Blu-ray, DVD Release: Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project

Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: Dec. 10, 2013
Price: Blu-ray/DVD Combo $124.95
Studio: Criterion

Established by filmmaker Martin Scorsese in 2007, Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project expands the horizons of moviegoers everywhere. The mission of the WCP is to preserve and present marginalized and infrequently screened films from regions of the world ill equipped to provide funding for major restorations. This collector’s set brings together six superb films from various countries, including Bangladesh/India (A River Called Titas), Mexico (Redes), Morocco (Trances), Senegal (Touki bouki), South Korea (The Housemaid), and Turkey (Dry Summer); each is a cinematic revelation, depicting a culture not often seen by outsiders.

Here’s a breakdown of all six:

Touki Bouki

Touki Bouki (1973)

Touki Bouki (1973, In Wolof with English subtitles)
With a stunning mix of the surreal and the naturalistic, Djibril Diop Mambéty paints a vivid, fractured portrait of Senegal in the early 1970s. In this French New Wave–influenced fantasy-drama, two young lovers long to leave Dakar for the glamour and comforts of Europe, but their escape plan is beset by complications both concrete and mystical. ratio

Redes (1936, In Spanish with English subtitles)
Early in his career, the Austrian-born, future Oscar winner Fred Zinnemann (From Here to Eternity) co-directed with Emilio Gómez Muriel the politically and emotionally searing Redes. Commissioned by a progressive Mexican government, this vivid, documentary-like dramatization looks at the daily grind of men struggling to make a living by fishing on the Gulf of Mexico (mostly played by real-life fishermen), one worker’s terrible loss instigates a political awakening among him and his fellow laborers.

A River Called Titas (1973, In Bengali with English subtitles)
The Bengali filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak’s (who has had a devoted following for decades) beautiful, elegiac saga concerns the tumultuous lives of people in fishing villages along the banks of the Titas River in pre-Partition East Bengal. Focusing on the tragic intertwining fates of a series of fascinating characters, in particular the indomitable widow Basanti, Ghatak tells the poignant story of an entire community’s vanishing way of life.

A River Called Titas movie scenee

A River Called Titas (1973)

Dry Summer (1964, In Turkish with English subtitles)
Winner of the prestigious Golden Bear at the 1964 Berlin International Film Festival, Metin Erksan’s wallop of a melodrama concerns the machinations of an unrepentantly selfish tobacco farmer who builds a dam to prevent water from flowing downhill to nourish his neighbors’ crops. Alongside this tale of soul-devouring competition is one of overheated desire, as a love triangle develops between the farmer, his more decent brother, and the beautiful villager the latter takes as his bride, resulting in a Cain and Abel–like struggle.

Trances (1981, In Arabic with English subtitles)
The beloved Moroccan band Nass El Ghiwane is the dynamic subject of Ahmed El Maânouni’s captivating musical documentary. Storytellers through song, some with a background in political theater, the band’s members became an international sensation (Western rock critics have often referred to them as “the Rolling Stones of North Africa”), thanks to their political lyrics and sublime, fully acoustic sound, which draws on the Moroccan trance music tradition.

The Housemaid (1960, In Korean with English subtitles)
A torrent of sexual obsession, revenge, and betrayal is unleashed under one roof in this venomous melodrama from South Korean master Kim Ki-young. Immensely popular in its home country when it was released, The Housemaid is the thrilling, at times jaw-dropping story of the devastating effect an unstable housemaid has on the domestic cocoon of a bourgeois, morally dubious music teacher, his devoted wife, and their precocious young children.

This dual-format collection (featuring three Blu-ray discs and six DVD discs) contains the following features:

• New high-definition digital restorations of all six films, undertaken by the World Cinema Project in collaboration with the Cineteca di Bologna, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-rays
• New introductions to the films by World Cinema Project founder Martin Scorsese
• New interview programs featuring filmmakers Abderrahmane Sissako (on Touki bouki), Kumar Shahani (on A River Called Titas), Metin Erksan and Fatih Akın (on Dry Summer), and Bong Joon-ho (on The Housemaid)
• New visual essay on Redes by filmmaker and critic Kent Jones
• New interview program on Trances featuring filmmaker Ahmed El Maânouni, producer Izza Génini, and musician Omar Sayed
• New English subtitle translations
• Three Blu-rays and six DVDs, with all content available in both formats
•  A booklet featuring essays on the films by Charles Ramirez Berg, Bilge Ebiri, Kyung Hyun Kim, Adrian Martin, Richard Porton, and Sally Shafto


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.