Sixteen films from around the world will be featured in the World Cinema category at the 2011 Nashville Film Festival. These films are an esoteric sampling of some of the finest cinema the world has to offer.
The films being featured are:
13 Assassins (Japan) — Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi the Killer) has more than 80 films under his belt, but none quite like “13 Assassins.” The year is 1844, and a young lord reigns over his village with an iron fist. The era of the samurai is coming to a close, but one honest government official secretly enlists thirteen swordsmen to bring an end to the sadistic lord’s power before it spreads. While reverently paying homage to samurai classics of the past, this is not a tongue-in-cheek take on an old genre. This is good old-fashioned film-making, with a gloriously blood-soaked climactic battle scene that will be remembered for years to come.
The Arbor (United Kingdom) – Director Clio Barnard’s debut feature is, at its core, a documentary about the life of British playwright Andrea Dunbar, whose writings chronicled her grim years living in West Yorkshire. However, Barnard – by blending archival material about her subject’s life with the staging of the titular play – creates a beautiful blend of fact and fiction, earning her a British Academy Award nomination for Best New Director and six British Independent Film Award nominations.
Buck (USA) — Audience Award-winner for Best Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, “Buck” follows living legend Buck Brannaman – the inspiration for “The Horse Whisperer.” To this true cowboy, horses are a mirror into the human soul. By teaching people to communicate with their animals through instinct, not punishment or violence, he frees the spirit of the horse and its human comrade. First-time director Cindy Meehl creates a strikingly cinematic portrait of a man who transforms his clients’ souls.
Bhutto (USA/Pakistan)– Pakistan’s first democratically-elected prime minister’s daughter, Benazir Bhutto, challenged Muslim views of women as authority figures when she returned to her homeland in 2007, hoping to run for office and reassert the power of free elections after decades of military dictatorship. Her assassination in December of that year brought that dream to an end. Bhutto is a film about the history of Pakistani politics, the role of her family in the nation’s independence, and the controversies that surrounded her. It is a complete portrait of a compelling woman leader. Free screening as part of ITVS Community Cinema Nashville.
Caterpillar (Japan) — During the second Sino-Japanese War, a village woman is given the grueling task of looking after (and fulfilling the sexual needs of) her quadruple-amputee husband- a decorated soldier tortured by memories of his war crimes. Based on a short story by Edogawa Rampo, Koji Wakamatsu’s film is a fascinating, deeply affecting indictment of right-wing militarist-nationalism, which is a partner-piece to his previous work, the left-wing extremism portrayed in “United Red Army.”
The Human Resources Manager (Israel) — When the well-meaning but selfish human resources manager at Israel’s largest bakery finds his career threatened upon the death of a young immigrant employee, he takes it upon himself to escort her corpse back to her small Russian village. Along the way, he meets characters – both helpful and not – who remind him of where humanity truly lies. This quirky tragicomedy from director Eran Riklis (“The Lemon Tree”) was the Israeli submission to the Academy Awards. Presented by the Nashville Jewish Film Festival.
My Joy (Ukraine) — When a kind-hearted trucker turns onto a dirt road to bypass a highway auto accident, he encounters a motley crew of characters – an old hitchhiker, a young prostitute, and a pair of rowdy soldiers – who will darken his worldview. Disturbing, outlandish, occasionally hilarious, and always a little dangerous, Sergei Loznitsa’s harsh depiction of the Russian hinterland is the rare debut feature to be selected for competition at the Cannes Film Festival.
Nenette (France)– Nénette is a 40-year-old orangutan born in Borneo and raised in the Paris Zoo that is her home to this day. She’s raised four children (one still lives with her in her habitat); outlived three mates; and bonds with very few of her keepers. Nénette is also the star of a beautifully-composed documentary from the director of 2003’s “To Be and to Have.”
Le Quattro Volte (“The Four Times” — Italy) — Inspired by Pythagoras’s belief in four-fold transmigration – by which the soul is passed from human to animal to vegetable to mineral — Michelangelo Frammartino’s wondrous docu-essay traces the four cycles through the daily rituals of the inhabitants of a small village in the Calabria region of Italy. Although it sounds overly-philosophical, “Le Quattro Volte” is a winner (literally taking home a prize in the Cannes Director’s Fortnight) because it approaches its subject with a sense of adventure and a surprising wit.
The Red Chapel (Denmark)– Winner of the World Cinema Jury Prize for Documentary at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, Mads Brügger’s documentary follows a trio of Danish comedians as they pretend to be regime of sympathizers and mount an absurd variety show in North Korea. Combining the muckraking spirit of Michael Moore with the confrontational comedy of “Borat,” “The Red Chapel” is an unconventional, hilarious and damning peek behind the curtain of a totalitarian regime.
The Robber (Austria)– Based on the true story of Johann Rettenberger- a champion marathoner, “The Robber” is part action film and part fascinating character study. Rettenberger leads a double life by winning international medals by day, and serially robbing banks by night. Lean and visceral, “The Robber” is a riveting study of pathological compulsion featuring a sizzling lead performance by Andreas Lust (of the 2009 Academy Award-nominee, “Revanche”).
The Sleeping Beauty (France)– Following last year’s “Blue Beard,” Catherine Breillat returns with another fractured take on a classic fairy tale with “The Sleeping Beauty.” A young princess finds herself the subject of a tug-of-war among witches, but as the story ensues, Breillat uses fantasy (in every sense of the word – dark, sensual, sexual, and foreboding) to create a beguiling tale of girls in trouble who find their way, through imagination, and sheer force of will.
Sound of Noise (Sweden)– Amadeus Warnebring is a member of a distinguished musical. He is also a tone-deaf police officer charged with tracking down a gang of guerilla percussionists who have composed and intend to play their latest anarchic work: Music for One City and Six Drummers. Warnebring has four movements – each progressively more avant-garde and more potentially dangerous to the livelihood of the city – to bring these musical terrorists to justice and earn the degree of respect he’s strived for his entire over-shadowed life.
Tuesday, After Christmas (Romania) — Selected for Cannes and the New York Film Festival, “Tuesday, After Christmas” is yet another shining example of the Romanian new wave. Paul loves two women. Adriana his wife and mother of their daughter- who is the woman with whom he’s shared the thrills of the past ten years; and Raluca the woman who has made him redefine himself. He has to leave one of them before Christmas. In some hands this would be the stuff of slapstick and mayhem. In the hands of Muntean and his pitch-perfect cast, it’s a moving portrayal of the directions modern life takes us.
Uncle Noommee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Thailand) — Uncle Boonmee is dying of kidney failure and wants to spend his final days on his farm. He is joined not only by living relatives who will care for him, but also by his late wife, lost son, and other visitors from the spirit world. But this is no monster movie. Winner of the 2010 Palme d’Or at Cannes, “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” is a natural, free-wheeling, pensive, and dryly funny film based on Buddhist belief, cinematic history, and the folk legends from the northern region of Thailand that was the boyhood home of director Weerasethakul. Shot entirely on film (a rarity these days), “Uncle Boonmee” is a visual masterpiece not to be missed.
!Women Art Revolution (USA) — It was only a generation ago that it was rare to find works of art by women in a major gallery or museum. Director Lynn Hershman- Leeson was a proud participant in the revolution that changed that terrain, and thankfully, she spent the past forty years documenting and interviewing the vibrant women who changed our artistic culture and questioned art, politics, equality and freedom of expression.