The great Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira (who died earlier this year at 106) had, to understate it, a unique career. “Visit, or Memories and Confessions” which will be shown in NYFF53’s Revivals section on Sunday, October 4 at 12:00 pm was made in 1982, but de Oliveira stated that public screenings weren’t to be held until after his death. Surely at 77, he didn’t expect to live another 33 years or to make more than 25 additional films, many of them masterpieces.
In this extremely personal work, de Oliveira welcomes the viewer into his longtime home in Porto, which he is preparing to leave because of financial difficulties. Speaking directly to the audience, he discusses matters of importance–his family (and shows home movies), cinema, architecture, politics. The film, beautiful and moving, intended as a summing up, unexpectedly became more of a prologue.
Ousmane Sembene (1923-2007), the great Senegalese director, called the father of African cinema, is represented by “Black Girl” (1965), his fine first feature, luminously shot in black and white. Newly restored by The Film Foundation, the film is also included in the Revivals section and will screen on Tuesday, October 6 at 8:30 pm.
Diouana (Mbissine Thérèse Diop), a lovely and aspiring young Senegalese woman, eagerly accepts a job in the south of France as a governess and housekeeper for a young French couple (known only as Monsieur and Madame) with three young children. But her situation in a household with palpable tension soon becomes one of menial tasks, crushing routine and a lack of respect. Her hope for a better life at best derailed, Diouana struggles with isolation and despair. The search for the basic human rights of racial and economic justice is (distressingly) as timely today as when “Black Girl” was made.
Master filmmaker Frederick Wiseman’s latest, “In Jackson Heights” (2015), his 40th feature documentary, will be shown in NYFF53’s Spotlight in Documentary section on Sunday, October 4 at 6:00 pm (with Wiseman in person). The film is a giant, vibrant portrait of one of the most diverse neighborhoods in New York City (and the world)–an area not exempt from real estate pressures–with one perfect segment following another. And like all of Wiseman’s work, “In Jackson Height” is great, great, great.