Icarus Films has turned its attention to the post-Labor Day period with two new foreign-language imports that will be available on DVD during the month of September.
Up first on Sept. 5 is documentary filmmaker Tiffany Hsiung’s The Apology, the award-winning look at the story of “comfort women” used by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.
Wisely, Hsiung avoids trying to report on the tens of thousands of young women who were made sex slaves during the war, and instead focuses on the personal stories of three of these women. In a sense the clock is ticking and time is running short on sharing the events, the shame and the terror that they’ve kept to themselves throughout the years that followed the war. Hsiung recognized this and has devoted the time and energy to document what happened.
Referred to as Grandma Gil (South Korean), Grandma Adela (The Philippines) and Grandma Cao (China), they have sought in vein to receive a formal apology from the Japanese government (itself too ashamed to admit publicly what was done). To move that forward, Hsiung filmed each in turn, who share their experiences; to document for all time this sordid page from the nearly forgotten history of the war.
Bit by bit, fragments of memories, a piece here, a remembrance there … the horror of it all comes together … we learn with Tiffany Hsiung as she learns, through trust and contact with each of the women what they went through. It is in that learning process that film achieves its greatest strength.
The Apology is presented in Korean, Tagalog, Mandarin, Japanese and English, with English subtitles.
Brazilian documentary filmmaker Eryk Rocha takes a look at Cinema Novo film movement — a South American equivalent to the French New Wave — in his film of the same name, Cinema Novo. Icarus Films has tabbed Sept. 19 for the DVD rollout.
Beginning in the 1960s there was a movement among certain filmmakers — such as Glauber Rocha (Rocha’s father and acknowledged founder of the movement), Joaquim Pedro de Andrade and Carlos Diegues — who wanted to be more expressive in the subjects, especially politically, that were being produced, which ran counter to the mainstream, which produced mainly musicals and variety films … and Hollywood-styled cookie cutter productions.
The film opened at Cannes last year and won the Golden Eye for Best Documentary, worked the international film festival circuit and is slated for a limited arthouse run in August.
For students of film — who are often very familiar with the French New Wave — Cinema Novo should be considered must-see viewing.
The DVD release on Sept. 19 gives them, and the rest of us, the opportunity to explore this unique side street of filmmaking history.
Cinema Novo is presented in Portuguese with English subtitles.