SOCIETY OF THE SNOW – Review by Jennifer Green

Society of the Snow, Spain’s entry to the International Feature Film Oscar, is based on real events involving a 1972 chartered plane crash that killed upwards of two dozen people, among them members of a Uruguayan rugby team, and left others to fend for themselves for months in the freezing reaches of the Andes Mountains. Director J.A. Bayona focuses more acutely on the physical challenges the men faced during the two and a half months they were stranded in the Andes. The result is that you can finish this film and still feel you don’t know a lot about any one of the characters. The story is about the group – the society – more than its individuals.

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PERFECT DAYS – Review by Jennifer Green

German director Wim Wenders’ deceptively simple, meditative, Tokyo-set Perfect Days demonstrates a masterful use of what the medium of cinema can offer. By pairing minimalist storytelling with modern settings, ambient sound with a nostalgic soundtrack, and moving images with unobtrusive dialogue and action, Wenders constructs a portrait of one man’s seemingly ordinary life that manages to both scratch away at what it means to be human and ask quintessential questions about what constitutes a life well-lived.

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SPOTLIGHT December 2023: SUSANNE BIER, Award-Winning, Pond-Hopping, Genre-Diverse Director

Susanne Bier is among Europe’s most prolific and honored female film and television writer-directors. Her career filmography spans formats, genres and countries. Originally from Denmark, some of Bier’s best-known works, at least for international audiences, include Hollywood productions like Bird Box and In A Better World, and the Hollywood remakes of her original films, like Brothers and After the Wedding. Bier is said to be the first female director to win a Golden Globe (Best Picture, In A Better World), a Primetime Emmy (Directing, The Night Manager), a European Film Award (many, including Achievement in World Cinema in 2021) and an Oscar (Foreign Language Film, In a Better World). She currently co-chairs the Academy’s International Feature Film Executive Committee.

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Greta Lee and Celine Song talk PAST LIVES – Jennifer Green reports

For a film about the deep connections we have with others and how destiny shapes which relationships come and go in our lives, it would seem appropriate that the talents behind the film also share deep bonds. In fact, Past Lives writer-director Celine Song says she’s convinced she was married to actress Greta Lee in a past life. That’s the kind of connection the two forged working on one of this year’s standout films, now widely considered a top contender for recognition this awards season. Song and Lee shared details of their work, and the meaningful on- and off-camera relationships behind their poignant film.

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THE SHADOW OF THE SUN – Review by Jennifer Green

The Shadow of the Sun (Sombra del Sol), Venezuela’s submission for this year’s International Feature Film Oscar, is a heartwarming crowd-pleaser featuring stellar lead performances from Carlos Manuel Gonzalez and Anyelo Lopez. The two play somewhat unlikely brothers looking for a way out of their stifling small-town lives. The film stumbles in a couple of key places, but it brings to life a cast of compelling characters and paints a moving portrait of the difficult realities of contemporary life in Venezuela.

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Ashley Avis on WILD BEAUTY: MUSTANG SPIRIT and Saving Horses – Jennifer Green interviews

When writer-director Ashley Avis signed on to direct the remake of Black Beauty, released in 2020 on Disney+, she didn’t know how it would change the course of at least the next several years of her life, leading to her follow-up project, the creation of a foundation, the adoption of multiple wild horses and a new role in advocacy. Avis’s documentary Wild Beauty: Mustang Spirit of the West earned her a Special Congressional Commendation from Congresswoman Dina Titus in March and is now nominated for a Critic’s Choice Award for Best Science/Nature Documentary.

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THE BREAKING ICE – Review by Jennifer Green

This lovely story of friendship and a search for identity and meaning is Singapore’s nominee to the International Feature Film Oscar. That is where director Anthony Chen is originally from, but he filmed The Breaking Ice (Ran Dong) in northern China near the Korean border. The borderland setting plays a metaphorical role for its three lead characters, young people all feeling adrift and unsatisfied in a city not their own. And the frigid temperatures of the snowy location adds to the film’s bluish mood, an iciness the trio only just start to melt before the movie ends.

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Sandra Lipski on Filmmaking, Location and Founding Mallorca Film Festival – Jennifer Green interviews

When actor-writer-director Sandra Lipski made her first short film, she wanted to send it to a local festival in Mallorca, where she grew up. She discovered there wasn’t one. “It just really shocked me, because there’s literally a festival, as you know, in every little, tiny town,” she says. “And I just couldn’t believe that this beautiful island didn’t have one.” So, she decided to start her own. “I thought, well, why not just try it?” And that’s how Spain’s Evolution Mallorca International Film Festival (EMIFF) came into being in 2012. It wrapped its twelfth edition on Oct. 24.

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PICTURES OF GHOSTS – Review by Jennifer Green

A love letter to the Brazilian city of Recife as well as to cinemas and urban centers of a bygone era, Pictures of Ghosts is an intelligent documentary with relatively limited audience appeal. Brazil’s sensible nominee to the International Feature Film Oscar, it premiered in Special Screenings at Cannes and offers an evocative exploration of the nation’s own cinema history and golden age of movie theaters.

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