Recognizing that few Americans have the means or the will to travel outside the U.S.—especially beyond Europe—Susan Weeks Coulter has adapted a funding program from the Netherlands that creates ways for Americans to experience other cultures—through cinema. From May 7–18, the Walker Art Center presents
Global Lens 2008
, including matinee and free student screenings on select dates. Now in its fifth year, the Global Film Initiative supports filmmakers from developing nations, and the initiative’s public face, Global Lens, is one of the United States’ most lauded touring festivals of international film. Coulter, cofounding board chair of the Global Film Initiative, sees the program working in two separate but complementary directions: Filmmakers use the $10,000 production grant to complete their work and leverage those grants for more funding and distribution opportuni¬ties; and through Global Lens, Americans gain windows into worlds that are otherwise hidden. “We’re trying to create visibility and credibility for the film¬makers, but also support the industry within their own countries and provide a continuum for films to be made there,” Coulter says.
The filmmakers on four continents tapped for the 10 films in Global Lens 2008 were selected as much for their vivid portrayals of their home cultures, Coulter says, as for the potential of these stories to carry universal human appeal. In addition to screenings at the Walker, the festival travels this year to art centers, colleges, and smaller theaters in as many as 50 cities. Distribution in high schools is another program priority. Curriculum materials have been developed to help high school teachers discuss issues raised in the films with their students. In many cases, this may be the first opportunity that students have had to see a foreign film, which can lead to a lifetime passion for exploring the world through cinema.
Acclaimed films in the series include Randa Chahal Sabbag’s The Kite (Le Cerf-Volant), which earned the filmmaker a Grand Special Jury Prize at the 2003 Venice Film Festival (May 7, 7 pm); Wang Chao’s Luxury Car (Jiang Cheng Xia Ri), which won the Un Certain Regard Award at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival (May 8, 7:30 pm); and Garin Nugroho’s Opera Jawa, which won the Silver Screen Award for Best Picture at the 2007 Singapore International Film Festival (May 11, 3 pm).
Unless otherwise noted, films are screened in the Cinema and are $8 ($6 Walker members). Tickets to free films are available at the Bazinet Garden Lobby desk from 6:30 pm.
Cinephile’s Special: Buy 3 films and get the 4th free: $24 ($18 Walker members).
Free morning screenings of select films can be scheduled for high school groups May 14–16. Free on-demand screenings for high school groups of 30 or more can also be arranged May 7–18. Curriculum guides and preview DVDs are available to teachers. For reservations, call 612.375.7609.
GLOBAL LENS 2008
Wednesday, May 7
The Kite (Le Cerf-Volant), 7 pm
Directed by Randa Chahal Sabbag
The border between Lebanon and Israel, captured in stunning cinematography, frames the story of a young Lebanese bride lamenting her impending arranged marriage to an equally reticent groom living on the other side of the checkpoint. Tensions rise when she confesses her love for the Israeli soldier guarding the areat. Randa Chahal Sabbag’s enchanting drama about marriage and tradition is underscored by artful references to the politics of Lebanon’s annexed territories. 2003, Lebanon, in Arabic with English subtitles, 80 minutes.
Repeat screening Saturday, May 17, 2 pm
Free student screening: Thursday, May 15, 9:30 am
All for Free (Sve Daba), 9 pm
Directed by Antonio Nuić
After his friends are killed in a barroom brawl, Goran devises an unusual plan to deal with the loss: he sells his house, buys a mobile tavern, travels from town to town, and though met with suspicion, gives away free drinks to everyone he meets. Croatian director Antonio Nuić’s first feature film, darkly humorous yet optimistic, is told as a metaphor for Bosnia’s gradual rediscovery of the shared humanity it lost during the war. 2006, Croatia, in Bosnian-Croatian with English subtitles, 94 minutes.
Repeat screening Saturday, May 10, 7 pm
Thursday, May 8
Luxury Car (Jiang Cheng Xia Ri), 7:30 pm FREE
Directed by Wang Chao
Retaining face and dignity has been a struggle for the mil¬lions who have recently fled the rural areas of China, and thousands of parents have lost contact with their children. In this emotionally taut narrative, karaoke bar escort Li Yan Hong tries to hide her job and relationship with her boss from her long-estranged father, who has traveled from his small village to the city to find his son. 2006, China, in Mandarin with English subtitles, 88 minutes. Target Free Thursday Night screening introduced by Jason McGrath, associate professor, Asian Languages and Literatures, University of Minnesota.
Repeat screening Sunday, May 18, 1 pm
Friday, May 9
The Custodian (El Custodio), 7 pm
Directed Rodrigo Moreno
Smoldering with rage from his daily routine as a bodyguard for a high-profile politician and the humiliations leveled on him by those he’s hired to protect, the central character reaches the breaking point. This tightly drawn psychological thriller features a spot-on performance by Julio Chávez. 2006, Argentina, in Spanish with English subtitles, 93 minutes.
Repeat screening Wednesday, May 14, 7 pm
Kept and Dreamless (Las Mantenidas Sin Sueños), 9 pm
Directed by Vera Fogwill and Martín Desalvo
During Argentina’s economic crisis of the 1990s, a young girl who becomes a caregiver for her mother with the help of an extended family of eccentric neighbors becomes wise beyond her years. 2005, Argentina, in Spanish with English subtitles, 94 minutes.
Repeat screening Wednesday, May 14, 9 pm
Saturday, May 10
Let the Wind Blow (Hava Aney Dey), 2 pm
Directed by Partho Sen-Gupta
At the height of nuclear tensions between India and Pakistan, two friends weigh their options for the future against the reality of life on the streets of Mumbai. Enticed by the promise of wealth and opportunity in the Persian Gulf, one boy is eager to leave his job as a mechanic. But for the other, who must finish college and care for his mother, the decision is not so easy in director Partho Sen-Gupta’s gritty, apocalyptic interpretation of Krishna’s counsel to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. 2004, India, in Hindi and English with English subtitles, 93 minutes.
Repeat screening Sunday, May 18, 3 pm
The Bet Collector (Kubrador), 9 pm
Directed by Jeffrey Jeturian
A family matriarch makes ends meet by running a small convenience store out of her home. But customers are scarce in a struggling economy, and without the help of her husband or pregnant daughter, she is forced to supplement the family income by collecting bets for an illegal numbers game. In this stark, realistic narrative, director Jeffrey Jeturian presents a captivating portrait of a once-proud woman haunted by memories of a dead son and hounded by the police, and her fragile and lonely life as a bet collector on the streets of Manila. 2006, the Philippines, in Tagalog with English subtitles, 98 minutes.
Repeat screening Friday, May 16, 9 pm
Free Student Screening: Wednesday, May 14, 9:30 am
Sunday, May 11
The Fish Fall in Love (Mahiha Ashegh Mishavand), 1 pm
Directed by Ali Raffi
Loosely based on the Persian tale of Shahrazad mixed with A Thousand and One Nights, first time director Ali Raffi’s film is a rich banquet of food and love set on the southern coast of Iran. Locals flock to Atieh’s thriving restaurant for her extravagant dishes. When a former lover appears after a 20-year absence with the intention of closing the restaurant, Atieh prepares his favorite dishes, one after the other, in a desperate effort to convince him otherwise. 2006, Iran, in Farsi with English subtitles, 96 minutes.
Repeat screening Friday, May 16, 7 pm
Free Student Screening: Friday, May 16, 9:30 am
Opera Jawa, 3 pm
Directed by Garin Nugroho
Startling in his originality and ambition, director Garin Nugroho interprets “The Abduction of Sita” from the Hindu epic The Ramayana as a musical requiem for the victims of violence and natural disaster. The opulent cinematography of the lush forests and beaches of Java is topped only by the impracticable, acrobatic choreography in this tale of a vengeful potter who takes action against the suitor of his unfaithful wife. 2006, Indonesia, in Bahasa Indonesian with English subtitles, 120 minutes.
Repeat screening Saturday, May 17, 9 pm
Thursday, May 15
Bunny Chow, 7:30 pm FREE
Directed by John Barker
In director John Barker’s debut feature, up-and-coming comedians Kags, Joey, and Dave make it clear that life in the “new” Johannesburg is not just about hardship and townships. It’s also about hanging out with friends and celebrating life on a raucous road trip to Oppi Koppi—South Africa’s largest music festival. Shot in a cinema vérité style and using the street food “bunny chow” as a metaphor for contemporary Johannesburg’s mix of races, cultures, and attitudes, Barker’s edgy urban comedy asks us to envi¬sion a nation through the eyes of its future rather than the tragedy of its past. 2006, South Africa, in Afrikaans, Tsotsi Taal, and English with English subtitles, 95 minutes.
Repeat screening Saturday, May 17, 7 pm