October 6-14, 2001 at the Foundry Theaters
Sixth Annual Arabian Sights Film Festival Highlights Understanding of Arab Culture
In light of the recent tragedies, The Washington, DC International Film Festival highlights understanding of the Arab world and its rich cultural heritage. The sixth annual Arabian Sights film festival comes to Washington, DC from Saturday, October 6 through Sunday, October 14 featuring the Washington premiere of some of the newest and finest contemporary cinema from the Arab world today. This year’s series includes five feature-length and thirteen short films from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria. All films in this festival are screened with English subtitles.
Palestine In Focus features three films including a short illustrating the beautiful preparation of a traditional Palestinian dish and a documentary about two gasoline pump attendants in Nazareth on the eve of the new millennium.
For the first time, the festival features Arabian Shorts, a program of short films by some of the area’s most talented young directors. Stories range from the humorous tale of a man who wins a contest conducted by a paper tissue company in Merci Natex to the yarn of a man who decides to find a long-lost love in Monette. Feature films include Fallen Angels Paradise (Egypt), The Harem of Madame Osmane (Algeria), Speakers of Truth (Algeria), Moroccan Chronicles (Morocco), and Breeze of the Soul (Syria). Moumen Smihi, Director of Moroccan Chronicles will be a featured guest for the screening of his film.
Tickets for each screening are $8 and may be purchased at the theater starting one hour before the first show. Festival passes for all seven programs are available for $45 and can be reserved by calling 202/724-5613. All films will be shown at the Loews Cineplex Foundry Theaters, 1055 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW, in Georgetown (off of M Street between 30th and 31st Streets.) The theater is accessible from the Foggy Bottom Metro station and paid parking is available in the Foundry building and in the parking lot across from the theatre.
Major sponsors for Arabian Sights include: The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities; Center for the Global South, American University; Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University; The Jerusalem Fund; American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee; Mosaic Foundation; Embassy of Morocco; Royal Air Maroc; James & Betty Sams; American Tunisian Association; and Friends of Morocco.
For more information on this series call 202/724-5613 or log on to the website.
The Cinema Lounge Discusses the Summer’s Films
By Brian Niemiec
The summer just didn’t offer much to celebrate. That was the general consensus on Monday, September 10, when Cinema Lounge met to discuss the summer movies of 2001. The few films that were identified as standouts included Moulin Rouge, Ghost World, crazy/beautiful, The Others, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Legally Blonde, The Closet, Bread and Tulips, and, of course, Shrek. Other films that attendees mentioned as enjoyable were Rat Race, Apocalypse Now Redux, Jurassic Park III, Under the Sand, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, and The Deep End.
Limiting the discussion to only one film apiece, the topic then turned to the most hated films of the summer. These films included AI, Pearl Harbor, Moulin Rouge (making both lists), Tomb Raider, A Knight’s Tale, Soul Survivor, The Musketeer, Planet of the Apes, Sexy Beast, and Jeepers Creepers. One of the funniest moments came when one attendee voted Rush Hour 2 the worst movie of the summer despite not having seen it. He defended himself by saying Chris Tucker’s comedic style annoys him.
We then focused on the films of Fall. Most agreed that they were looking forward to the two major blockbusters: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and Fellowship of the Ring. Aside from those two, other films mentioned were K-Pax, From Hell, Vanilla Sky, Monsters Inc., Ali, Spy Game, The Royal Tenenbaums, Ocean’s 11, Gangs of New York, and Serendipity.
Join us on Monday, October 8, as we examine the twisted mind of director David Cronenberg. From exploding heads to talking bug-typewriters, we will examine the style and meaning behind this macabre visionary’s madness. Suggested viewing includes Rabid (1977), Scanners (1981), The Dead Zone (1983), Dead Ringers (1988), Naked Lunch (1991), M. Butterfly (1993), Crash (1996) and eXistenZ (1999). On Monday, November 8, we will be talking about kid’s films. No longer just for kids, we’ll discuss the way children’s movies have changed over the years. Then, just in time for the holiday season, we will meet on Monday, December 10, to share true, inspirational stories of how a movie has touched or changed our life, or the life of someone we know.
As always, Cinema Lounge meets the second Monday of every month at Borders Books, 5333 Wisconsin Ave. NW, at 7:30 p.m. in the Café Espresso on the 2nd floor.
November 5, 7:00-9:00 p.m. at Loews Cineplex 4000 Wisconsin Ave.
Fall 2001 Trailer Program
Featuring the local sparring critics Bill Henry and Joe Barber, our semi-annual trailer program brings the best fall movie trailers together in one fun evening, with great camaraderie and great movie promotional give-aways! Always a fun evening!
More details to come. Watch your e-mail and check the website.
26th Annual Toronto International Film Festival
By Ron Gordner and Jim McCaskill
The 2001 Toronto International Film Festival, held from September 6-15, 2001, was scheduled to show 326 films from 54 countries chosen from the 2549 submitted films; 175 films were either world, international, or North American premieres.
Films are always in several categories: Contemporary World Cinema, Dialogues: Talking with Pictures, Director’s Spotlight (Ulrich Seidl), Discovery (first time directors), Masters, Midnight Madness, National Cinema Programme (Nordic films), Perspective Canada, Planet Africa, Real to Reel (documentaries), Special Presentations, and Gala Presentations.
We were sitting in the Uptown 1 theatre Tuesday Sept. 11 before the early morning screening of The Last Orders when an audience member told us that she had just been phoned about the first World Trade Center plane crash. By the movie’s end security measures had changed and the director and actors did not return for the Questions and Answers discussion. The festival soon closed the remaining screenings for the rest of the day. The Canadians were very empathetic and supportive in their announcements and broadcasts. It was very surreal watching events about the disasters in New York City, the Pentagon, and southwestern Pennsylvania from outside the United States.
The screenings resumed on Wednesday. Several films and their directors and actors never arrived for festival screenings due to air traffic restrictions. Many others had difficulty leaving Toronto to anywhere for several days. Red carpet treatment of films, special festival events, and studio parties were cancelled for the remainder of the festival.
We noticed a high number of films from France and Iran and films dealing with sexuality, grief, and coming of age and alienated youth, and a larger concentration this year of female directors. Several films were made according to the Dogme 95 guidelines including Italian for Beginners and Kira’s Reason: A Love Story.
This may well be another Oscar year with many Independent films nominated versus the Hollywood schlock. Sony and Miramax already had many of the better independent and foreign language films showing at the festival picked up for distribution.
These are our recommendations from films viewed:
Must See: All About Lily Chou Chou (Japan), a startling cinematic and musical view of alienated Japanese youth who communicate via the Internet ; Amelie or Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amelie Poulain (France), about a wide-eyed young waitress in Montmartre; Baran (Iran), Majidi’s new tale of the plight of Afghan workers in Iran; Cool and Crazy (Norway/Sweden), a comical, life-affirming documentary about a men’s choir in a small Norwegian town; The Devil’s Backbone (Mexico/Spain), a haunting story by the director of Cronos told during the Spanish Civil War in a boys’ orphanage; The Grey Zone (U.S.), the harrowing adaptation of the play about the Sonderkommandos or special squads of Jewish prisoners in Auschwitz who herded fellow Jews to the gas chambers; Kandahar or The Sun Behind the Moon (Iran), a brilliantly cinematic journey of a woman into Afghanistan to find and help her sister; and Monsoon Wedding (India), a delightful tribute to family and love at a Punjabi wedding.
Worth Seeing: Atanarjuat or The Fast Runner (Canada), Dark Blue World (U.K./Czech Rep./Germany), Delbaran (Iran), The Fluffer (U.S.), Enigma (U.S./U.K.), Gossip (Sweden), Hearts of Atlantis (U.S.), In the Bedroom (U.S.), Italian for Beginners (Denmark), Lan Yu (Hong Kong/China), The Last Orders (U.K.), Mostly Martha (Germany/Switzerland/Austria/Italy), Secret Ballot (Iran), A Song for Martin (Denmark/Sweden), The Son’s Room (Italy).
Avoid (Films shown continuously in Hell): Dust (U.K.) is a very disappointing film from Director Milcho Manchevski (Before the Rain) with Joseph Fiennes (maybe 10-15 minutes air time) and David Wenham in what could be called “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid go to Macedonia to become bounty hunters and kill many people and livestock on the way.” There are also about 5 other storylines (one interesting present storyline) that make this a really well photographed mess.
Other films recommended by attending DCFS members or reliable sources were: Abandoned (Hungary), Inch’Allah Dimanche (France), Ignorant Fairies (Italy/France), Kira’s Reason: A Love Story (Denmark), No Man’s Land (France/Italy/Belgium/U.K./Slovenia), Thirteen Conversations About One Thing (U.S.), Waking Life (U.S.).
An interesting story from the festival was the press release that Matthew McConaughey, star of Thirteen Conversations About One Thing gave CPR to an audience member and saved her life at a gala showing. It was later reported that the cineaste had simply fainted.
Fipresci press award to Inch’Allah Dimanche by Yasmina Benuigui (France) for its coverage of transcultural conditions for Third World women with a fresh new approach. Special mentions went to Be My Star by Valeska Grisebach (Austria/Germany) about realistic teenage love, and to Khaled by Asghar Massombagi (Canada) for its poignant tale of motherly love. Volkwagen Discovery Award to Cheek (Singapore) for the humorous Romeo and Juliet derived Chicken Rice War.
NFB John Spotton Award for Best Canadian Short Film to FILM(Dzama); CITYTV Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film to Sean Garrity for Inertia; Toronto-City Award for Best Canadian Feature Film to Atanarjuat or The Fast Runner by Zacharias Kunuk for its mythic tale of Inuit endurance.
AGF People’s Choice Awards: Winner was Amelie by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (France). Runners-up were: Maya by Digvijay Singh (U.S.), a provocative film about a young girl coming of age in India, and Moonsoon Wedding by Mira Nair (India).
A complete list of scheduled films and information is available at the website.
Heard in Toronto
By Jim McCaskill and Ron Gordner
The number of directors, producers and stars that not only come to the Toronto International Film Festival but answer audience questions about their films make this festival one of the best. The following are just a few comments made at the recent 20001 TIFF.
Dark Blue World (UK/Czech, Germany), Jan Sverac (director), Eric Abraham (producer), Krystof Hadek (exceeding shy 17 year old star). This film was one of our favorites and portrays the live of Czech pilots who were heroes flying for Britain during WWII but were held in suspicion and derision by USSR after the war. "Pilots are now recognized in Czech Republic though their pension is low. Czech nation made them outcasts but now recognizes their contributions." "The film opened in Czech Republic in May," "Music is big supporter of film as it wakens emotions. Emotions you can not express by any other way. Our (Czech) culture is rich in musicians." "We saw many documentaries in order to gain background for this film." "My father was the script writer. Writers fall in love with what they have written. To cut it is difficult." "My father said, 'No cuts'." "We had little money to make combat footage look spectacular. We used outtakes from film 'Battle of Britain' combined with modern Spitfire footage.""One scene that was cut was a realistic love scene with Krystof and a girl. We had to cut it as he was 17 at the time."
Mostly Martha (Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy) Sandra Nettelbeck (director) "I wrote the screenplay. I wanted to do a film about food as my parents are food fanatics." "Italian food is my favorite. All food is a nightmare under the lights. Pots had to look like something was going on. Keeping them boiling made the set very hot. Hoped it looked delicious to you." "The film was designed for television." "Saw the child in a film of a friend of mine and knew she was perfect. She is an ice skater. She worked without a script. She just did it. Don't think she ever read the screenplay." "Distribution has been set for Japan but not North American."
A Song for Martin (Denmark/Sweden) Bille August (director) "About ten years ago I made a film with Ingmar Bergman. Three years later he recommended a book that had just come out. I fell in love with the story but saw production problems. There was no dialogue, it was non-linear, many days with the star in a hospital bed." "The story focuses on a couple who promise to stay together forever and five
years later things are not the same. He left her due to his Alzheimer's." "I made the change from their being writers to musicians as in the book." "Most difficult part was having the actors learn to hold instruments." "The two leads are a married couple. I have worked with them a couple of times. He has depth and intelligence so you can see why she fell in love with him. You think they will have 20 or 30 years together. The loss comes as they had only five before he became ill." "You see the frustration in the film. It would be easier to let him go and just let him turn into person he is becoming." "She reaches the point where she must go on with her life. She knows he has left her. She now starts the clock ticking." "The film is also about memories. You try to create a feeling of being in love that is very, very deep. A love between people 55 and 60. A love that has sexuality and is tasteful itself." "I started in still photography in the late 60s. Went to Danish film school where I was a cinematographer and made 12 feature films." "I wanted to create a tone that was very true and honest. Not theatrical but honest and open." "It has been released for 22 weeks in Scandinavia and is still in the top 10 box offices."
Unfinished Song (Iran) Maziar Miri (director), Davud Rashidi (producer) Film's dedication is: "To the Creator of Beauty." "This film is based on a true story about a women living near Afghanistan. One year after movie was done she passed away." "We want no more injustice to women all over the world." "Only Iranian folk singers in film. She was only allowed to sing in this film. Film was banned for eight months and heavily censored in Iran. Released only when woman's voice appeared to be a chorus." "The film was made outside of Iran." "All the actors are ordinary people in a village. Real woman was very similar to one in film." "Singers outside of Iran made recordings. The situation there is changing. Women can now sing for women." Question for audience about his personal risk for making this film brought this response: "With your prayers nothing will happen to me." "I am here for my country to make a connection with the people of the world." "Iranian women have that cultural connection. It is time to break that chain and become part of the world." "I look for a time when you can write a script and make a film of what ever you want in Iran."
Pauline et Paulette (Belgium, France, The Netherlands) Lieven Debrauwer (director) "The actors are very well known. Paulette is now in a tv soap." "They are so professional and knew what they had to do. They accepted advice from a young director." "I went to several institutions and asked them to read the script. Was it OK? Too cynical? Was what were doing alright? You should see some of the people in the institutions where I did my research." "Denise took her cola, drank it in one gulp and said, 'There is a stone in there,' meaning the ice in the glass. We used that in the film." "The story is from my childhood. Two sisters had a shop in my village and one was a character like Paulette." "Tried to think of actors who were 74. Had to create another sister who says they had to take care of their handicapped sister. Had to create a fourth sister to have the necessary conflict."
The Quickie (Germany) Sergei Bodrov (director) "Knew this guy who retuned in the early 90s when Russia was the wild west. It was a new time there. Opportunities for everyone." Question from the audience: 'Star developed a conscience. Did that happen in real life? "Yes, He was killed in Paris at age 32." "I was blessed with this international cast. The band 'Tiger Lilies' will be famous." "I have just finished a new film. A love story shot with a Russian cinematographer. The Quickie was a tough shoot. We had only five weeks. Lot of night shoots. We had real fog."
Chop Suey (USA) Bruce Weber (director), Peter Johnson (actor) Putting this together was like cooking. Stuff all over the editing room." "Put photos on the walls. That is how we organized it."
The Fluffer (USA) "If you don't know what a Fluffer does, you will by the end of the movie."
Calendar of Events
The American Film Institute
The European Union Film Festival begins on October 29.
Freer Gallery of Art
Concluding its series of recent Turkish film, the Freer shows House of Angels (Omer Kavur, 2000) on October 5 at 7:00pm, A Madonna in Laleli (Kudret Sabanci, 1998) and On Board (Serdar Akar, 1998) on October 7 at 2:00pm and Balalayka (Ali Ozgenturk, 2000) on October 12 at 7:00pm. Also in October the Freer co-hosts the DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival, see the Film Festivals section.
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
On October 4 and 5 at 8:00pm is planet alex (Uli Schüppel, 2000). The Hirshhorn also co-hosts the APA film festival.
National Gallery of Art
In October the Gallery shows a four part series of Belgian short films on October 14 at 4:00pm, October 20 at 12:30pm, October 21 at 4:00pm and October 27 at 2:30pm. Vermeer: Master of Light is shown on October 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, and 19 at 12:30pm and on October 7, 14, and 21 at 12:00 noon and on October 20 at 11:00am. Henry Moore is shown on October 24-27 at 12:30 and October 28 at 12:00 noon. Concluding the Melina Mercouri series is Never on Sunday (Jules Dassin, 1960) on October 7 at 4:30pm. Lady Windermere’s Fan (Fred Paul, 1916) is on October 13 at 2:00pm with music accompaniment. The Turandot Project (Allan Miller, 2001) is shown on October 13 at 4:00pm and October 20 at 3:30pm. Finally, a Kon Ichikawa series starts on October 28 with An Actors Revenge (1963) at 4:30pm.
National Museum of Women in the Arts
On October 24 at 7:00pm is Brainstorm/The Beast With Seven Heads (Laís Bodanzky, 2001), an award-winning Brazilian film.
In October, the Pickford shows films nominated for the National Film Registry and films complementing the Library’s exhibitions “World Treasures” and “The Floating World of Ukiyo-e.” Please check the website for the full list.
Films on the Hill
On October 3 at 7:00 is The Adventures of Marco Polo (Archie Mayo, 1938). On October 8 Films on the Hill starts a small series of war and patriotic films with Captains of the Clouds (Michael Curtiz, 1942) with Jimmy Cagney as a Canadian bush pilot in his first technicolor film. For Halloween is a double-feature of Dracula (Tod Browning, 1931) with Dracula’s Daughter (Lambert Hillyer, 1936) on October 26 at 7:30pm and The Bride of Frankenstein (James Whale, 1935) on October 27 at 7:30pm.
On October 3 at 7:00 p.m. is Diabolique (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1955).
Virginia Film Festival
Masquerades, The 14th Annual Virginia Film Festival, runs from October 25 through October 28 in Charlottesville and features media representations of characters whose identities are performances, including con artists and imposters, race and gender benders, actors and other role players. Over 60 premiere and classic films that illuminate that theme and many guest filmmakers from Hollywood and independent cinema will be featured.
APA Film Festival
The DC Asian American Film Festival starts on October 22 at 8:00pm with The Flip Side at the Hirshhorn. The films continue October 12, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, and 20 and include features, shorts, and panel discussions. Locations are the Freer and Hirshhorn.
The 11th Annual Reel Affirmations Film Festival takes place October 11-21at the Lincoln Theater, the DC Jewish Community Center and the Goethe-Institut. Opening night film is Friends and Family (Kristen Coury, 2000).
Modern Masters of American Film. October 12-November 16 at 8:00pm. Six of the most acclaimed and controversial American filmmakers to emerge in recent decades are the focus of discussion in clip-illustrated lectures by film critic Pat Dowell and film historian Max Alvarez. The directors are Spike Lee (October 12), David Lynch (October 19), Oliver Stone (October 26), Martin Scorcese (November 2), Steven Spielberg (November 9) and Barbara Kopple (November 16).
TALKS WITH FILMMAKERS
National Geographic Society
Filming on the Edge with filmmaker Michael Davie on October 3 at 7:30pm.
On October 19 at 7:00pm filmmaker Perry Miller Adato, film biographer of Georgia O’Keefe and Alfred Stieglitz relates the story of their life and times as portrayed in her documentary films.
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Polish filmmaker Dzamila Ankiewicz will be present to answer questions after the screening of his documentary Zygielbojm's Death. October 16 at 7:00pm.
On October 11 at 6:30pm is a program of short films by Washington area independent filmmakers.
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