DVD AWARDS 2015 – XII edition: THE WINNERS

Jurors: Lorenzo Codelli, Alexander Horwath, Lucien Logette, Mark McElhatten, Paolo Mereghetti, Jonathan Rosenbaum; chaired by: Paolo Mereghetti

BEST DVD (THE PETER VON BAGH AWARD)

THE HOUSE OF MYSTERY/LA MAISON DU MYSTÈRE

(France/ 1921-1923, Alexandre Volkoff), Flicker Alley, LLC and The Blackhawk Films Collection

THE HOUSE OF MYSTERY, starring the redoubtable Ivan Mosjoukine, is one of the most outstanding film serials of any era–thrillingly inventive and distinctively different from Feuillade or Gaston Ravel–and the only serial of the three produced by Albatross known to have survived. Peter von Bagh brought this film to Bologna during his early years as artistic director of Il Cinema Ritrovato, and it remains a shining example of analogic restoration.

 

BEST BLU-RAY

THE CONNECTION: PROJECT SHIRLEY VOL. 1

(USA/1961, Shirley Clarke), Milestone Film & Video

PORTRAIT OF JASON: PROJECT SHIRLEY VOL. 2

(USA/1967, Shirley Clarke), Milestone Film & Video

ORNETTE: MADE IN AMERICA: PROJECT SHIRLEY VOL. 3

(USA/1984, Shirley Clarke), Milestone Film & Video

Milestone’s laudable dedication to preserving and disseminating the work of one of the pioneers of the New American Cinema, the indefatigable Shirley Clarke, is a painstaking labor of love that deserves top recognition. This company is doing something exceptional: restoring each title on film, distributing each title on film, and releasing continuing anthologies of shorts and features digitally.

 

BEST DVD SERIES / BEST BOX

CAMERA OBSCURA: THE WALERIAN BOROWCZYK COLLECTION

(Poland-France/1959-1975), Arrow Films

An exemplary box set that displays impeccable research and thoroughness. The transfers are fantastic and even the choices made in subtitling are graphically superior compared to most of the releases we have considered. This edition of Arrow Films is a model of generosity, imagination, and intelligence in its groundwork and presentation. A work of art in itself.

 

BEST REDISCOVERY OF A FORGOTTEN FILM (ON DVD)

LES HAUTES SOLITUDES

(France/1974, Philippe Garrel), RE:VOIR Vidéo

An experimental film, both humane and desperate, LES HAUTES SOLITUDES re-emerges from a forgotten past thanks to the excellent edition of Re-Voir Video. Garrel meets the challenge of filming Jean Seberg without any need for words or a story, thanks to the sweet tenderness of a camera that has managed to explore the face of a very famous actress in the past, and in 1974, at the time of the filming, on the edge of alcoholism and depression. He is able to disclose all her deepest secrets. A bold, must-see film.

BLÁZNOVA KRONIKA/A JESTER’S TALE

(Czechoslovakia/1964, Karel Zeman), Second Run DVD

Karel Zeman is finally back. BLÁZNOVA KRONIKA is one of his works where all the peculiarities of his style are harmoniously mixed: life and dream, comedy and drama, naïveté (actual or presumed) and poetry, highlighted by the special effects. This film, unknown for too many years, testifies to the unique personality of one of the most talented Czech filmmaker of the second half of the 1900s.

 

BEST SPECIAL FEATURES

LES BLANK: ALWAYS FOR PLEASURE

(USA/1968-2005), The Criterion Collection

Yum, Yum, Yum! It is a real pleasure to enjoy 22 “recipes”, cooked, spiced up, and served by chef-filmmaker Les Blank (1935-2013). An astonishing output produced in total independence from 1968 to 2005, restored in 2K. Blank takes Flaherty-style journeys to Creole and Cajun communities, Texas and New Orleans’ jazz-lands, Flower Power, and beyond. A booklet, interviews, outtakes, and glimpses of unfinished projects bring back to life “the chronicler of what America is all about at its best,” as his old pal Werner Herzog describes him.

 

SPECIAL MENTION

THE MARCEL PEREZ COLLECTION

(Italia-USA/1911-1921, Marcel Perez) Undercrank Productions (Dvd)

THE MACK SENNETT COLLECTION. VOLUME ONE

(USA/1909-1933) Flicker Alley, Keystone Films, LLC; CineMuseum, LLC (Blu-ray)

 

PERSONAL CHOICES

The jurors would like to stress that none of us is in a position to know all the important DVD and Blu-Ray releases, even though all of us have encountered important examples, some of which were not nominated for awards but deserve in any case to be far better known. So five of us have selected one or more personal favorites that he would like to recommend. (Although Mark McElhatten wasn’t able to attend the festival this year, and decided not offer a personal selection, he was an active member of the jury, and even furnished many of the above notes.)

Lorenzo Codelli: Maclean Rogers’ I’LL WALK BESIDE YOU (UK/1943) and Carol Reed’s THE STARS LOOK DOWN (UK/1939), Renown Pictures (both DVDs).

Lucien Logette: LE BONHEUR EST POUR DEMAIN (Les documents cinématographiques, on DVD) is a lost film, unseen since 1962, the only feature of Henri Fabiani, a documentarist once known but subsequently forgotten. This is one of the only treatments of the working class in the French cinema of this period, and it implicitly anticipates the social upheavels that would come soon afterwards.

Alexander Horwath: ERSTER WELTKRIEG ARCHIV EDITION.

Dvd 1: DAS ALTE EUROPA AM VORABEND SEINES UNTERGANGS.

Dvd 2: AUFMARSCH DER ARMEEN (1900-1915) Deutsches Filminstitut, Absolut Medien;

LES CROIX DE BOIS (Francia/1932, Raymond Bernard), Pathé Distribution;

THE BATTLES OF CORONEL AND FALKLAND ISLANDS (GB/1927, Walter Summers), BFI

J’ACCUSE (Francia/1919, Abel Gance), Lobster Films

Paolo Mereghetti: RENÉ VAUTIER EN ALGÉRIE – Éditions les Mutins de Pangée.

Jonathan Rosenbaum has selected CHARLEY VARRICK/DER GROSSE COUP, an exceptional German Blu-Ray released by Koch Media GmbH of Don Siegel’s neglected and beautifully structured heist thriller of 1973, with extras that include a remarkably intelligent and detailed making-of documentary by Robert Fischer.

The nominees