March 17: RiverBlue (2016)
Discussant: Roger Williams (Director)
Following international river conservationist, Mark Angelo, RiverBlue spans the globe to infiltrate one of the world’s most pollutive industries, fashion. Narrated by clean water supporter Jason Priestley, this groundbreaking documentary examines the destruction of our rivers, its effect on humanity, and the solutions that inspire hope for a sustainable future. Through harsh chemical manufacturing processes and the irresponsible disposal of toxic chemical waste, one of our favorite iconic products has destroyed rivers and impacted the lives of people who count on these waterways for their survival. RiverBue brings awareness to the destruction of some of the world’s most vital rivers through the manufacturing of our clothing, but will also act as a demand for significant change in the textile industry from the top fashion brands that can make a difference. 83 minutes, http://riverbluethemovie.com/
This film is being screened in recognition of World Water Day March 22
Sponsor: Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
CineCulture, together with Filmworks presents I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO March 10 at 5:30 & 8:30: TOWER THEATER, 815 E. OLIVE AVENUE, FRESNO
Fresno Filmworks presents the American documentary feature “I Am Not Your Negro,” a powerful reinvention of Civil Rights activist James Baldwin’s unfinished book “Remember This House.” Baldwin’s book was to be a powerful look at the lives, and ultimate deaths, of his good friends Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. The film brings Baldwin’s manuscript to life, using his own words and explorations on the racial narrative of America, with images, sounds and music from both the past and present. “I Am Not Your Negro” masterfully provides a contemporary link between the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and the present social justice movement of #BlackLivesMatter. From Haitian director and social activist Raoul Peck and narrated by Samuel L. Jackson. Closed Captioning and other assistive listening services are not available for this film. Rated PG-13, 1 hour 35 minutes.
March 3: Lunafest
Discussant: Dr. Jenna Kieckhaefer
LUNAFEST™ is a nationwide festival of short films by…for…about women. LUNAFEST™ runs from October-March, in that time it is shown by more than 100 venues nationwide and is seen by over 20,000 viewers. For one night only Fresno is lucky to hold this festival. Films touch on a variety of issues of interest to women and those who love them. For information about the films: http://www.lunafest.org/the-films
Co-Sponsor: Cross Cultural and Gender Center
February 24: Agents of Change (2016)
Discussants: Abby Ginzberg (Director) & Dr. Ramona Tascoe (SF student leader featured in the film)
From the well-publicized events at San Francisco State in 1968 to the image of black students with guns emerging from the takeover of the student union at Cornell University in April, 1969, the struggle for a more relevant and meaningful education, including demands for black and ethnic studies programs, became a clarion call across the country in the late 1960’s. Through the stories of these young men and women who were at the forefront of these efforts, Agents of Change examines the untold story of the racial conditions on college campuses and in the country that led to these protests. The film’s characters were caught at the crossroads of the civil rights, black power, and anti-Vietnam war movements at a pivotal time in America’s history. Today, over 45 years later, many of the same demands are surfacing in campus protests across the country, revealing how much work remains to be done. Agents of Change links the past to the present and the present to the past–making it not just a movie but a movement. 66 minutes http://www.agentsofchangefilm.com/
Sponsors: Henry Madden Library’s Prentice Womack Fund & Africana Studies Program
February 17: Resistance at Tule Lake (2016)
Discussant: Konrad Aderer (Director)
Over 110,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated in ten camps from 1942 to 1945, in the largest mass imprisonment of citizens in U.S. history. Resistance at Tule Lake tells the long-suppressed story of the “No-No’s” – 12,000 incarcerees who defied the government by refusing to swear unconditional loyalty to the U.S. Although refusal was an act of protest and family survival, the government branded “No-No’s” as “disloyals” and forced them to relocate to the newly militarized Tule Lake Segregation Center. 78 minutes.
Film website: http://www.resistanceattulelake.com/
This film is being screened in collaboration with the Henry Madden Library’s 9066 Japanese American Voices from the Inside collaborative exhibition and series of events which examine the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans in “exclusion areas” authorized by Executive Order 9066 which was signed on February 19, 1942, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. This action had deep and profound consequences for all the families affected and the communities they left for decades—reverberations that are still felt today. The exhibition explores this complex and searing episode in our history. For more information regarding exhibition highlights and events: https://library.fresnostate.edu/node/158
Sponsor: Henry Madden Library
CineCulture, together with Filmworks presents Oscar Nominated Short Films: Feb. 10-11: TOWER THEATER, 815 E. OLIVE AVENUE, FRESNO
For two nights only, catch an exclusive presentation of The Oscar-Nominated Short Films 2017, just weeks before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announces its winners. For the 12th straight year, Filmworks joins Magnolia Pictures and ShortsHD to continue its tradition of bringing the world’s best short-form cinema to the Central Valley. The two evenings will feature five full programs of Academy Award-nominated short movies. Closed Captioning and other assistive listening services are not available for this film.
February 3: Nakom (2016)
Discussants: Trav Pittman & Kelly Daniela Norris (Co-Directors)
Set in present day Ghana, Nakom follows Iddrisu, a talented medical student who is summoned home by his sister after their father’s sudden death. Iddrisu buries his father and temporarily assumes the head of the impoverished household and farm, inheriting not only the delicate task of planting a successful crop, but also a debt left by the deceased patriarch that could destroy the family. Attempting to maintain part of his studies from the confines of a small hut, Iddrisu becomes increasingly frustrated with the incessant needs of those around him and the demanding toil of the land. The contentious relationship with his uncle Napoleon, to whom the sizeable debt is owed, is further complicated by the unplanned pregnancy of Napoleon’s daughter who was sent to live with Iddrisu’s family. Over the course of the growing season, Iddrisu grapples with tradition, familial duty, and the overwhelming sense of urgency to do what he must to secure his own future. In Kusaal with English subtitles, 90 minutes. http://www.nakomfilm.com/
Sponsor: Africana Studies Program
January 27: Road to La Paz (2015)
Discussant: Francisco Varone (Director)
Sebastian is 35-years-old and unemployed, with only his father’s old Peugeot 505 to his name. When fate brings him a man in search of a ride, Sebastian sees no other choice but to take the opportunity. The man is Jalil, an elderly devout Muslim, and his destination is La Paz, the capitol of Bolivia some 2,000 miles from Buenos Aires. Both men are at a crossroads, and the journey of La Paz not only takes them to the north but also places them on a touching and often funny road of self-discovery. In Spanish with English subtitles, 92 minutes. https://vimeo.com/139838175?ref=em-share
Sponsors: The Department of Chicano & Latin American Studies and the Department of Political Science
CineCulture, together with Filmworks presents TRUMAN December 9, 5:30 & 8:30: TOWER THEATER, 815 E. OLIVE AVENUE, FRESNO
Cesc Gay’s moving film “Truman” captured five Goya Awards (Spain’s equivalent of the US Oscars) this year, including Best Picture, Director, Actor (Ricardo Darín), Supporting Actor (Javier Cámara), Original Screenplay (Cesc Gay and Tomàs Aragay), not to mention many other awards throughout the world. Julián, a stage actor diagnosed with terminal cancer, has determined to forego further treatment and, instead, to appreciate his remaining days. His lifelong friend Tomàs, a teacher who emigrated to Toronto to start a new life, is unsure he will be able to help his friend. Nonetheless, he travels to Madrid to assist in whatever way he can. The two find their friendship immediately revived. Together, they visit old haunts as Julián tries to right old wrongs and, most important, seek a new home for his beloved bullmastiff Truman. Told with tenderness and humor, “Truman” tells the story of a man facing his death in the best way he can. “Truman” is multilayered, honest and moving, presented in a way which avoids cloying sentimentality in favor of gentle laughter. In Spanish with English subtitles, 108 minutes, not rated.
December 2: The Destruction of Memory (2015)
Discussant: Tim Slade (Director)
This film traces the war against culture and the battle to save it. Over the past century, cultural destruction has wrought catastrophic results across the globe, including Armenia, Germany, Hungary, Bosnia, Mali, and more. This war against culture is not over – it is been steadily increasing. In Syria and Iraq, the ‘cradle of civilization,’ millennia of culture are being destroyed. The push to protect, salvage and rebuild has moved in step with the destruction. Legislation and policy have played a role, but heroic individuals have fought back, risking and losing their lives to protect not just other human beings, but our cultural identity – to save the record of who we are.
Based on the book of the same name by Robert Bevan, The Destruction of Memory tells the whole story – looking not just at the ongoing actions of Daesh (ISIS) and at other contemporary situations, but revealing the decisions of the past that allowed the issue to remain hidden in the shadows for so many years. Interviewees in the film include the Director-General of UNESCO, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, as well as diverse and distinguished international experts, whose voices combine to address this urgent issue. 81 minutes.
Co-Sponsors: The Department of Modern & Classical Languages and Literatures, and Phebe Conley Classics Endowment
*November 18: Embrace of the Serpent (El abrazo de la serpiente) (2015)
Discussant: Dr. Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval
At once blistering and poetic, the ravages of colonialism cast a dark shadow over the South American landscape in Embrace of the Serpent, the third feature by Ciro Guerra. Filmed in stunning black-and-white, Serpent centers on Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and the last survivor of his people, and the two scientists who, over the course of 40 years, build a friendship with him. The film was inspired by the real-life journals of two explorers, Theodor Koch-Grünberg and Richard Evans Schultes, who traveled through the Colombian Amazon during the last century in search of the sacred and difficult-to-find psychedelic Yakruna plant. The film has won numerous prestigious awards, including awards at Cannes Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, and was an Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film. In Spanish, Portuguese, Aboriginal, German, Catalan, and Latin, 125 minutes.
Co-Sponsors: The Department of Chicano & Latin American Studies, the College of Arts & Humanities, the Department of Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures, the Department of Political Science, and the Center for Creativity and the Arts.
CineCulture, together with Filmworks presents the 2016 Fresno Film Festival, Nov. 11-13: TOWER THEATER, 815 E. OLIVE AVENUE, FRESNO
The 2016 Fresno Film Festival, presented by Fresno Filmworks at the historic Tower Theatre, will feature eight exclusive feature-length movies from 15 different countries, including special filmmaker appearances, social gatherings, and Q&A discussions.
November 4: If Only Everyone
Discussant: Professor Barlow Der Murgrdechian
If Only Everyone is dedicated to the 20th anniversary of Armenia’s independence and the formation of the Armenian Armed Forces. The film is about a woman, Sasha, half-Armenian, half-Russian, a daughter of a freedom fighter who was killed in the Artsakh liberation war. Twenty years later, Sasha comes to Armenia in search of her father’s grave, where she wants to plant a birch tree. Sasha ecomes acquainted with her father’s combat friends, who help her carry out her mission. If Only Everyone, directed by Nataliya Belyauskene, was selected as the Armenian entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards.
Co-Sponsor: The Armenian Studies Program
October 28 : Imminent Threat (2015)
Location: Unitarian Universalist church of Fresno, 2672 E. Alluvial Ave. (between Willow and Chestnut) Fresno, CA 93720
This film is free and open to the public.
Discussant: Dr. Matthew Jendian
Imminent Threat, directed by Janek Abors documents the War on Terror’s impact on civil liberties as well as the potential coalition that may form between the progressive left and libertarian right. The film is executive produced by James Cromwell, Jillian Barba (Fresno State Alumna), Anthony A. LoPresti, and D.J. Do:30 p.m. dd. 73 minutes.
October 21: The Merchant of Venice (2004) Film will begin at 5 p.m.
Discussant: Dr. Ed EmanuEl
In the late 16th century the greatest playwright of the Western world, William Shakespeare wrote a play which still shocks the world today: The Merchant of Venice. This exciting story is one of the first plays where a woman becomes the hero of the action because of her brains and not because of her femininity. Why was this play called a “comedy” in Shakespeare’s day will be dramatically revealed after the performance of this wonderful play brought to life by one of America’s greatest film actors, Al Pacino; costarring Jeremy Collins and Lyn Collins. Rated R, 131 minutes.
The film is being shown in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the founding of the Jewish Ghetto in Venice, where the word “ghetto” originated in 1516.
CineCulture, together with Filmworks presents MISS SHARON JONES October 14, 5:30 & 8:30: TOWER THEATER, 815 E. OLIVE AVENUE, FRESNO
Two-time Academy Award-winner Barbara Kopple (Harlan County USA, Shut Up and Sing) follows Grammy-nominated R&B dynamo Sharon Jones during the most courageous year of her life. Often compared to the legendary James Brown because of her powerful and energetic performances, Sharon Jones is no stranger to challenge. For years her music career struggled as she was kept in the wings by a music industry that branded her “too short, too black, too fat.” After decades of working odd jobs, from corrections officer to wedding singer, Sharon had a middle-aged breakthrough after joining forces with Brooklyn R&B outfit The Dap Kings. In 2013, on the eve of the release of the much-anticipated album Give The People What They Want, Sharon was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Miss Sharon Jones! is a triumphant crowd-pleaser that captures an irrepressible human spirit as she battles back to where she belongs: center stage. Not rated, 93 minutes. http://abramorama.com/films/miss-sharon-jones/
October 7: Nari (2016)
Discussant: Gingger Shankar & Band
Nari is a global, multi-generational, multimedia live performance conceived by Gingger Shankar in collaboration with Dave Liang (producer of the electronic group Shanghai Restoration Project) and Sun Yunfan (artist and filmmaker). Nari is the unsung story of the lives of Lakshmi Shankar and her daughter Viji, two extraordinary artists who helped bring Indian music to the West in the 1970s through their close collaborations with Ravi Shankar and George Harrison. In Sanskrit, “Nari” means both “woman” and “sacrifice.” As two female artists who grew up in a patriarchal society and tried to establish themselves in a male-dominated field, Lakshmi and Viji fought to overcome numerous challenges in both their artistic and personal lives as they were catapulted from conservative Indian culture into the stratosphere of American Rock & Roll. Conceptualized in early 2013 and followed by recordings and filming in India, the UK, and the US, Nari premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival in Canada, and had its U.S. Premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
Co-Sponsor: The Department of Art and Design
September 30: The Violin Teacher (Tudo Que Aprendemos Juntos) (2015)
Discussant: Sergio Machado Ribeiro dos Santos (Director)
The movie tells the story of Laerte (Lázaro Ramos), a talented violinist who after failing to be admitted into the OSESP Orchestra is forced to give music classes to teenagers in a public school at Heliopolis. His path is full of difficulties, but the transforming power of music and the friendship arising between the teacher and the students open the door into a new world. In Portuguese with English subtitles, 102 minutes.
Co-Sponsors: The Department of Chicano & Latin American Studies and the Department of History
Friday, September 23: The Law (La Loi, le combat d’une femme pour toutes les femmes) (2014)
Film Screening Friday, September 23, 5:30 p.m. Peter’s Education Center Auditorium (West of Save Mart Center in the Student Recreation Center Building)
*September 22-23: Two Events: Presentation and Film Screening
Thursday, September 22: “The Jews of France”
Presentation – “The Jews of France from the French Revolution to the Present,” 3:30-4:45 p.m. Sept. 22, Fresno State’s Agricultural Science Building, Room 109. Speaker Aron Rodrigue is a professor of history and the Charles Michael Professor in Jewish history and culture at Stanford University.
Friday, September 23: The Law (La Loi, le combat d’une femme pour toutes les femmes) (2014)
Discussant: Dr. Rose Marie Kuhn
Directed by French Director Christian Faure and released in 2014, The Law brilliantly traces three days, in late Fall 1974, of stormy debate in the French National Assembly, around a bill which would make “voluntary termination of pregnancy” legal. Behind this bill stands a lone woman brilliantly played by a remarkable Emmanuelle Devos (also in The Other Son): Simone Veil the Minister of Health in the Jacques Chirac government during the presidency of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. During these three days of violent debate Veil, a Jew and Holocaust survivor, is spared nothing: political negotiations, solitude, sparring arguments, insults and violence to her family. In spite of all of this, Veil never wavers. Viewers need not be afraid of being bogged down in the vagaries of 1974 French politics: Director Christian Faure has created a breathless thriller and gave the film’s “legal and political maneuvering some of the edge of a film noir”.
A television sensation in France, this profoundly disturbing and provocative film was a finalist for best television film award at the Globes de cristal in Paris and Emmanuelle Devos as Simone Veil was nominated outstanding actress at the Nymphes d’or in Monte-Carlo. Additionally, The Law was a selection at many film festivals, including the San Francisco, New York, and San Diego Jewish Film Festivals in the US, as well as the Jerusalem and the UK Jewish Film Festivals. In French with English subtitles, 90 minutes. https://vimeo.com/154670651
Co-Sponsors: The French Program, the Department of Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures, and the Jewish Studies Certificate Program and the Jewish Studies Association
September 16: In Our Son’s Name (2015)
Discussant: Gayla Jamison (Director) & Nancy Meyer
In Our Son’s Name is an intimate portrait of Phyllis and Orlando Rodríguez, whose son, Greg, dies with thousands of others in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The bereaved parents choose reconciliation and nonviolence over vengeance and begin a transformative journey that both confirms and challenges their convictions.
They speak out against war in Iraq and Afghanistan, publicly oppose the death penalty of avowed 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and befriend his mother. As their search for meaning evolves they speak out against anti-Muslim actions and find peace in working with prison inmates. Their marriage strengthens, and they reach a deeper understanding of their rebellious son, who had just begun to find his way when his life was cut short. The film mixes in-depth interviews with on-location footage and striking archival photographs and video to create a deeply personal story that invites us to re-consider conventional concepts of justice and healing. 64 minutes. http://inoursonsname.com/
September 9: THE IDOL
Filmworks presents the Palestinian drama The Idol, was inspired by the incredible true story of a Gaza refugee who won the hearts of an entire region in 2013 when he won the Arab world’s version of American Idol. The movie follows the dream of Mohammad Assaf, a popular wedding singer whose band plays on second-hand, beat-up instruments, but whose ambitions are to someday play the world famous Cairo Opera Hall. On his unlikely journey against impossible odds, Mohammed retains hope that his voice will transcend the pain that surrounds him and bring joy to others. Although the borders are closed, he finds a way to reach the Arab Idol auditions in Cairo and make it in front of the judges. From there, destiny awaits. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad, who also directed Omar (2013) and Paradise Now (2005). In Arabic, with English subtitles, not rated, 95 minutes. http://fresnofilmworks.org/film/the-idol/
September 2: Ocean Heaven (Hai yang tian tang) (2010)
Discussant: Dr. Ed EmanuEl
In 2010 famed martial arts star, Jet Li, made one of the most unusual and beautiful films of his career: Ocean Heaven. A terminally ill father has to prepare his special needs son for a life without his father. Departing from his usual action genre films Jet Li explores a father son relationship that is tender and loving. Ironically, this film foreshadows a true life challenge in Jet Li’s life that he struggles to deal with today. In Mandarin with English subtitles, 96 minutes.
May 13: City of Gold (2016)
Fresno Filmworks presents the American independent documentary “City of Gold,” a love letter to the transformative power of food and food culture. The movie follows Pulitzer Prize-winning restaurant critic Jonathan Gold as he explores his beloved city of Los Angeles. Long adored for his writing about Southern California’s hidden culinary treasures, Gold reviews small, family-owned restaurants in far-flung ethnic enclaves with as much passion as the haute cuisine establishments of Beverly Hills. With a stroke of his pen, he has changed the lives of countless immigrant chefs, newly discovered by voracious foodies who avidly track his reviews. Through his Odyssey-like quests for new food experiences, Gold’s style of criticism offers a rare opportunity to discover the true L.A. through the eyes of its foremost cultural journalist. Rated R, 91 minutes.
May 6: Coming Home (Gui Lai) (2014)
Discussant: Dr. Ed EmanuEl
Li Yanshi and Feng Wanyu are a devoted couple forced to separate when Lu is sent to a labor camp as a political prisoner. Released during the last days of the Cultural Revolution, he finally returns home only to find that his beloved wife has amnesia and remembers little of her past. Unable to recognize Lu, she patiently waits for her husband’s return.
A stranger alone in the heart of his broken family, Lu Yanshi is determined to resurrect their past together and reawaken his wife’s memory. Based on Yan Geling’s novel, The Criminal Lu Yanshi, Coming Home is a love story about joy and sadness, as well as separation and reunion. Directed by Zhang Yimou (Hero and House of Flying Dagger). In Mandarin with English subtitles. PG-13, 109 minutes. http://sonyclassics.com/cominghome/
April 29: When Voices Meet; One United Choir; One Courageous Journey (2015)
Discussants: Marilyn Cohen (Executive Director) & Sharon Katz (Subject and Composer) & Band Members
When Nelson Mandela was finally released from prison, courageous South African musicians broke through Apartheid’s barriers to form a 500-voice, multiracial children’s choir. Threatened with bombs and thwarted at every turn, they prevailed and railroaded across the country aboard The Peace Train. Singing their way into the hearts, minds and soul of a divided nation amidst a civil war, they promoted a peaceful transition to democracy and went on to become Mandela’s face of the new rainbow nation. When Voices Meet documents the trials, tribulations and triumphs of those musician activists and young choir members. They performed together for seven years; never lost touch with one another; and then reunited 20 years later. 86 minutes. http://whenvoicesmeet.com/
Band concert following film screening and Q&A! It was music that brought the disparate groups together, and the harmony of their voices became emblematic of the new South Africa. Original songs in the trailer’s award-winning soundtrack include We Are The Children of South Africa, The Time Is Right Today and Siyajabula.
Sponsors: Beth Ann Harnish Lecture Series, Cross Cultural and Gender Center, Jewish Studies Certificate Program & Jewish Studies Association, Africana Studies Program and Global Music Lecture Series
April 22: Ghost Town to Havana (2015)
Discussant: Eugene Corr (Director)
A life rampant, street level story of mentorship and ordinary, everyday heroism in tough circumstances. An inner city coach’s son, estranged in his youth from his father, spends five years on ball fields in inner city Oakland and Havana, following the lives of two extraordinary youth baseball coaches: Nicolas Reyes, a 61-year old Afro-Cuban who coaches in a Havana neighborhood that is rich in community but struggling desperately economically, and Roscoe Bryant, a 46-year old African-American man who coaches in a troubled Oakland neighborhood wracked by three decades of gang violence. The filmmaker introduces the coaches on videotape and Coach Roscoe vows he will take his players to Cuba to play Nicolas’ team one day.
Two years of US/Cuba sanctions and red tape later, Coach Roscoe and 9 players fly to Havana to play Coach Nicolas’ team. For the next week, the boys and coaches eat, dance, swim, argue, tease, and play baseball together. The wary, street-smart, Ghost Town boys gradually warm to the fun-loving friendship of their Afro-Cuban hosts. Baseball! Girls! Fun! Real friendships form. Then Roscoe receives a fateful phone call from home. Right fielder Chris Fletcher’s stepfather has been murdered on an Oakland street. Ghost Town to Havana is contemporary in content but as old as the Greeks thematically: the human struggle to wrest life from death. 86 minutes.
Co-Sponsors: Africana Studies Program, Chicano & Latin American Studies, and Cross Cultural and Gender Center
April 15: Ixcanul (2015)
Discussant: Dr. Beatriz Coetez
María, a young 17-year old Mayan girl, lives and works with her parents on a coffee plantation on the foothills of an active volcano in Guatemala. An arranged marriage awaits her. Although Maria dreams of going to the “big city”, her condition as an indigenous woman does not permit her to change her destiny. Later on, a snake bite forces her to go out into the modern world where her life is saved, but at what price…
First-timer director Jayro Bustamante proves himself a true global up-and-comer with his Berlinale-Competition Ixcanul (Volcano). As touching as it is visually beautiful and impressively well performed, this Guatemala-France coproduction includes Edgard Tenembaum, producer of the acclaimed The Motorcycle Diaries. 93 minutes, in Mayan and Spanish with English subtitles. http://www.filmfactoryentertainment.com/ficha.php?id=129
Co-Sponsor: Chicano & Latin American Studies
April 8: Mountains May Depart (2015)
Filmworks presents the Chinese drama “Mountains May Depart,” a candidate for the Palme d’Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. The film follows the life of an easygoing drifter, Tao, and those closest to her in three time periods: 1999, 2014, and 2025. The multi-generational story examines how China’s economic boom and a culture of materialism has affected the bonds of family, tradition, and love. Tao’s story, both colorful and moving, shows more than just Chinese history; it’s an ever-changing study of what it means to be human. Written and directed by the acclaimed master filmmaker Jia Zhangke, who is regarded a leader in the Sixth Generation movement of Chinese cinema. Starring Tao Zhao, Yi Zhang, and Jing Dong Liang. In Cantonese, Mandarin, and English, with English subtitles. Not rated, 131 minutes.
April 1: Our Village (2014)
Discussant: Yelena Arshakyan (Director)
The director is traveling from Yerevan Armenia to join us for the screening of her film.
The movie tells the story of a modern village, particularly three neighbors, who live in this village, about their relations, wishes and bothers. These three rural families and immigration, which is a general problem for all Armenians, gave nationwide publicity to this movie. The most important problems are not presented by the oration pointed to countersignature, but by the combination of the genres of lyrical comedy and drama. In Armenian with English subtitles. 97 minutes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGXfSPzP59w
Co-Sponsor: Armenian Studies Program
March 18: Racing Extinction (2015)
Discussant: Dr. Heather Rally (involved in the film’s production)
In Racing Extinction, a team of artists and activists exposes the hidden world of extinction with never-before-seen images that will change the way we see the planet. Two worlds drive extinction across the globe, potentially resulting in the loss of half of all species. The international wildlife trade creates bogus markets at the expense of creatures that have survived on this planet for millions of years. And the other surrounds us, hiding in plain sight — a world that the oil and gas companies don’t want the rest of us to see. Using covert tactics and state-of-the-art technology, the Racing Extinction team exposes these two worlds in an inspiring affirmation to preserve life as we know it. From the Academy Award® Winning Filmmakers of “The Cove.” The soundtrack features the Oscar nominated (Original song category, 2015) “Manta Ray.” 90 minutes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwxyrLUdcss
March 11: The Treasure (2016)
Filmworks presents the Romanian dark comedy “The Treasure,” the satirical tale of a search for buried treasure that won the Prix Un Certain Talent at the Cannes Film Festival. The movie tells the story of Costi, a family man and self-proclaimed Robin Hood to his 6-year-old son. One night, Costi’s cash-strapped neighbor reveals a family secret that sets the two on a twisted, weekend-long comic caper at a hidden family home in the country. Hoping to be a hero for his son, Costi pools his money for a metal detector, and the tumultuous search for redemption begins. From Romanian filmmaker Corneliu Porumboiu, whose 2007 debut film “12:08 East of Bucharest” won the Caméra d’Or at Cannes. Starring Toma Cuzin and Adrian Purcărescu. In Romanian, with English subtitles, not rated.
March 4: Güeros (2014)
Discussant: Dr. Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval
Güeros tells the story of Sombra and Santos, who have been living in motionless, angst-ridden limbo since the National University student strike of 1999 broke out. Their slacker routine is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Tomás, Sombra’s lighter-skinned kid brother. Tomás discovers that unsung Mexican folk-rock hero Epigmenio Cruz has been hospitalized somewhere in the city and wants to track him down in order to pay final respects to him. But a simple trip to find their childhood idol soon becomes a voyage of self-discovery and bonding across Mexico City’s invisible frontiers. The film has been an international festival favorite, and it won five top honors at the 2015 Ariel Awards, Mexico’s equivalent of the Oscars. Filmmaker Alonso Ruizpalacios creates a love letter to Mexico City in his directorial debut. Critic A.O. Scott of The New York Times praised Güeros for being “sweetly nostalgic and exuberantly now.” Not rated, 90 minutes. In Spanish with English subtitles. http://www.kinolorber.com/film.php?id=2008
February 26: The Experimenter (2015)
Discussant: Dr. Robert Levine & Dr. Spee Kosloff
Yale University, 1961. Stanley Milgram (Peter Sarsgaard) designs a psychology experiment that remains relevant to this day, in which people think they’re delivering painful electric shocks to an affable stranger (Jim Gaffigan) strapped into a chair in another room. Disregarding his pleas for mercy, the majority of subjects do not stop the experiment, administering what they think are near-fatal electric shocks, simply because they’ve been told to. Milgram’s exploration of authority and conformity strikes a nerve in popular culture and the scientific community. Celebrated in some circles, Milgram is also accused of being a deceptive, manipulative monster. His wife Sasha (Winona Ryder) anchors him through it all. Rated PG-13, 98 minutes. http://www.magpictures.com/experimenter/
Discussants: Mo Scarpelli (Co-Director)
After decades of war and an oppressive Taliban regime, four Afghan photojournalists face the realities of building a free press in a country left to stand on its own – reframing Afghanistan for the world and for themselves. When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, taking a photo was a crime. After the regime fell from power in 2001, a fledgling free press emerged and a photography revolution was born. Now, as foreign troops and media withdraw, Afghanistan is left to stand on its own, and so are its journalists. Set in a modern Afghanistan bur
sting with color and character, Frame by Frame follows four Afghan photojournalists as they navigate an emerging and dangerous media landscape – reframing Afghanistan for the world, and for themselves. Through cinema vérité, intimate interviews, powerful photojournalism, and never-before-seen archival footage shot in secret during the Taliban regime, the film connects audiences with four humans in the pursuit of the truth. 85 minutes, in Dari & English. http://www.framebyframethefilm.com/
3 ½ Minutes, 10 Bullets (2015)
Discussant: Dr. DeAnna Reese, Thomas Whit-Ellis and Melissa Harris
In 3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bullets, two lives intersected and were forever altered. On Black Friday 2012, two cars parked next to each other at a Florida gas station. A white middle-aged male and a black teenager exchanged angry words over the volume of the music in the boy’s car. A gun entered the exchange, and one of them was left dead. Michael Dunn fired 10 bullets at a car full of unarmed teenagers and then fled. Three of those bullets hit 17-year-old Jordan Davis, who died at the scene. Arrested the next day, Dunn claimed he shot in self-defense. Thus began the long journey of unraveling the truth. 3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bullets follows that journey, reconstructing the night of the murder and revealing how hidden racial prejudice can result in tragedy. A harrowing exploration of criminal justice gone awry & an all-too-timely film that speaks loudly to the current racial climate in America. — Indiewire 98 minutes.
January 29: Dawn of the World (L’aube du monde, 2008)
Discussant: Dr. Rose Marie Kuhn
Directed by Iraqi-born French film maker Abbas Fahdel, Dawn of the World is set in the Mesopotamian Marshes. This complex of shallow freshwater lakes, swamps, marshes, and seasonally inundated plains between the Tigris and Euphrates makes up the largest river delta in the Middle East. Located in southwestern Iraq on the border with Iran and Kuwait, the area is known as the land of the mythical Garden of Eden, explains the film director. This is where the Maadan tribes, also known as the Marsh Arabs, live, and where Mastur and Zahra grow up.
Shortly after their marriage, the first Gulf War breaks out and Mastur is sent to the front. There he befriends Riad, a young Baghdadi soldier, and makes him promise to protect Zahra should something happen to him… Fahdel’s film is a visual poem taking place in a haunting and magical landscape. The simplicity of his plot and the beauty of the images of the film almost make the story seem like a misty dream.
Starring in the film are two actresses whom some of the viewers might have seen in Radu Mihaileanu’s film La source des femmes (2011), Tunisian-French Hafsia Herzi as Zhara and Arab-Israeli Hiam Abbass as Mastur’s mother. Additionally, Dawn of the World won the prestigious Grand Prix for the Best Screenwriter in France. In Arabic and French, with English subtitles. 96 minutes. Trailer (in French): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8V9rZ11aIc
August 29: BESA: The Promise (2012)
Discussant: Christine Romero (Producer/Editor)
BESA: The Promise weaves Albania’s heroism in WWII through the vérité journeys of two men. One is Norman Gershman, a renowned Jewish-American photographer determined to document first-person accounts of the Albanian Muslims who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. The other is Rexhep Hoxha, a Muslim-Albanian. Rexhep must fulfill the promise made to a Jewish family his father rescued during the Holocaust and return to them a set of Hebrew books they left behind. And Rexhep’s promise is more than words — it’s part of his besa — an honor code that, among other things, pledges all Albanians to offer safe harbor to refugees. With Norman’s help, Rexhep embarks on a journey to Bulgaria and Israel. His quest brings about an epiphany that he is part of this Jewish family — even as his Islamic faith, long suppressed under decades of communism, is affirmed. Through the stories of Rexhep and his fellow Muslims, we discover a nation of everyday heroes far removed from the narrative of violent Islam and anti-Semitism that’s so often portrayed in media today. And, through the experiences of Norman Gershman and the first-person accounts of Jewish survivors, we hear stories of gratitude to Muslim rescuers that have gone unheard for almost seventy years. More than seven years in the making, the film presents a powerful human drama compounded by a devastating twist. It is a story that that bridges generations and religions … uniting fathers and sons … Muslims and Jews. 90 minutes. http://besathepromise.com/thefilm.html
September 5: In the Shadow (2012)
Discussant: Dr. Ed EmanuEl
In the Shadow is a gritty, dark, exciting crime drama set in Czechoslovakia during the criminal and repressive domination of that country in 1950s by the Soviet Union. Directed by famed film director/producer David Ondricek and written by, who many are calling Czechoslovakia’s boy genius, Marek Epstein, In the Shadow is a gripping film experience. The film stars the great Czech film actor, Ivan Trojan and co-star Sebastian Koch, one of Germany’s finest film actors. Trojan plays Police Captain Haki who has been called into investigate what seems to be a simple jewel robbery. Events soon get completely out of control and Haki finds himself in the middle of a political fire storm, anti-Semitism, and a Cold War attack on the USA by using the Czech legal system. The cinematic technique used in this film is reminiscent of both film noir and Alfred Hitchcock’s brilliant use of the Camera to increase tension and advance the plot. 106 minutes. In Polish, German and Czech with English subtitles. http://www.intheshadowfilm.com/
*September 12: Filmworks: May in the Summer (2013)
Discussant: Cherien Dabis (Director)
Filmworks presents the multicultural romantic comedy “May in the Summer,” the latest feature from Palestinian American filmmaker Cherien Dabis. The movie, which has charmed festival audiences from Venice to Sundance, tells the story of May, a sophisticated and educated New Yorker who travels to her childhood home of Amman, Jordan for her wedding. Immediately upon returning home — a cosmopolitan Middle Eastern city, still full of natural and spiritual landscapes — the cracks in her seemingly perfect life begin to show. Her Christian mother disapproves of her fiancé Muslim faith, her sisters revert to behaving like rebellious teenagers, and their estranged father attempts to make amends for divorcing their mother for a younger woman. Confronted with the unavoidable wounds of her own family’s long-broken relationships, the fresh culture clash of old-world traditions and modern values leaves May at a crossroads. Written, directed by, and starring Dabis, whose debut feature film “Amreeka” played to international acclaim in 2009. Co-starring Hiam Abbass, Alia Shawkat, and Bill Pullman.
99 minutes, Rated R. Film website: http://www.cohenmedia.net/films/may-in-the-summer
For additional information: http://fresnofilmworks.org/film/may-in-the-summer/
September 19: Soft Vengeance: Albie Sachs and the New South Africa (2014)
Discussant: Abby Ginzberg (Director)
Soft Vengeance is a film about Albie Sachs, a lawyer, writer, art lover and freedom fighter, set against the dramatic events leading to the overthrow of the apartheid regime in South Africa. Shining a spotlight on Albie’s story provides a prism through which to view the challenges faced by those unable to tolerate a society founded on principles of slavery and disempowerment of South Africa’s majority black population. As a young man, Albie defended those committed to ending apartheid in South Africa. For his actions as a lawyer, he was imprisoned in solitary confinement in Cape Town, tortured through sleep deprivation and forced into exile. In 1988 he was blown up by a car bomb set by the South African security forces in Maputo, Mozambique, which cost him his right arm and the sight of one eye, but miraculously he survived and after a long year of rehabilitation in England, he recovered. Returning to South Africa following the release of Nelson Mandela, Albie helped write the new Constitution and was then appointed as one of the first 11 judges to the new Constitutional Court, which for the past 20 years has been insuring that the rights of all South Africans are afforded protection. 90 minutes. As Albie was recovering in a London hospital from the car bomb he received a note reading: “Don’t worry, comrade Albie, we will avenge you.” What kind of country would it be, he wondered, if it ended up filled with people who were blind and without arms? But if we achieve democracy, freedom and the rule of law, he said to himself, that will be my soft vengeance.” As it turned out, the first phase of his soft vengeance started with his becoming one of the principal architects of South Africa’s new non-racial, non-sexist Constitution. It went on to include his meeting through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission with the man who had organized the placing of the bomb in his car, and ended with him being chosen by Nelson Mandela as one of the first eleven members of South Africa’s first Constitutional Court set up to guarantee the implementation of the fundamental rights for which they had been fighting. Adding to the visual texture of the film is the story behind the construction of the Constitutional Court building, in which Albie played a critical role. He was among those who recommended that the new Court building be erected in the heart of the prison where both Gandhi and Mandela had been imprisoned and be designed to represent enlightenment and hope where once there had been despair. Albie became curator in chief of the Court’s unique art collection representing the themes of human dignity, equality and freedom that lay at the heart of the new Bill of Rights. As Albie said: “The building was designed to be a continuing part of the freedom struggle, and to epitomize in its very openness and sense of humaneness, the values of human dignity, equality and freedom that lay at the core of the constitutional endeavor.” 70 minutes. http://softvengeancefilm.org/MAIN.html
September 26: Dancing in Jaffa (2013)
Discussant: Hilla Medalia (Director)
Pierre Dulaine, four-time ballroom dancing world champion, is fulfilling a life-long dream when he takes his program, Dancing Classrooms, back to his city of birth, Jaffa. For generations, Jaffa has been a city divided by two communities that continue to grow increasingly apart. Over a ten-week period, Pierre teaches Jewish and Palestinian Israeli children to dance and compete together. The film explores the complex stories of three children, all of whom who are forced to confront issues of identity, segregation, and racial prejudice as they dance with their enemy. We watch Pierre transform their lives, confirming his belief that dance can overcome hatred and provide the first steps towards real change.
Pierre Dulaine, an internationally renowned ballroom dancer, fulfills a life-long dream when he takes his program, Dancing Classrooms, back to his city of birth, Jaffa. Over a ten-week period, Pierre teaches 10-year-old Palestinian-Israeli and Jewish- Israeli children to dance and compete together. Dancing in Jaffa explores the complex stories of three different children, who are forced to confront issues of identity, segregation and racial prejudice as they dance with their enemy. The classroom becomes a microcosm of the Middle East’s struggle to work together harmoniously while still caught in the politics of the region and race. With the guidance of Pierre, the children learn to dance together and trust one another. Dancing In Jaffa offers an up-close-and-personal perspective of how the future might unfold if the art of movement and dance could triumph over the politics of history and geography. 90 minutes. In English, Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles. http://www.dancinginjaffa.com/
October 3: La Source des Femmes (The Source) (2011)
Discussant: Dr. Rose Marie Kuhn
In a small village somewhere “between North Africa and the Middle East,” it has always been a woman’s chore to fetch water from the “source,”or spring, at the top of the mountain. This arduous task has caused several women to fall and miscarry while hauling their heavy pails of water back to the village. Leila, a young bride, urges the village women to action: no more hugs, love and sex until the men do their part and bear the painful task of fetching water from the spring back to their village. This whimsical and sometimes heartbreaking Belgian-Moroccan-French comedy directed by Romanian-born French filmmaker Radu Mihaileanu was selected for screening at the 2011 Festival of Cannes. 124 minutes. In Arabic with English subtitles. Trailer in English: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwanQtCJGeM
October 17: Libertador (The Liberator) (2013)
Discussant: Dr. Maria-Aparecida Lopes
An impressively scaled chronicle of the life and times of Simon Bolivar, hero of South American anti-colonialist struggles in the early 19th century. The film journeys through the impassioned struggle of Simón Bolívar’s (Édgar Ramírez) fight for independence in Latin America from Spain and his vision of a united South American nation. Bolivar rode over 70,000 miles on horseback. His military campaigns covered twice the territory of Alexander the Great. His army never conquered – it liberated. 119 minutes. In Spanish with English subtitles.
October 24: Grandma’s Tattoos (2011)
Discussant: Suzanne Khardalian (Director/Producer)
Grandma’s Tattoos lifts the veil of thousands of forgotten women—survivors of the Armenian Genocide—who were forced into prostitution and tattooed to distinguish them from the locals.
“As a child I thought these were devilish signs that came from a dark world. They stirred fear in me. What were these tattoos? Who had done them, and why? But the tattoos on grandma’s hands and face were a taboo. They never spoke about it,” explains Khardalian. Grandma’s Tattoos is a journey into the secrets of the family. Eventually, the secret behind Grandma Khanoum’s blue marks are revealed. “Grandma was abducted and kept in slavery for many years somewhere in Turkey. She was also forcibly marked—tattooed—as property, the same way you mark cattle. The discovery of the story has shaken me. I share the shame, the guilt, and anger that infected my grandma’s life. Grandma Khanoum’s fate was not an aberration. On the contrary, tens of thousands of Armenian children and teenagers were raped and abducted, kept in slavery,” she explains. The story of Grandma’s Tattoos is a personal film about what happened to many Armenian women during the genocide. It is a ghost story—with the ghosts of the tattooed women haunting us—and a mystery film, where many taboos are broken. As no one wants to tell the reel and whole story, and in order to bring the pieces of the puzzle together, the director makes us move between different times and space, from today’s Sweden to Khardalian’s childhood in Beirut. 58 minutes.
October 31: Nosotros los Nobles (We are the Nobles) (2013)
When successful construction mogul Herman Noble accidentally stumbles onto his children’s credit card statements, he discovers they are spending money beyond control. His oldest son Javier, neglects the family business in exchange of his own ridiculous business ideas. His daughter Barbara gets engaged to a 40 year-old gigolo just to spike her father, Herman, and his youngest son Charlie was expelled from college after having sex with the teacher. Herman realizes his children are spoiled beyond redemption and decides to teach them a lesson, before its too late. Nosotros los Nobles is a 2013 Mexican comedy film directed by Gary Alazraki, the most successful Mexican film of all time. Rated: PG-13, 108 minutes. In Spanish with English subtitles. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvhIeGXM2OU
CineCulture, together with Filmworks presents: Levitated Mass
November 14: Levitated Mass (2014)
Filmworks re-ignites a centuries-old debate — “What is art?” — when it presents the American independent documentary “Levitated Mass.” The movie tells the story of a spectacle in motion: a 340-ton granite boulder is painstakingly moved from a quarry in Riverside to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, then mounted atop the walls of a gigantic slot in the earth. The massive display of conceptual art, a “land sculpture” created by the reclusive and often-misunderstood artist Michael Heizer, references the expanse of art history, from ancient traditions of megalithic stones to modern forms of , cutting-edge feats of engineering. The boulder’s 105-mile journey from quarry to museum draws international attention, and it challenges the imaginations of thousands of Southern Californians over the course of 10 nights in 2012, as it crawls through 22 cities aboard a football-field length, 206-wheeled trailer. From veteran filmmaker Doug Pray, who directed “Art & Copy,” “Surfwise,” and other films about unusual subcultures. Featuring an experimental score from the band Akron/Family. 89 minutes, not rated.
November 21: Couleur de Peau: Miel (Approved for Adoption) (2012)
Discussant: Dr. Rose Marie Kuhn
Couleur de peau: Miel was codirected by French director Laurent Boileau and Korean-born Belgian comic book artist Jung Sik-jun. It tells Jung’s own story who, as a young boy, was adopted by a Belgian family and grew up in Belgium. Based on Jung’s eponymous comic book series, this film chronicles the important moments of his childhood and adolescence and alternates between documentary footage of live action, animation sequences in 2D and 3D, and archival images. The film received several awards in 2013 including: the Grand Prize for Animation at the Japan Media Arts Festival, and both the Grand Prize and Audience Award at the World Festival of Animated Films in Zagreb, Croatia. 75 minutes. In French and Korean with English subtitles. Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTz4nWpL5DI
December 5: Siddharth (2013)
Discussant: Richie Mehta (Director)
After sending away his 12 year-old son Siddharth for work, Mahendra (a chain-wallah who fixes broken zippers on the streets) is relieved – his financial burdens will be alleviated. But when Siddharth fails to return home, Mahendra learns he may have been taken by child-traffickers. With little resources and no connections, he travels across India in pursuit, with the hope that whatever force arbitrarily took his child away will return him unharmed. Inspired by a true story. In Hindi with English subtitles, 96 minutes. http://siddharththefilm.com/
December 12: Bird People (2014)
Filmworks presents the French experimental drama “Bird People,” an official selection Un Certain Regard at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. The movie takes place inside a hotel at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, a sometimes dreary site of travel slowdowns and inconvenience that transforms into a place of promise and hope as it serves to bring two lost souls, Gary and Audrey, together. Fed up with the stresses of his work and home life, Gary, an American businessman en route to Dubai, views his overnight layover as an opportunity to start fresh in Europe. For Audrey, a Parisian chambermaid, the hotel is her ticket through college and an opportunity to move on from a humdrum life. As their paths cross nearer in the halls of the hotel, their lives change in an unimaginable way. Directed by French filmmaker Pascale Ferran, who previously directed the 2006 adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterly.” Starring Josh Charles, Anais Demoustier, and Radha Mitchell. In French, English, and Japanese, with English subtitles. 128 minutes. Not rated.
February 20: Field of Amapolas (Jardin the Amapolas) (2012)
Discussant: Dr. Patricia Rodriguez
Emilio and his nine-year-old son are forced to abandon their parcel of land overnight due to threats that they and the locals have been collaborating with the enemy in the guerilla war that has been ravaging rural Colombia for years. A relative helps them relocate and, despite his initial reticence, Emilio ends up working on a poppy plantation. At the heart of the story is Luisa, with whom Emilio’s son shares the secret companionship of a neighborhood dog. Filmed in the south of Colombia, near Melo Guevara’s native Ipiales, this is a film about the plight of innocent civilians displaced by war. Sitting on the fence is not an option and it is almost impossible for them not to get mixed up in illegal activities. However, the final flashback of the children leaves us with an inkling of hope for a better future. In Spanish with English subtitles. 87 minutes.
February 27: Josh/ Against the Grain (2013)
Discussant: Iram Parveen Bilal (Director)
Josh, inspired by true events, is the story of a privileged woman whose life is shattered in a single moment. It is the story of a woman in search for a dangerous truth. It is the story of the biggest challenge to Pakistan’s still reigning feudalism: the country’s youth. The film explores the internal debates the young are struggling with, and how solutions can be attainable if and when they stand united.
Fatima, a committed schoolteacher living the cosmopolitan high life in Karachi, is devastated when her nanny, Nusrat, inexplicably disappears. Though her friends and family beg her not to disturb the status quo and confront the powerful feudals in Nusrat’s village, Fatima travels there to investigate. Josh is a story of hope, of trying, of redemption. It is a story of the youth, of Pakistan, of the pain, the pleasure and the spirit of unity and independence. Ultimately, it is about “never giving up.” 103minutes, rated PG-13. http://www.thefilmjosh.com/
March 6: RIO 2096
Discussant: Adela Santana
Rio 2096 is an animated film with a graphic novel slant revolving around the love between an immortal hero and Janaína, the woman he has been in love with for 600 years. Luiz Bolognesi has set the story in four phases of Brazil’s history: colonization, slavery, military regime and the future, in 2096, in the midst of wars for water. The film stars the voice talents of Selton Mello and Camila Pitanga as the two main characters. The feature film also counts on the voice of Rodrigo Santoro as an Indian Chief and warrior. 98 minutes. In Portuguese with English subtitles.
Co-Sponsors: Chicano & Latin American Studies and History Departments
Post Screening Discussion Circle following the 5:30 featuring Dr. Rose Marie Kuhn (Fresno State French Program Professor and longtime union representative with the California Faculty Association)
Fresno Filmworks will present one of the most acclaimed international movies of last year, the poignant and powerful Belgian labor drama “Two Days, One Night.” The movie, starring Oscar nominee for Best Actress, Marion Cotillard, shines a harsh and realistic light on the struggles of working-class women.
The film tells the story of Sandra, a factory worker who has just returned to her job after taking medical leave for depression. Realizing in her absence that the small company can operate with one fewer employee, management tells Sandra she may be let go. Within two days and one night, Sandra is forced to decide her fate by appealing individually to her co-workers, asking them one-by-one to give up their bonuses in order to allow her to stay. Sandra’s race against time tests the limits of a working-class community’s solidarity. Belgian filmmaker brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, who are two-time winners of the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes, direct. The Dardenne brothers are known for their deliberate, naturalistic movies, as they follow the lives of working-class characters. Rated PG-13, French and Arabic, with English subtitles.
March 20: Oil & Water (2014)
Discussant: Hugo Lucitante (Student Activist featured in the film)
Oil & Water is the coming of age story of two boys as they each confront one of the world’s worst toxic disasters, the prolonged contamination of the Ecuadorian Amazon by Texaco and other oil companies. Hugo comes to America to fight for the survival of his tribe, the Cofán, while David goes to Ecuador to launch the world’s first company to certify oil as “fair trade.” Can Hugo become the leader his tribe so desperately wants him to be? Will David clean up one of the world’s dirtiest industries? This film is an intimate portrait of two young people finding their voices and trying to beat incredible odds. Their journeys lead them to explore what could be a more just future, not just for the people of the Amazon, but for all people around the world born with oil beneath their feet. Eight years in the making Oil & Water is a shocking and inspiring David and Goliath story. 78 minutes.
March 27: Celluloid Exiles: A Brief History of the Armenian Genocide and Diaspora on Film
Discussant: Eric Nazarian (Director)
Director Eric Nazarian will present a historical overview of the Armenians as represented in cinema, the genesis of “Ravished Armenia,” the first film produced in Hollywood about the Genocide, and later productions of the 20th century depicting the Genocide and/or the Armenian experience of exile including the films of Elia Kazan (America, America), Atom Egoyan (Ararat) and Henry Verneuil (Mayrig). Nazarian will also screen and discuss (Bolis), a documentary short film he wrote and directed, which tells the story of Armenak Mouradian, an Armenian oud musician from the Diaspora who travels to Istanbul to find his grandfather’s oud shop and a family heirloom that disappeared during the Armenian Genocide.
Co-Sponsor: Armenian Studies Program
KUMIKO THE TREASURE HUNTER: April 10, 5:30 & 8:45
Post Screening Discussion Circle following the 5:30 featuring David Zellner (Director)
After the 5:30 show, join visiting filmmaker David Zellner to talk about the film. Based in Austin, Texas, Zellner often writes, directs, and co-stars with his brother Nathan in feature films, short films, and music videos. Discussion moderated by Dr. Mary Husain.
Fresno Filmworks presents the darkly comedic adventure fable “Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter,” an American independent film starring Rinko Kikuchi. The inspiration: In 2001, an urban legend circulated online about a lonely Japanese woman who discovered a hidden copy of “Fargo” on VHS, leaving her life in Tokyo for the American Upper Midwest in a hunt for the movie’s buried treasure. The film tells the imagined story of Kumiko, a frustrated secretary whose imagination transcends the confines of her mundane life. She becomes obsessed with a mysterious, battered copy of the Coen brothers classic—a fictional movie she mistakes for a documentary— fixating on one scene where a suitcase of stolen cash is buried in the desolate landscape of rural North Dakota. Believing the treasure to be real, Kumiko plunges herself into a wild and dangerous odyssey unlike anything she has seen in the movies. The visually stunning and strangely touching underdog story is written and directed by indie filmmaker brothers David and Nathan Zellner, stars of numerous award-winning shorts and the 2012 Sundance hit “Kid-Thing,” with a surreal lead performance from Kikuchi, a 2006 Oscar nominee for Best Supporting Actress in “Babel.” Featuring an electronic score from The Octopus Project. In English and Japanese, with English subtitles. Not rated. 105 minutes.
April 17: The Hunting Ground (2015)
Discussant: Kirby Dick (Director)
From the team behind THE INVISIBLE WAR, comes a startling exposé of rape crimes on U.S. campuses, institutional cover-ups and the brutal social toll on victims and their families. Weaving together verité footage and first-person testimonies, the film follows survivors as they pursue their education while fighting for justice — despite harsh retaliation, harassment and pushback at every level. 90 minutes.
April 24: Omar (2013)
Discussant: Dr. Richard Falk
Winner of the Jury Prize, Un Certain Regard, at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and also a Best Foreign Language Film nominee at the 2014 Academy Awards, “Omar,” directed by Hany Abu-Assad, unfolds as a gripping thriller about betrayal—both suspected and real—in the Occupied Territories. The movie follows the story of Omar, a Palestinian baker by day who routinely evades surveillance bullets and climbs over the separation wall to visit his secret love, Nadia. By night, however, Omar acts as a freedom fighter alongside childhood friends Amjad and Tarek to strike at the Israeli military. After being arrested in the killing of an Israeli soldier and tricked into an admission of guilt by association, he agrees to work as an informant, which leads him into a game of cat-and-mouse with the military police. Unsure of who he can trust on either side, Omar’s feelings begin to mirror that of his country: deeply torn and conflicted. It soon becomes evident, though, that he survives for his love of Nadia. In Arabic and Hebrew, with English subtitles. Not rated. 98 minutes.
May 1: The Golden Dream (La jaula de oro) (2013)
Discussant: Dr. Adán Avalos
Juan, Sara and Samuel, all 15 years old, flee from Guatemala towards the USA. On their journey through Mexico they meet Chauk, a Tzotzil Indian who does not speak Spanish and has no official documents. They all believe they will find a better world beyond the USA-Mexico border but they run into a harsh reality. 108 minutes. In Spanish and Tzotzil with English subtitles.
THE WRECKING CREW: May 8, 5:30 & 8:45
Post Screening Discussion Circle following the 5:30 featuring Denny Tedesco (Director)
After the early show, visiting filmmaker and director Denny Tedesco will speak about his father’s legacy and about the decades of inspiration behind the film. Based in Los Angeles, Tedesco has worked as a set designer, lighting technician and location producer. Discussion moderated by Dr. Mary Husain.
Fresno Filmworks will present one of the greatest underdog stories in documentary history: the story of “The Wrecking Crew,” the group of unsung musicians behind the most popular artists of a generation, including Nat “King” Cole, Frank Sinatra and more than a dozen icons of American pop music.
The movie, directed by first-time filmmaker Denny Tedesco, tells the behind-the-scenes tale of The Wrecking Crew, which included one of the greatest session guitarists in history, his father Tommy Tedesco. In the 1960s and early ’70s, the Grammy for “Record of the Year” went to recordings made by The Wrecking Crew for six years in a row. The music they made defined the “West Coast Sound,” which became a dominant cultural force around the world. The film includes interviews with Brian Wilson, Cher, Nancy Sinatra, Herb Alpert, Glen Campbell, Gary Lewis, and Crew members themselves. Rated P.G. 101 minutes.
August 28th: Aram, Aram
Discussant: Christopher Chambers (Director)
Aram, Aram is the first American independent dramatic film to take movie viewers inside the Armenian Community of Los Angeles. Indeed, a tragic accident uproots Aram, a 12-year-old Armenian boy, from his idyllic Beirut childhood, sending him to live with his grandfather in Los Angeles. Aram begins a new routine at his grandfather’s humble shoe repair shop and becomes friends with a young Latina from the neighborhood market. Lured by a gangster’s bravado to unite Armenians against the neighborhood Latino thugs, Aram is drawn into a dangerous urban culture that clashes with his grandfather’s values. Aram struggles to make sense of his new surroundings, his soulful eyes conveying a deep internal conflict between mourning for his old life and forging a new independent identity. Featuring well-known Armenian talent, first time director Christopher Chambers’ moving film portrays the complexities of life within the insular enclave of Little Armenia. 85 minutes. In English and Armenian with English subtitles.
September 4: Sweet Dreams
Discussant: Lisa Fruchtman (Director)
Rwanda suffered a devastating genocide in 1994. Close to a million were killed by neighbors, friends and even family members. Horror swept through the entire country. And when it was over, those who remained were broken, dead inside. The country has made great strides in economic recovery, but “people are not like roads and buildings” says Kiki Katese, a pioneering Rwandan theater director. “How do we rebuild a human being?” Kiki decided to start Ingoma Nshya, Rwanda’s first and only women’s drumming troupe, open to women from both sides of the conflict. There was only one requirement: to leave the categories of the past at the gate. For the women—orphans, widows, wives and children of perpetrators—the group has been a place to begin to live again, to build new relationships, to heal the wounds of the past. Yet the struggle to survive and provide for their families still persists. So when Kiki came up with the idea to open Rwanda’s first and only ice cream shop, the women were intrigued … What was ice cream exactly and how would they do it? Kiki invited Jennie and Alexis of Brooklyn’s Blue Marble Ice Cream to come to Rwanda to help the drummers open their shop, which they aptly named Inzozi Nziza (Sweet Dreams). Sweet Dreams follows this remarkable group of Rwandan women as they emerge from the devastation of the genocide to create a new future for themselves. “Because of our history, people know how to fight against, but not for,” Kiki says. “We want to change that equation.” 89 minutes, in Kinyarwanda with English subtitles. http://www.sweetdreamsrwanda.com/
September 11: Filmworks: The Wandering Muse
On the anniversary of Sept. 11, Filmworks presents a film directed by Tamás Wormser about resilience and togetherness: the independent documentary The Wandering Muse. This movie tells the story of wandering Jewish musicians, who, for millennia, as reluctant nomads, have used their music instruments as passports to the world. In an Argentine bar, two friends play tango-infused klezmer. In rural Uganda, villagers chant Hebrew prayers in East African harmonies. At a Montreal party, an artist mixes hip-hop and jazz with cantorial singing in a multilingual tour-de-force. And in a Berlin apartment, an American harmonizes with a Russian in a rendition of an anti-Zionist song from the 1920s. From ram’s horn to beatbox, director Tamás Wormser examines a kaleidoscope of Jewish identities through the invigorating and ever-changing music of the Jewish diaspora. 93 minutes, in nine different languages, with English subtitles. Not rated.
September 18: Brahmin Bulls
Discussant: Mahesh Pailoor (Director)
For Sid Sharma, life has not quite worked out the way he planned. A thirty-something disillusioned architect struggling to save his failing marriage, Sid stumbles through his days on a self-destructive path while holding his wife’s beloved cat hostage. Meanwhile Ashok, Sid’s estranged and widowed father living in Boston, decides to make a last-minute trip to LA for an academic conference. When Ashok arrives at Sid’s doorstep unannounced, the two men begin a journey to mend their strained relationship until Sid discovers the true purpose behind his father’s visit – a woman with whom he had an affair, years ago. Starring Sendhil Ramamurthy, Roshan Seth, Academy Award winner Mary Steenburgen, Justin Bartha, and Academy Award nominated Michael Lerner, Brahmin Bulls is a heartfelt and humorous look at the ever-evolving relationship between a father and son, the women in their lives, and the powerful secrets they keep. 96 minutes. http://brahminbulls.com/
*September 25: Leviathan
Discussant: Dr. Michelle DenBeste
Screening at 5 p.m.
The latest drama from Andrey Zvyagintsev, the acclaimed director of The Return (Venice Film Festival Golden Lion winner and Golden Globe nominee) was nominated for Best Foreign Film of the Year at the 2015 Academy Awards. Kolya (AlexeÏ Serebriakov) lives in a small fishing town near the stunning Barents Sea in Northern Russia. He owns an auto-repair shop that stands right next to the house where he lives with his young wife Lilya (Elena Liadova) and his son Roma (SergueÏ Pokhodaev) from a previous marriage. The town’s corrupt mayor Vadim Shelevyat (Roman Madianov) is determined to take away his business, his house, as well as his land. First the Mayor tries buying off Kolya, but Kolya unflinchingly fights as hard as he can so as not to lose everything he owns including the beauty that has surrounded him from the day he was born. Rated R, in Russian with English subtitles, 140 minutes.
Sponsor: History Department
October 9: Filmworks: The Great Man
The French drama, “The Great Man,” an international festival favorite, tells the story of French Foreign Legion soldiers Hamilton and Markov. While finishing their five years of service with a six-month deployment in Afghanistan, the inseparable friends are ambushed during a unofficial expedition, leaving Hamilton seriously wounded. Despite saving Hamilton’s life, Markov — an undocumented Chechen immigrant — is dishonorably discharged and left adrift in Paris, struggling to reconnect and provide for his son, Khadji. When Markov is killed in an unexpected accident, Hamilton is served by conscience to look after the kid of the man who saved his life. This intimate drama is a powerful story about friendship and solidarity and takes a closer look at how men try to piece their lives back together when they’ve been shattered by war. Directed by breakout French filmmaker Sarah Leonor, whose work has been compared to Claire Denis and Michael Haneke, and starring Jérémie Renier. In French and Chechen with English subtitles. 107 minutes. http://www.distribfilmsus.com/our-movies/the-great-man/
October 16: The Second Mother
Discussant: Dr. Maria-Aparecida Lopes
An excitingly fresh take on some classic themes and ideas, The Second Mother centers round Val, a hard-working live-in housekeeper in modern day Sao Paulo. Val is perfectly content to take care of every one of her wealthy employers’ needs, from cooking and cleaning to being a surrogate mother to their teenage son, who she has raised since he was a toddler. But when Val’s estranged daughter Jessica suddenly shows up the unspoken but intrinsic class barriers that exist within the home are thrown into disarray. Jessica is smart, confident, and ambitious, and refuses to accept the upstairs/downstairs dynamic, testing relationships and loyalties and forcing everyone to reconsider what family really means. Brazil’s Oscar nomination for Best Foreign language film. In Portuguese with English subtitles, rated R, 112 minutes. http://thesecondmother.vhx.tv/