One of the highlights of 2007 for me was attending and participating in the Flickerings program at last year’s Cornerstone Festival. The topic was “J‑Pop!” and the program featured a number of great films and anime — Train Man: Densha Otoko, Linda, Linda, Linda, Haibane Renmei, Only Yesterday — that were all within the context of discussing otaku and Japanese pop culture. It was a fantastic time of cinema and discussion.
The man behind Flickerings — Mike Hertenstein — has just announced the line-up for this year’s Flickerings, and not surprisingly, it looks great. This year’s theme is “Balkanization: Reconciliation and Other Borderline Insanity”:
Violent fragmentation along ethnic lines has been called “Balkanization” — for good reason. The cinema of the Balkans expresses deep divisions and woundedness, often with a dark humor and psycho-punk gypsy energy. Yet giving in to the temptation to view the seemingly irreconcilable differences of the Balkans as utterly alien to ourselves requires forgetting nearly identical conflicts across the planet and throughout history. The possibility of reconciliation (as seen, for example, in South Africa) seems an urgent matter for all of us who must live with Otherness.
And the film line-up looks absolutely stellar, including:
- Pretty Village, Pretty Flame — The Apocalypse Now of the Bosnian war: childhood friends end on opposite sides in a kaleidoscopic nightmare vision of ethnic conflict.
- Four Months, Three Weeks, Two Days — Cannes-winning controversial “abortion film” but much more than that, a classic exemplar of ongoing Romanian New Wave.
- Underground — Felliniesque lunatic-tragic fever-dream history of Yugoslavia from WWII to recent Balkan wars, with frenetic psycho-punk gypsy-brass soundtrack.
- Once — Dublin busker-boy meets pretty Czech immigrant girl and together they make beautiful music: rock-n-roll romance, a very different kind of musical.
- Long Night’s Journey into Day — Documentary on work of South Africa’s post-Apartheid “Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”
- The Power of Forgiveness — From Ground Zero to Northern Ireland to the Amish Countryside, this film explores the transformative power of forgiveness.
- Persepolis — Coming-of-age story of precocious and outspoken young Iranian girl during Islamic Revolution. Animation based on graphic novel.
Hard to believe that all of this is going to be happening in a warehouse in the middle of some Illinois farmland, but it will. This year’s Cornerstone looks to be another fantastic year for cinephiles, artists, pop culture geeks, and music fans alike.