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Millennium Mambo

Watch the trailer.  A Taipei youth culture of raves, techno music, and Ecstasy pills is distilled into trancelike luminescence in Millennium Mambo, shot by In The Mood for Love’s acclaimed cameraman Mark Lee Ping-bin. The glamorous Shu Qi pouts her way through the city’s neon nightclubs and hostess bars, accompanied by either her jealous DJ boyfriend or a much older, somewhat wiser gangster (Jack Kao). Drugs, dancing, and lovemaking fuel the plot, as does the heroine’s search for a way out of her ever-shrinking circles of associates. “Looking at the young friends around me, I find that their life cycle and rhythm move several times faster than in my generation,” notes Hou. “Like flowers, [they] fade almost immediately upon blooming.” With long takes that linger over colors, lights, and textures, Hou and Lee turn their look at youth into an abstract painting. Description by Jason Sanders. (2001, 119 min. 35mm, Mandarin and 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, December 21, 2014, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM.

Manuscripts Don’t Burn

Watch the trailer.  Made in defiance of a 20-year ban on filmmaking, this incendiary thriller by Mohammad Rasoulof was inspired by the Iranian government’s attempt to murder several prominent writers and intellectuals in 1995. Eschewing the metaphorical approach to subversive material that many Iranian filmmakers deploy, Rasoulof (Iron Island, The White Meadows) delivers a bold indictment of Iran’s brutal and secretive security apparatus. At the same time, he brilliantly highlights the moral toll this system takes on both the victimized and the complicit. So dangerous was this project that Rasoulof’s name is the only one to appear in the credits. Manuscripts Don’t Burn is “harrowing, defiant, and exemplifying through its very existence the moral courage its totalitarian villains stamp down,” raves the Village Voice. “The film, while wrenching and audacious, is crafted with that humane and observational mastery of great Iranian cinema of recent decades.” (Dir.: Mohammad Rasoulof, Iran, 2013, 125 min.… 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 9, 2015, 7:00 PM – 9:05 PM.

Manuscripts Don’t Burn

Watch the trailer.  Made in defiance of a 20-year ban on filmmaking, this incendiary thriller by Mohammad Rasoulof was inspired by the Iranian government’s attempt to murder several prominent writers and intellectuals in 1995. Eschewing the metaphorical approach to subversive material that many Iranian filmmakers deploy, Rasoulof (Iron Island, The White Meadows) delivers a bold indictment of Iran’s brutal and secretive security apparatus. At the same time, he brilliantly highlights the moral toll this system takes on both the victimized and the complicit. So dangerous was this project that Rasoulof’s name is the only one to appear in the credits. Manuscripts Don’t Burn is “harrowing, defiant, and exemplifying through its very existence the moral courage its totalitarian villains stamp down,” raves the Village Voice. “The film, while wrenching and audacious, is crafted with that humane and observational mastery of great Iranian cinema of recent decades.” (Dir.: Mohammad Rasoulof, Iran, 2013, 125 min.… 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, January 11, 2015, 2:00 PM – 4:05 PM.

Fish & Cat

In person: Shahram Mokri, director Watch the trailer.  Filmed in a single take weaving together multiple storylines (and even flashbacks), Fish & Cat “combines formal experimentation with a sly sense of humor and a surprising feeling for American genre conventions” (Alissa Simon, Variety). Based on a true story about a rural Iranian restaurant that served human flesh, the film’s premise has the makings of a Hollywood horror movie. A group of college students set up camp at a remote lake for the annual kite festival, where, unbeknownst to them, the owners of the only nearby eatery are sizing them up as both customers and potential ingredients—but this is no slasher flick. Shahram Mokri skillfully keeps the violence off-screen while ratcheting up the tension with skillful camera work and a creeping atmosphere of dread. Its originality was rewarded with a special prize at the Venice Film Festival. (Dir.: Shahram Mokri, Iran, 2013, 134 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 16, 2015, 7:00 PM – 9:15 PM.

Fish & Cat

Watch the trailer.  Filmed in a single take weaving together multiple storylines (and even flashbacks), Fish & Cat “combines formal experimentation with a sly sense of humor and a surprising feeling for American genre conventions” (Alissa Simon, Variety). Based on a true story about a rural Iranian restaurant that served human flesh, the film’s premise has the makings of a Hollywood horror movie. A group of college students set up camp at a remote lake for the annual kite festival, where, unbeknownst to them, the owners of the only nearby eatery are sizing them up as both customers and potential ingredients—but this is no slasher flick. Shahram Mokri skillfully keeps the violence off-screen while ratcheting up the tension with skillful camera work and a creeping atmosphere of dread. Its originality was rewarded with a special prize at the Venice Film Festival. (Dir.: Shahram Mokri, Iran, 2013, 134 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, January 18, 2015, 2:00 PM – 4:15 PM.

What’s the Time in Your World?

Safi Yazdanian’s debut feature won the FIPRESCI Award at the 2014 Busan International Film Festival. The brilliant Leila Hatami (Leila, A Separation) stars as Goli, a woman who, on a whim, returns to Iran after living in France for two decades. Upon arriving in her hometown of Rasht, she meets Farhad (Hatami’s real-life husband Ali Mosaffa), a frame-maker who claims to know her well, but of whom she has no recollection. Thanks to this eccentric stranger’s persistence, Goli recovers her past and reconnects with her former life. Yazdanian’s film features compelling performances from both of its leads and presents a fascinating, beautifully filmed portrait of Rasht’s historic architecture and lively streets. (Dir.: Safi Yazdanian, Iran, 2014, 101 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 23, 2015, 7:00 PM – 8:45 PM.

What’s the Time in Your World?

Safi Yazdanian’s debut feature won the FIPRESCI Award at the 2014 Busan International Film Festival. The brilliant Leila Hatami (Leila, A Separation) stars as Goli, a woman who, on a whim, returns to Iran after living in France for two decades. Upon arriving in her hometown of Rasht, she meets Farhad (Hatami’s real-life husband Ali Mosaffa), a frame-maker who claims to know her well, but of whom she has no recollection. Thanks to this eccentric stranger’s persistence, Goli recovers her past and reconnects with her former life. Yazdanian’s film features compelling performances from both of its leads and presents a fascinating, beautifully filmed portrait of Rasht’s historic architecture and lively streets. (Dir.: Safi Yazdanian, Iran, 2014, 101 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. Saturday, January 24, 2015, 2:00 PM – 3:45 PM.

Bending the Rules

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 – 8:35 PM.

Bending the Rules

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 – 3:35 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 – 8:40 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 – 3:40 PM.

Eliso

Live accompaniment by Trio Kavkasia 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, 35mm, silent 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 13, 2015, 7:00 PM – 8:30 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 – 3:10 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 – 4:30 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 – 8:30 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 – 4:35 PM.