Film

Moscow: the truth can't be hidden forever

Last week, more than thirty masked young men broke into a public meeting at the human rights NGO “Memorial” in Moscow. They shouted “Scum!”, “Fascists!” “Get out of Russia!”, and “There’s no room for foreign agents!” They ordered members of the audience to lie down on the floor. They were there to stop the showing of a film, “Mr. Jones”. The 2019 film tells the story of Gareth Jones, a Welsh journalist who stumbled upon the story of the 1932-33 Ukrainian famine in which millions died. At the time, the Soviet regime denied there was a famine and they were assisted in this by New York Times...

Kino Eye: Eisenstein's unmade films about Haiti

A first for Kino Eye — films you can’t see because they were never made! The Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein had always been fascinated with the slaves’ revolt on Haiti. It was one of his lifetime ambitions to make a film about this subject but, unfortunately, none ever materialised. The nearest he came was on an extended trip to the USA and Mexico in 1930. Arriving in Hollywood in May he read Black Majesty: The life of Christophe, King of Haiti, written by John W. Vandercook. Eisenstein wanted the black singer and actor Paul Robeson to play the leading role. However, Paramount Studios, who...

The black sheriff

The story of the election of John Archer as the first black leader of a London council (Solidarity 608) brought to mind the oddly titled film …tick…tick…tick, made in 1970 and directed by Ralph Nelson (perhaps better known for directing Soldier Blue in the same year). In the American Deep South the citizens of rural Colusa County, for the first time in their history, elect an African-American sheriff, Jim Price (Jim Brown). Many are determined that this will never happen again. Tensions rise when a white man, John Braddock, is arrested on a drink driving charge which results in the death of a...

Kino Eye: Greek refugee experience

I'm not sure how much relevance Greek director Theo Angelopoulos’ filmTrilogy: The Weeping Meadow (2004) has to the notion of the “right of return” which has been discussed in the pages of Solidarity recently, but there are some parallels. The film demonstrates the precarious nature of the migrant experience even in a country considered to be their “motherland”. It is 1919. The long-established Greek community in Odessa is displaced by the Russian Revolution and they eventually land on the shores of Greece, near Thessaloniki. However, there is no welcome for them and they are forced to build...

Kino Eye: Putting Blair "on trial"

In June 2003, Reg and Sally Keys sit down to watch the news on TV. Six British soldiers have just died that day in Iraq and one of them is Tom, their 20 year old son. Reg is told by Tom’s commanding officer that prior to the fatal operation his unit had been “descaled” (vital equipment had been removed). Reg then hears that the so-called “weapons of mass destruction” do not exist, and he decides to stand against Blair in the 2005 general election, to expose the war that was “based on a lie”.  Jimmy McGovern adopted Reg’s story for the BBC with Tim Roth playing the bereaved father. The film Reg...

Kino Eye: A film from Palestine

Lemon Tree, directed by Eran Riklis (who is Israeli) was released in 2008. The Palestinian widow Salma Zidane (played by Hiam Abbass) has only her lemon grove to support her. One day a couple move in next door and her life is turned upside. The new neighbours are Israel Navan, the Israeli Defence Minister and his wife Mira. The lemon grove, supposedly, poses a security hazard and must be cut down as a measure against any potential attacks on the Minister. Although there is a possibility of financial compensation Salma refuses it on principle. The trees are fenced off and Salma is not allowed...

Letters: XR and the police; Vibes won't save us; The bureaucrats had choices; Other Afghanistan films

XR, the police and working-class politics The climate demonstrations organised by Extinction Rebellion and participated in by Workers Liberty saw multiple instances of authoritarian and violent policing not previously witnessed at mainstream environmental protests. The opening days of the two week long protest introduced the police’s van-mounted loud hailer belting out “Section 14” dispersal orders in central London, and by the Tuesday of the second week videos were circulating of police officers mounting an open-top-bus and swinging batons at protesters inside. This, in the context of the...

Kino Eye: Return to Afghanistan

Directed by the Iranian Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Kandahar (2001) is partly based on the real life story of Nabfer Pazira, who appears in the film as the main character, Nafas. As a child Nafas escapes Afghanistan, eventually settling in Canada where she becomes a journalist. Her sister remained in Afghanistan, in Kandahar, and has lost both limbs after stepping on a landmine. Nafas leaves Canada and travels to the Afghan border after receiving a letter from her sister, who is suicidal. Clad in a burqa Nafas crosses the border into Afghanistan along with a group of former refugees who are trying to...

Kino Eye. Afghanistan: the last time

As far as I know there is only one film depicting the Russian intervention in Afghanistan. Directed by Fedor Bondarchuk, 9th Company (2005) features seven conscripts who opt to serve in Afghanistan as this means only a one-year tour of duty and then – assuming you are still alive – you can go home. After several months’ rigorous and brutal training they are sent into Afghanistan. Early in 1988 they take part in Operation Magistral and have to defend Hill 3234, which comes under fierce attack from the Mujahideen. Eventually, of the seven comrades, only Oleg Lyuti (Artur Smolyaninov) is left. He...

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