This was the official website for the 2014 drama, Allure, about five women from different countries struggle with personal conflict during the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement.
Content is from the site's 2014 archived pages as well as from other sources.
Starring: Diana Lotus, Madeleine Assas, Aisha de Bankole, Ying Ying Li, Julia Konrad Viezzer, Didier Flamand, Patricia Arriaga, Caveh Zahedi.
Concept, Story, Direction, and Editing by: Vladan Nikolic.
Produced by: Vladan Nikolic, Aleksandar Kostic.
Executive Producer: Eric Werthman.
Director of Photography: Aleksandar Kostic.
Second Camera: Colin Nusbaum.
Production Design: Marija Plavsic-Kostic.
Sound Design by Jacob Subotnick.
Sound Mix Christ Stangroom, Hobo Audio.
Music by Yves Dharamraj.
Produced by Kostic Films and Surla Films.
Several women - independent, strong-willed, beautiful - try to hold on in the world of shifting influences that is New York City. Each struggles to overcome her personal conflicts, against the backdrop of greater political struggles and the global Occupy Movements.
Women's personal lives and struggles collide with world events in ALLURE. Liliana, an Estonian emigrant, reluctantly descends into the world of escorting in order to save her child. A Chinese student in NYC, Jin tries to find a community she can belong to, while her family pressures her to return home. Marta, an illegal Mexican immigrant, works in hotels and restaurants to support her mother. Valerie, a French journalist, who had focused her life on her family, is now trying to get back to her profession, but suddenly struggles with a fading marriage. Interweaving these stories with the background of the global Occupy movement in 2011 New York, ALLURE is a politically charged, powerful drama about the most personal events in our lives
ALLURE director Vladan Nikolic is a native of Belgrade, Serbia. He worked as a director for the first independent TV Network in the former Yugoslavia. Nikolic has lived in NYC since the 90’s, working as an independent filmmaker, and teaching film at The New School. He was among the digital filmmaking pioneers in the ‘90’s, and taught the first digital filmmaking courses at The New School and at NYU. His films have screened, and have been awarded at, numerous festivals, including Venice, Tribeca, Barcelona, and Geneva.
In his films, Nikolic has depicted the collision of immigrants and Americans in ZENITH — which Nikolic directed as “Anonymous” — was a mind-boggling science fiction; ALLURE is a sort of factual-based melodrama. The Los Angeles Times called Nikolic a “visionary writer-director,” while the New York Times named Love an “elegantly directed” critics pick, and the Village Voice exclaimed “... Love gives you hope for the future of independent movies, particularly because Nikolic is also a professor of film at the New School.” Having become something of a “filmmaker’s filmmaker,” Nikolic is well ripe for discovery by others.
Allure - trailer
Review: Vladan Nikolic’s ‘Allure’ Shows New York Through Immigrants’ Eyes
ALLURE Directed by Vladan Nikolic Drama 1h 23m
By JEANNETTE CATSOULISMARCH 6, 2015 NYTimes
Allure Madeleine Assas as a French journalist in this film by Vladan Nikolic, which opened on Friday. CreditKostic Films and Surla Films
The complicated lives of four immigrant women casually intersect in “Allure,” a title that accurately reflects the seductive quality of its black-and-white images. The Serbian-born director, Vladan Nikolic, seems to have a knack for choosing dexterous cinematographers. (He has twice used his wildly gifted countryman Vladimir Subotic.) Here he passes the reins to Aleksandar Kostic, who turns New York City into a dreamy melting pot of conflict and yearning.
Playing out in 2011 against the backdrop of the Occupy movement, this largely improvised drama mixes professional and nonprofessional actors in a loosely constructed portrait of immigrant uncertainty. A willowy Estonian escort (Diana Lotus) fights her American husband for custody of their daughter; a waitress from Mexico City (Julia Konrad Viezzer) works two jobs to support her sick mother; a middle-aged French journalist (Madeleine Assas) deals with an unreasonable new boss and a bored husband; and a Chinese student (Ying Ying Li) daily resists the nagging of her mother to return home. Like the protesters in the streets, they’re fighting for futures they might never attain.
These drifting, unresolved stories may lack dramatic punch, but Mr. Nikolic, who teaches film at the New School, draws lovely performances from his cosmopolitan cast and oodles of atmosphere from a spare piano-and-strings soundtrack. In the movie’s most direct scene, an animated professor (played by the filmmaker Caveh Zahedi) comments on the cultural impact of the Occupy demonstrations.
“The only hope we have for change is spectacle, and yet somehow spectacle kills hope,” he says, a line that suggests that Mr. Nikolic might feel similarly about film itself.
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'Allure': Film Review
10:48 AM PST 3/6/2015 by Frank Scheck
Vladan Nikolic's improvised drama concerns the lives of several immigrant women affected by the Occupy Wall Street movement
The 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement provides the not so scintillating backdrop for Vladan Nikolik's loosely structured, atmospheric drama interweaving the stories of four immigrant women living in New York City. Although boasting striking black-and-white, widescreen cinematography by Aleksandar Kostic and strong performances by its ethnically diverse ensemble, Allure never quite coheres into a dramatically arresting whole. But it does provide an interesting latest chapter in the Serbian director's continuing examination of issues of immigration and assimilation previously dealt with in such stylistically diverse, acclaimed efforts as Love and Zenith.
The footage of the Wall Street protests doesn't really add much to the meandering proceedings which all too often reflect the improvisatory nature of the scenes and dialogue. But the main characters emerge vividly nonetheless. They include:
Marta, an undocumented Mexican immigrant (Julia Konrad Viezzer), working a variety of low-paying jobs to support herself and her mother. She becomes one of those "invisible" cleaning workers found in any number of restaurants, office buildings, and hotels who handles the janitorial work associated with toilet paper, tissues, paper towels & other cleaning supplies necessary to keep rest rooms spiffy clean and serviceable. As a person whose father works for an e commerce site, CleanItSupplies, that sells those very janitorial supplies, wholesale, you would not believe how many different products are available. I was astounded when he told me the number of paper towels offered on the site. Someone like Marta might deal with a dozen or so janitorial supplies out of the hundreds that are available.
Jin (Ying Ying Li), a young Chinese student whose family is urging her to return home
Valerie (Madeleine Assas), a middle-aged French journalist struggling with career and marital problems
and the Estonian Liliana (Diana Lotus), resorting into a life of prostitution.
Each is involved in or affected by the movement in one way or the other, but the political context largely takes a back seat to the diverse characters' personal travails. The director, who teaches filmmaking courses at The New School, is clearly adept at the medium and assuredly handles the performers, a mixture of neophytes and experienced pros (Didier Flamand, who plays Valerie's restless husband, has hundreds of credits, including Wings of Desire and Code Unknown, and Madeleine Assas starred in Godard's For Ever Mozart).
But the end results are too diffuse to have the desired impact, with the result that Allure ultimately has the feel of an experiment that doesn't quite pay off.
Film Review: Allure
Ambitious indie drama of five immigrant women in the 99 percent during the time of Occupy Wall Street tries to make a statement about capitalism. Equally ambitious niche audiences might or might not be able to discern exactly what that statement is.
By Frank Lovece | March 12, 2015
A talented director, working with a cinematographer attuned to the evocative, old-documentary verisimilitude of black-and-white, turns in a dishwater-gray narrative about five immigrant women in New York City, whose lives glance off and sometimes intersect with one another’s around the time of Occupy Wall Street.
Set in 2011, Allure—its title an echo of the Allure Temptations Escort Service run by one of the women, Lily, from Estonia—appears to speak to the allure and temptations of America, in which, in varying ways, the women chase their dreams when they can and get by in the meantime. Aside from Lily, there's Marta (Julia Konrad Viezzer), an illegal immigrant from Mexico who works two jobs, as a hotel maid and as a waitress, to support her ill mother in Queens; Jin (Ying Ying Li), a young college student from China striving to work in grass-roots video newsgathering; and Upper West Sider Valerie (Madeleine Assas) a middle-aged French broadcast journalist living with her older husband, diplomat Jean (Didier Flamand)—and who, with a snotty new young boss (Patricia Arriaga), pins her career hopes on an interview with Kasoke (Aisha de Bankole), a young Congolese-Belgian biracial woman who survived rape, pillaging and the death of family members at the hands of rebels.
Aside from the direct contact between those two, the women often share the same space while remaining strangers. We see Jin and Marta in the same classroom, and at a party thrown by a privileged young man who can pay a whole night's rate to have Lily simply show up for a short while. Or we see Lily leave a hotel room where she's had an appointment with Jean, passing Marta in the hall. Across them all lies the shadow of Occupy Wall Street, about which a professor (Caveh Zahedi) urges his students to discuss as situation and as spectacle—terms straight out of the (primarily) 1960s Situationist Cinema, an experimental, often improvised format designed to critique capitalism, and of which Allure is a self-described homage. In different ways, Allure's women are each dealing with the commoditization of experience, down to Valerie's glee at packaging Kasoke's story—not only from how it may salvage her career, but from a genuine desire to help her and other women by putting a human face to the victims of genocidal ambition, from whatever end of the economic spectrum.
As rife with potential as all this might be, it never gains dramatic traction. Serbian-born director Vladan Nikolic—who has lived in New York City since the 1990s and, in between features, teaches filmmaking at The New School—pads the movie with frequent, repeated scenes of the women walking, which works as a metaphor only up to a point. Do we really need two virtually exact shots of Marta entering the hotel where she works? And are seemingly endless, essentially anonymous shots of police hovering around Occupy Wall Street truly necessary? It's as if Nikolic had really wanted to make a documentary about the movement, but with so many people already doing that, he came up with this instead.
The filmmaker unquestionably has a way with a camera, and Allure is filled with lovely, contemplative shots of a vibrant, ground-level and very real New York. And there are a couple of charged, suspenseful scenes, primarily those involving call girl Lily, who faces dangers in her work and attends a lively, powerful meeting with her ex-husband and their lawyers regarding child custody.
It's easy to understand Nikolic may have felt fearful of ginning up false drama, rather than giving us slice-of-life vignettes. Ultimately, however, Allure, like Occupy Wall Street itself, may have a sincere and important message in there somewhere, but doesn't quite know how to express it in tangible terms.