"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 1032   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

"The original spark [for The Terrorizers] came from the Eurasian girl in the story, who at the time was just a drifter in Taipei. She didn’t have a job, came from a single-parent family. Her father was a Vietnam serviceman and her mother a bar hostess, so she comes from a very unique cultural background. In the film, I snuck in clues about her identity, like in the scenes when her mother is smoking, if you look closely you realize that she is using an army-issued cigarette lighter with a First Calvary insignia. What happened was that the Eurasian girl had a friend who told me about her interest in acting in films, so I met with her. She told me all kinds of stories about her life, like how her mother used to lock her up at home and, unable to go anywhere, she’d just stay in her room making prank phone calls. She told me that she had once called some woman and told her that she was her husband’s mistress. That story was the spark that lit the fire. It was such an explosive story. I started to think about how such a random, unrelated act could potentially create a terrible tragedy. Suddenly the whole structure of the story began to emerge.” — Edward Yang

"If the story was only about a terrorist and a couple, it’d be just about modern marriages. But Edward wanted more than that. He wanted to talk about the fear in the modern society. The fear and surreal feelings people have in the modern time. When Edward was making this film, he was a very angry man. He was angry with society and with what he had been through. He was extremely angry with the time. So the killings began in his films. We joked that he was killing more and more people with every movie. No one dies in the first film. In That Day on the Beach, only one person dies. Then in Taipei Story, a character is stabbed to death. Now, so many people die in The Terrorizers. More people die in his next film. There is a slaughter in A Brighter Summer Day. As a director Edward was very emotional when he was making the film.” — Hsiao Yeh, Screenwriter (The Terrorizers)

"Edward was a very honest director. I mean honest with his age and his time. He always expressed his views on society in his films. For example, in That Day on the Beach, we can see his doubt about marriage and love. He began to doubt things like that… When I saw The Terrorizers, it took my breath away. It was the first time I came to realize how talented Edward was. I knew from my talk with Edward that he was confused about love and everything around him. He had doubt about everything in Taiwanese society. He didn’t trust anything, anyone. Were they friends or enemies? What should a couple be like? He was in a confused state of mind. This film fully demonstrated his state of mind at that time.” — Wu Nien-jen, Screenwriter/Actor (That Day on the Beach, Yi Yi)

"I was very shocked. I felt when [Yang] came back from the U.S., he’d developed a unique eye for things. He viewed things differently from us. He studied in Taiwan until college, and left for the U.S. for ten years. When he returned, he became someone who came from a different world. Looking at where he grew up, he clearly saw the social structure of Taiwan… [The Terrorizers] seems direct, but it’s not. The underlying story tells the distorted relationships people had in the totalitarian era in Taiwan. Edward was very good at it. We understood his views on Taipei from Taipei Story. He had his viewpoint.” — Hou Hsiao-hsien

"During her last year of life, Maya, Teiji (her young third husband), Adolfas, and I saw each other at least once a week. It seems strange, but I do not remember any ‘memorable,’ ‘intellectual’ discussions together. It was all talk about what had to be done for the next event, or else about what we had seen, or our friends, or memories of Europe—and Adolfas and I used to go home all excited and not be able to sleep half the night. And then we would wake up and forget it all and another day would begin…

"Now, looking back in my memory, remembering it all in glimpses, in single frames, I see Maya’s face, always very intense, never making small talk. There was always a very special subtle laugh behind that intensity, which would come out in brief spurts. Those who didn’t see this lighter side usually were a little bit frightened by Maya. The intensity is reflected in all of Maya’s faces, in her films. The exception perhaps is one of her most frequently reproduced images: Maya as a face from Botticelli. Curiously, though, that image was filmed and ‘directed’ by Sasha Hammid, and I think it represents his dream of Maya: he threw her back to the Renaissance. All the other faces of Maya are rich with the reverberations of twentieth-century modern art." — Jonas Mekas on Maya Deren

Let’s start with the look of Songs from the Second Floor—it’s unusually visual, very rich and detailed.

I felt that film-making generally didn’t reach the level you could find in painting or literature or music. It was for one-time use only, and more and more, the movies were losing their visual power—they were concentrating on the plot only. Especially compared to the 1950s, when I was a student. It was that period when the so-called serious art movie came out, all over the world: we had the East European waves, Kurosawa, Bergman, English realism. That’s why I started wanting to be a film director myself. It wasn’t only the plot that was interesting; it was the touch, the feeling, something visually rich.

The way you use long, single-shot scenes without cuts—and don’t move the camera within them—is particularly unusual these days.

Normally when you see a film with many cuts, it’s to avoid problems, because of lack of money, patience, talent. If you don’t move the camera and don’t cut, you have to enrich the picture in deep focus—that’s what you have. I think a good theoretical writer on film is Andre Bazin—he preferred deep focus. I do too. When you look at the history of paintings, they’re in deep focus all the time, and that makes you very curious, and you become an active spectator.

Roy Andersson on the style of Songs from the Second Floor