More than a Game- – The Only Real Game (2013), Mirra Banks

Mirra Banks begins her documentary with pristine and picturesque images of life in Manipur, that remote state near Burma that India only forgetfully remembers. In fact, it remembers the place mostly when stories of rebellion/ the separatists appear in the Press. Banks assumes nothing, introducing the place, the images and the people. With Melissa Leo’s voice-over, Manipur’s history unfolds with clips of newsreels and television footage. With these elements in place, the film firmly establishes itself in the classical canon. Manipur is only a tapestry behind the narrative, the real story about something entirely different. It is about baseball, about the genesis of a game that takes root in a land so far from its main stage in the U.S. Aided by an organization in New York, First Pitch, two baseball coaches from MLB arrive in Manipur to train the locals in baseball. Supplies arrive from various manufacturers. The idea is to tap into the enthusiasm of youngsters who want to play baseball. Banks introduces each character, with their tales anchored in the hardships and small victories of everyday life. Their stories unfold while the training for baseball goes on the grounds of Manipur that are hardly prepped for the game. It is evident that their threshold for happiness is set low as it is for all the poor anywhere. Dreams of individuals become the dreams of the community as they seek better conditions for life as much as for the game. For over 70 minutes, the documentary brings to us tale of an alien sports game implanting itself in a foreign land, without little of its cultural framework. The two coaches wearing MLB clothing reinforce how odd this arrival of baseball is in that part of the world. They are able to achieve a great deal in their filmed[…..]
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From Tacita Dean to Francesco Casetti, via Chris Marker and Agnès Varda

            Philadelphia area is in going through the lucky fortunes of three important cinema events. The moment is significant for cinephiles and film scholars. Three separate and otherwise unrelated events are offering a telling lesson in reading the trajectory of transformation in cinema itself, from the gifts of its incipiency to the maps of its future.             First, screening of Tacita Dean’s 35mm film, JG, a sequel to her monumental Turbine Hall project in Tate Modern, continues at Arcadia University until April 21st.             Second, a symposium on Chris Marker (“Things That Quicken the Heart”) takes place at Slought Foundation on March 15th and 16th. . Raymond Bellour, Christa Blümlinger, Renée Green, Bill Horrigan, Gertrud Koch and Agnès Varda, among others.             On March 13th, Agnès Varda speaks with Molly Nesbit at B1 Meyerson Hall on Penn Campus. She introduces her film The Beaches of Agnès on March 14th at the International House.               The International House is also screening a number of films related to these events.             Third, The First Annual Dick Wolf Penn Cinema Studies Conference takes place at Slought Foundation on April 12th. The theme for the conference: The End of Cinema and the Future of Cinema Studies. The lineup is terrific. Francesco Casetti will be the keynote speaker at the conference.             Fabulous treat this is!! Tacita Dean’s JG is a fitting ode to cinema as we have known, with a very sharp statement about cinema’s singular gift to sculpt time and to mark its body with the indexical fingerprints that is trapped in the reality of things. JG is a tribute to J. G. Ballard’s short story The Voices of Time, where its protagonist attempts to navigate temporal being in the slippages of memory and vanishing coordinates of experience.[…..]
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