March 9, 2010

Women With Vision & Views from Iran @ the Walker

This spring the Walker Art Center will present nearly two full months of renowned international films as part of their 17th Annual Women With Vision International Film Festival (March 12-27) and their second annual Iranian film series, Views From Iran (April 9-30). 

This will be a chance for Twin Citians to not only see some high-profile local premieres (Claire Denis' celebrated 35 Shots of Rum, the Joan Jett biopic The Runaways, buzzed-about documentary El General, to name a few), but also hear from distinguished filmmakers, including the Iranian director Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, who will give a master class lecture on April 23.

Below are the highlights from both series. A number of these will undoubtedly fill up (The Runaways is already sold out), so I definitely recommend following the links for each film and purchasing tickets in advance.

Women With Vision 2010

Opening Night Premiere
Friday, March 12, 7:30 pm
Directed by Claire Denis

"A personal film about relationships and letting go, 35 Shots of Rum was inspired by the subtle, graceful work of Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu. Depicting a widowed father sharing an apartment with his adult daughter, the story is built around the pauses between their activities as they both make new plans for the future. “Sublime . . . Denis’ warmest, most radiant work” (Village Voice). A provocative director recognized for her explorations of cross-cultural tensions, Denis was the subject of the Walker’s 1998 Regis Retrospective, and has screened two films at previous Women with Vision film festivals. 35 Shots of Rum was included on several critics’ top ten lists." 2008, 35mm, in French with English subtitles, 100 minutes.

Saturday, March 13, 7:30 pm
Premiere - The Runaways
Directed by Floria Sigismondi

"One of rock’s quintessential girl groups, the Runaways exploded onto the scene in the mid-seventies, playing hits such as “Cherry Bomb” to huge audiences around the world. Based on vocalist Cherie Currie’s shocking book Neon Angel, The Runaways chronicles the band’s brief rise to fame and all that came with it. In her debut feature, Sigismondi—best known for photography and music videos for Marilyn Manson, David Bowie, and Björk—enlisted Dakota Fanning for the role of Cherie Currie and Kristen Stewart for Joan Jett." 2010, 35mm, 105 minutes.

Thursday, March 18, 7:30 pm, Free
Visiting Artist/Premiere - O’er the Land
Introduced by director Deborah Stratman

"Gun shows, historical war reenactors, cheerleaders, and motor homes are touchstones in this experimental documentary that delves into America’s concept of manifest destiny. O’er the Land reflects powerfully on the ways Americans have come to understand freedom and heroism in the light of increasing militarism and perceived threats to our national borders." 2009, 16 mm, 52 minutes.

Friday, March 19, 7:30 pm
Premiere - Lourdes
Directed by Jessica Hausner

"People flock to the purportedly miraculous healing waters in the French town of Lourdes when they think science has failed. Exploring religion and the origin of belief, Lourdes focuses on Christine (Sylvie Testud), wheelchair-bound with multiple sclerosis, who uses the pilgrimage to create a social life." 2009, 35mm, in French with English subtitles, 96 minutes.

Saturday, March 20

Ida’s Story, 1:30 pm
Introduced by director Barbara Wiener
"A 90-year-old Ukrainian Jewish woman shares her childhood memories of a prolonged emigration to the United States after the Russian Revolution." 2009, video, 59 minutes.
Pride of Lions, 3 pm
Introduced by directors Louise Woehrle and John Woehrle
"Sierra Leone’s brutal, 11-year civil war is shockingly chronicled in this film that weaves history with intimate stories of survivors." 2009, video, 52 minutes.

Sunday, March 21, 3 pm
Premiere - Vision
Directed by Margarethe von Trotta

"A portrait of the fascinating Hildegard of Bingen, a central figure of the medieval Catholic Church, is the latest film from “the most important woman director to emerge from the New German Cinema” (Senses of Cinema). Hildegard, a 12th-century Benedictine nun, was also a mystic, author, linguist, scientist, philosopher, herbalist, healer, poet, and composer—a range of talents that invited controversy, leading the Church to sanction her for expressing her visions from God." 2009, 35mm, in German with English subtitles, 111 minutes.

Thursday, March 25, 7:30 pm, Free
Visiting Artist/Premiere - Stay the Same Never Change
Introduced by director Laurel Nakadate

"Photographer and video artist Nakadate draws from previous work—in which she put herself in sexually risky positions—to create a provocative tale of heartland teens and their plays for attention during a hot summer in the Midwest. The unflinching approach and quirky humor of this debut feature have drawn comparisons to the work of Todd Solondz and Harmony Korrine." 2008, video, 93 minutes.

Friday, March 26, 7:30 pm
Visiting Artist/Premiere - El General
Introduced by director Natalia Almada

"Almada tells the recent history of Mexico through her great-grandfather, General Plutarco Elías Calles, a revolutionary who became Mexico’s president (1924–1928) and de facto ruler until 1935. Through this complex sketch, which combines a family’s haunting home movies with historical and contemporary footage of Mexico City, a sense of the country’s idealism as well as its injustices emerges." 2009, in Spanish with English subtitles, video, 83 minutes.

Saturday, March 27

Woven from the Land, 1:30 pm
Introduced by director Teresa Konechne
"South Dakota women talk about place, local issues, and their lives as the director poses the question: “What happens when a society loses its rural?”" 2009, video, 56 minutes.
Fritz: The Walter Mondale Story, 3 pm
Introduced by director Melody Gilbert
"This portrait of former Vice President Walter “Fritz” Mondale combines rare archival footage, family home videos, and interviews to depict a life of public service." 2008, video, 60 minutes.

Saturday, March 27, 7:30 pm
Directed by Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Madeline Piujuq Ivalu

"In 1840, shortly after Inuit tribes had began to encounter foreign fur traders, a boy and his grandmother return from drying fish to find everyone in their village dead from smallpox. As they look for a new community, they struggle to survive in the Arctic wilderness. This is the third work in a trilogy of Inuit dramas created by the Arnait Video Collective (Antanarjuat: The Fast Runner and The Journals of Knud Rasmussen)." 2008, 35mm, in Inuktitut with English subtitles, 93 minutes.

Views From Iran 2010

Friday, April 9, 7:30 pm
Directed by Asghar Farhadi

"Farhadi has garnered acclaim for his dramas involving the middle class, a group overlooked in recent Iranian cinema. In this taut, pulse-quickening thriller about the costs of deception, a group of old college friends go for a holiday at the Caspian Sea with newcomer Elly in tow. A mysterious disappearance shatters the mood and relationships. Winner of the Silver Bear for best director, Berlin Film Festival; Best Narrative Feature, Tribeca Film Festival; and Iran’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards." 2009, video, 116 minutes.

Friday, April 16, 7:30 PM; Saturday, April 17, 7:30 PM
Visiting Artist/Premiere - Women Without Men
Introduced by director Shirin Neshat and collaborator Shoja Azari

"The Walker first exhibited New York–based Shirin Neshat’s work in 1998—the same year she won the Venice Biennale’s prestigious Golden Lion prize for her video pieces. Her first major U.S. solo exhibition was presented here in 2002. She returns with her feature film debut, an adaptation of the novel by exiled Iranian writer Shahmush Parsipur. Set in Iran during its infamous 1953 CIA-backed coup, the film follows four women from different social classes as they take refuge in a metaphorical orchard. Through striking visuals and magic realism, Neshat plumbs the depths of their personal tragedies." 2009, 35mm, 95 minutes.
Visiting Artist: Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, April 23-25

Friday, April 23, 7:30 PM
Mainline (Khoon bazi)
Directed and introduced by Rakhshan Bani-Etemad and Mohsen Abdolvahab

"A bride-to-be relapses with her heroin addiction. To get her clean before the wedding, her mother takes her on a harrowing road trip to a treatment center near the Caspian Sea. In a race against time and amid family strife, Mainline shows the brutal uphill battle toward recovery. Premiering at the Cannes Film Festival, the film features striking cinematography by Abbas Kiarostami’s director of photography, Mahmoud Kalari." 2006, 35mm, 79 minutes.

Saturday, April 24, 7:30 PM
We Are Half of Iran’s Population
Introduced by director Rakhshan Bani-Etemad

"Made a mere three months before the contentious June 2009 presidential elections in Iran, this documentary provides an extraordinarily intimate and timely look at the country. Bani-Etemad filmed a diverse coalition of women’s rights activists discussing their opinions on pressing contemporary issues, then had three of the four presidential candidates view the footage (Mahmoud Ahmedinejad declined her invitation), which includes women demanding that Iran ratify the United Nation’s 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women." 2009, video, 42 minutes.

Sunday, April 25, 7:30 PM
Heiran (Heiraan)
Directed by Shalizeh Arefpour

"During the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan, about 3 million Afghans—mostly illegal immigrants—entered Iran. Seventeen-year-old Heiran falls in love with one of them, despite her family’s strident opposition, and the obstacles and challenges facing them threaten to overwhelm the couple. Arefpour’s feature film debut incorporates a lush score and cinematography, and features the last performance by acclaimed actor Khosro Shakibaei." 2009, 35mm, 88 minutes.

Wednesday, April 28, 7:30 PM
Directed by Nader T. Homayoun

"A villager tries his luck at a new life in “Tehroun,” Iranian slang for the capital, only to find his dreams quickly quashed amid the city’s crime and poverty. Despite a noirish, gripping story rife with prostitution, gangs, child-trafficking, and drug smuggling, this captivating debut also has a humanistic core typical of Iranian cinema." 2009, 35mm, 95 minutes.

Friday, April 30, 7:30 PM

"Spun from Tehran’s underground rock and heavy metal music scene, this drama is based on the true story of a musical duo recently released from prison for playing banned music. Their efforts to organize an illicit farewell concert and also obtain black market visas push them further underground. Afterward, the director (now based in Berlin) was arrested—just as journalist Roxana Saberi, who produced and cowrote the film—had been months earlier." 2009, 35mm, 101 minutes.

*Map and Directions to the Walker Art Center

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