We all know first-hand that film has the power to move us emotionally, but does it also have the power to create social change? How does a film go beyond entertainment and become a call to action? Do filmmakers consider themselves activists as well as auteurs? Join a panel of Festival filmmakers as well as local voices for a discussion about the importance of looking at film with education and social awareness in mind. With Salaam Dunk director David Fine, Naomi Walker, National Engagement Consultant, [ITVS], Alex Kotlowitz, Author/Producer (Interrupters), and other panelists TBA.
South Asia, and India in particular, is known for high-end Bollywood Blockbusters, but it is also home to a growing regional film industry that is gaining prominence and producing visually stunning, edgy work. Join directors whose new films are showcased in this year’s Spotlight South Asia program as they discuss their experiences making movies outside of the studio system. Moderator Neha Kamdar, Screen Cultures, Northwestern UniversityPatang director Prashant Bhargava, Kshay (Corrode) director Karan Gour, Flying Fish director Sanjeewa Pushpakumara, and other panelists TBA.
What would you do to get to paradise? Eunice, no longer able to tolerate her father’s abuse, flees the small town she calls home. She falls in with the “freakies”, a gang of hard-living street kids, who embrace her, but then the group finds out that the local AIDS facility offers food, clothing, and shelter. Eunice once again finds herself alone as the rest of the group decides they want in - whatever the cost. A highly compelling chronicle of disaffected youth culture in Cuba.
Spanish with subtitles 88 min
It was supposed to be just a routine day for respected bailiff Francois Echeverria. But when he arrives at an apartment in the Parisian projects to collect unpaid rent, he is unexpectedly taken hostage by an edgy teenage son and his reluctant Algerian father. Word of terrorist activity spreads quickly, and with trigger-happy cops waiting outside and the media closing in, they have to decide what to do about their hostage, five kilos of cocaine, and closely guarded secrets in this comedy.
French, Arabic with subtitles 93 min
Fifteen years of 35mm footage shot almost entirely from one vantage point overlooking the back of the Zurich train station is paired with fifteen years of answering machine messages to form an unlikely portrait of the artist. Though unseen and unheard, Thomas Imbach allows a full persona to develop from the voices and tone of each caller and the objects his camera chooses, follows, and lingers over.
Swiss-German with subtitles 111 min
Hong Kong cult filmmaker Scud pushes as many buttons as possible with these six tales about love, sex and decadence. Opening with a scandalously shocking wedding, Love Actually…Sucks! continues its exploration of the dark side of romance with tales about an incestuous relationship, a painter who falls for his male model, a fitness trainer in search of young flesh, a lesbian couple with issues, a deadly love triangle and a love story between a dance teacher and his older student. Mature audiences only.
Cantonese with subtitles 82 min
If the illusion of reality is the currency of cinema, then cinephile and former Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito bought and paid for his country’s thrilling and heroic (but mostly made up) history. This award-winning documentary chronicles the 40-year history of Avala Studio, built by Tito to crank out well-made propaganda films in order to shape and control his country’s image in a post-war world. This veritable compendium of archival footage and clips from over 60 classic Yugoslav films includes remembrances from Tito’s personal projectionist.
Serbian with subtitles 101 min
Three Egyptian women from different social backgrounds join forces to fight against their country’s tolerance toward sexual harassment. Nelly files the first sexual harassment lawsuit in the history of the country, Seba, a victim of a gang rape, teaches self-defense, and Fayza takes these self-defense lessons a step too far. An expertly crafted combination of character study, social critique, and vigilante action, Cairo 678 is one of those rare films that resonates with audiences of both genders and across cultural divides.
Arabic with subtitles 100 min
The devastating consequences of civil war are set against breathtaking vistas of Sri Lanka as three separate stories are explored: a father and daughter’s relationship is tested after an encounter with a soldier leaves her pregnant, an impoverished family must find a way to manage their debt to the rebels, and a young boy discovers his widowed mother’s sexual affair.
Sinhala, Tamil with subtitles 125 min
With ambition and charm matched equally by a complete lack of remorse, best-selling author Mathieu will do anything for a good story. To write the unauthorized biography of celebrity news anchor Lena Weber (Catherine Deneuve in a career-topping performance), not only does he secure a job as her assistant but also seduces Lena, her estranged daughter who is searching for her own son, and anyone who gets in his way, regardless of gender.
French, Spanish with subtitles 105 min
Actor Paddy Considine (In America) delivers a gritty tale of self-destruction and redemption in his feature-length directorial debut. Expanded from his award-winning short film, Dog Altogether, Tyrannosaur follows the unlikely friendship between rage-filled Joseph (Peter Mullan) and Christian Goodwill store worker, Hannah (Olivia Colman). Mullan’s electrifying performance finds a perfect counterpoint in Colman’s measured portrayal.
Jacky is a cattle farmer tied into the livestock underworld that uses illegal growth hormones to enhance their meat. Following the assassination of a local police officer investigating this illegal trade, a series of events force Jacky to deal with a brutal incident from his past. What begins as a crime thriller slowly unravels into an intense character-driven film that holds no punches.
Dutch, French with subtitles 129 min
There is nothing quite like first love-or the heartbreak that follows. Camille and Sullivan are head over heels, but his longing for independence and her need for security drive a deep wedge between them, and they part ways. Eight years later, Camille has finally moved on and found new love-until Sullivan reenters her life. This perfectly pitched tale of pathos and passion captures the ardor, intensity, and anguish of love.
French, German, Danish with subtitles 110 min
He lost his job, his wife and his home, but not his sense of honor. When Joe (Sam Witwer) returns to Chicago he looks up his aging but still dangerous, Uncle Dom (Armand Assante) in the hopes of getting “connected” and living the life of a made man. When Uncle Dom resists, Joe makes him an offer he can’t refuse.
A Frankenstein love story centering on a doctor who must save his ailing wife. This gorgeous 3D animated film is a testament to love, the cinema of yesterday and the grand music of The Steampunk Quartet.
A sheltered teenage girl’s life is turned on its head when a mysterious greaser gang swarms into her sleepy suburb and she falls in love with their tough, handsome leader. The Ghosts authentically and lovingly recreates the look and feel of 50’s small town America.
L Train is the story of Sunny, a teenaged African American girl. Her commute through an inner city Chicago winter reinforces a negativity in her, until one day an encounter with a young woman who is differently abled forces her to consider replacing her anger with compassion. L Train is a brief, humble reminder of what we all might miss every day.
After a succession of late work nights, unexplained whereabouts and suspicious behavior, Carter, suspecting that his wife Betty has been unfaithful and demanding to know the truth, receives news that devastates their marriage and forever changes their lives - while imparting an important life lesson.
Kyle is a 5th grade boy from Michigan who stands up for what he believes in - his love for the vacuum cleaner. What started out as an obsession has now made him into a source of pride and curiosity. But it's not always easy being a town celebrity. Kyle understands something many people never will - love is worth the risk. A wonderful documentary character study- respectful, touching, and very funny.
A heavy pickaxe and chains aren't the only things weighing down a daydreaming chain-gang member. Mocking guards, cold weather, and meaningless work are all trying to break his spirit. However, with the help of a fresh snowfall the prisoner is able to make an escape. Winter’s unique look was achieved by shooting on 8mm and edited digitally.
Adopting from the animal shelter can be both joyful and heartwarming, unless of course, you try to adopt them from two volunteers by the names of Brad and Emily. Then your experience might go from slightly uncomfortable to simply terrifying. Perfectly pitched mockumentary magic.
Seduced by the challenge of an impossible case, the driven Dr. Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) takes the unbalanced yet beautiful Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) as his patient in A Dangerous Method. Jung’s weapon is the method of his master, the renowned Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen). Both men fall under Sabina’s spell.
Daikichi spies a young girl standing apart from the family at his grandfather’s funeral. She turns out to be the old man’s love child and nobody wants anything to do with her. Feeling sorry and curious, Daikichi volunteers to take her in, without really understanding the demands of being a parent. As the two get to know each other and establish a routine, Daikichi must figure out how to balance his life, work and childcare in this charming film about parenthood.
Japanese with subtitles 115 min
A box office hit in Pakistan and India, this story from the heart of Lahore features a family bursting with vitality but teetering on the brink of poverty and a patriarch whose rules and value system reflect the religious zealousness of the society around them. When Hakeem’s eldest daughter can’t take it anymore, she rebels, spiraling the family out of any remaining sense of stability. This searing family drama amplifies the socio-religious issues of contemporary Pakistani society.
Urdu with subtitles 165 min
Saddled with a guilt no teenager should have to bear, 17-year-old brooding Simon feels starkly out of place on his parents’ struggling dairy farm. Life on the farm is demanding, but no matter how hard Simon tries, he cannot live up to his father’s expectations. Resentments simmer, so when a tragic accident hits close to home, the question of blame haunts the family and possibilities for forgiveness seem ever remote, in this captivating family drama.
French with subtitles 111 min
Equal doses of unrelenting action, beauty queen fantasy, and social disquiet rule this detached tale of drug trafficking in Baja California, inspired by a true story. On her way to compete in her first beauty pageant, Laura is swept up in a gangland slaying and suddenly finds herself forced to work as a mule in order to save her own life.
Spanish with subtitles 113 min
This lyrical portrait of life in small town Virginia finds a single mother struggling to keep it together, working as a housekeeper and looking for love. Meanwhile, her two adolescent sons explore their own sexuality in the sweltering, stagnant days of summer. This debut family drama presents an intimate study of the emotional landscape of rural America.
After living in exile in Germany for 20 years, Ditko returns to his hometown in Yugoslavia hoping to start a new life. He comes back in style: sexy girlfriend, new Mercedes, wads of cash and a black cat named Bonny. He tries to reconnect with his 20-year-old son, Martin, but the lad is far more interested in Dad’s new girlfriend. Soon the winds of war blow into town, forcing Divko and the townspeople to decide which side they are on.
Bosnian with subtitles 113 min
Roque goes from young Lothario to activist and general rabble-rouser in this cleverly plotted parable revealing the underbelly of Argentinian politics. Set at the University of Buenos Aires, the heady mix of sex, intellectualism and shady ploys that would make Richard Nixon smile, soon become all too real and Roque finds that he’s in way over his head. With nuanced performances and dynamic pacing, Santiago Mitre’s debut feature has earned comparisons to Truffaut, Godard and Alexander Payne.
Spanish with subtitles 110 min
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