"I wanted to testify, to tell the truth about myself and my time. This is a film about youthful dreams, about the thirst for knowledge, and about a burning desire to prove oneself. But it’s also a film about my early life, told from the viewpoint of a 50-year old man. There is thus a dialectical relation at work in the film between the young man I was in the 1940s and the older man who made the film more than 30 years later, as well as between the Alexandria of the colonial past and the Alexandria of today. Rather than being the truth about my life, the film is more the beginning of a process of settling accounts with life." — Youssef Chahine

Alexandria… Why?, Youssef Chahine’s semi-autobiographical film about an aspiring filmmaker haunted by Hollywood dreams, meanwhile, offers an Egyptian perspective on the imperializing film culture of the US. Chahine’s protagonist begins as a Victoria College student who adores Shakespeare’s plays and Hollywood movies. The film is set in the 1940s, a critical period for the protagonist and for Egypt: Allied troops were then stationed in the country and Axis forces threatened to invade Alexandria. Although Alexandria… Why? focuses on the would-be filmmaker, its subplots offer a multiperspectival study of Egyptian society, describing how different classes, ethnicities, and religions—working-class communists, aristocratic Muslim homosexuals, middle-class Egyptian Jews, petit-bourgeois Catholics—react to Egyptian-Arab nationalism. The subplots stress the diversity of Egyptian experience, but the unanimity of the reaction to European colonialism.” — Ella Shohat & Robert Stam, Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media

"From a historical perspective, Chahine’s cinema of the late 1970s and beyond helped initiate a bold cinematic examination of Arab national identity with an eye for celebrating its social and cultural heterogeneity. As noted above, it was at least two decades after Chahine made his autobiographical portrayal of a religiously and culturally diverse Alexandria that other Arab filmmakers began to depict aspects of the multireligious, multiethnic, and multiracial diversity of the Arab world and expose the current attempts to erase the remnants of such diversity. To the extent that it celebrated and reintroduced Jewish identity as an integral component of Arab national identity, Chahine’s Alexandria… Why? offered an Arab cinematic milestone in its heterogenic reexamination of Arab national identity.” — Malek Khouri, The Arab National Project in Youssef Chahine’s Cinema

"One of the things that was great for David Byrne when we did Stop Making Sense was that David really got to design the lighting for the show—and by extension for the movie. He hadn’t got to do everything he wanted to do lighting wise with the stage show because of the limitations of technology at that point. But David got a chance to work with Jordan Cronenweth who shot Blade Runner and was a great master of American cinematography, and he could do all the little tweakings and brushstrokes that he had dreamed of doing with the stage show. […] It’s great working with [Cronenweth] because he’s an absolute tight-ass perfectionist. You can’t get Jordan to back away from anything he’s doing until he’s got it perfect, and that can be exasperating because you’ve got one eye on the clock and you’re desperate to get moving. But then when you see the dailies and you see the extra level Jordan was taking it to when he was driving you nuts, you go, ‘Thank God he did it.’ He’s a painstaking artist.”

"I’d just as soon it didn’t occur to people that they’re watching a concert, but rather a band performing without the distancing factor of it being an event that happened once. That’s why there’s no audience in the film until the very end. I thought it was important if the film was to be as effective for filmgoers as it was for me watching the concert. I wanted to capture the energy and the flow and that unrelenting progression of music."

"We were minutely prepared. David had storyboarded the concert in a series of close shots. Not for the film, but for a tour. From this storyboard, I started to develop a model of the film, which by the way never stopped being modified. I worked closely with my visual advisor Sandy McLeod, who made sure I was in constant contact with the Talking Heads while they were on tour. I traveled with them myself for one week in Texas, then, before our concert, I followed all their performances on the West Coast. So on D-Day, I had a precise idea about the best camera placements. Having said that, 50 percent of the shots were conceived on the spot. […] This was the first multiple-camera situation I’d ever been in. The first night was pretty disastrous. Suddenly it was all happening, and all the preparation and planning was put up against the reality of the show. Cameras ran out of film, the band was real nervous and uptight having cameras stuck in their faces. We kept getting each other in the background of shots too much. It was a mess, but a superb camera rehearsal. The next three nights were spectacular." — Jonathan Demme on Stop Making Sense

"There are always bits of myself in my films but sometimes people don’t know that. I used to feel very distant from my films. In my earlier films, I really kept myself out of the picture. But now every film is more or less a personal experience, from dreams or from people close to me. That’s why I keep making films in certain locations. They are mostly places where I cherish my childhood memories. I keep revisiting them to try to—how do you say—reinterpret my memories. […] I think this is one of the reasons I make films: my personal memories are always interwoven with those from various other sources, reading, listening and traveling (my own travels and those of others). It was hard then to remember the real past clearly, so I made films without knowing how true they really were. This was an important detail; it was like waking the dead and giving them a new soul, making them walk once more. It is the same when writing, sometimes it is just our imagination, arising from our desire to remember, as Gabriel García Márquez wrote: ‘The memory is clear but there is no possibility that it is true.’" — Apichatpong Weerasethakul

"It would be the best of all, you know, if once in one of my pictures, only one human being had got something out of it for his life, for his daily life or for his future. I would be happy. That is the whole reason. If people use my pictures, it doesn’t matter if they are angry or aggressive or critical, but just that they are emotionally involved with my pictures. That is the only thing that is important to me."

Ingmar Bergman
July 14, 1918 — July 30, 2007

Raging Sun, Raging Sky begins with a woman—Tatei, identified as ‘El Corazón del cielo’, who Hernández reveals as the spirit of human passion. She is introduced walking through Mexico City’s urban wilderness, alive to the elements, telepathically listening-in on the personal lives of the citizens going about their daily routines. The camera (guided by cinematographer Alejandro Cantú) moves with Tatei, noticing desire everywhere in different genders, classes, occupations and anxieties. This mesmerizing introduction is key to Hernández’s approach; the emphasis on gay life is expansive and pansexual. His art depicts the universal essence of yearning.”

"Beyond the barrier-busting conceits of mainstream hits like Milk, Brokeback Mountain, Philadelphia, Kiss of the Spider Woman and Sunday, Bloody Sunday—films that spend too much effort on arguing the legitimacy of same-sex affection—Hernández presumes his characters’ validity and film culture’s sympathy. Inspired by Cocteau and Fassbinder, he asserts passion as unselfconsciously as cinema’s greatest ambulatory romantics—the likes of von Sternberg, Borzage and Mizoguchi as well as Ophuls.”

"Hernández trains his camera-eye on the byways of carnal behavior—alleys, train tracks, porn cinemas, discos, bath houses and sex clubs. He brings awestruck Antonioni with him, Sternberg for the glamour of sexual attraction, Resnais for the mind-bending sense of passing time, and Ophuls for the vertiginous yet sobering thrall. Cinema has rarely, if ever, given gay experience this high level of witness and contemplation. Hernández evokes his great forebears as part of the modern, intelligent love experience."

Armond White on Julián Hernández’s Raging Sun, Raging Sky.

"After Thieves Like Us, I was finally taken seriously. Robert Altman told me: You’re not just instinctual, you are an actress, a very good actress… That was a very, very emotional moment for me. I guess it gave me the confidence to think I could go out and work for other directors as well… If I had listened to everyone who told me no, I’d never have gotten anything accomplished. When I really believe in something and someone says, ‘You can’t do it,’ it just spurs me on… Life is all about movement, and when you stop moving, you’re dead! That’s my big philosophy—it’s all about motion. Life can change in the blinking of an eye, so you just have to appreciate every minute and keep going.” — Shelley Duvall

"When I make a film, it is a sleep in which I am dreaming."

Jean Cocteau
July 5, 1889 — October 11, 1963

Japanese posters for Akira Kurosawa’s Ran.

06 / 29 / 2014 952   originally from kurosawa-akira   via kurosawa-akira

Krzysztof Kieślowski photographed by Piotr Jaxa during the making of the Three Colors trilogy.

Close-Up not only speaks to us of the human need for dreams and the cinema’s enormous power of fascination; the film also introduces a damaged character, who pretends to be someone else in order to regain his own self-respect. Kiarostami is very clear on this point. ‘The main issue raised by the film is the need that people feel, whatever their material circumstances, for respect and social recognition […] Ultimately, what the film is dealing with is the difference between the “ideal self” and the “real self”; the greater the difference, the more unbalanced the person.’ To want to be someone else—a feeling that the film-maker confesses to knowing well, which undoubtedly justifies speaking of autobiographical elements in the film—has little or nothing to do with playing a game, in this context. Sabzian is a weak and pathetic character who tries to escape the frustrations of his life by making an unusual bid for integration into a society that excludes him. That is why his question (his plea, really) to Kiarostami when the director visits him in prison is simply: ‘Could you make a film about my suffering?’”

Alberto Elena, The Cinema of Abbas Kiarostami

"It was really bizarre, that Sabzian business. You know I had no interest in being photographed before this incident. But then not just Sabzian—many other people started pretending they were me! One of them actually got married while pretending he was me! My face became publicly recognizable soon after I decided to have a few photographs of me available in public to prevent these sorts of identity thefts. It is really pathetic, if you think of it. Filmmakers and filmmaking is so popular in Iran because all other forms of expression have been denied to people."

Mohsen Makhmalbaf

"Whenever I see a film, I ‘dissolve’ myself in it to such an extent that I reach the bottom. I fade out and perhaps… I get lost in it. And this has played an essential role in my life. Cinema is important to me. It’s like a prism. A good film is part of my life. With every good film I see, I feel reborn. It feels as if I made it myself, as if it were my creation. I identify with the director. I identify with the actors. I feel attuned and in harmony with the atmosphere of the film. I feel as if it’s my story. That’s how films carry me away. That’s why they’ve become my obsession. […] When it was all over, and I reentered society, I felt people’s eyes on me. Narrow-minded people who talked about everything but my enthusiasm for the movies. What I did wasn’t minor—tell the whole world about it—but that irrational act proved my love for film. I’m satisfied because I made one of my dreams come true. I was Makhmalbaf for four days. I remember Orson Welles’s advice to his students who wondered how to find the money for their films. ‘Steal it,’ he said. ‘At least you’ll fulfill your hopes.’"

Hossein Sabzian