Portland International Film Festival Line-Up, Ozon’s Potiche To Kick Off The Festival On Thursday

If you couldn’t already tell from the header image and the bit in the left sidebar, we are really excited about the Portland International Film Festival, starting this Thursday February 10th (and ends on the 26th).

The opening night film will be Francois Ozon’s Potiche, playing at 7:30 at the Newmark Theater, with a reception party afterwards. I’ll definitely be there, and am excited to meet up with some of our readers that night. I’ll have a couple of passes for that opening night, and will probably hold some sort of giveaway on Twitter or Facebook in the next day or so.

I’ve had a chance to watch some of the films that will be screening at the festival, and I can tell you that it is going to be an amazing sixteen days of film programming that the folks over at the NW Film Center have put together. From Abbas Kiarostami’s absolutely beautiful Certified Copy, to the lovely Irish film from Ken Wardrop, His And Hers, there will be a film for everyone. The festival will feature a few well known titles that have come out of the various film festivals over the past few months like Carancho and Uncle Boonmee, but there are also dozens of smaller, lesser known films to win you over.

I’m hoping to meet up with some fellow writers and readers to talk about the various films, on bonus episodes throughout the festival.

Head over to the festival’s homepage for a complete, up-to-date schedule. You can also follow the NW Film Center’s updates on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr (they have their social networking down!). You can find copies of the schedule at most bookstores, theaters, and coffeeshops around town.

I’m copying the complete list of films below, but you’ll have to head to the festival’s page to see the screening times, as they have changed slightly since the catalog was printed.

Will you be at the festival? What films are you excited about? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.


The Portland International Film Festival Line-up:

THE ACCORDION

DIRECTOR: Jafar Panahi – IRAN

When their accordion is taken from them, two young street musicians in Tehran provide a metaphor for a new generation that, led by understanding, prefer solidarity to conflict. (9 mins.)

AFTERSHOCK

DIRECTOR: Feng Xiaogang – CHINA

This year’s Chinese submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar also reigns as the most popular film in Chinese box office history. Feng Xiaogang tells the epic story of the survivors of one of China’s greatest natural disasters, the Tangshan Earthquake of 1976, which killed nearly 250,000 people. What starts as a disaster movie of Titanic proportions’”with impressive special effects’”moves to a deeply moving family melodrama that has wrung billions of tears from Chinese audiences. When the earthquake strikes, father Daqing is killed, and mother Yuanni (Xu Fan) is forced to make an impossible choice involving her two children that will haunt them for the rest of their lives. Mother, son, and daughter, against the background of three decades of rapidly advancing Chinese society, must find the emotional pathways to reconnect with each other. While on one hand a work designed for the broadest commercial appeal, the insights into Chinese history, culture, family, and values are profound. (135 mins.)

ALL FLOWERS IN TIME

DIRECTOR: Jonathan Caouette – UNITED STATES

Chloë Sevigny stars in a mysterious and fantastical world where a television signal possesses young viewers, making them believe they can transform into other people or monsters. (13 mins.)

ALL THAT I LOVE

DIRECTOR: Jacek Borcuch – POLAND

Eighteen-year-old Janek has a dream familiar to many kids his age: start a band with your best friends, write provocative music, hang out with your girlfriend, lose your virginity. However, in 1981 Communist Poland, those dreams can lead to nightmares: martial law is threatened as the Solidarity movement gains increasing momentum, and Janek begins to realize that his band’s anti-establishment message could well lead to trouble for his friends and family. With a naval officer father and a girlfriend whose own father is under investigation by the state, Janek’s coming-of-age is fraught with conflict between his ideals and his desire to protect the ones he loves. ‘Deftly combining music, romance, politics, and family drama, this autobiographical feature is a thorough charmer.’’”Variety. (95 mins.)

ANGRY MAN

DIRECTOR: Anita Killi – NORWAY

‘One day I hope to be like Daddy’”my big, kind daddy! I’ll be good, and quiet, and hope the day will turn out fine.’ (20 mins.)

APRIL SNOW

DIRECTOR: Lewis Klahr – UNITED STATES

‘Another ‘˜couplet’ from my ongoing Prolix Satori series. I thought up the juxtapostion of these two pop songs while creating a mix-tape back in 1988 but never thought I’d work with them as a film soundtrack. Back then the taboo in experimental film circles about using music was so strong it seemed permanent.’’”L.K. (10 mins.)

AQUARIUM

DIRECTOR: BÃ¥rd Røssevold – NORWAY

If living your life is like living in a fish bowl, are you the fish looking out or the observer looking in? (17 mins.)

THE ARBOR

DIRECTOR: Clio Barnard – GREAT BRITAIN

British playwright Andrea Dunbar made a name for herself in 1980 with the raw semi-autobiographical play (later a film) ‘Rita, Sue and Bob Too.’ The plot is set in The Arbor, a poor housing project in the English town of Bradford and a hotbed of domestic squabbles, eternally drunk and vulgar fathers, frustrated mothers, and children in trouble with the law. Dunbar had a similarly hard life, dying at age 29 and leaving behind three young children by three different fathers. Over a two-year period, Barnard made recordings of conversations she had with members and acquaintances of the Dunbar family, then reconstructed the playwright’s life with the help of actors who lip-synch the recordings. Barnard seamlessly stitches together these disparate but innovative elements, matching Dunbar’s unconventional life with a befittingly unconventional film that, while framed as a documentary, is really its own eloquent, genre-defying performance work on film. (94 mins.)

ARMADILLO

DIRECTOR: Janus Metz – DENMARK

Armadillo is the name of a heavily fortified UK-Danish army base in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. In 2009, Metz and crew followed a group of young Danish recruits as they adjusted to the grim realities of conflict, inside and outside their secure camp. The result is one of the most harrowing reports on the war and a vivid portrait of the impact of boredom and battle on mind and body. Venturing off the base, the voices of Afghan citizens, caught in the complexities of the coalition and Taliban crossfire, reveal the daunting challenge of finding a stable peace. Whether capturing the immediacy of a firefight, the tedious routine of army life, or the tragic civilian realities, Armadillo avoids judgment by leaving it to the viewer to grapple with the frustration, insanity, and confusion of this, and any, war. (100 mins.)

ATLANTIQUES

DIRECTOR: Mati Diop – SENEGAL/FRANCE

Chronicling the odyssey of Senegalese friends who attempt a life-threatening boat crossing, this melancholic and mysterious film urgently addresses the perils of illegal migration. (15 mins.)

BARBERSHOP PUNK

DIRECTOR: Georgia Sugimura Archer, Kristin Armfield – UNITED STATES

While trying to share his collection of rare, turn-of-the-century barbershop quartet recordings over the internet (legally), a software engineer named Robb Tolposki living in Hillsboro, Oregon, found that his uploads were being secretly blocked by his service provider, Comcast. His response soon made him the unlikeliest of heroes in the ‘net neutrality’ debate, compelling the Federal Communications Commission to focus on Comcast’s’”and other large media corporations””efforts to control free expression and, of course, internet profits. Filmmakers Archer and Armfield expertly interweave Tolposki’s’”self-described as a ‘social liberal, fiscal conservative, Republican Libertarian’’”inspiring personal battle against censorship with opinions on both sides of the issue from politicians, commentators, and musicians, including Henry Rollins and Ian MacKaye. (93 mins.)

BAREFOOT DREAM

DIRECTOR: Kim Tae-Kyun – SOUTH KOREA

This year’s Korean submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, based on a true story, is a feel-good family film that will delight anyone who loves soccer. Kim Won-Kang, a former player for Korea’s national soccer team, hits the skids after he’s too old to play. Traveling through Southeast Asia, he lurches from one get-rich-quick scheme to another until he lands in war-torn East Timor. There, he finds children playing soccer in bare feet because their families don’t have money for shoes, and in their devotion to the game, he finally finds purpose. Kim Tae-Kyun dwells on the excitement of the game rather than the melodrama of the situation, and the action is hard and fast. (121 mins.)

BEHIND BLUE SKIES

DIRECTOR: Hannes Holm – SWEDEN

Martin, a 17-year-old growing up in mid-1970s Sweden, is a good-hearted boy with a troubled home life. When he’s given the opportunity to live and work at a resort on the Stockholm archipelago for the summer, he leaps at the chance. There he is taken under the wing of restaurant manager Gösta who seems to appreciate Martin’s innocence, even as he recruits him for work in illegal sidelines ranging from hookers to drugs to worse. ‘Holm’s clever coming-of-age comedy has real heart and soul, with young Bill SkarsgÃ¥rd (son of Stellan SkarsgÃ¥rd) delivering a star-making turn as Martin and Josefin Ljungman shining as Jenny, his restaurant co-worker and budding love interest.’’”Variety. (111 mins.)

BLACK BREAD

DIRECTOR: Agustí Villaronga – SPAIN

Adapted from a novel by Emil Teixidor, Black Bread is set in the harsh years of post-war rural Catalonia. Andreu, a 10-year-old boy, comes across the bodies of a man and his son in the woods. Leaning over the dying boy, Andreu hears him whisper ‘Pitorliu’’”the name of a monster supposedly haunting the village. When the local Fascist authorities want to pin the blame on Andreu’s father, a carefully watched Republican sympathizer, the boy sets out to find the real killers and brings to light long-hidden secrets. Black Bread is a moving plunge into the world of a child making his way through warring sources of truth and authority while dealing with all the expected adolescent urges and mysteries. (108 mins.)

BOY

DIRECTOR: Taika Waititi – NEW ZEALAND

Lightly blending quirky comedy and gentle naturalism, Waititi’s heart-tugging story explores the elusive moment when a boy starts to make the choices that determine the man he will become. Inspired by Waititi’s Oscar-nominated short, Two Cars, One Night (PIFF 31), this coming-of-age tale is set in 1984. ‘Michael Jackson is king’”even in Waihau Bay, New Zealand. Here we meet Boy, an 11-year-old who lives on a farm with his gran, a goat, and his younger brother, Rocky (who thinks he has magic powers). Shortly after Gran leaves for a week, Boy’s father, Alamein (Waititi), appears out of the blue. Having imagined a heroic version of his father during his absence, Boy comes face-to-face with the real version’”an incompetent hoodlum who has returned to find a bag of money he buried years before. This is where the goat enters.’’“Sundance Film Festival. (87 mins.)

BREATHE, RUMMEL, BREATHE

DIRECTOR: Kyle Eaton – UNITED STATES (PORTLAND)

Hospitalized after a swimming accident, Rummel drifts in and out of consciousness, recounting his youth and the memories of his late parents. (11 mins.)

BROTHER AND SISTER

DIRECTOR: Daniel Burman – ARGENTINA

The love-hate relationship between two 60-something siblings provides for both wryly amusing and heart-warming drama. When their mother falls ill and dies, scheming Susana (Graciela Borges) and timid, altruistic Marcos (Antonio Gasalla) are thrown back into each other’s lives after a long period of separation. They need each other but, unable to heal old wounds, also despise each other. When dominant Susana sells their mother’s apartment’”Marcos’s home too’”it’s a less-than-kind attempt to undermine his happiness. Marcos’s decision to finally start living his own life catalyzes when his sister forces him to leave Buenos Aires for Uruguay for a dubious real-estate investment and meddles with his emerging theater interest. A major box office hit in Argentina and winner of the Silver Hugo at the Chicago Film Festival, Burman’s Woody Allen-flavored film illustrates his concern for the meaning and machinations of family. (105 mins.)

BUDRUS

DIRECTOR: Julia Bacha – UNITED STATES

As Israeli-Palestinian tensions continue to escalate, Bacha’s inspiring film about the Palestinian village of Budrus (population 1,500) and its unlikely hero reveals the power of ordinary people to peaceably fight for extraordinary change. When a new Israeli-built wall threatened to lop off part of the border town, Ayed Morrar’”a simple family man’”was inspired to act. Soon rival parties Fatah and Hamas, Western activists, and even groups of Israelis were united peaceably behind Morrar and the citizens of Budrus, providing a galvanizing glimpse into the power of ordinary people to peaceably fight for justice in one of the most war-torn parts of the world. ‘This year’s must-see documentary.’’”Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times. (82 mins.)

CAMERAMAN: THE LIFE AND WORK OF JACK CARDIFF

DIRECTOR: Craig McCall – UNITED STATES

Over his 70-year career, Jack Cardiff shot some of the most visually dazzling films in screen history, working for great directors like John Huston, Alfred Hitchcock, and Michael Powell and earning equal praise from his leading men (John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston) and his leading ladies (Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn). Craig McCall’s accomplished documentary illuminates the cinematographer’s art and provides a rare insight into the workings of the movie world. With a wealth of interviews and glorious Technicolor film clips’”including Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes, The African Queen, and even Rambo’”this passionate tribute and rich film history comes especially alive on the big screen it celebrates. ‘We have to keep making films like this one.’’”Martin Scorsese. (86 mins.)

CARANCHO

DIRECTOR: Pablo Trapero – ARGENTINA

Trapero explores an Argentine underworld of seedy lawyers, ambulance chasers, and insurance fraudsters. Ricardo Darin (The Secret in Their Eyes) ekes out a living as a ‘carancho’ (vulture)’”an ambulance-chasing personal injury lawyer, skimming insurance payments from some clients and faking accidents for others. In the hospital he meets emergency room doctor Martina Gusman (Lion’s Den), who is serious-minded and hard-working but maintains a secret drug habit. Despite initial misgivings, she’s drawn to Darin. When the two plot to double-cross Darin’s crooked employers, what begins as mere larceny accelerates, in true film noir fashion, to something more deadly. ‘Darin and Gusman, each of them excellent, receive sterling support from the rest of the cast, while superb camerawork and editing create a mood of tense immediacy from the attention-catching start to the spiraling chaos of the extraordinarily gripping finale.’’”Time Out London. (107 mins.)

CERTIFIED COPY

DIRECTOR: Abbas Kiarostami – FRANCE

This beguiling exploration of art and relationships, his first feature film made outside of Iran, sees Kiarostami producing his most accessible work to date. When an author (played by British opera singer William Shimell) comes to Tuscany to promote his book about the value of copied art, he encounters and spends a day with an antiques dealer (Juliette Binoche, Best Actress, Cannes Film Festival). As they walk, talk, and drive through the beautiful landscape, it at first appears as though they’ve never met. But as time progresses, mystery intrudes. Are they strangers playing the part of a couple, or are they merely pretending to be strangers in the hopes of rekindling their relationship? (106 mins.)

CHEKHOV FOR CHILDREN

DIRECTOR: Sasha Waters Freyer – UNITED STATES

Chekhov for Children tells the inspiring, charming story of the 1979 Broadway staging of ‘Uncle Vanya,’ a heartbreaking play about middle-aged longing’”by New York City fifth and sixth graders, under the direction of celebrated New York writer Phillip Lopate. Using a wealth of often amusing student-made films and videos from the time, mixed with contemporary interviews with some of the now middle-aged participants, Freyer, himself one of the students, explores the interplay between art and life for a dozen friends across three decades. ‘It is childhood which animates our adult lives, and it is through the arts that we all connect to this living childhood within us.’’”Sasha Waters Freyer. (74 mins.)

CHICOGRANDE

DIRECTOR: Felipe Cazals – MEXICO

Chicogrande is set during Mexican revolutionary leader Pancho Villa’s failed 1916 invasion of Columbus, New Mexico. Routed at Columbus and injured, Villa flees into the mountains, with a cavalry of American soldiers in hot pursuit. Villa’s only lifeline and link with the outside world is Chico Grande, Villa’s loyal supporter and a man who would gladly put his life on the line to save the ‘Northern Centaur.’ As the American troops, scenting blood, close in, Chico Grande’s courage and dedication are put to the ultimate test. With acknowledgements due to John Ford and the Western, Chicogrande is still uncompromisingly a Mexican film and an appropriate recognition of the centenary of the Mexican Revolution. ‘Cazals’ auteur Western draws specific parallels between the U.S. invasion of Mexico and recent geopolitical events.’’”Screen International. (95 mins.)

CIRCO

DIRECTOR: Aaron Schock – MEXICO

Filmed along the back roads of rural Mexico, this cinematic road movie enters the luminous world of a small traveling circus while examining the universal themes of family bonds, filial responsibility, and the weight of cultural inheritance. An enchanting, insiders’ tale of family life under the big top, it documents an almost extinct way of life. To be a member of the Ponce family is to participate in La Gran Circo de Mexico, family-owned and operated since the 19th century. But as declining audiences threaten the circus’ viability, the ties that bind the family fray and loosen, and the future is uncertain. ‘A gem of a documentary…crisply shot, emotionally frank, and genuinely moving.’’”Time Out London. (85 mins.)

COLD WEATHER

DIRECTOR: Aaron Katz – UNITED STATES

Just short of graduating from college, Doug decides to put his forensic science studies on hold and try the beautiful grey skies of Portland for a spell. Moving in with his sedate sister Gail, he gets a no-brain job at an ice factory and falls in with several other not-particularly-motivated 20-somethings. An obsessive Sherlock Holmes fan, fictional musing turns to real-life mystery when his ex-girlfriend Rachael disappears, leaving him with troubling questions. The search for Rachael becomes a mysterious sleuthing adventure, which ultimately turns out to be the catalyst to unite the two siblings adrift in a world neither of them has quite connected with. Katz, who grew up in Portland, has made his own Portland valentine while having fun with the mumblecore and detective film genres in visually compelling fashion. (96 mins.)

THE COLORS OF THE MOUNTAIN

DIRECTOR: Carlos César Arbeláez – COLOMBIA

Arbeláez takes the perspective of children to contrast a world of their innocent playfulness with the absurd, violent world of adults. Manuel and Julian, best friends who live in a small community in the Colombian mountains, accidentally kick their prized soccer ball into a minefield. Their effort to get their precious ball back, an essential part of their everyday lives and dreams, becomes a symbol of colliding worlds, as purity clashes with harshness. Arbaláez cast non-professional actors from the Antioquia region where the film was shot, lending the film a charming authenticity. ‘Moving, funny, poignant, and insightful…a powerful debut!’’”Screen International. (93 mins.)

COME UNDONE

DIRECTOR: Silvio Soldini – ITALY

Anna, an accountant in Milan, has a happy enough life with her partner Alessandro, but in the humdrum of the daily grind, something is missing. By chance she meets Domenico, a married waiter, and after a brief flirtation, desire overwhelms. The two fall into a heated affair punctuated by sordid erotic encounters, constantly juggling schedules, arguments, and complicated lies. Anna’s secret life goes unnoticed by an oblivious Alessandro, but Domenico’s wife soon catches on that something is amiss. As passion turns to obsession, they face wrenching, life-changing choices neither is prepared to consider. By turns sexy and soberly insightful, Soldini offers a cautionary tale on the price of passion, the anxiety of leading a double life, and acceptance. ‘If the movie tells an old story, its unvarnished realism lends it poignancy and depth.’’”Stephen Holden, New York Times. (124 mins.)

THE COW WHO WANTED TO BE A HAMBURGER

DIRECTOR: Bill Plympton – UNITED STATES

A children’s fable about the power of advertising, the meaning of life, and the test of a mother’s love. (6 mins.)

CRAB TRAP

DIRECTOR: Oscar Ruiz Navia – COLOMBIA

New and old worlds collide in this atmospheric story set in an almost inaccessible jungle village named La Barra on the Colombian Pacific coast. A mysterious man named Daniel arrives, looking to get a boat and leave the country’”and perhaps leave behind some tragedy from his past. Forced to wait until the fishermen return, Daniel gets caught up in the local dramas, including a love-triangle-fueled feud between nightclub proprietor Paisa, the only other white man there; the village’s de facto mayor, Cerebro; and local beauty Jazmin. Exploring the nuances of social, racial, and economic relations with striking visual flair and sense of place, Crab Trap is ‘moody, poetic’¦ If Samuel Beckett ever went to the beach, this is what he might have thought about.’’“Variety. (95 mins.)

CRY WHEN IT HAPPENS

DIRECTOR: Laida Lertxundi – SPAIN/US

An allegory wrapped in themes of discovery, longing and looking, and positive upward movement, with heavy-metal themes of molten transformation at its core. (14 mins.)

THE CURIO

DIRECTOR: Dicky Dahl – UNITED STATES (PORTLAND)

A recent divorcé moves to Portland and struggles to re-invent himself amidst the comparatively young social scene’”to the point of becoming, at least by his own perception, an object of curiosity. (22 mins.)

DAY TRIP

DIRECTOR: Zoe McIntosh – NEW ZEALAND

A gang member in need of a day off takes an excursion to discover the land he calls home. (11 mins.)

THE DOUBLE HOUR

DIRECTOR: Giuseppe Capotondi – ITALY

Filippo Timi (Vincere) and Kseniya Rappoport, winner of the Best Actress award at the Venice Film Festival for her role, star in this ever-changing thriller. She’s a maid, he’s an ex-cop; they meet via a speed-dating service, and for a while their relationship has real promise. But then a mysterious murder happens, and nothing is what it appeared to be. Is she a dangerous femme fatale or just a woman with terrible luck? Combining elements of film noir, melodrama, and finely-tuned suspense, The Double Hour keeps viewers on edge throughout its final moments. (95 mins.)

EASTERN PLAYS

DIRECTOR: Kamen Kalev – BULGARIA

The challenges of life for youth in Bulgaria and many Eastern European countries in the post-Soviet era’”high unemployment, lack of direction and opportunity, and rising nationalism’”movingly surface in Kalev’s debut film. Disaffected and impressionable teen Georgi falls in with a gang of skinheads in Sofia. When the gang hassles a Turkish family on the street, the man who comes to their aid turns out to be Georgi’s estranged older brother Christo, nicknamed Itso. An artist and recovering drug addict, Itso is surprised to discover newfound motivation after this incident, reconnecting with his brother and bonding with the beautiful Isil (Saadet Isil Aksoy), whose family he defended. (83 mins.)

EVEN THE RAIN

DIRECTOR: Icíar Bollaín – SPAIN

A huge wooden cross is carried by helicopter over the highlands of Bolivia. Close behind is a film crew, led by producer Costa and director Sebastian (Gael García Bernal), there to make a new film about Columbus’s arrival in the Americas. A call for native extras leads to a veritable flood of candidates, as the local population is desperate for work. But the drama of conquest and opposition about to be enacted for the movie is soon dwarfed by the real-life struggle of these extras and many others against the government’s efforts to take control of the local water supply. Bollaín and screenwriter Paul Laverty have fashioned a perceptive look at Latin America and the historical patterns of oppression that continue to shackle the region. (104 mins.)

EVERYWHERE WAS THE SAME

DIRECTOR: Basma Al Sharif – PALESTINE/US

Innocence lost, a city mired and mutilated. With slideshow images of abandoned homes and an apocalyptic tale inspired by a massacre in Gaza in 2006. (12 mins.)

EYE LINER

DIRECTOR: Joanna Priestley – UNITED STATES (PORTLAND)

This second installment in a trilogy of abstract films inspired by botany and organic patterns examines two-dimensional patterns and archetypes of the human face. (4 mins.)

A FAMILY

DIRECTOR: Pernille Fischer Christensen – DENMARK

Rikard Rheinwald is the last in a line of five generations of prosperous Copenhagen bakers (‘purveyors to the Royal Court!’). Diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer, the proud man decides that his daughter Ditte should take over the family business. But Ditte has her hands full with her successful art gallery, a dream job offer in New York, and difficulties with her boyfriend. The conflicting demands of family and tradition, an aging father and a determined daughter, are given powerful dramatic treatment in a film that deftly explores the universal with no pat answers, just resonating recognition and understanding. (102 mins.)

THE FIRST BEAUTIFUL THING

DIRECTOR: Paolo Virzì – ITALY

Mixing warm comedy and nostalgic drama, Virzì tells the story of a misanthropic son named Bruno returning to his hometown to see his dying mother. When Bruno was eight, his sister Anna was roped into a beauty contest in their hometown of Liverno and, as a great beauty, easily won. His father, enraged by the leering attention she attracted, abandoned the family, setting in motion a life that led his spirited mother to do whatever was necessary to support Bruno and Anna. Always embarrassed by her ways, Bruno found a life as far away from Liverno as possible. When he gets the news that his mother is sick, the reluctant trip home triggers bittersweet memories and the belated understanding of the spirit of a mother he always loved yet despised. (122 mins.)

THE FIRST GRADER

DIRECTOR: Justin Chadwick – GREAT BRITAIN

A deep and rich exploration of a man’s life-long fight for dignity and freedom, The First Grader, based on a true story, is set in a remote primary school in Kenya. Among the hundreds of children hoping to enroll for the free education newly promised by the government, one applicant causes astonishment. He is Maruge, an old Mau Mau veteran in his eighties. He fought for the liberation of his country and now wants the chance of an education so long denied. Moved by his passionate plea, head teacher Jane Obinchu supports his struggle to gain admission, and together they face fierce opposition from parents and officials who don’t want to waste a precious school place on such an old man. Featuring outstanding performances by Oliver Litondo and Naomie Harris, this moving story reminds us of the resilient nature of the human spirit. (120 mins.)

FLAMENCO, FLAMENCO

DIRECTOR: Carlos Saura – SPAIN

Fifteen years after Flamenco, his landmark film on the history of Spanish music and dance, Saura re-teams with cinematographer Vittorio Storaro and music director Isidro Muñoz to introduce an exciting new generation of flamenco singers, musicians, and dancers. ‘There is a new and incredibly powerful flamenco being created by young talents who have so much to offer’”both in orthodox flamenco and in fusion flamenco, blending in other music styles. The new work cannot be conveyed without giving the context of the great Spanish masters. So, our first mission was to start ‘˜placing’ the different artists we already know in the history of flamenco’”Paco de Lucia, Manolo Sanlúcar, José Mercé. These important names are part of the core of the musical structure of the film’”a kind of trunk which supports the rest.’’”Carlos Saura. (90 mins.)

FLAWED

DIRECTOR: Andrea Dorfman – CANADA

Dorfman’s drawings burst colorfully into life as she animates the story of her long-distance relationship with a man whose profession, plastic surgery, gives her plenty of fodder for creative imagery. (12 mins.)

THE FOUR TIMES

DIRECTOR: Michelangelo Frammartino – ITALY

Vivid and colorful, Frammartino’s four-part meditation on man and nature traces the cycle of life through the humble daily rituals of rural existence in the southern Italian region of Calabria. ‘An elderly shepherd ingests the dust from a church floor to treat his cough; a baby goat from his flock tentatively ventures out to pasture; a majestic fir tree is felled and repurposed as the centerpiece of a village celebration; finally, its logs are transformed into wood charcoal through the ancient methods of the local workers. Connecting the dots among animal, vegetable, mineral, and dust, the film is both concrete and cosmic, and it features what may be the most impressive single shot of the year: a masterfully orchestrated long take involving a religious procession, a herd of goats, a runaway truck, and a truly awe-inspiring dog.’’”New York Film Festival. (88 mins.)

GLENN OWEN DODDS

DIRECTOR: Frazer Bailey – AUSTRALIA

En route to his bus stop one day, Michael is intrigued by a line of people in front of an alley door painted red. Thus begins a chance meeting with both the girl of his dreams and God. (16 mins.)

OF GODS AND MEN

DIRECTOR: Xavier Beauvois – FRANCE

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes, Beauvois’ film explores the mysteries and consequences of faith as it tells the harrowing true story of a brotherhood of French monks in North Africa who find themselves threatened by Islamic extremists during the Algerian Civil War of the 1990s. Given to providing medical care and support to their Muslim neighbors and tending their garden, their life of service is one of peace and harmony until armed insurgents arrive, and they find themselves faced with an impossible decision: to flee or to stand their ground and fulfill their spiritual mission. Fundamentalism meets fundamentalism. ‘Magnificently photographed by cinematographer Caroline Champetier in compositions that suggest Renaissance paintings, Of Gods and Men is a poetic, austerely beautiful triumph.’’”New York Film Festival. (122 mins.)

THE GOLD MINE

DIRECTOR: Jacques Bonnavent – MEXICO

Betina, a lonely spinster, meets what appears to be the man of her dreams online. But after making an arduous trip to be with him, what awaits her is a wholly unexpected fate. (10 mins.)

GOOD MORNING TO THE WORLD

DIRECTOR: Hirohara Satoru – JAPAN

High school boy Takahashi Yuta is effectively bringing himself up alone. His father is long gone, and his mother is constantly off on trips, leaving him notes and modest amounts of cash to keep himself fed. Not surprisingly, he’s a bit of a loner at school. But he’s fascinated by (identifies with?) the vagrant man who sleeps in a road tunnel near his home, and when that man is killed’”apparently by a gang of local delinquents’”he sets off on a quest to find the dead man’s family and friends, following clues in the man’s bag. ‘This debut feature from Hirohara Satoru offers a very fresh take on the rite-of-passage theme; there’s not a cliché in sight.’’”Tony Rayns. (81 mins.)

THE GRUFFALO

DIRECTOR: Max Lang, Jakob Schuh – GREAT BRITAIN

Helena Bonham-Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Tom Wilkinson, and John Hurt lend their voices to this animated fable about a mouse who wanders into the woods in search of nuts and nearly ends up being served in a soup instead. (27 mins.)

HEARTBEATS

DIRECTOR: Xavier Dolan – CANADA

Part quirky farce, part serious meditation on the insanity of unrequited love and desire, Heartbeats centers on best friends Francis (Xavier Dolan) and Marie (Monia Chokri). One evening they meet Nicolas (Niels Schneider), a striking young man from the country who has recently arrived in town. His boyish charm and classic good looks set off bells in both of them that neither can shut off. The threesome begins to spend more and more time together. But the closer the three seem to get, the more remote and unattainable Nico becomes’”is he straight or gay, or just wanting to be friends?’”sending Francis and Marie’s comic obsessions to frantic heights. And as their mutual desire for Nicolas’ affections grow, their own friendship shifts to rivalry. Twenty-one-year-old Dolan’s stylish, satiric follow-up to his widely praised How I Killed My Mother draws a bead on the complexities of love, sex, and power with entertaining understanding. (95 mins.)

HERMANO

DIRECTOR: Marcel Rasquin – VENEZUELA

This year’s Venezuelan submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar tells the bittersweet tale of a brother’s love and loyalty put to the test. Two brothers, who have grown up playing soccer together in the dirt fields of their barrio, have their prayers answered when a scout gives them the opportunity to try out with the Caracas Football Club. Daniel dreams of being a professional player, but Julio’s more pragmatic goals of providing for the family lead him down a darker path. As the details of their lives unfold through simple everyday events like the baking of a cake, a raucous party, or a rooftop romance, we see the sinister undercurrents that threaten to derail everything they hope for and the bonds of family pushed to the limit. (96 mins.)

HIS & HERS

DIRECTOR: Ken Wardrop – IRELAND

Inspired by his own mother’s life, Wardrop has crafted a charming cinematic mosaic that tells a 90-year-old love story through the collective voice of 70 Irish ladies at different stages of their lives. The hallways, living rooms, and kitchens of the Irish Midlands become the canvas for the film’s rich portrayal of female characters. Unfolding sequentially from young to old, their unabashed and unique stories of life and love with the men closest to them’”whether it be fathers, boyfriends, husbands, or sons’”offer a delightful and sometimes heartbreaking array of personal ruminations. His & Hers celebrates the spectrum of ordinary moments that add up to the extraordinary and sheds memorable light on the universal nature of love and family. (80 mins.)

HONEY

DIRECTOR: Semih Kaplanoglu – TURKEY

Winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, Kaplanoglu’s film orbits around the fragile early childhood of the autobiographical central character, Yusuf, and his  relationship with his father. Seen through the child’s eyes, the father’”a wild-honey collector living in an isolated mountain region’”is an adored presence who helps unlock the secrets of the forest. Yusuf’s dreamy, interior world is threatened by the reality of school (he suddenly develops a stutter) and his father’s dangerous work. Soulful and visually ravishing, this lyrical film is imbued with a hazy timelessness that slowly unravels along with the boy’s cocooned way of life. ‘A beautiful meditation on familial love and the mysteries of nature.’’”Hollywood Reporter. (103 mins.)

THE HOUSEMAID

DIRECTOR: Im Sang-soo – SOUTH KOREA

Lust, cruelty, and revenge reign in this riveting erotic thriller about a naïve young housemaid whose arrival wreaks havoc on an ultra-rich Korean family. Eun-yi is the servant who passively ignites the desire and jealousy of those around her: the virile husband, the scorned pregnant wife, the scheming mother-in-law, and the bitter older housemaid, each played to creepy perfection. Transgressions give way to an escalating war of mental abuse, in which guilt and innocence quickly become irrelevant. Visually spectacular, the film’s pristine contemporary interiors and coldly beautiful cinematography stand in stark contrast to the fevered manipulations of its cast of characters. In a wicked finale, Sang-soo lets loose a surreal flourish, laying bare the simmering madness within all. (107 mins.)

HOW I ENDED THIS SUMMER

DIRECTOR: Alexei Popogrebsky – RUSSIA

Just out of school, young Pavel arrives at a remote meteorological research station in the frozen Russian Arctic. It’s to be a summer of learning and adventure under the tutelage of the wise and crusty Sergei, whose multi-year tour of duty is coming to an end. Misplaced confidence and youthful immaturity lead to a string of potentially deadly deceptions. The deliberate pace of life in the Arctic, combined with the disorienting round-the-clock sunlight, sets the stage for a thriller infused with equal parts psychological trauma and physical endurance. A meditation on man’s ability to cope with harsh nature and extreme isolation, Popogrebsky’s visually dazzling morality tale won Silver Bears at the Berlin Film Festival for both lead actors and the cinematography prize for Best Artistic Achievement. (124 mins.)

HOW TO DIE IN OREGON

DIRECTOR: Peter D. Richardson – UNITED STATES

‘From its opening scene, where a terminally ill cancer patient takes a lethal dose of Seconal and literally dies on camera, it becomes shockingly clear that this is a special film. In 1994, Oregon became the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide. As a result, any individual whom two physicians diagnose as having less than six months to live can lawfully request a fatal dose of barbiturate to end his or her life. Since 1994, more than 500 Oregonians have taken their mortality into their own hands. Richardson gently enters the lives of the terminally ill as they consider whether’”and when’”to end their lives by lethal overdose, examining both sides of this complex, emotionally charged issue. What emerges is a life-affirming, staggeringly powerful portrait of what it means to die with dignity.’’”Sundance Film Festival. (107 mins.)

HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER

DIRECTOR: Eran Riklis – ISRAEL

Riklis’ comic and ultimately moving film starts in Jerusalem, when the unclaimed body of a woman killed by a suicide bomber turns out to be that of a foreign worker at a prominent local bakery. Worried that all the press coverage might damage the reputation of her business, the owner theatrically insists on memorializing the woman and instructs her personnel officer to escort the body back to Romania for a dignified funeral. But who was this woman, and why was she in Jerusalem? As a surreal journey to the backwaters of Romania unfolds, the personnel officer soon learns more than he ever bargained for about the woman’s life, bureaucracy, and, ultimately, about the ‘human resources’ he himself possesses. (103 mins.)

IF I WANT TO WHISTLE, I WHISTLE

DIRECTOR: Florin Serban – ROMANIA

Winner of the Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival and this year’s Romanian submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, Serban’s film is a penetrating character study of misguided youth. Silviu has spent several years in a juvenile detention center after being arrested for theft, but just days before his release, he receives the dismaying news that his mother, who abandoned him and his younger brother years before, has returned. What’s more, she intends to take his brother, whom Silviu raised like his own son, to Italy. Devastated, resentful, and filled with an overpowering sense of betrayal, Silviu commits an escalating series of transgressions that sabotage his chances at freedom and ultimately hatches an ill-conceived scheme to force his mother to change her plans. (94 mins.)

ILLEGAL

DIRECTOR: Olivier Masset-Depasse – BELGIUM

Tania (Anne Coesens), a Russian immigrant residing illegally in Belgium with her teenage son, lives in constant terror. Willing to do whatever it takes to survive and prevent their deportation, the fear of being caught becomes reality when she’s stopped in a routine police check, arrested, and sent to a detention center. Unable to be with her still free son and witness to the persecutions of other illegals from many countries struggling to stay in Belgium, things soon spiral out of control when she claims a false name and finds herself in the limbo of complex deportation policies. This year’s Belgian submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, Illegal focuses on the human rather than political, telling a universal experience faced by immigrants seeking a better life for their families throughout the world. (99 mins.)

IN A BETTER WORLD

DIRECTOR: Susanne Bier – DENMARK

Anton commutes between his home in an idyllic Danish town and his work at a Kenyan refugee camp tending to the victims of tribal war. Anton and his wife Marianne, who lives in Denmark, are separated. Their eldest son, ten-year-old Elias, is being bullied at school, until Christian, newly arrived from London and troubled by the recent death of his mother, defends him. The boys quickly form a strong bond, but when Christian involves Elias in a dangerous act of revenge with potentially tragic consequences, lives are put in danger. Anton, seeing life from the perspective of living with violence in two very different worlds, is faced with difficult moral choices between revenge and forgiveness. (119 mins.)

INCENDIES

DIRECTOR: Denis Villeneuve – CANADA

Shifting between present-day Montreal and the Lebanese civil war of the 1970s, the story starts at the reading of twin brother and sister Simon and Jeanne’s mother’s will. It is revealed that they have a brother whom they never knew about and a father who is still alive. Their mother, Nawal, gives them the task of finding the two and delivering them her sealed letters. As the film cuts between the twins’ search and flashbacks to Nawal’s difficult past, Simon and Jeanne learn about their mother’s heart-breaking story and discover surprises about themselves. Adapted from Wajdi Mouawad’s acclaimed stage play, Villeneuve crafts an intricate and tragic cinematic epic that examines the roots of war, hatred, and enduring love.  (130 mins.)

INCIDENT BY A BANK

DIRECTOR: Ruben Ostlund – SWEDEN

Shot in a single take, this detailed and humorous account of a failed bank robbery reveals how people react to unusual circumstances. (10 mins.)

KATALIN VARGA

DIRECTOR: Peter Strickland – HUNGARY

When her husband discovers that their 11-year-old son Orbán is not his, he banishes his wife Katalin and the boy, sending them to Katalin’s home village in Transylvania, intent on wreaking vengeance on the real father. Equal parts road movie, character drama, and revenge thriller, Strickland’s film is ultimately a rumination on the nature of forgiveness and justice. Though contemporary in setting, the primitive, seemingly medieval conditions in the country, combined with Katalin’s single-minded pursuit of revenge, imbue the story with a timeless, mythic quality. (84 mins.)

KAWASAKI’S ROSE

DIRECTOR: Jan Hrebejk – CZECH REPUBLIC

Lacing a vivid family drama with light comedic flourishes, Hrebejk offers a poetic and political rumination on contemporary Czech life that reminds us that the present can never outrun the past. Pavel is an esteemed psychiatrist whose dissident activism during the days of Communist rule is about to be honored with a national award. Most everyone is pleased. But unfortunately the film crew documenting Pavel’s accomplishments includes his erratic, resentful son-in-law, Ludek, who is convinced Pavel’s righteous arrogance conceals a darker truth. When research reveals that Pavel had a sordid past with the Czech secret police, Ludek uncovers a shocking family secret that puts everyone’s identity in question. Inspired in part by The Lives of Others, Hrebejk’s morality tale is this year’s Czech submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. (100 mins.)

THE KISS

DIRECTOR: Ashlee Page – AUSTRALIA

On a hot summer’s night, two girls, fueled by hormones and alcohol, take a leap that will change their lives. (15 mins.)

LA PIVELLINA

DIRECTOR: Tizza Covi, Rainer Frimmel – AUSTRIA

In a muddy trailer park on the outskirts of Rome, Patty and husband Walter, performers in a poor traveling circus, wait out the dreary winter. One day at a nearby park, Patty finds a two-year-old girl standing alone in the rain. She brings little Asia home to dry her off and discovers a note in her pocket saying the girl will be picked up in due course by her troubled mother. As the days turn into weeks with no sign of the mother, a new family is formed that offers unexpected joy to everyone in the itinerant community. Bringing a documentary sensibility to their first fiction film, Covi and Frimmel craft a moving ode to family spirit out of classic neorealist elements. (100 mins.)

THE LAST CIRCUS

DIRECTOR: Alex de la Iglesia – SPAIN

In 1937 Spain, a circus troupe is conscripted by the Republican army to battle the National front. The circus’ silly clown carries out a bloodbath with a machete while still dressed in costume. When his young son Javier attempts to help him escape from service, a heartless colonel leaves Javier an orphan. Decades later, an adult Javier joins a circus as the sad clown. The silly clown, Sergio, is a cruel thug, terrorizing co-workers and abusing his girlfriend Natalia, with whom Javier falls in love. The Last Circus offers a bold metaphor for the Spanish Civil War’”the clownish extremes of Communism and Fascism’”and the years of Franco’s dictatorship. ‘An ode to the monstrous and grotesque whose every scene is a technical marvel, this mutant, burlesque tragedy-slash-cartoonish historical comedy is truly in a class by itself.’’”Julien Fonfrède. (107 mins.)

LAST REPORT ON ANNA

DIRECTOR: Márta Mészáros – HUNGARY

A vivid political drama based on true events, Last Report on Anna is set in the 1970s and tells the story of Anna Kéthly, a minister in the government of Imre Nagy who went into exile following the failure of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. A stalwart who railed against both Fascist and Communist dictatorships, Kéthly was one of the few politicians to oppose Hungary’s discriminatory measures against Jews. Living in Belgium but continuing to fight for the ideals of the revolution from afar, Kéthly is visited by Péter, the nephew of an old lover who had been unable to leave Hungary. Péter tries to persuade her to return home after decades of exile. Unbeknownst to Kéthly, he has been trapped into the employ of the Hungarian secret service, which awaits her return. (103 mins.)

LET’S POLLUTE

DIRECTOR: Geefwee Boedoe – UNITED STATES

In the spirit of ’50s and ’60s educational films, Let’s Pollute is a modern social satire on pollution as an economic driving force and as our collective cultural heritage. (7 mins.)

THE LIGHT THIEF

DIRECTOR: Aktan Arym Kubat – KYRGYZSTAN

When a small village in remote southern Kyrgyzstan is targeted by a greedy development scheme and impending Chinese domination, somebody has to stand up. Director-star Kubat plays the highly affable Svet-ake, a.k.a. ‘Mr. Light,’ who makes his living ingeniously illuminating homes and businesses in the community. In order for Svet-ake to realize his dreams of having a son (he already has four girls) and bringing affordable energy to his community (his vision is to harness wind power), he must thwart those who have more sinister money-making plans. Treating his characters with humanity and tenderness, Kubat fashions an entertaining portrait of an impoverished community and an insightful allegory about post-Soviet realities and the difficult path to democracy. (80 mins.)

LIPSETT DIARIES

DIRECTOR: Theodore Ushev – CANADA

Deconstructing a visionary in experimental cinema, Ushev’s animated documentary presents the incredible creativity and emotional tumult that defined filmmaker Arthur Lipsett’s life. (15 mins.)

LITTLE CHILDREN, BIG WORDS

DIRECTOR: Lisa James Larsson – SWEDEN

When it’s Alex’s turn to tell his seven-year-old classmates what he wants to be when he grows up, an uncomfortable discussion begins about the meaning of an unknown but loaded word. (12 mins.)

LONG SHADOWS

DIRECTOR: Joshua Bonnetta – CANADA/US

Animating the frames of long-lost, decaying home movies of the 1950s in watercolor, Long Shadows re-constructs these moments and gestures into haunted sequences, dreaming back through the seasons of a childhood spent on a northern lake. (12 mins.)

LOPE

DIRECTOR: Andrucha Washington – SPAIN

‘Returning from a stint as a soldier abroad, the young Lope de Vega (newcomer Alberto Ammann) decides to at least temporarily hang up his sword and try his hand at writing. He demonstrates a talent for improving the work of others to theater owner Jeronimo Vazquez (Juan Diego) and eventually gets to author his own plays. His growing reputation attracts the attention of wealthy merchant Tomas de Perrenot (Miguel Angel Muñoz), who hires him to write love poems for his beloved, Isabel (Leonor Watling)’”who happens to be the love of Lope’s youth. The life of Spain’s greatest playwright is brought to vibrant life in this beautifully detailed re-creation of 16th century Spain and the world of Lope de Vega, author of an estimated 1,800 plays’”not to mention  more than  3,000 sonnets.’’”Film Society of Lincoln Center. (109 mins.)

THE LOST THING

DIRECTOR: Shaun Tan, Andrew Ruhemann – AUSTRALIA

A boy finds a strange creature on a beach and decides to find a home for it in a world where everyone believes there are far more important things to pay attention to. (15 mins.)

LOUDER THAN A BOMB

DIRECTOR: Greg Jacobs, Jon Siskel – UNITED STATES

Chicago’s ‘Louder than a Bomb’ (LTAB) draws more than 600 high school students from 60 schools from all over the city’s diverse neighborhoods to compete in what is now the largest youth poetry slam competition in the world. Rather than emphasizing individual performances, however, LTAB is unique in judging teams, not individuals, forcing participants to work collaboratively with their peers. For many kids, being a part of such an environment is life-changing. In the tradition of Spellbound and Wordplay, this irresistibly gripping film gives us an inside look at four teams (and their star ‘slammers’) as they compete for the top prize. But behind the engrossing competitive fervor lies the film’s true spirit: a warm celebration of a group of talented young poets finding their voice as they pour their angst, frustrations, hopes, and insecurities out through raw, unfiltered words. (99 mins.)

OF LOVE AND OTHER DEMONS

DIRECTOR: Hilda Hidalgo – COSTA RICA

Based on the novel by Gabriel García Márquez, this dreamlike tale of desire and faith is set in colonial Colombia. Sierva, 13, lives a well-cared-for existence as the daughter of a nobleman in a seaside town. Her idyll abruptly ends with a bite from a rabid dog. Falling ill, the town’s bishop, convinced she is possessed by demons, sends her to a young priest for routine exorcism. Suspecting that her sickness is more psychological than demonological, he and the dogmatic bishop clash in scientific-religious debate, complicated by his concern for the girl turning into tormented love. Hidalgo suffuses her erotically charged film with Márquez’s magical realism, creating an enrapturing atmosphere in which the girl and the priest find their fates intertwined. (97 mins.)

MAMORI

DIRECTOR: Karl Lemieux – BRAZIL/CANADA

Its title taken from a site in the Amazon Rainforest, Mamori captures the textures of tropical vegetation and its various transformations according to the phenomena of light. (8 mins.)

THE MAN NEXT DOOR

DIRECTOR: Mariano Cohn, Gastón Duprat – ARGENTINA

‘The star of this dry and wicked black comedy is a building: the Curutchet House in La Plata, south of Buenos Aires’”the only residence designed by Le Corbusier in the Americas. In this Argentine satire about class, love of beautiful things, and violent urges, the landmark structure plays the fictional home of world-famous interior designer Leonardo, his wife, and his daughter. All cherish the privileged status conferred by living in the house. Then horror strikes: a neighbor who wants more sun puts a window in the wall facing the family’s courtyard! Suddenly, aesthetic symmetry is destroyed, and the neighbor’”too friendly, too crude, and too insistent’”can now peer into their pristine and elegant abode. With scalpel-like precision, Cohn and Duprat chart the ebb and flow of this dramatic disturbance.’’”New Director, New Films. (110 mins.)

THE MAN WHO WILL COME

DIRECTOR: Giorgio Diritti – ITALY

Winner of the Jury Prize at the Rome Film Festival and this year’s David de Donatello (Italian Oscar) Award for Best Film, Diritti’s film is a moving anti-war parable. In the fall of 1944, the German army committed an atrocity of Italian genocide known as the Massacre of Marzabotto’”slaughtering almost 800 Italian peasants near Bologna, many women, children, and the elderly. Diritti explores the events that led to this act through the eyes of an eight-year-old peasant girl and her family, including the fateful decision by their community to aid the partisans fighting the occupying Fascist forces. Diritti, who worked with Italian director Ermanno Olmi early in his career, recalls Olmi’s evocative celebration of common people and the beauty of the land that sustains them. (117 mins.)

MARTHA

DIRECTOR: Marcelino Islas Hernández – MEXICO

After 30 years as an archivist at a small Mexico City insurance company, life is suddenly turned upside down for prim 75-year-old Martha (Magda Vizaino) when a computer is brought in to replace her. Once she is fired, life loses all meaning for her. With no one she can trust and nothing else to live for, Martha decides to end her life. With the help of Eva, the young woman hired to transfer the files to the computer, her journey towards death surprisingly leads her back to life. Marrying socially conscious neo-realist instincts with touches of black humor and religious allegory, Hernández has fashioned an unusual meditation on work, life, and salvation. (80 mins.)

MOTOR AWAY

DIRECTOR: Shawn Sullivan – UNITED STATES (PORTLAND)

Gretchen Corbett stars in this portrait of exhausted love set in an RV beside the Columbia River. (7 mins.)

MUTANT GIRLS SQUAD

DIRECTOR: Tak Sakaguchi, Noboru Iguchi, Yoshihiro Nishimura – JAPAN

‘Rin’s normal high school life dramatically changes on her 16th birthday when her father reveals that he is a mutant, and she has inherited his mutant gene. Moments later, government special forces break into her home and blow both of her parents to bits. Suddenly, Rin’s dormant mutant abilities are awakened, and her arm transforms into a sharp, knife-encrusted claw! Fleeing and fighting her way, she joins a group of girls also born as mutants: one can transform her arms into swords, one can grow tentacles from her fingertips, and another can grow a chainsaw out of her body. Their mission: revenge on all who have persecuted mutants. Action-packed, hilarious, and outrageously violent, this is Japanese splatter cinema at its finest.’’”Dan Halsted. (85 mins.)

MY JOY

DIRECTOR: Sergei Loznitsa – UKRAINE

A road movie through the dark side of rural Russia, My Joy posits a violence-filled former Soviet Union absent the most basic humanity. Georg leaves his hometown with a truckload of goods for the market. A wrong turn leads him down back roads where brutal local police, mysterious passengers, hostile locals, and a teenage prostitute he picks up at an endless traffic jam all offer their own picture of a surreal and oddly timeless hidden society. Here, the scars of the past are ever in the present. As Georg descends into the wilds, it seems a matter of time before the next unexpected encounter will be the last. ‘There are hints of Tarkovsky in the poetic exploration of place and memory…the sense of a Dantean journey and a vision of utter hell are powerfully conveyed.’’”Time Out, London. (127 mins.)

MY LIFE WITH CARLOS

DIRECTOR: Germán Berger – ARGENTINA

Through photos, recordings, archival material, and the memories of his brothers and mother (renowned human rights lawyer Carmen Hertz), Germán Berger lovingly assembles the puzzle of who his father was and the searing impact his father’s disappearance under the Pinochet regime had on the life of his family. Germán was only a child when his father disappeared, and in the process of making the film, his own silhouetted memories are made more vivid as his relationship to his father takes on a new complexity. This intensely personal, engaging, and elegantly crafted journey is paced like a thriller, with gorgeous cinematography by Miguel Littin. ‘It’s cinema as memory project but also catharsis’”one man’s attempt to exorcise his lingering anger at the past.’’”Village Voice. (83 mins.)

MY TEHRAN FOR SALE

DIRECTOR: Granaz Moussavi – IRAN

Filmed in secret, renowned poet Moussavi’s bold first feature crafts a timely story of a generation living double lives in their own country. Marzieh, a young actress in Tehran, chafes under the pressure of government authorities who want to suppress her theater work. When she meets Saman at an underground rave, the Iranian-born Australian citizen offers her a way out of Iran and the possibility of a livelihood without fear. Set against the backdrop of Tehran’s thriving underground art, music, and theater scene and framed through a series of artful and dramatic flashback sequences, Moussavi acutely registers the trials of a modern woman struggling to flourish in a stifling contemporary socio-political climate. (97 mins.)

MY WHITE BABY

DIRECTOR: Akosua Adoma Owusu – GHANA/US

‘Owusu begins with a portrait of hairdressing salons in Accra, weaves in audio from Oprah Winfrey’s mission to distribute black dolls in Africa, and then transitions to her sister’s story of encountering white children for the first time after their family moved to the US.’’”Ed Halter. (22 mins.)

NOSTALGIA FOR THE LIGHT

DIRECTOR: Patricio Guzmán – CHILE

In Chile’s high Atacama Desert, astronomers peer through skies so clear that they can see to the boundaries of the known universe. Meanwhile, at the foot of the observatory, women dig through the soil in search of the earthly’”the ‘disappeared’ victims of Augusto Pinochet’s regime, their remains mummified by the hot, dry climate. Famed for his political films, Guzmán once again exhumes Chile’s past in a poetic and visually stunning meditation that draws parallels between the nature of time, perception, and memory. ‘When astronomers look at the heavens, they peer directly into the past, this idea extrapolated to everything people see. The many metaphors and surprising parallels between the universe, archaeology, and Chile’s recent past rise organically from the material, and the idea that universal truths can be found by focusing on local details is again proven.’’”Variety. (90 mins.)

OFF SEASON

DIRECTOR: Jonathan Van Tulleken – CANADA

Stealing from summer cottages during the brutal off-season winter months, a transient and his faithful dog make a tragic discovery. (13 mins.)

ORMIE

DIRECTOR: Rob Silvestri – CANADA

Ormie tries to get his hands on the cookies that are just out of reach on top of the refrigerator. (4 mins.)

OUTRAGE

DIRECTOR: Takeshi Kitano – JAPAN

‘Takeshi Kitano is back in top form with this ruthless and violent yakuza thriller! Kitano stars as Otomo, a stoic mid-level yakuza boss. When two top mob bosses form an alliance, the entire yakuza world is in danger of erupting into war, and Otomo is instructed to keep the criminal families in balance by any means necessary. What follows is an intricate web of betrayal filled with sudden bursts of realistic violence. This modern Japanese Godfather is masterfully directed by Kitano, proving himself once again to be one of the great Japanese directors of our time.’’”Dan Halsted. ‘Humor as mean and dry as a straight-up martini.’’”Hollywood Reporter. (109 mins.)

OVER YOUR CITIES GRASS WILL GROW

DIRECTOR: Sophie Fiennes – GREAT BRITAIN

German sculptor Anselm Kiefer’s manufactured landscapes and monumental installations are informed by one of the most provocative and rigorous minds in contemporary art. Fiennes’ striking film takes us into his singular world in exhilarating fashion, in the process creating a work as intriguing as its subject. Shot at Kiefer’s La Ribitte, his sprawling studio/estate in Barjac, France, which was once a silk factory, process and product find equal fascination. Here, Kiefer has worked on a series of elaborate installations and paintings’”above and below ground’”constructing and devising with earth, ash, gold, acid, glass, concrete, and lead; wielding blowtorches, brooms, and bulldozers as need be; and orchestrating a fleet of assistants’”all with a magic creativity. ‘At once the place where his paintings and sculptures are housed and displayed, and a colossal, evolving architectural artwork in itself.’’”Peter Bradshaw. (105 mins.)

PASSIONE: A MUSICAL ADVENTURE

DIRECTOR: John Turturro – UNITED STATES

‘Napoli is one of those places where after fresh air, food, and shelter, music is an essential ingredient for the survival of the people. There are places that do something to you, deep down in your unconscious, in your soul. Naples is that for me, as it has been for so many other people in the arts’”poets, writers, painters, and musicians throughout the ages. We journey through one of the biggest of jukeboxes in the world, a treasure chest of songs, from 1200 to now, conjuring distant stories and myths that still live, a repertoire that speaks of love, sex, jealousy, social protest. This musical adventure, traversing the city, comes out of the people, the walls that surround them, and the land they inhabit. The performers, some from Napoli and some from abroad, are not just singers in the film, but storytellers.’’”John Turturro. (95 mins.)

PEEPLI LIVE

DIRECTOR: Anusha Rizvi – INDIA

A satire of the real-life epidemic of farmer suicides that have plagued India for the past decade, Rizvi infuses humor and buoyancy into his depiction of this tragic predicament. In the village of Peepli, two poor farmers, Natha and Budhia, face losing their land over an unpaid government loan. Desperate, they seek help from an apathetic local politician, who suggests they commit suicide to benefit from a government program that aids the families of indebted deceased farmers. When a journalist overhears Budhia urge Natha to ‘do what needs to be done’ for the sake of their families, a media frenzy ignites around whether or not Natha will. Soon Natha becomes a cause célèbre, drawing out the true character and motivations of those who cross his path. (110 mins.)

PEEVED

DIRECTOR: Ellen Gines, Noah Dorsey – UNITED STATES (PORTLAND)

This amusing rant takes up the pet irritant of breaches of escalator etiquette. (2 mins.)

PINK SARIS

DIRECTOR: Kim Longinotto – GREAT BRITAIN

‘Pink Saris’ refers to the hot-colored garments worn by the Gulabi Gang, women who resist the traditionalist view of Indian society, including the ostracization of so-called ‘untouchables,’ the taboos surrounding inter-caste marriages, the routine physical abuse of ‘disobedient’ wives, and the marrying-off of girls before they’ve entered puberty. Longinotto, whose past films have celebrated strong-willed women fighting for justice, follows Sampat Pal Devi, leader of the ‘Pink Gang,’ a group of female activists from the Dalit caste who crusade to help battle practices that have kept Indian women subservient for centuries. As Longinotto tracks the remarkable Sampat’s effective conflict resolution strategies, we witness a woman who exhibits unflinching courage in the face of almost overwhelming obstacle. (96 mins.)

POETRY

DIRECTOR: Lee Chang-dong – SOUTH KOREA

A sharp critique of Korean society’s inability to grapple with deep social problems, Poetry tells the story of a woman trying to find the poetry of her own life. Mija, a quiet woman in her sixties, works as caregiver for an elderly disabled man. In the early stages of dementia, she leads a simple existence centered on watching over her troubled grandson. When the boy’s behavior leads to horrible tragedy, the crisis sends her into an existential downward spiral, and she turns to her newfound interest in writing poetry for solace and guidance. As in Lee’s previous works, Poetry explores the human capacity for inexplicable violence and how our worst failings can define and shape our shared moral landscape. (139 mins.)

THE POODLE TRAINER

DIRECTOR: Vance Malone – UNITED STATES (PORTLAND)

A Russian poodle trainer reveals her transcendent relationship with her dogs and the welcome isolation behind the red velvet curtains of the circus. (7 mins.)

POTICHE

DIRECTOR: François Ozon – FRANCE

Updating a popular boulevard farce and employing a shrewd sense of its vintage camp elements, Ozon and his stellar cast poke fun at the foibles of French society and the war between the sexes. Set in the late 1970s in the provincial town of Sainte-Guenole, Suzanne Pujol (Catherine Deneuve) lives a bourgeois life dutifully waiting on her philandering husband Robert (Fabrice Luchini), who seems to be managing the family umbrella factory into bankruptcy. Everyone thinks that Madame Pujol is just ‘une potiche’’”a trophy housewife’”but when labor troubles break out at the factory and her husband has a heart attack, Madame has to take over the business. Aided by her Communist ex-lover Babin (Gérard Depardieu), she quickly proves that she’s more than mere decoration, setting in motion a suitably complicated power struggle for control of the business. (103 mins.)

THE PRINCESS OF MONTPENSIER

DIRECTOR: Bertrand Tavernier – FRANCE

When the ravishing Marie de Mézières (Mélanie Thierry) is betrothed to the Prince of Montpensier (Lambert Wilson), a fateful chain reaction commences. Whisked away to the Montpensiers’ castle, she is entrusted to the Count of Chabannes, the prince’s confidante and a tormented deserter, whose task is to educate her on everything from penmanship to astronomy. But as she struggles to adjust to her new life, she becomes ensnared in a passionate struggle of jealousies and desires between her husband’s suspicions, the still-burning ardor of her beloved Duke of Guise, and the flirtations of the roguish Duke of Anjou. Set against the devastation of France’s Catholic-Protestant Wars and shot on location amidst medieval chateaus and rustic hamlets, this lush, unsentimental take on the historical romance takes a clear-eyed look at the intersection of duty, passion, and power in the 16th century. (139 mins.)

THE REVENANT

DIRECTOR: D. Kerry Prior – UNITED STATES

‘When Joey’s best friend Bart is killed in action in Iraq, Joey is unsettled at the funeral, but not nearly as much as when Bart shows up the next night undead on his doorstep. Not knowing how he has come back to life, the two friends discover that Bart is a ‘˜Revenant,’ somewhere between a zombie and a vampire, and needs blood to survive. To keep him ‘˜alive,’ they start preying on the dregs of society and inadvertently start cleaning up the neighborhood, becoming modern vigilantes. This is all well and good until the criminals and drug dealers they’ve killed begin to come back from the dead with only revenge on their minds. Reminiscent of Shaun of the Dead, this is one of the best horror films to come along in a decade.’’”Dan Halsted. (110 mins.)

REVOLUCIÓN

DIRECTOR: Various – MEXICO

Showcasing a diverse range of perspectives, this omnibus film commemorates the centenary of the Mexican Revolution, an event that transformed Mexican society and impacted social change throughout Latin America in the 20th century. Ten of Mexico’s brightest young directors contributed a short to the project, organized and co-produced by Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna. Ranging from Patricia Riggen’s delightful Beautiful and Beloved to Carlos Reygadas’s explosive This Is My Kingdom, Revolución is an intriguing collection of responses to the Revolution’s legacy and a fascinating panorama of views on contemporary Mexico. (105 mins.)

THE ROBBER

DIRECTOR: Benjamin Heisenberg – AUSTRIA

‘Adapted from a novel that was in turn based on the real-life case of a champion marathoner who led a double life holding up banks in 1980s Austria, Benjamin Heisenberg’s sleek and intelligent genre exercise is at once an action thriller, a love story, a character study, and an existential parable. Its protagonist, Johann (Andreas Lust, Revanche), is defined almost exclusively by his twin obsessions. He runs and he robs, therefore he is. Alternating between endorphin-rush kineticism and stretches of quiet tension, The Robber is as precise and single-minded as its hero. At the film’s center is a brilliantly calibrated performance by Lust, by turns explosively physical and tightly coiled, as a man driven to attain a state of perpetual motion.’’”New York Film Festival. (96 mins.)

RUBBER

DIRECTOR: Quentin Dupieux – FRANCE

‘In the California desert, the adventures of a telepathic killer tire, mysteriously attracted by a very pretty girl, as witnessed by incredulous onlookers. Why? No reason. ‘˜No reason’ will never make more sense than after you have survived a screening of Rubber. Straddling art film and horror, it has the most outrageous premise of any film this year. (Or ever?) An audience gathers in the desert to watch a story unfold: a tire comes to life, rolls along, discovers it has the ability to make people’s heads explode, and so on. But it’s not just a film about a telekinetic tire on a killing spree, there is a frame around this story that adds another level of deconstructionist space to the film and another surrealistic layer to the experience. About as mind-blowing as a movie can be.’’”AFI Film Festival. (85 mins.)

RUSSIAN LESSONS

DIRECTOR: Andrei Nekrasov, Olga Konskaya – NORWAY

Nekrasov and Konskaya, familiar with Russia’s ease in spreading misinformation, suspected that the official version of the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia’”which painted Georgia as the aggressor’”was far from true. With Russian Lessons, they set out to prove it. Examining the damage and interviewing witnesses, the truth soon surfaces’”not only the truth about which country was to blame, but about how the Russians were so successful in spinning their version in the press and in the court of world opinion. A damning indictment of the Putin government and the laxity of Western media, this fascinating film is a cautionary tale that ‘energetically delves into the violent and bewildering conflicts in the Caucasus as it holds up a sobering mirror to a superpower.’’”Sundance Film Festival. (111 mins.)

SAWAKO DECIDES

DIRECTOR: Ishii Yuya – JAPAN

Sawako has been in Tokyo for five years and is currently on her fifth temp job and her fifth boyfriend. When her dad becomes ill, she returns to her hometown and takes over his freshwater clam-packing business’”everyone’s dream job. An insanely deadpan ode to misfits and female empowerment, Yuya celebrates people who are pulled in unexpected directions and make the most of it. ‘Straight outta Japan and right into your frozen seafood section, Sawako is the most cracked coming-of-age tale you’ll ever see, complete with a rollicking company anthem celebrating the ‘˜lower-middle’ of society and advocating the overthrow of the government. Hikari Mitsushima’s rigorously disciplined half-shrug slacker performance effortlessly camouflages the killer instinct lying in wait behind her eyes.’’”New York Asian Film Festival. (112 mins.)

SEEDS OF THE FALL

DIRECTOR: Patrik Eklund – SWEDEN

When a middle-aged married couple’s bedtime is interrupted by a tractor sailing through their bedroom wall and the sudden arrival of neighbors with a very unorthdox proposition, all bets are off. (17 mins.)

SENSOLOGY

DIRECTOR: Michel Gagné – CANADA

An intense synesthetic animation inspired by the music of Paul Plimley. (6 mins.)

THE SILENCE BENEATH THE BARK

DIRECTOR: Joanna Lurie – FRANCE

Two creatures are wakened from their sleep beneath layers of snow and earth by the falling of a tree. Lurie’s painterly yet graphic film follows them as they explore the surface and its mysteries. (11 mins.)

SILENT SOULS

DIRECTOR: Aleksei Fedorchenko – RUSSIA

The rites and rituals of the Merja people, an ethnic minority in a former Finnish enclave that became part of Russia under Ivan the Terrible, form the backbone of this lyrical, dreamlike movie about love and loss. After his beloved wife Tanja dies, Miron, the head of a paper factory in the town of Myra, calls on his best friend, Aist, to aid him on a journey to take Tanja to her final ritual farewell. As their road trip unfolds, it becomes apparent that Aist and Tanja were once more than friends. Along the way, the Merja myths and traditions transform the film into a haunting fairy tale. ‘Based on a short story by Denis Osokin, this delicate film merges ethnology and fiction into an intoxicating mélange of visual poetry.’’”Toronto Film Festival. (75 mins.)

THE SIX DOLLAR FIFTY MAN

DIRECTOR: Mark Albiston, Louis Sutherland – NEW ZEALAND

Andy lives in a make-believe superhero world, circa 1970s New Zealand. Retreating into his imagination allows him to deal with playground bullies, but the real world’”and his only friend Mary’”needs Andy to count on himself instead. (15 mins.)

SOME DAYS ARE BETTER THAN OTHERS

DIRECTOR: Matt McCormick – UNITED STATES

‘Delicately weaving together the lives of three lonely strangers, the story explores the elusiveness of personal fulfillment as McCormick’s characters bump up against the discarded’”from a kind-eyed shelter dog to the ownerless urn of a little girl’s ashes’”and are forced to confront their own impermanence and need for human connection. Subtle, convincing performances by musicians James Mercer (The Shins) and Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney) and lyrical cinematography reveal McCormick’s finely-tuned directorial eye. As a silent main character, the city of Portland is the common thread’”a reminder that, as bleak as things may seem, in small, unexpected moments around unlikely corners, the possibility for hope and beauty remains. With Some Days are Better Than Others, McCormick establishes himself as an insightful storyteller and a bright new talent.’’”AFI Film Festival. (93 mins.)

A SOMEWHAT GENTLE MAN

DIRECTOR: Hans Petter Moland – NORWAY

Released from prison after doing time for murder, laconic Ulrik (Stellan SkarsgÃ¥rd) struggles to stay on the straight and narrow in a world that won’t believe he has changed. His ex mob boss, a quirky ex-wife, staccato-speaking garage owner/boss, an estranged son, a crazily libidinous landlady’”trouble lurks at nearly every turn. An oddball mix of eccentric characters, bawdy behavior, and Nordic minimalism, the sensibility of Moland’s off-kilter tragicomedy has been compared to that of the Coen Brothers and Aki Kaurismaki’”dark in tone but light in spirit. ‘A Somewhat Gentle Man is a film about our painful shortcomings, a tribute to less-than-perfect sex, and a worldwide campaign against the people of petty exactness who rule the world.’’”Hans Petter Moland. (108 mins.)

SON OF BABYLON

DIRECTOR: Mohamed Al-Daradji – IRAQ

A son’s search for his father and a mother’s search for her son form the centerpiece for an exploration of the aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Set in 2003, just after Hussein’s downfall, young Ahmed and his determined grandmother journey across Iraq in search of his father, Ibrahim, a soldier missing in action since 1991. Focusing on forgiveness and people’s ability to overcome rather than on the many atrocities of the regime, Son of Babylon offers a poignant, eye-opening take on post-war Iraq, telling the story of two as the story of many. ‘Chases a poetic answer for the crimes of Saddam Hussein.’’”Variety. (100 mins.)

STAGE TWO

DIRECTOR: Lara Jean Gallagher – UNITED STATES (PORTLAND)

In addition to the usual teenage traumas, mop-topped Max deals with his mother’s hair loss, her illness, and making a buck or two selling her meds. (16 mins.)

STEAM OF LIFE

DIRECTOR: Mika Hotakainen, Joonas Berghäll – FINLAND

Men in general, and especially Finnish men, are notorious for keeping their feelings bottled up. But in the almost dreamlike environment of a steam-filled sauna, Finnish men’s deepest feelings about life, love, and family are easily liberated. Steam of Life allows the viewer to become a fly on the wall as it listens in on (naked) men talking to each other and sharing like girls in the sanctuary of the country’s ubiquitous saunas. From the rusted interior of an old converted camper to beautifully appointed wooden steam rooms and even a roadside phone booth fashioned into an impromptu hotbox, the stories ring with profoundly universal truth. ‘The Finnish sauna documentary had a reputation for being a tear-jerker. I didn’t believe it until I went to see it myself, and all the men in the cinema were in tears.’’”BBC. (81 mins.)

STUMBLE THEN RISE ON SOME AWKWARD MORNING

DIRECTOR: Kurtis Hough – UNITED STATES (PORTLAND)

This organic, dreamlike journey spirals from life to death. (6 mins.)

SUMMER SNAPSHOT

DIRECTOR: Ian McCluskey – UNITED STATES (PORTLAND)

The blurred line between memory and actual events is explored through the tropes of 1970s home movies. (11 mins.)

TUSSILAGO

DIRECTOR: Jonas Odell – SWEDEN

The ex-girlfriend of West German terrorist Norbert Krocher tells her story. (14 mins.)

UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES

DIRECTOR: Apichatpong Weerasethakul – THAILAND

The winner of the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Uncle Boonmee examines the final days of the title character, who is suffering from acute kidney failure. As hallucinatory’”he is visited by the ghosts of his wife and son’”and magical visions of his past lives begin to take over, Boonmee leaves his country retreat and sets out on a jungle journey with his family to find the cave in which his first life was born. This hypnotic yet playful film is an enchanting blend of dreamy spiritual imagery and tender human drama that confronts the largest of questions’”what happens to us after we die? Tim Burton, who headed the Cannes jury, described the film as ‘a beautiful, strange dream.’ (114 mins.)

URS

DIRECTOR: Moritz Mayerhofer – GERMANY

Urs has taken care of his aging mother for years. Now he plans to take her on a dangerous journey to a better place for both of them. (10 mins.)

VANITY

DIRECTOR: Jim Blashfield – UNITED STATES (PORTLAND)

With his cinematic scalpel in hand, Blashfield has his frolicsome way with some archival footage. (4 mins.)

A WAR IN HOLLYWOOD

DIRECTOR: Oriol Porta – SPAIN

The Spanish Civil War, perhaps Hollywood’s first cause célèbre, saw famous actors, directors, and screenwriters joining together to denounce Fascism in Spain. The subject of more than 50 Hollywood films, including such classics as For Whom the Bell Tolls and Spanish Earth, the defeat of democracy in Spain left an open wound in the hearts of many, who used their affection for democracy as a potent symbol of the romantic spirit of many of their screen characters. Porta offers a fascinating approach to the relationship between filmmaking and politics, focusing on the personal story of Oscar-nominated screenwriter Alvah Bessie (Object Burma), who fought against Franco as part of the International Brigade and was later blacklisted in Hollywood for his supposed Communist sympathies. (92 mins.)

WHEN WE LEAVE

DIRECTOR: Feo Aladag – GERMANY

Confronting the realities of female oppression and the identity conflicts of many second-generation immigrants, When We Leave tells a tragic, all-too-common story. Umay (Sibel Kekilli) is an ethnically Turkish German citizen living with her husband and his family in the Istanbul suburbs. Suffering horrible abuse at the hands of her husband, she escapes with her young son and flees to her family in Berlin, who, instead of comforting her, are horrified and shamed at her actions. If she won’t return, their only choice is to send her son back to his father, salvaging at least some of their reputation. Aladag’s deeply affecting debut, winner of the New Director Prize at the Tribeca Film Festival and German Film Awards for Best Film and Best Actress, is this year’s German submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. (119 mins.)

THE WHISTLEBLOWER

DIRECTOR: Larysa Kondracki – CANADA

Set in 1999, The Whistleblower is a harrowing political thriller chronicling the true story of a former Nebraska police officer named Kathy Bolkovac (Rachel Weisz) as she tackles a job as a peacekeeper working for the United Nations in Sarajevo. Arriving in post-war Bosnia expecting a well-organized international effort, she instead finds chaos and cynicism. Working for the UN’s Gender Office, which is assigned to investigate sexual assaults, she quickly stumbles into the grim realities of sex trafficking, discovering that the very people supposedly helping battle injustice and human rights abuse are, in fact, their facilitators. As she works to bring her discoveries to light, naiveté gives way to indignation and desperation. Kondracki’s hard-hitting, emotional film sheds passionate light on the horrific exploitation of women and the forces that enable abuse. (112 mins.)

THE WHITE MEADOWS

DIRECTOR: Mohammad Rasoulof – IRAN

Rasoulof’s enigmatic feature tells the story of Rahmat, an elderly man who collects the tears of souls in pain in a tiny pitcher’”remaining all the while a nonjudgmental witness to the absurd havoc wreaked by the powers that be. Traveling by boat to scenes of sorrow through a seascape dotted with salty white islands and cliffs, he encounters a woman consigned to the sea for rejecting an unwanted marriage, an artist punished for his choice of colors, a young virgin drowned as a sacrifice to the gods in hopes of rain, and other unfortunates. An allegory for government persecution of artistic expression, Rasoulof’s elegant, poetic feature is both timely and timeless. Like the waters he sails, the tears of the grief-stricken, which are said to turn to pearls, are expansive. (92 mins.)

WISH 143

DIRECTOR: Ian Barnes – GREAT BRITAIN

A young man, desperate to come of age before time runs out, has nothing to lose but his virginity. (23 mins.)

THE WONDER HOSPITAL

DIRECTOR: Beomsik Shimbe Shim – US/SOUTH KOREA

An animated look at the illusion of beauty, told through symbolism and amazing 3D, CGI, and hand puppetry. (12 mins.)

THE WOODMANS

DIRECTOR: C. Scott Willis – UNITED STATES

‘Francesca Woodman’s haunting black and white images, many of them nude self-portraits, now reside in the pantheon of great photography from the late 20th century. The daughter of artists Betty and George Woodman (she a ceramicist and he a painter/photographer), Francesca came to New York with the intention of setting the art world on fire. But in 1981, at 22, she committed suicide. Beautifully interweaving Francesca’s work with interviews with her parents, who have nurtured her reputation while continuing to make art of their own, the film grapples with disturbing issues such as parent-child competition and the toxic level of ambition that fuels the New York art scene. Says Betty Woodman succinctly: ‘˜She’s the famous artist, and we’re the famous artist’s family.”’”Film Forum. (82 mins.)

THE WOODS

DIRECTOR: Matthew Lessner – UNITED STATES

‘We were promised change, but it never came. Our cities crumbled around us. We agreed to take action into our own hands. We preset our DVRs and ventured out of the city limits united. In the woods, we will be safe. In the woods, we will start anew. This satirical attack on young, modern, globally conscious citizens tells the story of eight grown-up American children creating utopian society as best they can. With gorgeous super-16 footage and an eclectic soundtrack featuring Dirty Projectors, Sun Araw, and Lucky Dragons, filmmaker Matthew Lessner playfully subverts counter-culture films of the ’70s while questioning the shortcomings of his own complacent generation. In a world where new technologies merely distract us from reality, the greatest revolution can only begin by leaving everything behind.’’”Sundance Film Festival. (90 mins.)

YOUNG GOETHE!

DIRECTOR: Philipp Stölzl – GERMANY

Before Germany’s most famous literary genius wrote the hugely influential The Sorrows of Young Werther, the book that launched a thousand broken-hearted suicides, he lived its story of love lost. In Stölzl’s engaging historical drama, Alexander Fehling plays Goethe, who, having failed his law exams in 1772, takes a job clerking for Judge Kester (Moritz Bleibtreu). Bored, he continues to defy his father’s wishes by persisting in his writing, and one day he meets the lovely Lotte. Sparks fly, a courtship blossoms, love blooms’”but Lotte is betrothed to another. ‘Sparkling cinematography, gorgeous costumes and sets, and a story of star-crossed love’”these are just the ingredients needed to lovingly concoct a filmic biography chronicling the early years of a young man whose initial experience of romantic love would eventually alter the course of the literary world.’’”Screen International. (102 mins.)

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