Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New generation of European filmmakers at Fresh Film Fest in Prague

European film buffs know all about the festivals in Cannes, Venice and Berlin – even Karlovy Vary has become a familiar name on the festival trail. But for those looking for the new and next generation of European and world filmmakers it’s worth taking a look at the Fresh Film Fest which kicks off on August 24 in Prague. The festival focuses on directors’ first and second features, as well as having competitions and programs devoted to student film and animation.

Unlike the major festivals, where a retrospective is likely to be devoted to a renowned, internationally-celebrated figure the Fresh Film Fest is doing a retrospective of up-and-coming Hungarian director Benedek Fliegauf (b. 1974), whose fourth feature “Womb” just premiered this month.

For more on the festival read this preview article and I hope to have time to see some of the films and will provide updates shortly.

Photo (Fresh Film Fest) – A scene from “Transfer,” by Croatian-born German director Damir Lukačević – a sci-fi story of an older, rich white couple that pay to transfer their consciousnesses into the bodies of two young healthy African immigrants.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Absinthe Recommends: Rahu (would you like some Finnish Black Metal today?)

Our music reviewer, Jeff Sumner, recommends some Finnish Black Metal for your edification:

Rahu compiles two previously issued demos from Finnish Black Metal duo Rahu. Opener “Amrit” is a catchy instrumental that could be appreciated by more conservative metal heads. “Into Nothingness Drawn” features the trademark BM demon vocals and guitar blur, and is epic in its gloominess. There’s something about the repetitiveness of the riffs that feels like a mantra of sorts (particularly on “On Ketu’s Trail”), fitting given the group’s interest in Hindu mythology. Fans of the darker end of psychedelia and space rock will find much to appreciate here.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Absinthe Recommends: The Book of Things by Aleš Šteger

One of our book reviewers, Anne Marie Sumner, recommends Aleš Šteger's The Book of Things.

The Book of Things by the Slovenian poet Aleš Šteger (translated by Brian Henry) is a poetry collection about the quotidian, those ordinary items one never stops to consider in much detail: shoes, doormats, walls, stones, etc.  Šteger, in devoting a collection entirely to objects, forces a reconsideration of broader topics by focusing attention on what is small. For example, in the poem “Paper Clip,” Šteger uses the spiral imprint of a paper clip on paper as a metaphor to turn one’s view “the way inward.”  It is this focus on the common in the poems, in the way Šteger writes as if from the perspective of an item, that invites reflection and a deeper, more thoughtful examination of the surrounding world. 

The Book of Things is published by BOA Editions and won the 2011 Best Translated Book Award in poetry.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Reading Romania

Last year we published a special Romanian edition of Absinthe and this year sees two more anthologies of Romanian writing, along with a newly published novel by Gabriela Adamesteanu.

New Europe Writers recently published Bucharest Tales, featuring poetry and prose by over 30 writers, including Mircea Cartarescu, Bogdan Suceava, Dan Lungu, Saviana Stanescu, Flavia Cosma, and Stelian Tanase.

Of Gentle Wolves, an anthology of Romanian poetry, published by Calypso Editions, presents a bilingual collection from 14 poets, edited and translated by Martin Woodside.                                  

Wasted Morning, by Gabriela Adamesteanu and translated by Patrick Camiller, is published by Northwestern University Press and "presents a sweeping vision of the personal and collective costs of a turbulent century."

The publication of these works (along with Absinthe #13) provides a great opportunity to read many of Romania's excellent writers.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

European film collection goes online

A number of major collections of European cinema have banded together to create an online portal offering films, film photos and posters as well as documentation from the history of film. The European Film Gateway (EFG), launched on July 26th and to be completed by September, makes it possible to watch everything from turn of the 20th century documentary footage to early films of Rossellini and Antonioni online.

Additional material includes censorship documents, filmmakers’ correspondence and the 280 books contained in the digital library of La Cinémathèque française. A lot of technical bugs need to be worked out and many of the links don’t work yet, but EFG is already a formidable resource to delve into the past century and more of European cinema.

For more on the project click here …

Photo – Rainer Werner Fassbinder on the set of “The Merchant of Four Seasons” (1971) – Source: Deutsches Filminstitut / Collection Peter Gauhe