Film and native language preservation

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Gwaai Edenshaw and Helen Haig-Brown’s SG̲aawaay Ḵ’uuna (Edge of the Knife) (2018) is the first motion picture ever to depict the language and culture of Haida Gwaii; fewer than twenty-four people speak Haida fluently. (Image Courtesy: The New Yorker).

One hundred sixty-five indigenous languages remain out of the three hundred spoken in North America before colonization, and tribal elders, humanitarians, as well as linguists are tapping into the power of film to preserve these dying tongues, according to The New Yorker. Following the release of Zacharias Kunuk’s Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner) (2001), the first feature to be written, directed, and acted in the eastern Inuit dialect of Inuktitut, the likes of the Star Wars saga and Andrew Stanton’s Finding Nemo (2003) have been translated into Navajo. Iñupiaq filmmaker Andrew Okpeaha MacLean says, “In the academic space, the language survives; in the cultural space, the language lives.”

A CGI James Dean has been cast in an upcoming independent film

Using old footage and photos as well as a voice actor, Magic City Films, the production company behind Anton Ernst and Tati Golykh’s Finding Jack, will cast a computer-generated James Dean in their new Vietnam War drama, according to Time. Chris Evans took to Twitter to condemn the digital performance as “shameful,” but Mark Roesler, chairman and chief executive of CMG Worldwide (who licensed Dean’s likeness to the filmmaking team), says CMG represents the Hollywood icon’s family’s interests. Dean starred in Nicholas Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Elia Kazan’s East of Eden (1955), and George Stevens’s Giant (1956) before dying in a car accident in 1955 at twenty-four years old.

The most important female director you’ve never heard of

From 1896 to 1906, the largely forgotten Alice Guy-Blaché was not just the world’s first female filmmaker, she was also the world’s only female filmmaker, christening her career with no less than the first narrative film, La Fée Aux Choux (1896), according to The A.V. Club. She was inspired to make cinema after sitting in the audience for Auguste and Louis Lumière’s La Sortie de l’Usine Lumière à Lyon (1895), thinking she could do better than one of history’s first motion pictures by telling stories instead of simply shooting scenes of everyday life. Guy-Blaché also pioneered several special effects (double exposure, masking, as well as running a reel backwards), and her comedy, A Fool and His Money (1912), is believed to be the first movie with an all-black cast.

World’s first Holocaust feature film to premiere in Tel Aviv this weekend

 

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Wanda Jakubowska, “the grandmother of Polish cinema” as well as “the mother of Holocaust movies,” said the reason she lived through her imprisonment was because she was obsessed with making a film about it. (Image Courtesy: Haaretz).

As part of the Tel Aviv Polish Institute and the Polish Adam Mickiewicz Institute’s “Polish Zoom” film festival this month and next, Wanda Jakubowska’s The Last Stage (1947) is screening in Israel Sunday night seventy years after it debuted there, according to Haaretz. It is the first feature-length picture about the Holocaust, shot on location at Auschwitz, and the filmmaker, scriptwriter, and many cast members – all women – were camp survivors. As ahead of its time as the movie is with its intersectional feminism, though, it is still a Stalinist propaganda piece, sanitizing the Soviet war criminals into warriors of liberation.

Steven Soderbergh’s “sex, lies, and videotape” (1989) turns thirty

With the thirtieth anniversary for the release of Steven Soderbergh’s sex, lies, and videotape (1989) come upon us, the time is now to revisit the filmmaker’s feature-length narrative debut as well as its place in cinematic history, according to The Independent. It was the first independent film to succeed as much as it did, winning the Palme d’Or for a twenty-seven-year-old Soderbergh, the youngest director to do so, and grossing a hundred million worldwide on a million-dollar budget. Not only that, but it also laid the foundation for Soderbergh’s career, with his eclectic genres ranging from mainstream to arthouse sensibilities.

Movies can affect how we remember history

Film has the power to misrepresent history in the collective memory of its audience, especially for younger generations who have not lived through any past events portrayed onscreen, according to Psychology Today. Indeed, studies show how believable misinformation can change memories, and in persuasion and social psychology, the “sleeper” effect is able to make people believe something they didn’t agree with or believe earlier. Doctor Alan D. Castel writes that in a perfect world, a recent example of alternate history like Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) would inspire viewers to research the facts behind the fiction.