48th San Francisco International Film Festival at PFA, April 22–May 5
A Palestinian family's comfortable West Bank home is invaded and occupied by an Israeli army unit. This intimate, tense, prizewinning first feature offers an ensemble of top Israeli and Palestinian actors who perform with superb control.
An attractive young performer in Beijing spends her days elaborately costumed as an Indian princess or demure geisha in a Vegas-style theme park, yet secretly dreams of escaping her make-believe surroundings to live a life less virtual.
Maren Ade's compelling drama etches an incisive portrait of a woman who has little sense of who she is and even less of how others see her-she simply, achingly wants to belong.
Albanian director Gjergi Xhuvani's Dear Enemy uses the darkly comic absurdities of wartime existence to describe the subtle strength of human dignity.
Performance artist (and former Berkeley resident) Miranda July makes her feature debut with this whimsical, Magnolia-like look at the difficulty of finding and keeping love. In July's modern world, everyday people speak innermost thoughts, act on secret impulses, and yield moments that are sad, hilarious, and often surreal.
The short films in this program are marked by a beautiful and ingenious sensitivity to their subjects. They articulate the subtleties of light, form, content, and montage in ways that celebrate the moving image. Come prepared to have your retina tickled and your thoughts provoked.
Abbas Kiarostami's son is making fine films, too. Here are two of his documentaries: Pilgrimage is a fly-on-the-wall look at a border town where Iranian pilgrims illegally enter Iraq on their way to the holy city of Karbala; Kamancheh celebrates the soaring beauty of Iranian classical music by spotlighting one instrument, the kamancheh.
An extraordinary film about a famous Japanese scroll painting of the Edo period. The story of a samurai's revenge is cinematically brought to life in way that masterfully redefines the art documentary.
Delamu is a breathtakingly gorgeous portrait of the landscapes and people of the ancient, perilous and remote Tea-Horse Road of southwestern China, captured by the director of Horse Thief (SFIFF 1988)-a time capsule of a place and time soon to be altered by encroaching technology.
Critically acclaimed director Fernando Solanas's angry documentary chronicles how years of corrupt political leadership and disastrous policies led to Argentina's economic and social ruin, eventually spurring a mass demonstration in December 2001 calling for the government's immediate resignation.
A nephew's casual visit to repair a broken water heater becomes a catalyst for postwar healing. Delicately nuanced characters and subtle attention to detail lend much charm to this heartwarming fable about a day in a small neighborhood in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Claire Denis always begins where most directors end and then works her way into uncharted territory. This is a globehopping film about longing on the deepest level imaginable-for a son on the other side of the world and for a life that is always elsewhere.
In contemporary, postwar Angola, a disabled veteran, a young orphan, a teacher, and a prostitute try to put their lives back together. By chance they meet, affecting one another in profound and unpredictable ways.
Is the War on Terror a scam? Adam Curtis tops his previous BBC series, Century of the Self (SFIFF 2003), with this controversial, myth-shattering investigation into the politics of fear as it is practiced by our president and other world leaders.
Lisandro Alonso's film about an ex-con who flees civilization and loses himself in the jungle is an elegantly austere investigation of the boundaries between the natural world and the human-and the violence that lurks within them both.
In March of 1993 the city of Bombay was rocked by a wave of fifteen terrorist bombings. This riveting epic portrays the complex politics and religious strife behind the events by cutting between the police investigation and the lives of the bombers before and after the day of terror.
Intense on every level, this gripping first feature-a Peruvian spin on Taxi Driver-follows the impossible reintegration of a young veteran (a star-making performance by Pietro Sibille) into "civil" society.
Winner of Sundance's World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize, and going far beyond images of tsunami destruction or tourist beaches, Shape of the Moon follows one Indonesian family navigating their country's myriad partitions: between urban and rural, Muslim and Christian, old world and new.
A Serbian prison parolee returns home to find the gift of a family, a Bosnian refugee and her autistic teenage daughter, squatting in his house. Goran Paskaljevic elicits remarkable performances from his star Lazar Ristovski and the young girl, Jovana.
Using embroidery as a metaphor for the steady weaving together of two very dissimilar souls, this is a beautifully observed, stunningly photographed cross-generational portrait of an unwed teen who forms a wry friendship with a woman whose only son recently died.
A must-see for anyone interested in European politics, or Europe in general, this film convincingly fictionalizes the last months of the ex-president of France, François Mitterrand, to create a portrait of a man, a country, and a culture, and the politics, histories, and memories that define them all.
Agnès Varda, director of more than twenty-five films since 1954, combines three separate films into one thought-provoking, utterly charming cinematic essay on photography, memory, and the artistic process.
Already an award-winning hit in France, this bittersweet romance stars the beguiling Yolande Moreau as a middle-aged actress on tour through the north of France with a one-woman show who accidentally finds love with a most unlikely suitor.
The need to speak openly about horrific events, to witness the beauty of the everyday and to ponder the inexplicable are variously explored in these nine short works. The power of revelation makes the possibility of transformation imaginable. Yet, the potential of an imminent breakdown colors many of the works.
Raymond Depardon (Untouched by the West, SFIFF 2003) applies his minimalist style to observing defendants before a sardonic magistrate in a Paris appeals court. His subjects discover that to err is human, and to justify oneself often makes matters worse.
Twelve-year-old Aviva wants to be a mommy. Foiled at every turn by her appalled parents, she hits the road on an adventure pregnant with possibility. Another fertile fairy tale from the director of Welcome to the Dollhouse and Happiness.
Race, class, military dictatorship, and violence-this is not the Rio de Janeiro of travel posters. Through this timely and ambitious story of Miguel and Jorge-each a mirrored "brother" to the other-Lúcia Murat probes fifty years of Brazilian history with unwavering courage.
An offbeat indie approach to a movie about terrorists that has the perpetrators reenact their bombing for the media, this film is an indictment not only of the terrorists but also the corruption of the authorities who pursue them.
This stunning film harks back lovingly but truthfully to early 1950s socialist realism when a girl and her tractor made beautiful music together. Not quite, says Marina Razbezhkina in this tragic story of a woman who is trapped by heroism.
The director of La Ciénega returns with this hallucinatory look at Lolita obsessions and Catholic repressions in small-town Argentina. A teenage choir girl decides her religious vocation is to save the soul of the doctor who just rubbed against her thigh. "A miracle," says The New York Times.
France's comic-neurotic idol Mathieu Amalric anchors this lively tale of two very different people who are nonetheless inextricably linked. Nora is a glamorous gallery owner about to remarry; Ismael is a disheveled violinist about to be committed to a mental asylum run by Catherine Deneuve.
This directorial debut is the shattering story of three men who leave their traditional Berber village in search of a decent livelihood in contemporary Casablanca. What they find instead is a place where "a man with no money is worthless"-the universal plight of the immigrant.
Ex-pilot Enrique Piñeyro both directs and stars in this gripping docudrama about the crash of an Argentinean 737 taking off from Buenos Aires. It's a frightening indictment of airline deregulation and the corporate drive to put safety last.
In this poetically melancholy film, provincial Adrián gets a job setting up pins at the last manual bowling alley in Buenos Aires. Idiosyncratic coworkers fill his youthful mind with stories, philosophies, and a world well beyond their cramped microcosm.
A minimalist style, spiced with moments of humor and poignancy, suffuses this somber and unforgettable story of a 24-hour period in the life of an unnamed Hungarian drug dealer.
Malaysia's first homegrown Tamil-language film is an engaging and touching account of one girl's struggle for the college education that will free her from rural poverty. An impressive debut.
Photographer/director Depardon turns his gaze from the Parisian legal system (10th District Court, SFIFF 2005) to the beautiful mountain regions of France in this insightful portrait of a community close to home, yet seemingly worlds away: French farmers. With short What's New at Garet?
This dark fairy tale is set in an idyllic boarding school for young girls, who are taught only how to breed and behave. A bizarre coming-of-age story, the film depicts their mysterious (and menacing) passage through adolescence.