Fresh from the lands of the Kulin Nations, welcome to Issue 105 of Senses of Cinema! Guest editor Xiang Fan has curated a dossier on Cinema and Piracy that honours the diversity of filmgoing experiences across a broad spectrum of geo-political contexts. In lieu of the binaries between property and ownership that normally frame these debates, what emerges is a critical reading of power in the seventh art. As Fan writes, “This dossier is dedicated to the heterogeneous piracy practices that are integral to an alternative film culture.”

Our Features include Santasil Malik’s reflections on how the extraordinary Ukrainian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa relies on the audience to complete the sense of his beautiful and melancholic early short documentaries. Moving west, to the Bavarian woods where Saralisa Volm’s The Silent Forest is set, Peter Verstraten studies how the literally buried German memory becomes ominous as the filmmaker aesthetical quest negotiates the mixed influences of David Lynch and her own German tradition. Finally, Thomas Austin uses the idea of “white voice”, a key component of Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You, to follow the Renaissance-like spirit of the author’s reflections of race and Neoliberal exploitation, and maybe even to the possibility of revolution.  

We’re bringing you nuanced and insightful Interviews with filmmakers whose films garnered significant praise at the 2023 Berlinale: independent American filmmaker Dustin Guy Defa’s The Adults, Belgium’s Bas Devo’s award-winning Here, Mexican’s Tatiana Huezo’s El Eco and the Chinese duo Huang Ji and Ryûji Otsuka’s Stonewallling. In the nonfiction sphere, Hamed Sarrafi conducts a detailed and comprehensive interview with filmmaker Alexandre O. Philippe and there is a concise chat with Japanese filmmaker Hyûga Fumiari about I Am A Comedian, which profiles stand-up comedian Daisuke Muramoto, an outspoken critic of Japanese culture and society.  

The Great Director series features two directors who epitomise mastering their craft: the Australian Bruce Beresford and the British John Lee Thompson. Both directors moved across genres and decades, flirting with Hollywood moviemaking with mixed results. Beresford and Thompson are a different breed of directors, masters of the cinematic medium who were able to laboriously create a style of their own while responding to commercial and industrial demands. Our Great Actors series features a true Hollywood icon: Humphrey Bogart. Bogart wasn’t classically trained or the stereotypical Hollywood heartthrob of the time, but nevertheless holds a unique place in Hollywood’s pantheon as a rugged star. 

2023 has already proved powerful for cinema-going around the globe with a full roster of physical film festivals taking place following Covid’s various hybrid and mixed format interim festivals from the past two-three years. Madeleine Collier, who participated in the IFFR young critics’ program this year, reports from Rotterdam while section editor Tara Judah contemplates the festival’s ninth edition of Critics’ Choice, conceived of and run by Dutch critics Dana Linssen and Jan Pieter Ekker. Bérénice Reynaud reports on the hybridity and transgressive heroes in the spotlight at Sundance while former editor at Senses Daniel Fairfax delves into the sweet and sour elements of festival-going at the Berlinale. Also covered in this issue are CPH:DOX, GoEast, Punto de Vista and, in a first for the journal, Créteil International Women’s Film Festival. A mere taster of international determination to whip the industry back into shape, there are even more reports that this brimming issue couldn’t quite contain, including a look at the Berlinale Critic’s Week and the Hong Kong Film Festival which, along with many others, will be in the following edition. Festivals are back with a bang and our international team of cinephiles are stoked.

Closing our issue with Book Reviews, Holly Willis analyses five (!) publications between 2016 and 2022 that reassess, discuss or develop the arguments of the now undoubtedly classic The Monstrous Feminine by Barbara Creed. Philosopher Matthew Strohl’s Why It’s OK to Love Bad is examined by journalist Sam Woolfe, who follows the formers’ ideas on the relevance of important movies. This questions the central idea of quality, and why those films are key to many people’s cinematic experiences.

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