Weekly Roundup: Video store elegy, Mad Max: Fury Road oral history, and Roger Deakins’ podcast

News Roundup

Irma Vep (1996)

• Olivier Assayas is currently working on a TV adaptation of his 1996 feature Irma Vep, which starred Maggie Cheung and Jean-Pierre Léaud as an actor and director trying to remake Louis Feuillade’s silent masterpiece Les Vampires. Though he originally planned to write and direct only a few of the episodes, Assayas says he’s now able to helm the entirety of the series.

• On the eve of what would have been the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, Thierry Fremaux spoke to Screen Daily about the cancellation of the event and announced that the festival will be unveiling their Official Selections sometime in June, with the hope of later presenting some of these films in French cinemas. 

• The Locarno Film Festival, which was officially cancelled a few weeks back, has released their plan for an alternative program. Called Films After Tomorrow, it will focus “on the films that came to a halt, and the filmmakers who had to let go of ideas, crews, cameras or editing rooms.” The program, which seems like it won’t be open to the public, will have 20 unfinished projects competing for a cash prize that can be used to finish production once it is safe to do so.

• After announcing a few changes at the executive level earlier this year, the New York Film Festival has unveiled their new programming team along with changes to the structure of their lineup. The festival says they’re currently exploring a combination of in-person and virtual experiences for their event in September.

Reading Roundup

Photo: Ignatiy Vishnevetsky

• If you read one thing from this Roundup, let it be this. At The A.V. Club, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky eulogizes his old haunt, Chicago’s Odd Obsession video store, which recently had to shutter its doors due to financial issues that were exacerbated by the pandemic. In Vishnevetsky’s vivid description of the place during his time there, “the floor was rarely swept by anything more than the dragging belly of the store cat, and the unheated back room stank of vinegar from the old 35mm film prints that were stored there alongside accumulating boxes of unsorted VHS rarities that came to resemble the final shot of Raiders of the Lost Ark…But it’s no bold assertion on my part to say that much of what we feel nostalgia for is the kind of inconvenience that creates a more eclectic and interesting reality.”

• “The work of rediscovering and championing overlooked and forgotten female filmmakers, part of a larger critical and curatorial effort to revise the film historical narrative into something that gives greater space to the accomplishments of women and other traditionally marginalized and thwarted groups, has become such a bustling industry in recent years as to make Catherine Binet’s continued obscurity an almost impressive feat.” On his Substack, Nick Pinkerton discusses Binet’s single feature, The Games of Countess Dolingen of Gratz, which was “greeted as the work of a major talent” at the 1981 Cannes and Venice film festivals. But much like Barbara Loden in the US, Binet was left to languish in the dust bins of history, never to be given her proper due during her lifetime.

• “Film festivals are spaces that do more than bring audiences in contact with films and filmmakers. They connect audiences to themselves, to the reality of the place around them, to its economic and social machinery. That Visions du Réel, which traditionally takes place every year in April in Nyons, Switzerland, is no more anchored to a geographical location, and is instead accessible to viewers from around the world, themselves severed from their immediate reality, is some kind of a metaphor for the times we live in.” For Firstpost, Srikanth Srinivasan covers some of the highlights from the annual documentary festival while discussing how the context of the exhibition impacted how the works themselves were perceived.

• For The New York Times, Kyle Buchanan speaks to 20 of the main collaborators on Mad Max: Fury Road five years after the film’s release in an effort to uncover how “this nearly impossible project” was accomplished. 

Viewing/Listening Roundup

• Josephine Decker’s latest feature, which premiered earlier this year at Sundance and stars Elizabeth Moss as horror writer Shirley Jackson, now has a trailer courtesy of Neon. In Canada, the film will be released on VOD by Elevation Pictures on June 5th.

• In this deceptively moving three-and-a-half minute short, Spike Lee pays tribute to the city’s residents under lockdown. Lee’s latest feature, Da 5 Bloods, will be released on Netflix on June 15th.

• Anthology Film Archives has made Notes on an American Film Director at Work: Martin Scorsese, Jonas Mekas’ hour-long portrait of the celebrated filmmaker, free to view online. 


• Roger Deakins, the regular director of photography for Denis Villeneuve and the Coen Brothers, has started a podcast with his wife and collaborator, James Ellis Deakins. Each episode looks at a different aspect of the craft of cinematography.

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