On Thursday, July 29th in Piazzetta Pier Paolo Pasolini the winners of Il Cinema Ritrovato DVD Awards 2023 were announced. The competition was open to DVDs and Blu-rays released between February 2022 and March 2023 of critically acclaimed films made before 1992.
The jury, composed by Lorenzo Codelli, Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, Philippe Garnier, Pamela Hutchinson, Miguel Marías and Paolo Mereghetti (president) assigned the following awards.
JONAS MEKAS: Diaries, Notes & Sketches Vol.1-8 (1949-2000) by Jonas Mekas – Re:voir (blu-ray/DVD Box Set)
This is a beautiful set, devoted to the great Lithuanian filmmaker and artist Jonas Mekas. In terms of packaging design alone, this elegant box set is an object to covet, but this is also a comprehensive collection of work. The collection gathers together Mekas’s acclaimed diary films, such as Walden, Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania and As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty along with out-takes, fragments, constituent parts, and texts that support the moving image works. All together, this kaleidoscopic anthology of texts and moving images, the transcendent and the quotidian, is a fine tribute to
a remarkable career.
GET CARTER (1971) by Mike Hodges – BFI (blu-ray)
Among Michael Caine’s favorite anti-heroes, Get Carter – the acclaimed debut of director Mike Hodges – gets triumphally resurrected together with its social and cinematographic backgrounds. A book with critical essays, two commentaries, documents, video interviews, memories, tv reports etc. A goldmine.
INVADERS FROM MARS (1953) by William Cameron Menzies – Ignite Films (blu-ray)
Admirably restored in 4k, this misunderstood sci-fi masterpiece returns available in all its freshness and originality: what is going on on the hillside near the home of a young boy to attract his curiosity? A child of 1950s anti-communist paranoia but also determined in the conquest of space, this much-imitated but never equalled film is finally available in a beautiful Blu-ray edition enriched with a series of interesting extras (including the alternative ending that circulated in Europe).
COFFRET KINUYO TANAKA, RÉALISATRICE DE L’ÂGE D’OR DU CINÉMA JAPONAIS: Koibumi (Love Letter) / Tsuki wa noborinu (The Moon Has Risen) / Chibusa yo eien nare (Forever a Woman) / Ruten no ohi (The Wandering Princess) / Onna bakari no yoru (Girls of the Night) / Ogin-sama (Love Under the Crucifix) (1953/1955/1955/1960/1961/1962) by Kinuyo Tanaka – Blu-ray Box Set – Carlotta Films (blu-ray Box Set)
Apart from being one of Japan’s best and most renowned actresses, Tanaka Kinuyō was the first Japanese woman to direct several films, between 1953 and 1962. Her six films she completed as director are reunited in this Box Set, and at long last in very good, digitally restored prints, so that they can become as widely known as they deserve. Although all of them are outstanding on very different themes and moods, all share the same force and intelligence and emotion from a woman’s point of view, and reveal a filmmaker of the stature of the very best ever, in Japan or elsewhere.
SLNKO V SIETI (60th Anniversary Edition) (T. Int.: The Sun In a Net, 1963) by Štefan Uher – Slovak Film Institute (blu-ray)
While many films and filmmakers have been designated as the crucial fountainhead of the 1960’s New Wave in Slovak and Czech cinema, none is as fresh and wonderful a surprise as Stefan Uher’s 1962 The Sun in the Net. Set in Bratislava and a nearby country village, it is a tale of two young people from different backgrounds. Fajolo is the city boy, too cool for school, wearing dark glasses and feigning supreme indifference for everything around him, even an upcoming eclipse of the sun. Bela is the girl who will make him come around. There is interaction with parents and Party apparatchiks, but this is really this young couple’s story, their impatience for a more modern and freer life. The film got in trouble at the time of its release more for its tone and indifference to official Slovak life than political sedition. Some even saw the eclipse as a metaphor for the waning attraction and power of the Communist Party.
MARTIN SCORSESE’S WORLD CINEMA PROJECT No. 4 – Sambizanga (1972), Prisioneros de la tierra (1939), Chess of the Wind (1976), Muna moto (1975), Two Girls on the Street (1939), Kalpana (1948) – The Criterion Collection (blu-ray Box Set)
The Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 4 box set is beautifully designed and produced with remarkable extra features to showcase new restorations of an eclectic selection of six films from different corners of the world that were in danger of falling off the map of public memory including Sambizanga from Angola, Prisioneros de la Tierra from Argentina, Chess of the Wind from Iran, Muna moto from Cameroon, Two Girls on the Street from Hungary and Kalpana from India. A truly worthwhile addition to any cinephile’s collection.
KEATON! L’INTEGRALE. Volume 1 (2023) – Cineteca di Bologna (blu-ray)
DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944) by Billy Wilder – The Criterion Collection (blu-ray)
What’s not to like? Wilder’s seminal film noir established all the tropes of the genre in 1944, and yet it looks as new and dangerous today, and infinitely more complex. Perfectly presented in this definitive box: you have it from the horse’s mouth with Billy, How Did You Do It? – Volker Schlöndorff’s 1992 series of interviews with the master. And you get to hear Noir expert Eddie Muller refine his take of the movie over a period of fifteen years. Dialoguing with Imogen Sarah Smith, he tells us that this is not a femme fatale film as they all tell us, but that the real love story is between Fred McMurray and Edward G. Robinson. Betrayal is at the end of both relationships. From now on, it is ok to kill all your stars if it is a film noir.
MARGARET VON TROTTA – Die frühen Filme: Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum (1975) / Schwestern oder die Balance des Glücks (1979) / Die bleierne Zeit (1981) / Heller Wahn (1983) / Rosa Luxemburg (1986) – Studiocanal GmbH (blu-ray Box Set)
This collection of six early films by German director Margaret von Trotta represents a formidable body of work, the foundation of her complete filmography. These powerful first films are presented here on Blu-ray, some of them for the first time, and in excellent new restorations, supported by a wide range of supporting material, and in several languages. An excellent introduction to an important filmmaker, and to European feminist cinema more generally.
BURNING AN ILLUSION (1981) by Menelik Shabazz – BFI (blu-ray)
For one who had never heard of it, this very simple and endearing film shows without rhetoric the hardships but also the capacity of enjoying their lives whenever possible of a group of black British citizens, played mostly by young or non-professional actors which are always true and graceful.
DORA NELSON (1939) by Mario Soldati – Penny Video (DVD)
Mario Soldati’s first work as sole director (after his debut alongside Carlo Borghesio) is a surprising “American-style” comedy set in the world of cinema, where a capricious diva of Russian origin, but with a distinct French accent, is replaced without many problems by a young Roman dressmaker who resembles her perfectly: a film about cinema that from drama becomes comedy and then farce, with continuous changes in perspective and a subtle irony against the snobbery of the enriched bourgeoisie, finally made available in a good HD restoration.
Shivendra Singh Dungarpur
CINEMA’S FIRST NASTY WOMEN (1898-1926) – Kino Lorber (blu-ray Box Set)
A unique 4-disc collection meticulously curated and researched that includes 99 European and American silent films produced between 1898 and 1926 sourced from 13 international film archives that, for over 14 hours, shines a spotlight on women protagonists of the silent era who modern audiences might never have seen or known if not for this labour of love. A real discovery for me.