Our pluralist retrospective series that provides a revisionist view of what might be considered classic works of cinema.
Essential Cinema 2020 features Márta Mészáros’s fascinating and rarely-seen third feature Szép leányok, ne sírjatok! / Don’t Cry, Pretty Girls! (1970), which examines the social structures of the Beat era in socialist Hungary within the framework of the director’s most vital and pressing topic, the possibility of women’s freedom; Ulrike Ottinger’s Paris Calligrammes (2020), a personal retrospective and filmic collage built around the artist’s memories of life in Paris during the 1960s, charged with the vitality of personal and societal revolutions to come; the late Armenian filmmaker Maria Saakyan’s impassioned, unsentimental debut feature, Mayak / The Lighthouse (2006), which follows a young woman embracing an apocalyptic vision of freedom; and the recently rediscovered Badnaam Basti / Alley of Disrepute (1971), Prem Kapoor’s bandit musical debut which features Hindi cinema’s first portrayal of queer desire and stakes a belated claim to be one of the Indian New Wave’s most remarkable films.
Live Event — 24 September 2020, 20:00
Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival presents a live conversation inspired by Maria Saakyan’s impassioned, acclaimed and groundbreaking debut feature film The Lighthouse (Mayak). Considering the legacy of Maria Saakyan and her life’s work, our guests will also discuss the practice and politics of film-making, -distribution -production and -restoration with special attention to the Southern Caucasus.→
In a rich torrent of archival audio and visuals, paired with extracts from her own artworks and films, Ottinger resurrects the old Saint-Germain-des-Prés and Latin Quarter. Amongst their literary cafés and jazz clubs, she revisits encounters with Jewish exiles; life with her artistic community; the world views of Parisian ethnologists and philosophers; the political upheavals of the Algerian War and May 1968; and the legacy of the colonial era. “I followed the footsteps of my heroines and heroes,” Ottinger narrates, “wherever I found them, they will appear in this film too.”
An eccentric gang of young boys and girls hit the streets and bars of Budapest after their monotonous shift in the factory has ended. Living within and out of society, but closed in their private life, they seek intimacy, entertainment and freedom. Despite being already engaged, Juli starts to flirt with a handsome musician, who takes the girl along with the band for a gig in the countryside. When the fiancé and his furious friends also turn up, Juli has to make her own decision.
Briefly released in 1971 and subsequently lost for decades until its rediscovery in 2019, Badnam Basti is the debut feature of Indian New Wave filmmaker Prem Kapoor. His artfully hewn, musical melodrama, an adaptation of Kamleshwar Prasad Saxenaa’s eponymous novel, traces a circular relationship between its three main characters: dashing truck driver bandit Sarnam, the lovely Bansuri who he saves from being raped and handsome Shivraj, who works in a temple is later hired by Sarnam. Enjoy the urgency and immediacy of this important landmark of Hindi cinema!