UNION–Kean University will present an International Film Series of Academy Award nominated and winning films by artists from Canada, Japan, Argentina, Israel and Mexico from Jan. 29 through Feb. 26. The series will be presented in the Jules Schwartz Lecture Hall of Kean University’s newly constructed environmentally “green” Science and Technology (STEM) Building, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified (LEED) academic facility on Kean University’s east campus.
On Sunday, Jan. 29 at 3 p.m. the series begins with “Water,” a film by Deepa Mehta (Canada, 2005). Chuyia, a child already married but living with her parents, becomes a widow at eight-years-old. By tradition, she is unceremoniously left at with a group of widows forced into poverty at a temple in the holy city of Varanasi during monsoon season. The film chronicles the Hindu widows living a life of austerity in an ashram by the river Ganges set in 1938 when Gandhi’s party is making inroads in women’s rights. Amid all this water, the work questions whether rebirth is possible or if tradition drowns all.
“Departures,” a film by Y?jir? Takita (Japan, 2008) is the Academy Award® winner for Best Foreign Language Film screened on Sunday, Feb. 5 at 3 p.m. Daigo Kobayashi is a devoted cellist in an orchestra that has just been dissolved and he finds himself without a job. He answers a classified ad entitled “Departures” thinking it is an advertisement for a travel agency only to discover that the job is actually for a funeral professional. While his wife and others despise the job, Daigo takes a certain pride in his work and begins to perfect the art of “Nokanshi,” acting as a gentle gatekeeper between life and death, between the departed and the family of the departed. The film follows his profound and sometimes comical journey with death as he uncovers the wonder, joy and meaning of life and living.
On Sunday, Feb. 12 at 3 p.m. another Academy Award® winner for Best Foreign Language Film, “The Secret in their Eyes” continues the series. This film by Juan Jose Campanella (Argentina, 2009) features a retired federal justice agent, Benjamín Espósito, who is writing a novel, using an old closed case as the source material. Hoping to find closure for one of his past unresolved homicide cases and for his unreciprocated love with his superior, Esposito relives a past that rises up before his eyes and awakens all his demons. Telling a story from the past becomes a narrow, winding path he must take to understand and find justification for his own life and to give some meaning to the years remaining to him.
From Israel comes “Ajami,” a film by Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani and Academy Award® nominee Best Foreign Language Film (2009) on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 3 p.m. This powerful crime drama is set on the streets of Jaffa’s Ajami neighborhood, a melting pot of cultures and conflicting views among Jews, Muslims and Christians. It is told through a cross section of the city’s inhabitants: a young Israeli fighting a criminal vendetta against his family, a Palestinian refugee working illegally to finance a life-saving surgery, a Jewish police detective obsessed with finding his missing brother and an affluent Palestinian dreaming of a future with his Jewish girlfriend. As their stories intersect – and the film’s narrative shifts back and forth in time – a dramatic collision of different worlds and the tragic consequences of enemies living as neighbors is revealed.
“Pan’s Labyrinth,” a film By Guillermo del Toro (Mexico, 2006) garnered three Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction and Best Makeup, shown on Sunday, Feb. 26. Pan’s Labyrinth unfolds through the eyes of Ofelia, a dreamy little girl who is uprooted to a rural military outpost commanded by her new stepfather. Powerless and lonely in a place of unfathomable cruelty, Ofelia lives out her own dark fable as she confronts monsters both otherworldly and human. Award-winning filmmaker Guillermo del Toro delivers a unique, richly imagined gothic fairy tale set against the postwar repression of Franco’s Spain. It is a timeless tale of good and evil, bravery and sacrifice, love and loss.
All movies in the International Film Series are screened at 3 p.m. Tickets are only $8 standard or $5 with a Kean University ID and can be purchased by calling Kean Stage Box Office at 1-908-737-7469, online at www.keanstage.com, or at Kean University’s Wilkins Theater Box Office, 1000 Morris Avenue.
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