Daily Archives: December 15, 2022



Four years ago, in Sarajevo, I assigned my filmmaking students at Film.Factory to make five-minute “remakes” of Seijun Suzuki’s Pistol Opera. One of those students, Ghazi Alqudcy, asked me to costar in his own film, A Celebration, along with Gonzalo Escobar Mora — who subsequently moved to Chicago for a spell, along with another of my Film.Factory students, Emma Rozanski.

Here is Ghazi’s film:

password: filmfactory

[5/28/18] Read more


Jonathan Rosenbaum

Written for MUBI in October 2020.

Let’s start with the title — a shotgun marriage between two omnipresent yet far from equally featured players in these unremarked, meditative spaces: an abstract impulse that supposedly keeps our American republic healthy and vital (while producing a lot of junk along with more helpful items) and a concrete force softly caresses everything in its path, keeping us alive and alert. More specifically, an encounter between the cause of many of the deaths that are being commemorated here — especially those relating to the genocide of Native Americans and many of the massacres occasioned by slave revolts and labor protests — and what D.W. Griffith lamented he found missing from modern cinema, the wind in the trees, found in the vicinity of most of the dozens of gravesites visited. 

Arguably, according to the poetic rhetoric proposed by this 58-minute film of 2007, beautifully restored by Mark Rance, these diverse and scattered gravesites — hidden in the woods or identified by plaques on busy highways or next to prominent buildings in towns or cities — belong to heroes rather than martyrs, yet also to moving air more than what we usually recognize today as history. Read more

Zhangke Jia, Poetic Prophet

This was written for a brochure to accompany a retrospective held by Northwestern University’s Block Cinema in January 2008. — J.R.


by Jonathan Rosenbaum

What is it about Zhangke Jia that makes him the most exciting

mainland Chinese filmmaker currently working? It might be

oversimplifying matters to describe this writer-director, born in

1970, as a country boy. But the fact that he hails from the small town

of Fenyang in northern China’s Shanxi province clearly plays an

important role in all his features to date. (I’m less certain about what

role it plays in his two recent documentaries, Dong [2006] and

Useless [2007].) Like William Faulkner and Alexander Dovzhenko,

Jia is a hick avant-gardist in the very best sense — someone whose

outsider/minority status enhances both his humanity and his art.

Working in long, choreographed takes, and mixing realistic accounts

of working-class life with diverse forms of cultural shock and fantasy

ranging from animation to SF to rock, he already qualifies as a poetic

prophet of the 21st century, and not only for China.

He attended the Beijing Film Academy, where he

completed his first film, the one-hour Xiao Shan

(Going Home, 1995). I haven’t seen it, but according

to critic Kevin Lee, it’s about a country boy and

unemployed cook in Beijing who wants to go home for

the Chinese New Year and runs into numerous obstacles,

and it utilizes literary intertitles (which also crop up in

his last two features). Read more