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QuickShots | Cuba for del Toro, DocuWeeks, Almodovar in UK, “Thirst” & More

QuickShots | Cuba for del Toro, DocuWeeks, Almodovar in UK, "Thirst" & More

Havana ceremony honours del Toro

The inaugural Tomas Gutierrez Alea prize was presented at a ceremony attended by US actors Robert Duvall, James Caan and Bill Murray. Their visit is seen as a sign of warming Cuban-US relations. Puerto Rican-born del Toro played revolutionary hero Ernesto “Che” Guevara in two films out last year. BBC reports.

DocuWeeks Theatrical Documentary Showcase to open in L.A., New York

18 feature and 10 short documentaries that have been selected to be screened during the prestigious International Documentary Assn.’s DocuWeeks Theatrical Documentary Showcase, which begins today in Los Angeles — at the ArcLight in Hollywood — and New York. The showcase runs through Aug. 20. Susan King takes a look at the series in the Los Angeles Times.

Almodovar’s Broken Embraces arrives in the UK

Penelope Cruz and Pedro Almodovar talk about “Broken Embraces,” their fourth collaboration and his homage to film-making, which had its UK premiere last night at Somerset House, London. The film opens throughout the UK August 28. The Guardian reports.

“Thirst” maker seeks laughs in vampire flick

“You could consider the film a vampire film or a horror film, but actually I’d like people to laugh,” “Thirst” director Park Chan-wook told the SF Examiner, “Of course, where people laugh in a film is cultural. But humor is necessary to enjoy my films.”

Cannes-honoured Philippine film gets censors’ nod

Censors here have belatedly approved a Philippine film honoured at the Cannes festival that graphically depicts the rape, murder and dismemberment of a prostitute. AFP reports on Brillante Mendoza’s “Kinatay.”

LACMA slaps film in the face

More fallout from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s decision to “suspend” its film program, as Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan attacks the decision saying, “You’ll excuse me, but the logic of needing to stop the program in order to rethink it sounds suspiciously like the apocryphal Vietnam War rationale that ‘we had to burn the village to save it.’ That the museum seems to lack the ability to consider the situation’s pros and cons while things are up and running doesn’t give me a lot of confidence in its ultimate decision.”

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As I read the July 29 article on the LA Times’ front page about the closure of LACMA’s esteemed Film Department, with a photo from a 1997 screening of VALLEY OF THE DOLLS which was misleadingly used as indicative of the depth of the Department’s programming, I felt like salt had been poured on the wound of losing one of the finest film programs offered anywhere. Although it won’t heal the injury of the Film Dept’s closure, I was so thankful to see Kenny Turan’s beautifully written and righteously angry piece about the closure of the Film Department at LACMA.

As someone who was a film fan before becoming a member of the international film community, I have been so upset about this, on both a personal and professional level. I have educated my 17-year-old daughter, who has been attending screenings there since she was 5 years old, about film, culture, and people through the films that Ian Birnie programmed from all the corners of the world, showing everything from silent films – with live organ accompaniment – to the most cutting edge films of directors such as Christopher Nolan. With personal appearance and Q&As; with everyone from Robert Wilson to Norman Jewison. I have discovered new films and been re-acquainted with old favorites. The Film Department offered all types of films, and if you went often enough your film knowledge could rival that of any film school’s program. I have kept the programs from most of the films I’ve seen there, and while budget constraints caused them to be printed on cheap plain paper, the content was solid gold. If a museum’s mission is to educate and add to the cultural fabric of the city, LACMA has just torn a gaping hole in the tapestry of LA.

Let’s hope there are more forward thinking institutions in LA that will take the soon-to-be shuttered LACMA Film Dept. and transport it to lock, stock and smoking barrel to new headquarters where it will be receive the respect it deserves.

Bonnie Voland

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