There are four types of directors. One, directors who have roots in film buffery (Quentin Tarantino); two, directors who have roots in acting (Clint Eastwood); three, directors who have roots in theater (Neil LaBute); and four, directors who have roots in criticism (Paul Schrader). There are, of course, directors whose roots are in literature (Ousmane Sembène and Jean Cocteau), photography (Stanley Kubrick), and even graphic novels (Riad Sattouf), but none of these other foundations are as substantial as the first four—buffery, acting, theater, and criticism.
Unlike many of the filmmakers to rise from criticism (for example, the whole French New Wave), Susan Sontag, one of the most brilliant American critics in the second half of the 20th century, was not a very good filmmaker. She made a total of four films, the most famous of which, Duet for Cannibals, was recently shown at Northwest Film Forum. Her only documentary, Promised Lands, is to screen at the Grand Illusion, and though her reputation as a filmmaker is even lower than her reputation as a novelist—that's really, really low—it's worth watching because it was made by a great and very famous American critic.
Also, the film, which is about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, has a strange scene that must be seen. A critic who reviewed Promised Lands unfavorably when it was released in 1974 described the strange must-see scene in this way: "Later, in a hospital, a shell-shocked soldier relives his battlefield experiences under drugs, while a psychiatrist and the hospital staff re-create the noises of shooting and bombing. (This is said to be therapeutic for the patient. The staff looks as though it rather enjoys the task.)" For sure, human beings are the aliens of earth. Grand Illusion, Fri 7, 9 pm, Sat–Sun 5, 7, 9 pm, Mon–Wed 7, 9 pm.