Thursday, September 17, 2009

Global Film Initiative

The Global Film Initiative's Global Lens film series - ten award-winning narrative, feature films from Argentina, Brazil, China, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Morocco and Mozambique –will screen for the third year running with Salt Lake Film Society. Go to for more information.

This is very cool. How often do you get the chance to see a movie from Indonesia or Morocco? A few of the movies I have seen are:

POSSIBLE LIVES (LAS VIDAS POSIBLES), dir. Sandra Gugliotta, Argentina

An Argentinian woman's husband has gone missing. He is a geologist and he goes to a village in remote Patagonia all the time to work. But this time, he hasn't come back. So she goes looking for him. When she arrives at the village, she sees a man who looks like her husband. But he doesn't recognize her. Is it really her husband, or is she crazy?

I'm fine with a movie that makes me connect the dots and doesn't explain everything, but this was a little much. By the end of the movie, she has had sex with this guy, but she never so much as says "are you my husband?" There is a dead body and the police think it's her husband, but she says no, it's not him. Is it really him, and she is in denial? Nothing is explained.

The film moves really slowly. There was no dialogue until almost 10 minutes in. But I'm still glad I saw it. The location is incredible. It almost made me want to travel to the most remote parts of Argentina. A very unusual movie.


A movie from most glorious country of Kazakhstan! The movie opens with a woman giving birth in some remote village. When she has the boy, he is dark skinned (she and her husband Ivan are blond). People assume that she had an affair with Ivan's dark-skinned friend Asan but she maintains that the baby is Ivan's.

15 years later Ivan's son is a troublemaker. He almost gets kicked out of school, and he steals horses from local bandits. The bandits want to cut off the boy's hand for the crime, but they settle for beating the boy and his father.

Ivan and Asan beat their wives on a regular basis. According to Asan, you have to remind women what their place is. But Ivan's wife gives it right back. The funniest bits in the movie are when Ivan is chasing his wife, threatening to beat her, only for her to grab a frying pan and start chasing after him.

At one point in the movie Ivan's in-laws show up. They aren't shy about telling his wife that she married the wrong guy. Ivan gets into a fight with his brother-in-law, loses, sulks for a while, then takes off. He goes to see his dad, who tells him the story of their ancestors. Then he goes home.

That's ... pretty much the movie. Oh, there are also these interludes where a man on a horse talks to the woman of the sea. These interludes are acted out with puppets against a white background. Interesting choice. I can't recommend the movie, but once again, it looks great. Now I have to visit Kazakhstan too.

WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD, dir. Faouzi Bensaïdi, Morocco

This is the most fun of the three movies. A female police officer named Kenza makes money by loaning her cell phone to her neighbors. One of her friends is a prostitute. One of her clients is a hit man. He calls to talk to the prostitute, ends up talking to Kenza for a while, and they basically fall in love over the phone. He wants to meet her in person, and she resists.

There are a few scenes of the hit man killing people, and these are inventive. My favorite is when he kills a guy in a public bathroom. Before killing him, he turns on all the automatic sinks and activates the automatic flushers to mask the sound of the murder.

There are some interesting stylistic choices. There is on-screen narration, and sometimes it is literally taken from the script (Police Station - Interior / Day). There are musical dance sequences where the characters break the 4th wall by looking directly at the audience. And the camerawork is interesting. This movie tries really hard to be hip. It succeeds in being original, but once again, kind of boring. And unlike the others, this movie does not make me want to travel to Morocco.


So there you go, three of the movies I saw as part of the Global Film Initiative's Global Lens film series. If you want to see something different for a change, take a chance and check out a movie from Iran or Macedonia. I'm going to try and see a few more of these movies, and when I do I will post reviews of those films.

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