Based on a book by Spanish poet and dramatist Federico Garcia Lorca, Yerma tells the story of woman who longs for a child, but is unable to conceive. Harboring a deep hatred for her husband, she is tempted to seduce a shepherd from the village, but feels conflicted by her moral values. Her desperation and obsession eventually drive her to the brink of insanity. Stars Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, Irene Papas and Juan Diego. In Spanish with English subtitles. Pilar Tavora---Spain---1999---118 mins.
The state of the arts in Cuba's capital city is examined in this documentary by American filmmakers Laurie Ann Schag and Casey Stoll. Cuban artists, filmmakers and musicians, including sculptor Pedro "Pulido" Gonzalez, performance artist Tania Bruguera, singer/songwriter Carlos Varela, and jazz musicians Ele Valdes and Carlos Alfonso, discuss their work and reveal their personal feelings toward Fidel Castro, the U.S. embargo against Cuba, and their country's political climate. Also, Cuban expatriate filmmaker Elio Ruiz looks at the large community of Cuban exiles throughout the world. Ann Schag/Casey Stoll---USA---2000---83 mins.
An intense cinematic translation of a theatre piece in which actor Ron Vawter interprets the dual roles of Roy Cohn--the racist, reactionary prosecutor of the Joe McCarthy era and beyond who battled civil rights for homosexuals though he was homosexual himself--and Jack Smith, the open, avant-garde filmmaker/performance artist of Flaming Creatures. "These two men, who had nothing in common except their death from AIDS in the late '80s, are resurrected by Vawter and Godmilow in a contrast of stance, from which is born, little by little, a sensation of undoing, of sadness, of finitude" (La Stampa).Jill Godmilow---USA---1995---88 mins.
The complete, extraordinary "reperformance" by Ron Vawter of Jack Smith's 1981 performance piece, What's Underground About Marshmallows, in which Jack, strongly against the commodification of art and fearful that people were making illegal copies of his films, accuses Jonas Mekas, the champion of avant-garde film in the early '60s, of this diabolical infringement. In Marshmallows, Jack tells a funny, pathetic tale "on" himself--a nightmare of failing to catch Mekas--called variously "Uncle Artcrust," "Uncle Fishhook" and sometimes "Old Uncle Oldie"--in the act of duplication.Jill Godmilow---USA---1996---60 mins.
"A winning combination of sexual frankness and visual wit," wrote J. Hoberman in The Village Voice; "Funny, violent, sexual...It makes you reconsider what you and everyone else is doing in life and in art," said Amy Taubin in Soho Weekly News. Set in contemporary Vienna, Valie Export's controversial feature involves a photographer, Anna (Susanne Widl), who discovers that extra-terrestrial beings are colonizing the minds of her fellow citizens by raising the human aggression quotient. The outer world immediately becomes disjointed, but the inner world does too, as Anna and her love (Peter Weibel) try to hang onto their deteriorating relationship. A unique and totally original work by Austria's foremost filmmaker, Invisible Adversaries is at once philosophical and funny, psychologically revealing and sexually frank--"a witty and visually brilliant essay on gender and experience, culture and environment" (National Film Theatre, London). In German with English subtitles.Valie Export---Austria---1977---112 mins.
"A dazzling cinematic tour-de-force, combining a thriller narrative with experimental images" (National Film Theatre, London). Judith, an investigative journalist, begins to unravel a murder mystery that implicates one of her current lovers. When she checks out a peep-show business on the seedy side of Hamburg as part of the investigation, she runs into a former boyfriend who used to be a psychiatrist but is now an arms dealer. Judith is lured back into his fold, cheating on her current lovers, one of whom is also a shrink. Despite her profession, or perhaps because of it, Judith tends to blend fantasy and reality, so small wonder she is attracted to psychoanalysts. But, two shrinks and a murder prove more than Judith can handle. Nominated for the Golden Berlin Bear at the 1985 Berlinale. In German with English subtitles.Valie Export---West Germany/Austria---1984---90 mins.
Valie Export's daring film about relationships, Menschenfrauen (loosely translated, "humanwomen"), focuses on Franz S., a journalist, and his relationship with four women: the kindergarten nurse Petra, the teacher Gertrude, barmaid Elisabeth and his wife Anna. Franz "doles out honorary pieces of himself to the 'human women' in his seraglio, whispers the same assurances. Eventually, everyone catches on and makes some effort toward independence" (East Village Eye). "A landmark film...Valie Export achieves in Menschenfrauen what Godard strove for but failed in his Every Man for Himself--a human view of a woman's place in a man's world...From credits to close, Menschenfrauen eludes conventional cinematic vision" (Seattle Film Festival). In German with English subtitles.Valie Export---Austria---1980---100 mins.
In the touching portrait Rick, Michele and Scarlett, filmmaker Jan Sharp offers an inside look at the special relationship of cutting-edge fashion designer Rick Owens and fashion fixture Michele Lamy. Owens’s influential mix of goth and glamour begins in Los Angeles, where he prepares for a Paris showing that will make him an international fashion icon. At the same time, his partner Michele works to open Les Deux Cafe in the heart of L.A.’s gang territory. With the help of her daughter Scarlett, Michele’s daring venture blossoms into a cultural happening place. In their work and life, Rick, Michele and Scarlett embrace “the edge”--pushing into new artistic territories where no one has gone before. Jan Sharp captures their parallel stories with a great deal of intimacy and love. Two other documentaries complete this volume. Beard: Pecking Order tracks fashion photographer Peter Beard on location in Africa, shooting the legendary Pirelli calendar with the world’s top fashion models. In Chasing the President, Jan travels to East Timor, where President Jose Ramos-Horta tries to build peace in the remote border districts of Asia’s newest nation.Jan Sharp---USA---2010---169 mins.
A heartfelt, inspiring film that could do for Argentine Tango what the Buena Vista Social Club did for the music of Cuba. This beautifully shot documentary captures the compelling story of a group of young Argentine musicians racing to learn and preserve the elegant and nuanced music played by the legendary Golden Age tango orchestras of Buenos Aires in the 40's and 50's. For those familiar with the names of Pugliese, Triolo and Piazzolla, this film is essential viewing. It also has broad appeal, as anyone interested in the creative musical process will love Si Sos Brujo. In Spanish with English subtitles. Caroline Neal---Argentina---2005---79 mins.
A documentary about two women who fall in love in a small Hungarian village, once a haven for the lesbian community. One lives in poverty, while the other is married to an abusive and alcoholic husband who threatens to take her to court when he finds out about her secret. Biding her time until he's out of the picture, she and her children are eventually able to move in with her female lover. In Hungarian with English subtitles. Bodis Kriszia---Hungary---2006---50 mins.
In this "bright, snappy relationship comedy" (Variety), a well-educated, sophisticated woman gets fed up with men after she discovers her fiance is already married. Though she wants a child, she'd rather raise it as a single mother rather than put up with the shenanigans of men. So she embarks on a series of sexual encounters in order to get pregnant, but finds the world of dating is not that simple. The smart dialogue and pleasant performances by Judit Schell and Sandor Csanyi (Kontroll) helped make this film a smash in Hungary. In Hungarian with English subtitles. Krisztina Goda---Hungary---2005---95 mins.
Coming off the unprecedented box office success of Cease-Fire, acclaimed Iranian director Tahmineh Milani wrote and directed this light-hearted family drama. Shahab Hosseini offers an award-winning performance as Kurosh Zand, a spoiled, egotistical movie star. When little Raha (Fataneh Malek-Mohammadi) comes forward and claims to be his long-lost daughter from a brief affair, Zand allows her to live with him until the results of the paternity test are known. Raha soon brings out the best in Zand, and his meaningless lifestyle begins to change for the better. "...exhibits a tender, intelligent sweetness..." (L.A. Weekly). In Persian with English subtitles.Tahmineh Milani---Iran---2009---102 mins.
An ideological adventure movie, from the director of Bolshe Vita. Chico is half Hungarian and half Spanish, half Catholic and half Jewish. As a child he was steeped in the myths of Che Guevara and Salvador Allende. But when he finds himself in the middle of Hungarian communism, he reevaluates his beliefs. Later, he takes sides in the war in Croatia. Chico earned Ibolya Fekete Best Director honors at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. In Spanish, Hungarian, Croatian, and other languages, with English subtitles.Ibolya Fekete---Germany/Hungary/Croatia/Chile---2001---112 mins.
Terra Incognita is a feature-length documentary that tells the story of Dr. Jack Kessler, current chair of Northwestern University's Department of Neurology and Clinical Neurological Sciences, and his daughter, Allison. Dr.Kessler's initial focus was on using stem cells to help cure diabetes. However, after Allison was injured in a skiing accident and paralyzed from the waist down, Kessler made the decision to change his research to utilizing embryonic stem cells in hopes of finding a cure for spinal cord injuries. "This excellent Kartemquin Films documentary is a multifaceted unpacking and demythification of a loaded subject" (Jonathan Rosenbaum, The Chicago Reader). Maria Finitzo---USA---2007---83 mins.
Though shot in fascist Spain near the end of Franco's dictatorship, this West German television production from writer-director Helma Sanders-Brahms (Germany Pale Mother) is relevant to any oppressed society. Handsome Jeronimo (Victor Alcazar) is hired to tutor the rich heiress, Josefa (Julia Pena). They fall in love, but the church forbids their relationship, and Josefa is hidden in a convent. When the church discovers she is pregnant, she is sentenced to death by decapitation. Jeronimo tracks her down, but is jailed before he can rescue her. When fate intervenes in the form of a massive earthquake, the two lovers have no idea what is in store for them. In German with English subtitles.Helma Sanders-Brahms---West Germany/Spain---1974---86 mins.
A young Catholic socialite from Buenos Aires falls in love and runs away with a young Jesuit priest. The two find temporary happiness in a small provincial village, but eventually they are recognized and face the wrath of their families, church and government officials of the De Rosas dictatorship of 19th century Argentina. An Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film. "A bare outline fails to do justice to this powerful indictment of repression..." (Faber Companion to Foreign Films). In Spanish with English subtitles. Maria Luisa Bemberg---Argentina/Spain---1984---105 mins.
A revelation of staggering force, lyrically composed by one of the 20th century's leading poets, Forough Farrokhzad. Her first and only film, it depicts the lives and bodies of people tragically deformed by leprosy. A film of stirring and powerful images, and a beautifully, tragically poetic narration that heavily influenced the modern Iranian cinema of Abbas Kiarostami and Mohsen Makhmalbaf, who called it "the best Iranian film." It provides, in the film's own words, "a vision of pain no caring human being should ignore." In Farsi with English subtitles.Forough Farrokhzad---Iran---1962---22 mins.
Maverick American independent filmmaker Nina Menkes' film was inspired by the true story of a young U.S. Marine, just back from the Gulf War, who was arrested while digging a grave in the middle of the Mojave Desert for his pregnant wife, whose bloodied, lifeless body lay in the backseat of his car. Menkes turns the mundane realism of the Marine's arrest into a haunting, hallucinatory journey, a jagged look back at the nature of violence. The filmmaker's sister and collaborator, Tinka Menkes, portrays a marine captain; all other cast members are actual Desert Storm veterans. "Fascinating and mysterious" (Cahiers du Cinema). An Official Selection at the Sundance Film Festival.Nina Menkes---USA---1996---85 mins.
This acclaimed, multiple-award-winning film centers around a group of young people who meet in a rock pub in Budapest in the summer of 1989 during Hungary's fleeting celebration of Communism's fall. This Pynchonesque crew includes two goofy Russian musicians, an engineer who has been reduced to selling kitchen knives, and two girlfriends, English and American, in search of action. After the fun and romance, they must move on, as the mafia and the onset of new nationalist chaos closes in. In Hungarian and Russian with English subtitles.Ibolya Fekete---Hungary---1996---90 mins.
A postwar film version of Pola Gojawiczynska's novel. A lively picture of turn-of-the-century Warsaw as experienced by four young girls. The film begins as the heroines finish primary school and must begin adult life. With Maria Ciunelis, Izabella Drobowitz-Orkisz. In Polish with English subtitles.
Barbara Sass---Poland---1985---94 mins.
A young girl born into the world of the Beijing Opera Company follows her dreams and becomes a professional actress. Submerging herself in her roles to escape a personal life marred by trauma, she longs to play the major "male" roles, but is trapped by a culture that forbids it. The winner of two Chinese Academy Awards, Woman Demon Human is a stunning allegory of the struggle between modernity and tradition. In Mandarin with English subtitles. Huang Shuqin---China---1987---115 mins.
In the outlands of Eastern Europe, acclaimed filmmaker Jana Sevcikova spent years chronicling the descendants of immigrants and exiles. The resulting poetic, intimate documentaries capture the unique lives and customs of people unknown to most of the world. Shot over five years, the award-winning Old Believers (2001, 46 mins.) documents a strongly religious community where time seems to stand still. This haunting film presents the meditative rhythm of the place, giving transcendental significance to even the most ordinary everyday tasks. Sevcikova further explores the humanity and mystery of people from another place and time in Piemule (1984, 43 mins.), offering a close look at the descendants of Czech immigrants in Romania, and Jakub (1992, 65 mins.), the story of Ruthenian Jakub Popovich in western Bohemia. In Czech with English subtitles.Jana Sevcikova---Czech Republic---1984-2001---154 mins.
Mehmet, a young man from western Turkey, and Berzan, a Kurdish rebel living in the underground, develop an unlikely friendship while living in Istanbul. When Mehmet is mistaken for a Kurd and arrested, he begins to understand his new friend's struggles, which ultimately lead to tragedy and Mehmet taking a long journey to Berzan's homeland. Stars Newroz Baz and Nazmi Qirix. Winner of the Blue Angel at the 1999 Berlin International Film Festival. In Turkish and Kurdish with English subtitles.Yesim Ustaoglu---Turkey/Germany/Netherlands---1999---104 mins.
A taut, gothic, Latin American romance, winner of the Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Marie returns to a rundown Venezuelan house in the jungle where she spent summers as a child. Her return ignites memories of a summer when her adolescent sexual curiosity led to a surprising encounter. "An exotic Jane Eyre set in a jungle-choked hacienda" (Seattle Weekly). With Doris Wells and Daniela Silverio. Spanish with English Subtitles.Fina Torres---Venezuela---1991---92 mins.
A fascinating documentary from Rakshan Bani-Etemad (The May Lady), the most outspoken and respected female director working in Iran today. Bani-Etemad's film focuses on the Iranian elections of 2002 and the role of women in Iranian society. The filmmaker follows a group of women who run for office and gradually narrows her view to the plight of one woman who attempts an heroic but unsuccessful run for the presidency. "An unforgettable picture of women in today's Iran" (Variety). In Farsi with English subtitles.Rakhshan Bani-Etemad---Iran---2002---65 mins.
Every night, Soviet tractors comb the coast of Latvia looking for signs of anyone who could have infiltrated the Soviet border from the sea. One morning, three Soviet patrolmen discover a woman's shoe in the sand and footsteps leading to the quaint little village of Liepaja. Alarms sound, troops are dispatched, and an official investigation begins. Just like Cinderella, each woman in the village tries on the shoe, though the reward for a perfect fit won't be Prince Charming. Laila Pakalnina's sly fairy tale combines subtle humor and political commentary into a compelling whole, shot beautifully in black and white. In Latvian with English subtitles. Laila Pakalnina---Latvia---1998---78 mins.
In 1977, a surprising find in Switzerland led to the re-discovery of one of the most important female figures in the early history of psychoanalysis. The found diaries and letters revealed an extensive relationship between the unknown Russian-Jewish psychiatrist Sabina Spielrein and two founding fathers of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. The correspondence charted Spielrein's previously unknown influence on both men's lives and work, as well as her own unique contributions to the field of psychoanalysis. Through recreations and voice-over readings of Sabina's letters, the lost story comes alive and a true pioneer of psychoanalysis and child psychology gets the recognition she deserves. In German with English subtitles. Elisabeth Marton---Sweden---2002---90 mins.
From acclaimed Chicago filmmaking collective Kartemquin Films (Hoop Dreams) comes a collection of three important Labor Stories of the 1970s. These films not only allowed the workers and their unions to tell their compelling stories but they also affected the course of events for each union. HSA Strike - 75 documents a group of doctors who strike for the right to unionize at Chicago's Cook County Hospital. U.E. Wells captures the United Electrical Workers' efforts to organize a cast-iron foundry. Finally, What's Happening at Local 70 follows the experiences of unemployment compensation workers who strike because of working conditions.Judy Hoffman, Sharon Karp, Gordon Quinn, Jerry Blumenthal, and Peter Kuttner---USA---1975---55 mins.
From the controversial director of Hidden Half and Two Women comes another tale of the clash between modernism and tradition in contemporary Iran. A progressive, recently widowed teacher and her conservative, controlling father-in-law fight for custody of her two small children. According to tradition, Fereshteh should remain in her father-in-law's home with her children, but she refuses. Afraid of losing custody of the boys, she decides to disappear with help from her women friends. Tahmineh Milani's film captures the tumult of a nation plagued by the conflicting philosophies of hard-line religious groups and an educated, cosmopolitan population. In Farsi with English subtitles.
Tahmineh Milani---Iran---2003---107 mins.
From acclaimed director Tahmineh Milani (Two Women) comes this searing tale about the struggles of women in modern-day Iran. Poor Sima puts up with her philandering and abusive husband, Ahmad. He is so blatant with his indiscretions that he asks Sima to cover for him when he plans a trip with his girlfriend, Saba. In an Iran where unmarried couples can be arrested for fraternizing in public, Ahmad needs Sima to pretend that Saba is his cousin--a situation that proves both humiliating and dangerous. Marila Zarei (The Fifth Reaction) and Amin Hayayee (Coma), two of Iran's newest stars, shine in this controversial drama. In Farsi with English subtitles. Tahmineh Milani---Iran---2005---103 mins.
Jill Godmilow's meditation on Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. Linda Hunt plays Alice B. Toklas and Linda Bassett is Gertrude Stein, in a personal drama about the two remarkable women who were the focal point of Paris expatriate culture and society. "A life-affirming, love-affirming, joy affirming drama that's luminously filmed, smartly written and acted with great charm" (Christian Science Monitor).Jill Godmilow---USA---1987---101 mins.
In 1969, sculptor Jean Tinguely began an amazing artistic adventure with his wife, artist Niki de Saint Phalle. With help from a group of their artist friends, the pair started construction on the Cyclop in a park on the outskirts of Paris. The Cyclop is a monumental sculpture made of twisted metal, mirrors, stairways, footbridges, fountains, and a gigantic eye in the middle of the "forehead." Inside, an installation of noisy gears, unique gadgets, and riotous machines delights visitors. Nearly forgotten until filmmakers Louise Faure and Anne Julien rediscovered it for this sterling documentary, Tinguely's Cyclop remains a shining example of Nouveau Realisme. "This documentary makes the Cyclops come alive" (Paris Voice). In French with English subtitles.Louise Faure/Anne Julien---France---2005---57 mins.
The sequel to The Girls of Nowolipki is set in Warsaw after the First World War, when Poland regained her independence. Again, the film follows the lives of the young heroines. Barbara Sass---Poland---1986---112 mins.
From Barbara Sass, the popular Polish director of The Girls of Nowolipki, comes this bittersweet tale of an aging actress in the twilight of her career. Once a significant stage performer, Ewa (Dorota Stalinska) wiles away her time drinking in her dreary apartment. Though she dreams of making a glorious comeback, her self-centered behavior and abrasive disposition work against her. A tragic tale of growing old from a distinctly female point of view. In Polish with English subtitles. Barbara Sass---Poland---1990---96 mins.
First-time director Mania Akbari explores the heartbreak and joy of romantic relationships through the stories of seven couples searching for happiness. Comprising seven vignettes, the film features the same two actors in each episode, each time as different characters whose problems unfold in conversations, quarrels, and altercations. Some issues are universal--jealousy, adultery, abortion. Others reveal the personal hardships and political realities exclusive to modern-day Iran, and especially for women. Simultaneously wrenching and uplifting, private and universal, 20 Fingers reveals a director on the cutting edge of filmmaking in her country. Received the Cinema Digitale Award at the Venice International Film Festival. In Persian with English subtitles.Mania Akbari---Iran---2004---72 mins.
The stunning feature debut of one of Mexico's leading female directors, Maria Novaro, offering a fresh perspective on motherhood, a prominent theme in Latin American cinema. Lola is a young mother abandoned by the rock singer who fathered her daughter. Lonely and trapped in a life she did not choose, Lola vacillates back and forth between guilty responsibility and careless denial. A Berlin International Film Festival winner, Lola is a dark, daring drama of great truth and insight. "A significant debut in contemporary cinema" (Variety). In Spanish with English subtitles. Maria Novaro---Mexico---1990---93 mins.
For her ambitious debut, documentary filmmaker Maria Finitzo followed five adolescent girls for two years, resulting in this authentic portrait of young women at a pivotal point in their lives. Unlike the media, which depicts most girls of this age as passive, powerless, or overly sexualized, Five Girls focuses on the positive ways they adapt to challenges in their lives by understanding their choices, resisting pervasive cultural messages, and believing in their own strengths. "The girls are all right" (People Magazine). Produced in association with Kartemquin Films. Maria Finitzo---USA---2001---120 mins.
"I am to the crime novel in specific what Tolstoy is to the Russian novel and what Beethoven is to music," boasts James Ellroy, an American crime fiction writer who was both cursed and blessed by his mother's brutal murder in 1958. Haunted by the slaying, it became the focal point of his work. In this stylish documentary, narrated by Ellroy himself, the writer visits his "dark places," literally and figuratively, as he returns to his mother's murder scene and ruminates on the meaning of her death. As the author of L.A. Confidential and Black Dahlia, Ellroy expanded the boundaries of hard-boiled fiction while also tapping into the moody atmosphere of film noire. Clara Kuperberg/Robert Kuperberg---France---2006---52 mins.
"A breakthrough of major significance in ethnographic film" (Film Quarterly), Two Laws is the story of an Aboriginal community from the remote Northern Territory of Australia told through their own eyes and through their own narrative traditions. With dramatic, sensual visuals and dreamlike pacing, the Aboriginal filmmakers trace the history of their struggle to reclaim their lands and the problems faced living under "Two Laws"--one a centuries-old Aboriginal code, the other the brutal rule of law imposed by European settlers. This approach offers a completely different logic to documenting history and culture, and the result is a fascinating film that not only pushes past the boundaries of documentary, but challenges the stilted style of ethnographic film typically found on television. In Aboriginal with English subtitles.Carolyn Strachan/Alessandro Cavadini---Australia---1981---140 mins.
Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the greatest architects of the 20th century, was deeply indebted to Japan for its aesthetic inspiration. This is the story of how he repaid that debt. Wright sought refuge in Japan when he faced public condemnation at home. For six tumultuous years, he struggled to complete the enormous commission of the Hotel Imperial in Tokyo, which helped turn his career around. During the construction of the building, he forged several relationships with Japanese architects who went on to alter Japan's cityscapes and mentor a new generation of architects. Wright's obsession with Japan, and vice versa, vividly reminds us that the creative spirit knows no borders. "A meticulous and eminently scholarly look...boasting authenticity and intellectual integrity" (Chicago Tribune).Karen Severns/Koichi Mori---USA/Japan---2005---126 mins.
A brilliant film. Denied a visa to shoot in Poland, director Jill Godmilow constructs a film over the bare bones of documentary footage while in New York, resulting in a deft dismemberment of the myth of "documentary truth." The film portrays the birth of the Solidarity movement at the Gdansk shipyards through moving personal testimony and a chilling look at the psychology of a censor. "...like the best of Godard, it is film criticism and social criticism at the same time" (In These Times). Jill Godmilow---USA---1984---106 mins.
A beautiful, painfully moving account of writer-director Helma Sanders-Brahms' childhood, made to show her own daughter a vision of Germany beyond Hitler and the Holocaust. Deutschland Bleiche Mutter traces the history of Germany from an extremely personal and distinctly feminist point of view. The film begins on the eve of the German invasion of Poland, as a newly-married young woman (Eva Mattes) sees her husband (Ernst Jacobi) sent off to the Eastern front. She and her daughter (Elisabeth Stepanek) struggle for survival throughout the war, only to face a husband who, when he returns, wreaks emotional havoc on the family. "Sanders-Brahms records life experiences which are gender-specific and typically absent from the male version of history" (Anton Kaes, The Oxford History of World Cinema. In German with English subtitles.Helma Sanders-Brahms---West Germany---1980---123 mins.
Helma Sanders-Brahms (Germany, Pale Mother) wrote and directed this gripping family drama that focuses on three generations of women. Brigitte Fossey (Cinema Paradiso) is Isabelle, a successful film actress whose young daughter, Emily, is frequently cared for by Isabelle's parents (Hildegarde Knef and Ivan Desny) in Normandy while she's away working. After a production ends in Berlin, Isabelle returns to visit her daughter, but the rejoicing is short-lived. Her smitten costar (Herman Treusch) follows, and his presence sets off an intense clash between the self-centered thespian and her mother. "With sensitivity, imagination, control, and razor-sharp insight, Sanders-Brahms has delivered a multi-layered essay on life, art, parenthood, and the patterns of generations...a powerful, if more loving, cousin to Berman's Autumn Sonata" (The Faber Companion to Foreign Films). Cinematography by Sacha Vierny. In German with English subtitles. Helma Sanders-Brahms---West Germany/France---1985---108 mins.
The first feature from German filmmaker Helma Sanders-Brahms, this potent black-and-white drama deals with the aftermath of the 1968 student rebellions in Germany as experienced by two fervent participants. Though the country experienced sweeping reforms in the years following, two radicals-turned-successful Berlin stage actors and lovers (Grischa Huber and Heinrich Giskes) are grappling with their growing insignificance and the demands of adulthood. After a night of intense debate about the past and their future, the couple begins garnering support to fight a new abortion bill. However, their rekindled zeal is soon complicated by an unexpected pregnancy. "A cult film for the feminist movement" (The Films of Helma Sanders-Brahms). Giskes and Huber won German Film Awards for their performances. In German with English subtitles.Helma Sanders-Brahms---West Germany---1975---106 mins.
Based on a series of letters written by a schizophrenic woman named Rita G., No Mercy No Future (Die Beruhrte) is Helma Sanders-Brahms' controversial film about the troubled daughter (Elisabeth Stepanek) of uncaring bourgeoisie parents. Without proper psychiatric treatment for her unearthly visions, she prowls the streets along the Berlin Wall at night in search of God, but settles for the company of strange, exiled men. "Is it merely a farrago of sexual and hallucinatory images of great skill, or is it a work of multi-layered complexity, crowded with religious emblems, politico-historical allegory, scathing social attack and compassion?" (The Faber Companion to Foreign Films). Winner of the Sutherland Trophy at the British Film Institute Awards. In German with English subtitles.Helma Sanders-Brahms---West Germany---1981---108 mins.
The story of the real-life love affair between Jewish poet Else Lasker-Schueler and Nazi poet Gottfried Benn is told largely through their poetry in this experimental drama scored with improvised music. The poets' relationship epitomizes the idea of the "ill-fated romance" as Lasker-Schueler is forced to leave the country because of the very ideology Benn espouses. While she drifts from country to country en route to Jerusalem, he eventually realizes his mistake when the Nazis condemn his artistic school. The passion of Lasker-Schueler and Benn lives in their poetry as Helma Sander-Brahms focuses on the artistry of these unfortunate artists lost to history.Helma Sanders-Brahms---Germany---1997---105 mins.
In this real-life story of dictators, political agents, and secret identities, Argentine businessman Ricardo Miguel Cavallo used the code name "Serpico" as an officer of the military junta that ruled Argentina from 1976-1983. During this "Dirty War," Cavallo allegedly committed horrific acts of torture and terrorism against the citizenry--and he almost got away with it. In 2000, the slippery businessman was living in Mexico when Spain finally indicted him for his crimes. Despite Mexico's determination to extradite him, Cavallo appealed the decision, leading to a lengthy series of legal maneuverings. This documentary is an impassioned plea against such impunity. In Spanish with English subtitles.Shula Erenberg/Laura Imperiale/Maria Ines Roque---Mexico---2006---50 mins.
Filmmaker Tan Chui-mui won the Tiger Award at the 2007 Rotterdam Film Festival for directing this Malaysian indie drama about the foibles of modern romance as told from a distinctly female perspective. A pretty young woman (Ong Li Whei) leaves her boyfriend in rural Penang to work at her aunt's broken-down restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. Amidst the hustle of big city life, she meets your archetypal bad boy (Stephen Chuah) and falls for him and his flashy lifestyle before a harsh reality sets in. Produced by Amir Muhammad (The Big Durian). In Malay, Mandarin, and Cantonese with English subtitles. Tan Chui-mui---Malaysia---2006---90 mins.
Jerzy Grotowski, a leading figure in the avant-garde theatre, invited a film crew to travel with him to the small village of Nienadowka, Poland in 1980. It was there that he, his mother, and his brother were hidden by a peasant family during the Nazi occupation. Returning for the first time, Grotowski hopes to rediscover the people, places, images, and sounds of his intensely lived childhood--memories that are indelibly linked to his art. Afterwards, in his aunt's apartment in the city of Rzeszow, he speaks directly to the camera about the foundations of his work. With an introduction by Peter Brook.Jill Godmilow---USA---1980---60 mins.
Set in modern Beirut, A Perfect Day tells the "delicate but haunting" (Time Out New York) story of a family still scarred by the Lebanese Civil War that ended 15 years before. Claudia (Julia Kassar) and her grown son, Malek (Ziad Saad), wake up to a typical morning, which quickly sours when the conversation turns to the family's patriarch. Claudia's husband and Malek's father has been missing since the war, and the two debate whether to have him declared legally dead. Once the decision is made, they move on with their lives in different ways. Directors Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige continue their exploration of life in postwar Beirut, where ghosts of the past linger among the new buildings of the bustling metropolis. Winner of the FIPRESCI Prize at the Locarno Film Festival. In Arabic with English subtitles. Joana Hadjithomas/Khalil Joreige---France/Lebanon---2005---88 mins.
In this Iranian comedy from up-and-coming female filmmaker Parisa Bakhtavar, a pretty but poor girl (Baran Kosari) gets into a fender bender in her father's car. She solicits the help of her savvy friend (Saber Abi), who sells bootleg videos in an upscale condo. The pair descends on the building's residents in hopes of making some fast money, and what ensues makes for "a whirligig comedy...carrying hints of the ensemble-shuffling of Robert Altman, the snarkiness of Preston Sturges and the pace of Billy Wilder" (Robert Koehler, Variety). In Persian with English subtitles. Parisa Bakhtavar---Iran---2008---111 mins.
For her third feature, acclaimed Turkish filmmaker Yesim Ustaoglu (Journey to the Sun) adapts Georgios Andreadis' moving tale about identity and alienation. Waiting for the Clouds is set along Turkey's northeastern Black Sea coast, where beautiful valleys shrouded in mist hide the country's bloody past. After the Turkish War of Independence in the early 1920s, Greeks were forcefully deported. Now some 50 years later, an elderly woman looks back on her life following the death of her sister. Her grief threatens to expose that her family is actually Greek, not Turkish, and compels her to search for a long-lost brother in Greece. With Ruchan Caliskur and Ismail Baysan, and atmospheric cinematography by Jacek Petrycki. In Turkish with English Subtitles. Yesim Ustaoglu---Turkey---2004---90 mins.
Iran's fearless feminist director, Tahmineh Milani, pushes the envelope with this comedy-drama about a recently paroled woman who talks three other ex-cons into a get-rich-quick scheme. The plan involves fleecing married men on the make. Despite the storyline's darker implications, Payback "bristles with a sharp sense of humor" (Gene Siskel Film Center).
In a small community of steel workers, truck drivers, and teachers on the South Side of Chicago, a musical group called the Popovich Brothers maintained the traditional music and rich culture of their Serbian homeland by performing in local venues. During the 1970s, when this poignant, but entertaining, documentary was produced, the Popovich Brothers had been performing for almost 50 years, bringing this music to young generations eager to embrace the culture and values of their parents' native country. Just as the brothers preserve the traditions of another time and place, so does this documentary, offering a snapshot of Chicago's Serbian-American community. "Filled with songs and life, with the lilting, driving, and sometimes sad music of Serbia" (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times).Jill Godmilow---USA---1978---60 mins.
Director: Raul Zaritsky/Linda WilliamsYear: 1981Country: USA
Do No Harm tells the incredible and often outrageous story of two men in a small, southern town who endured relentless attacks in order to draw national attention to the plight of the medically uninsured and bring about reform. “I couldn't hire enough staff to know where all of the skeletons are buried. We need whistleblowers,” says Sen. Charles Grassley of Dr. John Bagnato and Charles Rehberg, who exposed significant unethical practices towards uninsured patients at Phoebe Putney Hospital, a non-profit hospital in Georgia. They uncovered millions of dollars in offshore bank accounts and lucrative for-profit businesses under the control of the non-profit hospital. Board members held exclusive contracts with the hospital and politicians received timely contributions. And shockingly – it was all legal. Do No Harm follows the stories of these unlikely activists who sacrificed much in order to expose and rectify injustices in the non-profit hospital system.Rebecca Schanberg---USA---2009---55 mins.