Trailblazing classics full of love and anarchy. The first section of its kind in the history of the festival.

During the opening scenes of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – writer/director Stephan Elliott’s bright, glitzy and fabulously queer road movie that made a mighty splash when it arrived in cinemas in 1994 – two drag queens discuss travelling interstate for a cabaret show. Mitzi (Hugo Weaving) pitches the idea to venture to Alice Springs to Bernadette (Terence Stamp), a tart-tongued trans woman with a sense of humour as dry […] as a dead dingo’s donger. “That’s just what his country needs,” Bernadette scoffs. “A cock in a frock on a rock.” And, actually, that was just what the country needed: an intelligent and entertaining Australian film that embraces LGBT culture without turning a quintessentially personal story into an exercise in outrage-pedalling and button-pushing. […] It would have been an obvious choice for Elliot to focus on the outrage of shocked observers as the queens do their
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Contempt (1963)

Radiant, ambiguous, serenely perverse. […] Maybe we need [Le mépris] because it’s one of the few movies of the anxious past half-century that seems equally at home with history and modernity. It might once have looked conventional, but its audacity, we now see, is breathtaking. The world of [Le mépris] is epic in a new way: a world growing in harmony, not opposition, with artifice. Terrence Rafferty, The New York Times Godard is a prose-poet of contempt [mépris]. He has contempt for postwar imperialism, for the hypocrisy of sexual relations, and even for the commerce underlying modern cinema. The movie is adapted from Alberto Moravia’s 1954 novel […]. Jack Palance plays Prokosch, an American producer who hires Paul (Michel Piccoli) to write a screen adaptation of The Odyssey. Paul is pressured to commercialise the project, taking away from the purely artistic values envisioned by the director (Fritz Lang, playing himself).
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Daughters of the Dust is an African American family heirloom, a gorgeously impressionistic history of the Gullah people set on the South Carolina Sea Islands at the turn of the century. In the hands of director Julie Dash and photographer Arthur Jafa, this nonlinear film becomes visual poetry, a wedding of imagery and rhythm that connects oral tradition with the music video. It is an astonishing, vivid portrait not only of a time and place, but of an era’s spirit. The story focuses primarily on the women of the extended Peazant family of luxuriant Ibo Landing, a black community descended from the slaves who worked the indigo, rice and cotton plantations before emancipation. Isolated from the mainland, the Peazants have preserved many of the traditions, beliefs and language of their West African ancestors. All that stands to be lost, however, as the Gullah clan prepares to migrate from this paradise
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Newlyweds Eva (Hedy Lamarr) and Emile (Zvonimir Rogoz) return to their bourgeois apartment on their wedding night. Yet, instead of passion, pornography, or romance, Czech film director Gustav Machatý gives us a scene of nearly comic domestic ennui. […]. Eva is beseeching, Emile disinterested, and the spectator is led to sympathize with the neglected bride. She is played by Hedy Lamarr, later known as Hollywood’s most beautiful woman. […] And indeed, Machaty’s 1932 Ecstasy quickly leaves Emile in the dust to focus on [Eva]. Eva is dissatisfied, and, according to her wishes, the union rapidly ends in divorce. Machatý focuses on Eva’s exercise of agency. Eva is the prosecuting party in the divorce […]. Similarly, Eva chooses to visit [her lover] Adam’s cabin, unannounced. Finally, Eva decides to leave Adam […]. In each instance, Eva is the actor who decides when a relationship begins or ends, often to the chagrin
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The Night of the Hunter—incredibly, the only film the great actor Charles Laughton ever directed—is truly a stand-alone masterwork. A horror movie with qualities of a Grimm fairy tale, it stars a sublimely sinister Robert Mitchum as a traveling preacher named Harry Powell (he of the tattooed knuckles), whose nefarious motives for marrying a fragile widow, played by Shelley Winters, are uncovered by her terrified young children. Graced by images of eerie beauty and a sneaky sense of humor, this ethereal, expressionistic American classic—also featuring the contributions of actress Lillian Gish and writer James Agee—is cinema’s most eccentric rendering of the battle between good and evil. The Criterion Collection
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Sorcerer (1977)

It has taken this long for people to wake up and go: this is a masterpiece. Sorcerer is a really, really terrific film. It’s proper, visceral, muscular cinema that needs to be seen on big screen. It’s one of the most gruellingly intense, stripped-down, weirdly mean-spirited, absolutely edge-of-your seat nihilistic thrillers that American cinema has made in the past half century. It has a brilliant score by Tangerine Dream. Mark Kermode, BBC William Friedkin’s 1977 thriller, in which four desperate men drive nitroglycerin through an inhospitable jungle, is a tense study in psychological breakdown. Sorcerer is a distinctive, gritty and gloomy movie – a determined slow-burner, resisting the traditional structure of narrative and central character. It involves four guys in four desperate situations, each introduced in leisurely vignettes: New Jersey mobster Scanlon (Roy Scheider), crooked Parisian businessman Manzon (Bruno Cremer), Mexican hitman Nilo (Francisco Rabal) and Middle Eastern terrorist Kassem
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The message is right there, flat out, in Public Enemy’s title song: “You got to fight the power, fight the power, fight the powers that be.” And it reverberates through the movie — at times quite literally — rocking the Brooklyn streets. It rocks the theater audience, too, but this is a complex, multilayered movie, and the in-your-face attitude supplies only the movie’s powerful, thumping bass line. The story as a whole — the melody — is sweeter, mellower, and Lee orchestrates the mixture of elements masterfully, first letting one dominate, then the other. Lee puts a lot of stories, and a lot of characters, in motion here, and they ricochet off one another like billiard balls. There’s Mookie’s sister Jade (Lee’s real sister, Joie Lee), who’s tired of having his butt in her apartment; Da Mayor (Ossie Davis), a comradely drunk; Smiley (Roger Guenveur Smith), who stutters something not
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Vagabond (1985)

[Vagabond], the story of a young woman’s short, troubled life, is cool, enigmatic and as gripping as any thriller. […] Mona [is] unforgettably played by Sandrine Bonnaire; she has evidently changed her name from Justine, to distance herself from a former wage-slave life as a secretary. She took off on the road to nowhere with her tent on her back, sleeping in fields or on roadsides, getting cash-in-hand jobs where she could, sometimes selling sex and sometimes getting raped: always defiant, faintly mutinous, seductive, uncaring, inscrutable. As she says: “Je m’en fous – je bouge” (“I don’t care – I move on”). She is the star of Agnès Varda’s award-winning 1985 film […]. This extraordinary film-maker – part of that remarkable and long-lived New Wave generation – is still working, still creating, but this is surely one of her greatest films: enigmatic, possessed of a cool artistry in its structural
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Strip down the excess of strange characters and bizarre humour, and you have Bruce [Lee]: mesmerising, fast, witty, and one of the rare examples of true screen magnetism. Bruce plays Tang Lung, essentially a bit of a country bumpkin, sent from Hong Kong by his family to help out a relative in Rome whose restaurant is being targeted by a crime mob. He’s not well received at first. The restaurant staff expected his uncle, and not this hick. Of course, we know that he’s Bruce Lee, and the plot holds out for long enough so that when Bruce does explode into attack, it’s hard not to stifle a cheer. Regarded by many as the finest martial arts combat ever committed to celluloid, it’s a masterful display of two fighters at the height of their powers. If any of it looks familiar, then bear in mind that this is the inspiration
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