Foreign Film Series

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The Foreign Film Series provides the Cedarville community an opportunity to view interesting and challenging films from around the world. The series allows viewers to peer into often unfamiliar cultures through the eyes of the cultures themselves.

Philomena

Philomena

Great Britain/Comedy/Drama
Thursday, August 28, 2014 — 7:30 and 10 p.m. — BTS 104

» View IMDB Entry (7.7 stars)
» Rotten Tomatoes (92% fresh)

Philomena is the true story of one mother’s search for her lost son.

Becoming pregnant as a teenager in Ireland in 1952, Philomena is sent to the convent of Roscrea to be looked after as a “fallen woman.” When her baby is only a toddler, he is taken away by the nuns for adoption in America. Philomena spends the next fifty years searching for him in vain.

Then she meets Martin Sixsmith, a world-weary political journalist who happens to be intrigued by her story. Together they set off for America on a journey that will not only reveal the extraordinary story of Philomena’s son, but also create an unexpectedly close bond between them.

The film is a compelling narrative of human love and loss and ultimately celebrates life. It is both funny and sad and concerns two very different people, at different stages of their lives, who help each other and show that there is laughter even in the darkest places.

Judi Dench, Steve Coogan
Director: Stephen Frears

Trailer

What at first seems formulaic comedy gains a deeper resonance as we see how they represent two responses to cruelty and injustice -- first outrage, and with time, eventually, forgiveness.
Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail
At its core, this clever, wrenching, profound story underscores the tenacity of faith in the face of unfathomable cruelty.
Ann Hornaday, Washington Post
Director Steven Frears deserves special mention. A lesser filmmaker could so easily have turned this project into mushy, sentimental junk. The tear-jerking moments here are heartfelt and real. It's the kind of filmmaking we see too little of today.
Bill Zwecker, Chicago Sun-Times
Dench is a delight, playing dowdy instead of her standard regal, and Coogan is appropriately droll and disillusioned. Together they manage to make a sad story feel somehow bright.
Tom Long, Detroit News
Go beyond the manner of its telling and you find a story of cruelty and evil, of shocking acts committed under a veneer of civility and sanctity.
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
An utterly charming combination of road trip, odd-couple comedy and heart-touching true story that will leave few dry-eyed, "Philomena" rests comfortably in the lap of the great Judi Dench.
Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times
Judi Dench brings the Irish-born Philomena to life with good humor and dignity. It's a wonderfully memorable performance by one of the acting world's greats.
Claudia Puig, USA Today
One of the most eloquent, powerful and perfect movies I have ever seen.
Rex Reed, New York Observer
Wadjda

Wadjda

Saudi Arabia/Comedy/Drama
Tuesday, September 23, 2014 — 7:30 and 10 p.m. — BTS 104

» View IMDB Entry (7.7 stars)
» Rotten Tomatoes (99% fresh)

Wadjda is a 10-year-old girl living in a suburb of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Although she lives in a conservative world, Wadjda is fun loving, entrepreneurial, and always pushing the boundaries of what she can get away with. After a fight with her friend Abdullah, a neighborhood boy she shouldn’t be playing with, Wadjda sees a beautiful green bicycle for sale. She wants the bicycle desperately so that she can beat Abdullah in a race. Wadjda’s mother, however, forbids it, fearing repercussions from a society that sees bicycles as dangerous to a girl’s virtue. Wadjda then decides to raise the money herself.

At first, Wadjda’s mother is too preoccupied with convincing her husband not to take a second wife to recognize Wadjda’s plans. All of Wadjda’s attempts to raise money for the bicycle are thwarted until she learns of a cash prize for a Koran recitation competition at her school. She devotes herself to memorizing and reciting Koranic verses, and her teachers begin to see her as a model pious girl. The competition isn’t going to be easy, especially for a troublemaker like Wadjda, but she refuses to give in as she is determined to continue fighting for her dreams.

Waad Mohammed, Reem Abdullah, Abdullrahman Al Gohani
Director: Haifaa Al-Mansour

Trailer

The most radical and cheering message of Wadjda is that a change isn't just possible, but inevitable.
Ann Hornaday, Washington Post
In Saudi filmmaker Haifaa al-Mansour's winsome wonder Wadjda, a young girl's aspirations provide an intimate glimpse into the possibilities and limitations of a cloaked culture.
Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post
Wadjda captures Saudi life on the cusp of serious change, but it's by no means a solemn drama. Al-Mansour writes and directs with a light touch and hopeful aspect.
Peter Howell, Toronto Star
An unqualified delight, a sharp, insightful comedy that subversively explores women's place in Islamic society.
Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star
"Wadjda" works quietly and well in its story of a young protagonist questioning the restrictive status quo.
Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
This is not just the first feature by Haifaa Al Mansour but the first feature to be directed by a woman from Saudi Arabia. That is quite a burden, and yet by some miracle the movie bears it with lightness and grace.
Anthony Lane, New Yorker
Cleanly shot, concisely edited, "Wadjda" is a film that parents and smart children could enjoy together; its heroine is both immediately a type (yes, they roll their eyes in Saudi Arabia, too) and a very specific character.
Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger
Wadjda is a winning and wonderfully moving tale of an endearing 10-year-old girl, living in a suburb of Riyadh, making her voice heard in a patriarchal society that seeks to silence her.
Claudia Puig, USA Today
With impressive agility, "Wadjda" finds room to maneuver between harsh realism and a more hopeful kind of storytelling.
A.O. Scott, New York Times
The Hidden Blade

The Hidden Blade

Japan/Drama/Romance
Thursday, October 23, 2014 – BTS 104

» View IMDB Entry (7.8 stars)
» Rotten Tomatoes (87% fresh)

Set in mid-19th century Japan, The Hidden Blade explores samurai ethics, encroaching Western ideology, ruthless politics, and forbidden love. Munezo Katagiri (Masatoshi Nagase), a samurai, finds himself torn between the love he feels for a lowly farm girl and his fidelity to a dying tradition. Unable to marry the girl because of their differing castes, Munezo's conflict over his position comes to a head when he is ordered to kill one of his closest friends who has been branded a traitor.

Director: Yoji Yamada

Trailer

Yamada’s enormously enjoyable The Hidden Blade is a movie that deftly balances the obligations of samurai history with love story.
Wesley Morris, The Boston Globe
An affecting portrait of the impact of profound change on people with limited options.
Jeanette Catsoulis, New York Times
Reminders of feudal Japan are mixed in with a prescient glimpse into the country’s future. The samurai will not be part of it, and The Hidden Blade poignantly shows what is lost in the name of progress.
Ruthe Stein, San Francisco Chronicle
Both epic and intimate, this impassioned samurai drama is for anyone who’s ever watched a movie and muttered, “They just don’t make ‘em like they used to.”
Elizabeth Weltzman, New York Daily News
Hidden Blade works . . . as that rare, intellectually stirring historical pageant, but also as a deeply emotional, satisfying samurai movie, one of the crown jewels of the genre.
David Noh, Film Journal International
Yoji Yamada redefines the words “cinematic perfection” with a film that looks and feels like a true classic.
Edward Douglas, ComingSoon.net
Allows us the privilege of observing the samurai in the culture’s death-throes without Hollywood-style histrionics.
Harvey S. Karten, Compuserve
An exceptional portrait of a samurai warrior who is a nurturing male.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice