Classics

A Touch Of Zen (1971)
King Hu
Taiwan
179′
A lady fugitive on the run from corrupt government officials is joined in her endeavors by an unambitious painter and skilled Buddhist monks.
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Akasen Chitai - Street of Shame (1956)
Kenji Mizoguchi
Japan
86′
Five fates of women from Tokyo's brothel district in the 1950s are the focus of Kenji Mizoguchi's last film, who devoted the majority of his works to the historical and social situation of Japanese women. The theme is shaped by socio-critical commitment, human sympathy and unspeculative openness.
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Al asfour - The Sparrow (1972)
Youssef Chahine
Egypt
102′
The Sparrow fascinates with its parallel strands of action. The various ways of encountering a criminal trader, namely by a police officer and a journalist, are ultimately only traces that lead to the tip of an iceberg: the corruption of Egyptian society on the eve of the Six-Day War.
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Ariel (1988)
Aki Kaurismäki
Finland
72′
A Finnish man goes to the city to find a job after the mine where he worked is closed and his father commits suicide.
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Banshun - Late Spring (1949)
Yasujiro OZU
Japan
108′
Twenty-seven-year-old Noriko lives with her widowed father, a university professor, in a small house in the tranquil surroundings of northern Kamakura. He is completing a scientific manuscript, aided by his assistant, Hattori. Professor Sonomiya is concerned for his daughter s welfare, and one day suggests she marry Hattori. Noriko only laughs at his suggestion because she is quite happy with her life and knows that Hattori is already engaged. Her aunt Masa, the professor s sister, is the next person to try out her matchmaking skills, and she talks Noriko into meeting Mr Satake. Although Noriko quite likes him, she rejects all thoughts of marriage because she doesn t want to leave her father all alone. When she meets Professor Onodera, an old friend of her father s, in a museum one day and he tells her that he has just remarried, Noriko can hardly disguise her dismay. One of Ozu's favorite themes is the opposing desires of and friction between members of a family even though they feel deep affection and loyalty to each other. Inevitably, these interactions within a family, and particularly the problems which arise between parents and children, will result in some sort of separation. For Noriko it is the separation of marriage, in other Ozu stories it may mean being employed away from home or death. While Ozu is saddened by these events, he also recognizes that they are unavoidable. This awareness of the inherent transience and sadness of human existence is what the Japanese call mono no aware." Beverley Bare Buehrer
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Battleship Potemkin (1925)
Sergej M. Eisenstein
Russia
49′
The revolution film par excellence, here in the German needle-tone version of 1930: The film presents a dramatized version of the mutiny that occurred in 1905 when the crew of the Russian battleship Potemkin rebelled against their officers. Battleship Potemkin was named the greatest film of all time at the Brussels World's Fair in 1958. In 2012, the British Film Institute named it the eleventh greatest film of all time.
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with bonus
Cairo Station (1958)
Youssef Chahine
Egypt
73′
Bonus:
Melodrama and thriller, social drama and love story in one, the masterly feature film by the Egyptian director Youssef Chahine, made in 1958, is located entirely on the station grounds. The old Madbouli is the owner of a kiosk at Cairo's main railway station. One day he finds a half-starved, poor man at the edge of the tracks. Madbouli feels sorry for the sad-looking, limping farmer Kenaoui and hires him as a flying newspaper salesman. At work, Kenaoui meets the beautiful Hanouma every day, who also earns her living at the station by supplying travellers with lemonade drinks. Kenaoui falls for the cheerful woman and makes it his goal to marry her. Lonely and in obsessive longing, he cuts out lightly dressed women from magazines in his hut at the edge of the train station in the evening, hanging his walls with them. Although he knows that Hanouma is already promised to the suitcase porter and trade unionist Abou Serih, one day he reveals his feelings to her and proposes to her. Her rejection, soaked with mockery and ridicule, drives Kenawi further into a rage-drenched obsession for Hanuma. Restored version.
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Closely Watched Trains (1966)
Jiri Menzel
Czech Republic
89′
The young Miloš Hrma, who speaks with misplaced pride of his family of misfits and malingerers, is engaged as a newly trained station guard in a small railway station during the Second World War and the German occupation of Czechoslovakia. He admires himself in his new uniform, and looks forward, like his prematurely-retired railwayman father, to avoiding real work. The sometimes pompous stationmaster is an enthusiastic pigeon-breeder with a kind wife, but is envious of the train dispatcher Hubička's success with women. Miloš holds an as-yet platonic love for the pretty, young conductor Máša. The experienced Hubička presses for details of their relationship and realizes that Miloš is still a virgin. The idyll of the railway station is periodically disturbed by the arrival of the councillor, Zednicek, a Nazi collaborator, who spouts propaganda at the staff without success. At her initiative, Máša spends the night with Miloš, but in his youthful excitability he ejaculates prematurely before achieving penetration and then is unable to perform sexually; and the next day, despairing, he attempts suicide. He is saved, and a young doctor explains to him that ejaculatio praecox is normal at Miloš's age. The doctor recommends Miloš to "think of something else" (at which point Miloš volunteers an interest in football), and to seek the assistance of an experienced woman. During the nightshift, Hubička flirts with the young telegraphist, Zdenička, and imprints her thighs and buttocks with the office's rubber stamps. Her mother sees the stamps and complains to Hubička's superiors, and the ensuing scandal helps to frustrate the stationmaster's ambition of being promoted to inspector. The Germans and their collaborators are on edge, since their trains are being attacked by the partisans. A glamorous Resistance agent (a circus artist in peacetime), code-named Viktoria Freie, delivers a time bomb to Hubička for use in blowing up a large ammunition train. At Hubička's request, the "experienced" Viktoria also helps Miloš to resolve his sexual problem. The next day, at the crucial moment when the ammunition train is approaching, Hubička is caught up in a farcical disciplinary hearing, overseen by Zednicek, over his rubber stamping of Zdenička's backside. In Hubička's place, Miloš, liberated by his experience with Viktoria from his former passivity, takes the time bomb and drops it from a semaphore gantry, that extends transversely above the tracks, onto the train. A machine-gunner on the train, spotting Miloš, sprays him with bullets, and his body falls onto the train. With the Nazi collaborator Zednicek, winding up the disciplinary hearing, dismissing the Czech people as "nothing but laughing hyenas" (a phrase actually employed by the senior Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich, the implicit retort to his jibe comes in the form of a huge series of explosions that destroys the train. Now Hubička and the other railwaymen are indeed laughing - to express their joy at the blow to the Nazi occupiers - and it is left to a wistful Máša to pick up Miloš's uniform cap, hurled across the station by the power of the blast. (wp)
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Das Mädchen mit der Hutschachtel (1927)
Boris Barnet
Russia
93′
Can you find happiness in the big city? The young hat maker Natascha, who lives with her grandfather in a suburb covered in winter snow, has to commute by train from the village to Moscow to deliver her creations to the extravagant Irene's hat shop. For the administration, Irene claims Natascha to be her subtenant in order to be able to have more living space. The clumsy railway official woos the lovely country girl with his ravishing smile. But she enters into a fictitious marriage with the provincial Ilya in order to get him a room in Moscow. With an apparently worthless lottery ticket, which Irene's husband gives to Natascha, the entanglements become turbulent. Boris Barnet describes the contrasts between city and country and the new living conditions in Moscow in a stylish and socially critical way. Three great acting talents, Anna Stén, Iwan Kowal-Samborski and Vladimir Fogel, form the triangle of relationships. Originally ordered as a vehicle to advertise the State Lottery, the film made the studio rich and the natural talent director Boris Barnet famous as the founder of lyrical comedy.
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Den muso - the daughter (1975)
Souleymane Cissé
Mali
85′
A young mute woman is raped and becomes pregnant, with disastrous consequences within her family. The film also sketches the social/economic situation in urban Mali in the 1970s, particularly in relation to the treatment of women.
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Dersu Uzala (1975)
Akira Kurosawa
Japan
136′
A military explorer meets and befriends a Goldi man in Russia’s unmapped forests. A deep and abiding bond evolves between the two men, one civilized in the usual sense, the other at home in the glacial Siberian woods. The film won the 1976 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, the Golden Prize and the Prix FIPRESCI at the 9th Moscow International Film Festival and a number of other awards.
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Die seltsamen Abenteuer des Mr. West im Land der Bolschewiken (1924)
Lew Kuleschow
Russia
77′
Travelled to the Soviet Union with many prejudices, the American businessman Mr. West has to correct his view of the Soviets after several adventures at the end of his journey. Silent movie grotesque that ironically glosses the erroneous opinions of the West about the USSR. A film historical document worth seeing. (Dictionary of International Cinema)
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Downpour (1972)
Bahram Beyzaie
Iran
130′
Bahram Beyzaie’s debut feature about a well-meaning schoolteacher in Tehran who's embattled by changes of fortune, was enormously successful in its time, but had fallen out of view in post-revolutionary Iran. This version presents the film as restored in 2011 by the World Cinema Foundation at Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna/L’immagine Ritrovata laboratory, with the involvement of Bahram Beyzaie himself.
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Dragon Inn (1971)
King Hu
Taiwan
116′
After a successful intrigue, General Yu is executed by his political opponent eunuch Zhao and his children are banished from China. But the General's children are a thorn in Zhao's side and so he does everything to kill them on their way into exile. He sets an ambush at the lonely hostel at the dragon gate. But the faithful followers of the assassinated general rush to help the children. A fight for life and death unleashes itself.
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Drifting Clouds (1996)
Aki Kaurismäki
Finland
95′
Ilona Koponen (Kati Outinen), a head waitress at Dubrovnik restaurant, is married to Lauri (Kari Väänänen), a tram driver. The couple live in a small, modestly furnished apartment in Helsinki. As they both come home from work late one night, Lauri surprises Ilona with a new television which he purchased on store credit. There is a short discussion between the two regarding their ability to meet their financial obligations but they agree that the TV payments are manageable. Next day, as Lauri gets to work, he learns that the company will be laying off several workers due to non-profitability of certain tram routes and he is randomly chosen as one of the workers to be laid off. The day after Lauri has finished working his last scheduled shift Ilona is informed by the owner of Dubrovnik that the restaurant is being sold to a chain restaurant company and all the employees will be let go since the new company will be bringing in its own employees. Both of them set out looking for work immediately but with discouraging results. Lauri gets offered a job as a bus driver but is unable to pass the medical exam and subsequently loses his professional driver's licence. Ilona gets a job at a rundown bar/restaurant which doesn't even have a name and is owned by a tax evading crook. After 6 weeks of working there, the restaurant gets shut down by the state and Ilona does not get paid by the dishonest owner. During their search for meaningful employment, both Lauri and Ilona enter bouts of heavy-drinking, all the while running into their former co-workers who are dealing with similar difficulties. At one point, the two even sell their car and take the money to a casino in hopes of doubling the money but they, however, end up losing it all. Most of their furniture as well as the new TV that Lauri bought is repossessed by the creditors. One day, Ilona accidentally runs into Mrs Sjöholm (Elina Salo), her former boss. Sjöholm suggests that Ilona should open up a restaurant. Since Ilona does not have the financial means needed for such a venture, Sjöholm agrees to provide the capital for the restaurant to start operating with the understanding that Ilona will pay back the loan to Mrs Sjöholm. Ilona, humbled by her recent experiences, is initially reluctant to accept the offer for fear of the restaurant failing and her not being able to repay Mrs Sjöholm. She eventually does agree. Ilona names the restaurant Work and hires some of the staff from Dubrovnik, including the troubled chef Lajunen (Markku Peltola), plus Lauri. Filled with anxiety during a slow lunch hour on opening day, Ilona's worries quickly disappear as she watches the restaurant fill to capacity later the same afternoon. After receiving a call from a Helsinki union asking for a reservation for 30 people, Lauri and Ilona exit the restaurant and stand on the front steps appearing emotionless and looking at the skies as more people enter the restaurant.
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Drunken Angel (1948)
Akira Kurosawa
Japan
98′
In this powerful early noir from the great Akira Kurosawa, Toshiro Mifune bursts onto the screen as a volatile, tubercular criminal who strikes up an unlikely relationship with Takashi Shimura’s jaded physician. Set in and around the muddy swamps and back alleys of postwar Tokyo, Drunken Angel is an evocative, moody snapshot of a treacherous time and place, featuring one of the director’s most memorably violent climaxes.
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Ein launischer Sommer (1968)
Jiri Menzel
Czech Republic
76′
Capricious Summer is a Czechoslovak comedy directed by Jiří Menzel. It is based on the novel Rozmarné léto (Summer of Caprice) by the Czech writer Vladislav Vančura. It was listed to compete at the 1968 Cannes Film Festival, but the festival was cancelled due to the events of May 1968 in France. The film depicts a humorous story of three men, a colonel, a priest and a bath-keeper, during rainy summer days.
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Firemen's Ball (1967)
Milos Forman
Czech Republic
73′
A volunteer fire department throws a party for their former boss with the whole town invited, but nothing goes as planned.
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Harvest - 3000 Years (1976)
Haile Gerima
Ethiopia
132′
Director Haile Gerima’s first feature work to be set in Africa employs visions of his native Ethiopia to construct a post-colonial allegory of class exploitation. Filmed in the tumultuous days following the overthrow of Haile Selassie, the portrait of an abject peasant family toiling under the scornful eye of a wealthy landowner exhibits the spontaneity of a documentary. But it also displays the assuredness and authority of a master storyteller in the sweep of its conceptual rigor and moral stand. We are exposed to several characters, as it were, without introduction. They are members of a poor family that rise and begin tending cattle and plowing fields. Their feudal lord, a Western-attired tyrant, barks orders and criticism from a seat on his shaded front porch. Another figure, meagerly dressed, calls out insults to the landowner. These almost archetypal figures take on more specific identities as we learn that the seeming madman once owned property now expropriated and held by the landowner, and that although the peasant family may toil dutifully, its members seethe with memories and visions of another way of life. In time, a critique of modern Ethiopia (and by implication, neocolonial Africa) emerges that criticizes coming political reconfigurations as just the latest way in which others may now exploit the land and the poor. Gerima unfolds several loosely connected episodes (indeed, the "action" of the film often seems trained on an ever-more subtle understanding of certain facts of daily life, rather than on a plot), but the film also employs freewheeling shifts in register, such that political speeches in public spaces contrast with exclamatory addresses to the camera, and verbal abuse of workers alternates with fairly Buñuelian images of human beings being driven by a whip, with no qualification of the "reality" of any situation, all to the accompaniment of an evocative musical soundscape. When the "plot" finally offers its fulfillment, the effect is devastating. In this early work, Gerima strove for something more than an individual story, achieving a bracing polemic and an impassioned narrative of bleak and haunting beauty. Shannon Kelley, ucla
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Hyènes (1992)
Djibril Diop Mambéty
Senegal
106′
In Colobane, people expect the return of Linguère Ramatou, a former local girl now rumored to be richer than the World Bank. But her generosity has its conditions: she offers a check of ten billion for the death of Dramaan Drameh who refused to admit that he was the father of her child 30 years ago. "Life made made me a whore, now I'm turning the world into a brothel" she tells the citizens of Colobane.
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I Pugni in Tasca (1965)
Marco Bellocchio
Italy
108′
Ale, a deeply disturbed young man subject to seizures, benignly decides to murder members of his dysfunctional family for altruistic reasons.
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La Vie de Bohème (1992)
Aki Kaurismäki
Finland
103′
Marcel (André Wilms) is an impoverished Parisian poet and playwright who is evicted from his extremely modest room after he is unable to pay rent for it. While roaming the streets of Paris, he meets Rodolfo (Matti Pellonpää), a painter from Albania who is almost equally poor and is in the country illegally. They quickly discover they are kindred spirits since they both share the same love for art without much regard for their worldly well-being. The two eventually make another friend in Schaunard (Kari Väänänen), an Irish composer who is now renting Marcel's former room. The three friends help each other in the daily struggle to survive by sharing whatever little money they have among each other in order to maintain a basic and simple standard of living. Rodolfo's life is interrupted when he meets Mimi (Évelyne Didi), a poor French girl with whom he falls madly in love. But Rodolfo is soon deported back to Albania due to not having a visa. He is unable to return to Paris for six months and, by then, Mimi has moved on and found another boyfriend. Rodolfo, Marcel and Schaunard scrape together what food they have and have a meal together to celebrate the feast of All Saints. Mimi shows up and informs Rodolfo that she has left her boyfriend to be with him again, but she is ill and dies the next spring.
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Landscape In The Mist - Topio stin omichli (1988)
Theo Angelopoulos
Greece
120′
LANDSCAPE IN THE MIST is a film about the void. It is a film about despair, about the failure of contemporary society. The prodigal father who figures in almost every Angelopoulos film here has evaporated into his mythical essence - leaving his children to become the wanderers in search of him. In the «chaos», two children appear, little Alexandros and his older sister Voula. In order to exorcise their loneliness, they invent a secret universe for themselves, inhabited by their dreams. Every night they go to a train station to watch the departure of a train to Germany, where they have been deceived by their mother (herself an off-screen presence) into believing that their absent father is living. One night they finally dare to get on the train. But their voyage turns out to be hazardous and pointless and disappointing. They confront suffering, physical and moral illness, jealousy, evil and death, if also love - as many ordeals and rites as initiations. Evading the half-hearted pursuit of the police and uncaring relatives, sneak onto trains, hitchhike in vans and lorries, and suffering poverty, rape and exploitation, take a dangerous leap of faith, an eerie plunge into liberation and danger. The familiar Greek landscape - the cafes, the depopulated towns and deserted beaches - are played for a strangely harsh fairytale quality, seen through the eyes of two children whose introduction to the real world borders on the surreal. The film is filled with extraordinary, unforgettable moments that are at once real and hallucinatory and contains intriguing references to other Angelopoulos' films. The children even encounter the Travelling Players now, thirteen years later, without a stage to act on, their costumes put up for sale. At the end Alexandros tells Voula the same story from Genesis that she told him at the start: «In the beginning there was chaos.» The children do finally reach the border, but of course there is no border with Germany and perhaps the river they cross is actually the Styx and perhaps their whole journey was a search for order in a chaotic world.
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Le Havre (2011)
Aki Kaurismäki
France
93′
When an African boy arrives by cargo ship in the port city of Le Havre, an aging shoe shiner takes pity on the child and welcomes him into his home.
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Le serviteur de Kali (2002)
Adoor Gopalakrishnan
India
88′
Kaliyappan is the executioner of the Maharajah of Travancore. He lives on the edge of a small village in the magnificent countryside of Kerala. For generations his family has lived on the benefits granted to the Maharajah after every execution. But these are becoming increasingly rare, and Kaliyappan's family lives in misery. Paradoxically, the old executioner, tired of fulfilling a mission that had become a curse, has also become a healer. Adoor Gopalakrishnan is one of the central figures in Indian cinema and one of the outstanding filmmakers from Kerala, whose film culture he and Shaji Karun have a major influence on. His film "Le serviteur de Kali" is a fable based on real facts. The first shot shows an old executioner looking at his hands. He feels guilty about the last execution and is afraid of the next one. When he again receives the order to execute the sentence, Kaliyappan feels miserable, staggers around and drinks to forget his remorse and misery. As if the alcohol could lift the responsibility and replace the executioner. The son will execute the sentence, the curse threatening the family cannot be averted. In the end, the shadows of the procession are the dark shadows of an endless succession of mourning, unless they are the shadows of the cave. A hidden pearl of cinema.
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Lerchen am Faden (1969)
Jiri Menzel
Czech Republic
94′
Larks on a String is a Czech film directed by Jiří Menzel. The movie was banned by the Czechoslovak government. It saw release in 1990 after the fall of the Communist regime. Menzel tells the stories of various characters considered bourgeois by Czechoslovakia's communist government in the 1950s, who have been forced to work in a junkyard for the purposes of re-education.
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Loves of a Blonde (1965)
Milos Forman
Czech Republic
80′
The head of a shoe factory persuades the army to hold manoeuvres nearby: So his workers can meet men at a ball. But the pot-bellied reservists are anything but attractive. Utilizing a brief hint of freedom, The Love of a Blonde throws an undisguised, humorous and tender look at Czechoslovakia in the 1960s and the ridiculousness of its functionaries.
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Nostalghia (1983)
Andrei Tarkowski
Italy
126′
Andrei Gortchakov, a Russian writer, travels through Italy in the footsteps of a fellow composer to write his biography. With great sensitivity for the emotions of those who are far from their country, Andrei Tarkovski, supported by his Italian co-writer Tonino Guerra, draws a meeting of cultures and periods.
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Sankofa (1993)
Haile Gerima
Burkina Faso
119′
Powerful, moving and highly acclaimed, director Haile Gerima’s Sankofa is a masterpiece of cinema that has had a transformative impact on audiences since its release in 1993. This empowering film tells a story of slavery and of the African Diaspora from the perspective of the enslaved, challenging the romanticizing of slavery prevalent in American culture. Sankofa was developed from 20 years of research into the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the experiences of African slaves in the New World. The film represents complex characters and empowering moments of resilience that assert humanity in the face of subjugation. Unlike Hollywood’s depiction of slavery, Gerima presents the often suppressed history of slave resistance and rebellion and represents the enslaved as agents of their own liberation. The story begins with Mona (Oyafunmike Ogunlano), an African American model on a fashion shoot at the former slave castles in Cape Coast, Ghana. Mona undergoes a journey back in time and place to a slave plantation in North America where she becomes Shola, a house slave, and experiences the suffering of slavery firsthand. In becoming Shola and returning to her past culture and heritage, Mona is able to recover her lost slave identity and confront her ancestral experience. Shola’s interactions with her fellow slaves are marked with humanity and dignity, most notably with Shango (Mutabaruka), a rebellious field slave, and Nunu (Alexandra Duah), one of the few slaves to remember her life in Africa before being stolen by Europeans. The film’s narrative structure follows the concept of "Sankofa," an Akan word that signifies the recuperation of one’s past in order to comprehend the present and find one’s future. Allyson Nadia Field, ucla
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Sansho Dayu - Sanshi the Bailiff (1954)
Kenji Mizoguchi
Japan
124′
Sansho Dayu is a film about a couple of children from a rich house at the end of the 12th century who fall into the hands of the bailiff. He owes his reputation as an exemplary feudal lord to the merciless exploitation of his slave army. Mizoguchi fluently tells this old legend of need and revenge in beautiful pictures.
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Shortcuts - Postriziny (1981)
Jiri Menzel
Czech Republic
98′
Brewery owner Francin lives in a happy marriage with the all too beautiful Maryška. His life is turned upside down by the unexpected visit of his eccentric brother Pepin. Maryška finds a kindred soul in Pepin and falls into the modernization pull of the 1920s, to which she can't help but give in. Shortcuts, the film adaptation of a story by Bohumil Hrabal, became very successful with the audience in Czechoslovakia.
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Stray Dog (1949)
Akira Kurosawa
Japan
122′
He is still young, the actor who should become known around the world with masterpieces like "Rashomon" or "The Seven Samurai". Here, Akira Kurosawa has created a thriller against the background of the recent and completely unprocessed Japanese war past, of which many of the characters, whether woman or man, talk. "Stray Dog" plays during the sultry hot summer in Tokyo in 1949. The young and completely inexperienced inspector Murakami (Toshiro Mifune) gets his loaded service weapon stolen from his jacket pocket in an overcrowded bus. Murakami is beside himself. He fears the worst consequences for his still young career. Together with his older colleague Sato from the theft department, he sets out on a search for traces of the thief. While we roam about the Japanese post-war setting with him, he gains experiences and learns to keep calm from the old and experienced colleague Sato. Women who are involved in what is going on are also snarling at him as a greenhorn. An impressive milieu study by Akira Kurosawa, in which the master proves himself in the genre film and shows us what he is capable of in narrative, atmospheric and visual terms. Walter Ruggle
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The Beekeeper - O melissokomos (1986)
Theo Angelopoulos
Greece
117′
In THE BEEKEEPER, alienation and despair have so mestastasized in the film's central figure that he's virtually one of the walking dead. Spyros, a man soured by a secret, incestuous love for his daughter, on the day of her wedding, gives up his position as a schoolteacher, his wife, his home and his city to take up again the profession of his father and grandfather before him traveling across Greece to the town in which he was born and first learned to tend the bees, following the traditional beekeeper's route, looking for flowers that will produce the best honey, a wanderer obsessed by his job. Like a bee returning to its hive after searching for food he visits his old friends and his childhood home looking for threads to bind him to the present. He drives from town to town revisiting his old haunts and comrades relighting and reliving his history in his memory, trying to reconcile his past ideals with a swiftly changing nation that makes him feel uncomfortable. At some point he picks up a promiscuous young hitchhiker who sporadically tags along with him during his journey and seems to represent a new generation without memory and unconcerned with the past, drifting from one place to the next, flitting between the blinking lights of motor vehicles, gas stations, diners, cheap hotels and traffic signs along the dark, wet glistening roadways of present-day Greece. He becomes obsessed by her. She both irritates and entices him. What he seeks in her is a contact with the future. But for her the future is a casual encounter with the next moment. In the impossibility of their relationship there is a profound despair of a man without a future. He senses a rupture, but it's not the traditional one of the conflict of generations. It's really a rupture of language. He cannot communicate, even with love, with the body. From that comes his crisis of despair. Toward his end, he takes refuge in an abandoned cinema called the Pantheon. There, mocked by the sterile white screen above him, he tries - and fails - to bring himself to life in an attempt to connect sexually with the young hitchhiker but there can be no connection between these people from different worlds, either physical or emotional. For Spyros the past is everything, for her it is nothing. In Angelopoulos' words, «It's the conflict between memory and non-memory.» In the long run she only reminds him of his loneliness and isolation. Unable to come to come to terms with the present, betrayed by the past, wary of the future, Spyros falls back into silence and isolation and returns to his hives, abandoning himself to the stings of his bees.
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The Coat (1926)
Grigori Kosinzew Leonid Trauberg
Russia
80′
A minor clerk, Bashmachkin, replaces his threadbare overcoat with one made from the finest materials he can afford. Then one evening ruffians beat him up and steal his cherished new garment. The actors’ highly stylized gestures border on modern dance, and Bashmachkin’s world, especially as he begins to lose his grasp on reality, is powerfully rendered with looming shadows, oblique camera angles and eccentric architecture.
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The Cranes Are Flying (1957)
Michail Kalatosow
Russia
91′
Veronika and Boris come together in Moscow shortly before World War II. Walking along the river, they watch cranes fly overhead, and promise to rendezvous before Boris leaves to fight. Boris misses the meeting and is off to the front lines, while Veronika waits patiently, sending letters faithfully. After her house is bombed, Veronika moves in with Boris’ family, into the company of a cousin with his own intentions.
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The Man Without A Past (2002)
Aki Kaurismäki
Finland
97′
The film follows a man who arrives in Helsinki and gets beaten up so severely he develops amnesia. Unable to remember his name or anything from his past life, he cannot get a job or an apartment, so he starts living on the outskirts of the city and slowly starts putting his life back on track.
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The mirror - Zerkalo (1975)
Andrei Tarkowski
Russia
107′
Alyosha, a 40-year-old filmmaker, falls seriously ill. He remembers his past and collects the memories that marked his life: the house of his childhood, his mother waiting for the improbable return of her husband, the poems of his father, his wife and his son that he has not seen for a long time, the tumult of the Second World War.
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The Return of the Prodigal Son (1976)
Youssef Chahine
Egypt
124′
In this Andre Gide adaptation, an activist is released after many years in prison and returns home, shaking up established relationships among his family members at the farm governed by his strict father. Demonstrating Chahine’s eclecticism, this is an elegant melodrama, exuberant musical, layered allegory, and profound portrait of personal and political disillusionment.
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The suspended step of the stork (1991)
Theo Angelopoulos
Greece
136′
While working on a story in the border area, a young journalist discovers a divided town bisected by a river which is also the national frontier. He observes a surreal wedding in which the bride and her family stand on one shore and the groom and his relatives on the other, lost under a cold sky: figure in a landscape who only delude themselves that they are masters of the earth and their destiny The town, a remote ghost town, almost forgotten at the end of the world, has been named «waiting room» by the locals because most of its inhabitants are refugees from different countries many of whom have crossed the border illegally at some time or other and are now waiting for their turn to leave and start life anew «somewhere else.» In the course of his investigation he also comes upon an aging, reclusive refugee, who lives there cultivating a field. But the young journalist believes he is a famous Greek politician who disappeared years before, leaving behind him many unanswered questions. The man's identity is never resolved but the hapless refugees and divided village allow the reporter to understand his despair over the human condition. Theo Angelopoulos weaves yet another poetical allegory on the great open questions of our turbulent age. The film is very contemporary in its treatment of borders, refugees and a changing world since the fall of communism in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. «Being a refugee is an internal condition more than an external one, says one of the characters in the film. And later on he also says, «We've passed the borders but we're still here. How many frontiers do we have to pass to get home?» Do politicians really care? Does anyone? Finally, there is the image of the stranger standing on the bridge poised over the dividing line between the two countries. He has one leg suspended in mid air, like a stork. «If I take one more step I am... somewhere else, or... I die.»
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Tokyo Story (1953)
Yasujiro OZU
Japan
137′
The Hirayamas travel from their hometown of Onomichi to Tokyo to visit their adult children. But the younger generation make them feel more in the way than welcome. It also emerges that their son’s career as a doctor and their daughter’s as a hairdresser are nowhere near as successful as the couple were led to believe from afar. The only one who really makes an effort to spend time with them is their daughter-in-law, Noriko, the widow of the Hirayama’s son who went missing in the war. On the journey home, mother Hirayama is taken seriously ill and the couple have to make an unscheduled stop in Osaka, where another of their adult children lives. In a succinct, objective and non-judgemental manner, Yasujirō Ozu uses images which are as simple as they are magnificent to tell the story of family estrangement and the isolation inherent in modern society. Ozu himself considered Tōky ō Monogatari his "masterpiece" and the 1963 Retrospective of the Berlin International Film Festival, the "film-historical screenings", was dedicated to him. This is the international premiere of the digitally restored version made by Japanese production company Shochiku.
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Voyage to Cythera - Taxidi sta Kythira (1984)
Theo Angelopoulos
Greece
134′
Cythera, in Greek mythology, is the isle of dreams where one can dedicate oneself to happiness (or the pursuit thereof). In this quest within a quest, the tale of the father's return is told as if from the point of view of his son Telemachus and as if Telemachus were a filmmaker, as well as a middle-aged man with a son of his own. A film director, tired of the illusions and fictions of his profession, searches for a story of substance by attaching himself to an old man, a recently returned political exile. The man, away in the Soviet Union for 32 years and now stateless, finds himself at the beginning of a journey, not the end, and Angelopoulos evokes the past, present and future to bridge the gap between reality and the imagination. VOYAGE TO CYTHERA is about an old man - the country's leftist past - who cannot become reconciled to his country's present or perhaps it is Greece that is not ready to come to grips with its past. In the end the old man is set adrift on a raft headed away from Greece into international waters, with no home to steer toward, joined by his wife a latter-day Penelope who, despite the fact that this man is more a stranger than a husband to her after so many years, chooses to share the rest of her life with him and in doing so accepts all of his past, his sorrow, his politics and his failed dreams. It is a journey to the dark side of Greek history where it crosses paths with myth.
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