As the Writer’s Strike crosses the 100 days threshold and SAG-AFTRA hits 30, there are a few promising signs, and I don’t mean “Arrow”’s Stephen Amell eating crow and hitting the picket line.
The actor participated at a convention in Raleigh, North Carolina, just as the second season of his series “Heels” premiered on Starz. While he claimed support for his Union, he also said, “I do not support striking. I don’t. It’s a reductive negotiating tactic, and I find the entire thing incredibly frustrating. I think it’s myopic.” As you can imagine, his statements made him the internet’s character of the week. His appearance verges on scabbing. Guild members are not allowed to promote their filmed works during a strike.
Stepehn Amell, when he was a hero in the "Arrow" years / Photo courtesy of Dreamstime.
A few days later, he backtracked “clarifying” his remarks via an Instagram post. Amell wrote, “Understandably, there has been a lot of reaction to the comments I made this weekend about our strike. To ensure there is no misunderstanding about my thoughts and intentions, I’m providing what I actually said and clarity/context to ensure my feelings aren’t unintentionally misinterpreted. We all know soundbites can be taken out of context and I have too much respect for my fellow union members to not clarify the record."
“I do not support striking” was taken out of context and needed clarification. Life comes at you fast, dude. The Amell kerfuffle was fun, but more important things were happening. Reps for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) sat with WGA negotiators. The meeting ended at an apparent stalemate, but a few days later, the AMPTP surprised everyone by presenting a counter-proposal. It is a bid to reopen negotiations.
The process moves slowly as molasses, but at least the parts involved are talking to each other. A new meeting was scheduled for next Friday. There are no similar developments on the SAG-AFTRA front. In the meantime, the stars keep hitting the picket line, like Aubrey Plaza. If you see Stephen Amell, give him a piece of your mind, Audrey!
Maite Alberdi’s heart-wrenching documentary “The Eternal Memory” opens in the US this weekend. We were lucky enough to interview Alberdi and Paulina Urrutia, the wife of journalist Augusto Góngora. The movie follows the couple as the couple deal with the effects of Augusto’s Alzheimer’s Disease. The movie won the Best World Documentary Award at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, which probably makes it the front-runner as the country’s candidate for the Foreign Film Academy Awards nomination.
Holding on to "The Eternal Memory": Augusto Góngora and Paulina Urrutia ins Maite Alberdi's documentary. / Photo courtesy of MTV Documentary Films.
The 200 members of the Chilean Film Academy will have to choose between five candidates. Name recognition works for Pablo Larraín’s “El Conde,” a dark political satire that imagines dictator Augusto Pinochet as an actual vampire. The movie premieres at the Venice Film Festival. It will enjoy a limited theatrical release simultaneous with the streaming premiere on Netflix on September 23. Larrain got nominated for “No” (2012), a comedy about the ad men who came up with the campaign that tilted the scales to facilitate the peaceful exit of Pinochet and the arrival of democracy in Chile.
The Pinochet years also weigh heavily in “Punto de Encuentro.” The feature-length documentary follows a couple of filmmakers trying to make a film about their fathers. The political prisoners struck a friendship while sequestered in the grim torture center Villa Grimaldi.
Newcomer Felipe Gálvez is on the run with “The Settlers,” an anti-wester centered on three mercenaries, one Chilean, one British, and one American, hired by a white landowner to decimate the indigenous tribe whose lands he wants to steal. The movie premiered at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival and took the FIPRESCI Award at the Un Certain Regard sidebar. MUBI acquired distribution rights for the film.
The group of candidates rounds up with Gustavo Graef Marino’s “El Vacío.” Francisco Reyes, the star of this year’s mellow comedy “Martinez,” plays a movie director facing the end of his relationship with a younger woman.
The Chilean Academy will have to choose before November 2023.
Update: Chile chose "The Settlers" as their Best Foreign Film Oscar candidate. Still, thanks to its Oscar-qualifying theatrical release, "The Eternal Memory" can compete for nominations in other categories.
"The Eternal Memory" includes a montage of Augusto Góngora's work as a reporter during the Pinochet years. It sparked my curiosity about this chapter of Latin American history. If you are similarly intrigued, well, we are in luck. Icarus Films and Cinema Tropical bring us a multi-venue retrospective of Chilean filmmaker Patricio Guzmán titled "Dreaming of Utopia: 50 Years of Revolutionary Hope and Memory". The centerpiece is a new restoration of Guzman's "The First Year." His first movie documents the first year of the government of Salvador Allende after winning the 1970 presidential elections.
Cinematographer Jorge Muller and director Patricio Guzman, shooting "The Battle of Chile" / Photo Courtesy of Icarus Films.
Less than three years into his presidency, Allende suffered a military coup d’etat led by Army General Augusto Pinochet, who usurped power as head of a military junta. The deposed president died by suicide, barricaded in his office while the presidential palace was under siege. The movie will play at the Anthology Film Archives in New York City from September 8 to 15, along with his 2004 documentary, “Salvador Allende.”
This fall brings an embarrassment of riches for Guzman’s fans. The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) will premiere a restoration of his three-part documentary “The Battle of Chile” (1972-1979). Across the Hudson River, the IFC Center will program his last four movies: “Nostalgia for the Light” (2010), “The Pearl Button” (2015), “The Cordillera of Dreams” (2019), and last year’s ”My Imaginary Country” (2022), which we reviewed upon its US release.
After the New York run closes, Icarus announced that "The First Year" restoration will play in selected cities. It's quite a birthday gift for Guzman, who turned 82 on August 11, 2023. Movie buffs, get yourselves to the Art House cinema. This is one for the history book.
The Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland closed down this weekend, revealing its roster of winners. The top award went to Ali Ahmaddzahe’s “The Critical Zone.” The director did not attend the event in person due to a restriction by Iran’s regime, which also pushed the filmmaker to pull the film out of the competition. The movie was shot on the sly without official permits. It follows the long night of a drug dealer driving through the night of Teheran, encountering many characters whose lives are affected by the restrictive policies of the fundamentalist state.
A cry of dissidence: "Critical Zone" is the movie the Ayatollah does not want you to see. / Photo courtesy of the Locarno Film Festival.
British filmmaker Ken Loach took the Audience Award for his swan song, “The Old Oak.” It premiered this year at the Cannes Film Festival and is supposed to be the last movie of the socially conscious director. The plot hinges around a pub in a small town, where the arrival of a wave of immigrants divides the local population.
Romanian director Radu Jude took the Special Jury Prize in the International Competition for “Do Not Expect Too Much from The End of the World.” The movie documents the misadventures of a beleaguered film production assistant (Iliac Manolache) working on an institutional video for a multinational company represented by a standoffish executive (Nina Hoss). She moonlights as a social media comedian, playing a satirical incel male influencer.
Romanian director Radu Jude, winner of the Special Jury Prize at Locarno for "Do Not Expect Too Much From The End of The World" / Photo by Silviu Ghetie, courtesy of the Locarno Film Festival.
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