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MARCH 6 - MAY 22, 2006

Four Masters: Tarkovsky/Sembene/Akerman/Kiarostami


March 6 (Monday) 7 pm

The Mirror


Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky USSR 1976
b/w and color, 108 min.
With Margarita Terekhova, Anatoli Solonitsyn, Ignat Daniltsev Russian with English subtitles

Tarkovsky poetically depicts the unconscious/semiconscious reminiscences of a character confined temporarily to his bed by illness. In an oblique, keenly poetic approach that finds no equal in modern cinema, the film juxtaposes nostalgic visions of the director’s childhood in war-torn exile (seen as hypnotic, slow-motion dream sequences) with stark World War II newsreels. Highly personal yet visually captivating, this film consists of non-linear series of visions and associations that utilize powerful visual symbolism and fascinating camera work.

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March 13 (Monday) 7 pm

Nostalghia

NostalghiaDirected by Andrei Tarkovsky
Italy/Russia 1983, b/w and color, 126 min.
With Oleg Yankovsky, Erland Josephson,Domiziana Giordano
Italian and Russian with English subtitles

Tarkovsky’s penultimate film, his first made outside the Soviet Union, concerns a Russian musicologist working in Italy who longs for his homeland as he takes an interest in a wise fool and his radical political activism (Josephson, in a role that prefigures The Sacrifice). Evocative of the director’s emotional response to his own displacement, the landscapes, colors, and aging architecture of Italy and Russia are incorporated here into the subjective world of the characters’ melancholy, anxiety, and hope.

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March 20 (Monday) 7 pm

The Sacrifice


Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
Sweden/GB/France 1986, color, 143 min.
With Erland Josephson, Allan Edwall, Susan Fleetwood
English/Swedish with English subtitles

Tarkovsky’s  final film and his ultimate metaphysical testament, The Sacrifice merges  the vivid experience of a nuclear attack with the disintegration of a  writer’s family and in so doing, merges dream with reality, sanity with  madness. Filled with powerful images that resist simple narrative explication, the film portrays the isolation of the artistic sensibility and the potential for disaster that the human race has inflicted on itself. Shot in Sweden with cinematographer Sven Nykvist and featuring Bergman regular Erland Josephson as the central character (explicitly  likened to the protagonist of Dostoyevsky’s The  Idiot), the film is a profoundly disturbing  and yet, in its final moments, uplifting work.

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April 3 (Monday) 7 pm

Ceddo (aka The Outsiders)

Directed by Ousmane Sembene
Senegal 1977, color, 120 min.
With Tabara N’diaye, Ismaila Diagne, Moustapha Yade
Wolof with English subtitles

Banned in Senegal on an absurd technicality, Ceddo, Sembene’s most ambitious film, uses the story of a beautiful princess’s kidnapping to examine the confrontation between opposing cultural forces: Muslim expansion, Christianity, and the slave trade. The “Ceddo”—or feudal class of common people—cling desperately to their customs and their fetishistic religion amidst the impending changes. Nominally set in the nineteenth century, Ceddo ranges far and wide to include philosophy, fantasy, militant politics, and a couple of electrifying leaps across the centuries to evoke the whole of the African experience.

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April 3 (Monday) 9 pm

Close-Up

Directed by Abbas Kiarostami
Iran 1990, color, 100 min.
Farsi with English subtitles

See Description in Contested Realities: Pseudodocumentary and Other Staged Events.

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April 10 (Monday) 7 pm

Xala

Directed by Ousmane Sembene
Senegal 1974, color, 123 min.
With Thierno Leye, Seune Samb, Miriam Niang
Wolof and French with English subtitles

Zeroing in on the myth of African independence and on the capitulation to white colonial policies by newly empowered black African leaders, this savage and funny satire deals with a self-satisfied, half-Westernized black businessman who is suddenly struck down by the xala— a curse that renders its victim impotent. While he desperately chases after witch doctors and soothsayers in search of a cure, the character’s condition becomes a mirror of the impotence of young African nations that are over-dependent on white technology and bureaucratic structures.

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April 17 (Monday) 7 pm

Mooladé

iDirected by Ousmane Sembene
Senegal/ France/ Burkina Faso/ Cameroon/ Morocco/ Tunisia 2004, color, 120 min.
With Fatoumata Coulibaly, Maimouna Héléne Diarra, Salimata Traoré
Bambara and French with English subtitles

With Mooladé, director Ousmane Sembene delivers a strong message through an engaging and enlightening fictional narrative.  A Senegalese woman takes a stance against female circumcision in her rural village by granting refuge in her home to four young girls who want to escape genital mutilation.  She protects the girls under “Mooladé,” her spell of sanctuary that no one dares to violate.  Though her controversial actions divide the village, she stands firm against the pressures of those who oppose her.

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Director Samba Gadjigo in Person

The Making of Mooladé

Directed by Samba Gadjigo
US/Burkina Faso/Morocco 2004, color, 25 min.

Director Samba Gadjigo follows acclaimed author and director Ousmane Sembène during production in Burkina Faso and post-production in Morocco for his film Mooladé. Through interviews with the director, actors and crew, the film documents the difficult material and human conditions under which African films are made.

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April 24 (Monday) 7 pm

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

Directed by Chantal Akerman
France/Belgium 1975, color, 200 min
French with English subtitles

As exhilarating as it is claustrophobic, Chantal Akerman’s three days in the life of a Brussels housewife and widow (the astonishing Delphine Seyrig), who is also a prostitute, is probably the most widely heralded “women’s film” ever made. B. Ruby Rich: “More than three hours long and nearly devoid of dialogue, the film charts Dielman’s breakdown via minute observation of her performance of household routines, at first methodical and unvarying, later increasingly deranged…”

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Screening on May 1 (Monday) 7 pm

The Eighties (Les Années 80)

Directed by Chantal Akerman
France/Belgium 1983, color, 85 min
With Amid Chakir, Aurore Clément, Magali Noel
French with English subtitles

An experimental film examining the process of creating art, The Eighties is series of interconnected episodes about the making of Chantal Akerman’s musical Window Shopping.  The progression of the film’s creation is revealed through clips of script read-throughs, casting, dress rehearsals, costume fittings, and screen tests.  Akerman herself is a constant presence throughout The Eighties, and though she only steps in front of the camera occasionally, her off-screen voice directs the action.  The film concludes with a twenty minute Busby Berkeley finale filmed in 35mm on location at the Toison D’Or (Golden Fleece) shopping mall in Brussels, demonstrating how the challenges of filmmaking can often be forgotten in the exhilaration of viewing the final product.

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May 1 (Monday) 9 pm

Window Shopping (aka Golden Eighties)

Directed by Chantal Akerman
France Belgium 1985, color, 96 min
With Myriam Boyer, John Berry, Delphine Seyrig
French with English subtitles

A departure from Akerman’s more serious explorations of women’s lives, Window Shopping is a lively musical in the style of Jacques Demy’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, set in a Parisian shopping mall.  The young women who work at Lili’s beauty parlor have romantic feelings for Robert, the son of the owners of a nearby clothing store, but Robert is smitten with Lili herself.  Meanwhile, an American veteran of World War II tries to rekindle a relationship with Robert’s mother, his wartime lover. These complicated romantic encounters are commented upon in song, Greek chorus style, by the juice bar owner and a group of four boys who hang around together at the mall.

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May 8 (Monday) 7 pm

And Life Goes On (aka Life and Nothing More)

Directed by Abbas Kiarostami
Iran 1991, color, 95 min.
With Farhad Kheradmand, Buba Bayour, Hocine Rifahi
Farsi with English subtitles

In the aftermath of the earthquake in northern Iran which killed some 50,000 people, director Abbas Kiarostami returned to the setting of his Where is the Friend's Home? to learn the fate of the two young actors who had played in the film. His search became the dramatic source for And Life Goes On, an Iranian road movie traveled by the director and his young son, who along the way meet earthquake survivors valiantly working to reconstruct their lives. By pushing the limits of fiction and documentary, Kiarostami gently engages the viewer in cinema's process of transforming reality.

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May 14 (Sunday) 7 pm
May 16 (Tuesday) 7 pm

The Steamroller and the Violin;
Ivan’s Childhood

See Description in A Tribute to Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov

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May 15 (Monday) 7 pm

A Taste of Cherry

Directed by Abbas Kiarostami
Iran 1997, color, 98 min
With Homayam Ershadi,Abdlrahman Bagheri
Farsi with English subtitles

Kiarostami’s latest picture shared the Grand Prix at Cannes and was voted Best Foreign Language Film by the National Society of Film Critcs. A Tehran man suffers the most serious of middle-age crises: he decides to kill himself, and drives around trying to enlist help from strangers for his well-planned ritualized demise. Will they agree to bury him in a pit which he has dug for himself?  This is Kiarostami’s most daring work, because suicide, of course, is a violation of the teachings of the Koran.

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May 21 (Sunday) 7 pm

Andrei Rublev

Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
USSR 1966, b/w and color, 185 min.
With Anatoly Solonitsyn, Ivan Lapikov, Nikolai Grinko
Russian with English subtitles

See Description in A Tribute to Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov

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May 22 (Monday) 7 pm

Ten

Directed by Abbas Kiarostami
Iran/France 2002, color, 94 min.
Farsi with English subtitles

Kiarostami’s film offers an extraordinarily revealing look at the condition of women in present-day Iran. Ten (much as Taste of Cherry before it) is set entirely within the confines of a moving car—a private “road movie” in which speech is unrestrained behind closed doors. The story follows the divorced mother of a seven-year-old boy over the course of several days as she chauffeurs her son, her sister, a pious elderly women, a streetwalker, and others on various errands around town. Each trip becomes a conversation that touches on the characters’ emotional lives and, no less intriguingly, on the social realities of life in contemporary Tehran. The woman’s annoyance at all the bad drivers around her provides a lightly comic counterpoint to which Western audiences will easily relate.

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May 22 (Monday) 8:45 pm

10 on Ten

10Directed by Abbas Kiarostami
Iran/ France 2004, color, 88 min.
Persian and English with English subtitles

10 on Ten features director Abbas Kiarostami navigating the bumpy mountain roads used in Taste of Cherry while delivering what is essentially a master class on filmmaking.  Kiarostami’s advice for filmmakers and opinions about cinema are divided into ten chapters, and his lessons address both film in general and his own films specifically.  Though Kiarostami’s talk is occasionally interspersed with clips from his films, the majority of 10 on Ten reveals Kiarostami as an engaging and wise teacher, enthusiastically addressing the camera from the driver’s seat of his car.

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