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Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009 02:36 pm

Foreign films coming to Springfield

Art Association announces festival lineup

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Guillaume Canets’ Tell No One
Elsa Zylberstein and Kristin Scott Thomas in Philippe ClaudelsÂ’ I've Loved You So Long

Voir Il y a Longtemps Que Je T’aime et Auf Der Anderen Seite à Springfield. Translation: See I’ve Loved You So Long and The Edge of Heaven in Springfield.

The closing of Kerasotes’ White Oaks Cinema last September was the most recent of several blows to independent and foreign cinema in Springfield. As venues for more obscure movies dwindle, The Springfield Art Association is set to present its 18th annual film festival. The SAA has secured the rights to screen some of the best recent films from around the world, which include official selections from the Cannes, Toronto, Tribeca, Telluride, Sundance and New York film festivals. Six foreign features will be screened between Jan. 11 and March 24.

The festival begins with Tell No One, the French adaptation of Harlan Coben’s best-selling thriller, in which American audiences will recognize actress Kristin Scott Thomas.

Thomas makes a second festival appearance in the Golden Globe-nominated I’ve Loved You So Long, an adult melodrama about a woman’s struggle for redemption after being released from prison. The movie was a huge success in France and is expected to contend for several awards-season honors.

The Edge of Heaven is a Turkish-German film written and directed by Fatih Akin, and will run in February. It takes place in both countries and examines the relationship between an aging widower and a prostitute. Four other complex characters join the tragic story, which Variety calls an “utterly assured, profoundly moving… superbly cast drama.”

The lone documentary in this year’s fest is Man on Wire, which tells the story ofPhilippe Petit’s illegal 1974 tightrope walk between the Twin Towers of New York’s World Trade Center. The nonfiction work became the sixth film in festival history to win both the GrandJury Prize and an Audience Award at Sundance.

Son of A Lion, directed by an Australian but cast with non-professional Pakistanis, tells the story of a Pashtun boy who wants to trade life in his father’s weapons workshop for days at school. Set on the Afghan border, the movie was co-written by local villagers that director Benjamin Gilmour (a paramedic by trade) met during a visit in August of 2001, days before 9/11. Gilmour decided to make the movie after the terrorist attacks to humanize the region’s non-Taliban inhabitants. In order to do so, he had to shoot his movie in secrecy in a closed and hostile region.

The final film of the festival is A Christmas Tale, which critics describe as “energizing, captivating, passionate, satisfying and evocative.” The French movie deals with the younger members of a dysfunctional family who concoct a scheme designed to heal their domestic relationships. It stars Mathieu Amalric (Quantum of Solace) and Catherine Deneuve.

Fatih Akin's The Edge of Heaven

Many of the festival’s selections are winding up on critics’ year-end lists. Four of the six movies that will be screened were included as New York Times Critics’ Picks, with Stephen Holden selecting The Edge of Heaven, A Christmas Tale and Tell No One, while A.O. Scott chose to include Man on Wire and The Edge of Heaven. Roger Ebert also picked Man on Wire as one of the year’s best.

All movies will be shown at Parkway Pointe Cinema. The festival runs Sundays at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. and Tuesdays at 7 p.m.. Tickets at the door are $7, $4 for students, and free to UIS students. Series tickets are available from the Springfield Art Association for $35.

The schedule: Jan. 11 and 13 – Tell No One, Jan. 25 and 27 – Man on Wire, Feb 8 and 10 – The Edge of Heaven, Feb. 22 and 24 – I’ve Loved You So Long, March 8 and 10 – Son of a Lion, March 22 and 24 – A Christmas Tale.

Zach Baliva is a filmmaker living in Springfield.

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