(SPAIN)
20 Centimeters - Ramón Salazar

Salazar's campy musical comedy is the bitter-sweet tale of Marieta (a.k.a. Adolfo), a narcoleptic, pre-op transsexual who dreams elaborate musical numbers in which she's the star. The 20 centimeters is of course, the measure of the problem: He wants it gone so he can become the woman he longs to be, but at the same time it is what earns him his living on the streets of Madrid. Waiting, hoping to find the money for the operation, Marieta lives with a bizarre assortment of friends in an underworld populated with characters that provide the inspiration for his dream and struggles to keep a day job—difficult when you're forever dozing off into musical fantasyland. Fusing a mix of Hollywood musicials and neorealism into a comic Almodovaresuqe romp, Salazar's striking visual style provides an entertaining look into the life of someone for whom less is definitely more. (112 mins.)

Filmography: Piedras (02).

(RUSSIA)
4 - Ilya Khrzhanovsky

Based on a story by controversial Russian author Vladimir Sorokin, 4 employs an evocative and original visual language to convey a confounding vision of contemporary Russia that continuously defies expectations. Three disparate Moscow residents meet in a deserted bar and tell each other elaborate, dreamy lies. The story then splinters into an increasingly unnerving depiction of the characters' bizarre actual lives, touching on everything from numerology and the decline of Russia's agrarian communities, to human cloning and the genetic manipulation of livestock. 4's Russian release was delayed because of objections from the Ministry of Culture to the film's dissident "non-normative language and disgusting scenes," but meanwhile won the top prize at the Rotterdam Film Festival." "The landscape is bleak, the soundtrack eerily post-industrial. . . it's nice to know that the Russian appetite for beautiful dystopias didn't perish with the Soviet Union."—LA Weekly. (126 mins.)

Filmography: Stop (99).

(UNITED STATES)
Art School Confidential - Terry Zwigoff

"Art School Confidential tracks an art student who dreams of becoming the greatest artist in the world. Arriving as a freshman at a prestigious East Coast art school, Jerome quickly discovers that talent alone does not get him very far. When he sees that a clueless jock is attracting the glory rightfully due him, Jerome hatches an all-or-nothing plan to hit it big in the art world and win the heart of the most beautiful girl in school. But all is not as it seems, and he quickly learns that sometimes you really should be careful what you wish for. The genius lies in the ability to peel off the layers of the characters, leaving them open to be petted or skewered, depending upon how the viewer perceives them. No one is spared in this biting, but hilarious, exploration of the random and subjective nature of art. A film brimming with sardonic empathy and infused with an underground comic consciousness."—Sundance Film Festival. (102 mins.)

Sponsored by Alaska Airlines.

Filmography: Louie Bluie (86), Crumb (95), Ghostworld (01), Bad Santa (03).

(NETHERLANDS)
Bluebird - Mijke de Jong

This year's Dutch submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, Bluebird is a pitch-perfect coming-of-age story that resonates regardless of age. Thirteen-year-old Merel is a model Rotterdam teenager. She does well in school, enjoys her many extracurricular activities and is a dutiful sister to her handicapped younger brother. But she has a big problem. She doesn't belong to any social clique and always seems to be the target of unmerciful bullies who cruelly pick on her. She tries to deal with the escalating situation on her own and hides it from her parents. No one seems to be able to help Merel; her invented reasons for her bruises and tortured bicycle come off as all too plausible. Then her entire world begins to crack: life at home, her school work, everything. The time comes when she must make a spirited decision to change things. This year's Dutch submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.(80 mins.)

Filmography: Heartbreaking (93).

(CANADA)
C.R.A.Z.Y. - Jean-Marc Vallée

Jean-Marc Vallée's coming-of-age/coming-out tale, set in suburban Catholic Québec, follows the travails of Zac Beaulieu and his family over a 30-year period, from the 1960s to the 1980s. When the Tupperware lady proclaims God has given him the ability to heal, it becomes clear that he will never quite be like everyone else. Zac begins a search for self that carries him from the narrow confines of his working-class French-Canadian family to Israel's gay night-club scene and back again. Vallée stirs daydreams and visions into the mix of ordinary joys and heartaches, along with a sharp eye for period detail, a great soundtrack of pop and rock classics, and a touch of the fantastic. Winner of numerous festival audience and jury prizes internationally and this year's Canadian submission for the Best Foreign Film Oscar, C.R.A.Z.Y. is ultimately the triumphant story of a beautifully ordinary family, of parental love, of outsiders struggling to find their place in the world and of the challenges of growing up different. (130 mins.)

Sponsored by The Westin Portland.

Filmography: Liste Noir (95), Los Locos (97).

(UNITED STATES )
Clear Cut: The Story Of Philomath, Oregon - Peter Richardson

Richardson's riveting film chronicles a small-town drama in Oregon that provides a clearcut view of the fault lines in the larger culture wars. One of the great Oregon success stories, Rex Clemens built a lumber empire in the small town of Philomath, just west of Corvallis. For decades his philanthropy helped the town in a myriad of ways and his foundation famously offered to pay the college tuition of every high school graduate, an act that has provided opportunity for thousands of students. But with the decline of the lumber industry and the influx of new residents without ties to the values of past, the current generation of Clemons Foundation Board members delivered an ultimatum to the school board. Unless they fired the Superintendent, an outsider from Chicago seen to be teaching/encouraging "politically correct" (environment, anti-logging. . .) values, they would cease the tuition grant program. Richardson, a Philomath native, draws out all sides of the bruising conflict with an even hand. Via remarkably trusting and candid interviews with townspeople on all sides, his gripping real-life drama confirms if nothing else that social change is both difficut to manage and even more difficult to accept. (72 mins.)

First Feature.

(UNITED STATES )
Cowboy Del Amor - Michèle Ohayon

A richly amusing portrait about a cowboy-turned-matchmaker who can't manage his own love life, Cowboy del Amor follows self-proclaimed "Cowboy Cupid" Ivan Thompson, as he finds Mexican brides for disillusioned American men searching for the perfect wife. His clients include Rick, an ex-marine long-distance truck driver, and Lee, a hopeful Vietnam Veteran. They willingly pay $3,000 for a 600-mile bus ride into the heart of Mexico in search for true love. For Ivan, love knows no borders. Ivan married a Mexican woman himself-then divorced her when she turned the tables on him. But one matrimonial mishap can't corral this cowboy. He might not look like he knows much about love, but his success rate proves that he just might. His strategies are quirky and entertaining, from posting ads in the Mexican papers to checking his clients' pulse. As Ivan says, anyone can find a wife, as long as they have the "huevos" to do something about it. Love doesn't just stroll up and say "Howdy!" Audience and Jury Award at SXSW Film Festival. (88 mins.)

Sponsored by Southpark Seafood Grill.

Selected Filmography: Colors Straight Up (05).

(SWEDEN)
Dalecarlians - Maria Blom

Urban, 30-something Mia reluctantly returns to her home village in rural Dalecarlia for her father's 70th birthday. While she has forgotten many people from the past, they still seem to remember exactly who she is. The provincial townspeople overwhelm her and she is at odds with her two older sisters, both mothers, one deeply resentful and the other ditzy and newly divorced. Outrageous amounts of alcohol fuel arguments, entanglements and inebriated indiscretions during a party. Blom wades confidently into the fray, drawing a rich portrait of small-town life with comedic moments that lighten the load of intimate family conflict. Brilliant performances by its excellent ensemble cast highlight the sharp edges of this tragicomedy that turns the Wolfian dictum "you can't go home again" on its head." (98 mins.)

First Feature.

(BURKINA FASO)
Delwende - S. Pierre Yaméogo

In some parts of West Africa women accused of witchcraft are torn from their families and banished to "witch villages" where they will remain for the rest of their lives. Based on a true story, Delwende -follows Napoko, driven out of her village after being wrongly accused of being responsible for the death of several children. When her daughter Pougbila learns of her mother's fate, she sets to find her, discovering that life in Ougadougou is starkly different from the villages she knows. As she scours women's shelters, Pougbila finds she has her mother's righteous strength. A sensitively crafted human drama told in the evocative music and voice of the Senegalese artist Wasis Diop, it gains further strength from its documentary-like glimpses into modern life in Burkina Faso. (90 mins.)

Filmography: Silmandé-Tourbillon (98), Me and My White Man (03).

(FINLAND)
Dog Nail Clipper - Markku Pölönen

Based on Finnish author Veikko Huovinen's loved novel, Dog Nail Clipper is a story of a young man whose destiny is changed by the Second World War and of the post-war reconstruction in Finland. Peter Franzén returns from the war crippled but with undeterred idealism. His life is hard and only the help of his fellow men and a dog give him the faith to endure. A friend's offhand comment about a neglected dog that needs its nails trimmed sets him off on an obsessive quest across the wintry country side, determined to locate the -animal and take care of him. As strangers shelter him along the way, the basic warmth and goodness of his neighbors keep his hope alive. Winner of the Best Film, Director, Actor and Cinematography prizes at Finland's (Oscar) Jussi Awards.(105 mins.)

First Feature.

(RUSSIA)
Dreaming Of Space - Aleksei Uchitel

For many in Russia in the late 1950s, the launch of the first Soviet satellite seemed to forecast a time of hope and openness. For naïve cook Konyok and his waitress girlfriend Lara, wide-eyed satellite watchers, it signals an unthinkable freedom of movement in utter contrast to the secrecy and paranoia governing life in their small port city. The young couple's safe romance and speculation is disrupted by the appearance of Gherman, a mysterious stranger who knows that you cannot run away from this country, but only fly. Or swim. Gherman seems to be opening a real door to the possibilities of a different world beyond the borders. If what he says is true, what does fate have in store? Uchitel's warm and funny meditation on the meaning of freedom and what might lie beyond what is known, won the Best Film Prize at the Moscow Film Festival. (90 mins.)

Filmography: Giselle's Mania (95), His Wife's Diary (00), The Stroll (03).

(NORWAY)
Factotum - Bent Hamer

"An intellectual is a man who says a simple thing in a difficult way. An artist is a man who says a difficult thing in a simple way."—Charles Bukowski. Factotum follows Henry Chinaski (Matt Dillon), as he drifts from job to job, from factory warehouse to shop floor, working for anyone foolish enough to offer him a paycheck. While he has no great desire to work, he needs cash to support his real commitments: drinking, racetrack gambling, hooking up with women (Lily Taylor and Marisa Tomei) as unbridled and inebriated as he is, and writing stories that are continually rejected by publishers. More faithful to the spirit of Charles Bukowski's reportage from the boozed up margins of society than many previous adaptations, Hamer's stylized view of the writer's world is filled with humor and despair. Matt Dillon's, beefed up and bearded, Chinaski is the perfect Bukowskian hero, a complex, deadbeat poet, addressing difficult things in his -simple way. The film's central themes are Bukowski's total commitment to his art (which he writes in longhand) and his insistence upon following a lifestyle of his own choosing, regardless of how seedy it might look to others. (94 mins.)

Filmography: Egg (96), Kitchen Stories (02).

(HUNGARY)
Fateless - Lajos Koltai

Based on Nobel laureate Imre Kertész's moving novel about his life in German concentration camps and his attempts after the war to reconcile his experiences, Koltai's award-winning adaptation is this year's Hungarian submission for the Best Foreign Film Oscar. Gyura, a 14-year-old Jewish boy from Budapest finds himself swept up by cataclysmic events beyond his comprehension and suddenly separated from his family. As a camp inmate, Gyura's existence becomes a surreal adventure in adversity, adaptation and survival. But when he returns home, instead of joy he finds alienation—from both his Christian neighbors, who turned a blind eye to his fate, and to those Jewish friends who avoided deportation and now want to put the war behind them. "Profoundly moving. A genuinely new way of looking at the Holocaust that is markedly different in tone from other such stories including Schindler's List and The Pianist. . . Speaks to the more profound dimension of the human condition."—Variety. (140 mins.)

First Feature.

(BRAZIL)
Favela Rising - Jeff Zimbalist, Matt Mochary

Vigario Gel is known as the Bosnia of Rio's 600 slums (favelas), most of which are controlled by warring drug cartels. The murder of his brother in a police massacre leads a young would-be drug king, Anderson Sá, to ask, "How do I end the violence?" Sá joins with others to create AfroReggae, a group whose pulsing music and dance became the springboard for social change. Through the success of AfroReggae, which marries reggae, soul and hip-hop with politically charged lyrics, Sá and his activist bandmates establish programs in dance, percussion, theater, -literacy and healthcare for youth, offering an alternative to gang involvement. Zimbalist and Mochary's provocative film offers a gripping and uplifting story about a man and a decade-long movement that symbolizes hope and possibility in the midst of poverty and despair. Winner of the Director's Award at the Tribeca Film Festival.(78 mins.)

First Feature.

(GERMANY)
Forest For The Trees - Marie Ade

Ade’s fearless, sensitive film portrays a woman seemingly unable to get out of her own way. Idealistic and bursting with enthusiasm, Melanie says goodbye to her small-town home, loving parents and long-term boyfriend for her first teaching job in the big city. But her new neighbors meet her with bemused apathy. At school, her students are beyond her control, but she has nowhere to turn after alienating her fellow teachers by introducing herself as a “breath of fresh air” and bragging about her revolutionary methods. An attempt to make friends with her chic neighbor backfires when she tries to impose herself on the disinterested woman’s life. Unable to reach out to anyone in her new surroundings or admit defeat and return home, Melanie begins a painful melt down. Ade’s fascinating character study is of someone whose real problem rings with universal truth—she simply, achingly wants to belong, but doesn’t know how. Special Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival.(81 mins.)

First Feature.

(SWITZERLAND )
Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Impassioned Eye - Heinz Butler

When photographer Cartier-Bresson died in 2002, he was celebrated as the "father of photojournalism" and one of the greatest photographers ever. He believed in seizing the decisive moment and editing in camera, producing snapshots that were consistently stunning compositions. Butler's intriguing film focuses primarily on Cartier-Bresson's work from the 1940s through the 1960s, a period when he witnessed key international events like the liberation of Paris and the death of Gandhi. It also spotlights his revealing portraits of a wide range of icons and celebrities, from Marilyn Monroe to Henri Matisse. Although Cartier-Bresson was camera shy himself, the film captures him leafing through his prints and collection of sketches, while offering an intimate portrait that reveals why the peripatetic photographer was such a supremely accomplished artist. (72 mins.)

Selected Filmography: Chartres (91).

(NEW ZEALAND)
In My Father's Den - Brad McGann

Paul, a weary war photographer, returns to his remote New Zealand hometown when his father dies. To his surprise, he also finds the 16-year-old Celia, the daughter of his first girlfriend, who hungers for the world beyond her small town. But many, including the members of both their families, frown upon their relationship and when Celia goes missing, Paul becomes increasingly persecuted as the prime suspect in her disappearance. As the violent and urgent truth gradually emerges, Paul is forced to confront the family tragedy and betrayal he ran from as a youth, and face the grievous consequences of silence and secrecy that have surrounded his entire adult life. Winner of the International Critics' Award at the Toronto Film Festival and this year's New Zealand submission for the Foreign Language Film Oscar, In My Father's Den is a taut, edge-of-the seat drama about the high price of denial. (126 mins.)

First Feature.

(FRANCE)
Innocence - Lucile Hadzihalilovic

This new feature from the partner and -collaborator of provocateur Gaspar Noé (I Stand Alone, Irreversible) is an enigmatic coming-of-age story like no other. Based upon an 1888 short story by the German playwright Frank Wedekind, Innocence is set in a strange (very strange), dreamlike boarding school for young girls. In this unconventional and mysterious fairy tale, the girls are all symbolically dressed in white, forbidden to leave, taught to be pretty and that "obedience is the only path to happiness." If they stray, they either -disappear during the night or are forced to serve the other girls forever. The (two) severe teachers only give lessons in dance, physical education and biology. At the center is a gorgeous six-year-old girl named Iris, who arrives at the school in a coffin via a watery journey. Visually ravishing and aurally eerie, Innocence menacingly conjures a hypnotically unsettling metaphorical tale of entrapment and adolescence. (120 mins.)

Filmography: Parental Guidance (96), Good Boys Use Condoms (98).

(UNITED STATES )
Iraq In Fragments - James Longley

"Even with plentiful news coverage of Iraq, we rarely have an opportunity to hear from ordinary citizens or consider their distinct, complex concerns. A stunning, electric collage of hypnotic sights, evocative sounds, and arresting voices, Iraq in Fragments -listens to diverse points of view in three Iraqi enclaves. In old Baghdad, buildings burn, U.S. tanks patrol, and an 11-year-old mechanic scurries amid the rubble to please his intimidating boss. His vulnerable narration betrays relentless fear about safety and heartbreaking efforts to support his family, while the men around him angrily indict the Americans. Then, guided by a young leader in Moqtada Sadr's Shiite revolutionary movement, we proceed south, where young Shiite men hit the streets to enforce religious laws and stage an anti-U.S. uprising. In the northern Kurdish countryside, where smoke from brick ovens billows ominously, yet gracefully, in the sky, a farmer, grateful to America for eradicating Saddam, ruminates on the future of his family and -people. These indelible, intimate portraits, painted with strikingly beautiful vérité images and poetic visual juxtapositions, humanize characters and illuminate the textures and tensions of a country wrenched by occupation and pulled in disparate directions by religion and ethnicity."—Sundance Film Festival. (92 mins.)

Filmography: Gaza Strip (02).

(IRAN)
Iron Island - Mohammad Rasoulof

Rasoulof’s film is a raucous satire and a biting commentary on the role of Iran’s mullahs. The focus is on a community of impoverished families living aboard an abandoned ship anchored in the Persian Gulf—a tiny independent nation all its own. Nemat, the ship’s resourceful captain, rules the bridge and figures out ways to tax every move anyone makes. There is a school, but no funding for it; and there is employment, but it consists only of stripping old parts from the ship to sell as scrap. An old man stares into the sea in search of revelation, a boy returns any wayward fish to the sea, and the captain’s assistant Ahmad falls for a girl who is about to be sent off in an arranged marriage. Nemat, determined to straighten Ahmad out, designs bloodless punishment. A richly textured film that combines powerful images, vibrant characters and masterful performances. (90 mins.)

Filmography: The Twilight (02).

(GREAT BRITAIN)
Kinky Boots - Julian Jarrold

After his father's sudden demise, mild-mannered Charlie Price finds himself the unlikely heir to his family's Northampton shoe factory. But business is in decline, the market is shrinking, and for a time all seems that the end is near. But into the gloom walks Lola, a sassy cabaret star from London who looks like a cross between Diana Ross and Beyonce and convinces him that there's a market out there he's never considered. With its witty, barbed screenplay, reminiscent of Hollywood screwball classics, its showstopping musical numbers and a tour de force performance by Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kinky Boots offers a delightful, glittering rumination on being who you are and not being afraid to learn from where you least expect it. (107 mins.)

Sponsored by The Hotel Lucia.

First Feature.

(NORWAY )
Kissed By Winter - Sara Johnsen

Johnsen's accomplished debut tells the story of two deaths, one suspicious, the other impossible to accept. Victoria, a successful Stockholm doctor, has abandoned her -hectic life for the solitude of the Norwegian countryside. Haunted by images of her -ailing son back home, calls to Stockholm that are never returned and the blame her husband feels toward her, she buries herself in her work. But things become more difficult when a young immigrant is found dead in the snow and she must tell the boy's parents. At first the police presume the death was accidental, but soon she is enmeshed in an unraveling web of secrets, including her own, that will change her life even more. Johnsen paints a portrait of a small Norwegian town where snowflakes cover everything, easing the burden of unbearable loss and muffling the cry of repressed emotion. This year's Norwegian submission for Best Foreign Language Film(83 mins.).

Sponsored by Peter Corvallis Productions.

First Feature.

(GREAT BRITAIN)
Kz - Rex Bloomstein

"It's very nice to be here," says a tourist surrounded by the beautiful landscape of Upper Austria, where he is visiting the -former Nazi concentration camp of Mauthausen. He wants to go to Auschwitz next. Groups of tourists and school classes are offered Mauthausen as an attraction, but once inside, their facial expressions turn to genuine horror. Down to the most atrocious details, the camp guides tell them what the prisoners went through. Still, this does not prevent some visitors from stealing the shower heads from the gas chambers as a souvenir. How does it feel to work here as a guide, day in, day out? How does it feel to live here as a local with the dark secrets of the past? Stripped of the usual dramatic devices, survivor -testimonies and conventional archival footage, KZ shows present-day Mauthausen and the different generations of people who visit, live and work in a place where thousands upon thousands of people from over 30 nations were tortured and -murdered."—Sundance Film Festival. (97 mins.)

Filmography: The Longest Hatred: The History of Antisemitism (93), Kids Behind Bars (05).

(SOUTH KOREA)
Lady Vengeance - Chan-wook Park

Flamboyant Korean director Chan-wook Park's dazzling new film is an exploration of the spiritual price of vengeance, however justified it might seem. With the cinematic flair that marked sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Oldboy, the first two parts of his cult revenge trilogy, the film follows the -progress of beautiful, impassive Lee Geum-ja (Lee Yeong-Ase) after she's released from prison having served 13 years for the kidnap and murder of a young boy on behalf of her accomplice Mr. Baek. Once on the outside, she hooks up with some former cellmates, a preacher who thinks she's an angel, the detective who originally arrested her and the daughter she gave up for -adoption, to carry out an elaborate plan of revenge. Her target is kindergarten teacher Mr. Baek (Oldboy star Choi Min-Shik), and her weapon(s)-of-choice are unexpected and highly personal. Poised between horror, tragedy, comedy and exploitation, Lady Vengeance provides a cinematically vibrant and psychologically complex journey. (112 mins.)

Filmography: Trio (97), Joint Security Area (00), Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (02), Old boy (03).

(FRANCE)
Live And Become - Radu Milahileanu

Winner of (cheering) Audience Awards at the Berlin, Vancouver and numerous other international film festivals, Live and Become is an epic, emotional story of one boy's chance survival amidst the Ethiopian famine of the mid-1980s. A mother conspires to place her nine-year-old, non-Jewish son with a group of Falashas (Ethiopian Jews) bound for Israel as part of "Operation Moses." Her parting words to her child are that he should never tell anyone his true identity. And so, Shlomo grows up pretending to be both Jewish and an orphan in modern Israel, where he embraces Judaism and Western values, but must also confront cultural divides—black and white, secular and orthodox, war and peace—that compete for the soul of his country. Though he maintains his secret as he comes of age, the tension between his truth and the -reality challenge his deepest fears and the cherished desire to one day freunite with his mother. In French, Hebrew and Aramaic.(140 mins.)

Filmography: Betrayal (93), Train of Life (98).

(AUSTRALIA)
Look Both Ways - Sarah Watt

Not many films successfully mix live action and animation, but Sarah Watt's debut, winner of the Best Film Prize in Australia and the Discovery Award at the Toronto Film Festival does it in charming fashion. A darkly comic and personal take on life, love and death, her story follows seven people over a hot weekend in Adelaide as they deal with unexpected tragedy in their lives. Thrown together by fate, fellow -pessimists Meryl (whose hilariously paranoid visions are beautifully hand-drawn) and Nick find they may actually have a shot at happiness despite all. Meanwhile, Nick's journalist friend deals with his recent divorce and the news that his girlfriend is pregnant. A look at how fragile and surprising life can be despite difficult choices, Watt's intriguing look at happiness and grief reminds how important it is to look both ways. (100 mins.)

First Feature.

(BRAZIL)
Lower City - Sergio Machado

A steamy love triangle set in the low life milieu of Brazil's Salvador del Bahia, Machado's debut film tracks Deco and Naldhino, best friends and co-owners of a small boat, which they use for their illicit dealings and career as petty criminals. On a trip down the river they give a ride to Karinna, a young hooker who they are glad to pay for her services. Neither of them realizes the force of passion, obsession and jealousy they are unleashing, or the consequences it will have for their lifelong friendship. As Karinna vacillates between the two men, the intensity of her encounters becomes more charged, passion and rage threatening to overtake them all. Winner of the Youth Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. (97 mins.)

First Feature.

(DENMARK)
Manderlay - Lars Von Trier

The second installment in Von Trier's inflammatory "USA Trilogy," Manderlay continues heroine Grace's allegorical journey where Dogville left off in the Rockies. After leaving Dogville, Grace (this time played by Bryce Dallas Howard replacing Nicole Kidman), her father, and his collection of gangsters seek a new place to reside. A chance stop in Alabama leads them to the decaying plantation Manderlay, where people are living as if slavery hadn't been abolished seventy years before. Armed with four hench-men and a lawyer, Grace decides that it is her duty to liberate the slaves (Danny Glover and Isaach De Bankolé among others) from their benevolent overseer (Lauren Bacall) and set up a fess society. Grace's father leaves disapprovingly, warning his idealistic daughter that he won't be there to rescue her this time. Continuing with the minimalist, theatrical staging employed for Dogville, Manderlay is a provocative, perceptive meditation on the perils of imperialism and nation building that reminds that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. In English. (139 mins.)

Selected Filmography: The Element of the Crime (84), Zentropa (91), The Kingdom (94), Breaking the Waves (96), Dancer in the Dark (00), Dogville (03).

(SWEDEN )
Max And Joseph: Double Trouble - Erik Leijonborg

Adored all his life, eight-year-old Max happily anticipates becoming the big brother of a new baby boy. When that boy is born a girl, his hopes are dashed. Feeling invisible to his parents and displaced by his mewling baby sister, Max takes bad advice from Josef, a devious and chatty talking turtle who convinces the boy that he may soon be on sale at the Kid Store. One seriocomical misunderstanding follows another, as Max falls under the spell of Josef's subversive, self-serving interpretations of Max's parents' innocent but clumsy actions. Sweden's first foray into live action with a computer-generated character, the motor-mouthed Josef makes a dubious yet strangely endearing companion for Max, and their relationship illuminates believable and humorous responses to the age-old dilemma of sibling rivalry. (82 mins.)

First Feature.

(FRANCE)
Merry Christmas - Christian Carion

Carrion has fashioned a moving retelling of a story that has become legendary as a symbol of shared humanity in the face of war. When fighting broke out in Europe in 1914, nationalist fervor pulled millions of willing conscripts enthused to settle old scores. But the fun of quickly won battles soon gave way to the realization that the war might take years. Instead of celebrating victory, troops on all sides found themselves in trenches, ill-prepared for a bitter winter stalemate. And then, on Christmas Eve, something momentous happened. With rifles left in trenches and candles in hand, weary troops from the Scottish, German and French fronts met their enemy in the battlefield to shake hands, share cigarettes, swap pictures of wives and girlfriends, and wish each other a Merry Christmas. This year's French submission for the Best Foreign Film Oscar, Merry Christmas is a sweeping, heartfelt story filled with richly drawn characters from all sides who, trapped in a horrific war they don't really understand, give in to human feeling. (116 mins.)

Sponsored by Higgins.

Filmography: The Girl From Paris (01).

(CHINA)
Mongolian Ping Pong - Hao Ning

Mongolian Ping Pong is a love-letter to Mongolia and an engaging account of the moment when a young boy's mind suddenly opens to a world beyond the one he knows. To most, an ordinary ping-pong ball would be nothing remarkable, but the discovery of this mysterious object in the vast Mongolian steppes becomes the epicenter of a life-changing expedition for nine-year-old Bilike. Sheltered within the timeless traditions of his people's nomadic existence, Bilike and pals begin a quest to solve the ball's mystery, consulting with his grandmother, who believes the ball to be "a glowing pearl from heaven," and the wise Lamas, who haven't the faintest idea, before finally discovering that they have just found the "national ball of China," a misinterpreted bit of information leading to the journey of a lifetime. As much as the story, Hao Ning is interested in ethno-graphy, the spectacular landscape and how folklore, technology and imagination affect a nomadic way of life. (102 mins.)

Sponsored by American Airlines.

First Feature.

(FINLAND)
Mother Of Mine - Klaus Härö

This year's Finnish submission for the Best Foreign Film Oscar, Klaus Härö's heartwrenching Mother of Mine recounts a momentous chapter in Finnish history when, during World War II, 80,000 children were sent to neighboring countries for their protection. Alienated and unfamiliar with the language, these young refugees were forced to live through the war without their parents and with little news from home. Told in flashback, the story focuses on Eero, who is sent to rural Sweden by his mother following the death of her -husband. Eero finds that his new family doesn't exactly welcome him and that the kids at his school think he's weird. What's more, he only gets the letters from his family that his new mother feels are appropriate, leaving him emotionally confused about his abandonment and where and to whom he really belongs. (111 mins.)

Filmography: Three Wishes (01), Elina (02).

(UNITED STATES )
Mutual Appreciation - Andrew Bujalski

With clever nods to Richard Linklater, Any Warhol and John Cassavetes, Bujalski’s second feature is a lo-fi, black and white, comically laid-back film with spontaneity, charm and uncanny realism. Alan, a young singer-songwriter, is looking for something. He’s a slacker on a -mission. Maybe it’s to be in the “Cool Inclusive People’s Club,” maybe it’s to sleep with his best friend’s girlfriend, or maybe it’s just to find a drummer for his upcoming show. Whatever it may be, as in his earlier cult favorite Funny Ha Ha, Bujalski sucks us into his world of quirky yet familiar people whose awkward everyday existence, full of comically uncomfortable and plain old ordinary moments, somehow become addicting. As you watch, you almost feel you could step into a scene without missing a beat. (110 mins.)

Filmography: Funny Ha Ha (03).

(POLAND)
My Nikifor - Krzysztof Krauze

Winner of the Best Film Prize at the Chicago Film Festival and Best Director Award at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, My Nikifor tells the true story of one of Poland's most enigmatic artists. In Kryciny in 1960, while state-employed painter Marian Wlosinski is busily organizing a folk art festival for the Communist Party, a disheveled beggar barges into his studio and declares, "You can't paint." The intruder, Nikifor, is a self-styled street -artist whose passion and torment drove him to create over 40,000 works of art in his lifetime. Krauze's film recounts Wlosinski's budding relationship with this ailing genius, as his initial irritation evolves into perpetual charity and good will. With a stunning cross-gender performance by Krystyna Feldmann, My Nikifor is a testament to all forms of faith and devotion. (100 mins.)

Filmography: Street Games (96).

(UNITED STATES )
Neil Young: Heart Of Gold - Jonathan Demme

Demme's "Stop Making Sense" remains one of the great music perfomance films. Here Demme has made another as he captures Neil Young in a natural, intimate fashion in concert at the famed Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Filmed during a challenging point in the singer's career after intense medical care, Heart of Gold exudes a -palpable energy of renewal and urgency. A mix of brand-new material from his recent "Prairie Wind" recording, with older standouts, the songs transcend the screen, as does Young himself­especially inspired when joined by longtime bandmates, friends, and collaborators including Emmylou Harris, wife Pegi Young and band leader/steel guitarist Ben Keith. Intoxicating and essential if you are a Neil Young fan, and more so if you appreciate the mutual creativity of two masters -collaborating to get it just right.(103 mins.)

Sponsored by Red Door Films.

Selected Filmography: Stop Making Sense (84), Storefront Hitchcock (91), Silence of the Lambs (92), Philadelphia (93), The Agronomist (03).

(MEXICO)
News From Afar - Ricardo Benet

Told through a visceral mosaic of remembrances, Beto recounts his family's move to the Mexican highland to join a small community hoping to find a better life outside the city. At seven he goes to work with his father at the brick-making factory, but by the time he is a teenager the community has fallen on hard times. His mother and father have both been destroyed by the accidental death of their youngest son and painful family friction. In search of somehow helping his impoverished family, Martin heads off an ill-fated trip to Mexico City. Failing to make a living there, he is forced to return, only to find that things have only gotten worse. The promise of California, just over the border, ensures that history will repeat itself once more. "Ultra-realistic, unorthodox in its storytelling, effortlessly suspenseful and oft-times shocking. . . marks the auspicious debut of a strong Mexican filmmaking talent."—Variety. (120 mins.)

First Feature.

After the opening night screenings join us for champagne and desserts in the Fields Ballroom at the Portland Art Museum's newly rennovated Mark Building at 1119 SW Park Avenue.
(INDIA)
Paheli (The Riddle) - Amol Palekar

A wedding party on its way home stops to rest under a banyan tree, home to an enterprising ghost. The bride lifts her veil and the ghost falls in love with her. Soon after they arrive, the groom, more interested in money than love, decides to leave on a business trip that will last five years. On his way, he passes under the tree again, and the ghost, surprised and curious, takes on the guise of a man to find out his destination. Learning he is leaving, the ghost takes the form of the husband and goes to the village to confess his love. The bride accepts her ghostly lover and all is well until her pregnancy brings the return of her husband, who along with the village is a bit confused. How this situation gets resolved is the Paheli, "the riddle." Based on the novel by Vijayadan Detha, this exuberant and charming folktale, set in an exotic Rajasthan of vibrant dances and camel races, is this year's Indian submission for the Best Foreign Film Oscar. (141 mins.)

Sponsored by The Westin Portland.

Filmography: Misbegotten (81), The Unsaid (85), The Village Has No Walls (95), The Square Circle (96), The Raw Mango (00), Eternity (03).

(UNITED STATES )
Plagues And Pleasures On The Salton Sea - Chris Metzler, Jeff Springer

Narrated by filmmaker and camp hero John Waters, Metzler and Springer's entertaining film provides a kitsch kaleidoscope view of what was pitched to '50s America as the new Palm Springs and the place to buy holiday homes. Once filled with boats and splashing children, the "Rivera of the West" the remaining lake is now virtually abandoned and has a salt content that leaves thousands of dead fish heaped up on the beach. Though it may be an ecological disaster, strange life thrives in the form of some weird and wonderful characters who give us a peek at true Americana. Such colorful people as 'Hunky Daddy'—the self-appointed mayor of Bombay Beach—and other eccentric desert rats, along with an undying breed of land speculators, keep the faith in the desert landscape of holiday's paradise lost. (76 mins.)

First Feature.

(IRAQ)
Requiem Of Snow - Jamil Rostami

In an ancient village perched on a hillside in northern Kurdish Iraq, the inhabitants pray for rain. The land is parched from the long drought and hope for better days is everyone's central concern. Teenager Rojan is engaged to Jian, who's working abroad to earn money for their marriage. But despite the fact that Jian is expected to return shortly, Rojan's stern father, nearly bankrupt as a result of the drought, demands Rojan marry wealthy local entrepreneur more than twice her age. Rostami's dark fairy tale provides a fable of how rebellion intersects with a traditional and harsh life, and how a modern generation of women can upset traditional male rules. This year's Iraqi (its first ever) submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. (91 mins.)

First Feature.

(ARGENTINA)
Rolling Family - Pablo Trapero

Partly autobiographical, Trapero's sprawling road movie provides an affectionate portrait of a colorful Argentine family and the forces that drive it. When grandmother Emilia, about to turn 84, is invited to a niece's wedding, she gathers four generations of other family members—sons, daughters, aunts, uncles and cousins—into the family's dilapidated camper for an eventful journey from Buenos Aires to Misiones, on the Brazil-Argentina border. Along the way, old passions and enmities are reignited, emotional and mechanical mishaps abound and memories are imprinted that will last a lifetime. Tapero's family journey is also one through landscapes and folkways, his keen eyes gently observing his country's socioeconomic strata, the flavor of his culture and the faces of his countrymen. "Deliciously -gentle, telling humour . . . which often feels like Altman at his most gleefully wayward and witty. . . A film of subtlety and wisdom."—Time Out London. (103 mins.)

Filmography: Crane World (99), El Bonaerense (03).

(RUSSIA)
Roots - Pavel Lungin

Edic is a smooth-talking grifter who devises a grand money-making scheme in a backwater Ukrainian town. With the eyes-closed support of the local authorities, who he convinces will profit from future foreign investment and tourism, he casts the citizens of Golutvin as the lost relatives of Jewish tourists seeking old country -connection. In this bawdy, dark comedy, director Pavel Lungin takes us on a heritage tour run amok. The intrigue of the story is that despite the absurdity, many people find what they are actually looking for. “Roots is a touching and sincere story about people’s fates. It is a tragical comedy, just like our life.”—Pavel Lungin. (107 mins.)

Filmography: Taxi Blues (90), Wedding (00), Tycoon (02).

(Various)
Short Cuts 1 - Various

AT THE QUINTE HOTEL—Bruce Alcock, Canada—Alcock’s rollicking interpretation of the well-known poem by Al Purdy uses almost every animation technique in the book. —(4 mins.);THE ACT—Susan Kraker, Pi Ware, United States—Rosy Marconi (Debra Jo Rupp from —“That 70s Show”) is a stand-up comedian with a secret. (9 mins.);MY DAD IS 100 YEARS OLD—Guy Maddin, Canada—Isabella Rossellini remembers her father Roberto—a love letter of nostalgic reflection told with her poignant words and Maddin’s singular visual panache. (16 mins.);JELLY BABY—Rob Burke, Ireland—Jack and Jill had a great relationship. Then they had a baby. (11 mins.);THROUGH MY THICK GLASSES—Pjotr Sapegin, Norway/Canada—Grandpa tells his granddaughter about when he was a boy in the war. (13 mins.);HIBERNATION—John Williams, Great Britain —Two children in a tree house perform top secret experiments. But even science can’t help them make sense of the loss of their best friend. (15 mins.);RAIN IS FALLING—Holger Ernst, Germany—Far away in a foreign and apparently -merciless world, a little girl struggles to carry water to her sick mother in pots —that are far too heavy for her. (15 mins.);DYING OF LOVE—Gil Alkabetz, Germany—While their owner is having his siesta, —two elderly caged parrots rake up -memories from the past, with unexpected consequences for the three of them. (14 mins.);FLUENT DYSPHASIA—Daniel O’Hara, Ireland—Murph wakes up one day mysteriously speaking perfect Irish which he never could before but can’t speak English. There’s nothing funny about fluent -dysphasia. . . (16 mins.);Total program running time: 113 mins.

Various

(Various)
Short Cuts 2 - Various

THE FAN & THE FLOWER—Bill Plympton, United States—An ill-fated and unconsummated romance between a fan and a flower magically -creates a fairy tale ending. (7 mins.);TAMA TU (SONS OF WAR)—Taika Waititi, New Zealand—Six Maori Battalion soldiers wait for night to fall in the ruins of a ruined Italian home. Even at war. . . boys will be boys. (18 mins.);DRIVERS ED—Thom Harp, United States—Poor Katherine has taken and failed her drivers test four times. If she could only keep her mind on her driving. (11 mins.);TORTE BLUMA—Benjamin Ross, Great Britain—The fine line between compassion and —evil is depicted in the complex relationship between a servile prisoner and a Commander (Stellan Skarsgård) of the Treblinka concentration camp. (18 mins.);MILK—Peter Mackie Burns, Scotland—A secretive young woman must bathe —her estranged grandmother. Things are awkward between them until a small -stalker makes himself known. (10 mins.);OH MY GOD—John Bryant, United States—Oh My God, how did that happen? (10 mins.);ONE MINUTE PAST MIDNIGHT—Celia Galan Julve, Great Britain—The years go by without change for Robert until he discovers that the woman of his dreams works the day shift. (11 mins.);OUR TIME IS UP—Rob Pearlstein, United States—Therapist Dr. Leonard Stern has always treated his patients gently and sympathetically—until he discovers he has six weeks to live. Now it’s time for brutal honesty. (15 mins.);BIRTHDAY BOY—Sejong Park, Australia—In this multi-award-winning 3D animation set during the Korean War, little Manuk dreams about his father, a soldier on the front. (9 mins.);Total program running time: 109 mins.

Various

(Various)
Short Cuts 3: Animated Worlds - Various

SHORT CUTS III:—ANIMATED WORLDS—Portland has long been recognized internationally as one of the world’s most creative animation -communities. Following up on a similar program the Northwest Film Center assembled in the 1990s, we are pleased to present Animated Worlds, a touring program featuring more recent works by Portland artists. Following the Festival premier, Animated Worlds will be screen throughout the country, -celebrating our present community and hopefully inspiring the next generation of talent. Support —for Animated Worlds has been provided by Laika Entertainment and the Oregon Cultural Trust: WINTER Andy Collen—In this touching hand-drawn piece, a girl searches for a gift for her ailing mother. —(6 mins);BASTARD WANTS TO HIT ME—Courtney Booker, Aaron Sorenson—Harking back to the style of Tex Avery, this music video for They Might Be Giants is a piece of film art in its own right. (2 mins);MOON GIRL—Henry Selick—A fairy tale about where moonlight really comes from, protected from monsters that want to snuff it out by its steward, the Moon Girl. (9 mins);INSECT POETRY—Marilyn Zornado—Tucked quietly away in the corner of a writer’s study, the Insect Literacy Society convenes to share poems written by a few of its members. Zornado’s stop-motion insect puppets and elaborate sets to shed new perspective on the coffeehouse crowd. (6 mins);THOUGHT BUBBLE—Billy Greene—The lonely exploits of a man living on the streets, in a city made of paper, comes alive in clay animation and hand-drawn fantasy sequences. (5 mins);JOE BLOW—Mark Gustafson—In this marriage of stop-motion and -computer-generated animation, Poor Joe puts his all into making his first date a perfect evening, only to have the effort of seduction get the better of him. (4-1/2 mins);DEW LINE—Joanna Priestley—Priestley’s playful eye takes us on a tour through the cycle of life and death as cells split apart, regenerate and dance a microbiological twist. (4-1/2 mins);TERMINATOR TOMATOES—Suzanne Twining—A farmer gets too involved with a chemical corporation’s idea of a tomato in this stop-motion cautionary tale of genetic engineering. (6 mins);—MAGDA—Chel White—Animated entirely with mannequins, White’s enchanting film recounts a love affair between a contortionist and her devoted fan turned sour by greed. (5 mins);ANANDA—Mike Smith—Dali meets Bollywood in this surreal fantasy of a man wandering through the bleak industrial wasteland where a magical childhood memory ignites a joyous wish. (5-1/2 mins);DOWAGER’S IDYLL —Joan Gratz—In Oscar-winning animator Joan Gratz’s “clay painting,” powerful, abstract images swirl to the music of Portland’s 3 Leg Torso. (5 mins);HIKE KIKE HIKE—Anouck Iyer—Iyer’s deft hand makes each line dance —in this depiction of the life of sled dogs. —(3 mins);DROWNING BOY—Zak Margolis—“Jesus, how am I supposed to know how —to be an adult,” asks Margolis in his —nihilistic diaristic essay describing his lonely existence. (16 mins);DIA DE LOS MUERTOS—Kirk Kelley—Kelley’s homage to the animation style —of Ray Harryhausen portrays the eclectic mix of cultures and spiritual influences that combine to make Mexico’s Day of the Dead both a religious festival and an all-night party for the dead and the living. —(7 mins);THE TASSELED LOAFERS—Jim Blashfield—An unwitting repairman, transfixed by strangely mesmerizing images from a -mysterious film projector (and the attendant discovery of some particularly alluring footwear) is ensnared in a droll comedy —of obligation and desire. (11 mins);Total program running time 90 mins.

Various

(Various)
Short Cuts 4:Parallax Views (Cinema Projects Presents) - Various

PARALLAX VIEWS —A program of recent avant-garde films curated by the Cinema Project: THINGS WE WANT TO SEE—Rebecca Meyers—An introspective work that obliquely -measures the fragility of life against boundless forces of nature, such as Alaskan ice floes, the Aurora Borealis and magnetic storms. (6 mins.);THE SPACE BETWEEN—Karen Mirza, Brad Butler, United States—Constantly fluctuating between -object-—representation and surface abstraction, repetition of the film image does not bring clarity nor is it meant to. Rather the viewer works through and against the film with the filmmakers. . . so to speak. (12 mins.);MARKET STREET—Tomonari Nishikawa, United States—Single frame portraits of Market Street in San Francisco create rhythmic compositions in time. (5 mins.);LOS CAUDALES —Timoleon Wilkins, United States—A study of an undulating chiaroscuro of -rivers, creeks and shorelines in black, white, and silver. Violence counters serenity: clouds, deserts, and waterways teem with an encyclopedia of light. (17 mins.);NOEL­THE OBITUARY PROJECT—Hope Tucker, United States—Outside the realm of the obituary, a songwriter's identity remains as unfamiliar as his motives for penning a familiar (and possibly didactic) holiday standard. (5 mins.);BOCAS DE CENZIA—Juan Manuel Echavarría, Colombia—A sequence of seven songs, each written and sung by an individual who has -experienced violence and destruction —in their native Colombia. (18 mins.);CURIOUS ABOUT EXISTENCE—Emily vey Duke, Cooper Battersby, Canada —An episodic journey through the "spiritual and material world and its inhabitants" including otters talking about Nietzsche, devotional songs, and reflections on -entropy. (11 mins.);UNTITLED (FOR DAVID GATTEN) —Mark Lapore, Phil Solomon, United States —"Mark and I made this film for our friend David Gatten, as a prayer, an offering, a "get well soon" card. . . for all three of us. —It was made on the last night that I saw Mark, my best friend of 32 years."—P.S. —(5 mins.);Total program running time 80 mins

Various

(Various)
Short Cuts 5:made In Portland - Various

Short Cuts V:—Made in Portland—Creative juices are flowing in Portland as this sampling of recent works made here reveals: DARLING DARLING —Matthew Lessner—The only thing more nerve-wracking than meeting your date's family right before the prom, is meeting the Darling family right before the prom. This surreal, David Lynch-inspired short features the improvisational talents of Arrested Developments' Michael Cerra. (13 mins.);THE LEEWARD TIDE—Brett Eichenberger—An old fisherman finds a message in a -bottle that draws him into a mystical conversation with his past and a chance to reconcile love lost in this lushly photographed period piece set on the Oregon coast. (15 mins.);AGUA —Enie Vaisburd—Vaisburd takes a look at our most precious resource, examining it's ability to both preserve and endanger life by layering footage of the sea with text from escape legend Harry Houdini. (6 mins.);CASCADIA TERMINAL #1—Vanessa Renwick—Renwick turns her eye towards a grain -terminal in Vancouver, using degraded film to remind us of the rich history —of a port. (6 mins.);DANDELION—Grace Carter, Holly Andres—A stream of consciousness tour through the filmmakers' memories of the loss —of their mothers. Without jerking tears —or manipulating emotions, Andres and Carter discuss the small heartbreaking moments that define their grief. (8 mins.);MOON GIRL—Henry Selick—A fairy tale about where moonlight really comes from, protected from monsters that want to snuff it out by its steward, the Moon Girl. (9 mins.);HELLO, THANKS Andrew Blubaugh—Weaving interviews and off the cuff -commentary with re-enactments and text, Blubaugh recounts his year in the personal ads looking for love, but having his true love affair with the words themselves. —(8 mins.);LOSING LUSK —Vance Malone—A short, experimental documentary that comments on the notion of big box retailers, globalization, and the death of rural -communities. The film questions the implications of this fundamental shift and hints that if these changes continue unchecked, the social landscape in rural America could be irrevocably altered. —(7 mins.);(GONE) ONE MOMENT —TO THE NEXT —Morgan Hobart —The natural world collides with white noise stereo modulations in this eerie, enigmatic experiment. "Things are -coming to a head." (7 mins.) Total program running time 79 mins.

Various

(Various)
Short Cuts 6: YOUNG PEOPLE'S FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL - Various

FREE SCREENING - No Tickets Necessary. Last July's Young People's Film & Video Festival was the Northwest Film Center's 29th annual celebration of work created by youth grades K-12 living in the Northwest. Join us for an encore screening of the Winners Program and see where —the next generation of media makers is coming from. The program includes: —A Polka Dot Day!, Students of Carrie Caramella, Redmond, OR; Carpe Diem, Laneia Seumalo, Portland; Change, Beejan Iranshad, Beaverton; Dinosaur, Kyle Brown, Portland; DNA (Do Not Assume, Our Stories), Students of Jefferson High School/Oregon Partnership/NW Film Center Portland; Doginoes, Sophia Federighi, Seattle; Ecstasy Burnout, Students of Sunset High School, Beaverton; Knowledge, Michael Griffen, Portland; La vista de La Virgen de Guadalupe a la Santa Cruz/The Sight of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the Holy Cross, Roosevelt High School Campus Portland; My Life (x5), —P:ear/New Avenues for Youth, NW Film Center, Portland; Puppet Panic, Jay Morton, Vancouver, WA; Ruff Day, Kathleen Darby, Portland; Saving The Raindrop, Sean Riley, Portland; Tc4, Kyle Dayley, Seattle, WA; The Ball, Daniel Gardner & Zackary Mori, Brier, WA; The Piano, Michael Dearborn, Portland; The Promotion, Rob McGuire-Dale, Portland; Unboxed, Reel Grrls, Seattle, WA; Vacation, Keegan Brown, Portland. Total program running time 78 mins.——

Various

(GREAT BRITAIN)
Sisters In Law - Kim Longinotto, Florence Ayisi

In the little town of Kumba, Cameroon, resolute prosecutor Vera Ngassa and Court President Beatrice Ntuba are inspiring in their tireless efforts to stand up for the downtrodden victims of family abuse. Six-year-old Manka is covered in scars, and has run away from an abusive aunt; Amina is seeking a divorce to put an end to brutal beatings by her husband and -pre-teen Sonita has daringly accused her neighbor of rape. In a culture where women have been systematically silenced and the balance of power has often been abused by men, they fight a brave battle made possible by their joyous support for one another. Longinotto and Avisi's uplifting portrait of true sisterhood is "Upbeat and watchable. . . makes the point that there is more to Africa than poverty, misery and injustice."—Variety. (108 mins.)

Filmography: Runaway (01), The Day I Will Never Forget (02).

(CZECH REPUBLIC)
Skrítek - Tomás Vorel

"Folk tale meets silent film in the wordless but eventful doings involving a Czech -family and the meat-packing plant where dad works (and cheats on mom). Debt to Buster Keaton and silent comedy is delightfully high, with everything run through a filter of central-Euro absurdism—fun for the whole dysfunctional family. Everything revolves around a big abattoir and packing house, where burly papa sniffs around the local bleach-blonde trollop while his aging wife tries desperately to keep his flagging interest. Their skateboard-punk offspring defaces the plant while his little sister is followed by the long-nosed troublemaking title creature (closest English word is "imp") who bathes everything he touches in a garish, neon-colored glow. Use of gibberish to underline what's being mimed suggests nostalgia for Zagreb-style animation, back when surreal cartoons were tailored to fit all tastes behind the Iron Curtain. Czechophile fun."—Variety. (87 mins.)

Filmography: Smoke (91), Stone Bridge (91), Out of the City (00), Way Out (02).

(IRAN)
So Close, So Far - Seyyed Reza Mirkarimi

Mirkarimi's moving film, part male -melodrama, part road movie, develops into a fable of renewal and transformation that can be read as either religious parable or existential allegory. A wealthy and arrogant neurologist is forced to examine the meaning of his life when his teenaged son, whom he has long taken for granted, is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Accustomed to being in control, the doctor sets out to bend the future to his will. But a trek through the desert in pursuit of the boy, away on an astronomy project and unaware of the diagnosis, he meets people who challenge his very limited view of the world and finds himself at the mercy of nature and the unseen hand of fate. This year's Iranian submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.(121 mins.)

Filmography: The Child and the Soldier (00), Under the Moonlight (01).

(GERMANY)
Sophie Scholl—The Final Days - Marc Rothemund

In 1942, Sophie and Hans Scholl were -students at the University of Munich when their group of friends, sharing a love of the arts and a passion for philosophy and theology, formed the underground anti-Nazi group the White Rose. In what began with idealistic, if naive, determination, they decided to resist the government by distributing leaflets advocating passive resistance. Their actions resulted in their arrest, interrogation and trial. Rothemund's film focuses on a psychological war of will and determination in which Sophie (Julia Jentsch, The Educators) spars, unapologetic and defiant, first with her Gestapo inter-rogator and later with the show-trial's judge. Drawing from recently released transcripts of these sessions, Sophie Scholl offers an impassioned and unforgettable experience. Winner of the Best Director and Best Actress Prizes at the Berlin Film Festival.(117 mins.)

Sponsored by American Airlines.

Filmography: A Girl Called Rosemary (96).

(SPAIN )
Tapas - José Corbacho, Juan Cruz

The winner of the Palmares Award at the Málaga Film Festical, Tapas is a dramatic comedy that intertwines five stories that take place in a typical Barcelona neighborhood, L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, home to the directors. The hope and sadness felt by Raquel, a beautiful middle aged woman who experiences love over the internet; the fear of loneliness felt by Mariano and Conchi, two retired -people; the uncertain future of Cesar and Opo, two young super-market clerks who are organizing their holiday; and Lolo who discovers that there is another world beyond his tapas bar, thanks to his relationship with Mao, his new Chinese cook, an expert in making delicious tapas. Their stories of love, desperation and tolerance take us through a picturesque neighborhood alive with tenderness, laughter, and events of everyday life . . . including great Catalonian food. (94 mins.)

First Feature.

(UNITED STATES )
The Boys Of Baraka - Heidi Ewing, Rachael Grady

A moving coming-of-age story, The Boys of Baraka follows a group of twenty 12-year-old boys from the most violent ghettos of Baltimore who are chosen to attend an experimental boarding school in Kenya. Many have developed emotional problems and violent tendencies as a result of coming from broken homes or being raised by parents with drug addictions or criminal records. Removed from these influences, the school presents a strict academic and disciplinary program that allows them to face their issues and begin the journey toward putting their lives on the right track. Shot over the course of three years, the film captures the intensity and determination of a group of children who carry several disadvantages, but refuse to be cast off as "throwaways." The result is a sensitive, intelligent, enlightening, and sometimes surprising chronicle. (85 mins.)

First Feature.

(COLOMBIA)
The Car - Luis Orjuela

One of Colombia' biggest box office hits, The Car follows the travails of the Velez's, a typical middle-class family from Bogotá, as they buy their first car in an attempt to move up the local social ladder. After the father accidentally gives away a winning lottery ticket for a new car to the neighbors, he decides to save face and buy their neighbor's old car—a 1950s cherry red Chevy convertible—spending their entire nest egg. This classic symbol of power, wealth, modernity and mobility provides the subject of a delightfully funny satire and warm coming-of-age (or, more accurately, coming-of-car) tale. "Winning, consistently funny comedy, El Carro is driven by unusually sharp helming from newcomer Luis Orjuela, and a dynamite ensemble cast."—Ronnie Scheib, Variety. (93 mins.)

First Feature.

(BELGIUM)
The Child (l'enfant) - Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne

Winner of the Palme d'Or (Best Film) at the Cannes Film Festival, the Dardenne Brother's achingly beautiful film tells the story of 20-year-old Bruno, living on the margins with his nominal girlfriend Sonia, 18, and their new baby Jimmy. The always scheming Bruno makes a living pulling minor heists. One day, strapped for cash, he decides to sell Jimmy on the black market, an act with life changing consequences. "We'll have another one," he tells a shocked Sonia. Bruno's quick, painful transition to adulthood—he is the child of the story—is told through an ingenious mixture of dramatic compression in a harrowingly real time that unfolds through swift action. Alternately heartbreaking and uplifting, we not only see but feel the redemption of a human being. This year's Belgian submission for Best Foreign Language Film (100 mins.).

Filmography: I Think of You (92), La Promesse (96), Rosetta (99), The Son (02).

(ROMANIA)
The Death Of Mr. Lazarescu - Cristi Puiu

Both sad and darkly funny, Mr. Lazarescu chronicles the last night of a 63-year-old widower who lives alone in his disheveled apartment with his three cats. Suffering from pains in his head and his stomach, he calls for an ambulance, and asks his neighbors for advice and pills. They try to help in between told-you-so disapproval of his drinking and general neglect of his health. Finally the medics arrive, the beginning of a Dantesque journey deep into the bowels of a big city medical -establishment. As the night wears on, Mr. Lazarescu is shuttled from hospital to hospital, ward to ward, growing ever -wearier and weaker in the face of the casual inefficiency of the medical bureaucracy. Told in almost real time, the sardonic story unfolds at a pace that gives the viewer time to feel everything from irony to pity to anger to frustration to powerlessness to hope as Mr. Lazarescu awaits his fate. ". . . grips like an Arthur Miller play. . . It won the Prix Un Certain Regard at Cannes this year . . . and ranks with the films of the Dardennes (La Promesse, The Child) among the great works of cinematic humanism of our time."—Sight & Sound. (154 mins.)

Filmography: Stuff and Dough (02).

(UNITED STATES )
The Devil And Daniel Johnston - Jeff Feuerzeig

Winner of the Director Award for Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, Feuerzeig captures the soul of a troubled artist. According to Kurt Cobain, Daniel Johnston was the greatest songwriter on earth. Musician, cult outsider-artist and manic-depressive, Daniel Johnston's wild behavioral fluctuations, downward-spirals and delusions of grandeur have ensured that he remains an enigma to the music industry, but to others he is simply an unrewarded genius. As a reclusive teenager, Johnston showed signs of unusual artistic ability, creating intuitive Super-8 films and expressive comic-book-style drawings in the basement of his family home. After falling out with his fundamentalist Christian family, he literally ran off to join a carnival, before landing in Austin, Texas, broke and alone. It was here that he began to hone his musical career and his primitive, poetic songs. But just as he was making a name for himself locally, Johnston's inner demons began to take hold. Featuring interviews with Johnston and those closest to him—as well as amazing concert and home Super-8 footage—Feuerzig's film is a haunting portrait of an unusual talent. (94 mins.)

Sponsored by Music Millennium.

Filmography: Jon Hendricks: The Freddie Sessions (90), Half Japanese: The Band Who Would Be King (93).

(SWITZERLAND)
The Giant Buddhas - Christian Frei

In February 2001, before the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Taliban issued a decree calling for the destruction of all non-Islamic-related statues in Afghanistan. Despite resounding outrage from the international community, the world lost two of its most magnificent landmarks. A pair of enormous stone Buddhas, hewn from the side of a cliff in the Bamiyan Valley more than 1,600 years ago, were blown to bits by Islamic fundamentalists. With the destruction of the giant Buddhas as his springboard, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Christian Frei (War Photographer) has crafted a luminous cinematic tapestry that entwines multiple narrative threads that reveal the consequences of religious fanaticism, expose the hypocrisy of global indignation, explore the mystery of archeology and retrace the footsteps of many, including those of Xuanzang, the 7th century Chinese monk famed for his 16-year spiritual quest along the Silk Road. The Giant Buddhas is a -striking essay about terrorism and tolerance, ignorance and identity, fanaticism and faith. (95 mins.)

Filmography: Ricardo, Miriam y Fidel (97), Kluge Köpfe (98), "Bollywood" im Alpenrausch (00), War Photographer (01).

(UNITED STATES)
The Heart Of The Game - Ward Serrill

Filmed over the course of six years, this emotional rollercoaster of a story will get your heart pumping and your mind reeling at the power and inspiration a mentor can have on focusing young lives. When college tax-law professor Bill Resler became the coach of the girl's baskeball team at Seattle's Roosevelt High School, no one had any idea what would lie in store. But his unorthodox style of celebrating each girl's individual style and spirit, coupled with the ability to bond his charges, made them champions on and off the court. Over the course of the film we come to know the girls and their families and their ups and downs. In particular Darnelia, a tough inner-city girl who transfers to the school in the third year, takes the team to new heights while posing a special challenge to both herself, her coach and her team. Intent on being the first in her family to make it to college, her battle, despite being supremely gifted, is not easy in the complex matrix of sports and race. Reminiscent in many ways of Hoop Dreams, but in this case focusing on the elements of individual success rather than impossibility of overcoming societal failure or exploitation, Heart of the Game is a dramatic story of how one man's lessons of self-esteem, confidence and compassion play in the game of life. (102 mins.)

Sponsored by Alaska Airlines.

First Feature.

(JAPAN)
The Hidden Blade - Yôji Yamada

Tragedy, farce, and humanity converge in this beautiful historical drama, the second part (following Twilight Samurai) of director Yamada's Samurai trilogy, a gorgeously shot reflection on the twilight of feudal, Edo-era Japan. The story follows a low-level samurai—who has never drawn his sword in anger—forced to put down a rebellion and fight a friend to the death. Befuddled by the unwieldy new firearms he must adopt in his rapidly changing world, Munezo (Masatoshi Nagase) also faces pressure from his clan to marry. But his heart belongs to the former maidservant he rescues from an abusive marriage, and as she settles again into his household, -disapproval spreads because of her lower caste status. More concerned with Munezo's internal battles to lead an honorable life than swordplay, nonetheless, the climactic duel comes. (132 mins.)

Sponsored by 5th Avenue Suites.

Selected Filmography: Tora's Tropical Fever (80), My Sons (91), Gakko III: The New Voyage (98), The Twilight Samurai (02).

(UNITED STATES )
The Notorious Bettie Page - Marry Harron

Gretchen Mol turns in a dazzling performance—exuberant, innocent and sexy, all at the same time—as 1950s pin-up icon Bettie Page, the dark-haired beauty who ended up posing in the nude with a whip. Eschewing the psychological or trying to draw conclusions, moral or otherwise, the story follows Page from her childhood in Nashville to New York, where a career in fashion modeling leads to nude -photography, sado-masochistic fetish pics and stardom as America's first celebrity bondage model. Gorgeously shot in black and white, Harron's, occasionally very funny film captures an era and a figure whose odd mix of sweet innocence and darker, mysterious undercurrents, remain a fascinating enigma. (100 mins.)

Filmography: I Shot Andy Warhol (96), American Psycho (00).

(SOUTH KOREA )
The President's Last Bang - Sang-soo Im

"Bursting with the subversive glee of Dr. Strangelove or The Manchurian Candidate, Sang-soo Im's scabrous black comedy/thriller turns a raucous eye on recent South Korean history: the 1979 assassination of dictatorial president Gen. Park Chung-hee by the head of his secret service. Im is a natural-born troublemaker who's not shy about being irreverent toward this defining event in the creation of a democratic South Korea. He gives it a wild spin, conjuring a world populated by self-loathing functionaries, good-time girls (and their difficult mothers), cynical KCIA agents, and politicians who womanize as if every bang is their last. The film provoked enormous controversy in its home country—Park's family even sued to keep archival footage out of the film. But in treating the assassination as a grandiose farce, Im -captures a profound truth often left out of academic textbooks: History isn't neat."—Film Society of Lincoln Center. (104 mins.)

Filmography: Girl's Night Out (98), Tears (00), A Good Lawyer's Wife (03).

(AUSTRALIA)
The Proposition - John Hillcoat

Set in the 1880s in the hostile Outback, The Proposition is a visceral anti-western that revisits a violent past where the good, bad and the ugly are sometimes hard to tell apart. When the violent Irish outlaws Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) and his little brother are captured by hardcore lawman Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone), their third and most vicious brother escapes. The Captain's fateful proposition to Charlie is that his younger brother hangs unless he fetches his elder's severed head. Thus begins a tension-filled saga as brother tracks brother while the Captain tries to keep his calm and danger from the doorstep of his gentle wife Martha (Emily Watson). "Evocatively filmed, it's a dazzling, flyblown spectacle, referencing the foreboding landscapes of John Ford and the blood, guts and gore of Sam Peckinpah."—London Film Festival. (104 mins.)

Sponsored by The Hotel Lucia.

Filmography: Ghosts...of the Civil Dead (88), To Have and to Hold (96).

(ITALY)
The Second Wedding Night - Pupi Avati

Pupi Avati's gentle, comedic melodrama is set in post-war Italy in the southern countryside. Giordano (Antonio Albanese), a sort of an Apulian Forrest Gump, gets a chance to relive his adolescent infatuation with his sister-in-law Lilliana (Katia Ricciarelli). After surviving the deprivations of life in Bologna, she returns to the family estate as a war-widow. Pushed to escape the poverty in the North and her sly son Nino (Neri Marcorè), who harbors grand filmmaking dreams, she considers if there is any love to be found for Giordano, whose estate at least provides the means of comfortable survival. Comedy comes from the antics of Nino and the two sour aunts who live with Giordano and who harbor an ancient grudge against Lilliana, but the heart of the story is a warm tale about family brought together through the goodness of man who may be a simpleton, but cannot help but be good even if exploited. The combination of pitch-perfect performances and Avati's intelligent script strike an affecting balance of laughter and -emotion. (100 mins.)

Selected Filmography: Story of Boys and Girls (89), Bix (90), Brothers and Sisters (91), The Best Man (97), A Midsummer Night's Dance (99), A Heart Elsewhere (03).

(RUSSIA )
The Sun - Aleksandr Sokurov

"In the last days of August 1945, as the Japanese prepare to surrender to occupying American forces, Emperor Hirohito rummages around his palace, trying to make sense of the impending defeat and his own responsibility for it. In an unforgettably poignant performance by Issey Ogata, Hirohito is fully brought to life as an educated, ineffectual gentleman, aware of his fallibility but trapped by rituals of adoration behind the mask of divinity. Aleksandr Sokurov brings his customary imagistic brilliance to this tour-de-force of historical reconstruction. As controversial for its interpretative conjectures as it is visually arresting, The Sun is a complex, important work by a major filmmaker."—New York Film Festival. "The Sun does not merely succeed as the first attempt at examining the life of Hirohito—as a man and not a god—in close-up; thanks to Sokurov's preternatural vision, it is also a strikingly singular aesthetic experience."—Toronto Film Festival. (110 mins.)

Selected Filmography: Mother and Son (97), Moloch (99), Taurus (01), Russian Ark (02), Father and Son (03).

(COLOMBIA )
The Wandering Shadows - Ciro Guerra

This contemplative, sober, sometimes hopeful look at today's Colombia is told through the strange relationship of two physically and spiritually crippled men. Indigent, one-legged Mane is at the mercy of both the landlord who keeps threatening to evict him and the street toughs who beat him up for sport. One mugging leaves him sprawled on a Bogotá street where the mysterious Chair Man, who ekes out a subsistence transporting people via a chair anchored to his back, comes to his aid. An awkward friendship develops between them, eagerly sought by Mane but greeted with ambivalence by his reticent new pal, who seems bent on atoning for some past sin. Reflected in this uneasy relationship is the sometimes horrifying price ordinary Colombians have paid for their country's decades of violent struggle. Through poetry and metaphor (which seem equally inspired by David Lynch and Italian -neorealism) this black-and-white debut expresses conflict without bullets and redemption without religion. This year's Colombian submission for the Foreign Language Film Oscar.(90 mins.)

First Feature.

(GERMANY)
The Wild Blue Yonder - Werner Herzog

The ever-inventive Herzog's new "sci-fi IMAX" film is a mystical, conceptual meditation much closer to Fata Morgana or Lessons of Darkness than his recent Grizzly Man. Combining existential mystery, deadpan humor and earthly/cosmic beauty in a mesmerizing flow of images culled from NASA archives, the story is told by a space alien with attitude (a crazed Brad Dourif), who chronicles the history of his people. For decades they have struggled unsuccessfully to establish a viable new home on earth. When earth Astronauts ironically journey to the alien's former world, they make some startling discoveries which also debunk the notion of successful intergalactic space and time travel. All is set all to a hypnotic score of Sardinian polyphonic harmonies. Winner of the Critic's Prize at the Venice Film Festival, Herzog states: "Astronauts lost in space, the secret Roswell object re-examined, an alien who tells us all about his home planet—the Wild Blue Yonder—where the atmosphere is composed of liquid helium and the sky frozen, is all part of my science-fiction fantasy."—Werner Herzog. (81 mins.)

Selected Filmography: Aguirre, The Wrath of God (73), Stroszek (77), Nosferatu (79), Fitzcarraldo (82), Lessons of Darkness (92), Grizzly Man (05).

(MEXICO)
To The Other Side - Gustavo Loza

Writer-director Loza's hauntingly timely film punctures the surface of immigration with distinctive and unconventional storytelling. Three countries, three -cultures, three different realities are woven together to tell the stories of three children (a Mexican boy, a Cuban boy and a Moroccan girl) who share the same loss—the absence of a father who has emigrated searching for a better standard of living. Told from the compelling viewpoint of those left behind, To the Other Side looks at the desire of each to recover an irreplaceable loss. Using a gentle touch, Loza does not shy away from a political subtext, but his rich characters' lives transcend the political to leave a potent portrait of the economic forces that drive immigration and the human price paid. This year's Mexican submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar(90 mins.)

Filmography: Deep Silence (03), 13 Latidos de Amor (04), Never Too Young to Dream (01)

(SOUTH AFRICA)
Tsotsi - Gavin Hood

Winner of the Audience Award at both the Toronto and AFI (Los Angeles) Film Festival, Tsotsi is based on the novel by renowned South African playwright Athol Fugard and traces six days in the violent life of a young thug in the Johannesburg ghettos. Tsotsi (South African street slang for "thug") an orphan, survives by a life of violent crime. One evening, after a bloody bar fight, he carjacks a woman and, after driving off, turns to find her baby in the back seat. Compelled to take the baby home with him and with no ability to take care of the child, he forces a young mother (at gunpoint) into caring for "his" baby. Thus begins a brutal, beautifully told battle with his own nature that forces him to reexamine his very core. South Africa's submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. (95 mins.)

Filmography: In Desert and Wilderness (01), A Reasonable Man (99).

(GREAT BRITAIN)
Wah Wah - Richard E. Grant

Raised in Swaziland during the last gasp of the British Empire, Grant’s -semi-autobiographical story follows Ralph Compton (Zachary Fox as the Grant character), whose family’s disintegration mirrors the end of British rule. After witnessing his mother’s (Miranda Richardson) adultery with his father’s (Gabriel Byrne) best friend, Ralph must survive not only boarding school, but his beloved father’s remarriage to Ruby (Emily Watson), a fast-talking American airline stewardess, and his gradual descent into alcoholism. Rather than a tragic drama, Grant’s recollection is a wizened, comic coming-of age story about the time in life when creativity emerges and you begin to live your own life rather than act as a spectator to the one you were born into. Shot in South East Africa and featuring an all-star cast, actor Grant’s first directorial effort charms. (100 mins.)

First Feature. Filmography as an actor—Withnail & I (86), The Player (92), Age of Innocence (93), Prêt-à-porter (94), Portrait of A Lady (96), Gosford Park (01).

(AUSTRIA)
We Feed The World - Erwin Wagenhofer

Perhaps nothing connects us all quite like food. From the best-selling books like 'Fast Food Nation,' to growing movements like Slow Food, mounting conflicts over agricultural trade agreements and growing environmental concerns, the absurdities of the globalized food industry are being subject to mounting scrutiny and disdain. Wagenhofer's timely, articulate film takes us around the world for a sometimes shocking look at the inefficiencies, injustices and often times reckless course we are on. An Austrian farmer tells us that a ton of wheat sells for less than the same volume of road salt. Meanwhile, we see enough bread to supply a small city discarded daily in massive heaps in Vienna. How does one explain that two hundred million people in India (supplier of 80 percent of Switzerland's wheat) suffer from malnutrition? Is water something to which the public has a right or, as the CEO of the world's largest food company suggests, a foodstuff with a market value? A sneak preview screening courtesy of Films Transit.(96 mins.)

First Feature. Sponsored by Higgins.

(FRANCE)
When The Sea Rises - Gilles Porte, Yolande Moreau

Winner of the prestigious "Louis Delluc Prize" for Best First Film, When the Sea Rises chronicles a few weeks in the life of Irène, a comedienne traveling across the north of France putting on a one-woman show in town halls and makeshift theaters. Wearing a battered housedress and a long-nosed, commedia dell'arte mask, Irène recounts the sad, lonely life of her character to small but appreciative audiences; -gradually, much of her act begins to sound confessional. One night she meets Dries, 30-something and going nowhere fast, whose most gainful employment seems to be when he helps carry giant mannequins in local parades. A flirtation turns into a tenuous relationship. He's not sure what he has to offer her; she's not sure what she might want from him. Beautifully capturing the ups and downs of this decidedly odd couple, while offering a touching portrait of the world of traveling theater, Porte and Moreau's bittersweet love story reminds us that the tide comes in and then goes out. (93 mins.)

Sponsored by 5th Avenue Suites.

First Feature.

(SWEDEN )
Zozo - Josef Fares

Zozo, on the cusp of adolescence, loses his family in the civil war in Beirut. Orphaned, hungry and adrift, he sets off to the only other place he knows—Sweden, where his paternal grandparents emigrated years before. Zozo has never been to Sweden, but he has strong images in his mind of the lush, green and peaceful Eden it must be. But the life he finds after he is finally reunited with his grandparents proves to be his greatest challenge yet. They are "old school" and feel the best way to deal with loss is to deny it. The other schoolchildren don't have any sense of what he has been through and he ironically finds himself the victim of more senseless aggression from a schoolyard bully. A first generation Swedish immigrant from Lebanon, Fares' partly autobiographic tale artfully combines the surreal, the comic, the poignant and the tragic in telling the tale of a young boy trying to find love and laughter. This year's Swedish submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.(104 mins.)

Filmography: Jalla! Jalla! (00), Kopps (03).

 

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