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Season 8 Films


By archive, Season 8 Films

Director: Robert Guédiguian.  France, 2011. 107 minutes.  Cert: CLUB.  Language: French (subtitled).

Fifty-year-old Michel is a man of principle. When his union holds a lottery to see which men will be laid off, he includes his name, and finds himself faced with early retirement. It’s an adjustment, but he has his modest pension, a happy marriage and plenty of grandchildren to occupy his time, along with the sense that he did the right thing.

Then, one evening, Michel and his wife are the victims of a crime. The trauma of this crime is bad enough, but when Michel learns the identity of one of the perpetrators, his complacency is shaken. Has he become a smug member of the middle class? “What would we have thought of us,” he asks his wife, Marie Claire, “Try to imagine us, 30 years ago.”

Based on a poem (“How Good Are the Poor?”) by Victor Hugo, this gentle film is about the ethical and emotional adjustments of middle age, as Michel’s sense of social justice struggles with his personal rage against the unrepentant young man who robbed and beat him.

Ariane Ascaride is delightful as Michel’s assertive and supportive wife, and Jean-Pierre Darroussin delivers a thoughtful performance as an ordinary man who aspires – not always successfully – to a more than ordinary morality.

Set in Marseille, the signature location of art-house director Robert Guédiguian, this beautiful film scores impressive emotional moments as moral certainties are challenged.

Read The Globe and Mail review.

Read The Guardian review.





SAMSARA – Thu 31 January, 8pm

By archive, Season 8 Films

Directors: Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson.  USA, 2011.  99 minutes.  Cert: 12A. Language: None

Winner – Best Documentary Award of Dublin Film Critics Circle

“awesome, gorgeous, spellbinding” – Boston Herald

Prepare yourself for an unparalleled sensory experience.  SAMSARA reunites director Ron Fricke and producer Mark Magidson, whose award-winning films BARAKA and CHRONOS were acclaimed for combining visual and musical artistry.

SAMSARA is a Sanskrit word that means “the ever turning wheel of life” and is the point of departure for the filmmakers as they search for the elusive current of interconnection that runs through our lives.  Filmed over a period of almost five years and in twenty-five countries, SAMSARA transports us to sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial sites, and natural wonders.

By dispensing with dialogue and descriptive text, SAMSARA subverts our expectations of a traditional documentary, instead encouraging our own inner interpretations inspired by images and music that infuses the ancient with the modern.

Expanding on the themes they developed in BARAKA (1992) and CHRONOS (1985), SAMSARA explores the wonders of our world from the mundane to the miraculous, looking into the unfathomable reaches of man’s spirituality and the human experience.  Neither a traditional documentary nor a travelogue, SAMSARA takes the form of a nonverbal, guided meditation.  Through powerful images, the film illuminates the links between humanity and the rest of nature, showing how our life cycle mirrors the rhythm of the planet.

The filmmakers approach non-verbal filmmaking with an understanding that it must live up to the standard of great still photography, revealing the essence of a subject, not just its physical presence.  SAMSARA was photographed entirely in 70mm film utilizing both standard frame rates and with a motion control time-lapse camera designed specifically for this project.  This camera system allows perspective shifts to reveal extraordinary views of ordinary scenes.  The images were then transferred through the highest resolution scanning process available to the new 4K digital projection format that allows for mesmerizing images of unprecedented clarity.

Watch the trailer and interviews.

Read The Irish Times review.

Read The Guardian review.




YOUR SISTER’S SISTER – Thu 7 February, 8pm

By archive, Season 8 Films

Director: Lynn Shelton.  USA, 2011.  90 minutes.  Cert: 15A.  Language: English

“a winner…a poignant, witty, brilliantly written and acted film” – New York Times

Still grief-stricken a year after his brother’s death, Jack (Mark Duplass) travels to a remote cabin off the coast of Seattle at the suggestion of his best friend, Iris (Emily Blunt), who thinks that he’ll benefit from the isolation. He arrives to find Iris’s sister, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), recovering from a bad breakup, and they quickly bond over their shared misery.

When Iris turns up to surprise Jack, she notes a new connection between him and her sister. What begins as a happy reunion soon deteriorates into a fractious encounter, the trio bouncing off one another amid misunderstandings, betrayals and secret affections.

Improvising much of the dialogue, the three actors are terrific, imbuing their complex, sometimes maddening characters with genuine heart. Shelton and her cast develop an idea initially conceived by Duplass into a funny, truthful story about sibling bonds, friendship, love and miscommunication.

 Read The Washington Post review.

Read The New York Times review.

TABU – Thu 21 February, 8pm

By archive, Season 8 Films

Director: Miguel Gomes.  Portugal, 2012.  118 minutes.  Cert: CLUB.  Language: Portuguese (subtitled).

 “a delirious celebration of story and the cinematic imagination…the most joyously odd and surprising film of the year” – The Guardian *****

The critical hit of the 2012 Berlinale, Miguel Gomes’ rich, funny and poignant film is a two-part tale examining love, loneliness and the power of memory.  Shot in narrow screen black and white, it starts in the present day but culminates at the start of the Portuguese Colonial War in 1961.  TABU is a story about love, memory and melancholy and a rueful contemplation of Portugal’s colonial history.

Three women, neighbours in a Lisbon apartment complex, respond in different ways to the loneliness of their enigmatic existence.  One of them has a dark secret in her past, which gradually unfolds in a long flashback that casts an ironic light on the lost paradise that the characters, the filmmaker and the audience are all in search of.

An excerpt from The New York Times interview with the director:

‘Mr. Gomes’s latest film, “Tabu,” is his most ambitious shape shifter yet. The first section, set in contemporary Lisbon, is the story of Pilar, a devout do-gooding spinster who attends political rallies, haunts movie theaters and indulges the temperamental behavior of her elderly neighbor, Aurora. With the appearance of a man from Aurora’s past, the film travels to the misty mountainside plains of a Portuguese colony in Africa decades earlier to tell the story of a bygone romance in the obsolete language of an old movie.

Asked a few months ago why he so often makes films with two-part structures, Mr. Gomes, a former critic whose deadpan sense of humor is evident both in person and in his work, said, “What counts is the third part, which does not exist in the film but is produced in your mind.”’

Read the whole interview.

Read The Guardian review by critic Philip French [awarded OBE in 2012 for services to film].

Read The Independent (UK) review. 

Read the National Public Radio (USA) review. 

5 BROKEN CAMERAS (documentary) – Thu 28 February, 8pm

By archive, Season 8 Films

Directors: Emad Burnat & Guy Davidi.  France, Israel, Palestine, 2011.  90 minutes.   Cert: CLUB.  Languages: Arabic, Hebrew (subtitled).

A deeply personal, first-hand account of non-violent resistance in a West Bank village threatened by encroaching Israeli settlements. shot almost entirely by Emad Burnat, a Palestinian farmer, 5 BROKEN CAMERAS is an extraordinary work of both cinematic and political activism.

It’s a sad reality for Burnat that one of the first phrases mastered by his toddler son Gibreel, is “the wall”. Burnat has the misfortune to be living in the Palestinian village of Bil’in, which Israeli settlers, protected by an aggressive Israeli army, are attempting to make their own.

Although he first bought a camera to film his family, he also begins recording the increasingly chaotic scenes taking place in the beautiful landscape outside his house. When his camera is shot or smashed, he moves onto another one.  Five years eventually yields five broken cameras, giving the film its title and chapter structure.

Although he never planned to be a film-maker, Burnat proves to be both a brave and an extraordinary one, keeping his camera rolling amidst frightening scenes of unpredictable aggression, often aimed at himself, in a film richly deserving of its many awards.

Winner – Audience Award and the Special Jury Prize at International Documentary Festival Amsterdam

Winner – World Cinema Directing Award at the World Documentary Competition at Sundance

Read The Guardian review by critic Philip French [awarded OBE in 2012 for services to film].

Read The Irish Times review.

BARBARA – Thu 7 March, 8pm

By archive, Season 8 Films

Director: Christian Petzold.  Germany, 2012.  105 minutes.  Cert: 12A.  Language: German (subtitled).

“one terrific film, as smart, thoughtful and emotionally involving as just about anything that’s out there” – Los Angeles Times

“works its magic slowly, and on multiple levels; it’s a historical drama, a mystery and a love story…Hoss’ performance is simply one of the finest of the year” – NPR

Set in 1980, director Christian Petzold’s latest work centres on a doctor (Nina Hoss) banished to a small town in East Germany as punishment for applying for an exit visa.

Planning to flee for Denmark with her boyfriend, Barbara remains icy and withdrawn around her colleagues, particularly with the lead physician (Ronald Zehrfeld), who is hiding a secret of his own. With her patients, however, the guarded doctor is kind, warm, and protective, even risking her own safety for one of her charges. But as the day of her planned escape quickly approaches, Barbara starts to lose control, over herself, her plans and over love.

Masterfully controlled and totally absorbing, this Cold War thriller expertly details the costs of telling and withholding the truth, and captures the human and political dilemmas of life in oppressive 1980s East Germany.

Starring: Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld, Rainer Bock, Christina Hecke, Claudia Geisler, Peter Weiss, Carolin Haupt

 Read The Guardian review. ****

Read Los Angeles Times review.

Read The Irish Times review.








SEARCHING FOR SUGARMAN (documentary) – Thu 14 March, 8pm

By archive, Season 8 Films

Director: Malik Bendjelloul. UK, 2012. 85 minutes. Cert: CLUB. Language: English

“a hugely appealing documentary” – New York Times Critics’ Pick

American singer Sixto Rodriguez was the greatest 1970s folk-rock icon who never was. Despite critical praise, his albums bombed in the U.S., and he promptly faded into obscurity, leaving behind only urban legends of a gruesome on-stage suicide.

But somehow a bootleg copy of his album made its way to apartheid South Africa, where his anti-establishment message and distinctive sound resonated with the youth protest movement there, making Rodriguez an instant superstar.

Decades later, two intrepid fans decide to investigate whatever happened to the mysterious rocker. While initially frustrated by a dearth of leads, they eventually trace his roots to 1970s Detroit and a producer named Mike Theodore, who drops a bombshell that completely changes the nature of their investigation.

Truly stranger than fiction, this story of the Mexican-American folk singer from Detroit and his unforeseen success spans decades and continents, and is aptly unraveled to the soundtrack of Rodriguez’ own haunting original songs.

Watch Sixto Rodriquez on The David Letterman Show in 2012.

Read The New York Times review.

Click here to see the film’s website.

Read The Irish Times review.

Read The Guardian review by critic Philip French [awarded OBE in 2012 for services to film].


By archive, Season 8 Films

Director: Joshua Marston.  Albania, 2010.  108 minutes.  Cert: CLUB.  Language: Albanian (subtitled).

Winner – Silver Bear for Best Screenplay, 2011 Berlin Film Festival

American director Joshua Marston emerged in 2004 with the jolting, Oscar-nominated Maria Full of Grace, about a young Colombian woman working as a drug mule. In his remarkable follow-up, The Forgiveness of Blood, he turns his camera on another corner of the world: contemporary northern Albania, a place still troubled by the ancient custom of interfamilial blood feuds.

From this reality, Marston sculpts a fictional narrative about a teenage brother and sister physically and emotionally trapped in a cycle of violence, a result of their father’s entanglement with a rival clan over a piece of land. The Forgiveness of Blood is a tense and perceptive depiction of a place where tradition and progress coexist uneasily, as well as a dynamic coming-of-age drama.

Marston’s outsider’s view lays bare the contradictions between the ancient tradition and the youngsters’ impatience, helped by fine performances from his largely non-professional cast.

Read The Guardian review. ****

Read The Irish Times review.




THE GIANTS (LES GÉANTS) – Thu 11 April, 8pm

By archive, Season 8 Films

Director: Bouli Lanners.  Belgium, 2011. 84 minutes.  Cert: CLUB.  Language: French (subtitled).

Winner – CICAE Award, Cannes Film Festival 2011

“a lovely drunken roll of a movie, brightly played by its adolescent cast, luxuriating in a Belgian countryside of whispering grass and fairytale forests” – The Guardian

This hilarious coming-of-age story takes its cues from Mark Twain in exploring uncharted adolescent adventure.  Two teenage brothers expect yet another dull summer, until  Danny arrives and they begin the most perilous and greatest journey of their lives.

Seth and Zak and their tag-along friend navigate a summer by themselves in an abandoned country cottage. As they scavenge for food, hunt for pot and pursue harebrained schemes to make money, they find their bravado repeatedly punctured by the rigours of an adult world they cannot comprehend.

Twain’s Huckleberry Finn take-off is transplanted to the actor-turned-director’s native Belgian countryside.  Shot with a painter’s eye for the lushly wooded landscape, and filled with Bouli Lanners’ bittersweet humour and feel for the rhythms of working class life, THE GIANTS is a funny yet melancholic ode to the idleness, adventures and fears of adolescence.

Read The Guardian review.

Read The Irish Times review.

Read The Hollywood Reporter’s review from Cannes.

Here’s what the San Francisco International Film Festival says.





A SIMPLE LIFE (TAO JIE) – Thu 18 April, 8pm

By archive, Season 8 Films


Director: Ann Hui

China, 2011  | 118 minutes  |  Cert: CLUB  |  Language: Mandarin (subtitled).

“a straightforward and unassuming gem” – Irish Times ****

With perfectly judged performances from Andy Lau and Deanie Ip, this moving and gently humorous film looks at the decades-long relationship between a man and his devoted family servant.

Ip plays Ah Tao, who has worked for the Leung family for 60 years. For the past decade, the only member of the family left in Hong Kong is Roger, who works in the film industry.

Having cared for Roger from childhood, Ah Tao suffers a stroke and asks to be admitted to a nursing home. There, she becomes part of a new family made up of colourful characters.

All the while, as roles are reversed, Roger tenderly cares for her as she enters the final phase of her life. Based on a true story, A SIMPLE LIFE delicately traces a decades-long bond with pathos and humour

It’s an understated  meditation on the varieties of affection and love.

Read The New York Times review.

Read The Irish Times review.

Read The Guardian review.