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IndyBuzz provides information about Central Indiana's most stimulating and thought provoking events -- discussions and conferences, art exhibitions, films, music performances. It tells you what's happening … explains why you should be part of what’s happening. More than an events calendar, though, IndyBuzz tries to make events more meaningful for participants by suggesting an article or two to read before the event, recommending books or websites that will be sources of further information after the event, and pointing out related events that are worth attending.

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International Film Festival -- my top picks (as of right now)

The line up for the Indianapolis International Film Festival has been finalized and it looks great. We'll be writing much more about this very important event, but right now I want to stake out the ten films that most excite me.

I Am Cuba:
Started only a week after the Cuban missile crisis and designed to be Cuba’s answer to both Sergei Eisenstein’s propaganda masterpiece, Potemkin and Jean-Luc Godard’s freewheeling romance, Breathless, I Am Cuba turned out to be something quite unique — a wildly schizophrenic celebration of Communist kitsch, mixing Slavic solemnity with Latin sensuality. The plot, or rather plots, feverishly explore the seductive, decadent (and marvelously photogenic) world of Batista’s Cuba — deliriously juxtaposing images of rich Americans and bikini-clad beauties sipping cocktails poolside with scenes of ramshackle slums filled with hungry children and gaunt old people. Using wide-angle lenses that distort and magnify and filters that transform palm trees into giant white feathers, Urusevsky’s acrobatic camera achieves wild gravity-defying angles as it glides effortlessly through long continuous shots. But I Am Cuba is not just a catalog of bravura technique — it also succeeds in exploring the innermost feelings of the characters and their often desperate situations. Shown unsubtitled at the San Francisco International Film Festival, I Am Cuba received two standing ovations — during the screening. The first movie ever jointly presented by master filmmakers Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola, I Am Cuba is one of the great discoveries in cinema.

website: http://www.milestonefilms.com/movie.php/iamcuba/

Showtimes: Thursday, April 27, 12:15 PM - Tuesday, May 2, 1:45 PM

U-Carmen eKhayelitsha In Xhosa, with English subtitles
U-Carmen eKhayelitsha (roughly translated: “Carmen in Khayelitsha”) took home the Golden Bear at the 2005 Berlin Film Festival – beating out Academy Award-nominee Hotel Rwanda and Golden Globe-winner Paradise Now. This unique piece of filmmaking takes Bizet’s classic Carmen, translates it into Xhosa (one of South Africa’s eleven official languages) and puts it right on the streets of Khayelitsha – one of South Africa’s poorest townships. Pauline Malefane’s stunning performance leads the way in this invigorating take on a timeless classic imbued with the rhythms and colors of South African life.


Showtimes: Thursday, April 27, 7:15 PM - Wednesday, May 3, 12:00 PM

Shanghai Dreams
China, In Mandarin, with English subtitles
Red shoes - peeking timidly and unexpectedly from beneath the school bench of Qinghong (Gao Yuanyuan), where a stubborn lover has left them - are the impudent symbol of changing times in sleepy rural China. It is the beginning of the eighties and even in the poor, mountainous Guizhou province, adolescents listen to Boney M and wear bell-bottoms. But Qinghong’s youth is imprisoned by her father’s narrow dreams of a better life in Shanghai. Qinghong - qing means “green” for innocence, while hong means “red” and evokes ardour - and her family moved from Shanghai to Guizhou in the sixties to fulfill patriotic duties, a decision her father has regretted ever since. Dreaming of returning to his native city, Qinghong’s father (Yan Anlian) wants to prevent her from putting down roots in Guizhou. He stalks her when she falls for a local boy, silences her dreams and poisons her life with loneliness and acrimony.
Investigating a theme woven with Wang’s childhood memories and intertwining arrays of defeated hopes, "Shanghai Dreams" chronicles the hardships of China’s relocation policies of the sixties, when urban families were uprooted and moved to remote border provinces to set up a network of new industrial cities, the “third line of defence” against a feared attack by the Soviet Union.

Illuminated by a cold winter light that perfectly suits its bitter atmosphere, "Shanghai Dreams" maintains a chilling sense of suspense and thriller-like momentum throughout its tale of personal tragedy. Thanks to Wang’s assured talent, this social drama of displacement becomes a vivid fresco of lives unhappily confined by myopic government schemes. These deracinated existences are watched as if from a distance, followed by impeccably unobtrusive camera work. Unsettled souls are stalked - often from behind windows and door frames - by the eye of a master who trades dreams for honest yet haunting narrative.

website: http://fortissimofilms.com/catalogue/title.asp?filmID=267

Showtimes: Tuesday, May 2, 7:00 PM - Wednesday, May 3, 5:15 PM

Iron Island
Iran, In Farsi, with English subtitles
The title of Iron Island, a whimsical, inventive Iranian film, refers to an old, abandoned ship moored in the Persian Gulf that is crowded to bursting with homeless families. This make-shift hostel is run with an iron fist by Captain Nemat (Ali Nasirian); equally kind-hearted and authoritarian, he lords over the massive tanker, which he has commandeered for himself and his charges. Together, they have built a remarkably efficient, self-contained floating city where life goes on much as it would anywhere else.In his turban and robes, veteran actor Nasirian is a larger-than-life presence as the dictatorial Captain Nemat, taking his place alongside both his namesake Nemo and Ahab in the pantheon of grandiose, flawed mariners. Director Mohammad Rasoulof and his crew keep the film moving at a speedy, energetic pace, perfectly conveying the wry ironies of this daring, unconventional allegory.- Dimitri Eipides, Toronto International Film Festival (from Kino International's website)

website: http://www.kino.com/ironisland/

Showtimes: Wednesday, April 26, 5:15 PM - Thursday, May 4, 1:15 PM

Brazil / Switzerland / Finland, 90 minutes
Documentary / Musical, in Portuguese with English subtitles
In 1999, The Buena Vista Social Club shined a spotlight on the seemingly forgotten music of Cuba. In similar fashion, Brasileirinho is a documentary about Brazilian musicians who still play Choro, a style of music that served as the foundation for its more famous offspring, the Samba and the Bossa Nova. Choro combines the influences of Western music (you’ll definitely notice its relationship to classical Spanish guitar), African rhythms, and Native interpretations. Along the journey, we meet several artists who celebrate this beautiful, traditional music in a nation that struggles to maintain a balance between the modern and the traditional.

Showtimes: Wednesday, May 3, 10:00 PM - Thursday, May 4, 9:30 PM

Everyone Their Grain of Sand
USA / Mexico, 87 minutes In Spanish & English, with English subtitles
Everyone Their Grain of Sand chronicles the struggles of the fiercely determined citizens of Maclovio Rojas, Tijuana, Mexico, as they battle the state government's attempts to evict them from their land to make way for corporate development. Over a three-year period, filmmaker Beth Bird followed the remarkably spirited and resourceful residents as they built a school by hand and persistently petitioned the state for such basic services as running water and pay for their teachers. The government responded with bureaucratic stonewalling and the systematic persecution of community leaders—eventually arresting one and forcing others into hiding. The filmmaker balances the story of hardships with glimpses of the community's hard-won triumphs - including an elementary school graduation - that reminds us what the community is fighting for. Both heartbreaking and inspiring, Everyone Their Grain of Sand offers a rare look at the devastating human cost of economic globalization in a place where working people are often treated like nothing more than cheap labor for multinational corporations.


Showtimes: Saturday, April 29, 8:30 PM - Monday, May 1, 4:00 PM

The Heart of the Game
United States, 103 minutes
Synopsis: Bill Resler is a college professor who has always had an interest in basketball. When he takes the job coaching the ladies' basketball team at Seattle's Roosevelt High School, he brings with him a unique approach. He wants his athletes to develop independence in thought while keeping a strong sense of team (he encourages the young women to envision themselves as a bloodthirsty wolf pack). A couple of seasons into this gig, a young African-American woman, Darnellia Russell, enters the gym. She has transferred to Roosevelt from her neighborhood school because her mother feels Coach Resler offers greater opportunities for growth. Darnellia is strong-willed, and occasionally self-destructive. The mentor-student relationship that Resler and Russell develop is the heart of "The Heart of the Game". Shot over six years, director Ward Serrill and his crew take what could have been a simple sports documentary and turn it into a complex tale about gender, race, class, and athletics.

Showtimes: Saturday, April 29, 2:00 PM - Sunday, April 30, 2:00 PM

Day Break
Iran, 84 minutes In Farsi, with English subtitles
In Iran, capital punishment is carried out according to Islamic law, which gives the family of the victim ownership of the offender’s life. Day Break - based on a compilation of true stories and shot inside Tehran's century-old prison - revolves around the imminent execution of Mansour, a man found guilty of murder. When the family of the victim repeatedly fails to show up on the appointed day, Mansour’s execution is postponed again and again. Stuck inside the purgatory of his own mind, he waits as time passes on without him, caught between life and death, retribution and forgiveness.


Showtimes: Saturday, April 29, 6:45 PM - Monday, May 1, 12:00 PM

Apparition of the Eternal Church
USA, 58 minutes Documentary
Synopsis: Under the influence of Olivier Messiaen's monumental organ work 'Apparition of the Eternal Church,' writers, actors, filmmakers and musicians don headphones and describe a cathedral located between spiritual ecstasy and physical torture, sex and art, and what William Blake famously called the marriage of heaven and hell.

Showtimes: Wednesday, May 3, 8:15 PM - Thursday, May 4, 12:30 PM

District 13
France, 85 minutes In French, with English subtitles
Synopsis: Paris, 2013. Damien is a member of an elite police squadron, a special unit highly trained in martial arts and the precise physical skills necessary to navigate the treacherous urban landscape of Paris’ future. He is now tasked with the most vital and dangerous mission of his career: a weapon of mass destruction has been concealed by the most powerful gang of the suburbs of District 13, a walled off section of Paris in which the criminals rule themselves. Damien must infiltrate the gang in order to either defuse the bomb or recover it. Produced by Luc Besson, District 13 has been a certified hit at film festivals around the world.


Showtimes: Saturday, April 29, 8:30 PM - Monday, May 1, 12:30 PM - Tuesday, May 2, 10:15 PM

Al'Leessi...An African Actress
Niger, 69 minutes In French with English subtitles
Zalika Souley is in her fifties. She lives with four children in a two-bedroom apartment with neither electricity nor water in Niamey, the capital of Niger. But thirty years ago, she was a movie star and Africa’s first professional female actress, working with such celebrated directors as Niger’s Oumarou Ganda and Moustapha Alassane. Souley was once the legendary bad girl of African cinema defying directors with her compelling improvisations. Yet, despite her fame, her life was beset by difficulty. In moving and often heart-breaking interviews, Souley speaks wistfully about how audiences confused her with the women she portrayed – vamps, adulteresses, prostitutes - and how, as her stardom rose abroad, she became a pariah in her own country.


Showtimes: Friday, April 28, 5:30 PM - Sunday, April 30, 10:30 AM

Go West
Bosnia Herzegovina, In Bosnian & Serbo-Croatian, with English subtitles
Ahmed Imamovic’s controversial first feature film, Go West, follows the story of two gay lovers; the Muslim cellist Kenan and the Serbian student Milan. Kenan narrates their fight to survive amidst the brutal inter-ethnic wars in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early 1990s. Despite various attempts to maintain peace, Serb aggression persists in Sarajevo; and Kenan’s faith, marked by his circumcision, makes him a prime target. To avoid questioning by the Serbs, Kenan dresses as a woman and poses as Milan’s wife. The two flee to Milan’s small Serbian hometown where Kenan is introduced as Milan’s young bride Milena. Though the colorful town seems convinced by the charade, Kenan still agonizes over the fate of his fellow Muslims. The young lovers dream of finding peace, happiness, and acceptance in the West, but can Kenan’s secret be kept long enough for them to escape? Though condemned by conservatives in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Go West provocatively, emotionally, and engagingly addresses subjects once thought taboo in Eastern Europe.


Showtimes: Friday, April 28, 5:45 PM - Tuesday, May 2, 5:00 PM

Borderline Lovers
Bosnia Herzegovina, Documentary, In Serbo-Croatian, with English subtitles
Borderline Lovers documents three couples whose love transcends the newly-formed borders of the Balkan states. Disapproving parents and angry families are challenges many couples face. When that disapproval arises from the fact that each of the lovers comes from formerly warring factions, those tensions are multiplied exponentially. This is a portrait of individuals for whom love is more vital than national identity.


Showtimes: Friday, April 28, 1:45 PM - Tuesday, May 2, 7:00 PM

The Sun
Russia / Japan, 115 minutes Director: Aleksandr Sokurov In Japanese and English, with English subtitles
Susan Sontag, the recently departed intellectual and devout cinephile, proclaimed Alexander Sokurov to be the most ambitious and original director of his generation. From the technically audacious costume drama Russian Ark - shot in a single take in the Hermitage - to the emotionally raw, viscerally stylized parent-and-child elegies The Second Circle and Mother and Son, Sokurov has exerted a rigorous ingenuity throughout his wildly diverse projects. Marked by Sokurov's oblique narrative style and an appropriately stately pace, The Sun follows Moloch (on Hitler) and Taurus (on Lenin) as the third installment in his bold, ongoing series on those few figures who have held "ultimate power." This formidable work takes as its subject Emperor Hirohito (Issei Ogata), spanning the period between August 1945 and New Year's Day, 1946, during the American occupation of Japan. While many ordinary people in Sokurov's films have been treated by his camera as if they were holy and ethereal, The Sun details Hirohito's renunciation of his divinity and his transformation from a deity into the humbled man who surrenders Japan in World War II. His fate is to be determined by General Douglas MacArthur (Robert Dawson) and the meetings between these two very different individuals form the core of this mesmerizing, demanding epic. Sokurov chooses to treat Hirohito sympathetically, emphasizing the number of lives he saves by asking his people to lay down their arms as the Allies advance, and the dignified manner in which he takes his mistreatment at the hands of the invaders. This is an intensely challenging role and Ogata - best known for his work in Edward Yang's revered Yi Yi - plays the emperor with great sensitivity and even humour, keeping his nuanced character perpetually balanced on the razor's edge of innocence and experience, meekness and omnipotence. Sokurov has claimed that "the character is an inexhaustible artistic object" and The Sun does not merely succeed as the first attempt at examining the life of Hirohito - as a man and not a god - in close-up; thanks to Sokurov's preternatural vision, it is also a strikingly singular aesthetic experience.

Showtimes: Wednesday, May 3, 7:45 PM - Thursday, May 4, 2:45 PM

Be With Me
Singapore, 93 minutes In Cantonese, English, Hokkein, and Mandarin, with English subtitles
The cinematic equivalent of a hymn, Be With Me is a film about human beings and their search for love. In his latest film, Eric Khoo manages to explore the themes of urban loneliness and the sentimental "spleen'' without sinking into a cynical abyss. Neither does he resort to cruel psychological stereotypes. In fact, the film is a veritable song of hope; it reclaims the real meaning of the word "humanism". Like a seductive melody, the musical quality of Be With Me has an immediate hold on our senses. The filmmaker has composed a symphony of complex emotions, with very frugal use of dialogue. The artful orchestration of fiction and reality, invented and real characters imbues Be With Me with a rare quality; it's almost like a cinematographic essay. Inspired by the memories, biography and everyday life of a remarkable woman Theresa Chan, Eric Khoo has not just made a movie. Be With Me is also a testimony to and meditation on love, hope and destiny. It's remarkable that a movie with such resonance should come from Singapore, a country traditionally quiet on the cinematic front. The film's universality comes from not just from the inspiring character of Theresa Chan but from its haunting beauty. Be With Me eschews superfluous effects to concentrate on essential concerns - how to film memories, how to film sensations and how to film feelings? Finally, we love this film because Be With Me confirms that the best minimalist films can capture immense perspectives, which are those of the heart and soul.

Showtimes: Wednesday, April 26, 7:30 PM - Saturday, April 29, 4:30 PM

1 comment:

Tijuana Noir said...

Have you hear about the “ Tijuana Noir” marketing story?

Flores Campbell became widely known when excerpts of his ‘Tijuana Noir” appeared on the Google blogspot ‘Tijuana Noir” in late 2005 and caught the public’s fancy. By January 2006 a few chapters on the Ares search engine brought Flores Campbell a global audience.
Technorati.com top 100 Blogs in the blogsphere, sorted by unique links or most favorites named “Tijuana Noir” one of the biggest blogs in the last six months.

So that’s the question, find out why?

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