MoC in the press

The gossip on MoC. Lists and polls are STRONGLY discouraged.
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MoC in Mifune Magazine - Denmark

#1 Post by evillights » Thu Jul 28, 2005 10:40 pm

As chance would have it, I've come across a lovely article on the Masters of Cinema series in the Danish film magazine Mifune. I'm providing links (1 - 2) to scans of the two-page feature, with the hope that some kind Dane (or Danish-speaker) will help demystify the text for this English-speaker and others!

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ola t
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#2 Post by ola t » Sat Jul 30, 2005 1:41 pm

Nice article! I could probably whip up a rough translation over the weekend, but the main piece of news is at the bottom the list of releases, where they say that Renoir's Toni is forthcoming.

Here you go.

It's no secret. There's an enormous variation in quality of the films that are released on DVD. If you look beyond the borders of Denmark, there are often many editions available of the same film. Which one should you buy? While some companies release shameful versions to make a quick buck, others work hard to present the films in the best possible way. What the latter companies have in common is that they are run by cinephiles -- people for whom film is a passion. Mifune will run occasional profiles of these DVD companies.

THE BUSINESS By Thure Munkholm

Masters of Cinema (MoC) is a line of releases from the British company Eureka. Since the line was introduced in 2004, ten films have already appeared -- with even more on the way over the coming months. They are all essential works of film history, such as Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1926) or Akira Kurosawa's The Idiot (1951), although not of all them are part of the established canon.

The two Japanese new wave films Pitfall (1962) and Face of Another (1966) are examples of this. The two are a hitherto unseen part of the collaboration between the absurd Japanese author Kobo Abe and director Hiroshi Teshigahara that in 1964 resulted in the Oscar-winning Woman of the Dunes.

At the head of MoC is Nick Wrigley, who personally designs the DVD menus and covers, negotiates rights and gathers bonus materials. In short he is involved in the entire process. So it was an exhausted but satisfied DVD publisher that Mifune summoned to find out more about what visions lie behind Masters of Cinema.

"There are a lot of fantastic films out there that need people like us if they're going to be released on DVD," he explains. "I try to go after films that have not been released anywhere else, such as Joe May's Asphalt (1929) or Roberto Rossellini's Francesco Giuliare di Dio (1950). And if it has been released, we try to put together a better edition."

As an example, for the upcoming release of the Japanese horror classic Onibaba (1964) that had previously been released by the prestigious American company Criterion, Nick Wrigley has brought in a commentary track with the director Kaneto Shindo and two of the film's actors. "And for our editions of Carl Th. Dreyer's Michaël (1924) and Fritz Lang's Spies (1928) we made sure to keep the original German intertitles that were not preserved on the American DVD editions of the same films," he adds.

The Digital Revolution

It has been said that every generation grows up with its own medium. In the 60s, for example, thanks to the rise of cinemateques and film clubs all over Europe it became possible to get acquainted with the history of film in a more systematic fashion.

According to Nick Wrigley the digital age may well become a new golden age for film buffs. Not least because it is not centered on the large cities, which is where you will usually find the smaller niched cinemas.

Another important thing for the spread of eclectic film culture is that the DVD medium is often the only way most people can see older films the way they originally looked. Film is perishable, and many venues can not afford to pay an expensive rental fee for newly restored prints when they want to show a classic film -- therefore maybe to a greater degree making use of whatever print they can get. Sometimes with the result that the print shows so many traces of wear and age that it is nearly impossible to enjoy the film. Fortunately DVD companies can contribute to the dissemination of restored versions of high quality:

"There is absolutely no question that the best DVD company in the world is the American Criterion," says Nick Wrigley. "Criterion themselves participate in the restoration of the films they release. They don't hit the bull's eye every time, but most of the time they do. Because they have both the resources and the knowledge necessary to achieve the best result. And it's not a secret that what we do at MoC is heavily inspired by them. Of the English companies I very much like Artificial Eye and Nouveaux Pictures, for instance, and I wish they would release much more. I also think it's fantastic that a company like Momentum makes an effort to promote a director like Lukas Moodysson as eagerly as they have done."

Art Film of Today

Even though the modern art film flourishes on the international festival circuit, England has dropped off it, Nick Wrigley points out. "In my view there are absolutely no good younger film directors in England, which is terrible considering that England has fostered talents like Alfred Hitchcock, Michael Powell, Ken Loach, Mike Leigh and Peter Watkins. But hopefully a new generation will grow up with DVDs from companies like MoC, Criterion and Artificial Eye and actually start to make essential films again. Otherwise I'll just have to jump behind the camera myself! I find it completely and utterly unacceptable that there are no good film directors in England."

To compare with Criterion who release both classics and newer films, Criterion's biggest fault, in my view, is their selection of contemporary films -- as opposed to for example Artificial Eye, you have so far focussed on releasing titles from the history of film. Will it continue in that vein?

"I completely agree. We are considering releasing a couple of contemporary films in the MoC line, but these films often find their way to the DVD medium more naturally. It's the older films that require time and effort. As for Criterion's selection of contemporary films like Naked Lunch (1991), Ratcatcher (1999) and Traffic (2000) they interest me incredibly little. Instead I think a line can be drawn from the cinema of the 50s and 60s to Hirokazu Kore-eda, Michael Haneke, Bruno Dumont, the brothers Dardenne, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Abbas Kiarostami, Isao Takahata, Béla Tarr, Alexander Sokurov and Lukas Moodysson. These directors are all to a much greater extent the natural heirs of Robert Bresson, Carl Th. Dreyer, Luis Buñuel, Ingmar Bergman and Andrei Tarkovsky than the contemporary film directors that Criterion release."


It is the aforementioned directors that form the center of gravity in the columns of the web site, which Nick Wrigley launched in 2001. Here he has worked hard along with his co-conspirators from Canada and the U.S. to create an internet portal for the modern film art.

Apart from acting as one of the net's best news sites for the discerning film buff, has helped increase awareness of international DVD releases. Because, as Nick Wrigley explains:

"The people who sell as well as those who buy DVD rights have been brainwashed into believing that there are specific DVD regions in the world, while for example the international web stores have completely blown that model apart. A CD, for instance, can be played in any player whatsoever all over the world. There are no CD regions. How can it be that the CD industry has survived, while the DVD industry 'needs' regions? I am fanatically opposed to the regionalization of DVDs. It is contrary to art, inhuman and unbelievably wrong. 'Regions' were only invented because the Hollywood studios would premiere their films in different countries nine months apart. But they don't even do that anymore. So this is truly a hobby horse for me," he says and adds a wish: "Dismantling the regional coding would mean that competition would be based on quality, and in the long run the best DVDs would win."

(Sidebar) Masters of Cinema (MoC) was established in 2001 as a portal for different home pages on the classic filmmakers Robert Bresson (, Carl Th. Dreyer (, Yasujiro Ozu ( and Andrei Tarkovsky ( Geographically, the editors are spread out between the U.S., Canada and England, and together they publish the home page, which the English newspaper The Guardian called "a cornerstone for cinephiles all over the world" -- not least because of its comprehensive collection of news, articles and links. In 2004 MoC started a cooperation with the British DVD company Eureka to release a series of important films under the banner Masters of Cinema.

(Below the list of releases) Future releases in the works are Punishment Park (Peter Watkins, 1971) and Jean Renoir's Toni (1934).

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#3 Post by Doctor Sunshine » Sat Jul 30, 2005 4:59 pm

You are a scholar and a gentleman. Thenk yo.

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#4 Post by Brian Oblivious » Sat Jul 30, 2005 6:37 pm

Very nice article, though to nitpick, Woman in the Dunes won neither of the Oscars it was nominated for.

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#5 Post by jcelwin » Sun Jul 31, 2005 4:38 am

Interesting article. Thanks a lot for the excellent translation ola t.

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#6 Post by FilmFanSea » Sun Jul 31, 2005 12:38 pm

Nick Wrigley (peerpee) is my hero. Keep up the great work, Nick.

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#7 Post by Sai » Sun Jul 31, 2005 3:59 pm

The somewhat snobbish Dutch movie magazine 'Skrien' has a small monthly blurb about the new MoC-releases. I'll see if I can find them somewhere.

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#8 Post by Sai » Fri Aug 26, 2005 9:50 am

Ecerpts translated from Dutch to the best of my limited ability.

May 2005 issue:
[...] The first four releases combine high quality visuals and useful extra's with strong booklets.
[...] one to watch.

June and July issues are laying around here somewhere.

September 2005 issue:
[...] three new excellent films.
[...] (Francesco) excellent transfer [...] (H&PB) very good transfer [...] (Naked Island) brilliant transfer.
[...] as always with the MoC-series the booklets are excellent.

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MoC in the press

#9 Post by Narshty » Tue Jan 06, 2009 8:09 am

I'm certain there used to be a thread on this. Anyway, from a recent issue of HD Review:


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Re: MoC in the press

#10 Post by HerrSchreck » Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:10 am

Kudos on the word "early-Noughties", which I first read as a misprint fpr Nineties... then with a simultaneous blink & barely detectable head-jerk it registered. Great word!

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Re: MoC in the press

#11 Post by Steven H » Tue Jan 06, 2009 2:04 pm

So I guess this means no MoC Hitch. Great write up! Good to see attention going towards the good guys for once.

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Re: MoC in the press

#12 Post by Cabiria21 » Sun Mar 15, 2009 1:50 am

..and I had money riding on a prediction that spine #100 was going to be The Legend of Bagger Vance with a meaty booklet. ](*,)

Keep up the good work Nick. I have all but 2 of your releases and will buy every release you put out.

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Interview with Nick Wrigley

#13 Post by cleon » Tue Sep 08, 2009 8:49 am

An interview with MoC founder Nick Wrigley, in the Montreal Gazette.

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