally as kings of the video essay, Kevin B. Lee ( and kogonada ( come to Berlin to discuss their aesthetic and practical approaches to an exciting means of expression, which they have developed into an independent variety of cinematic art.“ (Berlinale)

Netflix und DreamWorks

5. Januar 2016

Wie die Website Home Media Magazine soeben meldet, hat das Studio Dreamworks einen Vertriebs-Deal mit dem S-VoD-Anbieter Netflix abgeschlossen. Netflix wird damit weltweit zentraler Anbieter der Produktion des Studios und bekommt auch Zugriff auf die Filmbibliothek mit den Animationsfilmen des Studios – allerdings nicht für den chinesischen Markt. Hintergrund sind die finanziellen Schwierigkeiten von Dreamworks. Das hilft Netflix, wie geplant das Angebot für Kinder auszubauen.

„Netflix and DreamWorks Animation Jan. 5 announced updates to their current multiyear deal, making Netflix the global home — outside of China — to a number of new original series from the studio. The deal also covers streaming rights to the DreamWorks Animation feature film library…

The expanded agreement with Netflix comes as DWA continues to restructure internally — a strategy that saw layoffs and the sale of capital infrastructure in 2015. The studio reported a narrowed loss of $3.5 million (from $11.9 million year-over-year) in its most-recent fiscal period.

Indeed, some Wall Street analysts contend DWA is overly dependent upon Netflix to remain afloat financially.“ (Home Media Magazine)


Video Round Table Notable Videos for Adults 2015

5. Januar 2016

Neben der hier schon zitierten Bestenliste für Dokumentarfilme des US-amerikanischen DVD- und Blu-ray-Markts Video Librarian Best Dokumentaries gibt es noch eine Zweite zum selben Thema, die seit 1999 von Filmbibliothekaren des Video Round Table (VRT) der American Library Association ausgewählt wird. Hier die 15 Notable Videos for Adults 2015, die zu den besten Dokumentarfilmen der letzten beiden Jahre auf DVD und Blu-ray gekürt wurden.

The Act of Killing

(2013) 122 minutes.  Drafthouse Films.  Available from and various distributors.

Death squad leaders of the 1965 Indonesian massacres reflect on their crimes and reenact them in the style of Hollywood movies.


After Tiller

(2013) 88 minutes.  Oscilloscope Laboratories.  Available from and various distributors.

The few remaining doctors performing late term abortions in the United States discuss their chosen profession and look ahead to an uncertain future for reproductive rights.


Anita: Speaking Truth to Power

(2013) 77 minutes.  First Run Features.  Available from and various distributors.

Anita Hill finds her voice as an advocate for women’s rights and gender issues after her testimony at the 1991 confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.


Dirty Wars

(2013) 86 minutes.  IFC Films.  Available from various distributors.

Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill traces the rise of the Joint Special Operations Command, a U.S. covert fighting force, which conducts civilian torture and killings across the globe.


Five Broken Cameras

(2011) 90 minutes.  Kino Lorber.  Available from and various distributors.

Palestinian filmmaker Emad Burnat documents the damage done to each of his five video cameras during nonviolent protests against Israeli settlements.


 Gideon’s Army

(2013) 95 minutes.  Third World Newsreel.  Available from

(Kontakt zur Produktionsfirma)

Three dedicated Southern public defenders with staggering caseloads represent indigent clients within a problematic legal system.


Harvest of Empire

(2012) 90 minutes.  Third World Newsreel.  Available from

A comprehensive geopolitical picture of the economic and historical realities that have guided waves of Latin American migration to the U.S.


Inequality for All

(2013) 90 minutes.  Anchor Bay Entertainment.  Available from various distributors.

Former U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Robert Reich explains the growing chasm between rich and poor and its consequences for American society.


Internet’s Own Boy

(2014) 105 minutes.  Ro*co Films Educational.  Available from and various distributors.

This portrait of Aaron Schwartz, programmer and Internet activist, highlights the many contributions and ideas he left behind after his suicide in 2013.


Let the Fire Burn

(2013) 95 minutes.  Zeitgeist Films.  Available from and various distributors.

An account of the events leading up to the explosive confrontation which decimated the Philadelphia MOVE community, told exclusively through archival news footage.


Los Angeles Plays Itself

(2014) 169 minutes.  Cinema Guild.  Available from and various distributors.

Los Angeles’ imprint upon the American imagination is examined in this video essay of the city as character and subject in motion pictures.


Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God

(2012) 107 minutes.  Docurama.  Available from various distributors.

The serial sexual abuse of hundreds of deaf students by a Milwaukee priest exposes patterns of secrecy and denial within the Catholic church hierarchy.



Particle Fever

(2012) 99 minutes.  Ro*co Films Educational.  Available from and various distributors.

An international team of physicists work to complete the Large Hadron Collider to prove the existence of the Higgs boson particle.


Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People

(2013) 92 minutes.  First Run Features.  Available from and various distributors.

Expands the history of photographic arts by exploring African American personal identity and representation through family portraits and albums.


Who is Dayani Cristal?

(2013) 85 minutes.  Kino Lorber.  Available from and various distributors.

Mexican actor and activist Gael Garcia Bernal traces the tragic journey of an illegal immigrant from his Central American village to the Arizona desert.


Moana with Sound – der Stummfilmklassiker als Tonfilm auf Blu-ray

5. Januar 2016

Einer der ersten langen Dokumentarfilme der Filmgeschichte, der Stummfilmklassiker „Moana“, ist bei Kino Lorber in den USA jetzt in der restaurierten Tonfilmfassung erschienen. Robert J. Flaherty (1884-1951) drehte den Film 1923/24  auf der polynesischen Insel Savaii im Archipel Samoa, um die kaum noch existente samoanische Kultur zu dokumentieren. Doch der Film war ein Mißerfolg, da er mit der üblichen klassischen Musik Europas aufgeführt wurde.

„Flaherty war überzeugt, dass das Publikum den Film besser verstünde, wenn er einen adäquaten Soundtrack mit polynesischer Musik hätte.

Rund 50 Jahre später setzte Flahertys Tochter Monica diese Idee um. Da sie als Kind selbst bei den Dreharbeiten dabei war und die Sprache beherrschte, führte sie in den 70er Jahren auf Samoa Tonaufnahmen mit den zum Teil noch lebenden Mitwirkenden von „Moana“ durch: Pe’a und der Hauptdarsteller Ta’avale (Moana) lebten noch in Safune, Fa’angase (Dorfmädchen) lebte inzwischen auf Hawaii. 1975 sammelte sie, unterstützt vom Dokumentarfilmpionier Richard Leacock, auf Samoa umfangreiches Tonmaterial und legte diese Aufnahmen authentischer Volkslieder, atmosphärischer O-Töne und rekonstruierter Dialoge an den Film an.“ (Arte TV)

Hier die Geschichte der Dreharbeiten und der Tonfassung

Die spannende Geschichte der Restaurierung des Films durch Bruce Posner und Sami van Ingen in Zusammenarbeit mit Thomas Bakels von Alpha Omega Digital in München

Beide Featurettes sind auch auf der Blu-ray und der DVD enthalten, neben einem gefilmten Kommentar der beiden Filmhistoriker Enrico Camporesi und Bruce Posner, Flaherty’s Kurzfilm Twenty-Four-Dollar Island von 1927 und einem Interviewausschnitt mit seiner Frau Frances Flaherty von 1960 „Flaherty and Film: Moana„.

Global Discoveries on DVD and Blu-ray

4. Januar 2016

Im letzten Heft der kanadischen Filmzeitschrift Cinema Scope hat Jonathan Rosenbaum wieder seine Kolumne über Entdeckungen auf dem internationalen DVD-Markt geschrieben, wie immer mit lesenswerten Kommentaren aus seinem großen Erfahrungsschatz. Global Discoveries on DVD – Hosannas and Quibbles stellt folgende Editionen vor:

„I can easily understand why some of Abel Ferrara’s biggest fans have certain reservations about his Pasolini (2014), available now on a splendid Region 2 Blu-ray from the BFI…

… most disconcertingly, it’s a responsible, apparently well-researched treatment of one of the most irresponsible of film artists, made by another film artist generally cherished for his own irresponsibility…“


„… in the BFI’s Otto Preminger Film Noir Collection, a “limited edition” Blu-ray box set that includes Fallen Angel (1945), Whirlpool (1950), and Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), although I’m happy to report that the cinephiliac strain predominates, especially in the inclusion of expert audio commentaries by Adrian Martin provided on all three features (the first two recorded for Australian Madman DVD releases in 2009, and the latter recently produced by and for the BFI). There’s also a lively 80-minute audio interview with Preminger conducted by Joan Bakewell in 1972 on the Fallen Angel disc, accompanied by stills…“

Anmerkung: Hier eine ausführliche Diskussion der verschiedenen US- und UK-Fassungen und -Ausgaben aus dem Criterion-Forum.


„… the BFI’s dual-format edition of Ousmane Sembène’s first two films, Borom Sarret (1963) and La noire de…/Black Girl (1966), both restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, is nearly irreproachable…  I’m immensely grateful that this edition includes the alternate version of Black Girl, with a brief sequence in colour depicting the heroine’s first glimpses of the Côte d’Azur (which is lamentably ignored and left out of the New Yorker DVD), as well as two separate documentaries about Sembène (Manthia Diawara and Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s 1964  Sembène: The Making of African Cinema and D. Sentilhes and B. Josse’s 2003 Sembène: A Portrait) and a 14-minute 2005 interview with Black Girl’s lead actress M’Bissine Thérèse Diop.“


„I’ve already written at some length ( about Allan Sekula (1951–2013) and Noël Burch’s The Forgotten Space (2010), released on DVD by Icarus Films, so I hope I can be allowed to quote my opening paragraph:

“I’m sure that I learned a lot more from The Forgotten Space—an essay film by Allan Sekula and Noël Burch about sea cargo in the contemporary global economy—than I did from any other feature that I saw last year, fiction or non-fiction…“


„…the beautifully produced DVD edition of Kon Ichikawa’s 37-minute Kyoto (1968), available from—which comes with a lovely 14-page foldout booklet, a choice between narrations in English, Italian, and Japanese (the English one is delivered by Michael Redgrave), and a 17-minute documentary about the opening-night screenings in Tokyo and Kyoto… Kyoto has a floating and shifting focus that proceeds from rock gardens to Zen Buddhism and beyond, but it has a documentary and cultural value as an educational, touristic art film on every topic it addresses.“


„I have a lot of catching up to do with the films of Benoît Jacquot, but the two-disc Blu-ray set from the Cohen Film Collection, comprising The Disenchanted (1990), A Single Girl (1995), and Keep it Quiet (1999)—only the second of which I’d previously seen—seems to give me a healthy start. All three are accompanied by amiable discussions between Jacquot and Kent Jones, mainly in subtitled French (with an irrelevant and distracting giant Oscar lurking behind them), and by able audio commentaries by critics Wade Major and Tim Cogshell (which appear to have benefitted from the Jacquot-Jones dialogues, making for some repetitions of information, though many of the more relevant facts are worth stressing)…“


„At the age of 16 in 1959, I was dumb enough—or at least sufficiently “of the period”—to take Stanley Kramer’s On the Beach seriously, and I was far from alone in this attitude.  So it was largely an impulse to reassess both myself and 1959 (not Kramer) that led me to shell out $13.64 for a Korean import DVD from Amazon. Why is it that the extinction of humanity from a nuclear holocaust was a live and vital subject back then and not just a post-apocalyptic trope, as it’s more apt to be today?…“

Anmerkung: Über den  Film und die Romanvorlage von Neville Shute gibt es einen Dokumentarfilm von 2013: Fallout von Lawrence Johnston (siehe Senses of Cinema).


„It’s virtually impossible to think of a major contemporary French filmmaker who has been more independent, hence more consistently marginalized, than Marcel Hanoun (1929–2012)… This situation makes last year’s release of Hanoun’s 1966 L’authentique procès de Carl-Emmanuel Jung on a PAL DVD with English subtitles from the invaluable Re:Voir label a major event, especially for those like me who have never been able to follow such a text-heavy film without some textual support. Inspired and prompted by the Adolf Eichmann trial in Jerusalem in 1961 (as well as a subsequent Nazi war-crime trial carried out in Frankfurt), Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem, and the documentation techniques of Peter Weiss (among others), Hanoun’s imaginary “authentic trial” of a cultivated Nazi war criminal who plays Bach and Gluck on the piano (Maurice Poullenot) unfolds in a dark and deliberately artificial studio space where the sound is both asynchronous and characterized by other discontinuities, all of which reflect the difficulties of ordinary viewers in assimilating the Eichmann trial as it was being broadcast.“

________________________________________________________________“… Stillman’s first and third features are both available on well-appointed Criterion Blu-rays, while Barcelona (1994), the second, and Damsels in Distress (2011), the fourth (and the one Stillman told me he was most satisfied with), can be had from Warners and Sony, respectively—the former only on DVD, the latter on Blu-ray with many extras for only $8.26 from Amazon,… It was encouraging to discover during our interview that Stillman is both a passionate Frank Tashlin fan and a victim, as Tashlin himself was, of the sort of critical typecasting that limits the potential scope of his own projects.“


„My only quibbles about the Blu-ray of Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s The Honey Pot (1967) from Kino Lorber and the DVD of Samuel Fuller’s Run of the Arrow (1957) in the Warner Archive Collection are their absence of extras, but this is small potatoes …

Although I’m not quite ready to call the Mankiewicz masterpiece the writer-director’s most essential work, it may have Mankiewicz’s cleverest script (in spite of all the changes he had to make in its original conception), and I’m delighted that the late, great German critic Frieda Grafe included it among her own favourites.

As for Run of the Arrow, it arguably features the most cantankerous hero of any Fuller feature…

And I have no quibbles at all about the Twentieth-Century Fox DVD of John Berry’s exquisite 1974 comedy about ghetto life and welfare, Claudine, audio commentaries and all, which has been available for the past dozen years and was purchased by me nine years ago, but which I only got around to watching recently…“


Die besten Video Essays 2015 vorgestellt von Kevin B. Lee

20. Dezember 2015

Filmanalyse und Filmkritik auf Video, dafür steht Kevin B. Lee. Im Blog Keyframe des Streaming-Anbieters Fandor präsentiert er jetzt seine Umfrage unter Video-Essayisten und Filmkuratoren nach den besten Essays dieses Jahres, Poll: The Best Video Essays of 2015. Die Fülle und Vielfalt der Auswahl zeigt, wie sehr sich dieses Genre der Filmanalyse inzwischen etabliert hat. Lee spricht sogar vom Erscheinen einer Supernova in diesem Jahr. Wie dem auch sei, viel Stoff für eine spannende Auseinandersetzung mit Film – man vergleiche dazu auch seine Bilanz für 2014.

Die Geburt des Taiwan New Wave Cinema auf Blu-ray

20. Dezember 2015

In Taiwan ist eine Blu-ray-Edition erschienen mit restaurierten Filmen, die ganz am Anfang des Taiwan New Wave Cinema zu Beginn der Achtzigerjahre stehen. Sie enthält die beiden frühen Omnibus-Filme „In Our Time“ und „The Sandwich Man“ mit den ersten Filmen u. a. von Edward Yang und Hou Hsiao Hsien. Außerdem enthalten ist einer der Filme,  die die neue Welle eingeleitet haben,  „Growing up“ von Chen Kunhou (Chen Kun Hao), dem Kameramann einiger früher Filme von Hou Hsiao Hsien, von dem auch das Drehbuch zu diesem Film stammt.

Douglas Kellner schreibt in Jump Cut über die gesellschaftlichen und kulturellen Hintergründe des New Taiwan Cinema bis zu seinem internationalen Durchbruch in den Neunzigern.

Die Blu-ray-Edition Taiwan New Wave Cinema mit 3 Blu-rays erscheint am 25.12.2015 und ist in Taiwan hier bestellbar.

Central Pictures Corporation restauriert seit 2010 seine Film Library und hat seitdem schon mehrere frühe Filme des New Taiwan Cinema publiziert. Im Westen sind die Filme dieser Zeit wenig bekannt. Geläufig sind uns eher die späteren, internationalen Erfolge u. a. von Hou Hsiao Hsien, Edward Yang und Ang Lee.