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Culture and Arts

Culture Watch

New on DVD: Released in May 2006

Reviews by Angela Pressburger

Foreign Drama:
Lovers of the Arctic Circle; An exploration into the question of romantic destiny and the role of coincidence

Documentaries from Around the World
The Devil's Miner, a well-made and poignant journey of two children in the Bolivian mines
Touch the Sound,
a wonderful, inspiring film about the connections between sound, rhythm, time and the body
, a lyrical examination of the complicated life of poet, activist and spoken-word performer, John Trudell.

For the Whole Family
Deep Blue, A beautifully shot and well-researched underwater exploration
Emmanuel's Gift
, the story of a man who is shattering prevailing myths for what’s possible for the disabled in his country of Ghana

Classics That Caught Our Eye
The Chess Players, invites us to contemplate the birth-life-death rhythm of civilizations
Late Spring
, a poignant and slow-moving masterpiece set in post-war Japan
Lemonade Joe
, a delightful Czech new-wave parody of the Hollywood “western” presented as a musical comedy


Lovers of the Arctic Circle
1998, Spain/France, 112 min., subtitles
Director: Julio Medem (The Sea Inside)

Audience Award, Athens, 2000; Crystal Star for Best European Feature, Brussels, 1999; Nominated for Golden Lion, Venice, 1998; plus many others in Latin America and Medem's native Spain.

An exploration of the question of romantic destiny and the role of coincidence. If you find your soul-mate and then life conspires to separate you, will you ever find each other again?  And if so, how will this unfold? 

This is the story of Ana and Otto whose chance meeting as children leads to a life-long love — and separation. Their search for each other leads them to Lapland, on the edge of the Arctic Circle, where the great circles of their lives meet again and an ending merges to become a new beginning. An intriguing work that deftly takes us into the world of emotions using  a haunting visual language all its own, to weave a web of intuitive connections and intense, unwavering passion.

This is a wonderful film and, if you count yourself a romantic, you shouldn’t miss it.

The Devil's Miner
2005, Germany/USA,  85 min., subtitles, documentary
Directors: Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani

Best Documentary: Silver Hugo, Chicago, Woodstock, and Jerusalem, 2005; Best Documentary Special Mention, Tribeca, 2005; FIPRESCI Prize, HotDocs, 2005; Special Award for Best Humanitarian Content, Mexico City, 2005; and many more.

A well-made and poignant journey into the lives of 14-year- old Basilio Vargas and his 12-year-old brother, Bernardino, who support their family by working in the silver mines of Cerro Rico, Bolivia.  Through their eyes, we enter a world of devout Catholic miners who, once they go underground, worship a “Tio” or devil, building and tending elaborate shrines in the belief that underground one’s ties with God are severed and one must rely on a different manifestation of the protector principle.  The film is also a testament to the vicious cycle of poverty which keeps these children underground and uneducated, when they are bright, loving, and want so very much to learn.

More information and links to ways to help at:

Touch the Sound
2004, Germany/UK, 99 min.
Director: Thomas Riedelsheimer (Rivers and Tides)

Best Documentary awards from: Critics Week Award,
Locarno, 2004; Golden Dove, Leipzig, 2004; and Special Mention Bangkok, 2005. Gold Award for Best Sound, German Film Awards, 2004

A wonderful, inspiring film about the connections between sound, rhythm, time and the body which suggests that our sense of hearing can lead us towards a more attentive and meditative experience of the world. We are guided on this journey by acclaimed Scottish solo percussionist Evelyn Glennie who, as the result of a neurological disorder, is almost completely deaf.

As we follow her performances from New York to Tokyo, and at her studio outside Glasgow, we hear her views of the sensory world and hear the sounds she coaxes from a variety of everyday items as well as traditional instruments.  This is not only a documentary about a person, but also a poetic exploration of how we sense things in our world and communicate them.  It asks: would we perceive our surroundings differently if we relied as extensively on our ears as we do on our eyes.

Not to be missed!

2005, USA, 80 min., documentary
Director: Heather Rae

Recognitions: Special Jury Award (Documentary), Seattle, 2005; Jury Prize for Human Rights, Artivist Film Festival 2005; Nominated for Grand Jury Prize, Sundance, 2005;

A lyrical examination of the complicated life of poet, activist and spoken-word performer, John Trudell, one of America's most prominent and passionate advocates for Native American rights. If you're old enough, you may remember a community group called Indians of All Tribes who occupied Alcatraz Island from 1969 - 1971 in a symbolic effort to claim the island for the Indian people. John Trudell became the group's spokesperson and the campaign created international recognition for the American Indian cause.

From there, Trudell went on to become the national spokesperson for the American Indian Movement (AIM). His activism made him a political icon for his people, and a "volatile subversive" to the American government with one of the longest FBI files in history. Ten years later, a protesting Trudell burned the American flag on the steps of FBI headquarters in Washington DC.

Within hours, his pregnant wife, mother-in-law and three children were killed in a suspicious fire on the Nevada reservation they called home, and John Trudell had to rebuild his life.  Where many people might have become hardcore "terrorists," John Trudell became a poet, opening a whole new path to both finding his way through the pain and to representing his vision for his people.  The film incorporates archival footage, poetry and music in a way that creates an on-screen presence that is as much spiritual — some would even say, reverent — as political.

Page Two of Angela Pressburger's DVD Reviews>>

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©2006 Angela Pressburger for SeniorWomenWeb

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