Political Film Society - Newsletter #303 - March 1, 2008

March 1, 2008


When polls closed on March 1, 2008, Amazing Grace was the biggest recipient of Political Film Society awards, having won best film of 2007 on democracy and best film on human rights.

The winners are--

Best Film on Democracy: Amazing Grace
(director Michael Apted)
Best Film Exposé: American Gangster
(director, Ridley Scott)
Best Film on Human Rights: Amazing Grace
(director, Michael Apted)
Best Film on Peace: O Jerusalem
(director, Elie Chouraqui)

Summer PalaceDirected by Lou Ye, Summer Palace (Yihe Yuan) views modern China from the perspective of college students, who are adrift amid the new capitalist society. No longer controlled by family or the state, Hu Hong (played by Lei Hao) leaves her boyfriend Xiao Jun (played by Lin Cui) in Tumen to study at Beijing University, where she is courted by Zhou Wei (played by Guo Xiaodong) but finds no purpose in life other than in passionate sex, brief participation in the uprising and suppression of the Tiananmen Square incident of 1989, whereupon Xiao Jun comes to rescue and marry her. The film also follows disillusioned Zhou Wei to Berlin after the suppression, where he also feels an anomie that leads to a suicide by his girlfriend and former classmate Li Ti (played by Ling Hu). Nude men with extraordinary passionate sex drives dominate the screen in more than a dozen conquests, while Hu Hong’s voiceovers convey the mental anguish of young people unable to cope with their freedoms. MH


Vantage PointWhen Vantage Point begins, President Ashton (played by William Hurt) is assassinated in a public square in Salamanca, Spain, or so it seems. After a few rewinds of tapes of the event, director Pete Travis appears to promise a Rashomon (1950) whodunit, the film is mostly a few chase scenes that converge as a van carrying the real President swerves to avoid hitting a young girl. Viewers may count the number of autos crashed and persons gunned down if they want, but the political insights provided in the general release thriller are that presidents sometimes use doubles for public events, and that a wise president will resist the temptation to call for an immediate airstrike of terrorists who might or might not be responsible. President Ashton, in other words, is more mindful of the strength given to terrorists when the United States mindlessly reins down bombs in an Arab-speaking friendly country. MH

The CounterfeitersThe German film The Counterfeiters (Die Fälscher) reveals a true story about Jewish prisoners of the Nazis who were recruited from the death camps to make counterfeit British and American currency. Under the direction of Salomen Sorowitsch (played by Karl Markovics), they are successful with the pound and make four times the worldwide reserves of the currency. Germany was broke, so counterfeiting was increasing the probability of victory for the Nazis. Accordingly, coworkers Adolf Burger (played by August Diehl) urges a delay in counterfeiting the American dollar. The suspense of the film, directed by Stefan Rusowitzsky, is over the delay, so the German commandant Friedrich Herzog (played by Devid Striesow) pressures the Jews in various ways. The Political Film Society has nominated The Counterfeiters as best film exposé of 2008. MH