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GLORIA, Thu 13 February, 8pm

By archive, Season 10 Films

A splendid comedy-drama about the 50-something Gloria, a lonely divorcée  in Santiago who decides to hit the singles scene with decidedly mixed success.  ‘pitch perfect’

Chile, 2012.  Language: Spanish.  110 minutes.   Cert: CLUB.  Director:  Sebastion Lelio.  Starring: Paulina Garcia, Sergio Hernandez, MarcialTagle, Diego Fontecilla, Fabiola Zamora, Antonia Santa Maria, Coca Guazzini, Hugo Moraga, Alejandro Goic, Liliana Garcia, Luz Jimenez

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The first and last time we see Gloria (Paulina Garcia), the 58-year-old Chilean divorcee who gives writer-director Sebastián Lelio’s touching midlife crisis drama its name, she’s lost in the shuffle of the dance floor — at once buried by the world and free to roam it. Anchored by Garcia’s nuanced performance, the movie explores this fragile state of being with extraordinary astuteness. It’s an open-ended question whether Gloria ever finds the happiness she seeks while dodging the current of middle-aged isolation, but her constant search is a valiant and deeply involving one.

From the initial set piece that shows Gloria going about her bar-hopping single life, Lelio slowly assembles the details that define her solitary routine, drawing out her apparent ambivalence over it. In her cramped apartment, she spends more time shooing an intrusive cat that creeps into her room and trying to drown out a noisy neighbour upstairs than entertaining company. On the occasion that she does venture out, she maintains a healthy relationship with her two grown children and ex-husband. While this cycle of behaviour shows contentment on the surface, Garcia’s character — typically hidden behind a pair of oversized glasses and heavy makeup — displays a lack of investment in her surroundings that suggests she wants something more.

That void is filled with the arrival of Rodolfo (Sergio Hernández), another ageing parent recently divorced and eager for a rebound, with whom she shares a passionate one-night-stand that gradually develops into a greater bond. Though his motives and back story are suspicious, the seemingly tender-hearted Rodolfo’s passionate exchanges with Lelio quickly accumulate emotional weight.
Gloria’s hidden frustrations and burgeoning fear for her own mortality erupt in a series of unpredictable outbursts.

There’s a marvellous sense of defiance to the way Lelio stages their early scenes together, conveying an atmosphere drenched in romance that rejuvenates the couple and strips away the barriers of age. In her newfound companionship, Gloria’s personality erupts with energy that Lelio explores intimately by showing the couple in the nude while in the throes of their sexual reawakening. The connection is so vividly realized that it’s especially tough to watch when the perfect scenario starts to unravel.

Facing another set of relationship problems, Gloria’s hidden frustrations and burgeoning fear for her own mortality erupt in a series of unpredictable outbursts. Garcia’s droopy face, riddled with far more nuance than anything Gloria says, defines the movie’s fascinating trajectory. Rodolfo aptly summarizes her personality as “so physical, so real,” exactly the pair of traits that make her such a fascinating subject.

Lelio has always applied a fair degree of subtlety to his filmmaking, which has carried the unevenness of his two earlier features starting with “La Sagrada Familia,” but the tendency finally blossoms here. Gloria rarely attempts to verbalize her emotions, but Lelio finds ways to do it for her with perceptive visual flourishes, as she frequently stares down symbolic reflections of her mindset — most memorably, when she comes across a dancing skeleton puppet at a mall, but that’s just one of several interludes in “Gloria” where music and imagery speak volumes.

By conveying Gloria’s alienation so effectively, the movie taps into a greater generational anxiety that imbues the character with metaphorical value. At a dinner table conversation, one of her relatives explains that the generation of young adults reared on social networking have experienced “a revolution that’s probably more spiritual” than the ones preceding it. The emerging communal energy of the digital age stands in stark contrast to Gloria’s lack of firm footing — as well as the desperation and self-delusion that results from it.

While “Gloria” may pity its title character, she gets plenty of opportunities to fight back, none better realized than when Umberto Tozzi’s “Gloria” comes through the speakers at a bar and immediately refreshes her. As she jives to the tune as though the star of her own musical, the lyrics complimenting her movement (“You’re heading for a breakdown/so be careful not to show it”), a cheesy pop song transforms into her personal anthem. By that point, she has earned the attention. – Eric Kohn / Indiewire

Winner – Paulina Garcia, Best Actress, Berlin Film Festival 2012

Click here for The Irish Times review.

Click here for Variety article on Oscar hopes.


WADJDA, Thu 27 February, 8pm

By archive, Season 10 Films

A rare and accurate glimpse into everyday life seen through the eyes of an unconventional  10-year-old girl.  The first film by a female Saudi director – it will make you stand up and cheer.

Saudi Arabia 2012.  Language:  Arabic. 98 minutes.  Cert: PG .  Director:   Haifaa Al-Mansour.   Starring: Waad Mohammed, Reem Abdullah, Ahd, Sultan Al Assaf

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Meet Wadjda, a sarcastic, funny and streetwise ten-year-old girl whose unconventionally carefree demeanor not only sets her apart from most girls in her school but also frequently lands her in the headmistress’s office. Living in Riyadh with her young, beautiful mother who struggles with an absentee husband looking to marry a second wife, Wadjda strikes up a friendship with Abdullah, a neighborhood boy drawn to her confidence and charm. She spots a shiny green bicycle in the local shop and becomes determined to scrounge up enough money to buy it so that she can race Abdullah, a culturally unacceptable action with potential societal repercussions. Wadjda enters her school’s Koran recitation competition with her eye on the cash prize. As her school continues to crack down on the individual rights of its students, Wadjda stands steadfast, wise beyond her years and in opposition to a society loathe to recognize self-expression, a girl unwilling to surrender what she wants.

This groundbreaking first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first by a female Saudi filmmaker, Haifaa Al-Mansour’s Wadjda offers a moving, rarely seen picture of everyday life in Riyadh. With a central character so unique to the screen, Al-Mansour has crafted a subtle counterpoint to the images of females the world is accustomed to seeing, a character who holds hope for the future. – Liza Domnitz / Tribeca Film Festival 2013

Winner – CICAE Award, Venice Film Festival 2012

Click here for Wadjda website.

OUT IN THE DARK (ALATA), Thu 6 March, 8pm

By archive, Season 10 Films

As much a political and societal commentary as a troubled gay love story between a privileged Tel Aviv lawyer and a Palestinian student.  By turns tender and tense, sensual and suspenseful.

Israel, 2012. Language: Hebrew, Arabic.  96 minutes.  Cert: CLUB.  Director:  Michael Mayer.  Starring: Nicholas Jacob, Michael Aloni, Jameel Khouri, Alon Pdut, Loai Noufi

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Los Angeles-based, USC-trained Israeli director Michael Mayer makes a gripping feature debut with Out in the Dark, a troubled gay love story between a privileged Tel Aviv lawyer and a Palestinian student that is by turns tender and tense, sensual and suspenseful. In Mayer’s assured hands, a drama that could easily have become schematic instead pulses with urgency, longing and raw feeling, morphing smoothly in its final third into a lean thriller.

Love across political, sectarian and geographic boundaries is a minefield rife with cliché, but Mayer and co-screenwriter Yael Shafrir mostly sidestep that danger with grace and intelligence. Their film benefits from the instant chemistry between attractive lead actors Nicholas Jacob and Michael Aloni, and from the detachment with which the script considers both Palestinian fanaticism and Israeli Security Forces tactics as dueling cancers. It doesn’t pretend to dig deep into the Mideast conflict, but it does make resonant points about the tentacle-like reach of that divide, even for people determined to keep politics out of their relationships.

Shooting digitally, wherever possible with available light sources, Mayer and cinematographer Ran Aviad take their cue from the film’s title. They create a gritty visual palette of dark textures and murky nighttime scenes, making extensive use of closeups to probe the characters’ hidden worlds.

That approach is evident from the outset as Nimr (Jacob) scrambles over the fence into Tel Aviv from his family home in Ramallah on the West Bank, dodging patrol cars along the way. His journey is sharply modulated through sections on foot and by bus –underscored by Mark Holden and Michael Lopez’s moody ambient music – before making a sudden shift into club-scene mode as he enters a gay bar. Unfolding mostly through the title credits, the opening economically conveys a sense of constricted freedoms, with much at stake.

Dreamboat Jewish lawyer Roy (Aloni) hits on Nimr at the bar, sparking an easy rapport and mutual attraction that soon leads to romance. A psychology student doing his Masters at Birzeit University, Nimr around the same time is issued a partial visa to study in Tel Aviv, which he eyes as a stepping stone to a Ph.D. at Princeton. But that dream seems more precarious when his flamboyant Arab friend Mustafa (LoaiNoufi) is discovered hiding illegally and sent back to the West Bank to be brutally beaten and murdered as a suspected collaborator.

Nimr’s position is complicated by the fact that his brother Nabil (Jameel Khouri) is a member of the hardline extremist group responsible for Mustafa’s death. And while scenes with his mother (Khawlah Haj) and kid sister (Maysa Daw) have a lovely naturalness and warmth, it’s clear that the secret of Nimr’s sexuality is a ticking time-bomb.

He tries to save his relationship with Roy while being pulled between his fear over the dangers to which Nabil is exposing their family, and the cold manipulations of an Israeli security chief (AlonPudt). But Nimr’s options grow steadily narrower.

Particularly through the latter developments, Mayer shows admirable restraint in his use of music, keeping it low-key and brooding to sustain tension in strictly realist terms, rather than cranking it up to artificially heighten the thriller aspect. Much of the visceral impact comes from Aviad’s nervy handheld camera and Maria Gonzales’ mercurial editing.

Touching poignantly on the suffering of gay Palestinians rejected by their families and community, Mayer and Shafrir build a sturdy outsider drama that benefits from the shaded juxtaposition of Nimr and Roy’s backgrounds. Having absorbed the lessons of harsh reality, Nimr remains fatalistically pragmatic, allowing himself hope only in brief interludes. The product of a cushioned upbringing in a well-connected family, Roy persists in his somewhat naïve belief that they can work things out by going through authority channels.

Both leads tackle their roles with sensitivity and conviction. But first-time screen actor Jacob is particularly affecting as a persecuted man dealing with entrapment while grasping at the emotional lifeline offered by Roy. The scenes in which Nimr is ripped apart by the dishonor he has brought upon his family even as they behave monstrously toward him show how deep these conflicts cut.

The script has an occasional tendency to map out divergent points of view a little too neatly. But Aloni is effective in depicting the festering discomfort of an idealist constantly faced with the limits in his liberal parents’ understanding of him.

It’s a sign of how well Out in the Dark works that we are fully invested in seeing Nimr and Roy overcome obstacles and stay together. But it’s also a shrewd choice of the filmmakers that they end instead on a note of somber ambiguity. – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter           

Winner – Audience Award, Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival 2012

Click here for website.

Click here for New York Times review.

THE ACT OF KILLING – Documentary, Thu 13 March, 8pm

By archive, Season 10 Films

In a country where killers are celebrated as heroes, this documentary challenges unrepentant death squad leaders to dramatise their role in genocide. ‘powerful, surreal, frightening’  Werner Herzog 

Indonesia, UK, 2012.  Language: Indonesian, English.  115 minutes.  Cert: CLUB.  Director: Joshua Oppenheimer

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When Werner Herzog says a film is the most frightening and most surreal he’s seen in at least a decade, you know need to steel yourself. He’s right. Here’s the best, and the most horrific, movie of this year’s Toronto film festival.

It’s a documentary about the Indonesian death squads of the mid-1960s who tortured and killed communists. But it’s also a film within a film, as director Joshua Oppenheimer urges the ageing gangsters to recreate their acts on increasingly elaborate scale (prosthetics, props, drag outfits, soundtrack, location shooting). They grin and mug just as they also take it very, very seriously. A strangulation scene is interrupted by the call for evening prayers. But they return after their ablutions.

At first you suspect this will riff on familiar ground, with the main interviewees, former members of paramilitary organisation Pancasila Youth, explaining how they were inspired in both their look and sadism by the movies. The most charismatic of them, Anwar Congo, who has a radical hair dye job a third of the way through in reaction to the rushes, is slightly haunted by his acts, he admits, which he tries to forget with music and dancing. And booze. And marijuana. And ecstasy. Others are scornful of any regret: “You feel haunted because your mind is weak. It’s just a nerve imbalance.”

Some have criticised Oppenheimer for not interviewing anyone who survived the ordeal. It doesn’t matter. We know this was genocide. We know that they’d be likely to feel fairly aggrieved. These men hoist themselves and do more besides. The most extraordinary scene comes during one of the recreations. One of Anwar’s neighbours, who is moonlighting as the victim, laughingly suggests they use in the film a story that he has. It’s of a man – ok, it’s his stepfather, he says – who was dragged from his bed at 3am by the death squad, to the sound of the screams of his wife and children (that’s him, he laughs, that’s me!). The next day they found his body beneath a barrel and then buried it by the side of the road, “like a goat”, so frightened were they that they too would be taken. The percolation of reaction among the men listening is the most compelling thing you’ll ever seen.

It’s often said of documentaries that they deserve to have as wide an audience as possible. This doesn’t deserve; it demands – not for what it says about present-day Indonesia or even about its former horrors. But because almost every frame is astonishing. – Catherine Shoard, The Guardian

Winner – Audience Award, Berlinale International Film Festival, Panorama

Click here for website.

NIGHT OF SILENCE (LAL GECE), Thu 20 March, 8pm

By archive, Season 10 Films

The wedding night of an arranged marriage between a beautiful young girl and a middle-aged man reaches a shattering conclusion.  Unforgettable cinema with two brilliant performances at its heart.

Turkey, 2012.  Language: Turkish.  92 minutes.  Cert: CLUB.  Director: Reis Çelik.  Starring: lyas Salman, Dilan Aksüt, May eker Yücel, Sabri Tutal, Sercan Demirkaya, Ahmet Nuri Aydın

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The title is a misnomer. When a lovely young girl is married off to a pockmarked middle-aged man, she – with a nod to 1,001 Nights heroine Scheherazade – changes the subject and pouts and does everything she can to delay consummation.

Reis Çelik’s sad, lovely standoff (a Crystal Bear winner at Berlin) starts out with the sublime tableaux and stately pacing we’ve come to expect of the Anatolian’s oeuvre before retreating into the bedroom for a claustrophobic two-step. First-person shots add to the sense that the bridal chamber is merely a prettified tomb. Recited tales – one mythical and one historical – remind us that the likelihood of the girl ever seeing her family again rests somewhere close to zero.

This is a political union. The groom repeatedly dismisses the gunfire outside as stag- party japes, yet as he does so, he reaches for a pistol.

Slyly, both lens and narrative shift allegiances to reveal that the marriage is just as prescriptive for the groom. A final impassioned monologue – “What I am except for a clown?” – heralds an unexpected denouement. – Tara Brady, The Irish Times          

 Winner – Crystal Bear, Berlin Film Festival 2012

Click here to read The Guardian review.

IN THE NAME OF… (W IMIE), Thu 27 March, 8pm

By archive, Season 10 Films

An unpredictable, compassionate drama about a conflicted priest stranded at a rural retreat for teenage tearaways.  Quietly provocative with an impressive, impressionistic handling of its milieu.

Poland, 2013.  Language: Polish.   96 minutes.  Cert: CLUB.   Director:  Malgorzata Szumowska.  Starring: Andrzej Chyra, Mateusz Kosciukiewicz, Maja Ostascewska, Lukasz Simlat, Tomasz Schuchardt

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After an awkwardly glossy French-language venture with her Juliette Binoche starrer Elles, Polish director Malgoska Szumowska returns to home territory, and grittier material, with In the Name Of (W Imie…) an intelligent, non-judgmental drama about a committed youngish priest grappling with the urges of the flesh. The film plays against a background of recent revelations about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, but Szumowska deals with less obviously controversial material, offering sympathetic insight into how one man’s desire might be at odds with his vocation and its requirements.

A strong lead by Andrzej Chyra gives this thoughtful, well-textured film its magnetic centre, but unfocused narrative and a tendency to edge increasingly into melodrama weaken In the Name Of considerably. Still, solid, often energetic execution style should encourage modest export success, given the film’s closeness to a prevalent model of mainstream-friendly art cinema.

The setting is a one-horse rural community, where the youngish Adam (Chyra) has been posted as resident priest in a small residential centre for young men and teenage boys from reform school backgrounds. Playing football and joining in manual work, T-shirted Adam is the modern equivalent of the no-nonsense ‘muscular priests’ once played by the likes of Spencer Tracy and Anthony Quayle. Unsurprisingly, his daily life crackles with tensions: among them, tentative sexual approaches from Ewa (Maja Ostascewska), unhappy wife of Adam’s teacher colleague Michal (Lukasz Simlat), a taciturn, somewhat undeveloped character.

Adam also has his own chequered career, and the temptations of alcohol, to contend with. But most of all, Adam is troubled by his sexuality, finding it hard to resist his increasing mutual attraction to Lukasz (aka ‘Humpty’ in English subtitles), played by Mateusz Kosciukiewicz – an attractive local who works at the centre, and whose brother Marcin, with learning difficulties, is glimpsed being tormented by local children in the film’s prologue.

Adam and Lukasz share a moment of apparently chaste ecstasy in an exuberant scene where they run wild through a cornfield making monkey noises – a sequence which teeters perilously close to the ridiculous. But the catalyst for disaster is Adrian (Schuchardt), a surly new arrival at the centre, whose own no-holds-barred sexuality sparks for one boy’s downfall and accelerates Adam’s crisis.

The film generally sticks to a pensive, introspective tenor. But Szumowska and co-writer Michal Englert (who’s also cinematographer) often find it hard to resist a more flamboyantly expressive mode, sometimes to uneasy effect – notably when Adam starts to crack up, drunkenly dancing with a picture of the Pope to a hard rock soundtrack. Chyra is a charismatically moody actor, conveying a tangible sense of emotional and spiritual depth beneath a grizzled saturnine exterior, but he’s less effective when called on to let rip emotionally, and the scene where the priest Skypes with his sister in Toronto is the film’s weakest point, veering into the outright histrionic.

The film is narratively wayward too, its disjointed narrative line playing for understatement, but often leaving us wondering where characters have disappeared to for long stretches, as Lukasz and his brother do. Some ellipses are awkwardly handled: at one moment, for example, it comes as a revelation out of the blue that one key character, whose funeral we see, has actually hanged himself.

What makes the film most impressive is the impressionistic handling of its milieu, in particular the tensions between the centre and its rural surroundings, with locals often hurling anti-semitic taunts at the boys.

Apparently improvised ensemble scenes with the teenagers bristle with energy, and Englert’s energetic camera and often luminous naturalistic photography provide a distinctive signature. Overall, In the Name Of suffers from its dramatic looseness, and doesn’t finally transcend a traditional vein of art-house melodrama. But as a humane, non-judgemental look at enduring contradictions of Catholicism and mortal sexuality, it’s a film to be admired, if not worshipped. – Jonathan Romney, Screen International

Click here to read The Guardian review.

Click here to read The Independent (UK) review.


By archive, Season 10 Films

This rich, raw, heartache of a film tracks a relationship from beginning to end, propelled by a soundtrack of foot-stomping bluegrass.  ‘romantic-drama of the highest order – this year’s Once

Belgium, Netherlands, 2012.  Language: English.  100 minutes.  Cert: CLUB.  Dir: Felix van Groeningen.  Starring: Johan Heldenbergh, Veerle Baetens, Nell Cattrysse, Geert Van Rampelberg, Nils De Caster, Robby Cleiren, Bert Huysentruyt, Jan Bijvoet Flemish

Winner – Audience Award, Berlin Film Festival 2013

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A remarkable film in every respect, and one that takes you on a constantly surprising and emotional journey of love, passion, tragedy and joy, The Broken Circle Breakdown won the Audience Prize at the Berlinale, where it was rapturously received. Infused with gorgeous bluegrass music, and with performances of rare power and magnetism, the film takes you on a rollercoaster ride that leaves you exhilarated and reeling. More than mere background music, bluegrass is integral to the story, linking the main themes of life, love, death, America and parenthood.

Elise and Didier have been together for seven passionate years. When their little girl Maybelle is diagnosed with a serious illness, all the turning points in their intense and moving relationship seem to flash by. They remember their love at first sight, courtship and passion, coming closer through their bluegrass band, braving marriage, pregnancy and the joy of parenthood. But as the stress and sorrow of Maybelle’s treatment takes its toll, Didier and Elise begin to respond in different ways – their love in threat, just when they need it most.

Felix van Groeningen has created a masterful, exuberant film; one which miraculously seems to encompass all of human emotion. – Sydney Film festival 2013

Click here for website.

GOOD VIBRATIONS, Thu 26 September, 8pm

By archive, Season 9 films

“This biopic of Belfast’s godfather of punk is terrific, particularly in its scenes of noisy, pogoing epiphany.” – Guardian

Go early. Go often. Bring the family.” – Irish Times

A happy, high-spirited movie set against the misery of The Troubles in the 1970s, when Terri Hooley, Belfast’s madcap godfather of punk, opened a record shop on ‘the most bombed half-mile’ in Europe. Stars Richard Dormer of ‘The Fall’.

Directors:  Glenn Leyburn & Lisa Barros D’Sa.  UK, Ireland, 2012. 102 minutes.  Cert: 15A

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Terri Hooley is a radical, rebel and music-lover in 1970s Belfast when the bloody conflict known as the Troubles shuts down his city. As all his friends take sides and take up arms, Terri opens a record shop on the most bombed half-mile in Europe and calls it Good Vibrations. Through it he discovers a compelling voice of resistance in the city¹s nascent underground punk scene. Galvanising the young musicians into action, he becomes the unlikely leader of a motley band of kids and punks who join him in his mission to create a new community, an alternative Ulster, to bring his city back to life. – Belfast Film Festival 2012

Starring: Richard Dormer, Jodie Whittaker, Karl Johnson, Liam Cunningham, Adrian Dunbar, Dylan Moran

Click here to read The Irish Times review (4 stars).

Click here to read The Guardian review (4 stars).


LOVE (AMOUR), Thu 3 October, 8pm

By archive, Season 9 films

“Michael Haneke’s effortlessly graceful picture will come to be seen as one of the greatest films about the confrontation of death and ageing.” – Observer

“This is Michael Haneke’s second Palme d’Or winner and shows the director as a film-maker of incomparable seriousness and weight, and this is a passionate, painful, intimate drama to be compared with Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage.” – Guardian

” intelligent film-making of the highest order” – Guardian, 5 Stars

5 out of 5

A masterpiece from the director of Hidden and The White Ribbon. An elderly Parisian couple, both retired music teachers, face their final act together as Anna descends into illness.

Director: Michael Haneke. France, Germany, Austria, 2012. 127 minutes. Cert: 12A. Language: French

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From the director of Hidden and The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke’s extraordinary new drama Amour is announced as the Closing Gala of the Official Selection.  Amour is the Austrian writer/director’s second Palme d’Or winner at Cannes where the film was hailed as a masterpiece after its world premiere.  Georges (Jean- Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emanuelle Riva) are a couple in their eighties who have been in a close loving relationship for most of their lives. They are both retired from teaching music and live in a spacious Paris apartment, with a daughter (Isabelle Huppert) in England.  One day Anna suffers a loss of memory, the first sign of her emerging illness, and Georges faces the end of their final act together. – Leeds International Film Festival 2012

Starring: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert, Alexandre Tharaud, William Shimell


Click here to read Philip French’s review in The Observer.

Click here to read Peter Bradshaw’s 5 star review in The Guardian.


LORE, Thu 10 October, 8pm

By archive, Season 9 films

After her Nazi parents are imprisoned, Lore leads her siblings across war-torn Germany in 1945. Amidst the chaos, she encounters a mysterious Jewish refugee who shatters her fragile reality. To survive, she must trust someone she was taught to hate.

Director: Cate Shortland. Germany, 2012. 109 minutes. Cert: 15A. Language: German

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Cate Shortland (Somersault) offers a unique perspective on the nature of collusion with this story of a young German girl who, at the end of WWII, leads her siblings through a devastated and defeated nation. Shortland’s attention to detail and the beauty of the imagery she creates in her account of a national psyche brainwashed to believe in their own supremacy, only to confront the horror that resulted, is filled with brilliance and surprise in equal measure. – Dingle Film Festival 2012

Starring: Saskia Rosendahl, Kai Malina, Ursina Lardi, Nele Trebs