WBAI-FM Upcoming Program
Arts Express

Thu, Sep 14, 2017   2:00 PM


"I'm someone who still likes to read books and hold them in my hand."

Toronto Film Festival. Ex Libris: The New York Public Library. A Conversation With Director Frederick Wiseman. Discussing the eminent veteran filmmaker's latest documentary celebrating public libraries as so much more than repositories for books. And in effect, a powerful blueprint for saving public libraries from greedy predatory urban removal real estate developers, intent on demolishing them and grabbing the land right under them - in effect libraries as community centers for the masses by default, in a society lacking them under capitalism. 

Wiseman,who just took a top prize at the Venice Film Festival, has been crafting unique, outstanding and award winning documentaries for half a century, in a lifelong exploration of subjects all over this country and around the world. And scrutinizing institutions that include high schools, the welfare system, the military, the police, the mentally ill, the Paris Opera Ballet and the National Gallery Of London.

And Ex Libris, Wiseman's 43rd film, provides a showcase for the treasure trove to be found in there. Touching on archival material not available online; historic picture files of unicorns, shoes, pickles, somebody holding an umbrella - and lots of those pictures apparently stolen by Andy Warhold. Along with distinguished library guest lecture series by, say Elvis Costello 'explaining why it's appropriate in light of her attack on working people, to be stomping on Margaret Thatcher's grave.'


NY Film Festival: The Other Side Of Hope. A look at one of the many current festival films around the world focusing on the refugee crisis. In this case, Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki's dramatic tale of an undocumented Syrian refugee surviving homelessness and white supremacy racism in 'Hell'sinki. 

Venice Film Festival: Bro On The World Film Beat: Arts Express Paris correspondent Professor Dennis Broe with his Wrap-Up Report at the Venice Film Festival - many features which will open here soon. And including topics about climate, poverty, Hamlet in the Cold War, and a tailor arriving in a refugee camp with only a sewing machine.



"What good is this paper rattling in my hand, when I'm walking down the dark stairs..."

Poetry Corner: Constance Norgren reads from her work. Summoning poetic imagery from jazz, deep summer, hoodies, refrigerator doors, corner neighborhood stores, and 'Trayvon's eyes alive in photographs only.' 

Best Of The Net Hotspot: How To Explain White Supremacy To A White Supremacist.

NY Film Festival 2017: The Other Side Of Hope (Toivon Tuolla Puolen) 

The laconically laced, Finnish spartan satire The Other Side Of Hope, is actually a tale of two earthly aspirations - or maybe not. This Aki Kaurismaki heart of darkness, occasionally daffy excursion into exile is both internal and global, as endured concurrently by an undocumented homeless Syrian refugee Khaled Ali (Sherwan Haji) dodging the authorities in Helsinki, and a midlife crisis traveling shirt salesman Wikstrom (Tommi Korpela) who drops out - with somewhat unrealistic dreams of taking over and turning a greasy spoon dive with blue plate specials like sardines still in cans, into a repeatedly, ridiculously reinvented trendy exotic fare restaurant.

Following his failed application for asylum, Ali takes up residence by Wikstrom's garbage behind his store, referring to his self-styled accommodations as 'my bedroom.' Following a fist fight between the two, Wikstrom hires Ali to do cleaning and live in the broom closet. Dropping in occasionally into the determined minimalist proceedings in what seems to pass for embellishment, are local white supremacist thugs who stalk and beat up Ali periodically; a shabby aging garage band in performance beneath a poster of Jimi Hendrix; and corporate media NATO propaganda on television inexplicably blaming the Syrian government for a litany of war crime accusations, long discredited since this movie was made.

Kaurismaki's offbeat imagination and subversive charm as a filmmmaker remain in evidence here. But that irreverent stylistic mix with serious and heart wrenching issues surrounding the current refugee crisis in Europe, lends a perplexing atmosphere to The Other Side Of Hope. And seems more like a sadly missed opportunity, to illuminate what exactly lies in that alternate parallel universe realm. 

Prairie Miller

More information about The Other Side Of Hope featured at this year's 55th NY Film Festival 2017, is online at https://www.filmlinc.org/nyff2017 

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