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“Burma,” “Headless,” “Agnes” Among Film Forum’s Summer Slate

"Burma," "Headless," "Agnes" Among Film Forum's Summer Slate

Film Forum, the nonprofit New York City movie theater, has announced its summer programming. Films include Anders Ostergaard’s “Burma VJ,” Agnes Varda’s “The Beaches of Agnes,” and Lucrecia Martel’s “The Headless Woman.” A full schedule, with descriptions provided by Film Forum, is located below. Film Forum is located at 209 West Houston Street in New York City. For further information, visit the theater’s website.

“Jerichow” Directed by Christian Petzold (Opens May 1 for an ongoing engagement)
Germany / 2008 / 93 Minutes / In German with English Subtitles / Cinema Guild

“A loose reworking of THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE. A taut, brilliantly acted thriller…in which the characters simmer with violent passions. Here is a filmmaker – one of the most exciting to come from his country since the heyday of the New German cinema – whose name critics should be shouting from the rooftops.” – Scott Foundas, LA Weekly

“The Window” Directed by Carlos Sorin (May 6 – 19)
Argentina / Spain / 2008 / 85 Minutes / In Spanish with English Subtitles / Film Movement

As a teenager, Argentine director Carlos Sorin was deeply affected by Ingmar Bergman’s WILD STRAWBERRIES, a classic story of an elderly man recalling significant moments in his life. In THE WINDOW, Antonio, an elderly, literary gentleman, is bedridden in his comfortable hacienda, waited upon by family retainers. His long-absent son, a renowned pianist, is expected that evening and preparations (tuning the piano, chilling champagne) are in full swing. When Antonio escapes the constraints of his too-solicitous staff to wander through the adjoining fields, his thoughts wander as well. We are left with the understanding that each of us collects “rosebud” moments – those defining experiences of passion which only become more significant with time as they crystallize a life’s meaning into a few, precious images.

“Burma VJ” Directed by Anders Ostergaard (May 20 – June 2)
Denmark / 2008 / 85 Minutes / In English and Burmese with English Subtitles / Oscilloscope Laboratories

Burma, September 2007: after weeks of protests by students and activists against the country’s cruel dictatorship, thousands of Buddhist monks take to the streets. While 100,000 people protest a repressive regime that has held the country hostage for over 40 years, foreign news crews are banned and the Internet is shut down. Burma is closed to the outside world. The Democratic Voice of Burma, a collective of 30 underground video journalists (VJs) record these dramatic events on handycams and smuggle the footage out of the country, broadcasting it worldwide via satellite. Risking torture and life imprisonment, the VJs vividly document the brutal clashes with the military and undercover police – and then they themselves became the targets of the authorities. “A real activist thriller.” – Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post

“Unmistaken Child” Written and directed by Nati Baratz (June 3 – 16)
Israel / 2008 / 102 Minutes / In English, Tibetan, Nepalese and Hindi with English Subtitles / Oscilloscope Laboratories

The Buddhist concept of reincarnation, while both mysterious and enchanting, is hard for most Westerners to grasp. UNMISTAKEN CHILD follows the 4-year-search for the reincarnation of Lama Konchog, a world-renowned Tibetan master who passed away in 2001 at age 84. The Dalai Lama charges the deceased monk’s devoted disciple, Tenzin Zopa (who had been in his service since the age of seven), to search for his master’s reincarnation, a child who may be anywhere in the world. Tenzin sets off on foot, mule and even helicopter, through breathtaking landscapes and remote traditional Tibetan villages. He listens to stories about children with special characteristics, performs rituals and rarely-seen tests designed to determine the likelihood of reincarnation, and eventually presents his chosen one to the Dalai Lama, who will make the final decision. Stunningly shot, UNMISTAKEN CHILD is a beguiling, surprising, touching and even humorous experience.

“Food, Inc.” Directed by Robert Kenner (Opens June 12 for an ongoing engagement)
US / 2008 / 94 mins / Magnolia Pictures

How much do we really know about the food we buy at our local supermarkets and serve to our families? In FOOD, INC., producer-director Robert Kenner and investigative authors Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) and Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) lift the veil off of the food industry – an industry that has often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihoods of American farmers, the safety of workers and our own environment. The filmmakers expose the highly mechanized underbelly that’s been deliberately hidden from the American consumer. They illustrate the dangers of a food system controlled by powerful corporations that don’t want you to see, think about or criticize how our food is made. FOOD, INC. also reminds us that despite what appears to be at times a hopeless situation, each of us still has the ability to vote on this issue every day – at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“The Windmill Movie” Written and directed by Alexander Olch (June 17 – 30)
US / 2008 / 82 Minutes

Richard P. Rogers (1943-2001) was a NYC baby boomer, born to privilege: a Harvard-educated WASP who became a first-rate independent filmmaker (QUARRY and ELEPHANTS both opened at Film Forum in the ’70s) and a gifted film teacher. But he was also a tortured, neurotic soul who freely admitted to being jealous of Steven Spielberg and simultaneously ashamed of the impulse. Torn between narrow class loyalties and broader professional goals and political values, Rogers found the time to juggle multiple relationships with the skill of a world-class Lothario, but was unable to complete an autobiographical film he had worked on for 25 years. His former student Alexander Olch collages a trove of material, including extraordinary scenes of Rogers’s mink-coated Gorgon-mom, and fictional sequences with Wallace Shawn as Dick. THE WINDMILL MOVIE is a heady, fascinating brew that brings together one man’s parentage, culture, education, and ambition — letting the chips fall where they may.

“The Beaches of Agnes” Written and directed by Agnes Varda (July 1 – 14)
France / 2008 / 109 Minutes / In French with English Subtitles / Cinema Guild

Agnes Varda, whom A.O. Scott in The New York Times deemed “a treasure” when writing about her acclaimed documentary, THE GLEANERS AND I, returns with a movie that synthesizes 50 years of filmmaking, and 80 years of a life well-lived. An early member of the French New Wave, Varda has worked with Chris Marker, Alain Resnais, Jean-Luc Godard, Jane Birkin, Michel Piccoli, Catherine Deneuve and Philippe Noiret – not to mention Harrison Ford, the Black Panthers and Viva. Stories of her childhood in Brussels and adolescence in occupied Paris, of Los Angeles in the ’60s, and of life in her 14e arrondissement Paris neighborhood are melded with clips from both documentary and fiction work. Husband/filmmaker Jacques Demy, who died in 1990, is an abiding presence. Varda is an avid collector: of people and places, sensual experiences and intellectual preoccupations, personal commitments and political principles. She is a mother and wife, a feminist, nature-lover and urban-dwelling artist. Above all, she is a woman in love with the cinema whose new movie perfectly expresses her sentiment, “While I live, I remember.”

“Somers Town” Directed by Shane Meadows (July 15 – 28)
UK / 2008 / 70 Minutes / In English and Polish with English Subtitles / Film Movement

Two teenage boys – Tomo, a tough-talking orphaned Brit, and Marek, a shy Polish emigre, warily develop a friendship in one of London’s more rundown neighborhoods, a place where Shane Meadows’s black and white cinematography suggests the kitchen-sink dramas of the early ’60s. Thomas Turgoose, who played a baby-faced hoodlum in Meadows’s recent skinhead drama THIS IS ENGLAND, gives another tour-de-force performance as a cheeky, funny 16-year-old who has seen it all. Tomo and Marek find ways to make a few quid, defend themselves from neighborhood bullies and dream of erotic fulfillment with the fetching French waitress they both fall for. Once again the filmmaker’s understated realism limns modern-day England in a way that is both contemporary and timeless.

“You, The Living” Written and directed by Roy Andersson (July 29 – August 11)
Sweden / Germany / France / Denmark / Norway / 2007 / 95 Minutes / In Swedish with English Subtitles / Palisades Tartan

“One of the supreme absurdists of our time, Andersson (SONGS FROM THE SECOND FLOOR) serves up a series of immaculately conceived vignettes of appalling urban life. Set in a perpetually cold, smoke-diffused Northern Europe, they’re constantly surprising and often outrageously funny. Working in long, static takes on intricate studio sets, he challenges his hapless characters at every turn. One sublime conceit – a honeymoon house that glides through the night like a train – provokes the thought that, for Andersson, in a world always on the brink of disaster, the only true salvation is in our imagination.” – David Thompson, Film Comment

“Yasukuni” Written and directed by Li Ying (August 12 – 18)
Japan / China / 2008 / 123 Minutes / In Japanese with English Subtitles

When Japan’s Prime Minister Koizumi insisted that his visits to the Yasukuni shrine were a purely personal matter, he unleashed an international furor. Established in 1869, the shrine houses 2.5 million Japanese war dead including WWII “class A war criminals,” among them General Tojo and others sentenced to death at the Tokyo Trial (Japan’s Nuremberg). Visitors to Yasukuni include still-militant Japanese nationalists as well as outraged protesters from China, Taiwan, Korea, and Okinawa. Chinese filmmaker Li Ying doesn’t pull his punches. He includes archival footage of a “100-man beheading contest” between Japanese officers as well as a fascinating contemporary interview with a 90-year-old craftsman who continues to forge Yasukuni swords, used in these and other atrocities.

“The Headless Woman” Written and directed by Lucrecia Martel (August 19 – September 1)
Argentina / France / Italy / Spain / 2008 / 87 Minutes In Spanish with English Subtitles / Strand Releasing

From the director of LA CIENAGA, comes this oblique, compelling tale of a poster child for the South American haute bourgeoisie: blonde and bland, perfectly coiffed and made-up, usually sitting behind the wheel of a Mercedes. Maria Onetto plays a woman whose perfect life may be a dream or whose nightmare accident (was that a child her car hit? a dog? or nothing?) may indicate that her entire existence lacks reality. Critics have referenced David Lynch and Luis Bunuel as forerunners for the kind of hyper-reality the film exudes. When the film played at last fall’s New York Film Festival, the Village Voice’s J. Hoberman wrote: “The third feature by Lucrecia Martel, leading director of the Argentine renaissance, is her strongest to date – at the very least, this brilliantly edited, purposefully disorienting comedy about a middle-aged woman’s post-car-accident confusion is the movie I’m most looking forward to revisiting.”

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