The Berlinale film festival starts this week, and although this year’s programme seems to offer little with a Strange Flowers flavour, it’s at least reminded me to mention some film bits.
Maya Deren, Take Zero, a 30-minute tribute to the pioneering experimental filmmaker, premiered a few days ago at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. It’s a more straightforward documentary-style approach than last year’s half-hour Deren encomium, Maya Deren’s Sink by Barbara Hammer. For a short film, Jaime Ballada and Gerard Gil’s work has had a very long gestation, which explains why Deren’s husband and collaborator Alexander Hammid appears on screen even though he died in 2004. Maya Deren, Take Zero also features footage from the unfinished film Deren made with Marcel Duchamp, Witch’s Cradle. View the trailer here.
It’s a reckless gambit for any director to describe his film as “90 minutes of nonsense” but that’s how Italian filmmaker Davide Manuli labels his feature La leggenda di Kaspar Hauser, which also premiered in Rotterdam (I might be quoting him out of context…judge for yourself). After transplanting Samuel Beckett to Sardinia in a 2008 film, Manuli performs a similar trick on the ultimate lost boy, Kaspar Hauser, who was born two centuries ago this year (possibly…like everything else involving Kaspar Hauser, it’s difficult to confirm). Manuli’s movie has UFOs, drugs and Vincent Gallo in not one but two roles.
Following up on some previous bites: the Anita Berber biopic seems to have disappeared without trace, ditto the feature about Edward James which I mentioned a while ago. Meanwhile The Lady Who Went Too Far, the biopic of Lady Hester Stanhope by the writer and producer of The King’s Speech, has been put back to next year. This may allow Madonna to step into the breach with a threatened film treatment of another 19th century English noblewoman who, like Lady Hester, explored the Middle East. Lady Jane Digby travelled extensively and had affairs with crowned heads; her idea of settling down was to take up with a Bedouin sheikh. So there’s more than enough to work with, and with Madonna behind the camera what could possibly go wrong?