The University of Wisconsin-Parkside Foreign Film Series is once again hosting a short summer program of internationally acclaimed films. This is an ideal opportunity for you to introduce your cinephile friends to the Foreign Film Series without committing to an entire season.
This year’s summer program features a trio of films with a common theme. Faces Places, Afterimage, and The Square all grapple with the complexities and machinations of visual artistic production. These films interrogate, valorize, and satirize artists and the art world and impel audiences to consider the purpose and value of visual art while suggesting that beauty and propaganda are perhaps two sides of the same coin.
Jul 12–14 | 2017 | France | JR and Agnès Varda | French language | 89 min
In this warm and vibrant documentary, one of the legends of French New Wave cinema, Agnès Varda (88), teams up with contemporary photographer and muralist, JR (34). In what very well could be Varda’s final film, the two artists travel around the French countryside in a special truck equipped as a portable photo booth and printing facility as they take photographs of working-class people and the places they live. The photos are enlarged and used to create colossal murals that honor the individuals and their communities. As the couple travels place-to-place, we are entertained by their good-natured banter on art and life, but mostly on the true stars of film, the ordinary yet special faces and places they photograph and celebrate. Awarded “Best Documentary” in the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and by film critics associations of Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Indiana, Iowa, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Toronto.
Immediately following the film, patrons are invited to stay for a bonus feature in which Varda and JR offer insights into the origins of the project and the nature of their collaboration. English language. 45 min.
Jul 19–21 | 2016 | Poland | Andrzej Wajda | Polish language | 98 min
This is the final film by director Andrzej Wajda, one of the giants in world cinema. [In 1982, we screened Wajda’s Man of Iron (1981) in the first season of the Parkside Foreign Film Series.] Unlike some of his contemporaries who left for the West, Wajda stayed in Poland to document life under Communist rule. Afterimage chronicles the final years of teacher and avant-garde painter Władysław Strzemiński in post-WWII Stalinist Poland. Strzemiński’s views on art as individual expression clashed with the government’s use of art as a propaganda tool of the state. The film's empathetic view of the characters and exploration of the importance of freedom of speech and the rights of artistic expression make for a rich, rewarding, and compassionate experience. A deeply personal film, Afterimage is a fitting swan song for Poland's most beloved filmmaker. 2016 Polish Film Festival: Special Jury Prize.
Jul 26-28 | 2017 | Sweden | Ruben Ӧstlund | Swedish, Danish, and English languages | 151 min
King of the cringe-inducing confrontation, director Ruben Ӧstlund (Force Majeure) brings us a film that navigates the nexus of hype, commerce, and ego, and ultimately excoriates the modern art scene. In one hysterical scene after the next, Ӧstlund lampoons a series of vain, veneer-driven creatures that inhabit this rarified world. From spectators too afraid to admit they’re unsure of what they’re looking at, to the shallow and selfish dregs who create it, the film is a rogue’s gallery of nuts and can’t-miss comic vignettes. You may enjoy pointing fingers at this pretentious bunch, but be careful, the humor in this film is a schadenfreude boomerang that may land close to home. 2017 Toronto Film Critics Association Awards: Best Foreign Language Film; 2017 European Film Awards: Best European Film, Comedy, Director, Actor, and Screenwriter; 2017 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards: Best Foreign Language Film.