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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.
4400: SEASON 1

"A breakthrough of major significance in ethnographic film" (Film Quarterly).

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.

A cinematic translation of a theatre piece in which Ron Vawter interprets the dual roles of reactionary lawyer Roy Cohn and gay underground filmmaker Jack Smith.

This double release boasts the talents of Abbas Kiarostami, Ken Loach, Ermanno Olmi, Lars von Trier, and Carl Theodor Dryer.

In this highly experimental interpretation of life in post-communist Hungary, a writer lives a meager existence with his cat as he struggles to complete a novel. The kitty has a peculiar relationship with his master's "talents," because the film's point of view is that of the cat. The world is understood through the eyes and brain of the feline, which is illustrated via clips from old Soviet propaganda films, point-of-view "cat cam" footage, and crude visual effects. Every night he makes a summary of the experiences of his cat during the past day, and that material is the basis for the novel. Directed by innovative Hungarian filmmaker Andras Szirtes, After the Revolution (Forradalom Utan is a raw-looking experimental film produced in the aftermath of the end of communism. In Hungarian with English subtitles.

Andras Szirtes---Hungary---1990---82 mins.

One of the wonders of the Czech New Wave, All My Good Countrymen is also one of the least-known films from this miraculous era of Czech filmmaking. The reason is obvious: completed barely before the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, it was immediately banned and never shown. Despite this, the film won the Special Jury Prize of the Cannes Film Festival, and stylistically is a work of great lyricism, humor and originality. It weaves magical--and very funny--stories about a group of characters in a small Moravian village, immediately following the socialization of Czechoslovakia in 1948. "The film and the milieu it so precisely evokes are not so much nostalgic as they are powerfully remembered and irrevocably lost....All My Good Countrymen reflects the curdled fury of a former true believer" (J. Hoberman, The Village Voice). In Czech with English subtitles.

Vojtech Jasny---Czechoslovakia---1968---114 mins.

A large, claustrophobic apartment is the setting for this intense chamber drama from Bela Tarr (Satantango, Werckmeister Harmonies). In this dense setting, the inhabitants of the apartment reveal their darkest secrets, fears, obsessions and hostilities in a style that combines the anguish and existentialism of Bergman with the emotional intensity of Cassavetes. Jytte Jensen of The Museum of Modern Art called Tarr "one of the most innovative and accomplished auteurs in filmmaking today." In Hungarian with English Subtitles.

Bela Tarr---Hungary---1984---119 mins.

In this taut thriller from Polish filmmaker Marcin Ziebinski, a young man named Pawel inherits a secluded old mansion in the country and takes his girlfriend, Magda, to the house for a romantic getaway. Unfortunately, they soon discover they are not alone. Pawel's angry, volatile brother, Piotr, has escaped from juvenile hall and is hiding out at the property. The reunion between the two brothers turns into a cruel contest of recrimination and accusation. When Piotr's criminal comrades show up and threaten Pawel and Magda, will Piotr step up to help the brother he hates? In Polish with English subtitles.

Marcin Ziebinski---Poland---1997---80 mins.

The only film directed by film critic and screenwriter Gavin Lambert (I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, Inside Daisy Clover), Another Sky unfolds around a demure and prim governess who arrives in Marrakesh, Morocco to begin a new job as a paid companion to a wealthy English expatriate. As she explores her exotic surroundings, she is seduced by the men, music, and mystery of her new home. The dreamy black-and-white cinematography of Walter Lassally captures the steamy atmosphere of North Africa in the 1950s. "Hypnotic" (Village Voice).

Gavin Lambert---Great Britain---1954---86 mins.

French actress Helene Lapiower investigates the life of her Jewish family and the questions of identity that arose as a result of their immigration from Poland to France.

Winner of the Golden Berlin Bear, Werner Schroeter's saga of a young Italian emigre is told in three parts, each boasting a different visual style.

This psychological spy thriller is a study of the methods used to shape the personality of an individual working in the service of a totalitarian empire. Based on the true story of a Soviet GRU spy, Victor Suvorov, who wanders the capitals of Western Europe uncovering state secrets and classified information. His GRU unit--whose headquarters was dubbed "the Aquarium"--was more covert than even the KGB. When he betrays his friend and protector, he awaits a numbing injection and evacuation to Moscow. Based on Suvorov's novel Inside the Aquarium, the film features stellar performances by Janusz Gajos (The Decalogue) and Witold Pyrkosz. In Polish with English subtitles.

Antoni Krauze---Poland---1996---140 mins.

Hannelore Hoger (Lost Honor of Katharina Blum) stars as Leni Peickert in Alexander Kluge's compelling parable about art vs. entertainment, culture vs. commerce. Leni inherits the family circus after her father is killed performing a difficult act. Feeling that traditional carnivals are on their way out, she updates the show by turning it into a "reform circus," which consists of socially-relevant entertainment. Unfortunately, it fails to attract customers, and her circus goes bankrupt--twice. The story of Leni and her woes is slight, but the strength of Kluge's film is in the complex imagery, with its masterful montages, filmic references, and layers of meaning. Like the circus in the film, Kluge finds popular German cinema also in the throes of change--a viewpoint that turned out to be prophetic. Winner of the Golden Lion at the 1968 Venice Film Festival. In German with English subtitles.

Alexander Kluge---West Germany---1968---104 mins.

From Kartemquin Films and the makers of Hoop Dreams comes this "impassioned portrait of a quest for truth" (The Chicago Tribune). Carroll Pickett served as minister to death row inmates at a Texas penitentiary for 15 years, believing that the death penalty was just. Then he met inmate Carlos de Luna. As he talked with de Luna and recorded his conversations on the day before de Luna's execution, Pickett came to believe that the man was innocent. Unlike Hollywood movies, de Luna was executed anyway, sending Pickett on a gut-wrenching quest to uncover the facts surrounding his highly questionable arraignment. Nominated for a Directors Guild of America Award.

Steve James/Peter Gilbert---USA---2008---98 mins.

Romance goes awry in Atrakcyjny Pozna Pania, an outrageous tale about confirmed bachelor Stasio Tuchala, who may be a little long in the tooth but still eager to find love. His friends persuade him to run an ad in the newspaper's personals column so that he can find his centerfold dream girl, but only a few senior-aged ladies rise to the occasion. Theatre director and playwright Marek Rebacz (Wieruszka; Egzekutor) makes his feature-film debut with this delightful comedy starring veteran Polish actors Roman Klosowski (Eroica; Cellulose) and Andrzej Grabowski (Strike). In Polish with English subtitles.

Marek Rebacz---Poland---2004---96 mins.

German-born romantic actress Dita Parlo (Grand Illusion) stars in this late silent film from one of the masters of French poetic realism, Julien Duvivier. She plays Denise, an orphan girl who comes to Paris to find work in her uncle's small shop, but instead takes a job in the big, glamorous department store across the street. When her employer begins demolishing buildings in the neighborhood, her uncle's store is the last one in the crosshairs. "I see Walter Ruttman's Symphony of a City in its portrait of urban destruction and renewal, presented with a sense of loss as well as a sense of the unstoppable force of progress by Duvivier" (Sean Axmaker, GreenCine Daily). Based on a novel by Emile Zola. Original music by Gabriel Thibaudeau, interpreted by l'Octuor de France. Silent with English, French, and German intertitles.

Julien Duvivier---France---1930---89 mins.

One of the most popular Mexican films ever made, the cult sensation Aventurera is a famous example of a cabareteras, a curious film noir and musical hybrid wildly popular in Mexico in the '40s and '50s. Starring the immortal Ninon Sevilla, who Variety called "a cross between Rita Hayworth and Carmen Miranda," the film follows the melodramatic rise and fall of a popular nightclub star with a dark past. Newly remastered. In Spanish with English subtitles.

Alberto Gout---Mexico---1950---101 mins.

Nominated for the Golden Palm at Cannes in 2005, Masahiro Kobayashi's Bashing is a heartbreaking film based on real-life events. The narration begins after Japanese aid worker Yuko (Fusako Urabe) volunteered to go to wartorn Iraq, gets kidnapped, and is released. We find her back home in Japan, where she is systematically shunned by the Japanese public for shaming the country. Not only do strangers taunt her, but her former coworkers, friends, and loved ones greet her with unease at best and harassment at worst. To convey this traumatic "reintegration," the director "trades in his usual painterly camera set-ups for a looser, handheld style" (Variety). In Japanese with English subtitles.

Masahiro Kobayashi---Japan---2005---82 mins.

Explore the mindset and artistic vision of iconoclastic filmmaker Heinz Emigholz, who is the originator of "Architecture as Autobiography," a series of documentaries on unique or unusual architects consisting of still images of the subject's buildings. The meticulousness of Emigholz's style of filmmaking is spotlighted in Die Basis des Make-up, a three-part DVD that showcases his illustrated notebooks and sketchbooks. Silent with German and English titles.

Heinz Emigholz---Germany---2005---94 mins.