I thought this was a stronger year for new releases than 2017. Two of my favourites screened at the Leeds International Film Festival and then, subsequently, at the Picture House.
Shoplifters / Manbiki kazoku (Japan, 2018). This is a real cinematic treasure. The subject is welcome and a little subversive. The production is excellent in every aspect.
The Wild Pear Tree / Ahlat Agaci, (Turkey | Republic of Macedonia | France / Germany | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Bulgaria | Sweden, 2018. An epic film, certainly in length, but immensely rewarding if you stayed the course.
Then the new titles on general or limited release;
Jupitor’s Moon / Jupiter holdja, (Hungary / Germany / France, 2017). This was a sort of ‘magic realism’ following an illegal migrant trying to survive in an unwelcoming environment.
Sweet Country, (Australia, 2017). A fine ‘outback film’ set in the 1920s. Apart from the excellent characters and plot we had a glimpse a ‘silent film’ screening.
Isle of Dogs, (Germany / USA, 2018). Fine animation and the canine performances of the year.
Zama, (Argentina / Brazil / Spain / Dominican Republic / France / Netherlands / Mexico / Switzerland / USA / Portugal / Lebanon, 2017). I enjoyed this so much that I must find time to read the novel from which it is sourced.
Wajib (Palestine / France / Colombia / Germany / United Arab Emirates / Qatar / Norway, 2017) A master-class in how to make a fascination story out of a drive and delivery of wedding invitations.
There were two fine documentaries this year:
The Rape of Recy Taylor, (USA, 2017) Set among African-American women exploited and oppressed in the pre-civil rights era. The use of archive material was so imaginative.
Faces Places / Visages villages (France, 2017) An in idiosyncratic delight.
We also had a lot of classics. The Ida Lupino programme was welcome and mainly on 35mm. High Sierra (USA 1941) and Outrage (USA 1950)stood out.
And we had a good 35mm print of Isaac Julien’s Young Soul Rebels (Britain 1991).
The one serious omission of the year was The Young Karl Marx / Le jeune Karl Marx (France / Belgium / Germany, 2017), a really well done drama of the early years and work of Marx and Friedrich Engels, and with Jenny Marx and Mary Burns.