Upcoming Events: SF International Film Festival

Slavic, East European, and Eurasian films of interest at the upcoming San Francisco International Film Festival
April 21 – May 5, 2011

–Information provided by the Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies. Most of the following films will have screenings at the Pacific Film Archive on the UC Berkeley campus; all of them will be shown at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas in San Francisco. For details of each film, to see screening times and venues, and to purchase tickets, please visit the San Francisco International Film Festival website at http://fest11.sffs.org

Aurora (Cristi Puiu, Romania/France/Germany/Switzerland, 2010)
Viorel negotiates bleak wintertime Bucharest with dispassion and an obscure anger. But when he begins planning a shooting, his predictable world gets recast in a new, mysterious light. This haunting portrait presents a penetrating revision of the traditional crime drama, subtracting the romance and keeping the doom.
The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu (Andrei Ujica, Romania, 2010)
“Lies, mystifications, provocations!” declares Ceausescu when confronted by his crimes at his 1989 trial. Bracketed by footage of his refusal to admit guilt in the hour before his execution, this masterfully assembled collage of clips from Ceausescu’s rigidly controlled official record reveals a dictator believing in his own cult of personality.

Chantrapas (Otar Iosseliani, France/Georgia, 2010)
A filmmaker finds creative freedom more elusive than he imagined in this ironic comedy-drama from Otar Iosseliani (Gardens in Autumn, SFIFF 2007). Tired of the state-appointed producers and censorship in his homeland, Soviet Georgia, Niko decides to move to France, only to find that he has merely traded one type of interference for another.
Cinema Komunisto (Mila Turajlic, Serbia, 2010)
This eye-opening and bittersweet chronicle of the Yugoslavian film industry recounts how the cinema was used—often with direct intervention from President Josip Broz Tito—to create and recreate the young nation’s history, replete with heroes and myths that didn’t always hew closely to reality.


The Light Thief (Aktan Arym Kubat, Kyrgyzstan/ Germany/France/Netherlands, 2010)
A simple electrician affectionately known as Mr. Light finds himself in a difficult position when a politician embraces his dream of generating wind energy for his impoverished town. This stirring allegory of a man confronting injustice and tyranny dramatizes the challenges facing the developing economies of post-Soviet Central Asia.


The Mill and the Cross (Lech Majewski, Poland/Sweden, 2010)
At once a detailed social history of 16th-century Flemish life and a keen study of the artistic imagination, Lech Majewski’s brilliant film brings to life before our eyes The Way to Calvary, Pieter Bruegel’s dense frieze of Christ’s passion set within a busy rustic Flanders scene.


My Joy (Sergei Loznitsa, Ukraine/Germany/Netherlands, 2010)
A taciturn truck driver hits the pitted asphalt road for a journey into rural Russia and encounters with peculiar folk—an old man still plagued by the Great War, a teenage prostitute who shuns kindness, a trio of tramps who wander the wasteland like an unholy trinity—in this surprising guignol about a republic in decline


Silent Souls (Aleksei Fedorchenko, Russia, 2010)
The rites and rituals of the Merja people, an ethnic minority from the Volga region of Russia, form the backbone of this lyrical, sensual and dreamlike film about love and loss. After his beloved wife dies, Miron calls on his best friend, photographer (and the film’s narrator) Aist, to help him with his final goodbye.


Tilva Rosh (Nikola Lezaic, Serbia, 2010)
Bor, in eastern Serbia, was once home to the largest copper mine in Europe. Now it’s just the biggest hole. This astutely observed coming-of-age film captures the pitfalls of the adult world, where idealism no longer seems to have a place, as two teens come to realize they have no choice but to grow up.


Walking Too Fast (Radim Spacek, Czech Republic/Slovakia/Poland, 2009)
The psyche of a ruthless secret agent in Cold War Czechoslovakia begins to unravel when he obsesses over the girlfriend of a suspected subversive he is tracking. This taut political thriller is a bleak and potent rendering of the emotional destruction wreaked by totalitarianism.

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