The 37th consecutive season of the UW-Parkside Foreign Film Series includes 14 internationally acclaimed films, including François Truffaut’s classic first feature film The 400 Blows (France, 1959), the 2018 Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film, A Fantastic Woman (Chile, 2017), and three other films that made the Oscar shortlist. The other films in the program have been recognized for excellence in numerous international film festivals and competitions around the world such as the Asian Film Awards, Venice Film Festival, Golden Globes, and Cannes Film Festival.
Sep 13-16 | 2016 | India | Shubhashish Bhutiani | Hindi language | 102 min
Faith and family become intertwined in this heart-warming drama about people facing the end of their lives in a hotel perched on the banks of the River Ganges. When seventy-seven-year-old Daya suddenly senses his time is up, following tradition, he donates a cow to the temple before persuading his stressed, overworked son Rajiv to accompany him to the holy city of Varanasi so he can peacefully pass on. Hindus believe that people who die there, after bathing in the Ganges, escape the endless cycle of death and rebirth and achieve salvation. All this may sound mournful, yet writer-director Bhutiani’s first feature uses gentle humor to soften the tone and he demonstrates an impressive maturity in his snapshots of life’s joys, pains, and sorrows. 2018 Filmfare Awards: Best Screenplay. Read more on IMDb.
Sep 27-30 | 2017 | Isreal | Samuel Maoz | Hebrew language | 108 min
Foxtrot spends its first half hour as a drama about distraught parents mourning their dead son. At first, the movie plays out like a somber portrait of the mourning process, but the deliberate pacing of initial events becomes a mere preamble for the more intriguing setting that follows. At a remote desert checkpoint, soldiers spend their days checking the identification cards from the mostly Palestinian travelers. Maoz explores their malaise with deadpan asides that highlight the sheer absurdity of their mission. The connection between the movie’s two disparate environments are beautifully complementary in this expansive portrait of Israeli society. Foxtrot is a gorgeous film that exudes confidence in structure and tone, and contains some of the most striking, memorable imagery of the year. 2017 Awards of the Israeli Film Academy: Best Film, Director, Cinematography, and Music; 2017 Venice Film Festival: Best Film and Director. Read more on IMDb.
Call Me By Your Name
Oct 11-14 | 2017 | Italy | Luca Guadagnino | English, Italian, French, German, and Hebrew languages | 132 min
This film is a richly evocative reminder of that time of life when cuddles with parents overlap with the nervous, excited baring of body and soul of first love. Seventeen-year-old Elio is on that cusp, and he can feel it as he vacations with his parents in northern Italy in 1983. Enter Oliver, an American grad student come abroad to intern with Elio’s father, an antiquities scholar. For incurable romantics, it is a rapturous ode to first love that sweeps you up on waves of dizzying eroticism and then sweetly, emphatically leaves you emotionally shattered. 2018 Academy Awards: Best Adapted Screenplay; 2017 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards: Best Actor, Adapted Screenplay, and Breakthrough Film Artist; 2018 International Cinephile Society Awards: Best Picture, Actor, Supporting Actor, and Adapted Screenplay. Read more on IMDb.
After the Storm
Oct 25-28 | 2016 | Japan | Hirokazu Koreeda | Japanese language | 118 min
Uncomfortable, invigorating, and ultimately cleansing, this is Kore-eda (Like Father, Like Son; and I Wish) at his very best. Ryota is a struggling private detective who dwells on his past glory as a prize-winning author. After the death of his father, he renews contact with his initially distrusting family, and struggles to take back control of his life and find a place in the life of his young son Shingo. A stormy summer night offers Ryota and Shingo a chance to truly bond again. Beautifully balanced between gentle comedy and melancholic reality, this film is a bittersweet peek into the quiet complexities of family life. 2017 Online Film Critics Society Awards: Best Non-US Release. Read more on IMDb.
Love & Friendship
Nov 8-11 | 2015 | Ireland | Whit Stillman | English and French languages | 90 min
An adaptation of Jane Austen’s novella Lady Susan, this is an incredibly funny comedy of manners about how to deal with those unpleasant people who insist on forcing themselves into your life. The film focuses on the machinations of a beautiful widow, Lady Susan Vernon, who, while waiting for social chatter about a personal indiscretion to pass, takes up temporary residence at her in-laws’ estate. While there, the intelligent, flirtatious, and amusingly egotistical Lady Vernon is determined to be a matchmaker for her daughter Frederica—and herself, too, naturally. Smart and erudite throughout, it’s a film that will impress audiences with its vicious humor. 2017 London Critics Circle Film Awards: Best Actress and Supporting Actor of the Year. Read more on IMDb.
A Taxi Driver
Nov 29-Dec 2 | 2017 | South Korea | Hun Jang | Korean, German, English, and Japanese languages | 137 min
South Korea's 1980 Guangju Democratic Uprising, largely forgotten outside the country, was a cataclysmic event in South Korea’s struggle for democracy. Director Jang brings the revolt to vivid life through the eyes of one of the rebellion’s heroes, the still-unidentified taxi cab driver who made it possible for a German journalist, Jurgen Hinzpeter, to broadcast evidence of the massacre to the world. Filled with taut suspense and quick action, the film is not only of historical importance, it also stands up independently as a snapshot of what journalists in some parts of the world face every day, and as a tribute to the unsung heroes who help them. 2017 Grand Bell Awards (S. Korea): Best Film; 2017 Buil Film Awards (S. Korea): Best Film and Actor. Read more on IMDb.
The Other Side of Hope
Dec 6-9 | 2017 | Finland | Aki Kaurismäki | Finnish, English, Arabic, Swedish, and Japanese languages | 100 min
Director Kaurismäki (Le Havre) brings us a delightful film about the travails of Khaled, who we first meet as he emerges from a pile of coal in the hull of a container ship in which he has smuggled his way into Helsinki. Not long after, however, he finds himself sitting in a half-way house awaiting a perilous deportation back to Turkey. He breaks free and is offered a job in a restaurant recently purchased by a local a businessman who knows nothing about being a restaurateur. Winsome, sweet, and funny, The Other Side of Hope is a tale about the power of kindness, and Kaurismäki once again demonstrates how cinema itself has the ability to translate that decency, with humor and clarity, to the screen. 2017 Munich Film Festival: Best International Director; 2017 Dublin Film Critics Circle Awards: Best Actor. Read more on IMDb.
In The Fade
Jan 24-27 | 2017 | Germany | Fatih Akin | German, Greek, English, and Turkish languages | 106 min
Turkish-German director Fatih Akin (Soul Food) brings us a gripping film that feels urgently relevant to the present moment, an edge-of-seat thriller inspired by xenophobic murders in Germany by a Neo-Nazi group. Set in contemporary Hamburg, it’s the story of Katja (Diane Kruger), a woman whose husband and six-year-old son are killed in a bombing. But here, the tired screen-stereotypes about terrorism are reversed, with immigrants of Muslim background as the senseless crime’s innocent victims, and the far-right movement its perpetrators. While the politically charged story will awaken outrage at the hate crimes it realistically portrays, what really brings the horror home is the superb performance by Kruger as a hard-drinking, unapologetic non-conformist. In addition to Kruger winning Best Actress at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, this film won Best Film or Best Foreign Language Film from seven international competitions including the 2018 Golden Globes. Read more on IMDb.
Feb 7-10 | 2017 | Thailand | Nattawut Poonpiriya | Thai language | 130 min
Lynn is a brilliant young woman who earns a scholarship to an expensive private school. When her artistic friend Grace asks for some help on an exam, the pair devise a brilliant scheme in which Lynn basically starts a business where she’s the brains for a bunch of spoiled rich kids willing to pay. Based on true events, this is a very smart film, one in which a young woman learns how difficult it is to overcome societally constructed injustices, but most of all, Bad Genius is fun, crisp, and consistently entertaining. 2018 Asian Film Awards: Best Newcomer and Screenwriter; 2017 Fantasia Film Festival: Best Film, Director, Asian Feature, and Innovative Feature. Read more on IMDb.
She Remembers, He Forgets
Feb 21-24 | 2015 | Hong Kong | Adam Wong | Cantonese Language | 108 min
In this charming and thoroughly entertaining film that touches your heartstrings, Gigi married her high school sweetheart, Shing-wah, but their marriage has turned stale. At a high school reunion, she reminisces about her happy days when she was a high school student. One of the strengths of writer/director Adam Wong’s film, is its recognition of mistakes without judgement. Everyone has past decisions they would do differently given the chance, and were this a fantasy film Gigi might get that opportunity, but it’s not, so she’s stuck with her choices. A movie for anyone who’s ever been in love, married, or disappointed, She Remembers, He Forgets demonstrates what a romantic comedy can be when it’s handled by professionals. 2016 Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards: Fim of Merit. Read more on IMDb.
The 400 Blows
Mar 7-10 | 1959 | France | François Truffaut | French and English languages | 99 min
Considered to be one of the most important films in world cinema, François Truffaut’s first feature film is one of the most intensely touching stories ever made about a young adolescent. Told from the point of view of Truffaut’s cinematic counterpart, Antoine, The 400 Blows sensitively re-creates the trials of Truffaut’s own childhood, unsentimentally portraying aloof parents, oppressive teachers, and petty crime. The film marked Truffaut’s passage from leading film critic to trailblazing auteur of the French New Wave. 1959 Cannes Film Festival: Best Director; 1959 New York Film Critics Circle Awards: Best Foreign Language Film. Read more on IMDb.
Mar 21-24 | 2017 | India | Amit Masurkar | Hindi language | 106 min
In this witty satiric comedy, the world's largest democracy is bracing itself for another general election with more than 800 million voters divided by hundreds of religious, cultural, and linguistic barriers. Enter Newton Kumar, a mild-mannered rookie government clerk tasked with conducting elections in a remote village in central India where the jungle teems with Communist guerrillas and tribal communities are, at best, indifferent to voting. Unfazed by the cynicism and danger all around him, Newton is determined to do his duty. Striking the right balance between humor and a serious consideration of the cost of democracy, Newton reminds us that the system that allows us to exercise our franchise is only as virtuous as the people who implement it. 2018 Asian Film Awards: Best Screenplay and Actor; 2018 Filmfare Awards (India): Best Film. Read more on IMDb.
A Fantastic Woman
Apr 4-7 | 2017 | Chile | Sebastián Lelio | Spanish language | 100 min
This is a story of a resilient woman, Marina, refusing to live her life according to the demands of others and rebelling against a stubborn patriarchy that has pushed her to the margins of society. Marina is a young transgender woman who works as a singer and waitress in Santiago, Chile, and who has just watched her lover succumb to an aneurysm. Before his body is even cold, Marina is being treated with suspicion and contempt, less as a person than as a problem. Shocking and enraging, funny and surreal, rapturous and restorative, this is a film of startling intensity. This film has won Best Film or Best Foreign Language Film from thirteen international competitions, including the 2017 Academy Awards. Read more on IMDb.
Let The Sunshine In
Apr 25-28 | 2017 | France | Claire Denis | French language | 94 min
Accomplished director Claire Denis (Chocolat; Beau Travail) brings us a romantic comedy in fragments—intimate, sophisticated, extremely French and loosely based on A Lover’s Discourse by literary theorist and aesthete Roland Barthes. Unhappily divorced artist Isabelle (Juliette Binoche) persists in a repeatedly waylaid search for true love. The loose, airy narrative of this film knits together a series of her dalliances with men of various shapes, types, ages, and neuroses, with nothing in common save for the fact that they have nothing in common with Isabelle either. Smart and sexy, this is a film that imbues excitement and wonder into the emotional connections that define us all. 2017 Cannes Film Festival: Director’s Fortnight. Read more on IMDb.