Pan African Film Festival

Established in 1992, The Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the promotion of cultural and racial tolerance and understanding through the exhibition of film, art and creative expression.

It is PAFF's goal to present and showcase the broad spectrum of Black creative works, particularly those that reinforce positive images and help to destroy negative stereotypes. We believe film and art can lead to better understanding and foster communication between peoples of diverse cultures, races, and lifestyles, while at the same time, serve as a vehicle to initiate dialogue on the important issues of our times.

South Africa World Film Collective

In 2008 WFC began work in South Africa in the province of Free State with the creative arts charity Dramatic Need, teaching 86 children of agricultural workers to make films on cell phones about issues that affected their lives. Following on from this, WFC taught their first workshop in Cape Town with New Africa Theatre Association, arranged and funded by WFC Patron, Gerald Fox. Through working with NATA, WFC was introduced to Simcelile ‘Simi' Kalimashe, a young man who lives in the heart of one of Cape Town's most populous township, Khayelitsha. Simi gave us access to untapped youth networks that existed in the heart of his and other surrounding townships.

California Newsreel

California Newsreel's African American Perspectives collection now has the largest discount offer in our 44-year history a great chance to update and expand your institution's African American video holdings.

Jean-Marie Teno
Born 1954, Famleng, Cameroon the artist lives and works in Chantillion, France.

Jean-Marie Teno: Filmography

Moolaade by Ousmane Sembene
'Four girls -- refusing to have their bodies 'cut' -- flee to a strong willed woman who had protected her daughter from circumcision. As the other villagers -- including relatives -- try to force the rebel to part with the girls, she invokes the time-honoured custom of 'moolade' that offers inviolable sanctuary. Even as her daughter's marriage is imperiled by her bold stance, the mother stands her ground. In the buoyant, witty and colourful film Moolaade, which does not obscure the terror the young girls face, a strong Oscar contender for foreign films has emerged. It was a big favourite at the Toronto International Film Festival. Critic Roger Ebert, who loved the film, is already predicting an Oscar for it'.--Arthur J. Pais: Toronto

Ousmane Sembene
Born in 1923 in Casamance, southern Senegal, where his fisherman father had migrated from Dakar, Ousmane Sembene, or just Sembene, as many critics call him, has been hailed as one of the most prolific African writers and "the father of African film.

Filmography: Ousmane Sembene
The first film director from an African country to achieve international recognition, Ousmane Sembene remains the major figure in the rise of an independent post-colonial African cinema. Sembene's roots were not, as might be expected, in the educated élite.

Nelly's Bodega
Drama 1999: Director: Omonike Akinyemi: Length: 50 minutes

Filmography: Chieck Oumar Sissoko
I never choose to make a film about a subject. It is a political and social situation that makes me handle a story. Up to the present I have followed this law of the needs of African societies and their emergencies. This is how I came to make Sécheresse et exode rural in 1984, a documentary o the tragedy of man and the land. Do you remember? Sub-Saharan Africa was experiencing for the second time in ten years a drought, the terrifying consequences of which were wrongly presented as inevitable.

Wanjiru Kinyanjui
"I’m sure I wouldn’t have gotten involved in film if I had stayed here, but I studied German literature abroad, met a few filmmakers, and I actually got to see many African films there in Berlin. That got me really interested. I had always been interested in drama, you know, right from primary school. We used to organize ourselves and do skits every end of term on Parent’s Day. All that came back at university. I was in the drama club, small roles, because I wanted direct. I had some film school friends. I was actually teaching some of them Swahili. I told them, I think I’d like to go into film. They said, okay! There¹s a good film school in Berlin and you can apply."WK

The Battle of the Sacred Tree
This delightful Kenyan comedy tells the story of a free-spirited, strong-willed feminist who defies social convention and leaves her abusive husband. Mumbi was purchased by her husband Mwangi.

Idrissa Ouedraogo: Cannes

Idrissa Ouedraogo
Filmography: 'I don't represent my continent as such, but if I win the Palme d'Or, I know that young people in Africa will be proud in the same way that they're proud of a footballer like George Weah or a musician like Youssou N'Dour.' Idrissa Ouedraogo is talking about his new feature, Kini & Adams, which follows his 1990 Grand Jury Prize winner, Tilai, into competition at Cannes. A small-scale ($2 million), English-language story about a pair of irrepressible dreamers who yearn to escape the rural backwaters of their home village and head for the bright lights of the city, it is both a celebration of friendship and a trenchant little allegory about the destructive effects of ambition. Its key symbol is the battered old car which Kini and Adams decide to renovate. They lavish attention on the upholstery, but somehow they never get round to making the vehicle actually work.

Flora Gomes: Filmography
Nha fala, Po di Sangui, et al.

The Blue Eyes of Yonta by Flora Gomes
(The Blue Eyes of Yonta) is one of the few recent African films to make the disillusionment of the revolutionary generation its primary subject.

Waiting for Happiness: By Abderrahmane Sissako
Abderrahmane Sissako's Heremakono (Waiting for Happiness ) is an elegiac portrait of a transit city on the West African coast struggling against foreign influences. Abdallah (Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Mohamed) returns to his homeland for an indeterminate amount of time. Now a stranger to his own community and language, the young man tries to absorb as much local color (literally and figuratively) before embarking for Europe.

Abderrahmane Sissako: Filmography
Film or films screened at the International Film Festival Rotterdam.

Biography of Gaston Kabore
Kabore started out as a history student at the Centre d'Etudes Superieures d'Histoire d'Ouagadougou and continued his studies in Paris where he received an MA. During his studies he became interested in how Africa was portrayed abroad, which then led him, in 1974, to study cinematography at the Ecole Superieure d'Etudes Cinematographiques. Further inspiration came upon viewing Ousmane Sembene's Xala, which he saw as an example of how film could be used to express African culture. After returning to Africa, Kabore was made director of the Centre National du Cinema and taught at the Institut African d'Education Cinematographique. Along with students under his direction there he made his first film, 'Je Reviens De Bokin' (I Come From Bokin).

Wend Kuuni
Wend Kuuni: Directed by Gaston Kabore

Kwaw Ansah
Kwaw Ansah is highly appreciated in Ghana, where he is a mentor to many young artists, and has received a number of Ghanaian awards. In 1998 he was awarded the Acrag Prize, the Living Legend Award for Contribution to the Arts of Ghana.

Heritage Africa
The film is a riveting exploration of the impact of colonialism in the Gold Coast (the colonial name for present-day Ghana) through its central character, a man named Kwesi ("Sunday-born") Atta ("a twin") Bosomefi ("an illustrious ancestor has been reborn"), who prefers to be called Quincy Arthur Bosomfield. The perfect product of colonial education, Bosomfield embraces English culture in all forms, rising within the colonial administration to become an African district commissioner (a rarity) and member of the black educated "elite." In the process, he abandons his African heritage and all that has real meaning to him. Only after a series of humiliating encounters, peppered with vivid recollections of his past and a frightening and revealing dream, does he reclaim his true identity and heritage.

La Vie est Belle
La Vie est Belle takes us inside the vibrant music scene of Kinshasha, Zaire's exhilarating and exasperating capital whose back alleys and clubs pulsate to the beat of some of the most influential music in the world. The film, starring World Beat music legend, Papa Wemba, tells the "rags to riches" story of a poor country musician who seeks fame in the city's vibrant music industry. This lively farce illustrates Zairians' faith in Systeme-D or debrouillardise, fending for yourself to survive in the face of overwhelming obstacles. If there is a commercial cinema in Africa's future, then La Vie est Belle may be one of its precursors.

Life is Rosy: La vie est belle
Mweze Ngangura’s first feature, La Vie est Belle (Life is Beautiful), released in 1987, remains to this day one of the most accessible and entertaining African films ever made. Starring soukous super star, Papa Wemba, it uses the rags to riches story of a Congolese musician to demonstrate that ordinary Africans are capable of joy and that Africa has its own vibrant contemporary popular culture.

In this Sengalese melodrama, a beautiful village girl finds herself torn between tradition and modern values. Mossane is only 14 but is considered by the villagers to be an extraordinary beauty.

Thunderbolt by Tunde Kelani
The first half of the film is in a sense a retelling of the Othello story - except the protagonists are not Abyssinian and Venetian but Yoruba and Ibo. Yinka and Ngozi met in the National Youth Service Corps; Ngozi is finishing her stint as a teacher in a village while Yinka already works as a construction engineer in a nearby city. The seeds of jealousy are planted when a friend of Yinka, like Iago in the Shakespeare play, suggests that Ngozi is having a secret affair because "Ibo are untrustworthy." Adding to Yinka's suspicions, Ngozi has recently inherited some money and so is a financially independent woman. In this half, as in the Shakespeare play or any standard Western melodrama, the action is propelled entirely by psychological motivations.

Tunde Kelani

Madame Brouette by Moussa Sene Absa

Mousa Sene Absa:Filmography
Recent Filmography

Moussa Sene Absa
The Director: Moussa Sene Absa overflows with creativity. He is an artist, writer, and musician, as well as a film director. He made his debut as an actor, then moved to directing with the production of his own stage play, La Légende de Ruba. In cinema, he wrote the screenplay for Les Enfants de Dieu which was honoured at the Francophone film festival.

Candlelight Dinner by Mobolaji Olambiwonnu

Mobolaji Olambiwonnu - Director: Candlelight Dinner

Mobolaji is an American of Jamaican and Nigerian parentage with 8 years of production experience. He has directed several award winning short films including: Candlelight Dinner and Who Killed America? Which were recognized in the 1999 and 2001 National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) Prized Pieces Film Festival respectively, and The Visit which received a Directors Guild of America student director award. Olambiwonnu holds a BA from UCLA in communications theory and an MFA in directing from the American Film Institute.

Rick Famuyiwa

When Rick Famuyiwa graduated from the University of Southern California film school in 1996 he discovered that a film school degree does not guarantee a job in the industry. Some grads are lucky to have a job on the fringes, but Famuyiwa was as far away from working in Hollywood as anyone could get because his job was selling apparel at Niketown.

Fortunately for Famuyiwa, his dead end situation was about to end since his 12 minute student short, Blacktop Lingo, got into Sundance and Michelle Satter, the director of the Sundance Filmmaker's Lab, was tracking him down to invite him to develop his first feature at the Lab. In 1998, two years after graduating, Famuyiwa was directing his feature debut The Wood. The critically acclaimed film was a box-office success, which made it possible for him to write and direct his latest, Brown Sugar. The son of Nigerian immigrants.

Conversations with Rick Famuyiwa
SM: You made your feature debut, The Wood, in 1998, which was two years after you graduated so you were ahead of schedule. RF: At the time you're going through it and you don't know whether things are going to work out. It seemed difficult, but again it was the same kind of thing that I think I dealt with in the application process at the film school. I think once I had my film in Sundance I was convinced that I had made it.

To Purchase the Film: Brown Sugar


To Purchase the Film:Nelly's Bodega

Pan African Film Festival
Established in 1992, The Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the promotion of cultural and racial tolerance and understanding through the exhibition of film, art and creative expression. It is PAFF's goal to present and showcase the broad spectrum of Black creative works, particularly those that reinforce positive images and help to destroy negative stereotypes.

Panafrican Film and Television
Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO) is the largest African film festival.The next edition will be held from 26th February to 5th March 2005

African Films and Filmmakers
This document was created for the 1998 Carter Lectures on Africa on the theme of Africa on Film and Video. It is a guide to searching LUIS for relevant materials, and contains a reading list and some Web sites that may be useful to anyone interested in African film.

Lost in Translation: Interview with Sofia Coppola
Sofia Coppola's "Lost In Translation" has proven itself to be a sophomore smash, with mostly rave reviews, a lucrative debut at the box office, and even early Oscar talk for star Bill Murray. The film follows the unlikely, increasingly intimate friendship between two Americans stuck in Tokyo: Bob (Bill Murray) is an aging movie star making some quick cash by appearing in whiskey ads, and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) is a recent college grad confused about her life plan and mostly ignored by her photographer husband (Giovanni Ribisi ), who is in town on business. Jetlagged, confused, and lonely, Bob and Charlotte meet in the bar of the hotel where they're staying, Tokyo's stylish Park Hyatt. Soon, they are bonding over cultural differences, running off to karaoke bars with Charlotte's hipster Japanese pals, and falling for each other. Though their relationship can definitely be described as "intimate," there's no sex involved. In addition to being an atypical romance and a cultural snapshot of Tokyo, "Lost in Translation" is also a laugh-out-loud comedy, thanks to Bill Murray's impeccable performance.


African Filmmakers

African Filmmakers -Alphabetical Listing
The films included in this list have been identified primarily by reading African newspapers and magazines and articles on and programs of film festivals held in Africa, Europe and North America. Since the first list in this series was complied, more attention is being given to television films and video production both in the African press and at some film festivals.

African Film Festival: New York
The African Film Festival, Inc. (AFF) is a New York non-profit 501-C3 arts organization. The organization, established in 1990, began as an ad hoc committee of African and American artists and scholars.

Films from Africa and the African Diaspora
Welcome to the ArtMattan Productions' web site. We distribute films that focus on the human experience of black people in Africa, the Caribbean, North and South America and Europe

African Films:Annotated Index

African Films and Documentaries
Films and Documentaries by and about Women in Africa

African Films and Videos at Stanford
African Films and Videos at Stanford University

African Films
A resource library about African films including Senegal, Zimbabwe, Mali, and Ethiopia.

African Studies: Films and Videos

California Newsreel

California Newsreel
California Newsreel is the site for educational videos on African American life and history, race relations and diversity training, African cinema, Media and Society, labor studies, campus life and much more.

Krzysztof Kieslowski

Krzystof Kieslowski
Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski ended his glorious career with a trilogy of intimate dramas exploring the three ideals of the French Revolution, using the three colors of the French flag.

Blue, White, & Red
Trilogy: Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski. In Kieslowski's interpretation, blue, white, and red represent liberty, equality, and fraternity. His films tackle these ideals, not head-on, but obliquely. In Kieslowski's view, liberty is not all it's cracked up to be, revenge can stand for equality, and fraternity is another word for love.

Strictly Film School
Strictly Film School is a dynamic, evolving personal homage journal dedicated to the analysis of landmark world cinema from an academic perspective: universal themes, symbols and imagery, historic context and artistic genres.

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo
From her complex and enduring relationship with her mentor and husband, Diego Rivera, to her illicit and controversial affair with Leon Trotsky. Frida Kahlo lived a bold and uncompromising life as a political, artistic and sexual revolutionary.

Foreign Films: Reviewers: Ebert et al.

Shall We Dance
Since ballroom dancing isn't something to brag about in Japan, a shy timid man decides to reach out to an instructor he has an interest in and proceeds to take lessons.

Rome, 1610. The church's influence is all-pervasive. Particularly women are forbidden to do lots of things. But the 17-year-old Artemisia follows her own principles. Her father, the jobbing artist Orazio Gentilechi recognises his daughter's artistic talent and tries to have her accepted at the art academy.

The Pianist
A brilliant Polish pianist, a Jew, is confined in the Warsaw ghetto where he experiences suffering and humiliation. He escapes deportation and hides in the ruins of the city. A German officer comes to his aid and helps him to survive.

Talk To Her
Pedro Almodóvar returns with the follow-up to his Oscar-winning hit All About My Mother. With a hospital waiting room as its nexus, an intricate drama-part soap opera, part morality tale-unfolds.

Central Station
The key to the power of "Central Station" is in the way that word echoes down through most of the film. This is not a heartwarming movie about a woman trying to help a pathetic orphan, but a hard-edged film about a woman who thinks only of her own needs. After various attempts to rid herself of young Josue (Vincius de Oliveira), she finally sells him to an adoption agency and uses the money to buy herself a new TV set.

81/2 Weeks
Fellini made '8 1/2' fresh on the rebound from the international success of his 'La Dolce Vita'.

Cinema Paradiso
Giuseppe Tornatore's "Cinema Paradiso," takes place in Sicily in the final years before television. It has two chief characters: old Alfredo (Philippe Noiret), who rules the projection booth, and young Salvatore (Salvatore Cascio), who makes the booth his home away from an indifferent home.

Belle De Jour
`Belle de Jour'' (1967), the story of a respectable young wife who secretly works in a brothel one or two afternoons a week.

Seven Samurai
Akira Kurosawa's ''The Seven Samurai'' (1954) is not only a great film in its own right, but the source of a genre that would flow through the rest of the century.

The Accompanist
Richard Bohringer (The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover) stars with his award-winning daughter Romane Bohringer (Savage Nights) and Elena Safonova in this critically-acclaimed story of love, loss and compromise.

La Dolce Vita
Fellini shot the movie in 1959 on the Via Veneto, the Roman street of nightclubs, sidewalk cafes and the parade of the night. His hero is a gossip columnist, Marcello, who chronicles ``the sweet life'' of fading aristocrats, second-rate movie stars, aging playboys and women of commerce.

The Postman
Mario (Massimo Troisi) lives on a quiet island where little changes and new ideas arrive slowly, if at all. Then one day the postmaster enlists him to bicycle out to the house of a new arrival. Pablo Neruda (played by Philippe Noiret), the famous poet, has been exiled from his native Chile for political reasons, and has come here to live.

Belle Epoque
The movie takes place in a sunny rural district of Spain, in 1931, between the end of the monarchy and the rise of fascism - just as the Spanish Republic was having its brief moment in the sun. The title refers to the period between the end of the Franco-Prussian war in 1871 and the outbreak of World War I in 1914; Spain's belle epoque was shorter, Trueba suggests, but no less belle.

Raise the Red Lantern
The fourth wife of the rich old man comes to live in his house against her will. She has been educated, and thinks herself ready for the wider world, but her mother betrays her, selling her as a concubine, and soon her world is no larger than the millionaire's vast house.

My Life as a Dog
"Few movies come this close to perfection. This is an intelligent and moving story of a boy who must come to terms with abandonment, loss and the casual betrayal of adults. Extremely well acted on all sides, with a bold script that dares to ask the important questions. Ingemar must try to find some balance in his life, as he is tossed from one "home" to another, like a stray dog... or, like the Soviet space-dog Laika, who was sent into space only to starve to death in orbit. "They never intended to bring her back"

The Dancer Upstairs
Marking an assured directorial debut for actor John Malkovich, The Dancer Upstairs is a tense, nerve-jangling political thriller that values adult storytelling and emotional depth over cheap thrills. It's a challenge for those accustomed to the frantic pace of Hollywood thrillers, but attentive viewers will be richly rewarded by Malkovich's slow-burn approach to the film's terrorist plot, adapted by Nicholas Shakespeare from his own novel , based on the "Shining Path" movement that terrorized Peru in the 1980s. The plot unfolds in an unnamed Latin American capital, where a lawyer-turned-police detective named Rejas (Javier Bardem) leads an investigation to locate Ezequiel, a terrorist whose followers have left a trail of fear, death and destruction across the city. Rejas falls in love with his daughter's ballet teacher (Laura Morante), but the film's ultimate revelation--a coincidence that Malkovich handles with credible delicacy--throws this simmering drama into stark relief, bringing Bardem's character (and his subtle performance) to a greater awareness of his own personal and political humanity.

The Sea is Watching
To film lovers around the world, The Sea Is Watching is a welcome parting gift from Akira Kurosawa, who wrote the screenplay based on two short stories by one of his favorite authors, Syugoro Yamamoto, but was unable to make the film prior to his death in 1998. Kurosawa left detailed storyboards and production notes, entrusting veteran director Kei Kumai to bring his vision to the screen. The results are both glorious and rather mild, by Kurosawa standards, but this gentle melodrama about love, loss, and survival retains much of the peaceful optimism that informed Kurosawa's final films. Set in the 19th century Edo period, the story focuses on the prostitutes of a seaside village brothel, where the vulnerable geisha O-Shin (Nagiko Tohno) endures one heartbreaking love and a potential second, while the more cynical Kikuno (Misa Shimizu) combats misery with harmless fantasies that bolster her spirits. Nature plays a role, and a climactic typhoon has a cleansing effect, offering hope in the wake of destruction, as if the sea had been watching all along. And like the sea itself, Kurosawa's spirit washes over this beautiful film, compromised only by music that's more sentimental than Kurosawa would have allowed.

Sex and Lucia
Sex and Lucia engages mind and body with its time-bending narrative and images of beautiful Spaniards having vibrant sex. The story shifts between past and present, fact and fiction, so a plot summary won't capture it, but� A young writer named Lorenzo falls into a passionate relationship with a waitress named Lucía. But he also finds himself drawn to a young nanny taking care of a child who just might be the result of an anonymous fling Lorenzo had with a woman he met on an island the year before. Lorenzo fantasizes about the lives of all of these women until a horrific event sends him into a suicidal depression. This may sound obscure or flat, but Sex and Lucía unfolds clearly and beautifully, featuring stunning visual images of both nature and flesh, and weaving a poetic spell much like the director's previous film, The Lovers of the Arctic Circle.

L'Auberge Espagnole
The movie has Xavier (Romain Duris) say goodbye for a year to his French girlfriend (Audrey Tautou, of "Amelie") and fly to Spain on an odyssey which he narrates, not very helpfully (much dialogue along the lines of, "My story starts here ... no, not here, but ... "). In Barcelona he shares an apartment with six other students, plus a revolving roster of lovers, most straight, one gay. Imagine the American students in "The Real Cancun" as if they were literate, cosmopolitan and not substance abusers, and you've got it.

Girl With a Pearl Earring
Not a lot is known about 17th-century painter Johannes Vermeer, except that he died in early middle age, leaving 11 surviving children and 35 paintings that have survived into the 21st century. One of those paintings, "Girl with a Pearl Earring," was only re-discovered in 1882 and its origins remain a mystery. Inspired by a reproduction of the portrait on her wall, author Tracy Chevalier attempted to solve the enigma in novel form. It is Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring that now inspires Peter Webber's drama of the same name, a portrait of artist and model as well drawn as anything painted by Vermeer himself.

Festival in Cannes
Plunging deeply into the flamboyant madness of the world's premiere film event, Mr. Jaglom uses that luxurious gathering as a backdrop against which to tell his story, taking us into the heart of the desperate, needy, funny, alternately glamorous and sleazy world of the international movie business. "FESTIVAL IN CANNES" introduces us to the obsessed lives of the actors, actresses, writers, directors, producers, executives, movie stars, agents, managers, and wannabes - all of whom are drawn together for two weeks each May in this ultra-romantic setting.

Last Summer in the Hamptons
Filmed on location in East Hampton, Long Island, "LAST SUMMER IN THE HAMPTONS" concerns three generations of a large and brilliant theatrical family spending the last weekend of their last summer together at the decades-old family retreat which economic circumstances have finally forced them to put on the market.

Intimate Strangers
A Seductive New Film by Patrice Leconte

The Five Obstructions
With THE FIVE OBSTRUCTIONS, notoriously mischievous director Lars von Trier performs yet another cinematic experiment. This time around, the Danish prankster tries to outwit his mentor, director Jorgen Leth, forcing him to remake his classic 1967 short, "The Perfect Human," five different times, with a series of increasingly outlandish guidelines. His goal is to break down the abnormally stable Leth, teaching him a valuable life lesson in the process.

Monsieur Ibrahim
Some crowded Parisian atmosphere and the burnished presence of Omar Sharif make this coming-of-age tale a pleasure. It's the early 1960s, and an adolescent Jewish boy (Pierre Boulanger), mostly left to his own devices by an ineffectual father, makes friends with the worldly wise Persian man (Sharif) who runs a small neighborhood grocery. The kid's fumbling experiences with sexual curiosity are the reliable stuff of many a French movie, but the unlikely friendship of young Jew and old Muslim make for an offbeat through-line. Francois Dupeyron's film shifts gears in its final section, moving from its flavorful location and into the wide-open spaces, and it goes on too long with too many pieces of advice. But overall this is a warm and winning experience, with Omar Sharif holding an instructive class in the power of understated movie-star charisma. --Robert Horton

A wine tasting road trip to salute Jack’s (Thomas Haden Church) final days as a bachelor careens woefully sideways as he and Miles (Paul Giamatti) hit the gas en route to mid-life crises.

If you believe in love at first sight, you never stop looking.

The Merchant of Venice

The movie is based on Shakespeare's classic play of a rich merchant (Bassanio) in 16th century Venice who borrows money from a Jewish moneylender (Shylock) to help a friend woo a beautiful heiress (Portia). But the merchant faces mortal peril when he can't repay the debt.

Interview: Jeremy Irons on the Merchant of Venice go to Cinema Confidential: Interview with Jeremy Irons

The Sea Inside
Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film of 2004, The Sea Inside is a life-affirming film about a man who wishes to die. That may seem like a massive contradiction, but in the hands of director Alejandro Amenábar (Open Your Eyes, The Others) and actor Javier Bardem (Before Night Falls ), this fact-based Spanish drama concerns the final days of Ramón Sampedro, the quadriplegic poet who waged a controversial campaign for his right to die.

Bennett Miller's CAPOTE is a finely crafted biopic that recounts a historic chapter in American history and, in the process, captures the unraveling of a truly gifted mind. Starring an extraordinary Philip Seymour Hoffman as the legendary Truman Capote, the film concentrates on the seven-year period during which Capote wrote his groundbreaking nonfiction novel, IN COLD BLOOD. One morning in 1959, Capote learned of a horrific family killing in Holcomb, Kansas. With the intention of writing an article for the New Yorker, he traveled to the Midwest with his good friend Nell Harper Lee (Catherine Keener), who was about to publish her own masterwork, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Somehow, the soft-spoken, eccentric writer managed to earn the trust of local authorities--most notably, reserved K.B.I. agent Alvin Dewey (Chris Cooper). But when the two killers were caught and returned to Kansas to await trial, Capote began to form an intense emotional bond with one of them, Perry Smith (Clifton Collins, Jr.). The pressure of this connection threatened to push an already fragile Capote into the darkest recesses of himself. His only hope was to finish the book that he was convinced would shock the nation and change the course of writing forever.

The first movie produced by Afghanistan filmmakers after the fall of the Taliban, Osama is a searing portrait of life under the oppressive fundamentalist regime. Because women are not allowed to work, a widow disguises her young daughter (Marina Golbahari) as a boy so they won't starve to death. Simply walking the streets is frightening enough, but when the disguised girl is rounded up with all the boys in the town for religious training, her peril becomes absolutely harrowing. Golbahari's face--beautiful but taut with terror--is riveting. The movie captures both her plight and the miseries of daily life in spare, vivid images. At one point, her mother is nearly killed for exposing her feet while riding on the back of a bicycle; for the entire scene, the camera shows only her feet, with the spokes of the wheel radiating out behind as she lowers her burka over them. --Bret Fetzer

Roger Gnoan M'Bala

Adanggaman: 2001 by Roger Gnoan M'Bala
This historic drama is about an African whose village is captured and its inhabitants forced into slavery by the African collaborator Adanggaman (Rasmane Ouedraogo). Traitorous and arbitrary, Adanggaman has a round face that constantly calls out for the rum the Dutch traders ply him with. The film's Ivory Coast-born director, Roger Gnoan M'Bala � who wrote the screenplay with Jean-Marie Adlaffi and Bertin Akaffou � blends truth and fiction, and the storytelling is so simple that its directness feels fresh and rousing. The scenes of Africans marching in chains and stocks, monitored by other Africans, are a shock and linger in your mind for days afterward.

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