Latvia’s Oscar Entry, BLIZZARD OF SOULS, streaming on Film Movement Plus


Film Movement Plus November premieres and highlights are as follows:

Friday, November 5
Director Pedro Pinho
One night, a group of workers realizes that their administration has organized the stealing of machines from their factory. They soon understand that this is the first signal of a massive layoff. Most of them refuse to cooperate during the individual negotiations and they start to occupy their workplace. So when the administration vanishes to their great surprise, they’re left with a half-empty factory and new desires start to this wildly inventive drama that debuted at the Cannes Director’s Fortnight in 2017. Of the ensemble piece, The Hollywood Reporter said that it’s a “nearly three-hour opus that unexpectedly morphs from vérité-like neorealist drama into that unicorn of cinematic genres: a neorealist musical” (2017 | 177 minutes | Portugal | Portuguese with English subtitles)

Director Jan Kadar
Muhammad Ali, in his only dramatic acting role and in his TV-movie debut, plays Gideon Jackson, an former slave in 1870’s Virginia who gets elected to the U.S. Senate in Washington D.C. and battles other former slaves and white sharecroppers to keep the land where they were enslaved. Though some of the names are changed, the story concerns the true-life efforts of senators Charles Sumner and Thaddeus Stevens to bring political order and racial equality to the post-Civil War South. The character upon whom Jackson is based was depicted as the villain of D.W. Griffith’s 1915 Civil War epic ‘Birth of a Nation’. This was the final film effort of Czech director Kadar, and co-stars include Kris Kristofferson, Edward Herrmann and Ron O’Neal (1979 | 96 minutes | USA)

Friday, November 12
Set against the backdrop of the Philippines Government’s crackdown on illegal drugs, a SWAT-led police force launches a scorched earth operation to arrest Abel, one of the biggest druglords in Manila. Officer Espino and Elijah, a small-time pusher turned informant, provide the intelligence for the operation which quickly escalates into a violent and heavily-armed confrontation in the slums. Before the investigators arrive at the crime scene, Espino and Elijah walk off with Abel’s backpack full of money and methamphetamine. And it’s this gesture of survival for one and corruption for the other that will soon set off a dangerous series of events, both of them risking their reputations, families and lives in the process. Winner of a Special Jury Prize at San Sebastian, Variety called the thriller “propulsive and engrossing.” (2018 | 94 minutes | Philippines | Filipino and English with English subtitles)

Director Jacques de Baroncelli
Born into poverty, Josephine Baker rose from a childhood living in a St. Louis slum to the toast of France – captivating audiences through the stage, recordings and motion pictures, and you’ll get to see why in THE FRENCH WAY. A farcical romantic-comedy set in contemporary WWII France, the dramedy follows young lovers forbidden to marry by their respective families. Baker, as “Zazu,” the owner of a nightclub, inherits a job restoring harmony between the two families and allowing the young lovers to ‘se marier.’ A mélange of French character actors add to the fun, but when Josephine’s on the screen she is as Ernest Hemingway once said, “the most sensational woman anyone ever saw.” “The French Way” filmed in 1940 — literally amidst bombing raids – released in France in 1945, and briefly shown in the USA in 1952 where the order of some scenes was changed and about 2-3 minutes of “dramatic” footage was cut. In all other respects, it is virtually complete as originally released. (1945 | 90 minutes | France | French with English subtitles )

Friday, November 19
Director Podz
1994. Frank Paterno (Sergio Castellitto), a Montreal mafia boss, hopes to legitimize his criminal operations by investing $180 million in an ambitious bridge project that would connect Sicily with southern Italy. First, however, he has to recover the necessary funds from his Greek creditor. Frank entrusts this mission to his protégé Vincent (Marc-André Grondin), the son of tailor Henri Gamache (Gilbert Sicotte), who has been dressing the Paternos for three generations. But after Vincent executes a ruthless plan to smuggle millions in drugs out of Venezuela, his reprehensible tactics ignite a war between the two families in this crime thriller based on the non-fiction bestseller “Mafia Inc: The Long, Bloody Reign of Canada’s Sicilian Clan by André Cédilot and André Noël”. Rob Aldam of Backset Mafia calls the film “a stylish and brutal crime thriller…both epic in scope whilst feeling authentic, gritty and real” and Alan Ng of Film Threat says “this is must-see mafia viewing.” (2019 | 143 minutes | Canada | French, English, Italian with English subtitles )

Director Una Lorenzen
Meet the artists who are disrupting the traditional notions of knit and crochet, bringing yarn out of the house and on to the street. Playing with space and environment, YARN follows circus performers, wool graffiti artists and interactive designers as they re-invent our relationship with this colorful threaded tradition. From the seas of Barcelona, to the cobblestoned streets of Rome and back to the angled skyscrapers of New York, Director Una Lorenzen weaves an animated tale of a visually striking landscape layered with stunning graphics, soothing poetry, and a vibrant spirit. Leslie Felperin of The Guardian calls YARN “a scrappy but endearing documentary” while Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times writes “You have almost certainly never seen a better documentary about yarn than Yarn…thread and string should be jealous.” (2019 | 143 minutes | Canada | French, English, Italian with English subtitles )

Director Dzintars Dreibergs
Blizzard of Souls, Latvia’s Official Entry for Best International Film at last year’s Academy Awards, pays stark witness to the horrors and brutality of the First World War, as seen through the eyes of an innocent 17-year-old farm-boy turned soldier. Though he is underage, and his dad, a former marksman, is over age for the army, they are both conscripted into one of Latvia’s first national battalions. The thrill of training is soon followed by reality, as shells burst around them in the endless mud. He grows up on the battlefield, fighting at the side of his father and brother, their lives are constantly in jeopardy. Adapted from the book by Aleksandrs Grins, which was banned in the U.S.S.R., the story was based on Grins’ own war experiences in a Latvian battalion, and the film is the biggest box office success in Latvia in the past 30 years.” Guy Lambert of The Upcoming calls the epic “…an honest yet frenzied interpretation of the veracity of warfare, with utterly breathtaking cinematography, reminiscent of the brilliance of Band of Brothers.” (2019 | 123 minutes | Latvia | Latvian with English subtitles )


About Author

Bijan Tehrani

Bijan Tehrani a film director, film critic and writer, works as editor in chief of Cinema Without Borders while teaching Language of Film and Film History at workshops nationwide. Bijan has won several awards in international film festivals and book fairs for his short films and children's books.

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