Northwest Film Center features 10 award winning and critically-acclaimed foreign films beginning tonight, December 26. All are showing at the Whitsell Auditorium at a bargain price – two films for the price of one since each night the screenings are double features.
This series salutes the New York City-based Film Movement, a nonprofit which has released over 125 films from countless countries over the last ten years for distribution in the United States. These ten featured films are playing over the next five days and offer a wide range of creative, thoughtful, and incredible films.
At 7 p.m. tonight, December 26, “The Violin” (Mexico, 2007) plays, a drama about the peasant revolt in 1970s Mexico. Written and directed by Francisco Vargas Quevedo, this black-and-white film stars non-professional actor Don Angel Tavira as Don Plutarco Hidalgoy, a one-handed violin player. He, his son, and his grandson are traveling musicians, performing in surrounding villages. One day, the Army invades Plutarco’s village and everyone scatters to the woods. Plutarco relies on the cruel army Captain’s love of music to devise a plan to help the rebels, one of whom is his grandson.
The second feature on December 26 is “The Great Match” (Spain, 2006). The 2002 World Cup final has the attention of all soccer fans, but for people in the Amazon area, the Ténéré Desert of Niger, and Mongolia, there is no access to electricity, much less televisions. This comedy, directed by Gerardo Olivare, shows the length to which fans in remote parts of the world will go to watch this most popular game.
Friday night, December 27, “Human Resources” (Israel, 2010) plays at 7 p.m. followed by “Hospitalité.” Eran Riklis directed “Human Resources,” a touching drama centered on, of all people, a personnel officer of a small bakery in Jerusalem. When a Romanian bakery worker is killed as a result of a suicide bombing, no family is in Jerusalem to handle her funeral. So, this personnel officer decides he must take care of getting her body back to her home village. A variety of twists and turns results in the HR man’s straight-forward plan bursting into a multi-layered story of family, deception, and clashes between cultures, religions, and generations as a peculiar group of characters heads out on a road trip to Romania.
Following “Human Resources” also on December 27, is “Hospitalité” (Japan, 2010), a film about a family as it morphs into something quite different than the “norm” when different relatives and guests start dropping in. Directed by Koji Fukada, “Hospitalité’ is an exploration of how Japanese decorum begins to fray as this motley crew gathers. And, it all starts with a lost green parakeet.
Friday night, December 28, at 7 p.m., “Teddy Bear” (Denmark, 2012) is screening, written and directed by Mads Matthiesen. A bodybuilding champion in Denmark named Kim Kold plays Dennis, a lonely 38-year-old who lives with his mother in Copenhagen. When his uncle meets and marries a young woman from Thailand, Dennis hopes he can also find love in that way. He arrives in Thailand, after telling his mother he is heading to a German competition, and is dismayed as he meets potential wives. Discouraged in this search, he gives up and goes to a nearby gym, and life begins to change for him.
Following “Teddy Bear” on December 28 is “The Forest for the Trees,” (Germany, 2003), another journey film, this time about an idealistic teacher who moves from a small town to a larger city for her first teaching job. Written and directed by Maren Ade, this film delves into the human need to fit in and the difficulties doing so, particularly for people who are shy and have difficulties reading social cues from others.
Saturday night, December 29 , the 7 p.m. film is “The Piano in a Factory” (China, 2010), directed by Zhang Meng and Jae-Young Kwak. It is a piano that daughter Xiao Yuan wants. Her parents are divorcing, and her father, who is laid off from his job in a steel factory, is determined to build one from scratch so that he can gain custody of her. He pulls together a bunch of his friends, some a bit eccentric, to help him build this instrument. But, will it work? Check out the trailer to this film to the upper left.
Following this delightful film on December 29 are three stories blended together in “Be With Me” (Hong Kong, 2005), directed by Eric Khoo. All are stories of hope and love, though quite distinct from each other. “Meant to Be” explores the loss felt by an old shopkeeper whose wife has died. His day-to-day life is sad and mundane until one day he reads the autobiography of Theresa Chan, in her sixties (a real person, not fictitious, who has been unable to see or hear since her teenage years). “Finding Love” tells the story of a middle-aged security guard who watches a woman from a distance and falls in love. He decides to write her a letter, and things change. “So In Love” shows the developing relationship through text messaging between two teenager girls as they contemplate defying social taboos.
The last night of this five-night-series is Sunday night, December 30 beginning at 5 p.m. (not 7 p.m.). The first film screening that evening is “Alamar” (Mexico, 2009), directed by Pedro Gonzáles-Rubio. Natan is the son of an Italian mother and a Mexican father, and neither parent is happy living in the other parent’s country so they separate. Natan visits his father over the summer, and they live near the Banco Chinchorro coral reef, a beautiful coastal area of Yucatan Peninsula. There, they fish, dive, swim, and experience the simplicity of life and the father and son bond. Natan also learns about his Mayan heritage. What are the feelings about Natan’s return to Italy?
The series concludes on December 30 with the second feature,“Who is Camus?” (Japan, 2005), written and directed by Mitsuo Yanagimachi. This quirky film is about filmmaking and features an ensemble cast of a director, assistant director, other crew members, and a professor advisor. Their film is derivative of themes from “The Stranger.” As the crew delves into the story of a senseless murder, tempers flare and artistic disagreements arise. Meanwhile, the show must go on as difficulties ensue in this film within a film.
Tickets for each double feature range from $6 (for members) to $9. They can be purchased online at the Northwest Film Center’s website or at the Whitsell Auditorium a half hour before screening times. The theater is located on the northern side of the Portland Art Museum at 1219 SW Park Avenue in downtown Portland. Don’t miss this amazing opportunity to have a look at film gems from around the world.