Daily Archives: May 19, 2006

Sisters In Law

The masterful feminist documentarian Kim Longinottowho’s previously focused on women in Japan (Shunjuku Boys), Iran (Divorce Iranian Style), and Kenya (The Day I Will Never Forget)directed this absorbing 2005 account of three Cameroon court cases involving rape, wife beating, and child abuse. As in some of Longinotto’s earlier efforts, the camera seems to increase the participants’ desire to perform, but the authority and common sense of the two central figures, Judge Beatrice Ntuba and state prosecutor Vera Ngassa, are mesmerizing. Florence Ayisi codirected. In English and various subtitled dialects. 104 min. (JR) Read more

Kings And Extras And The Fourth Room

Two delicate videos about wartime loss, both directed by Palestinian women. In Kings and Extras (2004, 63 min.) video maker Azza al-Hassan investigates the mysterious disappearance of the PLO film archive, three rooms’ worth of precious materials that vanished when Israel invaded Beirut in 1982. It’s an important subject, but her journey through four countries yields so little that she’s reduced to poeticizing her failure and interviewing random pedestrians. The loss in Nahed Awwad’s The Fourth Room (2005, 25 min.) is more personal: an amiable shopkeeper, traumatized by a past military invasion, guards a locked room from everyone, including Awwad, to prevent its being torn apart again. Both films are in Arabic with subtitles. (JR) Read more

The Power of Nightmares

Produced for the BBC in 2004, Adam Curtis’s three-hour polemical essay about the conceptually nonsensical but mythically potent “war on terror” is the most informative and stimulating film treatment of the subject to date. Curtis begins with the collapse of liberal idealism, charts the parallel development of radical Islamism (starting with Egyptian author Sayyid Qutp) and American neoconservatism (starting with Leo Strauss), and argues that Osama bin Laden encourages the lies and hype of Bush and Blair. The symmetries are too neat to be entirely persuasive, and as Curtis approaches the present, his arguments are more open to dispute (like his assertion that Al Qaeda doesn’t really exist). Yet the film is witty, intelligent, and brilliant in its use of archival elements, ranging from Egyptian TV commercials to images from The Thief of Bagdad and music from Citizen Kane. This is the first area screening, though the documentary can be downloaded at www.archive.org. DVD projection. Sat 5/20, 2 PM, Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington, Evanston, 847-866-0300. Read more