Jacques Becker: An Introduction to a Master

by Frako Loden

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Photo courtesy of Festival de San Sebastian

This past week has been an exhilarating and deeply moving experience for me as I’ve explored the films of French director Jacques Becker for the first time. For my teacher I have another French writer/filmmaker, Bertrand Tavernier (Coup de Torchon, Life and Nothing But, The Princess of Montpensier), whose 2017 documentary My Journey Through French Cinema has been an absolute gift.

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Remembering Aleksandr Askoldov – 1932-2018

By Deborah Kaufman

It was the time of glasnost and perestroika, the last chapter of Soviet history. Of over 140 films banned by authorities under the Communists, the 1967 film COMMISSAR, directed by Aleksandr Askoldov, was the last film waiting to be rehabilitated. At the 1987 Moscow Film Festival, in a public confrontation with authorities, filmmakers and delegates from the San Francisco International Film Festival demanded to free the film “from prison” after its 20 years on the shelf. Under pressure the officials relented and the film was finally screened to a standing ovation, hailed as a masterpiece, and went on to worldwide distribution and international acclaim.


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by Kristy O’Brien

ELEPHANT PATH/NJAIA NJOKU will have its World Premiere at the San Francisco Docfest on Sunday, June 10 and Tuesday, June 12.

There is something about being in nature that instantly calms you. Being surrounded by majestic towering trees or open skies instead of austere concrete seems to turn off the chatty mind and widen the eyes and ears eager to take in all the colors and sounds, be they subtle or bold. Becoming attuned to the multitude of these details can make us feel both insignificant as individuals but also deeply connected and integral to the process as a whole.

Image result for todd mcgrain elephant pathArtist Todd McGrain‘s beautifully crafted and poetic documentary Elephant Path/Njaia Njoku starts out much the same way, as an invitation to slow down and enjoy the natural rhythm of Dzanga Bai (Village of Elephants) in the Central African Republic (CAR).

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