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32nd Annual Portland International Film Festival
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Films & Schedules - Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wed, Feb 11, 2009
at 6 PM (WH)


DIRECTOR: Martin Provost - France

The year is 1912. Wilhelm, a German art critic and collector, moves to a small village north of Paris and rents an apartment from Madame Duphot.  Séraphine, Madame Duphot's maid, paints in her spare time, using everything she can find that is free: wine, mud, fruit and flowers.  The locals don't take Séraphine or her paintings seriously, but when Wilhelm, an enthusiastic advocate of modern and "primitive" artists, comes across one of her paintings, he's mesmerized.  It is the beginning of a nurturing relationship that allows her to invisible career to blossom.  Based on the little-known story of one of...

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Wed, Feb 11, 2009
at 6:15 PM (B2)

King of Ping Pong

DIRECTOR: Jens Jonsson - Sweden

Winner of the Cinematography and Grand Jury Prizes at the Sundance Film Festival, King of Ping Pong is a shrewd, chilly and offbeat observation of one boy's struggle to find happiness despite grim circumstances.  Overweight teen Rille is already dealing with his divorced parents, harassment from bullies, unrequited love, and his little brother's excessive popularity when his long-absent father drops back into his life.  The one place where Rille rules all is ping pong.  "The film is about how the past has an unpleasant tendency of bouncing back at you.  Like some damn ping-pong ball. I wanted to make a...

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Wed, Feb 11, 2009
at 6:30 PM (B4)

Empty Nest

DIRECTOR: Daniel Burman - Argentina

Both comic and nostalgic, Burman's film ponders reality itself while offering a careful consideration of memories and how they are created. Leonardo is a successful playwright married to Martha.  Now that their children are grown--and indifferent to their parents--Leonardo is forced to deal with the strange realities of their monotonous life together.  On the romantic streets of Buenos Aires he struggles to find joy in the mundane as he looks for new meaning in his life.  As Leonardo and Martha neurotically struggle to find value in the mysteries of marriage and infidelity, the film remains both playful and profound as...

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Wed, Feb 11, 2009
at 7 PM (B1)

Burned Hearts

DIRECTOR: Ahmed El Maanouni - Morocco

The contradictions of Moroccan society--culturally vibrant and playful, yet stiflingly traditional and patriarchal--are viewed with bemusement in writer-director Ahmed El Maanouni's unique take on the melancholy truism, "You can't go home again."  Having escaped the tumult and tension of his birthplace a decade ago, young architect Amin hesitantly returns to Fez when he learns that his overbearing uncle is on his deathbed.  Long-dormant resentments surface, and Amin must reconcile his family ties with the hard-won independence of adulthood.  Shot in luminous black and white and scored with evocative Moroccan folk music, Burned Hearts--like the Sufi philosopher whose ruminations bookend the...

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Wed, Feb 11, 2009
at 7:15 PM (B3)

The Rest is Silence

DIRECTOR: Nae Caranfil - Romania

"The biggest production in Romanian cinema, Caranfil's exuberant moviemaking comedy reimagines the creation of The War of Independence (1912), his country's first feature film.  As Grig, that film's director, embarks upon his inspired, remarkably ambitious project, he finds himself at odds with the financiers.  Soon, Grig's vision--one that he envisioned uniting his country--has been hijacked.  Caranfil sprinkles the film with droll insider jokes about moviemaking then and now, packing romance, tragedy and even an animated interlude onto the movie's already bountiful bill of fare.  In outlining the framework in which Romanian cinema was born, he suggests that the conflict between...

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Wed, Feb 11, 2009
at 8:30 PM (WH)


DIRECTOR: Steve McQueen - Great Britain

Turner Prize-winning video artist McQueen won the Camera d'Or (Best First Film) at Cannes Film Festival for Hunger, a provocative exploration of the politics of torture and the yearning for spiritual transcendence.  Set in Belfast's Maze Prison, the film is an interpretation of the highly emotive events surrounding the 1981 Irish Republican Army hunger strike, led by Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender).  Hunger plunges us into the world of the infamous H-blocks, a hellish place for prisoners and guards alike.  Their bodies are the prisoners' only weapons, and after a new round of humiliation and violence, Sands decides to start a...

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Wed, Feb 11, 2009
at 8:45 PM (B2)

Loose Rope

DIRECTOR: Mehrshad Karkhani - Iran

Two young men from an Iranian village who work in an animal market are given a seemingly simple task: to deliver a large, wounded cow to Tehran.  As we follow the struggling pair on their panoramic cross-country journey, Karkhani shows the divide between rural and urban life in modern day Iran, while finding moments of gentle humor and stinging truth.  Rather than dwelling on the overtly political, Loose Rope tells a wonderfully human tale of two wandering souls experiencing the wide-eyed wonder of the big city and the simple pleasures of smiling girls, overly officious traffic wardens and bemused crowds...

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Wed, Feb 11, 2009
at 9 PM (B4)

Captain Abu Raed

DIRECTOR: Amin Matalqa - Jordan

Winner of the World Cinema Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, Matalqa's touching drama presents a multilayered look at contemporary life in Amman, with a fine performance from veteran actor Nadim Sawalha.  A widower and airport custodian, Abu Raed (Sawalha) is content to blend into the background and mind his own business.  Finding a pilot's cap in the garbage one day, he wears it home on a whim, and the children in his neighborhood decide he's a world traveler.  As "Captain Abu" obliges, telling the children stories about his journeys far and wide, he becomes increasingly involved in their...

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Wed, Feb 11, 2009
at 9:15 PM (B1)


DIRECTOR: Andrzej Jakimowski - Poland

Jakimowski's warm, quirky drama follows the daily lives of Stefek, a precocious six-year-old boy, and his teenage sister Elka during one magical summer in their small provincial mining town.  A loner, young Stefek wanders the streets of his seemingly dull neighborhood in search of connection.  Sincehis father, a man he barely knew, left his mother for another woman, Stefek has been trying to figure out how to reconcile them and trick fate into bringing him back.  Sister Elka--preoccupied with her auto mechanic boyfriend Jerzy and jer job prospects at a big Italian firm--takes turns ignoring and helping him, assuring him...

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