Current Portuguese cinema has many different facets. The films of João Nicolau (*1975), who also works as an editor, actor, and musician, are playful and inventive, full of unexpected twists, and intriguing tricks. Nicolau doesn't play according to the standard rules of the game, allowing his unbridled fantasy to go wherever it wants, undaunted by narrative convention. It is young adults, teenagers, and children who form the focus of his films, which, while clearly being set in the here and now, often contain fairy-tale elements. The real stands alongside the surreal, the comic alongside the gloomy, and rock, rap and folk music alongside birdsong. He weaves whimsically cinematic moments from his heroes' blatant inertia.
It is thanks to the generous support of the Portuguese embassy that we're able to show João Nicolau's four short films and two features in Berlin, all of which were invited to major international festivals. We're particularly happy to be able to welcome João Nicolau in person to Arsenal as our guest.
"Who do you make your films for anyway? Who sees them anyway?" It's these questions which Iranian director Rakhshan Bani-Etemad’s protagonists repeatedly address to camera and which have become a leitmotif of sorts for her filmmaking work. For over three decades, she's painted a precise picture of her country in both features and documentaries and established herself in the process as one of the most important influential directors in post-revolution Iranian cinema. Her films are shown at major international film festivals and awarded prizes, but also have successful theatrical runs in Iran. We are showing a retrospective of eight of her features and documentaries and are very happy to be able to welcome Rakshan Bani-Etemad as our guest at Arsenal on May 6th and 7th.
Kelly Reichardt (*1964) is arguably the most important independent filmmaker working in the US at the moment and one of contemporary American cinema’s most distinctive voices. Her films are about being on the move, about people setting out, losing their way, or looking for something. They interrogate their country, its myths, its everyday routines, its suburbs, and its nature, and are usually characterized by a deliberately minimalist directorial style. Nearly all of them are set in the landscape of the state of Oregon and were created in collaboration with writer Jon Raymond. Aside from this regional anchoring, they address many more far-reaching concerns, with their characters’ stories always alluding to existential states, social orders, and crises within society, without being ostensibly political. To coincide with the restoration of her largely overlooked feature debut RIVER OF GRASS (1994), we are showing Kelly Reichardt’s first five films in a short retrospective.