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A Ciambra

Writer-director Jonas Carpignano’s debut Mediterranea (MVFF 2015) chronicled the plight of African immigrants making their way to the filmmaker’s Italian homeland. With his sophomore effort, the filmmaker focuses on one of Mediterranea’s supporting players, crafting an entire drama around Pio (Pio Amato), a teenaged Romani hustler in a small southern Italian community. Along the way, A Ciambra becomes a particularly gripping, neorealist coming-of-age tale as this resourceful boy tries to assert himself as the man of the house after his father and older brother go to jail. Poverty, crime, and family are Carpignano’s central themes, and A Ciambra meticulously documents Pio’s sometimes perilous quest-especially when he’s forced to turn to thievery. As in Mediterranea, Amato (an untrained actor) exudes effortless charisma, making us care deeply about his character’s dilemma and hope that he can somehow find a better life. A supporting cast that includes s
Fri, Oct 13, 2017 6:00 PM
Sun, Oct 15, 2017 11:45 AM
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An Act of Defiance

FOCUS: HIDING & SEEKING In this riveting historical drama, 10 political activists (including Nelson Mandela and his inner circle of Black and Jewish supporters) face a possible death sentence for conspiracy to commit sabotage after they are arrested by the apartheid South African government during a raid in the town of Rivonia during the summer of 1963. Bram Fischer (exceptionally played by Peter Paul Muller), a sympathetic lawyer, risks his career and freedom to defend these men, attempting to hide the fact that he, too, frequently convened on the farm where they were arrested. With An Act of Defiance, Dutch filmmaker Jean van de Velde (The Silent Army) captures a dark period in South Africa's recent history, skillfully balancing a nail-biting political thriller with spectacular courtroom intrigue while paying tribute to the legendary figures who fought to end segregation and corruption in their country.
Fri, Oct 6, 2017 2:30 PM
Sat, Oct 7, 2017 6:30 PM
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After the War (Dopo la guerra)

FOCUS: HIDING & SEEKING Italy in the '70s and early '80s was roiled by left-wing groups that committed acts of terrorism to further their goals. Many convicted militants fled to France, benefiting from President François Mitterand's decree barring their extradition. Annarita Zambrano's compelling debut dramatizes the disruption faced by one family when the policy changed and extraditions commenced in 2002. For 16-year-old Viola, it's a matter of one day gossiping with her pals in volleyball and being on the run with her father Marco the next. At first, there's a thrill to the situation-hiding out, getting new identities, a stealth interview with a journalist-but when she discovers they're being uprooted to Nicaragua, conflict develops between father and daughter. A parallel story set in Italy shows Marco's sister and mother trying to go on with their lives in the wake of returned scrutiny into Marco's activities. With suspense and emotional acuity, After the War depicts the
Fri, Oct 13, 2017 9:30 PM
Sat, Oct 14, 2017 6:15 PM
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BPM (Beats per Minute) (120 battements par minute)

Robin Campillo's unforgettable film, winner of the Grand Prize at Cannes, depicts the dynamics of the Paris chapter of ACT UP, the direct-action advocacy group committed to ending the AIDS crisis, alongside the heartrending personal moments generated by an epidemic laying waste to men and women in the prime of life. Set in 1989, the opening throws the viewer right into one of ACT UP's fraught meetings as members review a recent action that goes awry. But BPM is not just a drama of activism. There is also a passionate love story, as the HIV-negative Nathan falls head over heels for Sean whose health is beginning to fail. Campillo's vibrant fresco contrasts righteous protests against Big Pharma, celebratory Pride parades, and redemptive nights at the disco with quieter moments of intimacy and struggle. BPM is a breathtaking, deeply moving, immersive piece of cinema, vibrant with the immediacy and passion of something happening in the moment.
Sun, Oct 8, 2017 8:15 PM
Thu, Oct 12, 2017 3:45 PM
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Breathe

SPOTLIGHT ON ANDREW GARFIELD. In his directorial debut, actor Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings, Planet of the Apes) tells the remarkable true love story of Robin (an exceptional Andrew Garfield) and Diana Cavendish (The Crown’s Claire Foy, as resolute as a royal), two charming and free-spirited young Brits who are newly wedded in the late 1950s, when the dashing young Robin is suddenly struck down by polio. Paralyzed and confined to a bleak hospital ward, the constant mechanical breathing of a respirator is all that keeps him alive-though it’s hardly a life he can bear living. Unwilling to accept such a fate, the devoted Diana makes a radical decision that upends all conventional and scientific wisdom of the era-and completely changes the course of their lives.
Sat, Oct 14, 2017 7:00 PM
Sun, Oct 15, 2017 11:30 AM
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Call Me by Your Name

First love has rarely been captured with such elegance and passion as in Luca Guadagnino's new film, beautifully adapted from André Aciman's novel. Precocious 17-year-old Elio Perlman (the magisterial Timothée Chalamet) is summering with his intellectual parents at their 17th-century palazzo in stunning Lombardy. The Perlmans are the kind of loving family who speak three languages and encourage dinner conversation about ancient statuary or medieval novels. Into this heady mix comes doctoral student Oliver (Armie Hammer), here to assist Elio's professor father and scramble the poor kid's emotional barometer. But this boy on the cusp of adulthood is no patsy-even Oliver admiringly asks, "Is there anything you don't know?"-and Chalamet beautifully portrays Elio's unbridled appetite for life and love. Guadagnino (I Am Love, A Bigger Splash), with the discernment of a true sensualist, provides a visual sumptuousness to match the story's sensibility, joyously celebrating the er
Thu, Oct 12, 2017 9:00 PM
Sat, Oct 14, 2017 3:00 PM
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Ciao Ciao

They say you can never really go home again-a notion that, unfortunately for Ciao Ciao (Liang Xueqin), can’t be taken literally. Young, restless, and permanently attached to her cellphone, this twentysomething city dweller is stuck killing time in her backwater birthplace in the Yunnan province. Out of sheer boredom, she starts to flirt with two men: a rough-and-tumble rascal (Zhang Yu); and a polite hairdresser (Zhou Quan), who tempts Ciao Ciao with dreams of opening a salon far, far away. Filmmaker Song Chuan follows up his incredible 2012 debut Huan Huan with this keen, compelling portrait of a generation caught between competing landscapes and lifestyle choices. Blessed with colorful, eye-popping widescreen cinematography and a soundtrack that blends traditional Eastern sounds with skittery globo-techno, Ciao, Ciao is a funny, fraught indictment of the easy-‘n’-empty thrills of modern living and the hypocrisy of “small-town” values.
Fri, Oct 6, 2017 9:00 PM
Mon, Oct 9, 2017 6:00 PM
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The Cousin (Ha Ben Dod)

Naftaly, a middle-aged TV actor and writer (played by writer-director Tzahi Grad) sets out one morning to pick up the Israeli Arab day laborer he’s hired to spruce up his home office. This commonplace act of economic opportunism triggers an escalating succession of misunderstandings that upends the sun-kissed equilibrium of Naftaly’s low-key suburban life. A deadpan, well-meaning everyman living in a carefully constructed bubble of liberal platitudes, Naftaly finds himself sandwiched between the irrational fears of a Keystone Kops corps of suspicious neighbors and his wife’s (Osnat Fishman) increasing frustration. Meanwhile, his erstwhile employee, Fahed (popular Israeli hip hop singer/dancer Ala Dakka), is stuck in Kafkaland. The Cousin is an unsettling satire of our irrational fears of the strangers among us, steeped in droll one-liners and absurdist sight gags. As a bonus, the film wittily questions how the neat resolution of the three-act narrative structure can possibly enc
Fri, Oct 6, 2017 6:00 PM
Sun, Oct 8, 2017 11:45 AM
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Darkest Hour

OPENING NIGHT FILM/TRIBUTE TO KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS. Director Joe Wright’s (Pride and Prejudice, MVFF 2005) Darkest Hour is absolutely gripping. Gary Oldman’s brilliant performance drives this story of Winston Churchill’s rise to power both as Prime Minister and as architect of the push against what seemed like the imminent, inevitable Nazi invasion of Britain-not to mention their utter domination of Europe-in World War II. Bullishly immune to his unpopularity amongst his fellow politicians, Churchill is aided and abetted by assistant Elizabeth (Lily James, Downton Abbey), and by his wife: Kristin Scott Thomas, impeccably arch as Clementine Churchill, her charm and insightfulness making her the ultimate ally of the man who had the full weight of the world on his shoulders.
Thu, Oct 5, 2017 7:00 PM7:01 PM7:15 PM7:16 PM
Fri, Oct 6, 2017 6:30 PM
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The Desert Bride

A reserved woman finds her horizons and worldview subtly transformed during a journey across rural western Argentina in this warm and delicate film. Teresa (the phenomenal Paulina García, Gloria, MVFF 2013) has worked for the same Buenos Aires family for over 30 years, but their failing finances spell an end to her position. Traveling to her new job located far from the city in Argentina's arid Cuyo region, the cautious Teresa is left with several hours to kill in a small town. There, several events transpire-a lost handbag, a windstorm, the offer of a ride from a garrulous stranger-that lead her to reflect on her closed-off attitude, while the vast expanse of her environment begins to liberate her from the anxieties that urban living have induced. In this way, the locale's rugged terrain and history play a role just as important as the film's characters do, with Sergio Armstrong's handsome cinematography providing the backdrop to Teresa's small but significant transformation.
Sat, Oct 7, 2017 3:45 PM
Mon, Oct 9, 2017 6:30 PM
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The Divine Order

A bucolic alpine village becomes a battleground for social change in 1970 Switzerland in writer/director Petra Volpe’s uplifting drama. The right to vote, taken for granted by most Western women, is still a year away for Swiss females. Mother of two Nora wants to get a job. But working outside the home is not legally possible without her husband’s permission-and he’s not giving it. Her free-spirited niece Hanna has it even worse: Her father has arranged a prison cell to keep her away from her older boyfriend. Nora reaches a breaking point with the patriarchy. Defying her husband and conservative village elders, she begins actively campaigning for suffrage, soon joined by other townswomen. In both fierce and humorous ways, Nora and her compatriots push against entrenched attitudes that favor inequality. Nora’s awakening is beautiful to witness as she literally finds her voice and emancipates not only herself, but also her family, friends, and community.
Sat, Oct 7, 2017 5:30 PM
Sun, Oct 8, 2017 6:00 PM
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El Amparo

Tension, apprehension and desperation flow like a river when 14 fishermen leave their village on the Venezuela/Colombia border to take their daily catch on the river, but only two return home. Caught up in a net of corruption, the men are jailed, swatting away confrontations with politicians and the press like the mosquitoes that previously represented their biggest problems, as they face accusations that they are responsible for their comrades’ disappearance. The pair must decide whether to give in to the temptation of bribery and falsely confess or stand up against injustice and honor their friends. Meanwhile the village rises together in anger and falls apart in grief as families decide which version of truth to believe in. In his remarkable and uplifting debut feature, director Rober Calzadilla focuses his lens on tenderness and vulnerability as a weapon in a drama based on a 1988 incident.
Mon, Oct 9, 2017 9:15 PM
Thu, Oct 12, 2017 6:30 PM
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Esteban

There must be more to life than selling small containers of shampoo, conditioner, and packs of tampons to strangers on the streets of Havana. So believes Esteban, a nine-year old Cuban schoolboy, who becomes mesmerized by the sounds of an intricate piano melody wafting through a window on one of his after-school sales routes. Pining to play the instrument, Esteban’s awareness is increasingly oblivious to the obstacles his single mother faces in struggling to provide basic necessities like breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Paying for piano lessons? Now that’s a cigar-scented pipe dream. Impossibilities aside, Esteban literally scales a wall finding his fingers playing piano scales by ear. A curmudgeonly music teacher with a dark secret must decide if Esteban is a discordant omen or the missing melody of an unfulfilled life in this debut feature by director Jonal Cosculluela that juxtaposes perseverance with innocence. Afro-Cuban jazz great Chucho Valdés composed the film’s music.
Wed, Oct 11, 2017 5:30 PM
Thu, Oct 12, 2017 6:15 PM
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Faces, Places (Visages, Villages)

Film auteur Agnès Varda and street photographer JR are creators of images from different generations. Varda, the revered female filmmaker of the French New Wave, has long been associated with the art film and inner circles of film lore, including Jacques Demy, Alain Resnais, Jean-Luc Godard, Anna Karina, and Chris Marker. JR views the street as his canvas and adorns walls and buildings with murals of his works. Their mutual commitment to human stories creates a path for collaboration and an opportunity to visit the French countryside. These singular artists traveling together makes for an extraordinary journey. This is a brilliant film from one of the most iconic and visionary talents in cinema, whose openness in her conversations with another original-JR-brings us an extraordinarily layered portrait: of two artists, of two generations, of the people they encounter, of France-and the French. Winner of L’Oeil d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival 2017 for best documentary across all official
Fri, Oct 6, 2017 6:00 PM
Sun, Oct 15, 2017 11:00 AM
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A Fantastic Woman (Una mujer fantástica)

When we first meet Marina-the complex, tender, and determined title character in this masterful new drama by Sebastián Lelio (Gloria, MVFF 2013)-she is working as a waitress, pursuing singing on the side, and deeply in love with an older man who loves her in return. All in all, she is entering a confident phase of her life as a mature, well-adjusted transgender woman. But when her paramour dies unexpectedly, Marina must suddenly face a humiliating swirl of suspicion and rejection not only by the man’s family but by a society intent on taking away her dignity and challenging her very right to grieve. Featuring an extraordinary performance by transgender actor Daniela Vega, A Fantastic Woman dramatizes, in pitch-perfect and often darkly comic scenes, the slow, toxic burn of social ostracism and the resilience and rage required to overcome it. No less important, like last year’s Moonlight, it is a cinematic breakthrough, staking out new dramatic terrain for the portra
Sun, Oct 8, 2017 5:30 PM
Tue, Oct 10, 2017 3:00 PM
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Felicite

In the back of a crowded, rowdy club in the back streets of Kinshasa, you’ll find Félicité (Véro Tshanda Beya Mputu) singing her heart out, providing a soulful-groove serenade to the dance-floor flirting and bar fights started by her handyman boyfriend Tabu (Papi Mpaka). Their routine is shattered, however, when her teenage son is seriously injured in a car accident. Félicité races around town trying to raise money for his operation; when she fails to get enough cash in time, the songbird begins to lose her voice-and her sanity. Franco-Sengalese filmmaker Alain Gomis (Tey, MVFF 2012) crafts an incredible story of maternal endurance, driven by a vibrant soundtrack featuring everything from the Kasai Allstars’ rump-shaking Afro-pop to the city’s real-life church choirs, and orchestras. And in singer-turned-actress Mputu, he’s found a first-rate performer capable of breaking your heart with a glance or lifting you heavenward with a single transcendent note.
Sat, Oct 7, 2017 2:15 PM
Wed, Oct 11, 2017 2:00 PM
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Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool

In a sensational performance, Annette Bening plays Academy Award® winner Gloria Grahame, an American actress best remembered for playing femmes fatales in The Big Heat and In a Lonely Place, as well as starring in such Hollywood classics as It’s a Wonderful Life and Oklahoma!. Directed by Paul McGuigan (Victor Frankenstein, Lucky Number Slevin), Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool chronicles the final years of Grahame's life and her passionate affair with a young actor named Peter Turner (Jamie Bell, Snowpiercer), whom she meets while performing on stage in the titular northwestern English town. When the glamourous star’s health begins to fail, Turner's family steps in to help care for her. Based on Turner’s memoir of the same name, the film also stars Julie Walters, who is reunited with her Billy Elliott costar Bell; Kenneth Cranham; and Oscar® winner Vanessa Redgrave.
Fri, Oct 6, 2017 6:45 PM
Thu, Oct 12, 2017 9:00 PM
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Goodbye Christopher Robin

In which the backstory of the creation of the world’s most beloved bear, Winnie the Pooh is written by playwright A.A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson). Plagued by the trauma of his wartime experiences, Milne determines to write an anti-war book. Instead, he succumbs to his son’s-Christopher Robin, played with irresistible charm by Will Tilston-plea for a story of his own. In their walks in what would become known as the Hundred Acre Wood, the story evolves, and the joy and wisdom of Pooh and his friends are born, with the power to heal a nation. The books become an instant success, filling a deep need in the generation who suffered through the Great War, and Christopher Robin is launched into unexpected celebrity-with bewildering results for the family. Insightfully directed by Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn, MVFF 2011) the wonderful cast includes Margot Robbie as Daphne Milne and Kelly Macdonald as Christopher’s devoted nanny.
Sat, Oct 14, 2017 3:45 PM
Sun, Oct 15, 2017 1:45 PM
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