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Dear Cinephiles,

Welcome to the latest edition of the Directors Suite newsletter! There's an awful lot to report, so let's dispense with the banal pleasantries shall we, and kick on with the news?

VALE, TURA SATANA

Satana

She of the voluptuous physique, flowing black locks and arse-kicking martial arts moves, the fabulous Tura Satana, passed away on February 4th in Reno, Nevada.

Born in Hokkaido, Japan, in 1938, Satana's father was a silent movie actor of Japanese and Filipino descent, while her mother was a circus performer whose ethnic origin was Native American, Scottish and Irish. Once the Second World War had ended, the family moved to the USA and - after a stint in a Californian internment camp - made their home in Chicago. Satana suffered a multitude of injustices and gross indecencies before the age of 13, including racism, rape and arranged marriage. But in spite of - or perhaps because of - these indecencies, Satana's resilience and determination saw her rise up in the face of adversity, and she learnt martial arts in order to exact revenge upon her rapists. Some 15 years later, she finally managed to achieve her goal. From the age of 13, Satana worked as a model, blues singer and finally as an exotic dancer, a profession which made Hollywood sit up and take notice.

In the early stages of her career, Satana was cast in television shows such as BURKE'S LAW, THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH and THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. In 1967, she had a cameo in her very first motion picture, playing a Parisian prostitute in IRMA LA DOUCE (opposite Shirley Maclaine and Jack Lemmon) and her ample assets and unique look obviously impressed Russ Meyer, who promptly cast her as the leader of his gang of arse-kicking go-go dancers in FASTER PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! It was a seminal performance in a film which would become a cult classic, with audiences and critics alike praising Satana's performance for its strength and energy, and for the way in which she managed to overcome the film's sexism, becoming something of a feminist icon.

In spite of surviving - in fact, triumphing in! - her difficult life, Tura Satana's heart eventually gave out, leaving the film world wanting of a sexy, talented, tough-as-nails heroine who would as soon kill you as kiss you...

BIGPOND ADELAIDE FILM FESTIVAL 24th Feb-6th March

ADELAIDE FILM FESTIVAL

The pride of South Australia is, in fact, not the mighty Adelaide Crows, but the Bigpond Adelaide Film Festival! Taking place over ten fun-filled days in the city of churches, this biennial event is one of the most highly-anticipated events in the cinephile's cultural calendar. So terrific is the festival, in fact, that Margaret Pomeranz named it "the most important cultural event to do with cinema in Australia" and Variety deemed it one of the Top 50 Unmissable Film Festivals in the world. 

This year, BAFF is boasting a bursting program full to the brim with world premieres, food and film duos, gala screenings and fun free events. Among the delights of the BAFF is the World Premiere of uber talented up-and-comer Justin Kurzel, who brings the dark SNOWTOWN to the screen with quiet menace. Likened to the films of the Dardenne brothers and featuring a cast of first-time actors, SNOWTOWN is a stark study of human nature which is as brutal as it is beautifully controlled.

Based on a true story, MEEK'S CUTOFF is the latest offering from indie darling Kelly Reichardt (WENDY AND LUCY) which stars her muse Michelle Williams in another stunning performance. Set in 1845 in the Oregon desert, MEEK'S CUTOFF follows a group of settlers who gradually find themselves stranded in increasingly harsh conditions, and stars - alongside Ms Williams - Paul Dano (THERE WILL BE BLOOD), Bruce Greenwood (BARNEY'S VERSION, CAPOTE) and Zoe Kazan (ME AND ORSON WELLES). Filmed on a shoestring budget with a skeleton crew, Reichardt's iconoclastic vision and knack for creating understated tension come to the fore in this minimalist western.

But if you prefer seeing films with the perfume of Oscar®-nominations and Berlin Film Festival awards hanging around them, perhaps you'd be more interested in checking out THE ILLUSIONIST, which was penned by none other than Jacques Tati? Or you might want to witness why Javier Bardem was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu's BIUTIFUL? Or you might want to see another Best Foreign Language Film Oscar® nominee, Algeria's OUTSIDE THE LAW? And hey, there's always the option of letting last year's Golden Berlin Bear winner, HONEY, wash over you with its quiet charm. The possibilities are endless.

So endless are the film screening options at the BAFF, in fact, that they extend to Norwegian horror/comedy (THE TROLL HUNTER), hipster cool-kid love triangles (HEARTBEATS), Kiarostami-helmed romantic philosophising (CERTIFIED COPY), classic silent films (Kenji Mizoguchi's THE WATER MAGICIAN) and insightful docos featuring one of fashion's front runners (BILL CUNNINGHAM: NEW YORK).

You know what? Just do it all, Adelaide - it only happens every two years, and sleep is for the weak.

SYDNEY AND MELBOURNE! WIN AN EVENING WITH THE VISION OF KENJI MIZOGUCHI!

WIN AN EVENING WITH THE VISION OF KENJI MIZOGUCHI!

Melbourne and Sydney cinephiles - if the above teaser about Kenji Mizoguchi's THE WATER MAGICIAN got you all steamed up with rage that you will not be in Adelaide during the festival, you're in luck!

In early March at Melbourne's ACMI and the Sydney Opera House, audiences will have the opportunity to see Kenji Mizoguchi's breathtaking silent film THE WATER MAGICIAN, which will be complimented by a live benshi performance**.

To celebrate this rare event, we have two double passes for the Melbourne screening on March 5th and the Sydney screening on March 6th to giveaway. Lucky winners will also receive a six-DVD pack of films by Kenji Mizoguchi, comprised of HER MOTHER'S PROFESSION, SANSHO THE BAILIFF, STREET OF SHAME, THE CRUCIFIED LOVERS, THE EMPRESS YANG KWEI FEI and THE LOYAL 47 RONIN, valued at over $200.

To win one of these stunning prizes, Enter the competition and tell us in 25 words or fewer why Mizoguchi's films have stood the test of time. But remember - you either need to be a Melbourne or Sydney resident, or be prepared to give the tickets to someone who is while keeping the DVDs for yourself!

SYDNEY-SIDERS: TICKET GIVEAWAY TO SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE'S JACK JOHNSON TRIBUTE!

Miles Davis

No, not the mellow surfie-come-folk rocker, but the boxing champ, who is captured in all his upper-cutting, left-hooking glory in Jim Jacobs' 1971 doco. In celebration of the athlete, who was the very first African-American world heavyweight boxing champion (a title he held from 1908-1915), the Sydney Opera House is combining a screening of Jacobs' Oscar®-nominated documentary with a live performance of the film's soundtrack by jazz musician Jack DeJohnette. If that's not enough, you should also know that the soundtrack was composed by none other than Miles Davis. 

Three legends, a classic film and raw funky beats - One night only. Interested? Check it out here. Oh, and we have a double pass to giveaway as well! For your chance to win, go here.

BERLINALE Feb 10th - 20th, 2011

BERLINALE

With an international jury headed up by Isabella Rossellini (daughter of the amazing Roberto Rossellini and his JOURNEY IN ITALY star Ingrid Bergman) and comprised of Jan Chapman (Producer of such films as Jane Campion's THE PIANO and Ray Lawrence's LANTANA), Nina Hoss (star of YELLA and THE WHITE MASAI), Guy Maddin (MY WINNIPEG) and more, the In Competition section of this year's Berlin International Film Festival is in very capable hands. Several months ago, after Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi accepted his invitation to appear on the International Jury, he was sentenced to 6 years in jail and banned from filmmaking for 20 years. The Berlinale has held his place on the International Jury in order to show their support for his struggles. So what of the pool of films this prestigious jury will judge?

Of the 16 films competing for the Golden Berlin Bear, very few are helmed by well-known directors, and it is this discovery of new talent (such as last year's Golden Berlin Bear winner, Semih Kaplanoglu's HONEY) which is one of the really exciting features of the Berlin Film Festival. While Ralph Fiennes is undoubtedly a well-known actor, it is his first film as director, CORIOLANUS, which will be screening in competition. Joining Mr. Fiennes in the competition is the relatively famous Miranda July (YOU AND ME AND EVERYONE WE KNOW) with her sophomore feature, THE FUTURE. Béla Tarr will also be gracing the Competition section with his latest THE TURIN HOUSE. But apart from those familiar names, the competition section features the exciting - and relatively new - voices of South Korea's Yoon-ki Lee with COME RAIN, COME SHINE, Ulrich Köhler with SCHLAFKRANKHEIT and Rodrigo Moreno with UN MUNDO MISTERIOSO (A MYSTERIOUS WORLD).

Awards of the Berlinale were announced on February 20th, with the prizes being doled out to a diverse group of happy recipients. Winner of the Silver Bear for Best Director for 2009's ABOUT ELLY, this time Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi took home the Golden Berlin Bear for his drama NADER AND SIMIN, A SEPARATION. Upon receiving his Golden Berlin Bear, Farhadi took the time to think of his colleague and countryman Jafar Panahi, to whom he dedicated his award. NADER AND SIMIN was also honoured in the acting categories, with the three actresses Sareh Bayat, Sarina Farhadi and Leila Hatami receiving the Silver Bear for Best Actress and the three lead actors Peyman Moadi, Ali Asghar Shahbazi and Babak Karimi winning the Silver Bear for Best Actor. Veteran director Béla Tarr won the Jury Grand Prize Silver Bear, while Ulrich Köhler walked away with the Silver Bear for Best Director for SCHLAFKRANKHEIT. Congratulations to all the winners!

BAFTAS: DONE AND DUSTED

The BAFTAs were doled out on February 13th in London, amid the pouring rain and - according to The Guardian's Xan Brooks - a busker's rendition of Hotel California. So who won, hmmm?

Unsurprisingly, THE KING'S SPEECH took out seven awards on the evening, pocketing Best British Film, Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress for Helena Bonham Carter, Best Supporting Actor for Geoffrey Rush, Best Actor for Colin Firth and Best Film. The swag of BAFTAs won by THE KING'S SPEECH is certainly a good start ahead of the Oscars® at the end of the month, where the film is up for 12 gongs. Other big winners on the night include David Fincher's Best Director award for THE SOCIAL NETWORK, Natalie Portman's triumph for BLACK SWAN and the Best Cinematography award, which went to TRUE GRIT. Oh, and it would be poor form to neglect to mention Tom Hardy (BRONSON), who nabbed Orange Wednesday's Rising Star Award. While "Rising Star" seems a bit strange for an actor whose star has been consistently rising since gracing our screens in 2001's BLACK HAWK DOWN, he is nonetheless a deserving winner.

TIME OUT'S TOP 100 BRITISH FILMS OF ALL TIME

THIS IS ENGLAND...'s list of best movies!

Speaking of Britain, Time Out recently revealed their list of the Top 100 British Films of All Time - and there was not a stammering monarch nor a bespectacled wizard among them - go figure! Some of our particular favourites were 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE, which squeaked in at number 94 on the list; Shane Meadows' THIS IS ENGLAND, which was number 88 (and which is getting a small screen revisiting soon!) and Jules Dassin's NIGHT AND THE CITY at number 87. Nicolas Roeg's Australian-set WALKABOUT was number 61, where the Ealing drama WENT THE DAY WELL?, which is based on the story by Graeme Greene, eclipsed it by nearly 30 places, getting in at number 38. Also down the pointy end  of the list were a few early Hitchcocks, with THE LADY VANISHES reaching number 31 and THE 39 STEPS number 13, and the terrific films of Powell and Pressburger, I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING! And A CANTERBURY TALE, which featured on the list at numbers 26 and 17 respectively. An interesting and diverse list to celebrate a fabulous National Cinema!

Directors Suite Alexander Strang & Philippa Lamb
Directors Suite
TOP TEN: Anti-Oscars

With the Oscars® just a few heart-thumping, designer-dress-borrowing, botox-inducing days away, we here at Directors Suite are becoming slightly... cynical. Sure, the Oscars® are a fabulous excuse to gawk at sparkly celebrities and promote films (who doesn't love doing that), but it really is a nauseatingly self-appreciating endeavour, isn't it? In this month's Top Ten, we decided to celebrate the triumphs of the most obscure, mental and bizarre films in the Directors Suite catalogue, to revel in their pure anti-Oscars® anarchy. How many have you seen?

10.

MY WINNIPEG
Guy Maddin's iconoclastic ode to his North Canadian homeland is a bizarre and wondrous experiment. But of course experiments are not often rewarded at the Oscars® now, are they?

9.

WORKINGMAN'S DEATH
Another tough one for the Academy® to swallow, no doubt, was Michael Glawogger's meditation on the nature of real work - all those Hollywood executives probably felt quite guilty complaining about their hectic working lives when faced with the day-to-day realities of Nigerian slaughterhouse workers...

8.

UP!
Ahhh, Russ Meyer - your genius was never quite accepted in Hollywood now was it? Garish, gratuitous, and littered with G-cups, Meyer's films were trashy and exploitative, but they sure weren't dull. Take that, THE ENGLISH PATIENT!

Oh Russ: you were never quite taken seriously as an artist, were you?

7.

AN ACTOR'S REVENGE
This multi-genre hybrid of broad comedy to documentary to kabuki is made all the more fascinating thanks to the inclusion of modern jazz on the soundtrack. Sounds a little whacky for our mates at the Oscars®, don't you think?

6

F FOR FAKE
Poor old Orson Welles: in 1942 he was the darling of the Academy®, winning an Oscar® for Best Writing and being nominated for two more for his debut, CITIZEN KANE. Fast-forward to 1973 and his wonderful mockumentary about fakery and trickery, F FOR FAKE, manages only to win a gong at the Sant Jordi Awards. Still, at least he has voice acting in the TRANSFORMERS movie to look forward to...

5.

YES
Here we have a film starring Joan Allen ('yes', I hear you say, 'and where's the Oscars controversy in that?') co-starring a little-known European actor ('So?!' you cry, 'have you never heard of the Cinderella story that was Roberto Benigni's Oscars® triumph??') directed by an award-winning British filmmaker ('where is this going?')...and told almost entirely in iambic pentameter. ('Oh.').

It?s visual poetry as well as actual: Sally Potter?s very gorgeous YES

4.

INLAND EMPIRE
Lynch you nutty character - for one so synonymous with American indie filmmaking, you haven't exactly courted the Academy® have you? I mean, four nominations is certainly no mean feat, but your latest, INLAND EMPIRE, was certainly not going to get you an Oscar® - it is 180 minutes of pure crazy. But it's fabulous, well done you.

3.

YOU, THE LIVING
Roy Andersson's delightfully insane YOU, THE LIVING is an artistic triumph. In the words of David Stratton, "you could almost take every image from the film and hang it on the wall." But for the Oscars®? Well, it's insane. I don't think they'd like it.

The Academy does not condone doggy-torture. Unless it's about dog-fighting.

2.

THE POWER OF EMOTION
Politics, experimentation, irreverence. THE POWER OF EMOTION was released in 1983 - the year that TERMS OF ENDEARMENT won Best Picture at the Oscars®. Kluge never stood a chance.

1.

LE GAI SAVOIR
Godard himself has never been a great fan of the self-congratulating of Hollywood, but when he refused to attend the Governor's Awards last year to receive his Honorary Oscar®, his disdain for the Academy® became all the more apparent. It's a tough call, but I'd have to say that his least Oscar®-friendly film is LE GAI SAVOIR: an esoteric 'essay film' which offers meditations on the methods and realities of knowledge. A fascinating study, and honestly one of the least commercial films I have ever seen.

Juliet Berto. Jean-Pierre L?aud. A black studio. Godard, start your pontificating.

Film of the Month
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THE 39 STEPS

In her first film of Alfred Hitchcock's (the second of which would be 1936's SECRET AGENT), Madeleine Carroll shines as the archetypal "Hitchcock blonde" - a cool, glib and salty female heroine whose ballast and beauty help the male protagonist (in this case played by Robert Donat) in his endeavours.

Richard Hannay meets the mysterious Annabella after a music hall mellée. She begs Hannay for help, insinuating dark forces at work, and he agrees to shelter her at his London digs; but when she is murdered in the dark of night, he is squarely in the frame.  Fleeing to Scotland, Hannay finds himself chased by both police and enemy agents, and on the lam with icy blonde Pamela. Desperate to clear his name, he must keep one step ahead of his pursuers and discover what on earth the 39 Steps are...

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Meanwhile at DS
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THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH

Made during Hitchcock's prolific British period, THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH is a taut, stylish, edge-of-your-seat thriller from the unrivalled Master of the genre.

While holidaying in Switzerland with their daughter, Betty, Bob and Jill Lawrence befriend a dashing Frenchman by the name of Louis. Jill and Louis hit it off immediately, teasing poor Bob with their good-natured flirting. But when Louis is shot in the middle of the dance floor, with his dying breath he informs Jill of a plot he's discovered to assassinate a French statesman, instructing her to go to the authorities with the evidence he hid in his shaving brush. But just as they are about to inform the British consul, they discover that their beloved daughter, Betty, has been kidnapped by thugs who wish to keep them silent...What will the plucky British pair do?

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From The Collection
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PYGMALION

While we're revelling in the glory of British cinema, I thought it appropriate to revisit Dame Wendy Hiller's plucky Eliza Doolittle, the leading lady of Anthony Asquith's PYGMALION. The film received an Oscar® back in 1939, and was nominated for three others, so it's doubly appropriate to mention it in this newsletter - ahh, I love it when a plan comes together!

After the lovely but low-class flower-seller Eliza Doolittle (Dame Wendy Hiller in her star-making role) meets Professor Henry Higgins (Leslie Howard) her life changes forever. Having wagered his friend Colonel Pickering that he can change the cockney-accented street urchin into a proper lady of society, the pompous Higgins begins a series of lessons on elocution, posture and grooming, treating the young Eliza like a laboratory rat in his grand social experiment. But will it be too late before he realises that she is a woman, too?

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From The Collection

Three more British classics to set your pulse racing...

Coming Soon

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