Jia-Li’s husband has disappeared. A clue at a beach suggests that he was drowned but no body was found. The film focusses not on the search for the husband, but on the reunion of Jia-Li and her brother’s ex-girlfriend, a successful pianist. The two women share insights on life and memories of growing up, and the struggle they face accepting or defying traditions in their romance and marriage. The film’s deliberation on changes in Taiwanese society and family, its mood of contemplation and reflection, went well beyond the melancholic tone of traditional Taiwanese films about women.
Mambéty describes what would be his final film as “a hymn to the courage of street children,” but like all of his works, it is also a hymn to Senegal, to post-colonial Africa and to resourceful visionaries like the courageous girl of the title. Undaunted by poverty or handicap, the young Sili Laam leaves her blind grandmother begging in the street to seek out a better existence for them both. As the only female newspaper seller, she encounters constant obstacles along the way, yet reacts by simply standing up for herself and others. Nonchalantly fighting for equality and justice, Sili’s courage and resilience are depicted with a mix of joy and hardship, but no saccharine.
The first US film to be made under the Dogme 95 vow of chastity, Harmony Korine’s follow up to the controversial ‘Gummo’ tells the story of schizophrenic Julien, his pregnant sister Pearl, and their pedantic, over-bearing father. Using handheld digital cameras, Korine gathers together a series of disparate incidents in the life of the family – Julien’s friendship with a young blind figure-skater, Pearl’s masquerade as her and Julien’s dead mother, their brother’s training as wrestler, a visit to a gospel meeting – while slowly and subtly building towards a tragic climax.
The House is Black is an empathetic portrait of a leper colony from Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad. Her work, both in film and poetry, has influenced everyone from Iranian New Wave master Abbas Kiarostami to French essay film pioneer Chris Marker. With The House is Black, Farrokhzad unflinchingly captures the world of a leper colony in Tabriz, Iran. She recites her own poetry over images of everyday life for a people shut away from society. Farrokhzad’s portrait highlights a world weighed down by tragedy yet uplifted by community. The result is a heartbreaking film that eschews condescension in favor of hard-won empathy.
Abandoned by her husband, Laura takes her nine year old daughter, Muriel, and leaves the hectic life on Buenos Aires bound for the tranquility of Argentina’s countryside. When they lose all their belongings in a freak accident, Muriel and her mother are taken in by a suspicious proprietor of a run down hotel, Mirta who has children on her own. Through struggles and hardships, the two women form a makeshift family only to have it threatened when Muriel’s father shows up looking to make amends. It’s a story of courage and survival, it is also a story of men and women as seen through the eyes of a child.
A young unmarried couple leave the politically turbulent Berkeley behind for a life in the country. Finding a place in sheep country, the couple awaits the birth of their first child as they revel in bucolic splendor. The tensions of city life are left behind as things progress towards the anticipated due date. The couple wishes to have a natural childbirth and are comforted that the expectant father is a pre-med student with some knowledge of the upcoming situation. Things go along smoothly until the expectant mother’s father returns after years of being a sailor.
Doctor Glas is told in the form of a journal. The main character is Dr. Glas, a physician. The antagonist is Reverend Gregorius, a morally corrupt clergyman. Gregorius’ beautiful young wife confides in Dr. Glas that her sex life is making her miserable and asks for his help. Glas, in love with her, agrees to help even though she already has another adulterous lover. He attempts to intervene, but the Reverend refuses to give up his “marital rights”- she must have sex with him whether she likes it or not (at the time, a wife was legally the property of her husband, and subsequently had no right to say no). So, in order to make his love happy, he begins to plot her husband’s murder.
In its sixty-five minutes, Paz Encina’s first film, carries Ramón and Cándida, an aging couple living in the deep country, from sunrise, when they hang their old hammock between two trees in a clearing, to sunset, when they take it in. Settled in its tenuous grasp, they talk about the heat, the rain, the dog that won’t stop barking, the war, and their son, Máximo, who is doing his military service and hasn’t been heard from lately. The father lives in hope, the mother in fear, and scenes of their daily rounds of labor and rest—images of a contemplative pictorial exaltation—are joined by voice-over flashbacks revealing the story of their son’s departure and the rumors that followed.