We are pleased to present our sixth annual New Films from Europe, featuring innovative new works from the continent. This year's festival features work which focuses on two distinct subjects: the impact of political upheaval on young people and the relationship between the living and the dead. The festival features work of established veterans such as France's Phillipe Garrel and Germany's Fred Keleman, as well as works from exciting young talents such as Sweden's Josef Fares and Greece's Yargos Lanthimos.
The program for this year's festival was assembled with the generous assistance of the Kokkalis Program at Harvard University, French Cultural Services, the Goethe Insitut Boston, the Boston Turkish Film Festival, and the Swedish Film Institute. Program notes adapted from the New York Film Festival and the London Film Festival.
January 19 (Thursday) 7 pm
Directed by Philippe Garrel
France, 2005, color, 175 min.
With Louis Garrel, Clotilde Hesme, Eric Rulliat
French with English subtitles
The events of May '68 and their disappointing aftermath have always been at the heart of Philippe Garrel's work. Regular Lovers is Garrel's achingly beautiful memorial to the moment itself, and to the poignant confusion felt by French youth who tried to keep the spirit of revolt alive as they grappled with adulthood. A young poet (played beautifully by the director's son Louis) witnesses the conflagration during a night on the barricades, then experiences the euphoria of love and communal freedom, followed by the inevitable moment when reality comes to collect its due. Garrel has fashioned an intimate poetic epic, which harks back to the silent films of Louis Feuillade and the poetry of Baudelaire and Gérard de Nerval in its austere yet romantic vision of Paris by night and by day. Print courtesy of Palm Pictures.
January 20 (Friday) 9 pm
January 21 (Saturday) 7 pm
Directed by Jean-Paul Civeyrac
France 2005, color, 65 min.
With Camille Berthomier, Aurélien Wiik, Morgane Hainaux
French with English subtitles
Jean-Paul Civeyrac is increasingly making a name as one of France's more adventurous film-makers, and the dream-like A travers la forêt demonstrates why. A young woman (Camille Berthomier) is so enraptured by love's young dream that she's moved to song, in a style reminiscent of Jacques Demy's musicals. Suddenly the sky clouds over, her lover is dead, and she refuses to accept it. The film deals with her attempt to grieve, and her two sisters' attempt to help. What makes the film remarkable is its elegant, poised artifice: the story is told in nine chapters, each a long single take, making the most of duration, shifts in color and a sinuous, alluring camera choreography. The result may verge riskily on aestheticism, but by the final scene - with its sublimely eerie soundtrack use of Charles Ives' 'The Unanswered Question' - A travers la forêt proves itself to be literally and figuratively a deeply haunting experience. (London Film Festival).
January 20 (Friday) 7 pm
January 21 (Saturday) 8:30 pm
Directed by Christian Petzold
Germany 2004, color, 85 min.
With Julia Hummer, Sabine Timoteo, Marianne Basler
German with English subtitles
Françoise repeatedly returns to Berlin in search of her daughter who disappeared years ago. She is accompanied on these trips by her compassionate husband who stands by her despite the hopelessness of her quest. One day she encounters Nina, a vulnerable young woman who lives in a group home for troubled teenagers. Nina feels utterly alone save her relationship with Toni, a friend at the shelter with whom she experiences a fleeting moment of intimacy. Françoise is struck by the uncanny resemblance between Nina and her lost daughter and hopes she can bring resolution to her endless pursuit. Director Christian Petzold composes a mosaic of three women - their inapproachability, their transitoriness, their longings.
January 22 (Sunday) 7 pm
Directed by Cristi Puiu
Romania 2005, color, 154 min.
Romanian with English subtitles
This brilliant second feature by Cristi Puiu was the revelation at Cannes, where it took top prize in the Un Certain Régard section. This sardonic, darkly humorous, compulsively vibrant feature seems so realistic and convincing, unfolding as though in real time, that it's hard to believe it was acted. As it follows an ailing retired engineer, too fond of booze, who gets carted from one overtaxed Bucharest hospital to another in search of proper medical care, a whole stressed society is laid bare: Each doctor, nurse, paramedic, and patient leaps into view with sharp individuality and articulate self-defensiveness. Compassion and indifference clash, often within the same person. The fluid, mobile camera recalls the great works of Fred Wiseman and John Cassavetes. Print courtesy of Tartan Films.
January 27 (Friday) 7 pm
January 28 (Saturday) 9 pm
Directed by Fred Kelemen
Latvia/Germany 2005, b/w, 90 min.
With Egons Dombrovskis, Nikolaj Korobov, Vigo Roga
Latvian and Russian with English subtitles
A man passes by a young woman on a bridge one evening and fails to intervene in her eventual suicidal leap leading to deep feelings of remorse. As he spends his days at work in the Latvian national archive, he sets out to find any traces of the woman's existence and becomes entangled in the lives of her loved ones. German director Fred Kelemen previously worked with Hungarian master Belà Tarr and achieves a similar sense of beautiful misery as his former mentor in his achingly exquisite visual compositions.
January 24 (Tuesday) 7 pm
January 27 (Friday) 9 pm
Directed by Ömer Vargi
Turkey 2004, color, 108 min.
With Sevket Çoruh, Emre Kinay, Suna Pekuysal
Turkish with English Subtitles
Ali and Sudi are construction workers in an Istanbul slum who dream of earning enough money to go to Italy as illegal workers. When the owner of their work site arrives with a dead body in tow, the two friends nervously decide to move the body to a different location at the site. When word gets out about this makeshift cemetery, Ali and Sudi fall into a new, thriving career as gravediggers for the mafia. This smart, black comedy is somewhat of an anomaly in the very sober world of contemporary Turkish cinema but it is no less insightful in its biting critique of authority and class politics.
January 24 (Tuesday) 9 pm
Directed by Daniele Vicari
Italy 2005, color, 115 min.
With Valerio Mastrandrea, Gwenaelle Simon, Lulzim Zeqja
Italian with English subtitles
Daniele Vicari's follow-up to his acclaimed film V-Max examines the life of Max (Mastandrea), an up-and-coming young physicist who experiences an identity crisis while working at a research institute stationed inside the San Grasso mountain. The highly competitive world of nuclear physics is presented in contrast to the more serene environs of Albanian sheep farmers whom Max encounters directly after a fateful drive on the mountain's surface. In this community, Max meets a troubled shepherd (Zeqja) who also struggles with the meaning of life. Print courtesy of The Works Limited.
January 28 (Saturday) 7 pm
January 31 (Tuesday) 9 pm
Directed by Josef Fares
Sweden/United Kingdom/Denmark 2005, color, 103 min
With Imad Creidi, Antoinette Turk, Elias Gergi
Arabic and Swedish with English subtitles
Zozo lives in Beirut with his family. He's a dreamer, living a surprisingly normal life despite the civil war raging around him. However, when tragedy eventually strikes, Zozo is forced to go it alone, his only hope being to find his grandparents who have recently emigrated to the "distant paradise" of Sweden. Of course, Zozo soon discovers that Sweden isn't really the welcoming arcadia his grandfather has led him to believe. This highly personal (although not strictly autobiographical) film from Josef Fares (himself a first generation Lebanese immigrant to Sweden) paints an honest portrait of youthful hopes and fears, and imaginatively engages with broader themes of racism and alienation. Fares displays extraordinary visual intuition, carefully juxtaposing highly realist scenes with moments of magical realism, as, understandably traumatised by his experiences, Zozo's anxieties find their expression in a parallel reality. Fares also has a great talent for depicting characters and inter-generational relationships and evokes, in Zozo's grandfather, a wonderfully warm portrait of a loving, irascible fantasist.
January 30 (Monday) 9 pm
January 31 (Tuesday) 7 pm
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos
Greece 2005, color, 95 min,
Evangelia Randou, Aris Servetalis, Kostas Xikominos
Greek with English subtitles
A plainclothes policeman enlists the aid of a photo store clerk and a hotel chambermaid to recreate a series of harrowing images from a recent slate of serial killings in the coastal resort town of Kinetta. The reenactments give little insight into the actual crimes but instead provide an avenue for each of the characters to reveal their eccentricities. With little dialogue and deliberate pacing, Lanthimos explores the darker side of desire in this challenging, meditative work.