James Baldwin: “The Child is Filled with Darkness”

Photographer Unknown, The Child is Filled with Darkness

“In a moment someone will get up and turn on the light. Then the old folks will remember the children and they won’t talk anymore that day. And when light fills the room, the child is filled with darkness. He knows that every time this happens he’s moved just a little closer to that darkness outside. The darkness outside is what the old folks have been talking about. It’s what they’ve come from. It’s what they endure. The child knows that they won’t talk any more because if he knows too much about what’s happened to them, he’ll know too much too soon, about what’s going to happen to him.” 

—-James Baldwin, Sonny’s Blues

“Sonny’s Blues” is a short story written by James Baldwin, originally published in 1957 in the Partisan Review, a small circulation quarterly New York City magazine dealing with politics, literature, and culture. Written in the first-person singular narrative style, the story presents the memories of a 1950s black teacher in Harlem as he reacts to his brother Sonny’s drug addiction, arrest, and recovery. 

Baldwin’s story is set in New York City of the post–World War Two era, when an important political and cultural change was occurring. A diverse array of artists from all over the world, learning and borrowing ideas and techniques from each other,  converged in the city and made New York a new cultural capital. Despite differences in style and subject matter, these artists were responding, through their work, to what they believed was America’s unique cultural and political crisis.

While the art scene in New York was rapidly expanding, thousands of African American soldiers were returning home from the war and heading north toward communities like Harlem.  Instead of finding new job opportunities and equal rights, the returning men found newly constructed housing projects and vast urban slums. Hundreds of homes in Harlem had been leveled to build these housing projects, which would eventually become symbols of urban blight and poverty,. This experience would be faced by thousands of other African-Americans in the years after the war’s conclusion.

Although America in the 1950s was generally more conservative, the groundwork for the 1960s radical political movements was being laid. The civil rights movement, which had begun in the South earluer in the decade, had started to rapidly spread across the country as millions of African Americans began to seek equal rights. Written at this critical juncture in history, James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” is a testament to the frustration of life in the cities of America and this frustration’s eventual transformation into a political and artistic movement.

Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” was adapted for a short film of the same name by Gregory Scott Williams Jr for his second year project at New York University’s Graduate Film Program. Written and directed by Williams, the short, seventeen-minute film was produced by Seith Mann and starred actor Charles Parnell as the narrator-brother David, and New York-based poet and verbal stylist Saul Williams in the role of Sonny. The cinematography was by Cybel Martin, featuring the music of Gil Scott-Heron and Ray Charles with an original score by composer and pianist John Bickerton. The film can be found in its entirely at YouTube:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Y9CDEfnKvQ

The Tesla World Light

Matthew Rankin, “The Tesla World Light”, 2017

“The Tesla World Light” is a eight-minute 2017 black and white avant-garde film by Montreal director Matthew Rankin which imagines the latter days of inventor Nikola Tesla in New York City in 1905. It is a fanciful mixture of elements from Tesla’s life including his pleas to J. P. Morgan for funding and his love for a “electric” pigeon. The film sources interviews with Tesla and letters by Tesla found in the Library of Congress. 

In the film, Matthew Rankin combined pixilation with a technique called light-animation, which involves moving a light source in the frame to produce light rays. He estimated he used as many as fifteen thousand sparklers to produce the effects, along with flashlights, LEDs, and fluorescent lamps.

Matthew Rankin adopted a visual-music approach to the film. He worked with sound artist Sasha Ratcliffe, who recreated Tesla’s device, the Tesla Spirit Radio, which received and transmitted the sound of light waves with the intensity varying according to its vibrations. Much of the background sound in the film was produced by this machine.

Produced by Julie Roy, an executive producer at the Canadian National Film Board, “The Tesla World Light” stars Robert Vilar as Tesla, with cinematography by Julian Fontaine and music by Christophe Lamarche. The film had its world premiere in official competition in May at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and was selected for the Annecy International Animated Film Festival.

“The Tesla World Light” received an honorable mention in the Best Canadian Short Film category at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and received a listing on Canada’s Top Ten list of short films. It also won the 2018 Canadian Screen Award for Best Animated Short Films.

Deux Couples au Déjeuner

Artist Unknown, Deux Couples au Déjeuner (Two Couples at Lunch), Computer Graphics, Film Gifs, “El Juego de las Ilaves”, 2019

“The boys were amazed that I could make such a poem as that out of my own head, and so was I, of course, it being as much a surprise to me as it could be to anybody, for I did not know that it was in me. If any had asked me a single day before if it was in me, I should have told them frankly no, it was not.

That is the way with us; we may go on half of our life not knowing such a thing is in us, when in reality it was there all the time, and all we needed was something to turn up that would call for it.” 

—Mark Twain, Joan of Arc

Note: The film gifs are from the Mexican comedic television series “El Juego de las Ilaves ( The Game of Keys)”. The series revolves around the lives of four couples who decide to be swingers among themselves, and addresses the issues of monogamy in long relationships, self-realization and desire. Sebastián Zurita, in the role of Seergio Morales, and Horacio Pancheri, as Valentin Lombardo, are the male actors in the gifs.

Sergei Parajanov

Sergei Parajanov, “The Color of Pomegranates”, 1969, Computer Graphics, Film Gifs

The 1969 Soviet art film “The Color of Pomegranates”, written and directed by Sergei Parajanov, is a visual, poetic treatment of the life of the eighteenth-century Armenian musician and poet Sayat-Nova. The film is presented in a series of chapters depicting the poet’s life in active tableaux, presented with little dialogue. Each chapter, framed through Sayat-Nova’s poems, is indicated by a title card: Childhood, Youth, Prince’s Court, The Monastery, The Dream, Old Age, The Angel of Death, and Death. Narration on the film was done by Armenian-born renowned actor Armen Dzhigarkhanyan, known for his role in the 1979 “The Meeting Place Can Not Be Changed”. 

Four actors took the role of Sayat-Nova at different stages in his life, with Soviet Georgian actress Sofiko Chiaureli, notably playing six roles in the film, both female and male. The film was shot at numerous historical sites in northern Armenia, many being medieval churches in the Lori Provence, including the Sarahin Monastery and the St. John church at Ardvi. Filming was also done at the Old City of Baku, Azerbaijani, and in the countryside near the David Gareja Monastary in Eastern Georgia. 

Objections were made by the Communist Party and the Soviet censors  to Parajanov’s poetic, stylized treatment of the poet’s life, citing that it failed to educate the public. As a result, the original title “Sayat-Nova” was changed to “The Color of Pomegranates” and any references to Sayat-Nova’s name was removed from the credits. The Soviet officials also objected to the amount of religious imagery in the film and removed a substantial portion of it. Although the State Committee for Cinematography initially refused to allow the film to be shown outside Armenia, it did allow the film, now with a seventy-seven minute running time, to premiere inside Armenia in October of 1969.

Filmmaker Sergei Yutkevich,  the 1962 People’s Artist of the USSR and a script-reader on the State Committee, recut the film by a few minutes to appease the authorities and created Russian-language chapter titles for easier understanding by the public at large. He also changed the order of some of the sequences in the film. This seventy-three minute version ultimately received only limited distribution in the rest of the Soviet Union. 

The digital restoration of “The Color of Pomegranates” was completed in 2014 by Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation with the help of Cineteca di Bologna. It was re-edited as close as possible to the Sergei Parajanov’s original version, with its premier held at the 67th Cannes Film Festival. Parajanov’s film premiered in the US at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in September of 2014 and the 52nd New York Film Festival in October of 2014.

New Power

Artist Unknown, (New Power), Computer Graphics, Anime Film Gifs

“Be not the slave of your own past – plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep, and swim far, so you shall come back with new self-respect, with new power, and with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Any information on the artist or film source would be much appreciated. Thanks.

Shannon L. Alder: “The Dark Angel”

Artist Unknown, (The Dark Angel), Computer Graphics, Film Gifs (Film Unknown)

“When you meet a dark angel don’t you ever for one minute believe they are bad because they have faced the worst demons and lived to guide you through yours. It really isn’t an easy job they have been asked to do, but then neither was standing on the front line during the war in heaven.”
Shannon L. Alder

Reblogged with many thanks to https://domus-aurea2.tumblr.com

Greeks Come True

 

Konstantinos Rigas by Vangelis Kyris, “Greeks Come True”, 2019

“Greeks Come True” is a movie filmed by Vangelis Kyris in conjunction with a photo shooting for the Greeks Come True annual print calendar which is available every December. Filmed entirely on a Greek mountain farm, the eighty minute film follows the fifteen men and athletes involved in the calendar shoot. The film’s multi-genre sooundtrack features some of Greece’s promising musical artists.

Samurai Champloo

“Samurai Champloo” is a Japanese anime series developed by the Japanese animation and production company Manglobe. The production team was lead by director Shinichiro Watanabe, character designer Kazuto Nakazawa and mechanical designer Mahiro Maeda. This series was Watanabe’s first directorial effort for an anime television series after his critically acclaimed “Cowboy Bebop”.  “Samurai Champloo” ran for twenty-six episodes from May of 2004 until March of 2005.

The series blended historical Edo-period backdrops with modern styles and references. The show dealt with the Shimabara Rebellion in Edo-era Japan, the restriction of Japanese foreign relations exclusive of the Netherlands, the art of ukiyo-e painting, and fictionalized appearances of real-life Edo-era personalities. Artistic license trumped accuracy and the music score used contemporary music.

Kôichi Imaizumi, “Berlin Drifters”

Kôichi Imaizumi, “Berlin Drifters”, Trailer, 2017, Habakari Cinema Research, Jurgen Bruning Filmproduction

Pinku eiga star and intense adult director Kôichi Imaizumi teamed with Japan’s prominent adult manga author for the film “Berlin Drifters”. A low-budget, all-hands-on-deck affair, “Berlin Drifters “ unites a who’s who of Asian and European eroticists, from Dutch porn star Michael Selvaggio and German self-described erotic photographer Claude Kolz to Chinese LGBT activist and dramatist Xiaogang Wei. Most notable, however, could be the participation of Japanese gay erotica artist Gengoroh Tagame, most easily described as Japan’s Tom of Finland.

Imaizumi is perhaps best known as a pinku eiga actor — the soft-core Japanese mini-features, celebrated in last year’s Nikkastu Roman Porno Series and which have given some of the country’s most prominent filmmakers their starts. As a director, Imaizumi dabbled with graphic sex in both “The Secret to My Silky Skin”, starring Majima, and the troubling sci-fi rape comedy “The Family Complete”.

Imaizumi’s hallmarks of sexuality and masculinity are present in “Berlin Drifters”,  but also the insights regarding acceptance and the stigmas surrounding homosexuality in Japan. “Berlin Drifters” was shown at the Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. Sales of the film are through Habakari Cinema Research.

“Sebastiane”

“Sebastiane”, 1976, Directed by Derek Jarman and Paul Humfress

Sebastiane” is a 1976 Latin-language British historical thriller directed by Derek Jarman and Paul Humfress. The screenplay, written by Jarman, Humfress, and James Whaley, portrays events in the life of Saint Sebastian, including his martyrdom by arrows. The film, which was targeted to a gay audience, was controversial for the homoerotism portrayed and for being dialogued entirely in vulgar Latin. It was the only English-made film to have required English subtitles.

Intensely erotic, “Sebastiane” was filmed in Sardinia, near the town of Buggerru, and in locations in Italy. The film is an early film by the noted experimental and outspokenly gay director Jarman and features the debut of actor Leonardo Treviglio in his role of Sebastian. A bold film having the distinction of being the first non-porn film to show a male erection, “Sebastiane” now is probably only for the film aficionado who loves film- making and its history. A milestone in the history of non-porn gay films.

Hitchcock’s “The Lodger”

Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Lodger”, 1927

The Lodger, the silent film that Hitchcock directed in 1927, is generally acknowledged to be the one where he properly found his “voice”: that distinctive combination of death and fetishism, trick shots and music-hall humour, intense menace and elegant camerawork that assured his place among cinema’s giants.

The material, drawn from a novel by Marie Belloc Lowndes, is rather obviously inspired by the Jack the Ripper murders; they were still within living memory. Hitchcock himself claimed later that producing studio Gainsborough, including Michael Balcon, ordered him to remove any ambiguity that the central character, the mysterious room-renter of the title, might be guilty of the crimes himself, instead of simply the innocent victim of false suspicion.

Jean Cocteau

Jean Cocteau’s “The Blood of a Poet”, 1930

“The Blood of a Poet” is an avant-garde film directed by Jean Cocteau and which starred Enrique Riveros, a Chilean actor who had a successful career in European films. It is the first part of the Orphic Trilogy, which is continued in the 1950 “Orphee”, and followed by the 1960 “Testament of Orpheus”.

The film was financed by French nobleman Charles de Noailles who gave Cocteau one million francs to make the film. Shortly after the completion of the film, rumors began circulating that it was an anti-Christian message. Combined with the riotous reaction to another film Noailles produced, “L’Age d’Or”, the furor caused the film to be delayed for more than a year. “The Blood of a Poet” was released finally on January 20, 1932.

In this scene from the second section of the film, the artist played by Riveros is transported through the mirror to a hotel, where he peers through several keyholes, witnessing such people as an opium smoker and a hermaphrodite. The artist finally cries out that he has seen enough and returns back through the mirror.

Reblogged with thanks to http://bandit1a.tumblr.com

Kaneto Shindo’s “Onibaba”

 

Kaneto Shindo, “Onibaba”, 1964

“Onibaba” is a 1964 Japanese historical drama horror film written and directed by Kaneto Shindo. The story was inspired by the Shin Buddhist parable of “yome-odoshi-no men”, in which a mother used a mask to scare her daughter from going to the temple. The mother was punished by the mask sticking to her face. After begging to remove it, she was able to take it off, but the flesh of her face came with it.

Kaneto Shindo wanted to film “Onibaba” in a field of suski grass. A location was found at inna-Numa in Chiba. Filming started on June 30, 1964 and continued for three months. Some of the sequences were shot in slow-motion. Background and title music consists of Taiko drumming combined with jazz.