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Drama

Costas Ferris – Rembetiko (1983)

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Considered to be one of the most powerful and emotional Greek movies, Rembetiko focuses on the life of an individual woman, a real person, and through her personal story, it retells the story of Greece, from 1920 to 1955: the national disaster in Minor Asia, the one million refugees who came to Greece, the World War II, the Nazi occupation, the Civil War, immigration. The revival of an era, the recall of lost ethics of the old time musicians, and all the elements of a popular music drama, compose this epic masterpiece, accompanied by the music and songs of Stavros Xarhakos (most of them with lyrics by Nikos Gkatsos).

A voyage to history of the first half of the 20th century, but also a voyage to the origins of rembetiko – a Greek form of urban blues performed in lowclass joints where the social misfits of the twenties known as “rembetes” gathered. Read More »

Aleksandr Dovzhenko – Michurin (1948)

The film is about the life and work of the prominent Russian biologist Ivan Michurin. Reports of gardener-Michurin’s extraordinary experiments with plants reach far beyond the borders of the Russian empire. Trying to persuade him to move to the United States, a group of Americans comes to the village where Michurin lives. They promise him all kinds of benefits. But Michurin, despite his lack of recognition by the government, is devoted to Russia. Overcoming obstacles created by the tsarist bureaucracy, the scientist continues with his experiments on natural selection and dreams of the time when all people will be able to take full advantage of his achievements. The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 makes his dreams come true and Michurin’s orchard in Kozlov becomes a center of Soviet experimental biology. Read More »

Yakov Protazanov – Belyy oryol AKA The White Eagle (1928)

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Synopsis:
Lash of the Czar was one of several English-language titles for the Russian film Belyi Orel. The film was based on The Governor, a play by Leonid Andreyev. V.I. Kachalov plays the governor of a small Russian province who tries to treat the people under his authority with kindness and equanimity. But when a local factory goes on strike, the governor buckles under to pressure from the Czar and orders the wholesale slaughter of the strikers. He pays for this betrayal of his trust with his life — at the hands of a courageous Bolshevik spy. Anna Sten, who in 1934 was brought to the U.S. as Sam Goldwyn’s “answer” to Greta Garbo, appears as the governor’s wife. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
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Franz Müller – Die Liebe der Kinder (2009)

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Quote:
Two single parents decide to move in together and their two teenage children fall in love. Read More »

Mara Eibl-Eibesfeldt – Im Spinnwebhaus (2015)

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Jonas is already head of the family at just 12 years of age. He has been helping his two younger siblings and supporting his mother, Sabine, since his father left. Sabine is very loving towards her children but she often loses her patience and disappears into her room for the day. Mysterious demons drive her to spend a weekend away to relax in the “sunny valley”. But the weekend grows into weeks in which the three children hear nothing from their mother. Food and money have long since run out, the house has become more and more like a haunted castle: a spiderweb house. Jonas tries his best to maintain the appearance of an intact family. On the hunt for something to eat, he meets a young man, Felix Count of Gütersloh, who speaks in rhymes and declares himself to be not quite right in the head. Rather like a guardian angel, he takes Jonas under his wing and shows him how to get by in a world without adults. The film is less a social drama than a modern-day fairy tale shot in black and white. The audience is immersed in the eerily beautiful world of the children which unfolds its own particular magic. Read More »

István Szabó – Bizalom aka Confidence (1980)

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In WW2 Hungary, hard-bitten resistance fighter János and naive young mother Kata are thrown together in an attempt to escape the Nazis. Compelled to pose as husband and wife, they are forced into a strange intimacy. Terrified of discovery, the couple are wary of all those around them, and even of each other. As their individual loyalties are challenged, their relationship begins to change – calling into question the emotional certainties of their normal lives, and forcing them to re-assess who they really trust. Read More »

Jirí Menzel – Postriziny AKA Cutting It Short (1981)

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Quote:
Short Cut is a comedy revealed more in the acting and witty dialogue than in the simple premise of the story itself: how the Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal was born. Actually, the story is, in many ways, the writer’s conception. The setting is a small town where Hrabal’s father Francine (Jiri Schmitzer) is in charge of a large brewery. Both the blessing and bane of his life is his gorgeous wife Marja (Magda Vasaryova). Blessing, because she is not only beautiful but resourceful and intelligent and lively, bane because every other man would like to get to know her better. Marja saves the day more than once, and the couple are happy in their life together. When Francine’s brother arrives for a visit, an attraction starts to develop between Marja and her brother-in-law that may have upset the marriage, were it not for a fortuitous accident. Marja sprains her ankle and her husband is “forced” to take care of her – alone. Soon after, the town gets their first radio and life takes a permanent turn for a faster lane. Marja cuts her long, blonde tresses and dons a short skirt which mortifies her husband, until he learns they are going to have a baby. It is 1916 and Hrabal is on the way. The comedy will one day continue as he goes from gestation to adulthood and discovers his writing talents at the age of 48. Coupled with the Czech director Jiri Menzel, Hrabal’s comedic writing finds a kindred cinematic spirit. This film won a Jury Prize at the 1981 Venice Film Festival. Read More »