We think of film noir as a very American genre…which is kind of weird. After all, the very word noir should remind us that the French recognized a unique style and gave it a name.
So I’m happy to tell you that in its12th installment, Noir City goes international. There will be films from Spain, Norway, Argentina , Japan, and (of course) France. And for those who don’t like subtitles, you’ll even find movies from Britain and the USA.
To get things started off properly, the opening night double bill includes The Third Man, universally considered one of the greatest films of all time. And an international one. It’s a British picture, made with American money and with an American star (Joseph Cotten), and shot on location in Vienna. The other half of the bill is Journey Into Fear, also starring Cotten. Orson Welles made important contributions to both opening movies.
Germany looks at its shameful past (talk about noir) in The Murderers Are Among Us and Berlin Express . There will be three films from Argentina. The French films include the always fun Pépé Le Moko and the great Wages of Fear. Even my all-time favorite auteur, Akira Kurosawa, gets a double bill, with Drunken Angel (Toshiro Mifune ‘s break-out role) and Stray Dog.
Among the American films, you’ll find new restorations of Too Late For Tears and The Hitch-Hiker. The later was directed by Ida Lupino. Best remembered as an actress, she was one of very few women who got to direct during the Hollywood studio era. And since studio-era Hollywood could stand for any place in the world, the festival will close with a triple bill of three American films set in the far east: Singapore, Macao, and The Shanghai Gesture.
But before Noir City opens, Berlin & Beyond will treat us to a glimpse of the current state of German-language cinema. These aren’t all German films; some are from Austria, Switzerland, and even one from India. But they all have one thing in common: If you don’t understand German, you’re going to be reading subtitles.
I haven’t seen any of these films, but some of the more interesting titles include Breaking Horizons, which won the Best German Language Feature Film award at the Zürich Film Festival, Gold, set in the Alaskan gold rush, and the documentary Sound of Heimat – Germany Sings, about German folk music.
Berlin & Beyond will play five days at the Castro, then move to the Goethe-Institut for the last two days.