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Joshua Sperling

JOSHUA SPERLING teaches film and literature at Oberlin College. His first book, A Writer of Our Time: The Life and Work of John Berger, has recently been translated into Korean, Chinese, and Turkish.

Vincent Van Gogh: A Life in Letters

Though lacking the inexpensive allure of the old paperback editions—not to mention the comprehensiveness of the six-volume collector’s set released in 2009—A Life in Letters succeeds by placing a modest sampling of Van Gogh’s correspondence into dialogue with both the life and the paintings. Each phase of the artist’s wandering is bracketed with a brief biographical précis, refreshingly unadorned and free of the usual apocrypha.

In Conversation

OLIVIER ASSAYAS with Joshua Sperling

When Brooklyn Academy of Music ran a retrospective of French filmmaker Olivier Assayas in 2010, they hailed him as a “post-punk auteur.”

In Conversation

HANY ABU-ASSAD with Joshua Sperling

Hany Abu-Assad’s Paradise Now balanced an uncompromising commitment to the Palestinian cause with a sensitivity to the contradictions of Palestinian experience. His most recent film, Omar, turns the complex tensions of occupation—and the taboo of collaboration—into a tightly plotted espionage thriller.

In Conversation


Abderrahmane Sissako’s Timbuktu somehow balances the urgency of current events with the grace and timelessness of a story told in the shade of a village tree. Set in and around the North African city of its title, where newly arrived jihadists enforce religious law with brutality, the film centers on a stubborn cattle herder and his family resisting encroachment.

In Conversation

JOSHUA OPPENHEIMER with Joshua Sperling
The Act of Killing opens July 19 at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema

While the past decade has seen the comeback of reenactment within the non-fiction film, none has pushed the device to such intricate and chilling extremes as Joshua Oppenheimer’s new documentary about the Indonesian genocide, The Act of Killing.

In Conversation

AGNIESZKA HOLLAND with Joshua Sperling

Agnieszka Holland is a curious director. She works on both sides of the Atlantic, in both cinema and television. Although her style has remained consistently accessible, often genre-inflected, her career demonstrates a commitment to the difficult moments of European history.

In Conversation

PAWEL PAWLIKOWSKI with Joshua Sperling

If a more serious Jim Jarmusch made a road movie about a nun, a judge, and a musician in 1960s Poland, the result might be close to Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida.


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2023

All Issues