After ethical handwringing, attempts at suppression, and a lot of angry emails, The Sheik and I opens today
Last year, filmmaker-provocateur Caveh Zahedi was asked by a Middle Eastern Biennial to make a film on "art as a subversive act." He could train his crosshairs on anything, except the powerful Shiek funding the program. When he gleefully opted to target the Sheik anyway, collaborators started to squirm, fearing violent retribution—with Zahedi's cameras rolling all the while. The Sheik and I gave programmers a dilemma: show the film, and you could theoretically risk endangering those onscreen, don't show it, and you suggest that violent threat is in fact capable of stifling freedom of speech. For influential programmer Thom Powers, saftey must win out. That's why he called up the powers that be at SXSW in an attempt to cancel the film's world premiere, inviting backlash and more than a few accusations of abuse of power. Now, on the occasion of the film's New York opening, Eric Kohn has offered up an admirably even-handed and sensitive account of its long journey to the city. Read it at Indiewire here.
New York Magazine names its top ten films of the year
Early awards front-runner Zero Dark Thirty topped David Edelstein's New York Magazine round-up of the year's best films, a list that also included Steven Speilberg's luminous biopic Lincoln, Terence Davies' The Deep Blue Sea , and Joachim Trier's Oslo, August 31st. Of Michael Haneke's wrenching festival sensation Amour, Edlestein writes: "Haneke has finally made a film in which his cruelty is a kindness—a higher form of compassion." Elsewhere, Kyle Buchanan dubs Les Miserables the front-runner in this year's Oscar race, and Edelstein cites Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret, whose knotty distribution course first brought it wider notice this year, as '"the best film of 2005 (first viewed in 2012)."
Only the Young and Tchoupitoulas open today
Two acclaimed documentaries open today in the city—both distributed by Oscillosocpe Pictures, both following young people as they emerge into the world, both infused with their creators' own memories. Only the Young hangs out with a small gang of teenagers in the skate parks and tin roofs of Santa Clarita, California, while Tchoupitoulas heads down to New Orleans to spend one long night witha handful of brothers. Last weekend, Eric Hynes wrote an exhaustive, glowing profile of the films and filmmakers for the New York Times. Revisit it here, and check out both films at the IFC Center this weekend!