Renowned Egyptian director Youssef Chahine established his international reputation with Cairo Station after it screened at the Berlin Film Festival. Focusing on a group of marginalised luggage carriers and soft-drink sellers who live in abandoned traincars, Chahine posits Cairo’s main railroad station as a microcosm of Egyptian society. A crippled newspaper dealer (played powerfully by Chahine himself), falls in love with a beautiful but indifferent lemonade seller who is engaged to the muscular and virile leader of the luggage-carriers. Swept away by his obsessive desire, the crippled man kidnaps the object of his passion, with terrible consequences.
39-year-old François meets 22-year-old Muriel. She agrees that on a certain day they will meet at a hotel and he will see her naked, and promises not to sleep with her at that occasion.
A telling story of an unemployed Vietnam vet in Butte, Montana, whose wife leaves him after seven years when she feels there is no longer communication between them and – more painfully and pointedly – because she is unable to have a child owing to his sterility from exposure to Agent Orange. Told in a gentle style, richly emotional, Bell Diamond was made with non-professionals drawn from the community of Butte.
Yaaba unfolds in the spectacular landscapes of rural Burkina Faso in a mythical time when peasant life was still unspoiled by colonialism. It is the story of a friendship between Bila, Nopoko and an old woman shunned as a witch by the rest of the community. Unafraid of her, twelve-year old Bila calls her “Yaaba” (grandmother) and learns the value of intolerance and his own worth as a human being. Ouédraogo, who shot the film in his own village, said that it was “based on tales of my childhood and on that kind of bedtime storytelling we hear just before falling asleep.”
Gengobe Satsuma, an exiled samurai cast out as an Asano clan retainer is given a second chance to join his brothers in arms to become the 48th Ronin against the Shogunate. His faithful servant gathers the 100 ryo required for his acceptance. Gengobe is also in love with a greedy geisha named Koman. About to be sold to another man, Gengobe learns that for him to keep her, her debt is exactly 100 ryo.
Werckmeister Harmonies, Béla Tarr’s transfixing follow-up to his seven-hour epic Satantango, is one of the Hungarian auteur’s signature achievements and a benchmark work of contemporary art cinema. Based, like Satantango, on a novel by László Krasznahorkai, the film is set in a dreary, wintry East European village, where the arrival of a strange travelling circus, and a sinister zealot known as The Prince, unleashes destructive forces that plunge the community into madness, murder, and revolution.
The Season of Men is the second feature film by Moufida Tlatli, one of the most important woman filmmakers in the Arab world. The film examines the changing roles of women of two different generations in a society torn between secularism and sharia, and their states of being a woman. Set on Djerba Island, where women live with their children and only see their husbands who work in Tunisia for one month a year, the film takes place in a feminine world away from men. With its delicately woven story, epic narrative, powerful cinematography and characters, The Season of Men is a touching and delightful film about women who want to live as they wish, and not according to the rules of society.
As a renowned author, Mahmoud feels pressure to compose his next great novel, but he is suffering from writer’s block. He harkens back to a happier time when he was a shy, awkward 11-year-old on his family’s lush estate in Tehran. He recalls his 14-year-old cousin, a tomboy who is nonetheless a ravishing beauty. She revels in the power that she has over him. That adolescent girl of long ago—or the memory of her—becomes the muse that inspires him.