PRINT December 2012

Film: Best of 2012

Susan Oxtoby

Heinz Emigholz, Perret in France and Algeria, 2012, digital video, color, sound, 110 minutes.

1 Napoleon (Abel Gance) Gance’s 1927 silent epic Napoleon, restored by Kevin Brownlow, was presented by the San Francisco Silent Film Festival to capacity crowds at Oakland’s splendorous Paramount Theatre this past Spring. Carl Davis con- ducted the Oakland East Bay Symphony in the North American premiere of his magnificent score, ensuring that this would be the cinematic experience of the year.

2 Perret in France and Algeria (Heinz Emigholz) This gloriously controlled study of the work of French architect Auguste Perret uses cinema to reveal architectural space and the effects of time on buildings.

3 Amour (Michael Haneke) Haneke’s inspired direction and exceptional performances by Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva make Amour a powerful and meaningful expression of mortality.

4 The Last Time I Saw Macao (João Pedro Rodrigues and João Rui Guerra da Mata) A fascinating blend of emotion, mystery, location shooting, and refined compositional structure, The Last Time I Saw Macao is a rare work of poetic inspiration.

Lewis Klahr, The Pettifogger, 2011, digital video, color, sound, 75 minutes.

5 The Pettifogger (Lewis Klahr) Using his well-honed skills as a collage artist, Klahr delves into Americana circa 1963 in a bold experiment with open-ended narrative structure, utilizing composite image constructions and an evocative sound track.

6 It’s the Earth Not the Moon (Gonçalo Tocha) Shot on Corvo in the Azores, this three-hour portrait of the windswept island and its inhabitants is a world in a microcosm, a work whose lasting charm owes in large measure to the dedication of its maker.

7 View from the Acropolis (Lonnie van Brummelen and Siebren de Haan) Filmed at the Turkish site of the Pergamon, this wordless, haunting visual study raises questions of cultural patrimony—the site’s architectural treasures are, of course, housed at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin—in an oblique yet aptly resonant manner.

8 August and After (Nathaniel Dorsky) Skillfully lensed in 16 mm and dedicated to George Kuchar and Carla Liss, both of whom recently passed away, August and After reveals a tenderness of spirit, maturity, and engagement with the natural world.

9 Here and There (Antonio Méndez Esparza) Shot on location in Guerrero, Mexico, with a cast of largely nonprofessional actors, this quiet and lyrical family drama rings with authenticity.

10 Lines of Wellington (Valeria Sarmiento) Sarmiento’s brilliant direction of Raúl Ruiz’s (her late husband’s) final project is an intimate historical drama set in Portugal during the Napoleonic Wars.

Susan Oxtoby, senior film curator at the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, serves on the National Film Preservation Board, an advisory committee for the Library of Congress. She is currently working on a historical survey of Georgian Cinema.