Film

A Tokyo Story

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Filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu is hardly a household name in Britain, but he truly is one of the world's greatest directors.

For those who don't know Ozu's work, now is your chance. Over the next few months many of his films, such as Late Spring (1949), Early Spring (1956) and Floating Weeds (1959), will be showing around the country. Just as importantly, his masterpiece, the heartrending Tokyo Story (1953), is being re-released on DVD.

Poland's subversive cinema

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A popular joke in Soviet era Poland went something like this: "One day a pre-school teacher told her class, 'In Poland all kids are happy. They have lots of beautiful toys and live in great apartments...' Suddenly one child starts to cry and screams, 'I want to live in Poland!'"

Humour was one of the few ways of criticising the Stalinist regime. Another, much more powerful way was cinema.

This issue of Socialist Review looks at the political movements that brought down the Berlin Wall and state capitalist regimes across Eastern Europe. Throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s cinema played an important role in Polish society. Its impact was visual, direct and full of underlying messages designed to elude the state censors, subtly exposing life in a one-party state.

Cinema and the Spanish Civil War

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Luke Stobart is looking forward to the BFI Southbank film season on the Spanish Civil War

In 1936 the world was submerged in deep economic crisis and mass unemployment, and fascism was already triumphant in Germany and Italy. The Spanish Civil War, which exploded that year in response to a right wing coup by General Franco, offered a chance to turn back the tide. Not only did armed working masses defeat the coup in most Spanish cities but in the regions of Catalonia and Aragon they took over the factories and land from the ruling class. Consequently the war, as the title of the BFI film season declares, stirred the world.

Playing a part against injustice

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Oscar winning actor Julie Christie talks to Sabby Sagall and Judith Orr about her work and political commitment and how she feels about the media treatment of women in the public eye in the age of celebrity culture.

Your first film was Billy Liar in 1963. It was about a woman, Liz, who wanted to challenge conventions and live her own life. Were you aware in your own life about women's changing expectations at that time?

I had absolutely no understanding of the social historical meaning of anything then, let alone of the part I was playing. She was a beatnik, not yet of the 1960s. It's just after the war. Billy represented the fears and repression of post-war Britain and Liz the very beginning of a new culture which youth called "freedom".

Reality Bites

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Belgian directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne talk to Jim Wolfreys about the solidarity that transcends the tragedies of existence facing their characters and their latest film, The Silence of Lorna.

An adolescent boy is asked to look after the family of an immigrant worker in whose death he has been implicated. A young woman wages a furious lone struggle to forge an existence. A couple's life is blown apart when their son is offered for sale. These stories, told by the Dardenne brothers since the mid-1990s, turn around the dilemmas faced by individuals in marginal social situations, forced to comply with the ruthless logic of the market or find another way to live.

Requiem for Katrina: A Tale of God's Will by Terence Blanchard

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"Could we film you going into your house?" asks filmmaker Spike Lee of Mrs Blanchard.

The lady had entered that house a thousand times before, but only once would she enter her house under these circumstances. Hurricane Katrina had passed through New Orleans and had done relatively little damage, but then the levees broke, bringing death and destruction. She may have been one of the lucky ones - after all she was alive - but she knew what awaited her when she entered her home: destroyed possessions, lost heirlooms and drowned memories.

Making drama to quicken the heart

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Trevor Griffiths, co-writer of the film Reds, talks to Phil Turner about why he is committed to making a film on 18th century radical Tom Paine.

During his life Thomas Paine was hounded from Britain, imprisoned in France and treated as a pariah in the US, his adopted country. Why should we celebrate Paine's life and work?

He was one of a fairly long line of British socialists or pre-socialists, radicals whom history has sought to erase in one way or the other.

Reality comes home

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Atlanta International Airport is a major transportation centre for US troops going to serve in Iraq. I happened to be passing through the day after General Petraeus gave his report on the so called "surge" and the day President Bush made a major speech on the conflict.

Television screens sited all around the airport lounges beamed Bush's speech. The place was alive with US soldiers discussing the situation with each other and members of the public. Many soldiers openly voiced their opposition to the occupation.

Obituary: Ousmane Sembene

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Ousmane Sembène was one of those rare people whose death feels like a personal loss even to those who did not know him. We have lost a great mind.

Sembène had an extraordinary life. Born in 1923, he was sent by his father to an Islamic school in the Casamance - the poor southern region of today's Senegal, then part of the huge French West African colonial empire. Expelled from the school in 1936 for indiscipline, he worked as a fisherman before leaving to find work in the capital, Dakar.

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