Random Film Festival Factoids: Agora

Agora (imdb page) recounts the events around and subsequent to the destruction of the library at Alexandria in 391AD, telling the story of Hypatia, a notable female mathematician, philosopher, astronomer and teacher. After Emperor Constantine declared Christianity legal, Alexandrian society was shaken to the core, with the political and religious machinations of Cyril, Pope of Alexandria, and Orestes, Prefect of the Diocese of Egypt, leading to a tragic climax.

Read the review of Agora in Sight and Sound here (you’ll need your library card number). Director Alejandro Amenábar was also responsible for The Others (2002), starring Nicole Kidman, and The Sea Inside (2005) with Javier Bardem.

The Library at Alexandria features in Library: an unquiet history, by Matthew Battles and also Libraries in the ancient world, by Lionel Casson

(Incidentally, the new library of Alexandria is an impressive building. Visit the website here, or have a look at the architecture here.)

If you would like to read more about Hypatia try these titles:
The book of dead philosophers, Simon Critchley
Doubt: a history: the great doubters and their legacy of innovation, from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson, Jennifer Michael Hecht

Search for books on the history of astronomy, and early Church history.

Hypatia is also the subject of the novel Hypatia: New Foes with an Old Face by Charles Kingsley, published in 1894. The library has a copy, or you can download it for free from Project Gutenberg here.

Random Film Festival Factoids: Certified Copy

Certified Copy (imdb page) netted Juliette Binoche the Best Actress award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Not too much happens in this story of an antique shop owner (Binoche) who has the chance to show a writer and art historian (played by William Shimell, who is actually an opera singer), around a village (Lucignano) in the Arezzo Province in Tuscany for a day. At least that’s on the face of it: the film also talks about what it means to be an original and what it means to be a copy. Is being a copy less worthy?

The slow, conversational nature of the film suggested a Before Sunrise for another generation, swapping out Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, and Vienna (even down to the pressing nature of train timetables, which wait for no existential discussion).

Some random facts and links:

Read about the background to Certified Copy in ‘Reality Check’ by Jonathan Romney in the October 2009 issue of Sight and Sound (you will need your library card number to access it).

This is director Abbas Kiarostami’s first non-Iranian film: if you’re interested in his previous work, the library has got several of his films, including The Wind Will Carry Us, for example.

Arezzo, the home of “She” (Binoche) and also incidentally of the poet Petrarch, also features in Roberto Begnini’s 1997 film Life is Beautiful.

The Cannes Film Festival website has a detailed archives section dating back to 1946 (which included, for example, Brief Encounter (which the library has), based on the play Still Life by Noel Coward).

If you would like to do a retrospective viewing of Juliette Binoche films, the library can offer you this selection.

Wishing you could be in Tuscany? The library has many titles to tempt you, from a collection of aerial photographs (Tuscany: Flying High), through guidebooks, to Frances Mayes’ latest effort, Every Day in Tuscany, the sequel to Under the Tuscan Sun (the book is nothing like the romantic comedy film of the same name starring Diane Lane, apart from the renovations). Have a look in the geography and travel sections at a branch near you.

Film Festival Movies Based on Books

It’s nearly International Film Festival time, one of the plusses of winter, and several of this year’s festival offerings are inspired by books, including some New Zealand content. Here is a selection, including links to the NZFF website for your information.

  1. The Ghost Writer, based on The Ghost by Robert Harris
  2. Predicament, based on Predicament by Ronald Hugh Morrieson
  3. From Poverty Bay to Broadway, based on From Poverty Bay to Broadway: the story of Tom Heeney by Lydia Monin
  4. Women Without Men, based on Women Without Men by Shahrnush Parsipur; translated from the Persian by Kamran Talattof and Jocelyn Sharlet
  5. The Killer Inside Me, based on The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson
  6. After the Waterfall, based on The Paraffin Child by Stephen Blanchard
  7. The Tree, based on Our Father Who Art in the Tree by Judy Pascoe
  8. Winter’s Bone, based on Winter’s Bone: a novel by Daniel Woodrell
  9. My Dog Tulip, based on My Dog Tulip by J.R. Ackerley
  10. The Red Shoes, in The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen

See the New Zealand Booksellers website for more.

If you’re feeling nostalgic for past film festivals, don’t forget the library has thousands of DVDs available for hire ($4 per DVD, or $8 for boxed sets), from the classic to the cutting edge to the downright oddball (sometimes all three in the same film). If you’re a film fanatic you might be interested in purchasing a DVD concession card, which entitles you to 12 rentals for the price of 10 (find out more).

Final days at the Film Festival

wellington film festival poster, used with permissionThe Film Festival is down to its final days and there has been a huge variety of films on this week. The Patti Smith documentary (filmed over ten years) kept us all enthralled, Waltz With Bashir made us weep and Be Kind Rewind gave us the oppportunity to remember those 70s and 80s films – albeit with a new DIY perspective.

For enjoying these and other films on this week, the Film and Television database has articles from a broad range of film magazines: Film Comment, Cineaste, Variety, Entertainment Weekly, Sight & Sound, OnFilm plus many others.  Here is a selection: Waltz With Bashir, Be Kind Rewind, Patti Smith: Dream of Life, The Savages, Let The Right One In, Dear Zachary and Frozen River (if the links don’t work automatically for you, login here first).

Directors on DVD

wellington film festival poster, used with permissionSeen any films that make you want to check out the director’s previous offerings? Our DVD collection is here to help. You may already know that our collection includes films by directors such as Eric Rohmer, Ken Loach, Werner Herzog, Michel Gondry and Errol Morris, but you may not realise that you can continue your film festival after this weekend by also exploring these other directors who are featured this year:Derek Jarman, Costa Botes, Julian Schnabel, Alex Gibney, Barbet Schroeder, Gregory King, Jacques Rivette, Michael Curtiz, Tom McCarthy, Shane Meadows, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Alexander Sokurov, Sergei Bodrov, Bent Hamer, Wong Kar-wai, Dany Boon, Cedric Klapisch and of course Vincent Ward. Marjane Satrapi may not have made any other movies yet , but her graphic novels are excellent – one of which is the original Persepolis graphic novel.

Wellington Film Festival 2008

wellington film festival poster, used with permissionSpending every waking moment at the Film Festival?  Or just going to the odd film that takes your fancy? Here are some reviews and information about films showing over the first week, courtesy of our new Film and Television database.

(If the links below don’t work for you automatically, login to EBSCO with your library card details, then return to this page – the links will then take you to the reviews.)

Man on Wire | Persepolis | Waltz with Bashir | Adventures of Robin Hood | Paris | No End in Sight | Vexville | Anita O’Day: The Life of a Singer | Earth | Somers Town

Of course if you want further inspiration, we’ll be highlighting more films as the Festival progresses.  In the meantime, check out the Festival posters currently on display on the First Floor of Central Library – along with items from our extensive film book collection.

The Film Festival is upon us

Telecom 35th Wellington Film Festival brochures are out and the website is up. If you’re feeling peckish for quality DVDs (only $3/week), you can search our collection by genre, including foreign language, classic novels, nostalgia and documentaries. Work your way through the Criterion collection or Director’s suite series. From last year’s film festival we have adored documentary The wild parrots of Telegraph Hill, David LaChapelle’s urban doco Rize, Wong Kar Wai’s 2046, The edukators and more.