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Bending the Rules (aka The Rule of Accident)

Watch the trailer.  Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival, Behnam Behzadi’s debut feature tells the story of an amateur theater troupe that has been invited to perform outside Iran. Most of its young members have lied to their families about where they are going, but when Sheherazad, the lead actress, tells her father the truth, he forbids her to leave. On the eve of their departure, she and her cohorts struggle with whether to confront or secretly defy him. Bending the Rules paints a vivid, evenhanded portrait of the conflict between young people emboldened by the Green Revolution and an older generation that fears the consequences of rebellion. (Dir.: Behnam Behzadi, Iran, 2013, 94 min. DCP, Persian with English subtitles). Categories: After Five. Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Friday, January 30, 2015, 7:00 PM.

Bending the Rules (aka The Rule of Accident)

Watch the trailer.  Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival, Behnam Behzadi’s debut feature tells the story of an amateur theater troupe that has been invited to perform outside Iran. Most of its young members have lied to their families about where they are going, but when Sheherazad, the lead actress, tells her father the truth, he forbids her to leave. On the eve of their departure, she and her cohorts struggle with whether to confront or secretly defy him. Bending the Rules paints a vivid, evenhanded portrait of the conflict between young people emboldened by the Green Revolution and an older generation that fears the consequences of rebellion. (Dir.: Behnam Behzadi, Iran, 2013, 94 min. DCP, Persian with English subtitles). Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Sunday, February 1, 2015, 2:00 PM.

Fifi Howls from Happiness

Once known as the “Persian Picasso,” Bahman Mohassess was a famous artist in pre-revolution Iran. With many of his works destroyed by the new regime, Mohassess was forced into a 30-year exile in Italy. Filmmaker Mitra Farahani found the artist there and documented the verbal sparring matches that constitute this lively, lyrical portrait. Though frail and elderly, the irreverent, chain-smoking Mohassess recounts his fascinating life as a gay man in a hostile culture, an artist both “condemned to paint” and driven to destroy his own works out of rage at inhumanity, and a rebellious spirit determined to live life as he pleases. When a pair of avid collectors turns up with a commission, Mohassess agrees to take up his brushes one last time. Fifi Howls from Happiness is “thoughtful, moving ... a portrait of the artist as a refusenik, a recluse, a survivor and a stubborn question mark” (Manohla Dargis, New York Times). (Dir.: Mitra Farahani, Iran, 2013, 96 min. DCP, Persian with English subtitles). Categories: After Five. Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Friday, February 6, 2015, 7:00 PM.

Fifi Howls from Happiness

Once known as the “Persian Picasso,” Bahman Mohassess was a famous artist in pre-revolution Iran. With many of his works destroyed by the new regime, Mohassess was forced into a 30-year exile in Italy. Filmmaker Mitra Farahani found the artist there and documented the verbal sparring matches that constitute this lively, lyrical portrait. Though frail and elderly, the irreverent, chain-smoking Mohassess recounts his fascinating life as a gay man in a hostile culture, an artist both “condemned to paint” and driven to destroy his own works out of rage at inhumanity, and a rebellious spirit determined to live life as he pleases. When a pair of avid collectors turns up with a commission, Mohassess agrees to take up his brushes one last time. Fifi Howls from Happiness is “thoughtful, moving ... a portrait of the artist as a refusenik, a recluse, a survivor and a stubborn question mark” (Manohla Dargis, New York Times). (Dir.: Mitra Farahani, Iran, 2013, 96 min. DCP, Persian with English subtitles). Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Sunday, February 8, 2015, 2:00 PM.

Eliso

Live accompaniment by Trio Kavkasia joined by members of the Supruli Choir This historical epic evokes the tragic fate of Georgia, a nation pacified in 1864 by the tsarist Russian Empire. When authorities begin to appropriate arable lands, the peasants are forced to evacuate under terrible conditions. In the village of Verdi, we find Eliso, whose love for Vazho is encumbered by differences of class and religion. Yet the most overwhelming passion in this cherished classic is the depiction of Georgia’s majestic landscape and the deep-rooted traditions of its people. One of the great early figures in Georgian cinema, director Nikoloz Shengelaia was the head of an enormously influential family of film professionals. The clan included not only his wife, the celebrated actress Nato Vachnadze, and their sons, Eldar and Giorgi, who became prominent directors, but also Vachnadze’s sister, Kira Andronikashvili, who stars in Eliso. Description by Susan Oxtoby. (Dir.: Nikoloz Shengelaia, USSR, 1928, 89 min. B&W,… Categories: After Five. Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Friday, February 13, 2015, 7:00 PM.

Salt for Svanetia

Live keyboard accompaniment by Burnett Thompson Introduced by Dr. Peter Rollberg, professor of Slavic languages, film studies, and international affairs, George Washington University Mikhail Kalatozov’s debut film places him alongside the great Soviet directors—in particular, Dovzhenko for his poetic treatment of man in nature—but Kalatozov is harsh where Dovzhenko is lyrical, and Salt for Svanetia has more frequently been compared with Buñuel’s Land Without Bread of 1932. As in Buñuel’s film, the subject matter itself is surreal: people, faced with medieval conditions in modern times, themselves remain “medieval.” The film is a haunting portrait of difficult life in a village in the Caucasus cut off by snows from the outside world for most of the year. Defensive architecture left over from the Crusades and patriarchal rituals that favor men and death over women and birth seem to be an extension of a barrenness (in particular, the lack of salt) that weakens the life drive. Kalatozov uses the poetry… Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Sunday, February 15, 2015, 2:00 PM.

Nail in the Boot

Live keyboard accompaniment by Burnett Thompson Introduced by Dr. Peter Rollberg, professor of Slavic languages, film studies, and international affairs, George Washington University The poor quality of a nail in a soldier’s boot leads to the defeat of a military unit. Ostensibly an allegory on Soviet industry, this film was banned, its symbolism lost on literal-minded authorities who felt it reflected poorly on the Red Army. Perhaps more threatening than its subject was its style: “The film came at a time when other directors had already begun to feel the chill of criticism for abstract films” (Alexander Birkos, Soviet Cinema). Indeed, the camera offers a study of fate, as personified by the hapless wearer of the eponymous boot. In the midst of the thrusts and explosions of war, he is on a lone journey across fields and mountains with only one good shoe, until he comes to an interminable, impassible barbed-wire fence. This extraordinarily beautiful film led to a seven-year period of inactivity for… Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Sunday, February 15, 2015, 3:30 PM.

Paradise Lost

Director and screenwriter Davit Rondeli’s “most lasting contribution to Georgian cinema is the comedy Paradise Lost, a hilarious satire loosely adapted from Davit Kldiashvili’s classical stories about the parasitic lifestyle of impoverished nobility. Misconstrued by some officials as ‘anti-Georgian,’ the film’s production was repeatedly interrupted; however, Rondeli in the end won critical recognition for his superb capturing of characters and situations. Paradise Lost is still called the best Georgian comedy of the 1930s” (Peter Rollberg, Historical Dictionary of Russian and Soviet Cinema). (Dir.: Davit Rondeli, USSR, 1938, 85 min. B&W, 35mm, Georgian with English electronic titling). Categories: After Five. Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Friday, February 20, 2015, 7:00 PM.

Repentance

Introduced by Dr. Julie Christenson, chair, Modern and Classical Languages Department, and specialist in Soviet and post-Soviet cinema, George Mason University In the Soviet Union, Tengiz Abuladze’s Repentance was as much an event as a film. One of the most important censored films to come off the shelf with the cultural liberalization of the late 1980s, it was the first to deal with the terrors of the Stalin era. It does so in an oblique but unmistakable way—typical of Abuladze, whose art is one of symbolism and surrealism, with a strong feeling for the eccentricities of character. The central figure is a parody: with attributes of Stalin—at once whimsical, vindictive, and paranoid—a Hitlerian mustache, and a black shirt à la Mussolini, he represents all dictators. Soviet audiences, however, recognized the model for this portrait in Lavrenti Beria, Stalin’s much-feared head of the secret police. In the film, he is Varlam Aravidze, mayor of a fictional city, who, when we meet him, is being ceremoniously… Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Sunday, February 22, 2015, 2:00 PM.

A CineMatsuri Encore: "Seven Souls in the Skull Castle"

In cooperation with the Japan-America Society of Washington DC (JASW), the Freer presents the audience favorite at the 2014 CineMatsuri, a film festival celebrating the best in contemporary Japanese cinema. Set in 1590, Seven Souls in the Skull Castle tells the story of the bloodthirsty madman Tenmao and his infamous Skull Clan, which seeks to derail Japan’s unification under the imperial regent Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Fate brings together seven magical souls to take on Tenmao and his band in their impregnable fortress known as Skull Castle. This innovative film uses 18 cameras to film a theatrical performance, while skillful editing captures the immediacy of theater, from the sweat on the actors’ brows to the panting of their breath after the physical exertion of brilliantly choreographed fight scenes. Seven Souls in the Skull Castle is an experience not to be missed. (Dir.: Hidenori Inoue, Japan, 2013, 179 min. DCP, Japanese with English subtitles). Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Sunday, March 1, 2015, 1:30 PM.

The Way Home

The way home for director Aleksandr Rekhviashvili is not charted in the conventional sense. It takes the viewer along some peculiar roads: Georgian history and legend, politics and social stratification, religion and ethics. Allusive, stylized, and allegorical from beginning to end, The Way Home is in part a tribute to Rekhviashvili's favorite director, Pier Paolo Pasolini, especially to The Hawks and the Sparrows (1966). Together with the short film Nutsa (1971) and the widely acclaimed Georgian Chronicles of the XX Century (1979), The Way Home (completed in 1981, released in 1987) closes a triptych of films that represents Rekhviashvili's poetic contemplation of Georgia's past. It makes extensive use of poems by Bella Akhmadulina (the major female poet of the cultural "thaw" of the 1950s and 1960s) and of sets by Amir Kakabadze (the son of Georgian avant-garde painter David Kakabadze). As with all his films, Rekhviashvili controls The Way Home both as director and cameraman. Description by BAM/PFA.… Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Friday, March 13, 2015, 7:00 PM.

The Legend of Suram Fortress

This was Sergei Paradjanov’s first film following a fifteen-year enforced silence. Codirected by Dodo Abashidze, it is based on a Caucasus Mountains legend that tells of the Georgian people’s efforts to construct a fortress against invaders. The fortress continues to collapse until a fortune-teller recalls a prophecy that a handsome young man must be walled inside alive in order for the building to stand. The son of her own lover is the sacrificial lamb. At once simple and marvelous (in the literal sense), the story unfolds in a circular rather than linear manner, and its mythic possibilities are realized most wondrously in the film’s visuals. The Legend of Suram Fortress is exquisite in the manner of a painted miniature, with the jewel-like colors and decor of a medieval illuminated manuscript. Description by BAM/PFA. (Dirs.: Sergei Paradjanov and Dodo Abashidze, USSR, 1985, 82 min. 35mm, Georgian with English subtitles). Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Sunday, March 15, 2015, 2:00 PM.

Ashik Kerib

This is a true trans-Caucasus venture, produced by a Georgian studio and directed by an ethnic Armenian who selected Azerbaijani as the language of his film—simply because he loves the sound of it. As if to combine Sayat Nova and Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors, here is a film about art and the all-conquering power of love. When Ashik Kerib, a poor singer and saz (Turkish guitar) player, is denied the hand of the woman he loves, he sets out on a ten-year journey. The film recounts the adventures of the wandering minstrel. "Life, which easily turns into a dream, and the dream which easily turns into life, with all its inexplicabilities and intuitions, mysterious prophesies of misfortune and happiness, the ability to foresee the future or the belief in inevitable retribution—all this has been defined...as the 'magic surrealism' in Paradjanov's work" (Munich Film Festival). Description by BAM/PFA. (Dir.: Sergei Paradjanov, USSR, 1988, 78 min. 35mm, Azerbaijani with English subtitles). Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Sunday, March 15, 2015, 3:45 PM.

Blind Dates

A shining example of contemporary Georgian cinema, this romantic tragicomedy tells the story of forty-something Sandro (Andro Sakhvarelidze), who lives with his parents and has no luck finding love. The plotline takes its twists and turns as Sandro and his best friend (Archil Kikodze) meet and date various women. Their misadventures and Sandro’s home life are beautifully observed by director Levan Koguashvili, who has a gift for presenting fictional lives on screen with an air of authenticity and whimsy that captures life’s everyday challenges. Description by Susan Oxtoby. (Dir.: Levan Koguashvili, Georgia, 2013, 95 min. DCP, Georgian with English subtitles). Categories: After Five. Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Friday, March 20, 2015, 7:00 PM.

Tangerines

An elderly civilian finds himself caring for two wounded soldiers on opposite sides of battle in this Oscar-nominated antiwar parable, set during the notorious 1992 Georgian-Abkhazian conflict. One of the last holdouts of an ethnically Estonian community in the green Abkhazia hills, the sage, white-haired Ivo simply wants to help his neighbor harvest tangerines. A sudden gun battle, however, leaves a burly, angry Chechen mercenary wounded at his door, soon joined by a young, naïve Georgian soldier. Unwilling to abandon either man, Ivo brings both into his home, hoping to keep them safe from not only their wounds but also one another. A gripping battle of wits and intellect follows in this riveting, at times comical film. “We can be of different origin, from different states, of different faith, but we are all humans,” notes director Zaza Urushadze, who during the mid-1990s headed the Georgian National Film Center. “This is the main message of my film—that we should remember the most important thing: to… Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Sunday, March 22, 2015, 2:00 PM.

Cherry Blossom Anime: "Harlock: Space Pirate"

In person: Shinji Aramaki, director 3D screening! Watch the trailer. Inspired by a wildly popular 1970s television series, Harlock: Space Pirate is a 3D sci-fi adventure with eye-popping CGI effects. It tells the story of a mysterious loner who battles the malevolent Gaia Coalition, which is bent on ruling the universe. As David Rooney writes in the Hollywood Reporter, “[i]ts impressive production values and pedal-to-the metal action should get hardcore geeks on board.” Prepare to geek out! Followed by a Q&A with director Shinji Aramaki. (Dir.: Shinji Aramaki, Japan, 2013, 115 min. DCP, Japanese with English subtitles). Categories: Films. Lectures & Discussions. Co-sponsor: Cosponsored by Otakorp, Inc. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free. Continues: Repeats at 3 pm. Saturday, March 28, 2015, 11:00 AM.

Cherry Blossom Anime: "Appleseed: Alpha"

In person: Shinji Aramaki, director Watch the trailer. Internationally renowned for creating the manga that spawned the anime hit Ghost in the Shell, artist Masamune Shirow also dreamed up the dystopian sci-fi universe of Appleseed. This post-apocalyptic world was brought to the screen twice by Shinji Aramaki, in Appleseed and Appleseed Ex Machina. In this prequel to those films, female soldier Deunan and her hulking cyborg partner Briareos roam a World War III-ravaged New York in search of the legendary city of Olympus—mankind’s last hope. “A tour-de-force of digital design, Appleseed: Alpha is essential viewing in the canon of kick-ass cyberpunk animation” (Fantasia Film Festival). Followed by a Q&A with director Shinji Aramaki. (Dir.: Shinji Aramaki, Japan, 2013, 93 min. DCP). Categories: Films. Lectures & Discussions. Co-sponsor: Cosponsored by Otakorp, Inc. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free. Continues: Repeats at 3 pm. Saturday, March 28, 2015, 3:00 PM.

Old Men

Introduced and followed by a book signing with Val Wang, author of Beijing Bastard: Into the Wilds of Changing China In 1996, pioneering independent filmmaker Lina Yang moved into the Qing Ta district of Beijing, where she noticed a group of men that gathered every day at the curbside. She began to document these retirees, referring to them as Da ye—a Mandarin term of respect and endearment. Yang spent two years creating this expressive film about what occurs among men when their life's work has ceased. By following the details of Da ye’s daily routine, Old Men observes the physical and psychological aches that accompany old age and the solace that can be found in tradition and companionship. Thoughtful and introspective, Old Men is a moving meditation on what it means to grow old in today's China. Val Wang, who helped Yang with the subtitles and writes about the filmmaker in her book, introduces the screening and hosts a book signing afterward. (Dir.: Lina Yang, China, 1999, 94 min. Digibeta, Mandarin… Categories: Films. Shopping/Book Signing. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Sunday, April 12, 2015, 2:00 PM.

Gringo Trails

Introduced by travel writer, blogger, and former editor-in-chief of National Geographic Traveler Keith Bellows. Followed by a panel discussion with director Pegi Vail and Costas Christ, editor-at-large for National Geographic Traveler. Watch the trailer. Are tourists destroying the planet or saving it? How do travelers change the remote places they visit, and how are they changed? From the Bolivian jungle to the party beaches of Thailand, and from the deserts of Timbuktu to the breathtaking beauty of Bhutan, Gringo Trails traces stories over thirty years to show the long-term impact of tourism on cultures, economies, and the environment. Directed by prominent anthropologist Pegi Vail, this film raises urgent questions about one of the most powerful globalizing forces of our time: tourism. Following stories along the well-worn western travelers' route—the “gringo trail” through South America and beyond to Africa and Asia—the film reveals the complex relationships between colliding cultures: host… Categories: Films. Lectures & Discussions. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Sunday, April 19, 2015, 2:00 PM.

Screening and Discussion: "Angkor’s Children" and the Arts in Cambodia

Followed by a panel discussion with director Lauren Shaw and other guests involved with the film. See the full list of panelists below. Watch the trailer.  Angkor’s Children is a film about Cambodia’s cultural and artistic renaissance. The story is told through the voices of young Cambodian women who are part of the first generation born after the Khmer Rouge genocide that killed two million people, including 90 percent of the country’s artists and intellectuals. A singer of Buddhist poetry, a circus artist, and former garment workers in a grassroots protest band: these are Angkor’s children. Sreypov, Phunam, and Messenger Band have stepped out of their parents’ dark past to express the resiliency of Cambodia through their art and advocacy. They are pioneers, part of a global movement of women who are changing and inspiring the world. “Beautifully filmed, authentic, and powerful in the voices of its young female leaders, Angkor’s Children is a testament to the healing power of art and to the… Categories: Films. Lectures & Discussions. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Sunday, April 26, 2015, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM.