International Film Guide 2010
Edited by Ian Haydn Smith
Wallflower Press, February 2010
As one might suppose, the vast bulk of this book is devoted to a survey of world cinema.
Well over a hundred countries are covered, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, and each chapter is written by a specialist in film in that particular country. Some of the writers are critics and journalists, while others are academics or curators or programmers.
Typically, the writer will discuss a variety of films released during 2009 before choosing their own personal top five. One can also expect an appraisal of each country’s film industry and a listing of key contact information. In the chapter devoted to the UK, for example, you will find listings for BAFTA, the BFI and the UK Film Council.
Several chapters covered film festivals and there was an in-depth look at the Berlinale, now 60 years old, by Andrea Dittgen. It was interesting to note that the winner of the Golden Bear in 2009 was Claudia Llosa’s The Milk of Sorrow, a film that has been favourably reviewed on this site.
Another section of the book, ‘Directors of the Year’, included profiles of Kathryn Bigelow (quite prescient to choose an Oscar winner!) and Claire Denis, whose White Material has been reviewed here also. A retrospective of Denis’ work, Intense Intimacy, is touring the UK and I hope to review some of these films later this month when they are screened at the Cornerhouse.
Other features included ‘In Memoriam’, a series of short obituaries and appreciations of those who had passed away in the previous year, and an article on the future of 3D by Ben Walters. Also, the editor has written a chapter looking at DVD releases during 2009.
For any film fan or movie buff, especially one prepared to look beyond the narrow horizon of Hollywood blockbusters and their local clones, this book is a godsend. If you are at all involved in the film industry (or you aspire to be) it is well-nigh essential.