FOREIGN FILM SERIES
Welcome to the 2019-2020 Foreign Film Series. The 38th consecutive season of the UW-Parkside Foreign Film Series (FFS) includes 15 internationally acclaimed films, including: Jean-Luc Godard’s New Wave classic Breathless (France, 1960); Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters (Japan, 2018), which won Best Picture at the 2019 Asian Film Awards; and Secret Ingredient (North Macedonia, 2017), selected as North Macedonia’s 2019 Oscar submission and an impressive first feature from director Gjorce Stavreski. The other films in the program have been recognized for excellence in numerous international film festivals and competitions around the world such as the Sundance Film Festival, the European Film Awards, and the Cannes Film Festival.
Thursday 7:30 pm
Friday 7:30 pm
Saturday 5 pm and 8 pm
Sunday 2 pm and 5 pm
Foreign language films are subtitled, and subtitles are used on English language films when available.
Sep 12-15 | Japan, 2018 | Hirokazu Kore-eda | Japanese language | 121 min
Shoplifters is an intricate and nuanced family drama in the classical Japanese style. The film opens with a perfectly calibrated scene in a store with a man and boy making eye contact, moving slowly through the aisles. Of course, what they are doing is shoplifting, but we instantly get the feeling that they are doing it to survive. There are hints of greater secrets and a more complex past within this family. The final half-hour is some of the most emotional, powerful filmmaking of the year, attributable to how delicately Kore-eda has drawn these characters over the ninety preceding minutes. In many ways, the film feels like a natural extension of themes that Kore-eda has been exploring his entire career, whether it is the abandoned children of Nobody Knows; the generational shifts of Still Walking; or the jarring mix-up of Like Father, Like Son; family is an emotive and fragile concept, vulnerable to the vagaries of economic hardship and social change. 2019 Asian Film Awards, winner: Best Film, Best Composer; 2018 Cannes Film Festival, winner: Palme d’Or; 2018 Vancouver International Film Festival, winner: Best Film. IMDb
Sep 26-29 | Lebanon, 2018 | Nadine Labaki | Arabic, Amharic languages | 126 min
Capernaüm begins in court with what looks like the preamble to a high-profile custody battle, but it soon becomes clear that the seating plan is not quite right for a divorce. The twelve-year-old boy, Zain, is the plaintiff, and announces that he wants to sue his parents “for giving me life”. Through immersively stunning flashbacks, the audience is introduced to an extremely poor Lebanon where abandoned children roam the streets. Reaching his breaking point, Zain’s story begins when his eleven-year-old sister is sold into marriage with an older man. Despondent and tired, he flees, taking the bus to a nearby town and quickly learning there is an entire community of children living on the streets. This sensational film turns the plight of this lad growing up in the slums and streets of Beirut into a social-realist blockbuster fired by furious compassion and teeming with sorrow, yet strewn with diamond-shards of beauty, wit, and hope. 2018 São Paulo International Film Festival, winner: Best Feature Film; 2018 Norwegian International Film Festival, winner: Best Film. IMDb
UNDER THE TREE
Oct 10-13 | Iceland, 2017 | Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson | Icelandic language | 89 min
In a movie that feeds on the fury of women, Inga, is by far the scariest. A homemaker of late middle-age and barely bottled savagery, she dominates this pitch-black Icelandic farce. The immediate focus of Inga’s ire is her neighbor’s bodaciously athletic second wife, whose suntan is being thwarted by the branches of Inga’s beautiful old tree and who wants them removed. Funny and thoughtful, darkly comic and submerged in irony, events unfold with the inevitability of a slow-motion car wreck. Maintaining an unrelentingly gleeful grip on the film’s tone, director Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson skillfully whips absurdist comedy and chilling tragedy into a froth of surging hostilities. 2018 Edda Awards (Iceland), winner: Best Film, Director, Actress, and Actor; 2017 Denver International Film Festival, winner: Best Film. IMDb
Oct 24-27 | Denmark, 2018 | Gustav Möller | Danish language | 85 min
Holm is a police officer who has been demoted to desk work as an emergency phone dispatcher for Denmark’s version of 911. He takes a call from a frightened woman named Iben, who says she has been kidnapped and is being driven by her captor to some unknown location. This crisis instantly gives Holm a crime to solve and a way to prove to himself that he is still able to do some good in the world. But he sees the outlines of the case that he wants to see, one that gives him the opportunity to be a certain kind of hero, which leads him to make some tragic assumptions and miscalculations. The Guilty is about the way we perceive the world around us, not in an objective, fair way, but rather in a way guided by our own biases and our need to have purpose in the world. It ends up exploring intriguing, timely ideas about how the power handed to people like law enforcement officers can lead to hubris, arrogance, and violence. 2018 Sundance Film Festival, winner: Audience Award; 2018 International Film Festival & Awards Macao, winner: Best Actor and Director. IMDb
I AM NOT A WITCH
Nov 7-10 | Zambia, 2017 | Rungano Nyoni | English, Nyanja, Bemba, Tonga languages | 93 min
Eight-year-old Shula is an orphaned girl in a rural village whose superstitious residents regard her with a kind of contemptuous loathing. When Shula is accused of witchcraft she is brought to a local police precinct to be confronted with the allegation. The “trial” that follows is one that is reminiscent in its incredulous mockery and its logical absurdities of the similar sequence in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Shula is sent to live among a group of old women who also have been designated as witches. The local government puts them on display for tourists, forces them into menial farm labor, and occasionally asks them to adjudicate local criminal matters by using their “powers” to single out a perpetrator from a group of suspects. Seen through the eyes of a young orphan girl, this is a sharp-edged, magical-realist journey into Zambian society that is at times tragic and comedic with plenty to say about gender and superstition. 2017 Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF), winner: Best Feature Film; 2017 British Independent Film Awards, winner: Best Director. IMDb
Nov 14-17 | Japan, 2017 | Atsuko Hirayanagi | Japanese, English languages | 95 min
In this offbeat comedy, Setsuko, a lonely, angry, sullen woman, lives a life of quiet desperation, suffering her inane co-workers and trudging home to a studio apartment that barely offers enough space to sleep and hang her clothes. She lives vicariously through her niece, Mika, who suddenly runs off to America with her English teacher, John. Setsuko, who has a midlife crush on the teacher, impulsively decides to follow them with her estranged sister, Ayako, in tow. Throughout the film the emphasis is on feminine sensibilities and quirky surprises. Some of those are cute, like Setsuko’s barely-concealed lust-crush on John and others are dark, hitting viewers with a little ugly reality in the midst of Setsuko’s seemingly hopeless romantic fantasy. 2016 Sundance, winner: International Filmmakers Award; 2018 Beijing International Film Festival, winner: Best New Director. IMDb
Dec 5-8 | France, 2017 | Xavier Beauvois | French language | 138 min
The Guardians is an intimate, elegantly made and quietly emotional family story filled with characters whose lives we sink into, feeling the hope, the sadness, the sorrow, and the joy right along with those on the screen. The setting is World War I, on the Paridier family farm. With husbands, sons, and brothers all shipped off to combat, it is up to the matriarch, Hortense Paridier, to run the show, plowing the fields and reaping the crops with the help of her daughter, Solange, and a brand-new farmhand, Francine, whom she brings on during the harvest season. Director Xavier Beauvois (Of Gods and Men) devotes significant screen time to depict the struggle of these while women while capturing the beautiful pastoral setting in richly composed widescreen. The Guardians is a serious-minded and powerful portrait of women getting by in a world where all the men are either gone or have gone mad. IMDb
Dec 12-15 | France, 1960 | Jean-Luc Godard | French, English languages | 90 min
It’s been said that there was before-Breathless, and there was after-Breathless. Jean-Luc Godard burst onto the film scene in 1960 with this jazzy, free-form, and sexy homage to the American film genres. The classic French New Wave film, written by François Truffaut, tells the story of a small-time thief turned big-time criminal. Wanted by the authorities, he reunites with a hip American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy. Roger Ebert: “Modern movies begin here…, no debut film since Citizen Kane has been as influential.” 1961 French Syndicate of Cinema Critics, winner: Best Film; 1960 Berlin International Film Festival, winner: Best Director. IMDb
THE DEATH OF STALIN
Jan 23-26 | UK, 2017 | Armando Iannucci | English language | 107 min
Director Armando Iannucci (Veep; In the Loop) is one the world’s greatest living satirists of government dysfunction. This film tells the story about the fallout of the Soviet tyrant’s demise, and the mad scramble among his various underlings as they clawed their way to replacing him. It is Veep in the Soviet Union, a grand satire driven by profound cynicism about self-obsessed leaders. As Stalin’s brain trust makes a frantic attempt to organize his funeral, familiar faces come and go. There are obvious parallels to modern times and the way the movie transforms a dark chapter of Soviet history into a bubbly workplace comedy suggests that history’s greatest villains always take themselves too seriously. Selfish leaders are transitory, but no matter who winds up on top, it is only a matter of time before somebody topples the tower all over again. 2018 European Film Awards, winner: Best Comedy; 2017 British Independent Film Awards, winner: Best Supporting Actor, Casting, and Production Design. IMDb
Feb 6-9 | Australia/Vanuatu, 2015 | Martin Butler and Bentley Dean | Aboriginal language | 104 min
This unique narrative debut from Australian documentary team Bentley Dean and Martin Butler is a soulful folktale encompassing both tragedy and hope. Told with captivating simplicity and yet richly cinematic, it combines ethnographic and spiritual elements in a haunting love story with classic undertones. The film affords us a glimpse into the little-known culture of the Yakel people who live on the remote Pacific island of Tanna at the bottom of the Vanuatu archipelago. The narrative arc of this spectacularly exotic film, replete with visions of grass skirts, penis sheaths, and a spitting volcano, is based on a true story from the Tanna community in the 1980s—think Romeo and Juliet—which resulted in a change in tribal marital laws. Performances from the untrained cast are magnetic; the Yakel people’s passion to tell their story is undoubtedly at the heart of the film’s success. Like the trees and the birds, each frame feels alive and warm, with shimmering vitality. 2015 Venice Film Festival, winner: Best Cinematography; 2015 London Film Festival, winner: Special Jury Prize. IMDb
HER LOVE BOILS BATHWATER
Feb 20-23 | Japan, 2016 | Ryôta Nakano | Japanese language | 125 min
Her Love Boils Bathwater takes a cheerful approach to a serious narrative. Futaba is a single mother struggling to make ends meet after her husband suddenly left her and the family’s bathhouse business went under. While coming to terms with her situation, she is dealt another blow when she is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Instead of succumbing to despair, though, Futaba decides to tie up the loose ends in her life in the few months she has left, to both comedic and dramatic effect. In doing so, the film explores what it really means to be a mother, a daughter, a student, a member of single-parent family, an entrepreneur, a friend, a rival, even a handicapped person. A sweet, heartwarming tale about the power of love, Her Love Boils Bathwater is a perfectly pitched and highly emotive drama. 2018 Portland International Film Festival, winner: Best New Director; 2016 Hochi Film Awards (Japan), winner: Best Film, Actress, and Supporting Actress. IMDb
Mar 5-8 | Spain, 2017 | Carla Simón | Catalan language | 97 min
This gentle film reflects on the time writer-director Carla Simón went to live with her uncle’s family after the death of her mother. The film’s sentiments, if not cultural specifics, are relatively timeless, and unfold as if in a series of mind’s-eye snapshots, as Simón’s character (Frida) moves us through her pivotal summer. Whether beholding chickens and livestock, learning to distinguish her leafy greens, listening in on adult conversation, or viewing a vibrant costume festival in the village square, Frida maintains both a cool reserve and a wide-eyed interest as she searches for her place amid all she sees and hears. It all makes for a uniquely vivid and evocative kind of storytelling, a memorable look at our desire to love and feel safe, to connect and belong, and the unexpected ways in which families can reshape and grow. 2017 Málaga Spanish Film Festival, winner: Best Film; 2018 Goya Awards, winner: Best New Director, New Actress, and Supporting Actor. IMDb
THE DIVINE ORDER
Mar 19-22 | Switzerland, 2017 | Petra Biondina Volpe | German, Italian, Swiss German languages | 96 min
In Switzerland, the constitutional amendment establishing the right for women to vote at the federal level did not pass until 1971. Nora, like most women in small conservative Swiss towns, has been cowed into keeping her opinions to herself. A small act of defiance against the town’s leading female anti-suffrage finger-wagger wins her an ally in a feisty widow, and soon others join them. Their growing movement culminates in a strike that brings the town to a halt. The film effectively illustrates how peer pressure can influence the political process. Collective silence, whether it is from women unwilling to publicly press for their rights or men afraid to voice agreement with their wives for fear of looking weak, proves more of an obstacle than any opponent. 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, winner: Audience Award, Best International Actress, Nora Ephron Prize for Best Female Writer/Director; 2017 San Diego International Film Festival, winner: Best Global Cinema. IMDb
Apr 2-5 | Republic of North Macedonia, 2017 | Gjorce Stavreski | Macedonian language | 104 min
Stavreski adds a few secret ingredients of his own to this bittersweet debut, moving beyond the story’s local context into the more universal terrain of unresolved family tensions, the dangers of superstition, and the healing power of love. Handsome and affable in a disheveled hangdog way, Vele is a thirtysomething blue-collar mechanic struggling to afford medicine for his seriously ill father, Sazdo. Both men badly need a miracle to escape their bleak, impoverished lives. Vele decides to improvise by baking a medicinal cannabis cake to ease his father’s pain, passing it off as an experimental new treatment. Part bumbling crime caper, part gritty social realism, the film’s stoner premise is underpinned by a rough-hewn realism that elevates this sharply executed comedy into a heart-warming expose of Macedonia’s broken health system. 2018 Santa Barbara International Film Festival, winner: Best Feature Film; 2018 Valencia Festival of Mediterranean Cinema, winner: Best Director. IMDb
Apr 16-19 | UK, 2017 | Sally Potter | English language | 71 min
Sally Potter’s film The Party is a short, sharp, funny shock of a movie, a theatrical drawing-room comedy that plays out in real time with elegance and dispatch, cantering up to a cheeky punchline twist that leaves one laughing over the final credits. The party in question is a small, select soiree held in a book-lined London townhouse owned by Janet, a politician, and her academic classicist husband Bill. We are firmly in the realm of elites and experts. The celebration is in relation to Janet’s prestigious new job of shadow health minister, a stepping stone on the way to party leader and prime minister. She is on the verge of greatness. It all kicks off mightily. People make personal announcements of the sort that punctuate parties in films only to then be superseded by other announcements, both unexpected and unwelcome. It is pure farce with admirable discipline. Potter keeps the running time within strict bounds. Like the best sort of party guest, it does not overstay its welcome. 2018 Berlin International Film Festival, winner: Guild Film Prize; 2017 British Independent Film Awards, winner: Best Supporting Actress. IMDb
ONLINE BOX OFFICE
Admission is based on season subscription only. Tickets are not available for individual films, but at $2 per film, a season pass is an outstanding entertainment bargain. In addition, all season ticket holders receive three free guest passes.
We recommend that you order your season tickets as soon as possible. Our most popular show times (Thursday 7:30 pm, Friday 7:30 pm, and Saturday 5:00 pm) have sold out for a number of years running.
We understand that patrons may need to see a film at an alternative time. Switching to a different showtime is allowed and under normal circumstances will be accommodated; it requires no prior notice, but patrons are encouraged to switch to our least crowded screenings if possible, Saturday 8 pm and Sunday 5 pm.
The UW-Parkside Foreign Film Series does not provide ratings generated by the Motion Picture Association of America. Many foreign films have not received ratings from the MPAA, and the rating system itself may not reflect the sensibilities of our patrons.
For FFS patrons who are interested in taking children to one of our films, we recommend that they visit kids-in-mind for more information about a film's violence, sex, and profanity content. This site, however, does not include films that have not received a MPAA rating. In those cases where MPAA ratings are not available we encourage patrons to read reviews.
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