The artist-filmmaker is currently in the news for her autobiographic Telluride premiere “Heart of a Dog,” a cinematic collection of remembrances of her late, beloved, piano-playing, finger-painting dog Lolabelle. The film moves onto to Toronto this weekend before opening Wednesday, October 21.
The six films now streaming in her Doc Club collection, including directors Werner Herzog and Guy Maddin, are “5 Broken Cameras,” “Ballets Russes,” “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” “My Winnipeg” and “The Unmistaken Child.” Below are her appropriately idiosyncratic notes for each film.
5 BROKEN CAMERAS (2012)
“Here is the desert between Palestine and Israel. Huge housing developments oddly called settlements rise up out of the desert like mirages as the borders are constantly redrawn with cranes, barbed wire, concrete walls and shipping containers.
Emad the cameraman cannot stop shooting no matter what his friends and family say. His father has leaped onto the police van that is taking his son to prison, Emad films. The Israeli settlers furiously attack him threatening to break his head. Emad shoots. His friends are shot and killed. Emad is there. Filming. Bullets fracture the camera’s body. Blood splatters on the lens. After five cameras break he is still filming. This film is endurance and rage. The most powerful image is ancient olive trees that have been set afire, their leaves waving and their bark snapping as black plumes of smoke rise in the desert.”
BALLETS RUSSES (2005)
“The film recreates the remembered world of ballet from the 30s and 40s with its ‘baby ballerinas’ (the precocious pre-teen etoiles), battling impresarios and fabulous costumes. Fast forward to the stars decades later still with the best posture, grace and remarkable composure as they reminisce and recreate their most famous moves intercut with footage from their days as stars. But it is the ancient stages with their backstage intrigue, footlights scandals and sets that are invoked. For the dancers who performed on them, getting back onto these stages and recreating the magic that happened on them animates them.”
CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS (2010)
“Herzog’s softly persistent voice lures you into the cave where the oldest cave drawings in the world have been hidden for tens of thousands of years. Exquisitely drawn horses heads are painted onto the soft overhangs. One of the drawings, Herzog informs us, was drawn over by another later artist. The gap between the drawings was 5,000 years. We are locked in history and they were not he tells us. The eerie wonderland is mapped by digital imagery using millions of reference points creating one of the most beautiful three-dimensional maps I have ever seen. Herzog as the guide is reassuring unsettling and yet another story.”
EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP (2012)
“Careening on skateboards through the streets of Paris New York and LA with cans of spray, slathering glue onto posters and sticking them on buildings before the cops arrive, this film is a high speed chase through dark streets as they get tagged with graffiti. Meanwhile we get to meet the obsessive French film maker, the artist Shephard Fairey and Banksy who turns the tables on the whole thing. The spirit of the genius creator of Dismaland, the pop up dystopian Disneyworld in the UK infuses the film. Hilarious. Great beats!”
MY WINNIPEG (2008)
“The town of Winnipeg is ruled by the narrator’s tough-as-a-turkey white-haired mother who looms in windows. The filmmaker has hired actors to recreate the scenes of his childhood. But the actors don’t learn their lines and the sets are flimsy flats. It’s the rotting hockey rink, the pungent beauty parlor, the bleak snow driven streets and crumbling railroad tracks that are the most poignant. Punctuated by silent film (tragedy!) texts and frames filled with snow flakes that look like sparks, the film also stars the corpse of his father who is stored in the living room. “We’re always lost,” says the narrator who is shown on a train hurtling through the film unable to wake up. But then again Winnipeg has the highest number of sleepwalkers in the world.”
THE UNMISTAKEN CHILD (2009)
“A monk looks for the incarnation of his beloved teacher and travels through a world of mountains, deep valleys, swirling smoke, and whirling prayer wheels. Guided by the clues- the direction of the smoke of the the cremated body and the phantom footprint in the ashes of the remains of his teacher- the monk meets dozens of small boys and gives them tests to determine if they could be his teacher ‘I cannot trust my feelings,’ he says. But instinct draws him to a small boy. Doubt and love animate this search. The map is made of karma. “