James Quandt is Senior Programmer at TIFF Cinematheque in ­Toronto and a regular contributor to Artforum. He has edited monograph volumes on Robert Bresson, Shohei Imamura, Apichatpong Weera­sethakul, and Kon Ichikawa. (June 2019)

IN THE REVIEW

Ecstatically Florid Farragoes

Mostefa Djadjam (left) as Albert and Antonio Orlando as Fernando in Werner Schroeter’s The Rose King, 1986

Days of Twilight, Nights of Frenzy: A Memoir

by Werner Schroeter with Claudia Lenssen, translated from the German by Anthea Bell

Werner Schroeter

edited by Roy Grundmann
At the 2001 Rotterdam film festival, I was ushered into the presence of the acerbic German filmmaker Werner Schroeter, whom I hoped to persuade to assist in my—futile, as it turned out—quest to secure the prints necessary to mount a retrospective of his work in Toronto. Clad in black and …

China’s Lower Depths

Cao Zonghua, a survivor of the Anxi-Shigong camp, with his wife in Wang Bing’s Dead Souls

Dead Souls

a film by Wang Bing
The literature on the Chinese documentary filmmaker Wang Bing teems with terms of immensity. He is said to make “monster films,” “films fleuves,” and films of “leviathan extremes”—phrases that attempt to measure the enormity, in both ambition and running time, of the director’s many epic investigations into his country’s traumatic …

Filmmaker by Accident

Montage: Life. Politics. Cinema.

by Mrinal Sen, with photographs by Subhash Nandy
Over almost a century, the Bengali film director Mrinal Sen has witnessed mass famine, the partition of his homeland and the ceding of his birthplace to another country, deadly street battles between Maoist guerrillas and the police, and the rise to power of right-wing nationalists in his traditionally leftist state. Sen responded to historical calamity by cultivating what he called “rough edges,” a rejection of the formal refinement and tonal subtleties of his Calcuttan compatriot and inspiration Satyajit Ray. Humane, intellectual (but, he claims, not at all erudite), religiously agnostic and politically radical, contradictorily inclined to blunt appraisal and cunning ambiguity, Sen gradually transformed from a polemicist to a poet committed to incertitude.