Women, men, and Cuban music - Galway Film Society’s winter/spring season

FILMS CELEBRATING women, the relationships between grandfathers, fathers, and sons, the sounds, style, and cultures of Cuba, Burlesque strip-tease performers will all feature in The Galway Film Society’s winter/spring season 2011.

The society’s winter/spring season runs from January 16 to March 20 and will feature films from France, Romania, Spain, Italy, Thailand, Chile, and the USA. All films will be screened on Sundays at 8.15pm.

The season begins on January 16 with French feel good film My Afternoons With Margueritte (2010 ), starring Gerard Depardieu. Germain lives a quiet life until the day he meets Margueritte, an old lady whose work as a scientist took her all over the world. Before long, a true bond of affection unites them, and Germain realises he has the right to take control of his destiny.

Chilean film The Maid (2009 ), which won the Grand Jury Prize and Special Jury Prize Sundance Film Festival 2009, will be screened on January 23.

After 23 years of service to the Valdes family, Raquel is comfortably ensconced in a vague existence between maid and her illusion that she is a family member. However the family think she is overworked and hire more help. Feeling usurped, Raquel begins to sabotage each new employee in order to keep her ambiguous place within the family.

US film Winters Bone (2010 ), is set in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, where teenage Ree looks after her mother and her younger brother and sister. Her father is absent, and thought to be engaged in criminal activity. However when the sheriff informs Ree her daddy has posted the family home as bail, Ree must find him and in doing so, she starts to dig up some very dangerous secrets.

The film, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, will be screened on January 30.

The Happiest Girl In The World (2009 ) won the CICAE Award at the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival and the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2009 Sofia International Film Festival, and it will be screened on February 6.

In this acerbic comedy, a young girl who wins a soft-drinks competition finds that success comes with a catch. As part of her reward, she is doomed to spend a day in Bucharest shooting a commercial through clenched teeth, while her parents lay on the moral blackmail.

The short film The Herd, directed by Ken Wardrop (His & Hers ), will be screened before the feature.

Spanish animated film Chico & Rita (2010 ), which will be screened on February 13, is an epic love story set within the splendour of Cuban culture, history and music. Chico is a promising young pianist who spends his evenings taking American girls to Havana’s latest hotspots. He discovers Rita’s exquisite voice at a nightclub and the two quickly become enamoured and form a musical partnership.

When an American producer, Ron, approaches Rita with a contract and an offer to travel to New York, a misunderstanding with Chico leads Rita to accept the offer. Soon afterward, Chico sells his piano and follows her. Jazz fans note, try to spot cartoon Charlie Parkers and Dizzy Gillespies playing the clubs.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010 ) is the intriguing title of this film from Thailand which won the Palme d’Or at this year's Cannes film festival.

Boonmee is a middle-aged man, in need of kidney dialysis, who has come to the remote forest to end his days: this is an important place from his childhood, and, he believes, the location for his former existences. Throughout the film he recalls these extraordinary past lives and ghosts from Boonmee’s past crop up in the most unexpected places. See it on February 27.

Loose Cannons (Italy, 2010 ), will be screened on March 6. Tommaso has a comfortable life in Rome as an aspiring writer and is in a steady relationship with his boyfriend Marco – a life he has kept secret from his family.

When he is called back to his hometown of Lecce in Southern Italy to help run the family business, he decides to reveal his homosexuality to his conservative family but, when his plans are thwarted, Tommaso gets stuck on the path that he was desperately trying to avoid. However Tommaso is not the only one struggling to navigate between la bella figura (a good public image ) and his true desires.

Mexican film Alamar (2009 ) will be screened on March 13. Shot on Mexico’s coral reef Banco Chinchorro, the film centres on a grandfather, father, and five-year-old son who spend their days fishing for crabs and snappers. The film mixes documentary and fiction and it won the FIPRESCI Prize at the Toulouse Latin America Film Festival.

As the season opened with a French film, so it closes with one, on March 20 with On Tour (2010 ). Joachim, a former Parisian television producer, returns from America with a team of Burlesque strip-tease performers whom he has filled with romantic dreams of a tour of France. Travelling from town to town, despite the cheap hotel rooms and lack of money, the curvaceous showgirls invent an extravagant fantasy world of warmth and hedonism that wins an enthusiastic response from men and women alike, until the Paris shows goes very, very wrong...

This film is the directorial debut of the award winning actor Mathieu Amalric who is best know for his leading role in The Diving Bell and The Butterfly.

Special screenings

The first of two special screenings from the Galway Film Society takes place on Wednesday February 2 at 8.15pm in the Town Hall Theatre.

Of Gods and Men, the film which took France by storm in 2010 and which was awarded the Grand Prix at Cannes, is a stunningly passionate and deeply moving film.

Based on a true incident, the film is set in a Cistercian monastery in North Africa in the 1990s, where eight French monks live in cordial harmony with the local population. The monastery’s abbot, Brother Christian, is as much versed in the Qur’an as in the Bible, giving him a special insight into, and respect for, the nation he has chosen to work in.

However the country is increasingly in the grip of fundamentalist violence, and the brothers must soon decide whether to stay or leave. A compassionate plea for understanding between cultures, the film muses on the meaning of religious vocation in a violent world, and tackles its subject with authoritative, non-sensationalist forcefulness.

The Galway Film Society and the Global Women’s Studies Programme at NUI, Galway will mark International Women’s Day, which this year celebrates its centenary, on Tuesday March 8, with a screening of the Iranian film Women Without Men at 8pm in the O’Flaherty Theatre, NUIG.

Women Without Men weaves together four women’s lives in complex and enigmatic ways. Munis is serious, cerebral, and bullied by her brother for neglecting her ‘womanly’ duties. Munis’ friend is in love with this same brother. Fakhri is a stylish, elegant married woman in her 40s, in love with an old flame. Finally there is Zarin, a prostitute, played with characteristic intensity by Orsi Tóth.

The film, which won the award for Best Director at the Silver Lion Award Venice Film Festival 2009, underlines the fact that it is Iran which, in the 21st century, has repeatedly offered the world a vivid, unapologetically feminist cinema.

Dr Niamh Reilly, Senior Lecturer Global Women’s Studies, NUIG, will give a short talk before screening.

Tickets are €8/6 for individual screenings (except for Women Without Men which is €7/5 ). Season tickets are also available from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 and www.tht.ie


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