Film

Kino Eye: A film from Kurdistan

Pete Boggs’ articles on the Kurds (Solidarity 591 and 589) suggest it is time for a Kurdish film. Although director Samira Makhmalbaf is not Kurdish, her film Blackboards (Takhté siah) was shot in the Kurdish-populated mountainous border region of northern Iran and Iraq. Released in 2000, the film features a group of itinerant teachers who, carrying their cumbersome blackboards on their backs, hope to find some village children to teach. It is hard, dangerous work and many villages are deserted as the inhabitants have taken flight due to the Iran-Iraq war. One of the teachers, Said, encounters...

Kino Eye: Sacco and Vanzetti

The front page of the 1927 Labor Defender (Solidarity 590) depicting the two anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti reminded me of director Giuliano Montaldo’s Sacco and Vanzetti, released in Italian and English language versions in 1971. Arrested for their alleged part in a payroll robbery on 15 April 1920 in Braintree, Massachusetts, where a security guard and a paymaster were both shot dead, Sacco (played by Ricardo Cucciola) and Vanzetti (Gian Volontè) always professed their innocence. Their trial was, essentially, a rigged examination of their anarchist beliefs with a biased...

Women's Fightback: A Promising Young Woman

In A Promising Young Woman, Cassie (Carey Mulligan) is still living with her parents, and works at a coffee shop though once she was the most promising student in medical school. She has no partner, and only one friend: her manager at the coffee shop who thinks she’s wasting her life. Once a week she gets dressed up, goes to a club, and preys on creeps who believe she is drunk and vulnerable. Each reacts with terror as her calm sobriety is revealed at the point he initiates sex with his “victim”. As the film and Cassie’s mission of vengeance develop, we meet a series of archetypes. The...

Kino Eye: School rebellion

The school students’ rebellion at the Pimlico Academy (see Solidarity 587) brings to mind the classic anti-school film Zero de Conduite (Zero for Conduct), made in France and directed by Jean Vigo back in 1933. Returning to their dreary boarding school after the holidays, four students become increasingly angered by the petty discipline, appalling food, and bullying, obnoxious Headmaster. They stage a protest and the Parents’ Open Day ends in total chaos while the boys make their escape over the rooftops. Vigo went on to direct only one more film, L’Atalante (1934), a romantic tale of workers...

Kino Eye: Turkey in the 80s

Yılmaz Güney (1937-1984) was a Kurdish actor and then director who dedicated himself to making films depicting the struggle of the poor and oppressed in Turkey. Persecuted by the authorities, he was sentenced to prison allegedly for sheltering anarchists in his flat. On his release he accidentally encountered the judge who had previously sentenced him; the details are obscure and disputed but a brawl of some kind ensued and the judge died. Güney always denied responsibility but was convicted of murder. He escaped from prison in 1981 and sought refuge in France. It was there that he made his...

Kino Eye: Into her own hands

Adoption (from Hungary: Marta Mészáros, 1975), centres on the plight of Kata, a factory worker who is single and, at the age of 45, has decided she wants to have a baby. She tells her lover Joska, who is married, but he refuses to go along with her wishes. Kata befriends Anna, a teenage orphan who she meets in a café, and finds the support and solidarity she so desperately needs. Kata, now having rejected Joska, goes to the orphanage where Anna was brought up and adopts one of the children. The film ends in a freeze frame with Kata getting on a bus with her adopted child. No easy future...

Kino Eye: A film about the Paris Commune

Following the new issue of Women’s Fightback, it’s back to 1929 and a rare film about the 1871 Commune: The New Babylon by Soviet directors Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg with music by Dimitri Shostakovich. The title derives from the fictitious department store frequented by the Parisian bourgeoisie where Louise (Yelena Kuzmina) is a shop assistant. The Franco-Prussian war ends disastrously for France, while the workers of Paris starve to death. They take control of the city and establish the Commune with Louise joining their ranks. She befriends a soldier, Jean (Pyotr Sobolevsky) but...

Kino Eye: The 1970 Leeds clothing workers' strike

The 1971 postal workers’ strike (Solidarity 583) was one of several key strikes in that stormy period. Leeds United!, directed by Roy Battersby, which was broadcast by the BBC in 1974 in their Play for Today series, concerns an unofficial strike by female clothing workers in Leeds and is based on real events in 1970. The militancy of the women, led by the indefatigable Mollie (Lynne Perrie), and their desire to improve their miserable wages, come into conflict with an entrenched, all-male, trade union bureaucracy who eventually negotiate a sell-out deal. A Communist Party member Harry Gridley...

China's first gay film

News of the Chinese Education Ministry’s ludicrous concern over the “feminisation” of Chinese boys brings to mind China’s first explicitly gay film, East Palace, West Palace, directed by Zhang Yuan in 1996. Homosexuality was legalised in the following year, but gays are still regularly harassed for supposed “hooliganism”. A-Lan, a gay writer, is attracted to a policeman, Xiao Shi, and intentionally gets arrested by him in a public toilet (the title refers to two toilets in Beijing where gay men meet). Xiao Shi interrogates A-Lan overnight in the police station. As he listens to the young...

Big issues, clumsy film

Deepa Mehta’s coming-of-age tale of a gay Tamil boy growing up in 1970s Sri Lanka, and in the post-1983 civil war between the country’s Tamil minority and ruling Sinhalese majority, is an ambitious one, aiming to wrangle with some heavy politicised themes. It opens with a group of children from wealthy families playing happily, amongst them an eight year old Arjie playing dress-up as a bride with makeup. The tense family dynamic is established instantly by Arjie’s father’s disapproval of Arjie. He warns his wife against encouraging this “nonsense”. He is set up as the oppressive patriarchal...

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.