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26 Oct 13

For two decades Steven Soderbergh and Richard Linklater have succeeded in producing a body of work that is intelligent and entertaining. Both filmmakers entered the fray around the same time. If Soderbergh's entry with Sex, Lies and Videotape (1989), which picked up the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, was given a higher profile, Slacker (1991) gained Linklater a cult following and set the foundation for a kind of film that came to represent what the American independent filmmaking scene could achieve. (It wasn't Linklater's first film. It's Impossible to Learn to Plough by Reading Books received a limited release in 1988, but has rarely been screened since.) Both films display an intelligence, willingness to play with narrative conventions and interest in how time – or more specifically duration – is employed within a dramatic structure. Challenging form, with varying degrees of effectiveness, has remained a constant throughout their careers.

24 Oct 13

Over the course of the last decade Alex Gibney has shone a light on corporate malfeasance, human rights abuses and corruption, both ethical and moral, in contemporary America. Although his stories generally begin on a personal level, with one person or a small group, by their end they pan outwards, not only casting a shadow across much of America, but also its standing in the world. Two of his most recent documentaries are screening in this festival. They are excellent examples of his journalistic technique and obstinacy in reaching the heart of a story. His most recent documentary concerns a disgraced sports star, while the earlier film focuses on the victims of criminal acts that the institution under whose aegis they took place should have had taken action to prevent.

24 Oct 13

This edition of the American Film Festival celebrates one of Hollywood's most famous studios, Warner Brothers, which celebrate its 90th anniversary this year. Although to its founders it probably looks very different to the way they envisaged it.

24 Oct 13

Any regular attendee of New Horizons Film Festival will likely be familiar with James Benning; if not the man himself – he is a regular presence in Wrocław – then certainly his films, which have screened almost every year here. For five decades Benning has been producing work that has re-mapped the American landscape. Moreover, few filmmakers have given us the opportunity to examine images the way Benning has. Though resolutely cinematic – he balks at the notion that his films could be screened in a gallery space – there is a painterly element to Benning's work.

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