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International Voices At FLIFF


WOMEN WITHOUT MEN (Shirin Neshat, Iran) 

At the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF), which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, bringing international cinema to the attention of local audiences is a major priority. Since most of the films presented will never find traditional theatrical distribution, their showings are FLIFF are (unfortunately) a rare occurrence and maybe the only opportunity for a film to be seen on the big screen. The lack of a distribution deal may make the film impossible to find anywhere, so FLIFF provides an invaluable service of giving a platform for international voices for world cinema auteurs. The majority of the feature films in the expansive World Cinema category hail from Europe, but there are equally entries from Latin America, Asia and Africa.



This year, Germany has the most foreign language titles available, a testament to the country's growing stature. BELOVED BERLIN WALL by Peter Timm is a Romeo and Juliet story between a Western German woman and an East German border guard in the year that the Berlin Wall fell and the seeds of a unified Germany were born. Doris Dorrie is one of Germany's most prolific directors and her new film CHERRY BLOSSOMS is a tender and moving of a husband who decides to travel to Japan to scatter the ashes of his recently deceased wife, fulfilling a life-long dream they both had to visit the Orient. In the film FRIENDSHIP, written and directed by Markus Goller, two East German lads celebrate their new found freedom by travelling to America. The religious wars of the sixteenth century are vividly brought to life in the expensive costume epic HENRY OF NAVARRE, a lavish German/French/Czech/Spanish co-production directed by Jo Baier. HERE COMES LOLA by Franziska Buch is a feisty coming-of-age story with a remarkable girl at its center who discovers her identity in what is now a multicultural society. American film noir gets a German twist in JERRY COTTON, a tongue-in-cheek crime thriller based on a famous dime novel series. Documentary as political thriller is the best way to describe SCIENTISTS UNDER ATTACK, a fascinating look at genetic engineering by director Bertram Verhaag. In the feminist drama WHEN WE LEAVE (Die Fremde), a Turkish woman eaves her home and her abusive husband in Istanbul and takes her young son to refuge in her native Berlin. The film won the New Faces Award for best debut feature at last year's Berlin Film Festival.




French cinema has been a perennial favorite at the Festival and this year is no exception. CAFÉ DU PONT by Manuel Poirier is set in a small village in southern France two years after the liberation of the country by American troops and offers an intimate look at French provincial life in the 1940s. Isabelle Huppert, one of France’s best and most prolific actresses takes on a rare comic role in COPACABANA by writer/director Marc Fitoussi. Laughter mixes with tears in the romantic melodrama THE WEDDING CAKE, an alternately funny and moving look at the traditions of bourgeois weddings and society events.


Italy provides some piquant titles, including THE CEZANNE AFFAIR, a nostalgic comedy about family ties in southern Italy by writer/director Sergio Rubini; REHEARSAL FOR A SICILIAN TRAGEDY, a documentary tour of Sicily by famed Italian-American actor and director John Turturro; and SI PUO FARE (We Can Do That), a modern fable about a businessman who loses his job and becomes an administrator in a collective of ex-mental patients that mixes pithy humor and melancholy by director Giulio Manfredonia. Scandinavian cinema is represented by such films as AT WORLD’S END (Denmark), an action adventure comedy set in exotic Indonesia; and METROPIA (Sweden), a Kafkaesque animation film set in the technologically advanced but soulless future. 




Other European feature films that have proven to be embraced by FLIFF audiences include AS IF I’M NOT THERE (Bosnia), a dramatic story of a young woman who becomes a teacher in a small rural community and witnesses the massacres of the 1990s wars; KAWASAKI’S ROSE (Czech Republic), a multi-character drama about people living under the repressive Communist regime as it begins to crumble after the fall of the Berlin Wall; and MADE IN DAGENHAM (United Kingdom), a rousing drama based on the true story of factory women in 1960s Northern England who went out on strike to demand equal pay and equal rights for women workers. The film features a terrific cast of British acting veterans including Miranda Richardson, Rosamund Pike, Bob Hoskins and Rupert Graves, as well as an Oscar-worthy performance by Sally Hawkins (a nominee for her breakthrough role in Mike Leigh’s HAPPY GO LUCKY).

Films from Asia include THE PROFESSIONALS (Bangladesh), an intense short drama abut the confrontation of an arrogant doctor with the young man who he has crippled for life due to a botched operation; EMPIRE OF SILVER (Hong Kong), is a lavish epic of the financial corruption of pre-Communist China; ROAD MOVIE (India) is a winning family drama of a young boy’s coming of age amidst the growing financial power of India’s middle class; WOMEN WITHOUT MEN (Iran) is famed video artist and photographer Shirin Neshat’s feature debut, centered on four women who survive the CIA-inspired coup d’etat in 1953; and AU REVOIR TAIPEI (Taiwan), a delightful crime caper/love story about a young man’s attempt to raise money to join his girlfriend in Paris. Voices from around the world resonate in Fort Lauderdale. Find out more information on these and other films in the program by visiting:

Sandy Mandelberger, Festival Circuit Editor


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About Festival Circuit

Mandelberger Sandy
(International Media Resources)

Coverage of the world of film festivals on the international film festival circuit.

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