February 18, 2020

Rough Cut Roundup: February Edition

Rough Cut Roundup is a monthly Q&A series featuring the Department of Film & Media Arts community.

Parasite made history as the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture at the Oscars. What international film would you recommend watching next?

Miriam Albert-Sobrino, Assistant Professor

Choosing an international film is quite the challenge, but I’m going to suggest a film that I’m very fond of and that keeps coming to mind: Cría Cuervos (1976) by Spanish director Carlos Saura. While Saura is mostly known for his Flamenco trilogy, I genuinely think that Raise Ravens (English title) is one of his strongest works. A film so rich, both formalistically and thematically, that it transcends time. A must see movie that if it were to be released today it would have left Parasite Oscar-less.

Sonia Albert-Sobrino, Assistant Professor

I strongly recommend seeing O Que Arde from Galician director Oliver Laxe. The film screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Jury Prize. Laxe has become one of the most distinctive voices of a new generation of Galician filmmakers and he is paving the way for the rest of us who, like him, are interested in sharing the Galician experience, one that while extremely local, is universally relatable.

Jordan Boge, MFA Student and Instructor

Foreign pieces of animation are not often given the attention they deserve. Having screened at Cannes Film Festival with great acclaim and an receiving an Oscar nomination in best animated feature, J'ai perdu mon corps or I Lost My Body (2019) is a fantastic French animation by Jérémy Clapin that will keep you thinking long after it's over. I Lost My Body tells the story of a severed hand, separated under ambiguous circumstances, and the epic quest to reunite with its owner. It is a unique cinematic experience that pushes beyond the typical norms of hand-drawn animation and closely examines the concept of free will vs determinism to understand how fate affects the human condition. A must watch indeed! Currently streaming on Netflix.

Craig Caldwell, Professor

The Lives of Others (2006, Germany) or The Secret in their Eyes (2009, Argentina). Both of these deal with change and difficult choices that one makes. I can’t forget them.

Michael Edwards, Assistant Professor

If you liked Parasite, watch Borgman (2013, Netherlands) next. Borgman is about a stranger who infiltrates a rich family and uses them for his own gain. Sound a little familiar? Except, in this case our “parasite” has much stranger goals. I like the understated surrealism of this film. Sometimes it seems like a normal mystery or dark comedy, but there is always something absurd waiting around the corner, making you second guess what’s underneath it all. Though, full disclaimer, after the scant similarity of conning rich people, I’d say this film might attract a very different audience.

Lien Fan Shen, Associate Professor

For people who would like to understand more about what happened in Hong Kong few months ago, I highly recommend to watch the following Korean films: The Attorney (2013), A Taxi Driver (2017), and 1987: When the Day Comes (2017).  Although these films are about historical and political events in South Korean in 1980s, there is the striking similarity with what happened in Taiwan in the 1950s to 1980s (Coincidentally Taiwan lifted Martial Law in 1987 to end the military-controlled regime). Sadly, history may repeat itself. As young people, including college students in Hong Kong, continue fighting for justice and freedom of speech against Chinese ruling, these films function as an accessible lens to provide you vivid portrayals and perspectives about political events and histories in East Asia.

Ha Na Lee, Assistant Professor 

I recommend Memories of Murder (2003, South Korea) by Bong Joon-ho. The film is not his debut film, but the film certainly gave him a great recognition and reputation. You can rent it from Tower theater.

Paula Lee, Program Manager

Like Water for Chocolate (1993, Mexico). Magical realism, forbidden love, food. What’s not to like?

Chris Lippard, Professor 

If you like Parasite there are lots of fine Korean socially conscious action films. One I have always loved— and with the same star as Parasite— is Joint Security Area (2000), a film which dares to hope for peace in what was, at the beginning of the century, a more hopeful time.

Merritt Mecham, Program Assistant

A contemporary international film I’ve fallen in love with is My Happy Family (2017, Georgia), an intimate story of a woman who decides to leave her multi-generational home and live by herself for the first time in her life. It’s a film that demonstrates a beautiful marriage between technique and theme; the deft sound editing and cinematography poignantly communicate the claustrophobic cloud of patriarchy as well as the bliss that accompanies simple freedom.

Andrew Nelson, Department Chair and Associate Professor

Le Samouraï (1967, France). Directed with a stylish precision that matches that of its hitman protagonist, writer-director Jean-Pierre Melville’s Gallic ode to American crime films of the 30s and 40s is pitch-perfect from start to finish.

Steve Pecchia-Bekkum, Assistant Professor (Lecturer) 

Mumbai (1995, American title Bombay) by Mani Ratnam.  It is a film that is both true the Masala Indian Cinema film format, and subverts it by examining Hindi and Muslim relations in the context of the 1992-1993 religious riots in Mumbai.

Sarah Sinwell, Assistant Professor

One of my favorite international films of 2019 is Céline Sciamma's French romance Portrait of a Lady on Fire. I would also recommend her other directorial and screenwriting work, especially Girlhood (2014) and My Life as a Zucchini (2016). Portrait of a Lady on Fire will be playing at the Broadway later this month. See it!

Connie Wilkerson, Associate Professor

That’s a tough question. So many to choose from, but since Valentine’s Day is coming around, I’d go for Amélie (2001). One of the most charming love stories on film.