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March 5 - May 7, 2006

Beyond Truth: Contemporary Nonfiction Cinema

This eclectic collection of new documentary films tackles subjects as diverse as amnesia, film casting, globalization and labor, and post-9/11 xenophobia.


Introduced by Daniel Schacter, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Psychology at Harvard University
March 5 (Sunday) 6 pm

Unknown White Male

Directed by Rupert Murray
UK 2004, color, 80 min.

Unknown White Male is the startling story of a man who, for no apparent reason, lost every memory of his friends, his family and every experience he had ever known.  Dramatically reconstructing his first terrifying hours of disorientation, this true story follows Douglas Bruce in the hours and months following his amnesia, as he tries to piece his life back together, discovering the world anew.  Charting an overwhelming voyage of discovery, much of Unknown White Male was filmed by Bruce himself, who started recording his re-entry into the world just one week after appearing at the Coney Island Hospital Psychiatric ward, not knowing who he was.  This advance screening will be introduced by Professor Daniel Schacter, an expert on the psychological and biological aspects of human memory and amnesia.

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March 11 (Saturday) 6:30 pm
March 12 (Sunday) 8:30 pm

Workingman’s Death

Directed by Michael Glawogger
Austria/Germany 2005, color, 122 min.
English and Russian, Basha Indonesia, Ibu, Yoruba, Pashtu, Mandarin, German with English subtitles

Presented in six chapters, Michael Glawogger’s epic documentary considers the function of manual labor in contemporary society through the eyes of his fascinating subjects that include coal miners in Ukraine, sulphur gatherers in Indonesia, animal butchers in Nigeria, shipbreakers in Pakistan and steelworkers in China. While the film is often unrelenting in its observational portrait of toil, particularly in the graphic scenes of cattle slaughter, Workingman's Death provides testament to very human struggles for survival.

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March 11 (Saturday) 9 pm

Thirst

NostalghiaDirected by Mausi Martinez
Argentina 2005, color, 72 min.
Portuguese with English subtitles

“The wars of the 21st century will be about water”, according to Ismael Serageldin, ex vice president of the World Bank, and “anyone who possesses this resource could be the target of attack.” In 2006 one of every five of the Earth’s inhabitants do no’t have access to drinkable water. The world’s fresh water supply is gradually shrinking. In South America, the Guarani Aquifer is an underground reservoir which could supply the entire planet for the next 200 years. The Bush administration has already made overtures to the governments of Brazil and Paraguay, offering to help protect this unique resource by building military bases that will guard against possible terrorist attack.

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Director Barry Hershey In Person
April 8 (Saturday) 7 pm

Casting About

Directed by Barry Hershey
US 2004, color, 86 min.
English/German with English subtitles
Barry Hershey captures the intimacies of the casting process in this compelling collage. The director sorted through over 70 hours of performance footage which included some 350 actresses trying out for three roles in an as yet unfinished period film, Moving Still. The process took Hershey on a journey to Boston, Berlin, Chicago, London and Los Angeles in search of the right actress.  Although the footage was originally intended to be included in Moving Still, Hershey was so struck by the intensity of the actresses’ performances that he spent two years working with his editor to craft it into a film of its own.

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April 8 (Saturday) 9:15 pm
April 10 (Monday) 9:15 pm

Wall (Mur)

Directed by Simone Bitton
France/Israel 2004, color, 100 min.
Arabic, Hebrew, French with English subtitles

Simone Bitton, who self-identifies as an Arab Jew, directed this documentary about the erection of a security wall on the West Bank. Funded by Israel, the stated purpose of the wall is to curb terrorist movements across the border.  Bitton uses a series of long takes to contemplatively examine the physical materiality of the wall – the thick concrete, the barbed wire, the electronic fences – as well as the heavy equipment and the workers who are constructing it. These images are interspersed with insightful interviews with Israelis and Palestinians on both sides of the border about the social, political, and emotional impact the wall has on their lives.

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Director Alejandra Islas in Person
April 30 (Sunday) 7 pm

Muxes: Authentic, Intrepid Seekers of Danger (Muxes: auténticas, intrépidas buscadoras del peligro)

Directed by Alejandra Islas
Mexico 2005, color, 105 min.

This lively documentary follows a group of indigenous and mestizo men in the town of Juchitan, Oxaca, who live openly as gay men while simultaneously defending their identity as Zapotec Indians. Over the past three decades, the Muxes community has worked together to survive family rejection and the prejudice and machismo of the larger Mexican society. Director Alejandra Islas creates an intimate portrait of this little known subculture of drag queens, gay couples, male prostitutes and hangers on thriving in one of the most conservative states of Mexico. Alejandra Islas’s previous work includes the documentaries Eisenstein in Mexico, Tina Modotti, and Memory of an Invasion.

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Director/Producer Sharat Raju in Person
Writer/Producer Valerie Kaur In Person
May 7 (Sunday) 7 pm

Divided We Fall

Directed by Sharat Raju
US/India 2006, color, 120 min.
English and Punjabi with English subtitles

Who counts as an American? When a turbaned Sikh man is brutally murdered in the aftermath of September 11, a college student journeys across the country to find out who counts as “one of us” in a world divided into “us and them.” Armed with only a camera, she captures hundreds of stories never before told – stories of fear and unspeakable loss, but also of resilience and hope – until she finally finds the heart of America, halfway around the world. Four years in the making, Divided We Fall weaves expert analysis into a cross-country road trip that confronts the forces dividing Americans in times of crisis.

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Harvard Film Archive • Carpenter Center • 24 Quincy Street • Cambridge MA 02138 • 617-495-4700