New Directors / New Films: Han Jia | Winter Vacation


Han Jia | Winter Vacation
Writer/Director/Editor: Li Hongqi
Cinematography: Qin Yurui
Music by: Zuoxiao Zuzhou and The Top Floor Circus
Cast: Bai Junjie, Zhang Naqi, Bai Jinfeng, Xie Ying, Wang Hui, Bao Lei, Bai Xiaohong, Zhi Feng, Wu Guoxiong, Jiang Chao
2010. China.

At a rundown housing complex in the snow, three teenage boys debate whether to go to the vegetable market to look at a girl. A young boy begs his grandfather for permission to go outside and play.

Formidable sense of place and character. The desolation of a northern town, expressed in a woolen hat.

Back at school, a teacher enters the wrong class. “How can I be useful to society?” Silence.

Read the ND/NF essay:

New Directors / New Films: Yeke Varune (Vice Versa One)


Yeke Varune (Vice Versa One)
Director: Shahrbanoo Sadat
2011. Afghanistan

A world in 10 minutes. We start by identifying sounds. The progress of an Afghan girl’s day, told in sound and image as she collects everyday objects/votes from her neighbors. Jewels, clothes, weapons.

Yeke Varune was also selected for la Quinzaine des Réalisateurs | Directors’ Fortnight, Festival de Cannes 2011.

Shahrbanoo Sadat is a graduate of Ateliers Varan, Kabul, where she made her first short film, A Smile for Life. She was picked for the Cinéfondation–Festival de Cannes as a resident filmmaker and is now working on her first feature film.

New Directors/New Films – Çogunluk (Majority)


Çogunluk (Majority)
Director: Seren Yüce
2010. Turkey. 111 minutes.
Cast: Bartu Küçükçağlayan, Settar Tanrıöğen, Nihal Koldaş, Esme Madra, İlhan Hacıfazlıoğlu, Cem Zeynel Kılıç, Feridun Koç, Mehmet Ünal, Erkan Can

Majority has two meanings, the demographic and life stage.

A fat boy and his father exercise. Years later, in hamam, father and son have matching guts. Insensitive and proud of it. Kicking vacuuming housekeeper.

Routes to adulthood and a middle class life . Marriage. Army.

But there’s a girl at the cafe. A nice girl, university student. She likes him. She brings him home. He has no idea how to be with a woman. And oh, yes – she is a Kurd.

She tries hard to humanize him. A little affection. Love.

He has no dreams or aspirations. She dreams for him. Why not become an architect?

His life becomes shit. She is actually the best thing about it.

But he hears, among his father’s friends, “These people want to divide our country.” Get your head straight in the army. A young muslim Turk should know the enemy.

Seren Yüce was first assistant director on Ozer Kiziltan’s Takva (A Man’s Fear of God) and Fatih Akin’s The Edge of Heaven. Majority is his first feature-length film.

Read the ND/NF essay.

Some Movies I’d Like to See in New York – 2011


Pashmaloo | Hairy
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour

Apflickorna | She Monkeys
Director: Lisa Aschan

Director: Sabine Bernardi

Director: Patty Chang

Director: Ralph Fiennes

Das Schlafende Mädchen | The Sleeping Girl
Director: Rainer Kirberg

Sin yan | The Stool Pigeon
Director: Dante Lam

Hauntings I (Fragments) / Hauntings II (Berlin)
Director: Guy Madden

Yelling to the Sky
Director: Victoria Mahoney

Talaye sorkh | Crimson Gold
Director: Jafar Panahi

Etwas Bessseres als den Tod | Beats Being Dead
Director: Christian Petzold
Komm mir nicht nach | Don’t Follow Me Around
Director: Dominik Graf
Eine Minute Dunkel | One Minute of Darkness
Director: Christoph Hochhäusler

Rundskop | Bullhead
Director: Michael R. Roskam

Director: Céline Sciamma

A torinói ló | The Turin Horse
Director: Bela Tarr

Director: Wim Wenders

Shan zha shu zhi lian | Under the Hawthorn Tree
Director: Yimou Zhang

Chinese herbal medicines as adjuvant treatment during chemo- or radio-therapy for cancer


Qi F, Li A, Inagaki Y, et al. Chinese herbal medicines as adjuvant treatment during chemo- or radio-therapy for cancer. Biosci Trends. 2010 Dec;4(6):297-307. Review. PubMed PMID: 21248427.

A benchmark review providing evidence for trials of Chinese herbal medicines as adjuvant cancer treatment during chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

The authors hypothesize that Chinese herbal medicines (e.g. Astragalus, Turmeric, Ginseng, TJ-41, PHY906, Huachansu injection, and Kanglaite injection) “have advantages in terms of suppressing tumor progression, increasing the sensitivity of chemo- and radiotherapeutics, improving an organism’s immune system function, and lessening the damage caused by chemo- and radio-therapeutics.” They recommend randomized, controlled clinical trials involving cancer patients.

Free full text via PubMed.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Berlinale Forum 2011 – Sleepless Nights Stories


Sleepless Nights Stories

Director: Jonas Mekas
With: Benn Northover, Louis Garrel, Marina Abramovic, Harmony Korine, Sebastian Mekas, Dalius Naujo, Carolee Schneemann, Ken Jacobs, Florence Jacobs, Louise Bourgeois, Yoko Ono, Phong Bui, Raimund Abraham, Nathlie Provosty, Rachel Korine-Simon, Lefty Korine, Jean-Jacques Lebel, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Pip Chadorov, DoDo Jin Ming, Hopi Lebel, Kris Kucinskas, Thomas Boujut, Audrius Naujokaitis, Jonas Lozoraitis, Lee Stringer, Patti Smith, Diane Lewis, Simon Bryant, Adolfas Mekas, Oona Mekas, Björk Guðmundsdóttir.

USA 2011



“I can’t sleep. It’s 4 am. I just got back from London. It’s jet lag, jet lag.”

The father of the film diary, inspired by One Thousand and One Nights, traces some twenty-five stories from his present-day life with DVCam in hand and on tabletop, across time zones and at every time of the day and night.

Scenes from an abundant life, “full of suffering and of joy.” Friends, a pony, a lizard. Residing above the great Greenpoint oil spill, dancing with Yoko Ono, catching a ride to Keflavik International with Björk, studying a post card from Hokkaido. People, animals, objects, familiar and unfamiliar, are and are not what they appear to be.

“The very question of what is a story, is a provocative question.”

And the long evolution from 16mm Bolex to DVCam, leading to unknown places and as-yet-undiscovered media. “When there are new technologies, new ways of putting up images, something else is being revealed that we could not see before.”

“Praise be to Allah!” indeed.

Read the Forum essay.

Berlinale Forum 2011 – De Engel van Doel | An Angel in Doel


De Engel van Doel | An Angel in Doel

Director: Tom Fassaert

Netherlands, Belgium 2011



“I saw an angel when I was 16.”

De Engel van Doel is Tom Fassaert’s debut feature-length documentary. The film is immediately engaging – you don’t even know it is a documentary until the destruction of the first house.

A little village stands in the way of the expanding port of Antwerp. Only the oldest inhabitants, a widow, her friends and the village priest, remain, holding out tenaciously in the face of their shared fate.

Shot on 16mm over six years – sometimes only a minute a day. Following up on a small newspaper article, Fassaert met the priest and then Emilienne. He fell for her spontaneity and honesty immediately, as do we.

Read the Forum essay.