Monday, March 29, 2010

Floria Sigismondi's THE RUNAWAYS

(Originally published on In Review Online.)

The Runaways’ place in rock history—somewhere between feminal compatriots Patti Smith and the Go-Go’s yet buried under a marginalized LA punk scene dominated by The Germs and X—is slight at best. An analytical survey or even critical analysis, however, will never reveal the tabloid worthy story of five underage girls thrust into the male dominated rock culture of 1975. First time feature director Floria Sigismondi is given the impossible task of translating a cliché riddled narrative into respectable ticket-selling entertainment with some sort of fan-adoring accuracy. Parlay the chore with two high profile young Hollywood starlets and you have expectations that are likely to trump the film itself. Although far from perfect, The Runaways is able to deliver some of its own ‘dead end justice’ by cashing in on Sigismondi’s music video flair and two convincing performances from Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning who are able to transcend their tweeny Twilight ways.

The film opens with a visceral drop of menstrual blood hitting the pavement—the result of Cherie Currie’s blossoming womanhood and an unambiguous statement of the film’s own defiance. Unlike Zack Snyder’s wish to epitomize revelatory bloodshed through a drop of glossy red on a smiley face in The Watchmen, Sigismondi offers a far more personal invocation of unchecked, yet no less celebratory, fertile bloodletting. As Currie procures her period, so Joan Jett procures a leather jacket. The portrait of two awkward teenagers quickly, and somewhat heavy-handedly, transform into those of rock stars in the fast lane. Jett’s ambitions are the catalyst, approaching well-known LA producer Kim Fowley, exclaiming, “I play electric guitar.” You can see the Svengali gears turning as Fowley ropes in a drummer, guitar player and bass player with promises that they would be bigger than The Beatles. Fowley saw the appeal of a heavy hitting all girl rock band, but also realized the need for a sex kitten front woman: in his own words, a Bridget Bardot or, in the case of The Runaways, 15-year-old Cherie Currie. And so The Runaways were born—they gain moderate success, indulge in various substances, engage in sex, emote the problems of teenage rock stars, and eventually cash and burn with the inevitable promise of rebirth and recovery.

The story is about as pat as any episode of VH1’s “Behind the Music” but Sigismondi is able to turn it into something far more appealing, despite narrative stops and starts. Resisting the temptation to go overboard with the era, the production design is a perfect balance of west coast fashion and grit of the day. The music is a visual rally cry, where you see and hear both director and actors at their best. Stewart unequivocally becomes the slouchy Joan Jett and Fanning morphs into the brash Cherie Curie, not to mention the likeness of Stella Maeve and Scout Taylor-Compton to Sandy West and Lita Ford. Unfortunately, stilted scenes meant to propel or expound the story end up deflating these moments of musical elation. A sequence in which Currie goes to audition for the band and the song “Cherry Bomb” is written— on the spot—seems bogus despite its factual bearing. Although instrumental in the so-called character development of the band, its portrayal is flat and lifeless. So too is Currie’s ultimate departure from the band and she tells Jett, “I can’t do this anymore; I want my life back.” Jett’s unsurprising reply is almost too predictable: “This is my life.” The band’s epoch is the film’s dramatic missed opportunity.

Looking at The Runaways creditials, it is no coincidence that the film hovers around Jett and Currie and their various triages. Both Cherie Currie (offering up her titillating autobiography for source material) and Joan Jett (on staff as executive producer) were involved from the beginning, working closely with director and actors. The other band members fade into the background, giving room for Michael Shannon, master of crazy, to bring maniacal Kim Fowley to vivid life. His desire to exploit the young women from just about every angle and to verbally and physically pummel them into punk rock goddesses is the film’s morality play. During a practice session in a broken down trailer, Fowley screams, “This isn’t about women’s lib, it’s about women’s libido!” Fortunately, Sigismondi finds parity in The Runaway’s story between burgeoning libido and eventual liberation. This sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll biopic plays out as one might expect, but there is also a tasteful amount of restraint, leaving out the most sensational portions of the band’s history, including rape, pregnancy, attempted suicide and enough internal strife among the five band members to create a soap opera that would give “The L Word” a run for its money. Jett, a tireless rocker even today, has always urged people to appreciate the music, not the rumors, and, for better or worse, The Runaways does just that. Following a general trend in band bio-dramas, such as Control and What We Do is Secret, the dramatic interpretations of the music upstage the formal scripting of a well-documented and recent past. Sitting in a well-equipped movie theater and watching The Runaways perform, via Stewart and Fanning, may be the most perfect form of self-indulgent time travel I will ever get.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Twin Cities Film 3/19 - 3/25

Special Screenings

Lourdes (2009) directed by Jessica Hausner
Friday, March 19, 7:30pm Women With Vision at the Walker
"People flock to the purportedly miraculous healing waters in the French town of Lourdes when they think science has failed. Exploring religion and the origin of belief, Lourdes focuses on Christine (Sylvie Testud), wheelchair-bound with multiple sclerosis, who uses the pilgrimage to create a social life. “Hausner walks a tightrope . . . between medicine and the Madonna—and the result is an austere, measured, skeptical, sensitive film that lingers in the mind for days” (London Evening Standard). Winner of the FIPRESCI Prize, Venice Film Festival."

First Men in the Moon (1964) directed by Nathan Juran
Friday and Saturday, March 19 and 20, 7 and 9pm
The FX Magic of Ray Harryhausen at the Trylon
"Three intrepid turn-of-the-century voyagers are jettisoned to the moon via hair-brained science and DIY space travel. Not only do they discover a strange race of large bipedal insect aliens known as Selenites, but they also uncover their evil plan to conquer the earth! Harryhausen, a fan of the H.G. Wells novel, was personally responsible for persuading Columbia to fund this unique adaptation."

MN Docs Program 1: Ida's Story and Pride of Lions Saturday, March 20, 1:30pm Women With Vision at the Walker
Ida’s Story (2009): Introduced by director Barbara Wiener
A 90-year-old Ukrainian Jewish woman shares her childhood memories of a prolonged emigration to the United States after the Russian Revolution.
Pride of Lions (2009): Directed by Louise Woehrle and John Woehrle and introduced by director Louise Woehrle
Sierra Leone’s brutal, 11-year civil war is shockingly chronicled in this film that weaves history
with intimate stories of survivors determined to move beyond their scars.

ODDSAC (2010) directed by Danny Perez
Saturday, March 20, 7pm Cedar Cultural Center
"Opening with torch-wielding villagers and a wall bleeding oil, ODDSAC attaches vivid scenery and strange characters to the wonderful melodic wavelengths of the band Animal Collective, revitalizing the lost form of the “visual album.” Working on the project for three years with friend Danny Perez, Animal Collective pushes the boundaries of the music video and joins music visionaries like The Residents, Devo, and Daft Punk, who previously connected film imagery with their songs."

Vision (2009) directed by Margarethe von Trotta
Sunday, March 21, 3pm
Women With Vision at the Walker
"A portrait of the fascinating Hildegard of Bingen, a central figure of the medieval Catholic Church, is the latest film from “the most important woman director to emerge from the New German Cinema” (Senses of Cinema). Hildegard, a 12th-century Benedictine nun, was also a mystic, author, linguist, scientist, philosopher, herbalist, healer, poet, and composer—a range of talents that invited controversy, leading the Church to sanction her for expressing her visions from God. Barbara Sukowa renders a bravura performance."

20 Million Miles to Earth (1957) directed by Nathan Juran
Sunday, March 21, 5:20 and 7pm
The FX Magic of Ray Harryhausen at the Trylon
"Humans unwittingly unleash the rage in the Ymir, a giant sulfur-loving reptile brought back from Venus and one of Harryhausen’s most iconic creatures. Shot on location in Italy—because Harryhausen wanted to vacation there—the film’s finale features the most unique death match the Roman Coliseum has ever seen."

Trash Film Debauchery
Wednesday, March 24, 7:30pm
TFD at the Trylon
The name says it all. Check out the Trylon's website to see what's playing. Here's a tease:
"In a future world ruled by good-looking people, a terrorist group of mutants leaded by Ramon Yarritu kidnap the daughter of Orujo, a rich businessman, to claim for the rights of the ugly people. Escaping from the police in their spaceship, Ramon try to kill his gang in order to get all the ransom. The trip ends abruptly when they crash in Axturiax, the planet of the crazy miners where no woman lives."

Angel Face (1952) directed by Otto Preminger
Thursday, March 25, 7:30pm
The Heights Theater
"Starring JEAN SIMMONS, ROBERT MITCHUM. Directed by OTTO PREMINGER. This fantastically over the top Noir has got to be one of the best films to come out of HOWARD HUGHES’ bizarre and destructive ownership of RKO, and ranks right up there with LAURA as one of Otto Preminger’s best. JEAN SIMMONS is spot on as a beautiful and calculating ice cold heiress who lures ROBERT MITCHUM into a web of murder and deception. The classic and haunting score is by the great DIMITRI TIOMKIN."

Stay the Same Never Change
Thursday, March 25, 7:30pm

Women With Vision at the Walker
"Photographer and video artist Nakadate draws from previous work—in which she put herself in sexually risky positions—to create a provocative tale of heartland teens and their plays for attention during a hot summer in the Midwest. The unflinching approach and quirky humor of this debut feature have drawn comparisons to the work of Todd Solondz and Harmony Korrine. It was selected for the Museum of Modern Art’s New Directors New Films series and the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, which called it 'weird and delightful . . . a raw, audacious effort that burns with such originality and honesty.'"

The Waiting List (2000) directed by Juan Carlos Tabio
Thursday, March 25, 7:30 Cuban Film Festival at St Anthony Main
"A desperate group of people wait at a rundown Cuban transit station for the next bus to arrive. The problem is, it never shows up. While a number of busses pass by the station, and others that are either full or at the end of the line stop by, it soon becomes obvious that the bus everyone was waiting for has left them high and dry. While one of the would-be passengers, Emilio, uses his downtime to win the affections of the beautiful Jacqueline, most of the rest decide that if they're stuck without anywhere to go, they might as well make the station a better place to wait, and they begin forming a plan to turn the decrepit bus terminal into a showplace that people would look forward to visiting."


Prodigal Sons (2008) directed by Kimberly Reed
MFA at St Anthony Main
"In this impressive personal documentary, filmmaker Kimberly Reed attempts to reconcile with her long-estranged brother Marc, with whom she's been a rival since childhood. Their paths diverged long ago: Marc was permanently debilitated in a car more »accident, while Kim left their small-town roots on a journey of self-discovery. Full of twists and turns involving Hollywood royalty and sexual and gender identities, high school reunions in Montana and family reunions in Croatia, Prodigal Sons sensitively examines family bonds and questions if we can ever truly reinvent ourselves"

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2009) directed by Niels Arden Oplev
Uptown Theater
"The most popular European film of 2009, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is an award-winning mystery thriller based on Stieg Larsson's international best-selling novel about a disgraced journalist and a troubled young female computer hacker who investigate the mysterious disappearance of an industrialist's niece. Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder and that the killer is a member of his own tightly knit but dysfunctional family. He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvis) and the tattooed, ruthless computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) to investigate. When the pair link Harriet's disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from almost forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history. But the Vangers are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves."

The Runaways (2010) directed by Floria Sigismondi
Lagoon Theater
"Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning star in this music-fueled story of The Runaways, the ground-breaking, all-girl, teenage rock band of the 1970s. The film follows two friends, Joan Jett (Stewart) and Cherie Currie (Fanning), as they rise from rebellious Southern California kids to rock stars of the now legendary group that paved the way for future generations of girl bands. Joan and Cherie fall under the Svengali-like influence of rock impresario Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon) who turns the group into an outrageous success and a family of misfits. With its tough-chick image and raw talent, the band quickly earns a name for itself — and so do its two leads: Joan is the band’s pure rock 'n' roll heart, while Cherie, with her Bowie-Bardot looks, is the sex kitten. Written and directed by Floria Sigismondi, the film chronicles Joan and Cherie's tumultuous relationship on and off stage, as the band starts to break out."

Fist Tank (2009) directed by Andrea Arnold
Lagoon Theater
"Oscar-winning filmmaker Andrea Arnold (the 2005 short Wasp) follows up her powerful feature debut Red Road with her second feature to win the Cannes Jury Prize. An emotionally stunning coming-of-age story set in a British housing complex, Fish Tank is electrified by the breakthrough performance of its young star Katie Jarvis, who was cited by indieWIRE as "the discovery of Cannes." Jarvis plays Mia, a 15-year-old girl in a constant state of war with her family, her school and her neighbors, without any constructive creative outlet for her considerable energies save a secret love of hip-hop dancing. When she meets her mother's charming and mysterious new boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender, Hunger), she is amazed to find him returning her attention, and believes he can help her start to make sense of her life — though his seemingly tender demeanor may hide a much more treacherous interior."

Repo Men (2010) directed by Miguel Sapochnik
Area Theaters

"Set in the near future when artificial organs can be bought on credit, it revolves around a man who struggles to make the payments on a heart he has purchased. He must therefore go on the run before said ticker is repossessed."

The Bounty Hunter (2010) directed by Andy Tennant
Area Theaters

"A bounty hunter learns that his next target is his ex-wife, a reporter working on a murder cover-up. Soon after their reunion, the always-at-odds duo find themselves on a run-for-their-lives adventure."

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2010) directed by Thor Freudenthal
Area Theaters

"Live-action adaptation of Jeff Kinney's illustrated novel about a wise-cracking junior high school student."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Twin Cities Film 3/11 - 3/18

Much of what is found below are films playing during the Twin Cities Sixth Arab Film Festival. Check out their website here.

Special Screenings Galore

Garbage Dreams (2009) directed by Mai Iskander
Thursday, March 11, 7pm
Arab Film Festival at The Heights
Director will be present for a post-screening discussion with audience.
"Filmed over four years, Garbage Dreams follows three teenage boys – Adham, a bright precocious 17-year-old; Osama, a charming impish 16-year-old; Nabil, a shy artistic 18-year-old – born into the trash trade and growing up in the world’s largest garbage village, a ghetto located on the outskirts of Cairo. It is a world folded onto itself, an impenetrable labyrinth of narrow roadways camouflaged by trash; it is home to 60,000 Zaballeen (or Zabbaleen), Egypt’s “garbage people.” For generations, the residents of Cairo have depended on the Zaballeen to collect their trash, paying them only a minimal amount for their garbage collection services. The Zaballeen survive by recycling the city’s waste. These entrepreneurial garbage workers recycle 80% of all the garbage they collect, creating what is arguably the world’s most efficient waste disposal system. When the city they keep clean suddenly decides to replace the Zaballeen with multinational garbage disposal companies, the Zaballeen community finds itself at a crossroads. Face to face with the globalization of their trade, each of the teenage boys is forced to make choices that will impact his future and the survival of his community."

My Heart Beats Only For Her (2009) directed by Mohamed Soueid
w/ Lesh Sabreen? (2008) directed by Muayad Mousa Alayan
Friday, March 12, 1:30pm
Arab Film Festival at The Heights
"Inspired from the Vietnamese revolution, the call to transform every Arab capital into a Haboi for the Palestinian revolution echoed far and wide in the past century's 1960s and 1970s, this documentary film delves into the encounter of the Vietnamese experience with the Palestinian experience, exploring traces of what remains today in Beirut, the Arab capital known to have emblematized, par excellence, the notion of an Arab Hanoi from the moment of the outbreak of the civil war in 1975 until the withdrawl of the Palestinian fighters after the Israeli invasion in 1982."
"Set in a Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem, 'Lesh Sabreen?' tells the story of two young lovers as they navigate dreams and dead-ends in their socially-conservative and Israeli-controlled community. The film illustrates the several layers of authority, from the patriarchal social norms and taboos, to economic pressures and the military occupation, continually facing young Arab Jerusalemites."

7915 KM (2008) directed by Nikolaus Geyrhalter
Friday, March 12, 4pm
Arab Film Festival at The Heights
"A motor-sports spectacle that kicks up plenty of dust. On the trail of the 2007 Dakar Rallye 7915 KM undertakes a search, along the way encountering the variety to be found in Africa’s present in Morocco, Sahrawi Republic, Mauritania, Mali and Senegal. 7915 KM demonstrates the extent of this distance, which is the result of political and economic conditions, and also the ideas and prejudices to be found in both Europe and Africa. It also makes the closeness tangible, which becomes clear in the stories of everyday life, work, hopes and worries. Keeping the sobering reality in mind, it creates an homage to humanity and slowness which questions deep-seated perceptions and the role of Europeans in numerous, presumably African, problems."

Les Barons (2009) directed by Nabil Ben Yadir
Friday, March 12, 6:30pm
Arab Film Festival at The Heights
"Somewhere in modern-day Brussels, Hassan, Aziz and Mounir are three friends who lead a life of pleasant apathy. Calling themselves 'Les Barons', they spend their days loafing around in unhurried torpor, bantering between each other and adhering to a curious theory which postulates that the fewer steps one takes in a lifetime, the richer and more satisfying one's interior life. But, as is so often the case, when real life crashes unpleasantly into their dream world, Hassan, Aziz and Mounir are forced to deal with life, love and the future."

Heat Harara (2007) directed by Lodewijk Crijns
Friday, March 12, 9:oopm
Arab Film Festival at The Heights
"Two friends, Dutch-Moroccan Raja and Dutch-born Nancy, decide to set up a beauty salon, specialising in manicures and henna treatments. Original materials are hard to source within Holland - so a road trip to Morocco is proposed. But a chance encounter triggers a tragic chain of events that will change both their lives forever."

Mysterious Island (1961) directed by Cy Endfield
Friday and Saturday, March 12 and 13, 7 and 9pm
The FX Magic of Ray Harryhausen at the Trylon
"Although many film adaptations exist of Jules Verne’s novel, this version was by far the most popular. A small group of Union soldiers escape from a Confederate prison camp via hot air balloon only to find themselves stranded on a volcanic island inhabited with mammoth crabs, birds and bees. Presented in 'superdynamation!'"

35 Shots of Rum (2008) directed by Claire Denis
Friday, March 12, 7:30pm Women with Vision at the Walker
"A personal film about relationships and letting go, 35 Shots of Rum was inspired by the subtle, graceful work of Japanese filmmaker Ozu. Depicting a widowed father sharing an apartment with his adult daughter, the story is told in the pauses between their words. “Sublime . . . Denis’ warmest, most radiant work” (Village Voice). A provocative director recognized for her explorations of cross-cultural tensions, Denis was the subject of the Walker’s 1998 Regis Retrospective, and has screened two films at previous Women with Vision film festivals."

Children's Films
Saturday, March 13, 10am
Arab Film Festival at The Heights
Includes three films: My Simple Story, Mazen and the Ant, and Very Human

We Will Live to See These Things (2007) directed by Julia Meltzer and David Thorne
w/ Tea on the Axis of Evil (2009) directed by Jean Marie Offenbacher
Saturday, March 13, Noon
Arab Film Festival at The Heights
"We will live to see these things is a documentary video in five parts about competing visions of an uncertain future. Shot in 2005/06 in Damascus, Syria, the work combines fiction and non-fiction. Each section of the piece--the chronicle of a building in downtown Damascus, an interview with a dissident intellectual, documentation of an equestrian event, the fever dream of a U.S. policymaker, and a portrait of a Qur'an school for young girls--offers a different perspective on what might come to pass in a place where people live between the competing forces of a repressive regime, a growing conservative Islamic movement, and intense pressure from the United States."
"When Syria was admitted to the "Axis of Evil", I decided to move there, alone, to record ordinary life and create a document to stimulate healthy curiosity about this Arab community to counter the vilification that dominated the media and White House rhetoric. Syria's intricate dance between tradition and modernity reveals itself as a range of sensual and amusing characters discuss dating, marriage, education, art, politics and religion. People are kind and educated. A myriad of different religions and sects co-exist harmoniously. As the country is left in a diplomatic vacuum the government becomes less progressive and the fear of radical Islam grows. A writer blames the government for using fear of religious extremists to control society. A government minister identifies the rise of Islam as a response to external pressures against Arabs. She concludes that the current political climate encourages Islamic extremists and undermines moderate voices. As it lyrically spins a tale of contemporary Syrian life, TEA gives voice and face to this moderate majority."

Remnants of a War (2009) directed by Jawad Metni
w/ The Sons of Eilaboun (2008) directed by Hisham Zreiq
Saturday, March 13, 3pm
Arab Film Festival at The Heights
"Remnants of a War is an intimate portrait of the Lebanese men and women who are clearing their land of unexploded cluster munitions. Hundreds of thousands of these deadly munitions remain after the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, killing and maiming civilians long after the con ict. Director Jawad Metni spent two years embedded with these teams to capture their lives, their dangerous work, and their struggle to make a living under extraordinarily fragile political and economic conditions. The lm is a primer on the cluster munition problem, and a non-partisan look at a people working to return the land to their fellow Lebanese."
The Sons Of Eilaboun is a documentary film about the massacre, expulsion and return of a small Palestinian village in the Galilee. In the film the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe introduce the history behind the Nakba events and the Eilaboun (Eilabun) people tell their story."

Henna (2008) directed by Saleh Karama
Saturday, March 13, 5:30pm
Arab Film Festival at The Heights
"For eight-year-old Henna, life has become difficult since her mothers illness, causing her father to divorce. When her Bedouin relative arrives into the burgeoning fishing town, he brings back nostalgic memories amongst the local fishermen, and new fascinations for the children. But when two teenagers steal his precious camels, the party is soon over. The Bedouin spends the night pacing through the dark alleys looking for his camels and, disappointed by daybreak, travels back into the desert. Fortunately a recent school trip leaves Henna with a new fascination: the magical world inside the recently built shopping mall."

Pomegranates and Myrrh (2008) directed by Najwa Najjar
Saturday, March 13, 8pm
Arab Film Festival at The Heights
Director will be present for a post-screening discussion with audience.
"Dancer Kamar’s joyful wedding to Zaid is followed almost immediately by Zaid’s imprisonment in an Israeli jail for refusing to give up his land. Free-spirited Kamar wants to support her husband and be a dutiful wife but struggles with the idea of giving up dance and her own dreams. Matters are complicated when a new dance instructor, Kais, returns to the studio after many years in Lebanon and takes a special interest in Kamar. She struggles to deal with the weight of Kais’s attention, which brings to the surface her attempts to balance her own desires with her duties as the wife of a prisoner.Like the character of Kamar herself, Najwa Najjar’s filmmaking (in her debut feature) is matter-of-fact about Kamar’s situation. Instead of manufacturing melodrama, Najjar stays focused on her protagonist’s insistence on seeing her life, like anyone else’s, as an opportunity for joy. The constant interference of the external conflict—her husband’s arrest, the squatters on her land, and the soldiers filling the streets—is an unavoidable aspect of Kamar’s existence but one that she will not allow to deter her. Najjar’s intimate storytelling and Yasmine Al Massri’s sensitive portrayal of Kamar create a film that addresses honestly the way a woman might face the realities of life in modern-day Palestine while refusing to be defined by them."

The Runaways (2010) directed by Floria Sigismondi
Saturday, March 13, 7:30pm
Women with Vision at the Walker
"One of rock’s quintessential girl groups, the Runaways exploded onto the scene in the mid-seventies, playing hits such as “Cherry Bomb” to huge audiences around the world. Based on vocalist Cherie Currie’s shocking book Neon Angel, this film chronicles the band’s brief rise to fame and all that came with it. In her debut feature, Sigismondi—best known for photography and music videos for Marilyn Manson, David Bowie, and Björk—enlisted Dakota Fanning for the role of Cherie Currie and Kristen Stewart for Joan Jett."

Gaza on the Air (2009) directed by Samir Abdallah
Sunday, March 14, 10:00am
Arab Film Festival at The Heights
"During the January 2009 bombardment of Gaza, and with foreign news crews barred from the area, a group of Palestinian journalists and cameramen risked their lives to covertly film scenes of the destruction, intended for news broadcast around the world. Director Samir Abdallah intercuts this harrowing, often never aired footage with interviews with the cameramen about their traumatic experiences, and how they continue to cope with their haunting, horrifying memories. 'Gaza On The Air' is an bold, uncompromising tribute to the men and women of the media. This is an exceptionally graphic film and contains scenes of extreme violence. "

WIFTI Short Film Showcase
Sunday, March 14, 1pm
Women with Vision at the Walker
Celebrating films from New Zealand, to the Twin Cities, this annual short film showcase includes works from festivals around the world. Organized by Women in Film & Television International (WIFTI) and copresented by its Minnesota chapter (MNWIFT). Selected films, in alphabetical order: Abandon ME (Sayer Frey, Minneapolis, Minesota), Abbie Cancelled (Jessica Burstein, Brooklyn, New York), Ana’s Playground (Jillian Nodland, Minnesota), As They Fade (Jenna Lyng, Minnesota), The Great Magician (Elisabet Gustafsson, Sweden), Mikrofilms no 1, 2, 3 (Helena Alvesalo, Sweden), Salt and Vinegar (Karyn Childs, Waitakere, New Zealand), Shear Practique (Elena Shpak, Sunnyside, New York), Speed Grieving (Jessica Daniels, New York, New York).

Hisham Bizri Films
Sunday, March 14, 2:30pm
Arab Film Festival at The Heights
City of Brass, Vertices, Song for the Deaf Ear
Director will be present for a post-screening discussion with audience.
"Hisham is a Lebanese-American filmmaker. He has worked in the US and Hungary with filmmakers Raoul Ruiz and Miklós Jancsó and has made short films in the US, Lebanon, Ireland, Korea, and France. Much of his films may be viewed as meditations on the themes of exile and melancholy. These visual meditations are shaped by his personal experience as someone who lives between the Middle East of his Lebanese homeland and the Anglo/European culture and art. Emerging from this personal context, his films create a dialectic between the retinal/material impact of the image and its conceptual possibility in order to depict the world he lives in. In this way, his films may be viewed as the material expression of intuition and emotions, but also as a way to understand how we construct ourselves as people."

Eye of the Sun (2008) directed by Ibrahim El Batout
w/ Hymen (2009) directed by Hisham Saqr
Sunday, March 14, 5pm
Arab Film Festival at The Heights
"From once being the capital of Egypt during the Pharaonic era and a sacred location marked by the visit of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, Ein Shams has become one of Cairo’s poorest and most neglected neighbourhoods. Through the eyes of Shams, an eleven year old girl inhabitant of this neighbourhood, the film captures the sadness and magic that envelops everyday life in Egypt. In a series of heart-rending events, the diverse characters of the film showcase the intricacies of Egypt’s political system and social structure, and give a glimpse into the grievances of the Middle East region and the complex relationships of its nations."
"When a brother and sister, two Egyptian young adults experience sex outside the boundaries of society's acceptance and approval , they have to confront their personal beliefs and social value system...they find themselves caught up in a web of multiple standards, lies and hypocrisy. The ultimate test for morality is an easily replaceable piece of flesh but no one seems to admit that."

Laila's Birthday (2008) directed by Rashid Masharawi
Sunday, March 14, 7:30pm
Arab Film Festival at The Heights
"Showing the confusion, frustration, absurdity, and coping mechanisms of life in contemporary Ramallah through the eyes of a taxi driver, wry, comic drama Laila's Birthday is strong political entertainment leavened with finely tooled irony. The protagonist is former judge Abu Laila who is forced by financial considerations to drive his brother-in-law’s cab. A proud intellectual with a by-the-book sense of law and order, Abu is constantly aggrieved by the chaos and lack of courtesy that surrounds him. From passengers not fastening their seatbelts to disputes over smoking in the cab, Abu survives the course of one long day, as a series of passengers and their destinations highlight internal Palestinian political divisions and persistent problems caused by Israel. Although symbolizing something more serious, these encounters feature sardonic dialogue and excellent comic timing. By the film’s pitch-perfect ending, Abu isn’t exactly ready to accept Allah’s justice over situations that are created by man, but he’s become more skilled in the art of accommodation."

It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955) directed by Robert Gordon
Sunday, March 14, 5:20 and 7pm
The FX Magic of Ray Harryhausen at the Trylon
"Driven from its natural habitat by hydrogen bomb testing, a giant octopus sets its monstrous sights on San Francisco, and the military is forced to pull out all its nuclear age gizmos to defend the west coast from ruin! Harryhausen did his best to disguise the fact that there was only enough money in the budget to construct six legs for the octopus that he jokingly referred to as the 'hextapus.'"

Brief Encounter (1945) directed by David Lean
Monday, March 15, 7:15pm The Riverview Theater
"Based on Noël Coward's play "Still Life," Brief Encounter is a romantic, bittersweet drama about two married people who meet by chance in a London railway station and carry on an intense love affair. Sentimental yet down-to-earth and set in pre-World War II England, the film follows British housewife Laura Jesson (Celia Johnson), who is on her way home, but catches a cinder in her eye. By chance, she meets Dr. Alec Harvey (Trevor Howard), who removes it for her. The two talk for a few minutes and strike immediate sparks, but they end up catching different trains. However, both return to the station once a week to meet and, as the film progresses, they grow closer, sharing stories, hopes, and fears about their lives, marriages, and children. One day, when Alec's train is late, both become frantic that they will miss each other. When they finally find each other, they realize that they are in love. But what should be a joyous realization is fraught with tragedy, since both care greatly for their families. Howard and Johnson give flawless performances as two practical, married people who find themselves in a situation in which they know they can never be happy."

Silent Comic Short Films
Wednesday, March 17, 7:30pm
Dreamland Faces at the Trylon
A night of small format silent era comedy shorts, featuring Buster Keaton, Fatty Arbuckle, Our Gang, Charlie Chaplin and more, including The Garage (1920), The Tramp (1915), The Adventure of the Wrong Santa Claus (1914) and Big Business (1924).

O'er the Land (2009) directed by Deborah Stratman
Thursday, March 18, 7:30pm
Women with Vision at the Walker
"Gun shows, historical war reenactors, cheerleaders, and motor homes are touchstones in this experimental documentary that delves into America’s concept of manifest destiny. O’er the Land reflects powerfully on the ways Americans have come to understand freedom and heroism in the light of increasing militarism and perceived threats to our national borders. Winner of the Best International Film Award at Images Festival (Toronto). A Q&A with the director follows the screening."

Opening Friday

A Prophet (2009) directed by Jacques Audiard
Lagoon Theater
"Condemned to six years in prison, 19-year-old Malik El Djebena (Tahar Rahim), part Arab, part Corsican, cannot read or write. Arriving at the jail entirely alone, he appears younger and more fragile than the other convicts. Cornered by the leader of the Corsican gang who rules the prison, he is given a number of "missions" to carry out, toughening him up and gaining the gang leader's confidence in the process. But Malik is brave and a fast learner, daring to secretly develop his own plans. Directed and co-written by Jacques Audiard (The Beat That My Heart Skipped, Read My Lips). Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film."

The Art of the Steal (2009) directed by Don Argott
Edina Cinema
"In 1922 Dr. Albert C. Barnes created The Barnes Foundation in Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, five miles outside of Philadelphia. His astounding collection of Post-Impressionist and early Modern art, intended to serve as an educational institution, includes 181 Renoirs, 69 Cezannes, 59 Matisses, 46 Picassos, 16 Modiglianis, and 7 Van Goghs. Dr. Barnes deliberately built his Foundation away from the city and cultural elite who scorned his collection as "horrible, debased art." But tastes changed, and soon the very people who belittled Barnes wanted access to his collection. When Barnes died in 1951, he left control of his collection to Lincoln University, a small African-American college, with strict instructions that the paintings may never be removed. More than fifty years later, a powerful group of moneyed interests have gone to court in a rancorous, Machiavellian attempt to take the art—recently valued at more than $25 billion—and move it to the Philadelphia Museum of Art."

The Yellow Handkerchief (2008) directed by Udayan Prasad
Edina Cinema
"A love story at its core, The Yellow Handkerchief is about three strangers of two generations who embark on a road trip through post-Hurricane Katrina Louisiana. Brett Hanson (William Hurt), dealing with a painful past, crosses paths with Martine (Kristen Stewart), a troubled teenager, and her new "ride" Gordy (Eddie Redmayne). The trio head out together, each motivated by their own reasons: Brett must decide whether he wants to return to the uncertainty of his life and his ex-wife May (Maria Bello) for whom he longs, Martine yearns to escape her family, and Gordy hopes to get close to Martine. Along the way, relationships forge and change in a myriad of ways, leading to the possibility of second chances at life and love. Directed by Udayan Prasad (My Son the Fanatic)."

A Town Called Panic (2009) directed by Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar
Lagoon Theater
"Hilarious and frequently surreal, this stop-motion extravaganza has endless charms and raucous laughs. Based on the Belgian animated cult TV series (which was released by Wallace & Gromit’s Aardman Studios), A Town Called Panic stars three plastic toys named Cowboy, Indian and Horse, who share a house in a rural town that never fails to attract the weirdest events. Cowboy and Indian’s plan to give Horse a homemade barbecue backfires when they accidentally order 50 million bricks. Whoops! This sets off a perilously wacky chain of events as the trio travel to the center of the earth, trek across frozen tundra and discover a parallel underwater universe of pointy-headed (and dishonest!) creatures. With panic a permanent feature of life in this papier-mâché burg, will Horse and his equine paramour—flame-tressed piano teacher Madame Longray—ever find a quiet moment alone? A non-stop whirlwind of inspired silliness that will leave you smiling. Voices by co-directors Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar, as well as Jeanne Balibar and Benoit Poelvoorde. Please note: Despite occasional bad language in the subtitles, the French-language film is entirely appropriate for children."

Green Zone (2010) directed by Paul Greengrass
Area Theaters
"Discovering covert and faulty intelligence causes a U.S. Army officer to go rogue as he hunts for Weapons of Mass Destruction in an unstable region."

Remember Me (2010) directed by Allen Coulter
Area Theaters
"A romantic drama centered on two new lovers: Tyler, whose parents have split in the wake of his brother's suicide, and Ally, who lives each day to the fullest since witnessing her mother's murder."

Our Family Wedding (2010) directed by Rick Famuyiwa
Area Theaters
"The weeks leading up to a young couple's wedding is comic and stressful, especially as their respective fathers (Whitaker and Mencia) try to lay to rest their feud."

She's Out of My League (2010) directed by Jim Field Smith (no relation)
Area Theaters
"An average Joe meets the perfect woman, but his lack of confidence and the influence of his friends and family begin to pick away at the relationship."