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Films & Schedules - Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thu, Feb 12, 2009
at 6 PM (B1)

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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Thu, Feb 12, 2009
at 6 PM (WH)

Shall We Kiss?

DIRECTOR: Emmanuel Mouret - France

Woody Allen meets Eric Rohmer in writer-director-actor Emmanuel Mouret's delicately droll romantic comedy.  After a chance encounter on the streets of Nantes, Gabriel and Emilie sense romance in the air, though alas, they are both involved with other people. When Gabriel proposes "a kiss with no consequences," Emilie--knowing there is no such thing--pauses to tell a story.  Through flashbacks, we learn the story of her friends Nicolas and Judith and the brief, seemingly innocent kiss they once shared--which led to the transformation of their entire lives.  Far from a simple kiss-and-tell tale, Mouret's ingenious interweaving of characters and courtship explores...

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Thu, Feb 12, 2009
at 6:15 PM (B4)

The Yellow House

DIRECTOR: Amor Hakkar - Algeria

Winner of the Jury Award at the Locarno Film Festival, Hakkar's picturesque film is as much an ode to the Algerian countryside as it is a poignant tale of a man's struggle to keep his family intact. When Mouloud learns that his son has been killed in a car accident, he leaves his wife and daughter and embarks on a meditative journey across Algeria to bring back his body. Traveling through the majestic Aurès Mountains, he overcomes the obstacles he faces thanks to the remarkable kindness and sensitivity of his countrymen in the neighboring town and villages.  Upon returning home...

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Thu, Feb 12, 2009
at 6:45 PM (B2)

Moscow, Belgium

DIRECTOR: Christophe Van Rompaey - Belgium

Moscow, Belgium is a charming romantic comedy about two misfits faced with each other's messed-up lives and irresistibly drawn together.  In the small, middle-class section of Ghent known as Moscow, Matty struggles with three kids and ex-husband Werner, who dumped her for a young art school student. One day she meets Johnny, by ramming into his truck in a parking lot.  After their initial fight, he takes a liking to her. She spurns his dogged advances--he's much younger and working class--but little by little, she ceases to yearn for Werner and gives in to Johnny's charms.  Naturally, that's precisely when...

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Thu, Feb 12, 2009
at 7 PM (B3)

Of Time and the City

DIRECTOR: Terence Davies - Great Britain

Of Time and the City was commimssioned to celebrate Liverpool, which won England's bid to become the European Union's Capital of Culture for 2008.  The idea was to commission a straightforward tribute film, but writer-director Davies had something else in mind, and crafted a very personal, poetic meditation--alternately angry, funny and moving--on his birthplace.  The film seamlessly fuses his distinct voice and wry humor with rich archival footage and half-forgotten bits of nostalgia.  Davies reflects on the feeling of timelessness and a lost sense of place, fashioning a love song and personal eulogy that invites one to "come closer.  See...

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Thu, Feb 12, 2009
at 8:15 PM (B4)

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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Thu, Feb 12, 2009
at 8:30 PM (WH)

Blind Sunflowers

DIRECTOR: José Luis Cuerda - Spain

Filmography: El Bosque Animado (87), La Marrana (92), Butterfly Tongues (99).

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Thu, Feb 12, 2009
at 8:30 PM (B1)

Under the Bombs

DIRECTOR: Philippe Aractingi - Lebanon

During the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel, which devastated Lebanon's infrastructure and civilian population, filmmaker Aractingi experienced firsthand the rocket attacks on Beirut.  He shot footage of the destruction and chaos and then, following the ceasefire, filmed a fictitious narrative, a thriller about a Shiite woman searching for her missing son with the aid of a Christian cab driver.  These combined elements form his engrossing docu-fiction road movie in which we see the reality of incredible destruction and devastating community trauma.  Despite the context, Aractingi does not opt for political diatribe, but rather for an emotional, strikingly authentic cry...

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Thu, Feb 12, 2009
at 9 PM (B3)

Opium War

DIRECTOR: Siddiq Barmak - Afghanistan

High in the Taliban-controlled mountains of Afghanistan, two American officers are lost in the desert after their helicopter crashes. Of different minds about what to do, they are nonetheless dependent on each other for survival. Mixing ultra-realism with a good dose of absurdity--both comic and tragic--Barmak relates their complex interactions and their surprising encounter with an opium-producing Afghan family living in a Russian armored personnel carrier. Winner of the Best Film Prize at the Rome International Film Festival, and this year's Afghan submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

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Thu, Feb 12, 2009
at 9:15 PM (B2)

Treeless Mountain

DIRECTOR: So Yong Kim - United States

Inspired by childhood events, Treeless Mountain has been described by So Yong Kim as a letter to her mother.  The film tells a poignant emotional story of growing up in the Korean countryside and the joys, worries, and hurts of early childhood.  Sent by their impoverished mother in Seoul to live with an aunt in a small village, six-year-old Jin and her younger sister Bin find themselves at the mercy of their selfish, alcoholic "Big Aunt."  Reduced to selling fried grasshoppers to earn money, their misery is compounded when their mother writes to say that she cannot take them back...

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