For decades, modern-dance pioneer Uday Shankar’s one and only film, the radical Kalpana, was locked away in the National Film Archive of India because of a copyright dispute. “A dance fantasy in celluloid,” as the posters for the film on its 1948 release boldly stated, it features hyperstylized cinematography, spectacular dance sequences, and a layered, melodramatic narrative that warns the Indian film industry and the newly independent nation itself of the perils of pursuing commerce over culture. Kalpana should have been an inspirational classic of postcolonial Indian cinema for generations of artists, academics, filmmakers, dancers, and cinephiles. But this was not to be. Needless to say, such erasures forever alter history, and it is only over seventy years later that we can discover in Kalpana a truly modern cinematic form, created by an artist who was well ahead of his time, and a manifesto for a secular, democratic-socialist India that could have been.
Bergman Island: Form and Feeling
In this shape-shifting exploration of creativity, couplehood, and artistic influence, Mia Hansen-Løve offers a glimpse at the existential heavy lift required by her deceptively simple autofictions.
This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection: Staying Power
Filled with evocative images and guided by the unique aesthetic sensibility of the landlocked kingdom of Lesotho, Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese’s film is an exploration of the power of grief that is paradoxically uplifting.
Lars von Trier’s Europe Trilogy: Straight to the Bottom of the River
One of contemporary cinema’s most provocative filmmakers launched his career with three deeply unnerving, deliriously genre-blending portraits of Europe.
Imitation of Life: On Passing Between
In its ambivalence toward its provocative themes, John M. Stahl’s groundbreaking exploration of racial identity demonstrates the insolubility of Hollywood’s representational conundrum.
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