Progressive Cinema

Our series on the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival will continue in January. This week, we’re taking a break to offer you some tips on finding films from last year’s Festival.

Some of the best films from the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival are finally available on video or DVD. If you can’t convince your local school, library or union to rent or buy a copy, check out some of the best mail order sources: Facets (773) 281-9075,; Home Film Festival (800) 258-3456,; National Film Board of Canada (call for a catalog at (866) 267-7710,; and California Newsreel (877) 811-7495 at

If you can’t find these films at your local video store, one great film distributor on the internet is Cinema Guild (, or you can always search other web sources like or

Other sources are the few cable networks who show foreign and independent films: HBO (, Sundance (, Bravo ( and Independent Film Channel ( You can always have a friend tape the movie for you if you don’t have cable TV.

The final suggestion is to try to support film festivals. They’re everywhere, and most often show great films that, it’s hard to believe, will NEVER be released to theaters, video or TV. Search by country, city or month at

In other words, you have to work a little harder to see great progressive cinema.

Check out these films from last year:

L’emploi Du Temps (Time Out) – a big hit from France, addresses the issue of downsizing from a totally different angle. (Facets)

The Killing Yard – drama about the Attica uprising that was shown on HBO. (Facets)

Baran – from Iran, tells the simple story of a poor Afghan family trying to eke out an existence in their new land. (Facets)

Focus – based on Arthur Miller’s 1945 novel that studies the dark side of American patriotism. (Facets)

No Man’s Land – Oscar winner and the first pacifist film from Bosnia. (Facets) Also being shown on Sundance cable TV throughout December.

Son’s Room – progressive Italian director Nanni Moretti’s poignant study of family grief. (Facets)

La Commune – six-hour masterwork by Peter Watkins about the Paris Commune. (Facets, and NFB)

Universal Clock: Resistance Of Peter Watkins – the making of La Commune and Watkins’ progressive theories about cinema. (NFB)

Westray – a documentary from Nova Scotia, Canada. It doesn’t deal directly with the tragic 1992 accident that killed 26 coal miners. Rather it delves into the shattered lives of the survivors, and exposes the responsibility of the greedy mining corporation and its failure to provide safe working conditions. (NFB)

Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner) – engrossing epic storytelling from Canadian Inuits. (NFB)

Bank – richly subversive Australian anti-corporate thriller. (Cinema Guild)

The Sun Behind The Moon – master Iranian director Makhmalbaf’s homage to Afghan refugees longing to return home. (DVD at

The author can be reached at