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Lineup for spring film series announced by Vanderbilt

Jan. 8, 2009, 12:56 PM

Films from Russia, South Korea, Israel, India, Romania and the United States are in the lineup for the International Lens Film Series this spring at Vanderbilt University. All the films in the series will be free and open to the public.

International Lens aims to transcend geographic, ethnic, religious, linguistic and political boundaries by facilitating conversation and greater cross-cultural understanding through cinema. This series is a partnership among the Office of the Dean of Students and academic departments, centers and programs at Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt faculty will provide an introduction and facilitate post-screening discussion for each film.

All films will begin at 7 p.m. in Sarratt Cinema, on the first floor of the Sarratt Student Center at Vanderbilt University. All films will be shown in 35mm unless otherwise noted. “Not rated” films may contain material suitable for mature audiences only.

The schedule, which is subject to change, is below. For updates, go to

Freedom Song
Tuesday, Jan. 13
Presented by: Office of Religious Life;
Facilitator: Lucius T. Outlaw Jr., associate provost for undergraduate education, professor of philosophy and African American and Diaspora studies
USA (2007). Dir: Phil Alden Robinson
A father (Danny Glover), who knows the costs of protesting, discourages his son from getting involved in the civil rights movement. His son ignores his warnings and joins the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in an attempt to end segregation in their small Mississippi town. Based on the experiences of Charles “Chuck” McDew. DVD. English. Not rated. 150 minutes. Funding provided by the Office of Religious Life. Presented in conjunction with the Martin Luther King Jr. Lectures Series at Vanderbilt.

Friday, Jan. 23
Presented by: Korean Students and Scholars Association
South Korea (2002). Dir: Lee Chang-dong
Released from prison, a mentally disabled young man attempts to reconcile with his victim’s relatives. He meets a woman with cerebral palsy and the two begin an unorthodox love affair frowned upon by society. Winner of the Special Director’s Prize at the Venice Film Festival. Korean with English subtitles. Not rated. 132 minutes.

Still Life
Wednesday, Jan. 28
Presented by: Ling Hon Lam, assistant professor, East Asian Studies Program
China/Hong Kong (2006). Dir: Zhang Ke Jia
This empathetic portrait of those left behind by a modernizing society is a poetic hybrid of documentary and fiction. Against the backdrop of China’s Three Gorges project, a miner searches for his long-lost ex-wife and a nurse looks for her husband. In the process, they must decide what they can salvage and what they must let go. Mandarin with English subtitles. Not rated. 111 minutes. Financial support provided by Mimi and Scott Manzler.

The Land of Milk and Honey
Tuesday, Feb. 3
Presented by: Carol Rubin, professor of mechanical engineering and leader of the Nashville Israeli Folk Dancers
Israel (2007). Dir: Robert Moutal and Zeji Ozeri.
This documentary explores Israel’s emerging folk culture and its effects on international Jewish consciousness. Developed by two Latino Jewish filmmakers in California, the film transcends cultural, religious and national boundaries to examine how a nation gathers support and strength through common beliefs and cultural activities. DVD. English. Not rated. 60 minutes. Film attendees are invited to stay after the film to experience Israeli dancing with the Nashville Israeli Folk Dancers.

AIDS Jaago
Wednesday, Feb. 4
Presented by: Vikrant Sahasrabuddhe, MBBS, DrPH, Institute for Global Health
India (2007). Dir: Mira Nair, Vishal Bhardwaj, Santosh Sivan, Farhan Aktar. Some of India’s finest directors draw on the talents of top box office stars to create films that dismantle myths and raise awareness about HIV/AIDS in India. These four short films explore the tragedies and triumphs that make up the human dimension of the disease. Hindi and Kannada with English subtitles. Not rated. 71 minutes. Funding provided in part by the Institute for Global Health.

Die Mitte
Monday, Feb. 9
Presented by: Gerrit B.M. Dielissen, EU Scholar-in-Residence and John McCarthy, director, Max Kade Center for European and German Studies
Germany (2004). Dir: Stanislaw Mucha.
A documentary road movie about the search for the geographical and cultural “middle” of Europe. Mucha and his film team take off on an odyssey – sometimes burlesque, sometimes tragicomic – across central Europe in search of the one “true center” of a continent covered with centers. DVD. German, Polish, Lithuanian. Slovak, Ukrainian and English with English subtitles. Not rated. 85 minutes. Funding provided by “Getting to Know Europe,” a grant from the European Union.

Stuff and Dough
Wednesday, Feb. 11
Presented by: Victor Ghidu, senior staff scientist
Romania (2001). Dir: Cristi Puiu
An ambitious teenager trying to set up his own business agrees to deliver a mysterious package of “stuff” in exchange for lots of “dough.” With the package, his best friend and his girlfriend in tow, he embarks on a road trip to Romania’s capital. What could possibly go wrong? Romanian with English subtitles. Not rated. 90 minutes. Financial support provided by Mimi and Scott Manzler.

The Passion of Joan of Arc
Wednesday, Feb. 18
Presented by: Henning Grunwald, DAAD Visiting Assistant Professor, History Department
France (1928). Dir: Carl Theodor Dreyer
With its stunning camerawork and striking compositions, Dreyer’s film convinced the world that movies could be art. Based on transcripts from her trial, Dreyer’s silent cinema masterpiece distills Joan’s time in court, imprisonment, torture and execution into a single inquisition where her judges, their faces twisted with contempt, condemn the stalwart young martyr. Silent. Not rated. 110 minutes. Funding provided in part by the History Department.


Friday, Feb. 20
Presented by: International Awareness Committee
Facilitator: Peter Lorge, senior lecturer, Department of History and East Asian Studies Program
China (2004). Dir: Yimou Zhang
This lush martial arts epic explores what it means to be a hero. A nameless prefect (Jet Li) is granted an audience with the first Emperor of China who, fearing for his life, forbids visitors to come near him. The prefect’s tale of his triumph over legendary assassins wins the Emperor’s trust. But is this trust well founded? At release, this was the most expensive and highest-grossing film in Chinese history. Mandarin with English subtitles. PG-13. 96 minutes.

El Violin
Wednesday, Feb. 25
Presented by: Jason Borge, assistant professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Mexico (2007). Dir: Francisco Vargas
Dignified Don Plutarco, his son Genero and grandson Lucio make their living as farmers and traveling musicians. They also gather supplies and ammunition for a local guerrilla movement. When the military seizes their remote village, Don Plutarco and his family decide to find a way to recover the ammunition. Spanish with English subtitles. Not rated. 98 minutes.

Failing Haiti
Thursday, Feb. 26
Presented by: Amnesty International, Vanderbilt Chapter
Facilitator: Todd Hughes, director of the Language Center, lecturer in Spanish and Portuguese
USA (2006). Dir: Rod Paul
This high-def documentary tries to understand why international efforts continuously fail to make a difference in the lives of Haitians. The international community imposes outside values on a nation with its own distinct culture, and Haitians limit their own internal efforts through misgovernance. There are no easy answers, but one thing is clear: something has to change. DVD. English. Not rated. 58 minutes.

Vidas Secas
Wednesday, March 11
Presented by: David Wood, Joe B. Wyatt Distinguished Professor of Philosophy
Brazil (1963). Dir: Nelson Pereira dos Santos.
A spare and unsentimental depiction of poverty in Brazil. This cinema novo film follows a family as they struggle to stay alive in a drought-ravaged land. The rawness and austere realism of their harsh and hopeless existence is balanced by their bonds and will to survive. The film captures this family’s world with an elegant naturalism complemented by sequences presented “through the eyes” of each character. Portuguese with English subtitles. Not rated. 103 minutes. Funding provided in part by the English Department.

Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul
Thursday, March 12
Presented by: The Turkish Student Association and Gerrit B.M. Dielissen, EU Scholar in Residence, Max Kade Center for European and German Studies
Germany/Turkey (2005). Dir: Fatih Akin.
German musician Alexander Hacke roams Istanbul’s streets to assemble a portrait of contemporary Turkish music that includes such artists as the neo-psychedelic band Baba Zula, fusion DJs Orient Expressions, Turkey’s “Public Enemy” Ceza, Kurdish singer Aynur, the “Elvis of Arabesque” Orhan Gencebay, and legendary divas Müzeyyen Senar and Sezen Aksu. The film explores European identity by juxtaposing the musical heritages of Europe and Turkey. English, German and Turkish with English subtitles. Not rated. 90 minutes. Funding provided by “Getting to Know Europe,” a grant from the European Union.

Friday, March 13
Presented by: Malaysian Student Association at Vanderbilt
Malaysia (2004). Dir: Yasmin Ahmad
This romantic “Romeo and Juliet” story explores the love blossoming between a young Chinese man and a Malay girl. The couple are separated by race, religion and class, yet they confront these differences and try to find a way to live together and love one another. Mandarin, Cantonese, English, Hokkien and Malay with English subtitles. Not rated. 104 minutes.

The Tin Drum
Wednesday, March 18
Presented by: Peggy Setje-Eilers, Mellon Assistant Professor, Germanic and Slavic Languages Department
West Germany/France/Poland/ Yugoslavia. (1979) Dir: Volker Schlöndorff.
This film adaptation of Günter Grass’s novel presents a tumultuous period in German history through the lens of a young boy who vows never to grow up. Grappling with the rise of fascism, he retreats into a drum-banging, screaming frenzy when the world around him becomes too much. Winner of the 1979 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. DVD. Hebrew, Italian, German, Polish and Russian with English subtitles. Not rated. 142 minutes. Funding provided in part by the Germanic and Slavic Languages Department.

Thursday, March 19
Presented by: Nathalie Dieu-Porter, senior lecturer in French
Belgium/France. (2005) Dir: Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne
This provocative drama focuses on Bruno, a down-and-out petty thief, who sells his newborn son for quick cash. In an attempt at redemption, Bruno searches for the baby – and for a new way of living. Winner of the Palm d’Or at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival. French with English subtitles. R. 100 minutes. Funding provided in part by the French and Italian Department.

Woman on the Beach
Wednesday, March 25
Presented by: TBD
South Korea (2006). Dir: Sang-soo Hong
Influenced by Hitchcock’s Vertigo, this nuanced, sweet-and-sour look at the geography of desire follows a director who finds vague respite from his writer’s block through involvement in variously (though similarly) configured romantic triangles. Korean with English subtitles. Not rated. 127 minutes. Financial support provided by Mimi and Scott Manzler.

Two Million Minutes
Thursday, March 26
Presented by: Vanderbilt Undergraduate Chinese Association
Facilitator: Xiu Chen Cravens, Ph.D., Assistant Dean for International Affairs, Research Assistant Professor of Education Policy, Peabody College
USA (2008). Dir: Chad Heeter.
Between the 8th grade and high school graduation, there are approximately 2 million minutes. And how every child in every country chooses to spend these minutes profoundly affects their economic prospects for the rest of their lives. This documentary looks at how China, India and the U.S. are preparing their students for the future. DVD. Not rated. Mandarin and English with English subtitles. 54 minutes.


Friday, March 27
Presented by: Vanderbilt India Association
India (2004). Dir: Ashutosh Gowariker
This Bollywood drama shows that grassroots initiatives are needed if globalization is to be a positive influence. A NASA scientist returns to India to find his nanny, who lives in a remote village where people struggle to gather basic needs. Challenged by a lovely local schoolteacher, the scientist decides to lead the village in their battle against dependency by helping them power a single light bulb. Hindi and English with English subtitles. Not rated. 189 minutes.

Wednesday, April 1
Presented by: Allison Schachter, assistant professor of Jewish studies
France/Israel (2007). Dir: Shira Geffen, Etgar Keret.
Poignant and witty, this story of three very different Tel Aviv women weaves an unlikely portrait of modern Israeli life. The women struggle with communication, affection and destiny yet find uneasy refuge in the tranquil seas of this cosmopolitan city. Winner of the Camera d’Or at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. Hebrew, English, Tagalog and German with English subtitles. Not rated. 78 minutes. Financial support provided by Mimi and Scott Manzler.

A Jihad for Love
Thursday, April 2
Presented by: Community Vanderbilt, Lambda, and the Office of LGBTQI Life
Facilitator: Nora Spencer, Director of LGBTQI Life at the K.C. Potter Center
USA/UK/France/Germany/Australia (2007). Dir: Parvez Sharma.
This first feature-length documentary to explore the complex intersections between Islam and homosexuality brings to light the hidden struggles of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Muslims to create a relationship with their faith that responds to who they are. English, Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Hindi, Turkish and French with English subtitles. DVD. Not rated. 81 minutes.

Wednesday, April 8
Presented by: Michael Kreyling, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English
Denmark/Sweden/Netherlands/France/Germany/UK (2005). Dir: Lars von Trier
The second of von Trier’s “Land of Opportunity” trilogy, this minimalist stage set drama unfolds on a plantation in rural Alabama where slavery persists 70 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Idealistic Grace Mullington takes over to establish equality and democracy. But will her efforts result in freedom for all or disrupt a delicate balance of racial understandings? English. Not rated. 139 minutes. Funding provided by the English Department.

Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans
Thursday, April 9
Presented by: Houston Baker, Distinguished University Professor of English
USA (2008). Dir: Dawn Logsdon
This reflection on the relevance of history examines Faubourg Tremé’s prominent place in the national struggle for civil rights. This storied neighborhood’s present remains steeped in its past, when it was the largest community of free African Americans in the antebellum South and home to such activists as Homer Plessy, who defied the practice of “separate but equal.” DVD. English. Not rated. 60 minutes. Funding provided by the English Department. Lolis Eric Elie, co-director/writer/narrator, will be at the screening.

Playing the Victim
Wednesday, April 15
Presented by: Irina Makoveeva, Mellon Assistant Professor of Russian in the Germanic and Slavic Languages Department, and Leah Marcus, Edwin Mims Professor of English and Director of the Program in Jewish Studies
Russia (2006). Dir: Kirill Serebrennikov
This black-humored adaptation of Hamlet follows a young Muscovite who “plays the victim” in video re-enactments of murders under investigations. As if being “killed” isn’t bad enough, he also faces an oppressive home life and the reproaches of his dead father’s ghost. Winner of the Grand Prize at the first Rome International Film Festival. DVD. Russian with English subtitles. Not rated. 100 minutes. Funding provided in part by the Germanic and Slavic Languages Department.

Vandy Gets Reel
3rd Annual Vanderbilt Student Film Festival
Sunday, April 19
Note: screenings will take place in Sarratt Cinema noon-10 p.m.
Vandy Gets Reel showcases films by Vanderbilt undergraduate and graduate students. The festival is sponsored by the Film Studies Program and the Office of the Dean of Students. For additional information on submission deadlines and the schedule of film screenings visit

The International Lens film series is coordinated by the Office of Arts and Creative Engagement and the Office of International Student and Scholar Services in collaboration with Vanderbilt University academic departments, centers, programs, and student organizations.

For additional information and parking maps, visit or call 322-6400.

Media contact: Jim Patterson, (615) 322-NEWS