Fall 2021 Films

Virtual Film Screenings Fall and Spring Semester.

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August 31-September 3: A Letter to the President

A Letter to the President (Namiye Ba Rahess Gomhor) was shot in Afghanistan, indoors and out, and stars Leena Alam as Soraya, a chief police inspector who lands up on death row after being accused of killing her husband. Soraya writes to the President, who, counseled by his wife, agrees to hear her story. As the film unfolds, former law student Sadat also tells a story of political power. The plot actually rests on the power struggle between the official authorities and the local elders in the countryside, as well as former warlords and the Taliban. Soraya’s faux-pas, in the eyes of her father-in-law and thus her husband, is that she defends a teenage girl married to a much older man accused of adultery and who is bent on killing his young spouse. Soraya is then forced to choose between her work, and her husband and her two children. Meanwhile, the film has attracted attention for one particular scene which may be a spoilerfor those who have not had the chance to watch A Letter to the President. It’s the slap-on-the-stairs scene where Soraya responds in kind to her violent and alcoholic husband who lands one on her face in front of, and to please, his father, her father-in-law. A love of cinema and a strong hope of change in Afghan society, especially through culture and with the advent of a younger generation give Sadat (Director) and Dildar (Producer) the determination to continue. Their faith in cinema to help bring about change goes beyond their own films, as they a few years ago they launched an annual Women’s film festival in Afghanistan. In Dari and Farsi with English subtitles, 83 minutes, trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_txke5_nnXY

September 6-10: Coming Home Again

Based on a personal essay by Korean-American novelist Chang-rae Lee that was published in The New Yorker, Coming Home Again by Hong-Kong-American Wayne Wang is an intimate family drama about a mother, a son, and the burden of family expectations. Chang-rae, a first generation Korean-American, has returned to his family home in San Francisco to care for his ailing mother. Wanting nothing more than to fulfill his role as the supportive son, Chang-rae must come to terms with his own conflicted emotions towards his mother. The film takes place over the course of one full day. During this day, he attempts to prepare a traditional Korean New Year’s Eve dinner. The one she always cooked for the family. The care and precision that goes into preparing this meal gives him time to reflect on the intense relationship between them. Memories about their relationship become a doorway into a woman who was so much more than the mother he thought he knew. Chang-rae is now faced with the dilemma of living with the permanent scars of family sacrifice unresolved, or the risk of opening new wounds with his mother dying. Hong-Kong-American director Wayne Wang continues to authentically pioneer exploring the lives of Asian-Americans on screen, and the roles of women today. 87 minutes, trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CmAlgRCEAI

September 13-17: Beans

Beans is the first feature film by Tracey Deer, a prolific First Nation (Mohawk) documentary film maker from Quebec, Canada. The semi-autobiographic story is based on historic events that Deer lived through as a child.  It is about the 1990 Oka Crisis, a land dispute between the Mohawks living on their ancestral lands at Kanesatake, and the neighboring town of Oka, located northwest of Montreal.  The story is told through the eyes of Tekehentahkhwa, a twelve-year-old Mohawk girl nicknamed ‘Beans,’ who is caught between her childhood innocence and teenage delinquency, and whose perspective on life is radically changed by these events.  The film premiered at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival, where it was second runner up for the People’s Choice Award.  It was also featured at the 2021 New York Children’s International Film Festival in March 2021 and it won several awards, among them the Canadian Screen Award for Best Picture at the 9th Canadian Screen Awards held virtually in May 2021.  In English & French, 92 minutes, trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCFC-M0vqnY

Sponsors: The French Program and the Department of Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures                                                                                        

September 27- October 1: Gate to Heaven

Centered on the 2016 April War in Artsakh, Gate to Heaven by Armenian director Jivan Avetisyan tells the story of Robert Stenval, a journalist who returns to Artsakh, formerly known as Nagorno-Karabakh,to investigate and cover the Four-Day War. While in Artsakh, Stenval meets a young opera singer, Sofia Martirosyan – the daughter of missing photojournalist Edgar Martirosyan, who Stenval had met during the fall of the Armenian village of Talish to the Azerbajanis in 1992 during the 1991–1994 Nagorno-Karabakh War. As the film progresses, Sofia and Robert’s friendship develops into a more romantic relationship. In English, Armenian (Artsakhian dialect), 91 minutes, German and French with English subtitles trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lhm6paGM74

Sponsor: Armenian Studies Program

October 4-8: You Will Remember Me

Tu te souviendras de moi is a drama film, directed by French-Canadian Éric Tessier and based on the 2013 theatrical play by French-Canadian writer François Archambault.  It narrates the story of Édouard Beauchemin (Rémy Girard), a historian and highly visible media intellectual who prides himself on a broad philosophical insight and encyclopedic memory, but is now developing dementia and severe short-term memory loss.  The film shows how this can affect Beauchemin’s family.  Much of the film’s drama lies in the scenes between Beauchemin and a college-age but blasé Berenice who brings the film to a cathartic resolution. The film’s premiere, originally slated for March 20, 2020, was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada.  The film instead premiered at the Sarajevo Film Festival in August 2020, was screened at the 2020 Whistler Film Festival, British Columbia, Canada where Girard won the Borsos Competition award for Best Performance in a Canadian Film. In French with English subtitles, 108 minutes, trailer: https://vimeo.com/428584421

Sponsors: The French Program and the Department of Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures

October 11-15: The Sower

The Sower by Mexican director Melissa Elizondo tells the story of Bartolomé, a teacher in a multigrade school on the mountains of Chiapas in Mexico.  This dedicated educator knows that education is not solely based on textbooks and cannot always fit inside the four walls of a classroom. A true sower of knowledge, his approach to education, based on curiosity and the love of nature, makes him a beacon of hope to his Chiapas community. In Spanish with English subtitles, 86 minutes, trailer: https://vimeo.com/567906323Bartolomé, a teacher in a multigrade school on the mountains of Chiapas in Mexico, knows education is not based on textbooks and cannot fit inside the four walls of a classroom. A true sower of knowledge, his approach to education, based on curiosity and the love of nature, makes him a beacon of hope to his community. In Spanish with English subtitles, 86 minutes, trailer: https://vimeo.com/567906323

October 18-22: Carlos Jáuregui: The Unforgettable Fag

The Unforgettable Fag by Argentinean director Lucas Santa Ana is the life story of Carlos Jáuregui, the most important LGBTQ activist in Argentina in the 1980s and 90s. His leadership and tenacity led greater equality, dignity and visibility for the LGBTQ movement in Argentina. He was the first gay to come out on the cover of an Argentine magazine in the 1980s. His courage changed the lives of Argentine LGBT community and history of the country and its laws. He fought for the visibility of gays, lesbians and transgenders. Carlos Jáuregui led the first Pride March in Argentina. It unified the LGBTIQ movement. He also drafted what became Article 11 of the Statute of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, which prohibited discrimination against people on the basis of their gender identity or sexual orientation. In Spanish with English subtitles, 81 minutes, trailer: https://vimeo.com/429947986  

Sponsor: Center for Creativity and the Arts

November 1-5:: Room Without a View

Catalan director Roser Corella narrates the harsh reality of foreign domestic workers in Middle East countries. Combining multiple perspectives, it offers an intimate look at the lives of employers, intermediary agents and maids. The documentary opens an unprecedented window into a silenced reality and helps us understand the power structures that allow the existence of this evil system of modern slavery. From the legal framework that creates a control structure that promotes abuse and corruption, to the private sphere of the home that perpetuates a patriarchal system discriminating against Lebanese women and in turn violating the rights of foreign domestic workers. A courageous look at a form of contemporary slavery that reflects on the role of women and domestic work in capitalist societies. In Bengali, Arabic, French and Amharic with English subtitles, 73 minutes, trailer: https://vimeo.com/480819719

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