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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 6:00 PM
Sun, Oct 15 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 2:30 PM
Sat, Oct 7 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 9:30 PM
Sat, Oct 14 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 8:15 PM
Thu, Oct 12 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 7:00 PM
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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 9:00 PM
Sat, Oct 14 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 9:00 PM
Mon, Oct 9 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 6:00 PM
Sun, Oct 8 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 7:00 PM7:00 PM7:15 PM7:15 PM
Fri, Oct 6 6:30 PM
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