Founded in 1962, Film Comment has been the home of independent film journalism for over 50 years, publishing in-depth interviews, critical analysis, and feature coverage of mainstream, art-house, and avant-garde filmmaking from around the world. Our podcast is a weekly space for critical conversation about film, with a look at topical issues, new releases, and the big picture. Film Comment is a nonprofit publication that relies on the support of readers. Support film culture and subscribe today.
NYFF 2021: Currents, with Chloe Lizotte and Ela Bittencourt
Established in 2020—and picking up where the late, lamented Projections section left off—Currents is the New York Film Festival's home for films with more offbeat, experimental, or hybrid sensibilities. This year’s lineup does not disappoint, with a selection of groundbreaking features and shorts from new and established filmmakers like Matías Piñeiro and Lois Patiño, Claire Simon, Kevin Jerome Everson, Apichatpong Weerasethakhul, and many more.
For this conversation I sat down with critics Chloe Lizotte and Ela Bittencourt to highlight some of our favorites from the section, including Miguel Gomes and Maureen Fazendeiro’s The Tsugua Diaries, Kiyoshi Sugita’s Haruhara-san’s Recorder, Kiro Russo’s El gran movimiento, and Ted Fendt’s Outside Noise, among other features and shorts.
Stay tuned for more coverage of this year’s New York Film Festival, both on the podcast, and in the Film Comment Letter.
Toronto 2021 with Adam Nayman and José Teodoro
As we enter the thick of fall festival season, it seems that every week brings with it a full slate of amazing new films from all over the world. This week, Film Comment Editors Devika Girish and Clinton Krute rang up two of their favorite critics, Adam Nayman and José Teodoro, for a look at the 2021 edition of Toronto International Film Festival, which just wrapped this past weekend.
José and Adam had much to report on from their hometown fest. They kicked things off with a discussion of some of the bigger movies on offer, including Dune, Spencer, Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, and Terence Davies’s Benediction, before diving into films like Silent Land, Sundown, Bergman Island, and more.
And don’t miss José’s dispatch from TIFF in this week’s Film Comment Letter. Sign up today at filmcomment.com.
Terence Davies on Benediction and more
This week Film Comment is reporting from the Toronto International Film Festival, both virtually and in-person. One of the most anticipated films at this year’s festival is Benediction, the latest feature by British master Terence Davies. It’s a biopic of the English anti-war poet Siegfried Sassoon—although, biopic is a bit of a misnomer. Like A Quiet Passion, Davies’s 2015 film about Emily Dickinson, Benediction is a beautifully impressionistic, personal, and indeed poetic account of Sassoon's very colorful life. Davies jumps back and forth in time, melds archival footage and arch scenes of drama, and stages some stunning tableaux that tune us into the ups and downs of Sassoon’s life as a gay man, and the despair that haunted him and his poetry after his stint in World War I.
Film Comment Co-Deputy Editor Devika Girish chatted with Davies about the film as well as an eclectic range of subjects: beauty, eternity, poetry, Catholicism, the power of silence, his experiences in the U.K’s gay scene, the horrors of reality television, and more. We hope you enjoy the conversation, and make sure you subscribe to the podcast and to the Film Comment Letter so you can keep up with all our upcoming Toronto coverage.
This episode is sponsored by Kino Lorber, presenting Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Wife of a Spy, now in theaters: bit.ly/wifeofaspy
Spike Lee’s Documentaries with Amy Taubin and Ina Archer
In a 2007 Film Comment essay, Amy Taubin wrote in praise of Spike Lee’s When the Levees Broke, a documentary about the Hurricane Katrina disaster and the communities that bore its brunt. For Amy, “Lee makes it possible for their stories to be inscribed in history. It is left to us not to forget them.”
The same could be said of Lee’s epic new mini-series NYC Epicenters 9/11→2021½, a deep-dive into New York City’s recent history of trauma and resilience, from the September 11 attacks to the COVID-19 pandemic. On today’s podcast, FC editors Clinton Krute and Devika Girish sat down with Amy as well as critic, artist, and archivist Ina Archer to discuss the fascinating sprawl of the show, a highly personal tribute to the spirit of Lee’s hometown.
Smaller Festivals with Jordan Cronk
The summer and fall festival seasons bring a flurry of buzzy premieres at glamorous locales: Cannes, Venice, New York, Toronto. But as most film critics will attest, some of our best festival experiences are at the smaller venues and events that often fly under the radar. These include regional festivals that cater to local audiences, festivals that spotlight newer filmmakers, and lineups focused on specialized programs.
To discuss the role of these festivals and some selections from recent editions, Film Comment editors Devika Girish and Clinton Krute sat down with one of Film Comment’s most trusted festival correspondents—curator and critic Jordan Cronk. Jordan talked about some of his favorite small festivals, including Black Canvas, RIDM, and True/False, and discussed the prize-winners from the recent edition of FIDMarseille, including Outside Noise and Haruhara San’s Recorder. They also discussed picks from an upcoming archival film festival organized by Arsenal Berlin, and some of Jordan’s personal highlights from Locarno.
Sex Work in Cinema
On today’s podcast we’re talking about a long-running preoccupation of cinema: sex work. From Taxi Driver to Pretty Woman, sex workers have frequently appeared in the movies as both tragic and romantic figures, but rarely as, well, workers. Two recent releases offer a different, more complex perspective: Lizzie Borden’s 1986 cult classic Working Girls, which was restored and released in July, and Tsai Ming-liang’s latest feature, Days.
We sat down with critics So Mayer and Sarah Fonseca to talk about the ways in which these films reflect on questions of labor, representation, performance, and care. The conversation quickly branched out to many more films, including Leilah Weinraub’s Shakedown, Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Flowers of Shanghai, Antonio Pietrangeli’s Adua and Her Friends, Fassbinder’s Querelle, and others.
Well-edited discussions on film
To my knowledge the best podcast on film. I follow the podcast loyally and often get an excited jitter, when I see that a new episode has arrived.
What makes this podcast stand out is first of all the production. Often discussion-based podcasts are unfinished sentences and thoughts overlapping each other in a noise, and this is where I think Film Comment makes a subtle but important use of editing of the podcast.
This couldn't be accomplished if producer Violet Lucca wasn't moderating the show as well as she does. I've noticed a lot of unfair (and probably sexist) criticism of Lucca, because she keeps the mood light and slightly silly at times. While I think it's fun, I'd also like to add that her goofy position is clearly founded in her specific affinity in movies – common references for Lucca are Airplane! and Jerry Lewis.
This podcast excels in its content compared to other film podcasts, but I honestly prefer, when the show allows room for discussions on film (best recent example "Wanda Woman") rather than description and plot summary (worst most recent example "The Summer of 77"). Lately, I've heard a few to many episodes, where each participant shares one-two movies that relates to the topic of choice, but lacks actual interaction between the otherwise highly qualified film critics. But this is nitpicking.
I don't know whatelse I'd listen to on film, if it weren't for the Film Comment Podcast. By now I form my own arguments while listening, as if I was a part of the conversation.