Welcome to the final issue of Senses of Cinema for 2016. From Jerry Lewis to American Extreme cinema, Twin Peaks to British Experimental filmmaking, and Abel Ferrara to Jacques Rivette, the spotlights we have placed on a range of filmmaking practices, figures and contexts has been diverse this year. We continue this broad consideration of cinema’s historical and contemporary scope in this issue with two strikingly different dossiers, one on a fascinating aspect of Australian women’s filmmaking and a dossier celebrating the work of the late Abbas Kiarostami who passed away in July this year. Kiarostami has been one of the most important filmmakers for Senses of Cinema since our founding in 1999, and he was a regular focus of discussion in our formative years, with no less than three dossiers dedicated to his work between 2000 and 2003. Our dossier in the current issue includes both new texts by André Habib, Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa, Shabnam Piryaei and Negar Mottahedeh reflecting on Kiarostami’s life and work from the standpoint of his recent death, as well as a selection of work on the Iranian published by Senses in earlier years.
In the dossier “Beyond The Babadook: Australian Women’s Filmmaking and the Dark Fantastic”, we seek to bring attention to a range of films that should in our opinion be just as internationally renowned and celebrated as Jennifer Kent’s blockbuster 2014 horror film. Kate Robertson explores Australian artist Tracey Moffatt’s supernatural anthology film beDevil (1993), Michelle J. Smith considers Rosemary Myers’ feminist fairy tale Girl Asleep (2015), and Donna McRae investigates Ursula Dabrowsky’s take on the Final Girl figure in her 2014 film, Inner Demon. In two separate pieces, Craig Martin shines light on Ann Turner’s remarkable 1988 film Celia with an in-depth article about the film’s relation to childhood, family, trauma and genre, and a wide-ranging interview with Turner herself. Finally, filmmakers Isabel Peppard, Heidi Lee Douglas and Donna McRae – whose work in different ways engages with genre – participate in a roundtable discussion about their experiences as Australian women filmmakers who work in a range of diverse ways with elements of the horror genre. They discuss the impact of Kent’s The Babadook on the local industry, and their engagement with a network of Australian women filmmakers interested in genre cinema, culminating in part around Hobart’s Stranger With My Face International Film Festival. While obviously not all Australian women filmmakers are engaging with material that falls under this loose ‘dark fantastic’ generic umbrella, it is notable that these particularly strong examples from the last thirty years share a fascination with the creative and thematic possibilities this realm has afforded them. Although not exhaustive, this dossier seeks to play a small role in bringing attention to a number of films that may not be immediately recognisable to audiences both within Australia itself and internationally.
In tandem with this dossier, in our features section Anne Marsh provides an introduction to some recent works by Australian women artists who use video in their work in significant ways including Catherine Bell, Nasim Nasr, Eugenia Raskopoulous, Simone Hine, Fiona McGregor and AñA Wojak. Peter Verstraten considers the latest movie by the provocative Dutch filmmaker Paul Verhoeven Elle – starring French cinema icon Isabelle Huppert – through the film’s engagement with Jean Renoir’s classic 1939 film The Rules of the Game. Chari Larsson explores László Nemes’s unparalleled Son of Saul (2015) set during World War II at the Auschwitz concentration camp in reference to the director’s oft-cited engagement with the work of French philosopher Georges Didi-Huberman.
Gerard Corvin talks to the iconic British actress Glenda Jackson about her extraordinary film career, Rowan Righelato examines the role of paternalism in the films of Danish actor Viggo Mortensen, and Wheeler Winston Dixon revisits Don Sharp’s 1971 cult favourite Psychomania in lieu of the recent restoration by the BFI. On the theme of the Psycho, this issue also includes Part II of Hitchcock specialist Ken Mogg’s article “Shock, Horror, Spirit: Hitchcock’s Psycho”. Finally, Lorenzo Fabbri explores Emanuele Crialese’s postcolonial cinema and its atavistic rendition of Southern Italy.
For our Great Directors archive David Melville contributes a profile on prolific Mexican director Roberto Gavaldón, and Jeremy Carr profiles one of Hollywood’s greatest, Elia Kazan.
And we provide reports on many of the big “fall festivals” including Busan, Toronto, London and Melbourne, as well as DOK Leipzig, Spain’s Curtocircuito and Sydney Underground.
The end of 2016 also means that the much anticipated Senses of Cinema World Poll is well on the way. We are collecting a global snapshot of the year in film from filmmakers and festival directors, writers and critics, academics, cinephiles and everyone in between. Every year the World Poll makes for fascinating reading and truly showcases the breadth and diversity of cinema, and the ways we have engaged with it throughout the year. Look for the poll in our special January 2017 issue and get ready to add a whole slew of films to your watchlist.
Finally, this is also the first issue that the editorial team are joined by our newest member, Dr Mark Freeman. A cinephile and academic with a wide knowledge of and passion for cinema, his insight and enthusiasm is a vital addition to the journal, and we are thrilled to welcome him on board.
– the editors