Films

For more information, visit http://www.clevelandfilm.org/

2015

Placebo

Year: 2014 | Country: INDIA |Run Time: 96 minutes
Abhay Kumar’s hybrid documentary PLACEBO is a chilling examination of one of the most competitive institutions in the world—All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi. Every year thousands of aspiring doctors apply, but only 0.1% of the applicants can finally count themselves as part of the elite community of admitted medical students (Harvard’s acceptance rate is 7% in comparison). In 2011 a violent student brawl left Kumar’s younger brother Sahil with an immobile right arm, a year before he was expected to write his final exams at AIIMS. With Sahil’s dreams of a successful career in medicine seemingly dashed, Kumar—equipped with only a Handycam—sets out to understand life amongst the “geniuses” at AIIMS and to investigate why more and more students are committing suicide. Through extensive student interviews over a two-year period and surreal animated sequences, Kumar reveals a student body plagued by overwhelming pressure from parents, faculty, administrators, other students, and themselves. Still, despite the many demons haunting current students, the best of the best continue to strive for the “placebo” of prestige granted by this esteemed institution. (In English and Hindi with subtitles) – E.B.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/films/2015/placebo

Mafia And Red Tomatoes (La Nostra Terra)

Year: 2014 | Country: ITALY | Run Time: 100 minutes
No sane Italian would intentionally cross a Mafia boss, which says a lot about the motley crew of would-be organic farmers in MAFIA & RED TOMATOES. Determined to work the land confiscated by the government from capo Nicola Sansone, a group of dreamers are undeterred by the fact that they don’t know how to farm. Unseen powers, orchestrated by Sansone from behind bars, stymie them at every turn. They enlist the help of the Anti-Mafia Board in the person of Filippo, a neurotic regulator. The curious co-op includes a gay designer, a kooky practitioner of holistic eco-biology, a wheelchair-bound athlete, and a Congolese immigrant. Filippo isn’t encouraged, but the Boss’s own farmer, a cynic named Cosimo, injects some know-how into the operation. Amidst the quarreling and the non-PC barbs, the co-op members find ways to cooperate, and they finally produce a harvest. But suddenly Sansone is back, and let’s just say he’s not pleased with the tomatoes. (In Italian with subtitles) – B.B.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/films/2015/mafia-and-red-tomatoes

The Ambassador To Bern (A berni követ)

Year: 2014 | Country: HUNGARY | Run Time: 76 minutes
August 16, 1958. The leafy streets surrounding the Hungarian embassy in Bern, Switzerland are quiet in the summer sun. Yet inside, Ambassador Mihaly Kornokai struggles to maintain order amidst increasingly bitter emotions. Ever since the Soviet suppression of the 1956 Hungarian revolution, tensions are high. In June, Janos Kadar, head of the new Soviet-friendly government, ordered the execution of former Prime Minister Imre Nagy, enraging Hungarian emigrés around the world. Now two armed men – former freedom fighters – burst into the Embassy, taking Kornokai hostage. Terrified staff members barricade themselves in and phone the police. Inspector Lambert leads the operation from outside, though his hands are tied for reasons of diplomatic immunity. Meanwhile, as the kidnappers communicate with Radio Free Europe, protests against the Soviet occupation of Hungary erupt in the street. THE AMBASSADOR TO BERN is a taut political thriller, both uniquely Hungarian and anticipatory of the many geopolitical uprisings to follow. (In Hungarian and German with subtitles) – B.B.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/films/2015/the-ambassador-to-bern

Meet The Hitlers

Year: 2015 | Country: USA, ECUADOR, GERMANY | Run Time: 84 minutes
Shakespeare once asked, “What’s in a name?” And if your name is Smith or Jones, probably not a whole lot. But what if your name is Hitler? Would you change it? MEET THE HITLERS is a fascinating look at the complicated lives of simple people with an unfortunate name. The film also introduces us to those who desire to promote the name’s legacy, a well as those who desire to destroy it. There’s the teenage cheerleader, an American born long before Hitler’s reign, the Ecuadorean immigrant, an actual relative of the man who made the name infamous, and a neo-Nazi who names his son Adolf Hitler. The heart of this documentary follows author David Gardner as he tracks down nephews of the original Hitler, rumored to be living in the States – naturally, they prove to be elusive. This documentary is not just an endearing look at people with the name, but also a look at those who are fascinated by the effects the name evokes. For example, artist Jim Riswold who, in order to mock the man, centers his work on Hitler toys – and, yes, there are a lot of Hitler toys. Look past the title, and you’ll find MEET THE HITLERS is an incredible study on the effect a name can have. What’s in a name indeed! (In English, German, and Spanish with subtitles) – T.W.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/films/2015/meet-the-hitlers

A Small Southern Enterprise (Una Piccola Impresa Meridionale)

Year: 2013 | Country: ITALY | Run Time: 103 minutes
Don Costantino has had enough. Guilt-ridden about having quit the priesthood, he’s now unemployed and homeless at 50 — but afraid to tell Mamma Stella, who has been on edge since daughter Rosa Maria left her husband Arturo. Mortified at the village scandal her children are causing, Mamma banishes Costantino – like Napoleon – to an island in the Mediterranean, where the family owns a crumbling lighthouse. But pop-eyed Costantino is simpatico from years of hearing people’s confessions, and soon castaways start floating up on his island exile. First comes a retired hooker, then brother-in-law Arturo (a frustrated jazz pianist), and some buoyant roofers in a circus caravan. Rosa Maria enters defiantly with her new lover, and even Mamma Stella herself washes in. The misfits are thus assembled like flotsam, the tide pushing them one way when they want to go another. But if everyone can leave society’s expectations behind, they just might be able to set up A SMALL SOUTHERN ENTERPRISE. (In Italian with subtitles) – B.B.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/films/2015/a-small-southern-enterprise

Kebab & Horoscope

Year: 2014 | Country: POLAND |Run Time: 72 minutes
KEBAB & HOROSCOPE is a deadpan comedy in the vein of Aki Kaurismäki. Plunked down in a Warsaw industrial area next to a super glue factory is a carpet warehouse where no customer dares to tread. The Boss, concerned with the lack of “business energy” exhibited by his hapless employees, has hired two “marketing specialists.” Until recently, these sad sacks were an unemployed kebab shop worker and a horoscope writer. But having realized marketing is a line of work requiring no training, KEBAB & HOROSCOPE now sell their non-product to the denizens of the warehouse. Its six workers exhibit various states of eccentric ennui. Among them are an Intern with a knack for impassioned carpet description and a Cashier who takes in a sad-eyed Japanese man. Director Grzegorz Jaroszuk finds humanity in a universe where awkward people seek meaning in the crazy things they do. (In Polish with subtitles) – B.B.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/films/2015/kebab-horoscope

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared* (Hundraåringen som klev ut genom fönstret och försvann)

Year: 2013 | Country: SWEDEN |Run Time: 114 minutes
Turning 100 is something not many people will achieve. If they do, they will likely be faced with illness and disabilities. That’s not the case for Allan Karlsson. He’s still sharp and craving independence, though stuck living in a retirement home. As the staff prepares a birthday surprise for him, Allan decides to escape by jumping out the window. He heads to the bus stop, looking for a train that will take him as far as his money will allow. There, he encounters a rugged biker who asks Allan to watch his suitcase while he uses the restroom. When his train arrives, Allan boards with the suitcase, much to the dismay of the angry biker and the rest of his gang, who are now hot on the old man’s trail. This mysterious suitcase becomes the catalyst for a series of events that lead Allan on an epic adventure filled with fun, a little danger, and a whole lot of new friends. This hilarious thrill ride could easily be called Sweden’s “Forrest Gump,” but grittier. THE 100-YEAR-OLD MAN WHO CLIMBED OUT THE WINDOW AND DISAPPEARED is pure fun, proving age is just a number. (In Swedish with subtitles) – E.F.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/films/2015/the-100-year-old-man-who-climbed-out-the-window-and-disappeared


2014

Adieu Paris

Year: 2013 | Country: GERMANY, LUXEMBOURG, FRANCE |Run Time: 97 minutes
Patrizia (Jessica Schwarz) is an author whose career is finally taking off. As she shares her joy on the phone with her French lover Jean-Jacques, he crashes his car. Devastated, she flies from Düsseldorf to Paris, to find his icy wife Francoise (Sandrine Bonnaire) at his side as he lies in a coma. Shuttling back and forth between her love in Paris and her work in Düsseldorf, she bumps repeatedly into a fellow traveler, an investment banker named Frank, whose life is on a similar roller coaster trajectory. On the brink of cementing a huge deal between a Swiss bank and an eccentric French sausage king, he finds he’s been duped, and his career is over. While Francoise pressures Patrizia to help decide whether to end Jean-Jacques’ life, Frank’s marriage is falling apart. Each travels to Paris once more, where their paths cross anew. ADIEU PARIS reminds us there’s a time to leave the past behind and live life to its fullest. (In German and French with subtitles) —B.B.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/films/2014/adieu-paris

The Human Factor (La Variabile Umana)

Year: 2013 | Country: ITALY |Run Time: 83 minutes
In Milan, high finance and high fashion meet up with low morals and lonely lives. Detective Monaco is tight-lipped and world-weary, deep in his shell since the death of his wife three years ago. He keeps family photos—like his emotions—locked up in a drawer. Though he’s a keen analyst and a superb cop, Monaco lacks THE HUMAN FACTOR. Monaco’s teenage daughter Linda is desperate for his attention, but his attitude toward her is frosty. Coke-fueled murders have become commonplace on Monaco’s beat, and he wants out. But when a high roller known to party with underage girls is found dead in a pool of blood, Monaco’s boss orders him to take the case. When Linda arrives at the station in the back of a patrol car, Monaco’s closely circumscribed world threatens to unravel completely. Actors Silvio Orlando (Monaco) and Alice Raffaelli (Linda) are outstanding, performing a sad tango of father-daughter aloofness and longing. (In Italian with subtitles) —B.B.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/films/2014/the-human-factor

The Japanese Dog (Câinele Japonez)

Year: 2013 | Country: ROMANIA |Run Time: 85 minutes
When a flood strikes Costache’s village in Romania, his wife Maria and all of their possessions are swept away. Now in a village shelter, Costache refuses to sell his land and move onward. He has plans to re-build and refuses help and advice from his neighbors. The village is all he has left, except for an estranged son now living in Tokyo. But when his son Ticu hears of his mother’s death and father’s plight, he arrives unexpectedly with his Japanese wife and son to bring Costache back home with him. This will not be simple. Ticu fled Romania with many issues left unresolved, the biggest being his relationship with his father. Now there is a whole new family for Costache to deal with, old scores to settle, and painful good-byes to say. Told with beautiful simplicity and infused with subtle power, THE JAPANESE DOG is a moving tale of loss and recovery. As Costache sifts through the rubble of his life, he may just find more than enough to build himself a future. (In Romanian with subtitles) —C.R.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/films/2014/the-japanese-dog

Antarctica: A Year On Ice*

Year: 2013 |Country: NEW ZEALAND |Run Time: 92 minutes
Nature photographer Anthony Powell spent ten years making his documentary ANTARCTICA: A YEAR ON ICE. It was so cold he had to build a special camera to withstand the frigid temperatures. Because of this, he was also able to capture the continent’s pitch-black winter with a precision that no one else could. Before now, most depictions of Antarctica were shown through the lens of its less scary summers. This gorgeous film observes the harsh region from all angles, whether it’s adorable penguins or terrifying ice storms. Rather than just focusing on the environmental aspects, Powell goes to the people. As he follows the everyday functions of workers from the many research stations, we’re able to see what it’s like to live in such extreme conditions and the effect it has on their mental state. Amidst the darkness, Powell manages to maintain a sense of humour and positivity that embodies the enduring spirit of the people who reside there. Other than braving it yourself, you’ll never get a better look at Antarctica than this. —E.F.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/films/2014/antarctica-a-year-on-ice


2013

Piazza Fontana

Year: 2012 | Country: ITALY | Run Time: 129 minutes
In 1969 the Piazza Fontana building in Milan was bombed. The tragedy killed 17 people and wounded 88. To date, no one has ever been convicted of the crime. Italian State Police placed blame on left-wing organizations from the start, but were unable to ever prove their suspicions. PIAZZA FONTANA reconstructs the events that took place and focuses on the investigation, which led to the strange death of Giuseppe Pinelli, an anarchist who died during interrogations. Commissioner Luigi Calabresi, wrongly held responsible for Pinelli’s demise, begins to uncover new information regarding the attacks, leading him in a very different direction. Had the police been searching for answers in all the wrong places? Director Marco Tullio Giordana arranges the story with great skill, carefully weaving every nuance into one very stylish and cohesive picture. Filled with terrific performances from Valerio Mastandrea and Pierfrancesco Favino, PIAZZA FONTANA is a riveting historical thriller that examines the many layers of Italy’s most notorious unsolved crime. (In Italian with subtitles) – E.F.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/films/2013/piazza-fontana-the-italian-conspiracy

Omamamia

Year: 2012 | Country: GERMANY | Run Time: 104 minutes
Who put the “Oma” in “Mama Mia?” That would be Marianne Sägebrecht, who plays a feisty German grandma in OMAMAMIA. Oma Margherita, who longs to visit the Bavarian Pope in the Vatican, lives with her neurotic daughter Marie in Canada. Marie threatens to install her in a joyless Sunshine Home, but Oma gives her the slip and hops on a plane to Rome. Oma’s granddaughter Martina lives in the Eternal City, ostensibly working as an au pair, but actually shacked up with a rocker 20 years her senior. She’s mortified when Oma appears. But once she gets the hang of things, Oma’s cool – rocking at the club in her dirndl and landing a job cooking hearty Bavarian food. Finally in line at the Vatican, Oma helps a blind codger (Giancarlo Giannini) who turns out to be a con artist. He persuades her to pretend to marry him and soon all heck breaks loose. OMAMAMIA is a light-hearted romp through the splendors of Rome with an impressive international cast. (In German with subtitles) – B.B.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/films/2013/omamamia

The Foster Boy

Year: 2011 | Country: SWITZERLAND, GERMANY | Run Time: 108 minutes
For 150 years, Swiss authorities took disadvantaged children from their homes and forced them to labor on farms. THE FOSTER BOY is set in 1950 in an Alpine village of breathtaking beauty that belies the cruelty of its inhabitants. Max, an orphaned teenager, is brought by a pastor to work for the Bösinger family. A miserable lot, they take his shoes away while he does chores. Bösinger is a drunkard; his wife is a bitter woman who makes Max sleep in the pigsty. A girl named Berteli arrives to work, and soon she and Max are plotting their escape. The kindly village schoolteacher encourages Max’s talent as an accordionist, fueling his dreams of a brighter tomorrow. But before he can imagine a future, he has to survive. Based on 100,000 true stories, THE FOSTER BOY is the most successful Swiss film in years, a gripping reminder that the nation was not always a land of milk and honey. (In Swiss-German with subtitles) – B.B.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/films/2013/the-foster-boy

Reject

Year: 2013 | Country: USA | Run Time: 90 minutes
Eric Mohat, a fun-loving high-school student from Mentor, Ohio took his own life at the age of 17. His family and friends were shocked and horrified. They had no idea that Eric was the subject of intense bullying, a grim reality that he faced alone. His case is unfortunately not uncommon. In fact, four other students from Mentor High School committed suicide in a period of just three years. The pain caused from rejection and ridicule can also turn outward: in the case of Columbine and other school shootings, the gunmen were all products of exclusion. In REJECT, teachers and administrators share their first-hand experiences with ostracism, offering valuable insight into a problem that has now hit epidemic proportions. Doctors and researchers contribute results from eye-opening studies on the impact that rejection has on our brains. This thought-provoking documentary serves an important function by opening up a much needed dialogue about bullying and the factors that cause it. For anyone concerned with our children’s future, REJECT is an absolute must-see. – E.F.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/films/2013/reject


2012

Patang (The Kite)

INDIA, USA | Directed by Prashant Bhargava | Running time: 93 minutes
Hundreds of colorful kites sway in the breeze above the ancient western Indian city of Ahmedabad. The January kite festival of Uttarayan celebrates the time when the sun starts traveling north, a sign of coming summer. But this gentle festival sometimes takes on menacing undertones as kites begin to battle for supremacy overhead….

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/festival/films/2012/patang-the-kite

Sacrifice (Zhao shi gu er)

CHINA | Directed by Chen Kaige | Running time: 126 minutes
SACRIFICE, an adaptation of Orphan of Zhao (the first Chinese opera to become known in Europe), dominated Chinese theaters upon its release and is sure to impress American viewers with its dramatic performances, alluring ancient Chinese scenery and absorbing Shakespearean plot. It is a complex tale of betrayals and revenge,…

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/festival/films/2012/sacrifice

Immature (Immaturi)

ITALY | Directed by Paolo Genovese | Running time: 108 minutes
IMMATURE is a feel-good ensemble comedy that brings together a group of classmates 20 years after secondary school graduation. Except the former friends haven’t graduated after all; the authorities have determined their final exams were flawed, so now they’ll need to retake them. To pass the grueling “Maturità” and get on with their…

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/festival/films/2012/immature

Apartment in Athens (Appartamento ad Atene)

ITALY | Directed by Ruggero Dipaola | Running time: 95 minutes
Set in 1942 Athens, a war ravaged Greek family is forced to host a high ranking Nazi officer. Their home, already weakened by the death of their eldest son and the ever-present pangs of hunger in wartime, is thrown into upheaval as they endeavor to satisfy the exacting demands of their unwelcome border. The well-educated and dignified…

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/festival/films/2012/apartment-in-athens

The Salt of Life (Gianni E Le Donne)

ITALY | Directed by Gianni Di Gregorio | Running time: 90 minutes
Sad-eyed Gianni from 2010’s “Mid-August Lunch” is back in THE SALT OF LIFE, a charming portrayal of an aging househusband’s search for love. Gianni’s retirement is slipping tediously by while he performs an unending laundry list of services for the ladies in his life. He and his wife have become comfortable co-habitants rather than…

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/festival/films/2012/salt-of-life

The Perfect Life (La Vita Facile)

ITALY | Directed by Lucio Pellegrini | Running time: 102 minutes
A charming Italian comedy with an unexpected twist, THE PERFECT LIFE follows the love triangle of two contradictory doctors with a shared past and the woman they fight over. Luca is a down-to-earth humanitarian physician who left Italy nine years earlier to start a small hospital in a remote Kenyan village. Without proper funding…

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/festival/films/2012/perfect-life

Cleveland Italian Film Festival 2012

Loose Cannons (Mine Vaganti)

Directed by Ferzan Ozpetek, starring Riccardo Scamarcio, Nicole Grimaudo, Alessandro Preziosi, Dario Bandiera, Ennio Fantastichini, Lunetta Savino, Elena Sofia Ricci
Director Ferzan Ozpetek’s delightful comedy nominated for Italy’s Oscar, the David di Donatello for Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor features the eclectic, conservative Cantone family who owns a pasta factory in Southern Italy whose family members include a rebellious grandmother, a loving, but suffocating mother, a father with unrealistically high expectatons for his children, and an eccentric Aunt-all of whom mesh into a humorous, touching story.

Info: http://www.clevelandmovieblog.com/2012/08/the-cleveland-italian-film-festival.html

The Double Hour (La Doppia Ora)

Directed by Giuseppe Capotondi, starring Kseniya Rappoport and Filippo Timi, Antonia Truppo and Gaetano Bruno.
If you like being kept on the edge of your seat, this acclaimed award -winning thriller keeps viewers guessing until the film’s final moments.

Winner of the Venice Film Festival for Best Actor, Best Actress and the Golden Lion for Best Film the Double Hour (La Doppia Ora) was a New York Times Critic’s Pick. It’s romance & film noir all rolled into one Hitchcockian thriller.

Info: http://www.clevelandmovieblog.com/2012/08/the-cleveland-italian-film-festival.html


2011

With Love, From the Age of Reason (L’âge de Raison)

Year: 2010 | Country: FRANCE, BELGIUM | Run Time: 90 minutes
“Dear Me, today I am seven years old and I’m writing you this letter to help you remember the promises I made, and also to remind you of what I want to become…” Fast forward 30+ years to Margaret, a hard-charging businesswoman who sells global-warming power plants to the Chinese. Margaret has looks to kill and an adoring English lover. In fact, she has everything going for her but freedom. On her 40th birthday, Margaret receives the first bundle of letters she wrote to herself when she was seven. A jumble of colorful collages, photographs, and wildly creative puzzles, they seem to come from a different girl entirely. As her letters to herself keep coming, Margaret finds herself disenchanted. She visits her childhood village and, by reconnecting with people who see in her the girl they once knew, she starts finding her way to the woman she vowed to become. WITH LOVE, FROM THE AGE OF REASON is an absolutely charming film starring the ravishing Sophie Marceau. (In French with subtitles) – B.B.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/festival/films/2011/with-love-from-the-age-of-reason

I Am

Year: 2010 | Country: USA | Run Time: 80 minutes
Filmmaker Tom Shadyac once had it all. The director of blockbuster hits like “Ace Ventura,” “The Nutty Professor,” and “Bruce Almighty” had an art-filled compound in Pasadena and powerful friends. He even had his health — until he suddenly didn’t. Tom suffered a near-death experience as a result of a cycling accident. This led him to rethink the way his life was going and to consider what might really be important. He sold his stuff, moved into a trailer park, and went on a quest for 21st century enlightenment. Now Tom interviews remarkable people from the worlds of philosophy, science, and faith, including Noam Chomsky, Lynne McTaggart, Howard Zinn, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In response to his simple questions, “What’s wrong with the world?” and “What can we do about it?” he learns surprising things: that, contrary to conventional thinking, cooperation may be nature’s fundamental operating principle; and that human consciousness can affect the physical world. He’s amused to discover that in some cultures, materialism is equated with insanity. Let I AM enlighten you, as it did Tom Shadyac, and you might find there’s more right with the world than you had imagined. –B.B.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/festival/films/2011/i-am

Hayfever (Febbre Da Fieno)

Year: 2010 | Country: ITALY | Run Time: 100 minutes
There’s a westerly breeze blowing through the picturesque streets of Rome. Legend has it that this “ponentino” gives courage to timid lovers. Matteo, a handsome young man with vivid blue eyes, works in a vintage shop. Sporting charmingly retro t-shirts, he rummages through people’s estate sales for the bric-a-brac of bygone lives. Matteo has a hard time letting go of the past, including his feelings for his old flame Giovanna. Meanwhile, skater girl Franki (short for Francesca), Matteo’s co-worker, writes improbably passionate love letters to Jude Law. Matteo and Franki are employed by Stefano, a family man who loves his shop but has no head for business. Tinkerers and dreamers, they’re unable to organize their store, or their lives, to make them more productive. One day a young woman named Camilla, with a smile that lights up her whole face, arrives and starts arranging things. She falls hard for Matteo, who can’t stop thinking about Giovanna. Everyone in this little shop of dreams harbors passions that are close by, yet seemingly out of reach. HAYFEVER soars with a fittingly indie soundtrack featuring music by Laura Marling, Devendra Banhart, and Imelda May. (In Italian with subtitles) –B.B.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/festival/films/2011/hayfever

Mundane History (เจ้านกกระจอก)

Year: 2009 | Country: THAILAND | Run Time: 82 minutes
Is it possible to live in an eternal present, without a past or future? This is one of the questions posed by MUNDANE HISTORY. A deceptively simple narrative that tells the story of a paralyzed invalid and his nurse, the film ultimately becomes a meditation on our insignificant, yet sublime, place in the universe. Through the filmmaker’s lens we learn about Ake, a bitter paraplegic who lost the use of his legs after an accident. Pun is his newly appointed male nurse, a recognizably human character who seems to be content with life. Ake’s depression is aggravated by his elusive, authoritarian father whose cold demeanor is in part responsible for Ake’s inability to connect with other people. But as Ake and Pun initiate discussions of their perspectives on life, Ake begins to open up and soften his outlook on his own existence. Eventually, Ake’s cynicism fades and his relationship with Pun intensifies. A simple, yet abstract psychological drama, MUNDANE HISTORY will carry you on its gradual existential journey to a conclusion that will leave you shaken and deeply affected. (In Thai with subtitles) – M.M.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/festival/films/2011/mundane-history

Basilicata Coast to Coast

Year: 2010 | Country: ITALY |Run Time: 105 minutes
Who wouldn’t love a band that raps about their Mammas’ omelet sandwiches? These guys dig all things real, including family, friends, and homeland. They’re lucky: their homeland is the stunningly beautiful region of Basilicata in the instep of Italy’s boot, which stretches from the Tyrrhenian to the Ionian Sea. These native sons are a ragtag bunch of charmers: Nicola, a frustrated math teacher whose wife runs a boutique hotel; Rocco, a TV actor whose career has seen better days; Salvatore, who ditched his medical studies in their final hour; and Franco the bass player, mute since the death of his lover. Outfitted with a horse and cart topped with solar cells, the band undertakes a journey across Basilicata – on foot as a publicity stunt leading up to their performance in a local music competition. Accompanying them is Tropea, a reluctant journalist assigned to document their journey. As the little band trudges eastward, they camp out, evade authorities, deal with crazy agents and over-protective brothers, and fall in love again. Spoken word and jazz performances on hillsides and in local villages make BASILICATA COAST TO COAST a funky delight of a road movie. (In Italian with subtitles) –B.B.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/festival/films/2011/basilicata-coast-to-coast

Hello! How Are You?* (Buna! Ce Faci?)

Year: 2010 | Country: ROMANIA, SPAIN, ITALY | Run Time: 105 minutes
A cheerful film with winning performances, HELLO! HOW ARE YOU? is the story of a long-married couple more in love with their fantasies than with each other. Gabriel is a former concert pianist who injured his finger in a mousetrap and is relegated to turning pages for mortals lesser than himself. Gabriela, who runs a dry cleaning establishment, gave up her psychology studies to raise their son Vladimir. Now a stud of 18, her ungrateful offspring can think of little else than his next sexual conquest. Frustrated with the tedium of lives not fully lived, Gabby and Gaby stumble through a series of circumstances into the murky world of internet chat rooms. As they each sneak around spending untold hours chatting, their friends and associates—not to mention Vladimir—become convinced they’re both having affairs. Liberated from the banality of the everyday, Gabby and Gaby finally discover their soul mates online. Can their virtual relationships revive their physical one? Rebooting it will take more than a simple Control-Alt-Delete. (In Romanian with subtitles) –B.B.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/festival/films/2011/hello-how-are-you

Vincent Wants To Sea (Vincent Will Meer)

Year: 2010 |Country: GERMANY |Run Time: 96 minutes
A charming comedy about the search for happiness and the veritable discovery of one’s self along the way, VINCENT WANTS TO SEA tells the story of Vincent, a 27-year-old man suffering from Tourette’s Syndrome. When Vincent experiences the trauma of his mother’s death, his estranged politician father drops him off at a rehabilitation clinic. There he meets Alex, his new obsessive compulsive roommate, and Marie, a frail yet bold woman suffering from anorexia who instantly connects with Vincent. After Marie steals the car keys of the clinic’s leading therapist Dr. Rose, she offers Vincent a chance to escape his present life in which he is viewed as an embarrassment and a disappointment. When Alex threatens to expose their plan, they are compelled to take him along on a journey to the Italian sea Vincent has always longed to visit. With little money they are forced to steal gas along the way, ultimately leading Vincent’s father and Dr. Rose on their own voyage to bring the patients back. As they travel through gorgeous landscapes, the three come to discover how much they actually need one another. They also realize that to obtain true happiness, they must learn to overcome their own self-hatred. A quirky, endearing coming-of-age story, VINCENT WANTS TO SEA is full of powerful and impressive characters who are sure to keep you smiling. (In German with subtitles) – M.M.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/films/2011/vincent-wants-to-sea

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (ลุงบุญมีระลึกชาติ)

Year: 2010 | Country: THAILAND | Run Time: 113 minutes
UNCLE BOONMEE is a haunting, dreamlike tale of a dying man’s last internal and external voyages. Uncle Boonmee’s kidneys are failing and he retires to the countryside in northeast Thailand to see out his days in the company of his loved ones. He tends to his bees and gazes at the lush nature surrounding him. One evening as he’s dining with his family, his wife Huay, who died 14 years earlier, appears at the table. So does an apparition of Boonmee’s long-lost son. Thus begins a conversation that drifts into the night, and in and out of consciousness, as Boonmee questions Huay on what awaits him in the afterworld, and whether she’ll be there when he arrives. UNCLE BOONMEE defies normal narrative conventions and resists interpretation. The delicate Thai language and the film’s meditative cinematography underscore the grace with which its protagonists accept life and death-past, present and future-and memory and clairvoyance as part and parcel of one floating world. (In Thai with subtitles) – B.B.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/films/2011/uncle-boonmee-who-can-recall-his-past-lives


2010

Queen To Play (Joueuse)

Director:Caroline Bottaro |Run Time: 101 minutes |Country: FRANCE, GERMANY
High atop the rugged mountains of Corsica, Hélène pedals her bike to work. She’s a chambermaid at a luxury hotel, living a humdrum working-class life. Hélène came to Corsica years ago for her husband, who works in the boatyards. Serious and conscientious about her work, she has no particular desire to change things. Then one day she glimpses a romantic couple playing an impassioned game of chess on the balcony of a room she’s cleaning. Seized with a vague longing, Hélène purchases an electronic chess game for her husband, hoping the game might help them rekindle an old flame. When he understandably wonders what’s gotten into her, she begins teaching herself chess at night. Hélène stubbornly persuades the gruff, reclusive American Doctor Kröger, for whom she serves as a house cleaner, to mentor her. As she becomes fixated on the game, she begins to neglect her work and family. Once Hélène realizes that the Queen is the strongest piece — she can go anywhere and do anything she likes — she sees that chess might offer a way out of her mundane existence. QUEEN TO PLAY features sensitive performances by Sandrine Bonnaire as Hélène and Kevin Kline as Doctor Kröger. (In French with subtitles) – B.B.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/festival/films/2010/queen-to-play

Enemies of the People

Director: Thet Sambath, Rob Lemkin |Run Time: 93 minutes |Country: UNITED KINGDOM, CAMBODIA
ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE is Thet Sambath’s way of making sense of the past. His quest is to explain the massacre of nearly two million people in the Killing Fields in Cambodia. It is as much a personal adventure as it is a political one because Sambath’s parents and siblings were among those slain. In the ten-year process of finding closure, Sambath seeks out those involved in the killings – from ordinary soldiers to the notorious Brother Number Two. In his interviews with these members of the Khmer Rouge Regime, Sambath explores with them this unparalleled tragedy in grave detail, even asking one interviewee to demonstrate how to slit someone’s throat. In the interest of objectivity, Sambath does not share his mission with those he interviews and never tells them that his family was among those killed, which adds tension and contributes to the emotional tenor of the story. Undeniably, you will be moved by the courage and persistence of Sambath in this process. What begins as one man’s desire to explain his family’s deaths, ends up being a harrowing account of Cambodian history. It creates a poignant experience resulting in catharsis for audience and filmmaker alike. (In English and Khmer with subtitles) – B.K.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/festival/films/2010/enemies-of-the-people

Fire In the Heartland: Kent State, May 4th, and Student Protest in America

Director: Daniel Lee Miller | Run Time: 99 minutes |Country: USA
Mention May 4, 1970 in this region and most will immediately think of the tragic events that unfolded at Kent State University. Although much has been documented of that day, including the historic 13 seconds that define it, the back story is rarely told (especially the connection to the band DEVO). FIRE IN THE HEARTLAND, which includes some interviews originally filmed in 2004-2005, adeptly produces a timeline of a decade’s worth of events that progressively led to May 4th at Kent State. As one interviewee states, “It was no accident.” Instead, it was the culmination of what many refer to as the “decade of death,” which began with the assassination of John F. Kennedy and ended with the deaths at Kent State and beyond. Told through historical video footage and personal accounts from those who were students, the case is made that events were on a trajectory for exactly such a clash to occur. A culture of opposites is demonstrated: the Civil Rights Act and rampant racism; a conservative Ohio town and progressive students trying to make their voices heard; silent vigils and active protests like Chicago in 1968; campus visits by Richard Nixon and a growing mistrust of anything supporting government and, therefore, the stance on Vietnam. A tapestry is woven of poverty, racism, and war, all interconnected. – C.C.P.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/festival/films/2010/fire-in-the-heartland-kent-state-may-4th-and-student-protest-in-america

Best of Times (ความจำสั้น…แต่รักฉันยาว)

Director: Yongyoot Thongkongtoon |Run Time: 118 minutes |Country: THAILAND
An absolutely lovely film featuring an appealing cast, BEST OF TIMES is a meditation on memory and forgetting, as seen through the prism of two couples’ relationships. Keng is a somewhat nerdy veterinarian in his 20s who has loved Fai from afar since high school, though she never knew he existed. Fai was briefly married to Keng’s buddy Ohm, whose cheating led to their divorce. Now, on the way home from a boozy class reunion, Keng and Ohm get themselves arrested for DUI. Long-suffering Fai comes to bail them out. When an injured puppy brings the three of them to Keng’s veterinary clinic, Fai remembers having seen Keng somewhere before… Sentenced meanwhile to community service, Keng starts teaching a senior citizens’ class on Internet usage. Two enthusiastic pupils are Mr. Jamrus and Mrs. Sompit, an older pair of soulmates. Sompit sneaks off to the country to rendezvous with Jamrus, despite the disapproval of her family. Keng and Fai find themselves aiding and abetting the older couple’s romance. But just as the elders start to envision spending the rest of their lives together, Jamrus seems to be losing his memory. (In Thai with subtitles) – B.B.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/festival/films/2010/best-of-times

I Am Love (Io Sono l’Amore)

Director: Luca Guadagnino | Run Time: 120 minutes |Country: ITALY
A sweeping family tragedy in the vein of Luchino Visconti, I AM LOVE is an impressionistic story of passion and change. The Recchi family of Milan forms one of Italy’s oldest industrial empires. Preparations are underway at the Recchi villa for a sumptuous birthday luncheon honoring paterfamilias Edoardo Sr. At the table are Edoardo’s wife Allegra (Marisa Berenson), their son Tancredi, his Russian-born wife Emma, and their three young adult children. Edoardo Sr. announces that he is passing on leadership of the business to the next generation. As the men become embroiled in difficult decisions that will affect the family’s time-honored traditions, the women’s lives, too, are on the cusp of change. But this is really Emma’s story. Playing an outsider in opulent surroundings who is seized by an earthy new passion, actress Tilda Swinton charges every glance with meaning. I AM LOVE is an extraordinarily sensual film that expertly captures the rustle of luxurious fabrics, the heavy hum of nature in the Milanese countryside, the vibrant colors and pungent flavors of exquisite meals, and the trembling caress of fingers on naked skin. (In Italian and Russian with subtitles) – B.B.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/festival/films/2010/i-am-love

Mid-August Lunch* (Pranzo di Ferragosto)

Director: Gianni Di Gregorio | Run Time: 75 minutes |Country: ITALY
MID-AUGUST LUNCH is a dignified, charming film that speaks of Italians’ dedication to family and food. It’s the hot Ferragosto bank holiday, when all Italy heads for cooler parts. Gianni (played by director Gianni DiGregorio) is the caregiver for his elderly Mamma, and they have nowhere to go on holiday. Luigi, the apartment caretaker, arrives to remind Gianni that he’s overdue on rent. If, however, Gianni wouldn’t mind taking care of Luigi’s elderly Mamma overnight so he can go out of town, Luigi could waive the payments… An hour later, he’s back with his mother in tow, plus an aunt who couldn’t be left behind. Gianni’s a good-natured fellow and he begins shopping, cooking, and drinking great quantities of vino blanco, all to help them through the evening. The ladies’ demands are mounting, though, and when he experiences chest pains, he calls his doctor. Relax, says the doctor, but if you wouldn’t mind my Mamma staying here with you overnight?… (In Italian with subtitles) – B.B.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/festival/films/2010/mid-august-lunch

Vincere (Vaincre)

Director: Marco Bellocchio
Milan, on the eve of the First World War: chaos reigns and there is anarchy in the streets. Impoverished socialist provocateur Benito Mussolini meets Ida Dalser, the fiery owner of a beauty salon. Drawn to Mussolini’s magnetic personality and animal physicality, Ida begins a torrid affair with him. Enslaving herself to the aloof Mussolini and desperate for his attention, Ida sells all her possessions so he can start a newspaper. She becomes pregnant with his child and they marry quietly. But Mussolini’s career is on the rise and he has no time for her, nor for her son, also named Benito. He denies their relationship and marries another woman. In shock and despair, Ida begins stalking Il Duce, petitioning him and the Pope for retribution. When she becomes a nuisance, the Fascists take young Benito away and commit her to an asylum. Veteran director Marco Bellocchio weaves astounding archival footage and stirring period newsreels into his narrative. A grandly operatic film, VINCERE is a chronicle of the passion that can lead a woman — or a nation — from a liaison with a dictator to despair. (In Italian with subtitles) – B.B.

Info: http://www.clevelandfilm.org/films/2010/vincere

%d bloggers like this: