Rising director Kantemir Balagov paints a haunting picture of human need with his Oscar-shortlisted film, “Beanpole”
Originally Published on Elements of Madness
With just one other feature film under his belt (Closeness, 2017), Russian director Kantemir Balagov takes on a challenge with his second feature, Beanpole. The film packs a complex story of female friendship and desire that requires precise characterization and emotional nuance. Balagov certainly delivers with this exceptional film, demonstrating both his technical skill and his gift for storytelling. With Beanpole, Balagov uses the devastating setting of war-torn Leningrad to dissect the human need for intimacy in a manner that is both honest and biting.
While lacking the depth and emotional nuance of previous Holocaust films, “Quezon’s Game” honors the past by bringing a nearly forgotten story to light
Originally published on Elements of Madness
As early as 1945, two years before the liberation of Auschwitz, filmmakers began to grapple with the challenge of preserving Holocaust memory on screen. Directors like Mark Donskoy and Wanda Jakubowska took great risks with their films, The Unvanquished (1945) and The Last Stage (1948), respectively, which were some of the first to depict the mass violence of the Holocaust. Since the release of these early films, directors have continued to use cinema to preserve Holocaust memory and honor victims, survivors, and those who risked their lives to help. With the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on January 27, 2020, it seems there are still more stories to tell about these events, stories and perspectives that have yet to be explored on the big screen. When director Matthew Rosen learned of one such story, that of former president of the Philippines Manuel Quezon and his efforts open the borders of his country to Jewish refugees, Rosen decided to bring the narrative to the screen with his feature film debut, Quezon’s Game.
"Our embodied spectator, possibly perverse in her fantasies and diverse in her experience, possesses agency...finally, she must now be held accountable for it."