Conspicuous Trailers of the Week: The Desert of Forbidden Art and The Princess of Montpensier

I didn’t have my trailer post for last week, but today I’d like to highlight a couple of indie films that caught my attention.

The Desert of Forbidden Art

When I saw the trailer of this 80-minute documentary by Tchavdar Georgiev, I was blown away. As a designer, I feel an immediate curiosity to the story, but anyone who appreciates any form of art would surely be intrigued by this jaw-dropping true story.

Here’s the synopsis from the film’s official site:

How does art survive in a time of oppression? During the Soviet rule artists who stay true to their vision are executed, sent to mental hospitals or Gulags.

Their plight inspires young Igor Savitsky. He pretends to buy state-approved art but instead daringly rescues 40,000 forbidden fellow artist’s works and creates a museum in the desert of Uzbekistan, far from the watchful eyes of the KGB. Though a penniless artist himself, he cajoles the cash to pay for the art from the same authorities who are banning it. Savitsky amasses an eclectic mix of Russian Avant-Garde art. But his greatest discovery is an unknown school of artists who settle in Uzbekistan after the Russian revolution of 1917, encountering a unique Islamic culture, as exotic to them as Tahiti was for Gauguin. They develop a startlingly original style, fusing European modernism with centuries-old Eastern traditions.

So far this film has received numerous recognition, including Cine Golden Eagle Award, Best Documentary Award at Palm Beach International Film Festival, and the Audience Award at Beijing International Film Festival (per RottenTomatoes). The review from L.A. Times said “viewers of this remarkable documentary will be astonished at not only what this art looks like and why it’s forbidden, but also where it is and how it got there.”

Fortunately for us in the US, on April 5, PBS will show this film as part of their Emmy Award winning series Independent Lens. Ben Kingsley, Sally Field and Ed Asner provide the voice for the diaries and letters of Savitsky and the artists. I’m definitely going to try to catch this one!

The Princess of Montpensier

We’ve all heard of the story before… a girl forced into marriage with a man for political/business reasons whilst she’s in love with another man. But I’m a sucker for foreign period dramas, especially when there’s some juicy forbidden love stories involved 😀

Based on Madame de la Fayette’s 17th century novel, the action centers on the love of Marie de Mezières for her dashing cousin Henri de Guise, thwarted when her father’s political ambitions force her into marriage with the well-connected Philippe de Montpensier, who she has never met. When Philippe is called away to fight, she is left in the care of Count Chabannes, an aging nobleman with a disdain for warfare, and soon becomes exposed to the sexual and political intrigues of court.

As I’m not well-acquinted with French cinema, so the only actor I’m familiar with is Gaspard Ulliel who was in the ‘Le Marais’ segment of Paris, Je T’Aime, and some of you might have seen him in A Very Long Engagement and Hanibal Rising. He’s also in the Bleu de Chanel men’s fragrance commercial directed by Martin Scorsese. I think I’ve seen actor Lambert Wilson before, but he’s recently seen in the critically acclaimed Of Gods and Men. I’ve never seen Mélanie Thierry before but she looks pretty alluring as the sensuous yet naive protagonist.

At first glance, this may seem like a bodice-ripper type costume drama, but some of the reviews I’ve read suggest the story is quite complicated and French director Bertrand Tavernier brings more depth and intrigue to this than meets the eye. Indiewire, Hollywood Reporter and Timeout London all have something positive to say with their Cannes’ premier reviews.

This might be a good one to suggest for our girls’ movie night sometime this Fall once it’s released on dvd!

Well, any interest in either one of these films? If you have seen them, I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.

15 thoughts on “Conspicuous Trailers of the Week: The Desert of Forbidden Art and The Princess of Montpensier

  1. WO!! That is just a step too far for lil old Custard!! A period foreign film? That would just make my brain explode 😀

    In all honesty I am home alone this weekend and I am planning to have a foreign speaking film fest. Just to break the mould.

    I will watch there trailers properly when I get home as I havent got sound here!!


    1. Ahah, no worries Custard. I would start with the Austen one we’ve been tweeting each other, Sense & Sensibility. It’s just astounding as a movie, not your typical period drama.

      I think the first one would be an easier one to swallow as it’s a documentary.

  2. PrairieGirl

    TPOM looks very interesting. Haven’t seen a foreign film for a long time, so this one seems like its worth watching. Are you sure it will be released as a Region 1 DVD here?

  3. Ted S.

    Never heard of any of these films, The Desert of Forbidden Art looks interesting though. I’m not into period set films unless it’s an action/war type of a picture, so I’ll skip the second one. 🙂

    1. Ha..ha.. so even the pretty princess didn’t entice you eh? 😀 I think the documentary is certainly compelling for anybody who appreciates the arts, I hope I remember to watch it when it airs on PBS.

  4. Although I love their visual aspect and a lot of French actors (Emmanuelle Beart, Vicent Cassell, Vincent Peres…) I must admit I often find their films strange and weird, and I don’t always get them … but I almost always enjoy them. And not to mention that French films usually contain the most sensual approach to sex scenes 🙂 I will surely check this PRINCESS film out!

    1. I hear ya Dezzy, I feel the same way. I caught a French period film on a plane once, can’t remember the title anymore. It was amusing but like you said, it was rather bizarre. Somehow I knew the sensual side of this film would appeal to you. I hope it’s not vulgar though, as you know something like The Tudors is a bit much for me.

      1. Maybe you watched the most famous French period film – QUEEN MARGO, with Isabel Adiani and Vincent Peres, and the music of Serbia’s own Goran Bregovic? That one was extremely bloody and bizarre. But the period in which Margo lived was also bizarre and bloody.

        Yep, French films tend to be vulgar when it comes to sex scenes, but only if you consider sex and nudity vulgar in general, which I personally don’t as you know 🙂 I actually love that we’ve seen all of French actors full nude in at least one of their films. They are just not ashamed of being naked and they made an art out of nude scenes. QUEEN MARGO for example features Vincent Peres exposed penis for at least ten minutes in the film if not more, but in the film it’s nothing shocking nor repulsive.

        1. No, for sure it’s not that one. I don’t think they’ll show a movie like that on a plane! Well, we have a totally different viewpoint about sex scenes, Dezzy. Suffice to say, based on your description about Queen Margo, I won’t be watching that film.

  5. I like the sound of The desert of Forbidden Art Ruth, I have links to Uzbekistan so anything about that country would interest me. The story itself sounds intriguing and I am drawn to things that actually happened or that were at least based on other people’s real life experience. I’ll mention this to my wife, I think this will ne of interest to her. Thank you Ruth for this.

    1. Oh, is your wife from Uzbekistan? Yeah, I bet she’d be interested in this one. I’m fascinated by true stories like this as well.

  6. Pingback: Conspicuous Trailers of the Week: The Desert of Forbidden Art and … | Bollywood Hot News

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