by Jim Ridley
Through dramatic, secretive and somewhat suspect means — OK, we asked — Country Life secured an advance copy of the fall schedule for the "International Lens" film series at Vanderbilt's Sarratt Cinema. In recent years this series has become a major boon to Nashville moviegoers, whether it's offering a return big-screen engagement of something that played briefly at commercial theaters or hosting a local premiere — all free and open to the public, and in some cases with the filmmaker on hand.
Some highlights from the upcoming fall season, which starts Sept. 1 with Jacques Audiard's Oscar-nominated French gangster thriller A Prophet:
• A visit from acclaimed documentary filmmaker Ross McElwee (Sherman's March), here Sept. 12 to discuss his most recent film Photographic Memory.
• A three-film salute starting Oct. 16 to Christian Petzold, the German director who does tightly controlled character-driven takes on pulpy material and thriller plots, often in collaboration with lead actress Nina Hoss (Barbara, Jerichow, Yella).
• A variety of Nashville premieres, including the South Korean thriller The Thieves (Sept. 26), the history of U.S. intervention in Latin America Harvest of Empire (Oct. 2), and the documentary Herman's House (Oct. 3), which details the friendship of an activist New York artist and a convicted murderer who's spent much of his life in solitary confinement.
All screenings are held 7:30 p.m. at Sarratt Cinema, unless noted otherwise, and most are from projected DVD. Below, the full schedule, with synopses taken from the calendar.
A Prophet (Un Prophète)
Sunday, September 1
Presented by: Vanderbilt International Student Association (VISA)
(2009) Dir: Jacques Audiard.
Malik, part Arab, part Corsican, arrives at the jail entirely alone and appears younger and more fragile than
the other convicts. Cornered by the Corsican gang leader ruling the prison, he is given “missions” to toughen him up, all the while secretly devising his own plans. A gripping indictment of the French
prison system that vividly illustrates the connection between prison and the violent, radical form of Islam that keeps much of Europe on edge. Bring a blanket and snacks and sit on the grass for this French thriller. Not appropriate for anyone under the age of 17. French, Arabic, Corsican with English subtitles. Rated R. 155 mins. DVD.
Wednesday, September 4
Presented by: Center for Latin American Studies
(2010) Dir: Lucy Walker.
Follows artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world’s largest garbage
dump located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs the “catadores”— pickers of recyclable materials. His collaboration with these inspiring characters as they recreate photographic images out of garbage reveals both the dignity and despair of the catadores as they re-imagine their lives.
Stirring evidence of the transformative power of art and the alchemy of the human spirit. English and Portuguese with English subtitles. Unrated. 99 mins. DVD.
Thursday, September 12
Presented by: Jennifer Fay, Director of Film Studies
(2011) Dir: Ross McElwee.
A documentary about how we process the past in order to understand the present and shape the future. To understand the growing distance between himself and his son, McElwee travels back to St. Quay-Portrieux in the region of Brittany, France, to retrace his own journey into adulthood. A meditation on the passing of time, the praxis of photography and film, digital versus analog, and the fractured love of a father for his son. The Director will be present to introduce the film and lead discussion afterward.
English and French with English subtitles. Unrated. 83 mins. DVD.
Partial funding provided by Nashville Premieres.
5 Broken Cameras
Wednesday, September 18
Presented by: Vanderbilt Muslim Student Association
Palestine, Israel, France, Netherlands
(2011) Dirs: Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi.
An extraordinary work of both cinematic and political activism, 5 Broken Cameras is a deeply personal, first-hand account of non-violent resistance in a West Bank village threatened by encroaching Israeli settlements. Shot almost entirely by Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat, who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son, the footage was later given to Israeli co-director Guy Davidi to edit. Structured around the violent destruction of each one of Burnat’s cameras, the filmmakers’ collaboration follows one family’s evolution over five years of village turmoil. Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles. Unrated. 94 mins. DVD.
Wednesday, September 25
Presented by: Clive Mentzel, Office of Active Citizenship and Service
(2008) Dir: Anthony Fabian.
The true story of Sandra Laing, a genetic anomaly — a dark-skinned child born to Afrikan parents in a 1950’s South Africa cruelly divided by apartheid. Sandra spent her youth, and much of her adult life, being classified and reclassified as black or white according to the whims of her over-protective but racist father, and the schools and government agencies who had no idea what to do with her. It’s the kind of narrative that is difficult to believe because it is so relentlessly cruel. English and Zulu with English subtitles. Rated PG-13. 107 mins. DVD.
The Thieves (Dodookdeul)
Thursday, September 26
Presented by: Vanderbilt Korean Student & Scholar Association
(2012) Dir: Dong-Hoon Choi.
To let things cool down from their latest heist, Popie and his group of thieves go to Macau on a job. But
the mastermind behind this job is none other than his old partner, who escaped with 68 kg of gold several years ago on their last job together. While working together to steal a $20 million diamond known as the “Tear of the Sun,” they all have their own agenda to keep the diamond for themselves. Who will succeed and live to see another day? Korean, Cantonese, English, Mandarin, and Japanese with English subtitles. Unrated. 135 mins. DVD.
Harvest of Empire
Wednesday, October 2
Presented by: Edward Wright-Rios, Associate Professor of History
(2012) Dirs: Peter Getzels and Eduardo Lopez.
A powerful documentary that exposes the connection between U.S. intervention in Latin America and the
immigration crisis we face today. From the policies that decimated the economies of Mexico, Puerto Rico and Cuba, to the covert operations that imposed oppressive military regimes in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador, Harvest of Empire provides an unflinching look at the origins of the growing Latino presence in the United States. Adapted from the landmark book written by journalist Juan Gonzalez, the film tells of an epic human saga that is largely unknown to the majority of U.S. citizens, but must become part of our national conversation about immigration. English. Unrated. 90 mins. DVD.
Thursday, October 3
Presented by: Geoffrey Adelsberg, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Philosophy
(2012) Dir: Angad Bhalla.
“What kind of house does a man who has been imprisoned in a 6x9 foot cell for over 30 years dream of?” This documentary chronicles the unlikely friendship of Jackie Sumell, a politically engaged New York artist, and Herman Wallace, a convicted murderer in his early 70s who has spent most of the last four
decades in solitary confinement at the Louisiana State Penitentiary. Captures the remarkable creative journey and friendship of Wallace and Sumell while examining the injustice of prolonged solitary confinement. English. Unrated. 80 mins. DVD.
My Life in Pink (Ma Vie en Rose)
Tuesday, October 15
Presented by: The Office of LGBTQI Life as part of National Coming Out Week
(1997) Dir: Alain Berliner.
Boys will be boys and girls will be girls, but one child isn’t so sure in this comedy drama. Seven-year-old Ludovic is happy, healthy, and good-natured, but he has decided that he’s a girl. While his parents try to understand, Ludovic stubbornly refuses to listen to reason from his parents, teachers, or schoolmates. His fondness for wearing girl’s clothes and frequent pronouncements to strangers that he’s going to be a woman when he grows up become increasingly worrying, and things come to a head when Ludovic declares that when he’s older, he plans to marry the boy next door. An off-beat gender bender that’s at times funny, at times poignant, and always entertaining. French with English subtitles. Rated R. 88 mins.
Wednesday, October 16
Presented by: Peggy Setje-Eilers, Assistant Professor of German
(2012) Dir: Christian Petzold.
A simmering, impeccably crafted Cold War thriller, where a doctor is banished to a rural East German hospital as punishment for applying for an exit visa. As her lover from the West carefully plots her escape, Barbara waits patiently and avoids friendships with her colleagues except for the hospital’s head physician, who is attentive to her. But even as she finds herself falling for him, she cannot be sure that he is not a spy. She is eventually forced to make a profound decision about her future. A film of glancing moments and dangerous secrets, Barbara paints a haunting picture of a woman being slowly crushed between the irreconcilable needs of desire and survival. German with English subtitles. Rated PG-13. 105 mins.
No Man’s Land
Thursday, October 17
Presented by: Vanderbilt Russian, East European, and Central Asian Club
(2001) Dir: Danis Tanovic.
A parable set during the heaviest fighting between the two warring sides in the Bosnian War. Two wounded
soldiers from opposing sides in the conflict become trapped in no man’s land, while a third soldier becomes a living booby trap. In a matter of life or death, even bitter enemies can bond together to survive. An intelligent and expertly-judged microcosm of the inanity of war. English and Bosnian with English subtitles. Rated R. 98 mins. DVD.
Tuesday, October 22
Presented by: Department of Psychiatry as part of Alcohol Awareness Week.
(2012) Dirs: Dan Carracino and Kevin Hanlon.
William G. Wilson is the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Interviews and rare archival material reveal how a hopeless drunk found a way out of his own addiction and then forged a path for countless others to follow. With Bill as its driving force, A.A. grew from a handful of men to over two million men and women — a success that made him an icon within A.A., but also an alcoholic unable to be a member of the very society he had created. A reluctant hero, Bill Wilson lived a life of sacrifice and left a legacy that continues all around the world. English. Unrated. 104 mins. DVD.
Partial funding provided by Office of Student Health and Wellness.
Wednesday, October 23
Presented by: Lutz Koepnick, Gertrude Conaway Professor of German and Film Studies
(2008) Dir: Christian Petzold.
A taut thriller, Jerichow adds a bit of European xenophobia to the pulp traditions of passion and betrayal. This James M. Cain-style noir serves up a classic triangle: an alluring, unhappy wife, a piggish husband, and the handsome loner who can’t help himself — and does. The Turkish diaspora in Germany proves the catalyst for this unlikely friendship between a veteran of the Afghan-Soviet war and a middle-aged Turk in need of a helping hand. A great modern thriller with passion that boils right through to the shocking ending. German and Turkish with English subtitles. Unrated. 93 mins.
Refuge: Stories of the Selfhelp Home
Tuesday, October 29
Presented by: Holocaust Lecture Series
(2007) Dir: Ethan Bensinger.
A documentary revealing the origins and originality of a resourceful community that has brought more than 1,000 Central European Jewish refugees and Holocaust survivors together under one roof. Interweaving archival footage with testimony by the Selfhelp Home’s residents and founders, Refuge reaches back 70 years to tell the story of this last generation. Bringing their stories up to the present, the film addresses the founders’ concern for the home’s future, when the last eyewitnesses to the Holocaust will be gone. English. Unrated. 60 mins. DVD.
Wednesday, October 30
Presented by: Jennifer Fay, Director of Film Studies
(2007) Dir: Christian Petzold.
A young businesswoman gets in touch with her taste for cutthroat corporate tactics. Yella proves to be an exceptionally shrewd boardroom operator, though her relationship with her respectful new colleague is shot through with suspicion and sexual tension. An edgy, intellectual, and enigmatic thriller that begins as a harrowing tale of a young woman stalked by her deranged ex-husband, but then quickly turns into an investigation of the murkier depths of capitalism. German with English subtitles. Unrated. 89 mins.
The Human Experience
Tuesday, November 5
Presented by: Jennifer Miao, Co-President of Globe Med and Stephanie Saadeh, Secretary of Globe Med at Vanderbilt.
USA, Peru, Ghana
(2008) Dir: Charles Kinnane.
A remarkable journey to answer some of life’s greatest questions in this soul-searching documentary. A band of brothers travel the world in search of the answers to life’s burning questions. Their journey brings them into the lives of the homeless on the streets of New York City, the orphans and disabled children of Peru, and the abandoned lepers in the forests of Ghana, Africa. The brothers are awakened to the beauty of the person and the resilience of the human spirit. English, Spanish and Ewe with English subtitles. Rated PG-13. 90 mins. DVD.
Wednesday, November 6
Presented in cooperation with the Nashville Film Festival
(2011) Dir: Lee Hirsch.
This year, over 13 million American kids will be bullied, making it the most common form of violence young people in this country experience. With an intimate glimpse into homes, classrooms, cafeterias and
principals’ offices, the film offers insight into the often cruel world of the lives of bullied children and acts as an emotionally powerful wake-up call for a society too long in denial. Tina and David Long, whose son Tyler is featured in the film, will be in attendance to aid in the post-screening discussion. English. Rated PG-13. 98 mins.
Tuesday, November 12
Presented by: F. Clark Williams, Director of Dean of Students Information Technology Support and Administrator of the Flicx Film Program
(2004) Dir: Jun Ichikawa.
Due to his Western name, Tony was shunned by other kids and spent a solitary childhood. Though gifted as an artist, his drawings lacked feeling, so as an adult, he carved a career as a technical illustrator. Then in middle age, Tony suddenly falls for a pretty young woman and for the first time in his life feels connected to the outside world. However, Eiko does have one fault: she’s a shopaholic. A gripping meditation on loneliness and loss based on the lyrical short story by Haruki Murakami. Japanese with English subtitles. Unrated. 105 mins.
Wednesday, November 13
Presented by: Department of Psychiatry as part of Transgender Day of Remembrance which is held on November 20
(2011) Dir: Chris Arnold.
An extraordinary documentary about men and women, and all the variations in between. The transgender community is perhaps the most misunderstood and mistreated minority in America and around the world. Inspired by the story of Dr. Christine McGinn and her work as a transgender surgeon, the film provides a very personal vision into the lives, loves, and challenges of a remarkable cast of characters of all ages and from all walks of life. Stories of confusion and courage, excitement and emotion that have never been told, until now. To anyone who has ever looked in a mirror and wondered who they really are, Trans
asks another question: are you brave enough to find out? English. Unrated. 104 mins. DVD.
Partial funding provided by Office of LGBTQI Life.
Tuesday, December 3
Presented by: Gregory Barz, Professor of Musicology, Anthropology, Music, and Religion
(2008) Dirs: Mira Nair, Vishal Bharadwaj, Farhan Akhtar, and Santosh Sivan.
In recognition of World AIDS Day (December 1), four short dramatic films by cutting-edge Indian directors
aim to dismantle myths and misconceptions about HIV/AIDS. Each film documents an individual story that is uniquely affected by AIDS, but invokes emotions familiar to all. Part of the Bill Gates Foundation’s effort to raise awareness about AIDS. 80 mins. English. Unrated. DVD.