CINEMA IS not a European or American phenomenon - it is a world-wide one. While France - the inventor of cinema, has a celebrated film tradition, Iran also has a thriving industry and its films are also highly regarded.
Galway audiences will be able to enjoy films from both France and Iran, and indeed from across Europe and Asia during The Galway Film Society’s winter/spring season of film screenings in the Town Hall Theatre on Sundays from January 18 to March 15 at 8.15pm.
The opening film Quiet Chaos (2008 ) will be shown this Sunday - the first of two Italian films to be shown this season.
After the sudden death of his wife, Pietro is left to care for his 10-year-old daughter, and after taking her to her exclusive school for the first day of the autumn term, he decides to remain protectively in an adjoining park rather than return to his job as a senior executive with an international film company.
The other Italian film which will be shown is Gomorrah (2008 ), on February 15 which deals with a subject so many film fans are fascinated with - The Mafia. Based on a best-seller by Roberto Saviano, director Matteo Garrone has constructed a riveting film shot on forbidding, authentic locations as it unflinchingly illustrates the scale and ruthlessness of the Camorra’s activities.
Films from Iran, Israel/Palestine, India, The Lebanon, and Turkey promise to be among the highlights of this season’s screenings and will add a definite Asian flavour and socio-political commentary to the proceedings. Lemon Tree in particular - set in Israel/Palestine - is apt to screen at this particular time, given the distressing and sickening violence which is plaguing the Gaza region.
The first Asian film to be shown is from Iran, a country with a vibrant film industry. Buddha Collapsed Out Of Shame (2007 ) will be shown on February 1. It centres on a small girl called Baktay. She sees a boy living in the next-door cave reading a book and becomes determined to go to school.
First, she has to raise the money for a notebook and a pencil by selling the eggs of the family’s chickens. She only gets enough for the notebook, but takes her mother’s lipstick as a writing instrument and sets out for school. While there, and on the way back home, she has to endure and encounter Taliban children. The film won the Peace Award at the Berlin Film Festival 2008.
Lemon Tree (2008 ) tells the story of Palestinian widow Salma Zidane who lives on the Israel-West Bank border. Growing in her garden is a lemon grove her father planted 50 years ago. When the new Israeli defence minister decides to build a new house right up against the grove, on the Israeli side of the fence, Salma’s lemon trees are deemed a defence risk and the grove is locked up. However Salma decides to challenge the military’s decision with the help of a Palestinian lawyer, who is willing to take on her seemingly hopeless case, and love develops between them.
Turkish director Reha Erdem is regarded as one of the country’s most exciting cinematic practitioners. His 2006 film Times And Winds, set in a mountainous region of north-eastern Turkey, looks at what three teens living in the region have to endure - the harshness of day-to-day life, learning what it means to be second best, what it means to be a woman in a man’s world, or to be the son who is not his father’s favourite. See it on March 1.
Indian film Gandhi My Father (2008 ) will be shown on March 8. It tells the extraordinary story of the relationship between Mahatma Gandhi and his eldest son Harilarl.
Harilal hopes to emulate his father and read for the bar in London, but the Mahatma denies him both love and formal education. Yet this film does not seek to diminish Mahatma’s reputation. It seeks to make him more human and vulnerable and to explain the high price paid by him and his wife when he decided to sacrifice himself to the political, social, and spiritual liberation of his people.
I Have Loved You So Long (2008, starring Kristin Scott Thomas, will be shown on January 25. Juliette is a chain-smoking, middle-aged, woman, who comes to live with her sister Léa. Léa then has to explain to her two adopted Vietnamese daughters where Aunt Juliette has been all these years. However Juliette’s past is about to catch up with them all.
French film Conversations With My Gardener (2007 ) is about a successful painter who leaves Paris to return to the village in central France where he was born. He finds the garden of his late parent’s house overgrown and gets an old friend to sort it out for him. Starring Daniel Auteuil and Jean-Pierre Darroussin, the film can be seen on February 8.
I Served The King Of England (2006 ) is a darkly comic Czech film which reflects on 20th century history. In the 1960s Old Jan Dite is released from prison. In his youth he sold hotdogs, was a waiter, and helped at a breeding facility for the Aryan master race. His dream though was to become a millionaire hotelier. This film is a stylised slice of magical realism in which darker tragedies are always peeking through the charming erotic comedy. See it on March 15.
Women’s Day screening
The Galway Film Society in association with Amnesty International will screen Lebanese film Caramel (2007 ) on Wednesday March at 8pm in the O’Flaherty Theatre, NUI, Galway, to mark International Women’s Day. In Caramel, Nadine Labaki (the director and star of the film ) plays Layale, who works in a Beirut beauty salon and finds gold in the hot goo used to strip body hair.
For tickets to this film contact the Amnesty International Shop, 2/3 Middle Street on 091- 533637.
For tickets to all the Town Hall screenings contact the Town Hall on 091 - 569777.