Back in the Driver's Seat

Blink and you'll miss the Friday night (March 8) screening of Theo Angelopoulos's Ulysses' Gaze, which won the Grand Jury Prize at 1995's Cannes Film Festival. The critically acclaimed movie (Time called it "magnificent") stars Harvey Keitel as a Greek filmmaker returning to his homeland from exile in the U.S. in order to attend a screening of one of his controversial films. But the filmmaker has a larger, more personal agenda. He has heard the legend of the Manakia brothers, Greek siblings who, at the very dawn of the age of cinema, tirelessly crisscrossed the Balkans to document on film the region's history and customs. Keitel's character will not rest until he has learned whether their primitive images really exist; if they do, he is compelled to find them. From Greece to Albania, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and bloody Bosnia-Herzegovina, the filmmaker single-mindedly pursues his obsessive quest in a journey that echoes Ulysses' mythic odyssey.

Ulysses' Gaze was unavailable for preview, so I haven't seen it yet. But the film has garnered some high praise from critics who saw it during Cannes. And it has no regular distributor in the U.S., which means it may never return to Miami for even so much as a one-week theatrical engagement. Both director Angelopoulos (who will be present at the screening to introduce the film and answer questions afterward) and star Keitel are rumored to have agreed never to release the film on video because seeing it on a small screen would diminish the visuals' impact significantly. In other words, see it now or forever hold your peace.

Ulysses' Gaze screens Friday, March 8, at 7:30 at the University of Miami's Cosford Cinema. Call 284-4861 for more info.

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