Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s
TRUMAN & TENNESSEE: AN INTIMATE CONVERSATION (2020)
The work, lives, and personal journeys of iconic American artists Truman Capote and Tennesee Williams coalesce with creative combustion in this innovative dual-portrait documentary. Filmmaker Lisa Immordino Vreeland distills the loves, fears, and artistic achievements of these masters via an array of archival materials, film clips, and vibrant voiceover work from Jim Parsons and Zachary Quinto as Capote and Williams, respectively. Packed with pearls of wisdoms and eloquent observations, the film celebrates the sometimes tumultuous friendship of the titular writers through the ages, while honoring the way their queer identity informed their world-renowned artistic achievements and relationships with their family, confidants, and — most significantly — each other. Narrative film. United States. In English. 2020. 1h26m. View the trailer here.
SWIMMING OUT TILL THE SEA TURNS BLUE (2020)
From master director Jia Zhang-Ke (Ash Is Purest White, A Touch of Sin) comes a vital document of Chinese society since 1949. Jia interviews three prominent authors—Jia Pingwa, Yu Hua, and Liang Hong—born in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, respectively, and all from the same Shanxi province where Jia also grew up. In their stories, we hear of the dire circumstances they faced in their rural villages and small towns, and the substantial political effort undertaken to address it, from the social revolution of the 1950s through the unrest of the late 1980s. In their faces, we see full volumes left unsaid. Jia weaves it all together with his usual brilliance. SWIMMING OUT TILL THE SEA TURNS BLUE is an indispensable account of a changing China from one of the country’s foremost cinematic storytellers. Documentary. Taiwan. In Mandarin with subtitles. 2020. 1h52m. View the trailer here.
Teona Strugar Mitevska’s
GOD EXISTS, HER NAME IS PETRUNYA (2019)
Every 19th January during Epiphany, a unique ceremony takes place all around Macedonia: the high priest throws a cross into the local waters while hundreds of men charge for it. The one who finds it is blessed for the whole next year and becomes kind of a local hero. Petrunija is single unemployed 31-year-old woman and a historian who lives with her parents. Returning home from a failed job interview in a sweatshop factory she witnesses the ceremony, decides to jump, swims and catches the cross. Immediately, the men attack her and wrestle the cross out of her hands since as a woman she has no right to participate. A commotion follows and at the moment of heightened confusion Petrunija runs away with the cross. Over the next few hours her jump into the icy water becomes an Internet sensation. Petrunija is taken to a police station, and this is where her ordeal begins: against the local men, against the world, against the system. From a room to a corridor, to a room again, she spends the night being transferred around the impersonal governmental spaces. She insists that she is the winner and refuses to return the cross. One by one, the policemen, the inspector, the priest unsuccessfully try to convince her to give up. Through these 24 hours we discover a society full of stereotypes, with collapsed social and justice system. Narrative Film. Macedonia. In Macedonian with subtitles. 2019. 1h40m. View the trailer here.
Paul Schrader’s MISHIMA: A LIFE IN FOUR CHAPTERS (1985)
Paul Schrader’s visually stunning, collage-like portrait of the acclaimed Japanese author and playwright Yukio Mishima (played by Ken Ogata) investigates the inner turmoil and contradictions of a man who attempted the impossible task of finding harmony among self, art, and society. Taking place on the last day of Mishima’s life, when he famously committed public seppuku, the film is punctuated by extended flashbacks to the writer’s past as well as gloriously stylized evocations of his fictional works. With its rich cinematography by John Bailey, exquisite sets and costumes by Eiko Ishioka, and unforgettable, highly influential score by Philip Glass, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters is a tribute to its subject and a bold, investigative work of art in its own right. Narrative film. In Japanese with subtitles. 1985. 2h. View trailer here.
Akira Kurosawa’s THE BAD SLEEP WELL (1960)
A young executive hunts down his father’s killer in director Akira Kurosawa’s scathing The Bad Sleep Well. Continuing his legendary collaboration with actor Toshiro Mifune, Kurosawa combines elements of Hamlet and American film noir to chilling effect in exposing the corrupt boardrooms of postwar corporate Japan. Narrative film. Japan. In Japanese with subtitles. 1960. 2h30m. View the trailer here.
KILL IT AND LEAVE THIS TOWN (2020)
Fleeing from despair after losing those dearest to him, the hero hides in a safe land of memories, where time stands still and all those dear to him are alive. Over the years, a city grows in his imagination. One day, literary heroes and cartoon childhood idols, who in the consciousness of the successive generations are forever young and wearing short pants, come to live there, uninvited. When our hero discovers they have all grown old and that eternal youth does not exist, he decides to return to real life.
And the amazing characters living in his imagination lead him back to the real world. Narrative film. Russia. In Russian with subtitles. 2020. 1h28m. View trailer here.
SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT (1955)
Set in turn-of-the-century Sweden, four women and four men attempt to juggle the laws of attraction amidst their daily bourgeois life. During a weekend in the country, the women ally to force the men’s hands in their matters of the heart, exposing their pretensions and insecurities along the way. Chock full of flirtatious propositions and sharp-witted wisdom delivered by such legends of the Swedish screen as Gunnar Björnstrand, Eva Dahlbeck, Harriet Andersson, and Ulla Jacobsson, Smiles is one of film history’s great tragicomedies, a bittersweet view of the transience of human carnality. Narrative film. In Swedish with subtitles. 1h48m. View the trailer here.