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This long-running series is the jewel in the crown, giving directors the opportunity to sound off on their careers and illustrating the diverse paths taken to the director's chair. Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembène (d. 2007) is hailed as the father of modern African cinema. An established writer, Sembène didn't begin making films until age 40, and his output was not large. This book includes interviews with Sembène from the mid-1960s until shortly before his death and covers topics like cultural taboos, political censorship, and the problems of making films on a continent divided by so many different languages, as well as Sembène's take on the role of women in African society. Sembène's wisdom, humor, and humanity shine through the pages and should stir a desire to see his films.
Like Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni (d. 2007) directed films that articulate the alienation of postwar European society. La Notte and The Eclipse found favor with critics, but the director says here, "I never think of the public. I think of the film." He scored a surprising mainstream success with his first English-language film, Blow-Up, but his follow-up film, Zabriskie Point, was a commercial and critical disaster. That failure and a stroke in the 1980s curtailed Antonioni's career but didn't end his creative work in the industry. Here, Antonioni talks about his ventures in Italian neorealism, his outlook on the human condition, his opinions of other contemporary film directors, and why he remained perpetually dissatisfied with his work. Antonioni's films may be indirect and ambiguous, but as an interview subject he'sremarkably straightforward and unpretentious.
Few directors were more colorful and controversial-or relished it more-than "Bloody Sam" Peckinpah. Although he acquired a reputation for violence (e.g., with The Wild Bunch), Peckinpah was equally known for his gentle, elegiac Westerns (e.g., Ride the High Country). An interview with him could be explosive and quotable (bemoaning his lack of creative control, Peckinpah snarled, "I'm a whore. I go where I'm kicked"). This fine collection sheds light on Peckinpah's early television career, his epic battles with studio bosses, and his enduring love for the West. The series is well suited for academic libraries, but the Peckinpah entry will appeal to public collections as well. The Antonioni volume is highly recommended for all foreign film book collections.