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In this light-hearted musical comedy with a message, a North African pop group called Rap Oriental uses music to triumph over the bigotry and violence in their housing project on the outskirts of Paris. The band and their devoted fans are pitted against religiously conservative elders who want to stop the music. The film features Khaled and Cheb Mami, two real-life stars of rai music--a combination of North African sounds and western-style rap. The pair offers a message with a beat as they rock, groove, and ultimately soothe their 'hood with their unique sound. In French with English subtitles.
Mahmoud Zemmouri---France/Belgium/Switzerland---1997---85 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,
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.
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,
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" (
). Produced in association with Kartemquin Films.
Maria Finitzo---USA---2001---120 mins.
7 SONGS FROM THE TUNDRA
Filmmaker Anastasia Lapsui, a Nenet who hails from the Russian tundra, has combined the legends of her indigenous people with personal experiences in order to convey life under Communist rule. Unfolding in seven separate stories,
7 Songs from the Tundra
Seitseman Laulua Tundralta
) offers an impressionist view of an ancient culture caught between nomadic traditions and enforced modernity. Behind the film's mythic allusions is a story of identity and resistance. "It's the small details of Nenet life, captured in grainy B&W images, that fascinate in this strangely beautiful film"
. Winner of the Press Award at the Paris Film Festival. In Nenets and Russian with optional English and French subtitles.
Anastasia Lapsui/Markku Lehmuskallio---Finland---2001---85 mins.
Shot over a period of two years, and with unprecedented access to the Aum sect accused of mass killing with poison gas in the Tokyo subway, this astonishing documentary by Tatsuya Mori offers a complex view of subjects as diverse as personal responsibility, public responses to terrorism, surveillance, and individual rights. "A startlingly frank and disarmingly relaxed look at a group many people believe is the Devil's Own" (
). In Japanese with English subtitles.
Tatsuya Mori---Japan---1998---136 mins.
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