December 2010

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Adam's Rib Reflects on John Lennon's Life and His Enduring Legacy
The Cinema Lounge
The 54th London Film Festival
The 21st Washington Jewish Film Festival
The Capital Irish Film Festival
We Need to Hear From You
Calendar of Events

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Last 12 issues of the Storyboard.

Adam's Rib Reflects on John Lennon's Life and His Enduring Legacy

By Adam Spector, DC Film Society Member

It was almost 30 years ago that John Lennon was struck down by a crazed assassin. His music, his character, and his message still resonate today. Two recent films, Nowhere Boy and The U.S. vs. John Lennon, offer bookend glimpses into what shaped Lennon and how he shaped others. Check it out in
new Adam's Rib column.

The Cinema Lounge

The next meeting of the Cinema Lounge will be on Monday, December 20 at 7:00pm.

The Cinema Lounge, a film discussion group, meets the third Monday of every month at 7:00pm at
Barnes and Noble, 555 12th St., NW in Washington, DC (near the Metro Center Metro stop). You do not need to be a member of the Washington DC Film Society to attend. Cinema Lounge is moderated by Daniel R. Vovak, ghostwriter with Greenwich Creations.

The 54th London Film Festival

By James McCaskill and Ron Gordner, DCFS Members

The London Film Festival is always special; being held in a city like London in could be no other. Not only do you have the best films from Cannes, Venice and Toronto plus a strong selection of outstanding films gathered by their Film Festival programmers, you have the superb London theatres just round the corner.

The program for the
54th BFI London Film Festival showcased an array of highly anticipated films by both established and emerging talent from around the world. A particularly strong feature this year is the selection of British films including the previously announced Opening and Closing Night Galas. Over 16 days the festival screened a total of 197 features and 112 shorts, including 11 World, 23 International and 33 European premieres, many presented by cast members and filmmakers, alongside a stellar line-up of special events.

Most talk at the festival this year was not just the great films but concern over the Government's proposed budget cuts wiping out past lines of film funding. UK Lottery may be the major source of funding in the future.

Opening the festival was Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go, starring Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield; Danny Boyle's 127 Hours, starring James Franco closed the festival, with key talent in attendance for both. In between were The King's Speech, with Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter; Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan, with Natalie Portman; Mike Leigh's Another Year; NEDS, directed by Peter Mullan; The Kids Are All Right starring Julianne Moore and Annette Bening; and Cannes Palme D'Or winner, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Other highlights included Conviction, starring Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell; Alejandro González Iñárritu's Biutiful starring Javier Bardem; West Is West, the follow up to East is East; Xavier Beauvois’ Of Gods and Men; and Julian Schnabel's Miral with Freida Pinto. In The First Grader an 84 year old Kenyan finally starts school, and Africa United features a group of youngsters who trek across Africa to reach the World Cup.


Patricia Clarkson presents the award for Best Film to Alexei Popogrebsky for How I Ended This Summer. {Photo from the British Film Festival website).

Best Film: The award for Best Film was presented by Patricia Clarkson to Alexei Popogrebsky for How I Ended This Summer. On behalf of the jury, Patricia Clarkson (Chair) said: "With elemental themes of isolation, alienation and the power of misunderstanding, How I Ended This Summer is a visceral psychological drama set in the immersive landscape of the windswept Arctic. Director Alexei Popogrebsky has combined stunning cinematography with painterly attention to production detail and drawn intense and subtle performances from actors Grigory Dobrygin and Sergei Puskepalis. The film turns the hunter-versus-hunted narrative on its head to provoke powerful questions about life and death, resilience and human compassion. Tense, moving and universal in its scope, this is a cinematic tour de force." The jury also gave a special commendation to Joanna Hogg’s subtle and sophisticated Archipelago, praising the film’s taut and truthful performances and visual beauty.

Best British Newcomer: Clio Barnard, director of The Arbor. Honoring new and emerging British film talent, and recognizing the achievements of a new writer, producer, director, actor or actress, the award for Best British Newcomer was presented by Andy Serkis to Clio Barnard, director of The Arbor. Juror David Morrissey commented: "This year's Best British Newcomer category was amazingly strong and the jury was impressed by all the candidates. The three young actors nominated all delivered exceptional performances, and at a time when raising money for films and keeping them on track is so difficult, the two producers on the shortlist should be commended for their exceptional work. Finally, the three writer/directors nominated for In Our Name, Submarine and The Arbor created three very different, challenging pieces of work. The jury was hugely impressed by all of their films." Tony Grisoni added, "Focusing on playwright Andrea Dunbar’s uneasy relationship with her daughter, Lorraine, Clio Barnard’s genre-busting film The Arbor is innovative, eloquent and emotionally resonant. This film, which touched all of us, both challenges conventional filmmaking and at the same time engages with real lives. A stunning debut."

Sutherland Award: Clio Barnard, director of The Arbor. The longstanding Sutherland Award is presented to the director of the most original and imaginative feature debut in the Festival. This year, Clio Barnard took the award for her film The Arbor, which was presented by jurors Michael Winterbottom and Olivia Williams. Festival Artistic Director and Chair of the jury, Sandra Hebron, commented: "The Arbor is a brave and highly original debut with many levels of experimentation on show. With outstanding performances that give a great resonance to the words of real people, Clio Barnard’s film tells a fascinating story with sophistication and haunting emotional impact. This is a challenging, moving and utterly memorable film and a deserving winner of the Sutherland Award". The jury also praised the indelible poetic imagery of Phan Dang Di’s Don't Be Afraid Bi!, and Michael Rowe’s Leap Year for its engaging story-telling and extraordinary performances.

Grierson Award for Best Documentary in the Festival: Armadillo, directed by Janus Metz. This award is co-presented with the Grierson Trust, in commemoration of John Grierson, the grandfather of British documentary. Recognizing outstanding feature-length documentaries of integrity, originality, technical excellence or cultural significance, the jury was chaired by Kevin Macdonald and the award was presented by journalist and broadcaster Jon Snow to winner Janus Metz for Armadillo. Kevin Macdonald (Chair of the Jury) said, "Filmed with a combination of extraordinary intimacy and stylistic sophistication, Janus Metz's Armadillo follows a group of Danish soldiers on their first posting to Afghanistan. With total access and great honesty, the film shows us why these men want to go to war and what the experience of action does to them. Humane but clear eyed in its attitude to the conflict, we believe that Armadillo is a touchstone film that will be watched for years to come."

127 Hours. Has opened in the Washington area and deservedly is on everyone's Must See list.

The Arbor (Clio Barnard, UK, 2010). Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar was the author of three new raw and witty plays, including the play The Arbor, and the film Rita, Sue and Bob Too drawing heavily on her experiences growing up on the notoriously deprived Buttershaw public housing project. She was also someone who led a short and often troubled life, dying of a brain hemorrhage at age 29. Returning to Buttershaw 30 years after The Arbor was written, Bernard uses multiple layers of storytelling to explore Dunbar's creative work. Actors flawlessly lip-synch the interview material to gripping, moving effect. Scenes from the film are performed outside on the estate, watched by residents past and present. A film that is shattering but also filled with compassion.

Benda Bilili (Renaud Barrer & Florent de la Tuilaye, France, 2010). The most moving documentary in this or most any festival. The film follows the unbelievable rise from the poverty stricken streets of Kinshasa to European acclaim of Staff Benda Bilili, a band comprised of severely disabled Congolese and street children playing both conventional and improvised musical instruments. The group's original core is made up of three paraplegic middle-aged street dwellers who live in cardboard boxes in the slums of the city, where they stay sane by making music. Roger Landu, the star performer, is able bodied but plays a curious, self-invented instrument. They perform song - rooted in rumba about the polio that afflicted them and their life on the street. Documentarists Renaud Barret and Florent de la Tiullaye filmed them while they rehearsed and on their highly successful European tour. At the Q&A, the directors said, "Their lives have changed. We received photos from them and they have become stars in Japan. They all have houses and all their children are going to school (and there are many children). For each group member there are 20 to 25 people who are living better."

Home By Christmas (Gaylene Preston, New Zealand, 2010). Preston always wanted to know about her father's experience in WW2, when he was part of the ANZAC campaigns in North Africa and Italy. Ed, her father, was always reluctant to talk about that time. He finally agreed, as a parting gift to her, to the interview. Tapes of those interviews are the basis of this documentary, which inventively combines precious eyewitness testimony with archive and recreated scenes in an attempt to convey the realities of one man's war experience and, by extension, illuminate a collective history. Preston's first film, Dark of the Night, told the war experience of her mother. In my interview with her I asked her what was the most unexpected thing her father said. "Once you do ask the question what you are told is often astounding. The most astounding were his days in the prison camp, stories that had so much humanity in them. "In combat," Ed says, "a lot of the boys had laundry trouble. Anyone who says he wasn't scared was lying."

The King's Speech. Opens December 10 in the Washington area. If you have not seen it, put it on your list. It is an excellent film. A little known fact about the film is that Colin Firth's sister is a Speech Therapist and worked as an uncredited advisor on the film.

Submarino (Thomas Vinterberg, Denmark, 2009). This is not the Copenhagen of tourists. This is a cold bleak story told in winter hues. A powerful story of two men struggling to escape a childhood of neglect and tragedy, Nick and his brother are the children of an alcoholic mother who gave scant attention to her children. The boys formed a tight bond with each other and their baby brother. We meet them as adults, estranged and fighting addictions. Nick is full of anger and self-loathing, isolated and living in a grim hotel. Days are spent working out his anger at a local gym, nights are filled with alcohol and random sex. His brother is a junkie and a single parent trying to take care of his young son. This is a moving story of cycles of neglect and addiction handed down by generations. Vinterberg asks, "Can there be a future for these? Can the cycle be broken or will it be passed down to yet another generation?"

Tabloid (Errol Morris, United States, 2010). Another strange, but fascinating documentary from Errol Morris. Morris, always looking at tabloids for interesting stories, read a small article in the Boston Globe about a woman cloning her dog. There was some query about whether this Joyce was the infamous Joyce McKinney involved 33 years earlier in the bizarre British and later global headlines: "Manacled Mormon Sex Slave Story." In the late 1970’s, a smart beauty pageant queen, Miss Wyoming [Joyce McKinney], fell in love with a Mormon priest in training. She followed him and reportedly kidnapped him as a sex slave in England. Morris said: “the film is a return to my favorite genre: sick, sad, and funny, but of course it’s more than that.” Producer Mark Lipson said the audience should “consider the film as a fairy tale. Before there was Brittany Spears and Lindsey Lohan, there was Joyce.” She plays out her dreams, including a later update about some strange cloning procedures she had done in South Korea.

Armadillo (Janus Metz, Denmark, 2010). Armadillo is the name for a heavily fortified UK-Danish army base in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Here documentarist Janus Metz and his crew were embedded in 2009 following a group of young Danish recruits as they adjust to the realities of conflict, in and outside their secure camp. The result is a powerful immediacy, observational in style, its close quarters view of the inexperienced soldiers a vivid look at the conflict on these young soldiers. Pedersen remains sympathetic from their teary farewells to their families at home to the boredom of camp routine. He is especially sensitive to the voices of the Afghan civilians caught in the crossfire between the coalition troops and the Taliban. The centerpiece is an extended firefight between the Danes and a few Taliban fighters, an intensive piece of reportage that later prompted controversy in Denmark over the troops' conduct. (From the festival catalogue).

Another Year (Mike Leigh, UK, 2010). Mike Leigh's gentle yet powerful film about family, friendship and ageing is a compassionate and considered work, balancing humor alongside melancholic themes. Tom (Jim Broadbent) and Gerri (Ruth Sheen) are a good hearted couple sliding towards old age. Tom is a geologist, Gerri is a counsellor and they have a warm relationship with their grown son, a community lawyer. We seem them working in their garden or making curry for their friends, a picture of domestic bliss. A bliss not shared by two of their friends--Mary (Lesley Manville) a work colleague of Gerri's who finds her love life a total disaster and drinks way too much, and Ken, a friend of Tom's, finds his life also lonely and unhappy. Taking place over four seasons, Leigh lets the small events in life tell the meaningful story. Getting old is no picnic and Leigh looks at it with honesty.

Biutiful (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Spain/Mexico, 2010). Uxbal, a father of two, lives in Barcelona by his wits but has a soft caring side for those in need. Faced with a terminal disease and the welfare of many, including his children and their estranged mother, the film is a linear race for Uxbal to try to do the right thing, many times with fateful consequences. Javier Bardem shared the best actor in Cannes for his very emotional role.

Black Swan (Darren Aronsofsky, USA, 2010). This thriller about a dancer driven toward perfection is set against the backdrop of a New York ballet company. Two dancers, one on the rise and the other at the end of her dance career, provide the tension in this outstanding film. Some may find the jarring ending a bit off putting. The dance sequences are first rate thanks to dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet. This is a ballet film right up there with The Red Shoes, The Turning Point and Mao's Last Dancer. Opens soon in Washington.

Blessed Event (Isabelle Stever, Germany, 2010). What a joy it is to find a small film made with limited funding, a talented director and cast. Just like her previous films, Stever focuses on ordinary women caught in an extraordinary situation. When I asked her about that in our interview she said, "I am an ordinary woman caught up in situations larger than me every day. But I don't think the women in my film are ordinary. The protagonist of Blessed Events, in my opinion, is extraordinarily suspicious and insecure. That is why she has so many difficulties finding a way to live." I asked her why she took her film to major festivals like Toronto and London, Stever replied, "Getting a positive thoughtful response of an international audience straightens me, which helps a lot in my profession." The film traces Simone through an unexpected pregnancy finding that the father is actually happy about it. "My cinematic goal was to consistently take on Simone's perspective, so that her horror - which seems to come out of nowhere - is experienced by the viewer."

A Family (Pernille Fischer Christensen, Denmark, 2010). I think no one tells family dramas like the Danish. A patriarch with a young second wife and young children is faced with health problems and who will take over his famous bakery that serves the Danish royalty. The seemingly stronger daughter, Ditte, already has her own art gallery and the younger sister seems disinterested. The pressures of ill health and family commitments and changing family dynamics are strongly presented. Asked if the film was autobiographical, the director said: “My father was not like Jesper in the film, but he did die in 2001 and I wanted to write something about how sickness and death affects the family. A friend also was in a family of bakers in Copenhagen, so I used that material also. The story highlights that nothing is forever. Also the type of strong Danish father portrayed in the film is a disappearing breed.” A Family was shown last month at the AFI Silver's European Union Film Festival.

The First Grader (Justin Chadwick, UK/Kenya, 2010). Maruge (Oliver Litondo) is an 84 year old village elder who wants to learn to read and write. Using a new government program that guarantees everyone an education, he enrolls in the local school. Chadwick's docudrama takes a former Mau Mau fighter who is now fighting for the right to an education. Filmed in Kenya's Rift Valley and using a real school with real pupils, Chadwich has made a heart warming film. The villagers are suspicious, the education bureaucracy is appalled, Maruge is determined.

Home for Christmas (Bent Hamer, Norway/Germany/Sweden, 2010). It is Christmas Eve in the small fictional town of Kkogli, Norway. Nestling in the glow of Northern Lights, the town is as happy home to some, and to others an all poignant reminder of better times. Over the course of a few hours we meet various lost souls hoping to find their way to a place they can call home: a modern day Mary and Joseph, refugees desperate to find a safe haven for the birth of their first child; a rather unconventional Father Christmas who'll get gifts to his estranged children by any means necessary; a voracious lover, hoping that this will finally be the year she gets her man home for Christmas. Basing his script on a collection of short stories by Levi Henriksen, Hamer weaves the material together with his usual wit to produce a snapshot of life blending humor and tenderness with misfortune and sadness. (London festival catalogue).

Life, Above All (Oliver Schmitz, South Africa/Germany, 2010). A powerful adaptation of Allan Stratton's bestselling novel, "Chanda's Secrets," Life, Above All is a handsomely produced drama about a courageous young girl fighting prejudice in her South African village. Newcomer Khomotso Manyaka gives a riveting performance of maturity and depth as 12 year old Chanda, burdened with a drunken, good-for-nothing stepfather and a loving but gravely ill mother. Chanda is forced to grow up fast as gossip and rumors threaten the survival of her family. (London festival catalogue).

Loose Cannons (Ferzan Ozpetek, Italy, 2010). From the director of Haman and A Perfect Day comes a family drama/comedy of an Italian upper middle class family that has owned a pasta factory for generations and their three children: 2 unmarried sons and a married daughter. During a large family dinner, Tommasso the younger son plans to announce that he is gay, hoping to upset the father, but remove himself from possibly managing the factory. Family gatherings and dinner conversation of course may lead to loose cannons and other declarations. As with the cooking, many secrets boil to the top. Beautiful cinematography in Apulia, Southern Italy and a wonderful back story about the grandmother and love choices she made in her life make this also another great food movie that is fun, yet touching. When asked about the difficulty experienced with homosexuality in his films and in Italy, the director said, “Remember this film portrays Italian society in the year 2000, not 2010; the lack of legislation in Italy protecting human rights has made what was a more open society much worse. Also many people introduce their gay or homosexual friends with those labels, but people rarely introduce others as their heterosexual acquaintances; we must move on from labeling or categorizing each other.”

NEDS (Peter Mullin, UK/France/Italy, 2010). NEDS (an acronym for Non-Educated Delinquents) is "personal but not autobiographical." This is a journey film as studious John McGill becomes a NEDS. In his master class he said he was "numb for the first couple of days" of filming. "Had talked about this film in 2006. You know that serious writing ensures that the house is clean as you will do anything to keep from writing. I'll go one step further. I'll come and clean your house." When you write it is "Just you and your imaginary friends in conversation all day. NEDS started off as a play when I was 20. Thought NEDS would write itself. It didn't. Just because it had happened to you, why would it be of interest? I prefer to write fiction as it is easier to write about someone else."

Our Life (Danielle Luchetti, Italy/France, 2010). From the director of My Brother is an Only Child, this is the story of Claudio, a young father of two sons, a devoted husband to his pregnant wife, and construction foreman, trying to make a better life for his family. When his wife dies in childbirth, Claudio, must face how to raise his now three sons and attain funding for their future. The director said “the genesis for the film came out of his earlier documentary about public housing in Ostia, and how workers with regular wages, still couldn’t afford better housing. The family is the core of Italian society and this film shows a family without a safety net. Without the female in the family, the father must assume both roles, if possible.” When asked about the situation with foreign workers, he said: “In Italy we can be racist with our words, but not our deeds. Especially in Southern Italy the state does not like foreign workers, but they are tolerated. They are much more integrated in Northern industrial Italy. The main actor, Elio Germano, was the co-winner of Best Actor at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The film also played at the recent European Union Film Festival at AFI Silver.

The Peddler (Lucas Marcheggiano, Eduardo de la Serna, Adriana Yurcovich, Argentina, 2009). The directors saw Daniel Burmeister at a film festival (The Festival of Neighborhoods) and were enamored with his approach to go out into the rural areas of Argentina with scripts and live with and engage the locals to make movies. “Although somewhat scripted, what happened, happened, said director Eduardo de la Serna, which included accidents, bodies, and emergencies. We used various types of cameras, and sold them at different times to finance the film.” The film includes footage of the townspeople watching the resulting film also. “Our next project will take two 5 year olds, one from the city and one from the country and follow them through starting school, and their dreams and their futures. I expect perhaps only their initial innocence may be the common ground they share.”

The Pipe (Risteard O'Dombnaill, Ireland, 2010). When it was discovered that there was a reserve of 11 trillion cubic feet of natural gas 80km off the west coast of Ireland, a consortium led by Shell developed plans to lay a pipeline into County Mayo, through the village of Rossport. Without being included in the planning process, the small farming and fishing village objected, fearing the risk of environmental damage. Risteard O'Dombnaill's documentary followed the campaign against Shell over four years. There are disturbing scenes of the Irish Garda being deployed to remove protestors and drag people to jail, indicating that the Irish government is backing Shell, motivated by economic greed. The Pipe is a stirring tribute to the brave men and women fighting for their rights. (London festival catalogue).

Poetry (Lee Changdong, South Korea, 2010). Lee Changdong follows Secret Sunshine with another powerful and moving story of a woman finding hidden strengths - perhaps even an identity she never knew she had. Yang Mija (the great veteran star Yon Jeong-hee returning to the screen after 16 years) lives in a dormitory town outside Seoul, looks after her teenaged grandson Wook, on behalf of his divorced mother, and has a part time job caring for a elderly disabled man. One day, on impulse, she joins a poetry writing class and starts trying to follow the tutor's advice to see more intensely what's around her. She soon discovers that Wook is implicated in the suicide of a young girl. Being pressured by parents of other boys who are also involved, Yang Mija discovers hidden strength. Poetry and cinema may be dying arts, but Lee is on the battle front to save them.

Route Irish (Ken Loach, UK, 2010). Ken Loach and regular screenwriter Paul Laverty turn their attention to the human cost of the privitization and commercialisation of the Iraq/Afghanistan war in this gripping story of an ex-soldier trying to uncover the circumstances of his best friend's death. Both had a career in the military and when his pal Fergus left the SAS and landed a lucrative job with a private security firm in Baghdad he persuaded Frankie to join him. Back in Liverpool Frankie learns that Fergus has been killed on Route Irish, the most dangerous road in Iraq. This search for truth is one of Loach's most accessible films and one of his darkest.

A Screaming Man (Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, France/Belgium/Chad, 2010). From the director of Bye Bye Africa, Abouna and Dry Season comes a new film about a family man working in post Colonial Chad, his future employment, the ongoing civil wars, and the future of his son. A very strong moral tale, the father, Adam, has to fight on several different fronts--his job, his age, civil wars--and God does not reveal himself to him as he did to the Biblical Adam. The father must make decisions among the chaos around him and then live or try to change the consequences of his action. The director said that trying to show the film to the ruling administration on the blank walls of a government building helped to fund and renovate what would become a working cinema theater.

Silent Souls (Aleksei Fedorchenko, Russia, 2010). Almost documentary in style, this film is a road trip as an employee helps return the body of his boss' wife to her Merja homeland. Beautiful cinematography of the Volga region and a look at another Russia of mythology and Slavic cultures. Recurring themes of water, rituals, memory, and love make this a fascinating 75 minute soulful trip.

West Is West (Andy DeEmmony, UK, 2010). This sequel to the multi-award winning East Is East takes the desperately dysfunctional Khan family on a journey from Salford, England, to Pakistan. West Is West is the coming of age story of 15 year old Sajid, brilliantly played by new comer Aqib Khan. The director said of Khan, "He is as close to the real thing as I could have wished for. A natural-born actor. His instincts are impeccable; he is utterly captivating. He will have a major career." When asked at the Press Conference why it took 11 years to make a sequel, screenwriter Ayub Khan-Din said, "I wrote East is East while at drama school. I did not think about a sequel. It was a play first then a movie. Sequels usually don't work. It had to be a stand alone story for me. It now felt normal to me to return, to now look at George as a mellow person."

Abel (Diego Luna, Mexico, 2010). Actor, producer and now director, Diego Luna said, “the film came from the fact that his father had taken him to see Hamlet and the feeling of love displayed between Hamlet and his mother.” Abel is a boy who has not spoken since his father left. He psychologically takes the place of the father and is jealous of the mother’s attraction for others. “We ran a tv ad to find someone to play Abel and after narrowing to three it was evident that Christopher (Ruiz-Esparza) was our choice because he acted older than his years.”

Attenberg (Athina Rachel Tsangari, Greece, 2010). Tsangari also helped produce the Greek film Dogtooth and this film has some strange elements of that film also. Twenty-three year old Marina does not have a love life, but is educated about kissing and men by her friend Bella. She also must deal with the recent news of her father Spyro’s cancer. Somewhat of a throwback to French new wave films, the director grew up in the United States, and is part of a collective of new Greek filmmakers. She called her film “a type of modern day Pieta—physically moving but still somehow in stasis. Monty Python’s Secret Society of Silly Walks was her inspiration for certain scenes that also bring to mind zoological rather than psychological bases.

Autumn (Aamir Bashir, India, 2010). War torn Kashmir is the background of this film about Rafiq, a 21 year old who sees his friends leaving for other Indian cities and who wants to find his place in society. The ongoing dangers of everyday life in Kashmir are portrayed. The father is played by Iranian actor Reza Naji who was seen in Majidi’s film The Song of Sparrows.

Boxing Gym Boxing Gym recently played in the Washington area.

Copacabana (Marc Fitoussi, France, 2010). Isabelle Huppert fans will delight to see her having a good time on screen as she clearly does in Copacabana. In this comedy-drama Huppert plays Babou, a woman whose easy going lifestyle and nomadic existence is a source of embarrassment to her straight laced offspring, played by Huppert's own daughter - Lolita Chammah. Hoping to give Esmeralda the wedding of her dreams, Babou puts aside her dream of traveling to Brazil and takes a job selling time shares. Is there a place for the individualist in conventional modern Europe? This film was shown last month at the AFI's Silver as part of the European Union Film Festival.

Dear Doctor (Miwa Nishikawa, Japan, 2009). Based on her own novel, Nishikawa’s film looks at whether what is claimed to be true really is. Keisuke is a medical resident who chooses a remote rural mountain town to intern with Dr. Ino, the beloved local doctor. What are Dr. Ino’s credentials and can Keisuke practice in such a rural place rather than the cities? An interesting tale unfolds, and the rural Japanese cinematography alone makes it worth seeing this film.

Father (Jose Maria de Orbe, Spain, 2010). A mysterious empty house in the Basque County, "shot in my house". director de Orbe told me in our interview. "My father died when I was young so I can't live there. I have a housekeeper who takes care of it. I want to leave the house to my son; and wanted to make a film about the house. I wanted to explore the making of film as art. I worked like a painter; I worked with eight people, eight very inspired people. I asked my housekeeper to play the housekeeper. The local priest played the priest. We went from the factual to the abstract. When I was putting together the music I asked the local chorus to sing the Ave Maria you hear in the film. The church actually belongs to the house. I went through a collaboratory process, spent a lot of time watching the water leak in my house. The stains looked like an abstract painting."

Heartbeats (Xavier Dolan, Canada, 2010). French Canadian director of last year’s I Killed My Mother, this time presents the tale of Francis and Marie, best friends who both like new student Nicolas. Full of romantic twists, the film is reminiscent of the art films of Douglas Sirk mixed with French new wave. The film's French name is more apt--Les Amours Imaginaires. Nicolas sends out vibes in all directions, but is he straight, gay, bisexual, or just into himself?

Just Another Love Story (Aarekti Premer Golpo, India, 2010). Golpo said, ”I met the famous Chapal Bhaduri in 2002 who had played so many feminine roles in the older Bengal Folk Theatre. What part could I possibly write and offer this old man and actor, who was still very feminine in presentation? A tv version was shown a few years ago and we enhanced the script and added a gay director who wants to make a documentary about the older actor. We hope that it will be seen and advertised as a human, not just gay story. It opens after Christmas in India.

The Light Thief (Aktan Arym Kubat, Kyrgyzstan/Germany/Netherlands/France, 2010). Kubat directed the masterpiece film The Adopted Son and this time tackles and plays the lead Svet-Ake, a man who manages to bring electricity to poor families and homes and is dogged by the electric companies and authorities as a thief. He is also a failed inventor of sorts, and the film has some small bittersweet elements of magic realism.

Nothing's All Bad (Mukke Mennesker, Denmark, 2010). A real black comedy, with several stories of family members or acquaintances, each with sometimes strange sexual situations that eventually intersect. Mennesker said, ”Loneliness is the toughest human condition, and we tend to act undignified and amorally at these times. Loneliness can be endlessly tragic and comic.”

The Puzzle (Natalia Smirnoff, Argentina/France, 2009). A wonderful film about Maria, a dutiful housewife and mother of two grown sons who is somewhat trapped in her domestic life until she finds she is good at reassembling huge, difficult puzzles. Entering contests and meeting other contestants brings Maria out of her shell and gives her a taste of elusive freedom. Maria is brilliantly played by the actress Maria Onetto, who you would not recognize from her very different role in The Headless Woman.

A Somewhat Gentle Man (Hans Petter Moland, Norway, 2010). Established Swedish star Stellan Skarsgaard plays newly released prisoner Ulrik who is soon greeted by the old over the hill gang of con men and gangsters that got him into trouble. Another Nordic black comedy of sorts, as Ulrik meets women, including the older landlady who soon brings more than dinner to his basement home. The director said the costumes were deliberately out of fashion to show what these men were macho for their time and that Norwegian audiences would readily accept the Swedish actor in the loser role.

Taipei Exchanges (Hsiao Ya-Chuan, Taiwan, 2010). The director has both acted and been assistant director on Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s films. This is a delightful story of two sisters, Doris and Josie who run a coffee shop and begin to fill the shop with odd antiques and white elephants when they decide to allow patrons to exchange items for their goods and other items. Doris is also a wonderful baker and budding artist. I found it somewhat reminiscent of films like Chungking Express and lighter food themed films. Nothing dramatic, but a nice frothy film and sweet dessert.

Mars a SNL skit that went on to long, but may appeal to the younger set.

The 21st Washington Jewish Film Festival

This year's Washington Jewish Film Festival: An Exhibition of International Cinema presents 53 features, documentaries and shorts from 14 countries in 11 venues, December 2–12. The Festival's theme is “Share the Power of Film.”

The Opening Night film is the US premiere screening of La Rafle (Roselyn Bosch) held at the Avalon Theater with the director and producer present for discussion. This French film features outstanding performances by Jean Reno, Mélanie Laurent and Gad Elmaleh and retells the story of the 1942 round up of 13,000 Parisian Jews detained at the Velodrome d’Hiver by the Vichy government. The touching personal stories are based on Bosch’s extensive research and first-hand accounts.

Closing Night is the DC premiere of The Klezmatics: On Holy Ground followed by a dessert party with the producer and Klezmatic band members.

This year, the Festival offers two special "In Focus" subject matters: Holocaust Film in the 21st Century and Focus on Jewish Cinema from Argentina. Filmmaker Daniel Burman will receive the 2010 WJFF Visionary Award and several films from Argentina will be shown.

The Washington Jewish Film Festival is one of the largest Jewish film festivals in the world. It opened 21 years ago with eight films screened at the old Biograph Theatre in Georgetown to an audience of 1,500. Along with the increase in films presented throughout the years, the Festival grew its programs surrounding the films, increased audiences by more than five times, moved to multiple venues, diversified its programming and enhanced its special guest roster. To date, the Festival has presented more than 700 films on the Jewish experience from over 35 countries. An audience of 8,000-plus is expected to attend this year’s Festival.

Festival Director Susan Barocas highlights the guests: "Film is such a powerful influence in our lives today, even more so when seen and discussed with the filmmakers themselves. We are delighted, this year more than ever, our audiences will interact with so many filmmakers from around the world."

Some titles include The Debt starring Helen Mirren, a satire The Infidel, a newly retored print of Bar Mitzvah from 1935 starring Yiddish theater actor Boris Thomashefsky in his only film performance, and Mrs. Moskowitz and the Cats which won Best Actress at the Jerusalem International Film Festival. Numerous documentaries will be shown and at a special Symposium "The Future of History: Holocaust Films in the 21st Century" four filmmakers will discuss new ways of telling those stories.

Locations include the DCJCC's Goldman Theater, the American Film Institute's Silver Theater, the Goethe-Institute, the Embassies of France, Italy and Russia and the National Gallery of Art.

Visit the website for a complete catalog of films and ticket information.

The Capital Irish Film Festival

See the latest Irish feature films, documentaries, shorts and animation December 2-11. The Capital Irish Film Festival is now the largest Irish film festival in the US. Special events include programming by the Darklight Festival, a digital arts showcase for cutting-edge art, film and technology, and also visiting directors, special guests and opening and closing night events. The opening night film is My Brothers, a road movie and the closing night film is the psychological drama Snap. Other features include the comedy Zonad; the US premiere of Savage, a meditation of violence and masculinity; a comedy-thriller Perrier's Bounty; the coming of age story 32A with director Marian Quinn present for Q&A; the US premiere of Between the Canals; and the US premiere of the mockumentary The Alarms about an Irish rock band with Directors Mark Cantan and Damian Farrell discussing how to make your first film.

Documentaries include the US premiere of Pyjama Girls about Irish teenagers with director Maya Derrington present for Q&A, Seaview about a refugee camp; His and Hers; and Horses, which follows the lives of three racehorses over a year's time.

Animation includes the animated feature, nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, Secret of the Kells and animated short films.

Numerous short films will be screened, including musicals, comedies, animation, documentaries, and dramas. See the website for a complete list of films and information about the Darklight special event.

Locations include the Goethe Institute and Landmark's E Street Cinema.
See the website for more information.

We Need to Hear From YOU

We are always looking for film-related material for the Storyboard. Our enthusiastic and well-traveled members have written about their trips to the Cannes Film Festival, Karlovy Vary Film Festival, London Film Festival, Venice Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Austin Film Festival, Edinburgh Film Festival, the Berlin Film Festival, the Palm Springs Film Festival, the Reykjavik Film Festival, the Munich Film Festival, and the Locarno Film Festival. We also heard about what it's like being an extra in the movies. Have you gone to an interesting film festival? Have a favorite place to see movies that we aren't covering in the Calendar of Events? Seen a movie that blew you away? Read a film-related book? Gone to a film seminar? Interviewed a director? Taken notes at a Q&A? Read an article about something that didn't make our local news media? Send your contributions to Storyboard and share your stories with the membership. And we sincerely thank all our contributors for this issue of Storyboard.

Calendar of Events


American Film Institute Silver Theater
The AFI participates in the Washington Jewish Film Festival with a dozen films including The Debt, Jaffa, Berlin '36, The Matchmaker, The Infidel among others. See above.

One film remains in December for the "New Spanish Cinema:" Stigmata (Adan Aliaga, 2009) on December 1.

A series of films directed by Victor Fleming continues into December. Titles for December are Bombshell (1933) starring Jean Harlow; Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941) with Michael Sragow, author of a biography about Victor Fleming appearing in person; Red Dust (1932); Test Pilot (1938); The Farmer Takes a Wife (1935); The Virginian (1929) starring Gary Cooper; Treasure Island (1934); and Captains Courageous (1937). Check the website for times.

Holiday films include It's a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946), A Christmas Story (Bob Clark, 1983) and The Muppet Christmas Carol (Brian Henson, 1992).

Two 50th Anniversary films Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960) and The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960) will be screened several times--check the website for dates.

Freer Gallery of Art
A pair of films "Foreign Exchange: Two Views of Japan" contrasts how foreign visitors affect Japanese communities. On December 3 at 7:00pm is Linda Linda Linda (Nobuhiro Yamashita, 2005) about a Korean exchange student who forms a rock band; on December 5 at 2:00pm is The Harimaya Bridge (Aaron Woolfolk, 2009) about an African-American painter in Japan whose father travels to Japan after the son dies.

To honor Hong Kong cinema icon Bruce Lee, the Freer presents one of his classic films and an exclusive dance performance. On December 10 at 7:00pm is Enter the Dragon (Robert Clouse, 1973) and on December 12 at 2:00pm is "Power Moves: From Bruce Lee's Interrupting Fist to Hip Hop and Beyond," with Peggy Choy, dancer and professor of dance whose dancers will fuse Asian martial arts and diverse forms of Asian dance in a unique performance.

National Gallery of Art
"Julien Duvivier: The Grand Artisan" is a series of features by French director Julien Duvivier, concluding in December. On December 11 at 4:00pm is La Bandera (1935) with an introduction by Jay Carr. On December 12 at 4:00pm is Sous le ciel de Paris (1951); on December 18 at 3:30pm is Poil de carotte (1932); on December 26 at 2:00pm is Tales of Manhattan (1942) and on December 26 at 4:30pm is Anna Karenina (1948).

"Straub and Huillet: The Work and Reaches of Creation" concludes in December with Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie? (Pedro Costa, 2001), a portrait of the filmmaking duo as they editing a film.

Special events during December include The Last Command (Josef von Sternberg, 1928) with the Alloy Orchestra providing accompaniment on Decmeber 4 at 2:30pm; a lecture "Film Design: Translating Words into Images" by Patrizia von Brandenstein on December 5 at 2:00pm; a restored print of Force of Evil (Abraham Polonsky, 1948) on December 5 at 5:00pm with an introduction by Rebecca Prime, shown as part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival; Dreamchild (Gavin Miller and Dennis Potter, 1985) on December 11 at 1:00pm; Dante's Inferno (Ken Russell, 1967) on December 16 and 17 at 1:00pm; A Christmas Carol (1923) accompanied by a musical score by Kim Allen Kluge on December 18 at 1:00pm; and The Brotherhood: The Love School (Piers Haggard, 1975), two episodes from a BBC series on the lives of the Pre-Raphaelites on December 29 and 30 at 1:00pm.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
On December 1 at 8:00pm is Dancing Dreams—Teenagers Perform Kontakthof by Pina Bausch (2010), a documentary by Anne Linsel and Rainer Hoffman which follows a dance project for teens led by Pina Bausch and members of her troop.

National Museum of the American Indian
CBQM (Dennis Allen, 2009), shown daily at 12:30pm and 3:30pm is an hour-long documentary about a radio station located 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle and its audience.

Smithsonian American Art Museum
On December 9 at 6:30pm is Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981), as part of a series of films by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. On December 16 at 6:30pm is It's a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946) in conjunction with the Norman Rockwell exhibit.

Washington Jewish Community Center
See above for the 21st Washington Jewish Film Festival.

Goethe Institute
"Made in West/East Germany," a film series to commemorate the 20th anniversary of German unification. Each screening compares one film from the East with one from the West; discussion of the films and the topics will take place after the film screenings on the second evening of each pairing. The first two subjects took place in November. The third subject is "Divided Germany" and the films are Divided Heaven (Konrad Wolf, 1964) on December 6 at 4:00pm and Yesterday Girl (Alexander Kluge, 1965) on December 6 at 6:30pm. The fourth subject is "One Book, Two Films" and the films are The Axe of Wandsbek (Heinrich Breloer, 1981), the West German version on December 13 at 4:00pm and The Axe of Wandsbek (Falk Harnack, 1951), the East German version on December 13 at 6:30pm. These two films are repeated in reverse order on December 15: at 4:00pm is the East German version and at 6:30pm is the West German version. Both films are based on the novel of the same title by Arnold Zweig. The series ends in January with one final film pair.

The Goethe Institute also takes part in the Washington Jewish Film Festival, see above.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
This Holocaust Museum takes part in the Washington Jewish Film Festival, see above.

French Embassy
Two films by Claude Chabrol will be shown in December: on December 3 at 7:15pm is Good Time Girls (Claude Chabrol, 1960) and on December 8 at 7:00pm is La Cérémonie (Claude Chabrol, 1995), winner of numerous awards, starring Isabelle Huppert and Sandrine Bonnaire.

On December 14 at 7:00pm is the US premiere of Tournée (Mathieu Amalric, 2010). Amalric directs and stars in this comedy as an entrepreneur who takes a burlesque troupe to Europe.

On December 1 at 8:00pm is The Jeff Koons Show (Alison Chernick), a documentary about artist Jeff Koons told through the perspective of curators, gallerists, fellow artists and Koons himself. On December 3 at 8:00pm is "Silents with the Snarks," silent movies with accompaniment by the Snark Ensemble. Films will include Laurel & Hardy's Liberty; Harry Langdon in Feet of Mud, Buster Keaton's The Goat and others. On December 4 and 5 at 2:00pm is "Ventana Andina 2010," the second annual Andean Film Festival. Titles will include Airamppo, a comedy featuring exotic, dangerous gringos visiting the Bolivian Andes at fiesta time; Marcados por el Destino, a Peruvian drama about the tragic effects of child abuse; and Choropampa, The Price of Gold, a documentary about an Andean mayor opposing a mining company responsible for a devastating mercury spill. On December 22 at 8:00pm is Matthew Barney: No Restraint (Alison Chernick, 2006), a documentary about Matthew Barney, best known for the "Cremaster" films.

National Archives
In conjunction with the exhibit "Discovering the Civil War, Part Two: Consequences" is the 9-part television series by Ken Burns. On December 2 at noon is The Cause (1990); on December 9 at noon is A Very Bloody Affair (1990); on December 16 at noon is Forever Free (1990).

On December 11 at noon is Ambrose Bierce: Civil War Stories, three of Bierce's Civil War stories: An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, One Kind of Officer, and Story of a Conscience (Don Maxwell and Brian James Egen, 2006).

On December 14 at noon is My Grandfather Was a Nazi Scientist: Opa, von Braun, and Operation Paperclip (Amy Gerber-Stroh, 2010), a documentary about Dr. Eduard Gerber, a scientist who worked for Nazi Germany and one of the scientists brought to the US after the war as aprt of the classified program Operation Paperclip. The film will be introduced by Amy Gerber-Stroh.

The Avalon
This month's "Greek Panorama" film is The Little Dolphins (Dinos Demopoulous, 1993) on December 1 at 8:00pm.

On December 8 at 8:00pm is this month's "Czech Lions" film, Dreamers (Jitka Rudolfová, 2009), about six friends who take their dreams from their small town to Prague.

This month's "French Cinematheque" film is Father and Guns (Émile Gaudreault, 2009) from Quebec, a comedy about father and son undercover cops, this is highest-grossing French-language film ever released in Canada.

Italian Cultural Institute
On December 9 at 6:30pm is Friends at the Margherita Café (Pupi Avati, 2009), about the eccentric regulars at a cafe. Reservations are required; see the website for more information.

Anacostia Community Museum
On December 11 at 10:30am is The Enduring Art of the Lowcountry Basket about the artistry of the coiled sea-grass basket, shown in conjunction with the exhibit "Grass Roots."

Atlas Performing Arts
On December 18 and 19 at 2:30pm, 5:00pm, and 8:00pm is White Christmas (Michael Curtiz, 1954) with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye and featuring songs by Irving Berlin.

Reel Affirmations XTra
Reel Affirmations Xtra is a once-a-month screening held at the Washington DC Jewish Community Center. Tickets are $12. On December 10 is Undertow (Javier Fuentes-Leon, 2010) from Peru.

The Phillips Collection
On December 23 at 6:30pm is Alfred Stieglitz: The Eloquent Eye (Perry Miller Adato, 2001), a documentary about the photographer including archival footage and interviews with Georgia O'Keefe. On December 30 at 6:30pm and 7:30pm is Masters of Photography: Edward Steichen (1964), a short documentary filmed with Steichen was 86 and covering his early commercial success and pioneering aerial photography during WWII.


The 22st Washington Jewish Film Festival
December 2-12, various locations. See above.

The Capital Irish Film Festival
See the latest Irish feature films, documentaries, shorts and animation December 2-11. Locations include the Goethe Institute and Landmark's E Street Cinema. See above and the website for more information about titles, special events, and tickets.

The DC Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
December 4-5 10:00am-10:00pm at the Letelier Theater, 3251 Prospect Street, NW. Over 50 short and feature documentaries on conservation will be presented by wildlife filmmakers and scientists from international conservation groups. Passes are available. See the website for more information.


Smithsonian Associates
Celebrating the Hollywood Musical: From 42nd Street to Singin’ in the Rain
On December 4 from 9:30am-4:30pm is an all-day seminar celebrating the Hollywood musical. Robert Wyatt, pianist, raconteur and American musical specialist will talk about the great musicals and legendary songwriters, producers, and performers. Subjects include "From these Roots," "The Wizardry of Judy Garland," "Thank Heaven for Arthur Freed," and "Soaring in the 60s."

The Corcoran
On December 8 at 7:00pm is a talk by Corcoran professor Bernard Welt, "The Aesthetic of the Dream in Surrealist Film." Excerpts from the work of Luis Buñuel, Salvador Dali, Jean Cocteau, Maya Deren, and Ingmar Bergman illustrate the insights that modern dream theories have to offer to the appreciation of movies.

Previous Storyboards

November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009

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