Well, it's that time of the year again when the movie industry turns their attention to Montpelier, VT for the annual glitzy show-of-shows...the Green Mountain Film Festival. OK, I know...nobody in the industry probably even knows it exists. But somehow, each year, copies of a few dozen indie films get mailed to Montpelier to entertain the frozen masses. My wife and I will get a babysitter to go see one of the movies but since I don't know anything about any of these films, I was hoping the astutue readers in this forum could steer us to a worthwhile film. Or if there aren't any good films listed, please let us know and we'll find something else to do with our rare freedom from parenthood. Thanks for the help. Here's the list of films: ABOUNA Life in a small community in the African nation of Chad is vividly evoked in this tale of two young brothers (ages 15 and 8) whose lives are changed when their father deserts his family without a word. Thinking they've seen their father in a film at the town's cinema, they steal the reel, which leads to their being sent to an Islamic school.The Guardian: "This is a beautifully gentle and lucid film....Rich in understated humanity, it is a film about love and loss, imbued with the most profound tenderness towards children and childhood." 81 minutes, in Chad Arabic with subtitles. Community Partner: Association of Africans Living in Vermont. ALMOST PEACEFUL This gentle, often humorous and touching character-driven film by the veteran director Michel Deville is a Holocaust film with a difference, in that its focus is on the reconstruction of post-war daily life. In Paris, 1946, Jewish tailor Albert and his wife are reestablishing their business, hiring experienced workers, many of them camp survivors. On workdays, men and women cut, stitch and fit clothes. Tentatively, they get to know one another and relationships develop. Variety: "A thoroughly charming ensemble piece that is in the best French tradition of high-quality cinema." 90 minutes. In French with subtitles. Community Partner: Beth Jacob Synagogue. BEYOND 88 KEYS For the past 15 years, Central Vermonters have experienced the musical intelligence and extraordinary talent of pianist Michael Arnowitt. Middlesex filmmaker Susan Bettmann's study features music by Bach, Brahms, Debussy and Schonberg and reveals many facets of Arnowitt: his years as a prodigy, his political activism and his challenges with reduced vision. 70 minutes. Post-film event: after the SUNDAY, MARCH 21 show, Michael Arnowitt will perform at Bethany Church at 4:30 PM. Susan Bettmann will discuss the film after each showing. Sponsored by Primmer and Piper, P.C. Community Partner: Capital City Concerts. BONHOEFFER Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian living in Germany during World War II, took his faith outside the church when he became part of a resistance movement plotting the assassination of Hitler; two weeks before World War II ended, he was murdered in a concentration camp. Martin Doblmaier's documentary shares Bonhoeffer's life and his unusual commitment to his faith through interviews with historians, theologians, friends, and family members. Doblmaier explains," Many of the issues Bonhoeffer faced - the role of the church in the modern world, national loyalty and personal conscience, what the call to being a 'peacemaker' really means - are issues we continue to struggle with today." 90 minutes, in English and German with subtitles. Post-film event: Discussion after the MONDAY, MARCH 22 show with members of the Vermont Ecumenical Council. Community Partner: American Friends Service Committee. DADDY AND PAPA Through the stories of four families, including filmmaker Johnny Symons' own, this film delves into the particular challenges facing gay men who decide to adopt. From surrogacy and interracial adoption, to the complexities of gay divorce, to the battle for full legal status as parents, DADDY & PAPA presents a revealing and often humorous look at the men who are breaking new ground in the ever-changing landscape of the American family. Variety: "A touching first-hand account of the rewards and challenges of the gay fatherhood experience." 65 minutes. Post-film event: Discussion following the SUNDAY, MARCH 21 showing with Sam and Craig Abel-Palmer, adoptive fathers of three children. Community Partners: Mountain Pride Media, Out in the Mountains, Samara Foundation, R.U.1.2? ELEPHANT Casually, the camera wanders the high school as teachers and students arrive, interact, and go about the business of their day, attending classes, playing sports, meeting in the hallways. It's a day like any other, until it's the day none of them will forget. Gus Van Sant's controversial film, the Grand Prize Winner at the Cannes Film Festival last year, imagines how the day progressed at Columbine High School and "offers no explanation, insights or theories about the events . . .It simply looks at the day as it unfolds, and that is a brave and radical act." (Roger Ebert) 81 minutes. GIRAFFES A missed ride to meet a blind date leads a lonely secretary into a multitude of plot complications, involving a movie part, a dead cab driver, a bag full of money and a magazine expose. Variety described Tzahi Grad's film as "one of the smartest, most purely enjoyable Israeli films in years. . . By turns sexy, farcical and mysterious, the film boasts a polished look, witty dialogue and a very appealing cast." 115 minutes, in Hebrew and French with subtitles. HOP Justin, a young African boy and Dieudonne, his father---both refugees from Burundi---are living illegally in Belgium. Through a series of events started by an incident with their neighbors, the boy ends up in trouble with the law, and separated from his father, who is threatened with deportation. An African folktale proves to be a source of inspiration for Justin as he hatches a plan to reunite with his deported father, enlisting the aid of a crotchety but goodhearted former radical and his devoted housekeeper. While dealing with the divisive issues of immigration and social integration, HOP is also a whimsical, affectionate and beautiful looking (digitally shot in black and white) film. 104 minutes, in French and Flemish with subtitles. Sponsored by Film Movement. Community Partner: Vermont Refugee Assistance. HUKKLE Almost wordless and bizarrely creative, this Hungarian film (pronounced Hoo-clay) by director Gyorgi Palfi has been a hit on the international festival circuit. We are invited to examine life in a rural Hungarian village at a microscopic level - and if we look closely enough, we'll see that we're involved in a murder mystery as well. Stephen Holden of The New York Times writes,"If you're attracted to pure, exquisitely photographed cinematic depictions of the world, you could almost lie down in HUKKLE as if it were a meadow and soak in its sun drenched atmosphere...Director Palfi insinuates a radically skewed vision of the food chain in which all species are interconnected and equal in life and death." 75 minutes, no dialog. JAMES' JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM In this charming fable, James, a young man living in a small African village, is sent by his church on a mission to the Promised Land. But on arriving in Israel, it is assumed by officials that he is an illegal immigrant wanting work and is immediately put in jail. He is released from prison only to find his rescuer is a manpower agent who exploits illegal immigrants as cheap labor. James, played beautifully by South African actor Siyabonga Melongisi Shibe, soon learns the tricks of the game and never loses his optimistic outlook on life. Box Office: "a smart and satisfying parable." 95 minutes, in English and Hebrew with subtitles. Community Partner: Vermont Refugee Assistance. MARION BRIDGE Three sisters confront their painful pasts in director Wiebke von Carolsfeld's beautifully acted drama. With their hard-drinking, chain-smoking mother at death's door, three sisters gather in the family's small-town home in Sydney, on Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island. Two of the siblings never strayed far from where they were raised, but the youngest (stunningly played by Molly Parker) has returned from Toronto, where she has been fighting ghosts of her past. This story of small triumphs and everyday sorrows is never maudlin or sentimental, and Parker's luminous portrayal of the troubled but determined Agnes sets a standard that's matched by the rest of the cast. 90 minutes. Sponsored by Film Movement. Community Partner: Vermont Commission on Women. MORNING SUN This revealing film, directed by Carma Hinton, Richard Gordon and Geremie Barme, chronicles the chaos and loss that reigned during the Chinese Cultural Revolution under Chairman Mao's rule. Says one participant: "It was an age ruled by both the poet and the executioner; poets scattered roses everywhere, while the executioner cast a long shadow of terror." Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times: "MORNING SUN does a thoughtful job of streamlining the bloody realities - both literal and psychological - of China's Cultural Revolution into roughly two hours of film." 116 minutes, in English and Mandarin with subtitles. Post-film event: director Carma Hinton will discuss the film after the SATURDAY, MARCH 20 show. MY ARCHITECT Louis Kahn was one of the great 20th century architects, whose work includes the Salk Institute in La Jolla and his most ambitious achievement, the capital of Bangladesh in Dacca. When Louis Kahn died of a heart attack in 1976, he had already been a mostly absent father to 11-year-old Nathaniel, whose mother was one of Louis Kahn's two long-time secret partners. In this film, recently nominated for the Best Documentary Oscar, Nathaniel Kahn attempts to uncover and understand the mystery and complexity of Louis Kahn as both a father and an artist. 116 minutes. Community Partner: AIA Vermont. NOTHING LIKE DREAMING Nora Jacobson's latest film, shot in Montpelier, is a coming of age story about compassion, the freedom to be different, and the mystery of the creative process. Emma (Morgan Bicknell) is a bright 17-year-old, traumatized by the loss of her best friend and struggling with a difficult family situation. She finds solace in the company of the reclusive Sonny Gale (George Woodard), who lives in an abandoned factory where he forges steel and makes fire sing in his sculptures. Says the filmmaker, "I wanted to explore the transition from adolescence to adulthood and the boundaries between sanity and madness...the story is about two people who, despite great differences in age and status, form a friendship based on compassion and acceptance." 103 minutes. Sponsored by Cheney, Brock and Saudek, P.C. Post-film event: filmmaker Nora Jacobson will discuss the film after both shows. OPEN HEARTS The gritty realism of the "Dogme" filmmaking approach gives an immediacy and edge to this unusual and provocative Danish film. Cecilie and Joachim are young, happy and in love, until a sudden accident changes both of their lives forever. The New York Times: "The differences between a soap opera and a serious drama are starkly illustrated in Susanne Bier's emotionally wrenching film. . . The movie takes two strands of soap opera convention - a life-changing accident and an adulterous affair - and spins their suds into gold." 114 minutes, in Danish with subtitles. OT:OUR TOWN A high school in the Compton area of Los Angeles might seem an unlikely place for a production of Thornton Wilder's "Our Town," especially since students at Dominguez High School haven't attempted a production in twenty years. But with English teacher Catherine Borek encouraging and persuading the students, they begin rehearsal. Following the students' discoveries of what might seem unlikely connections between their lives and community and Wilder's New Hampshire town of Grover's Corners, director Scott Hamilton Kennedy ventures beyond rehearsals into the home and school lives of these mostly Latino and African American students. 96 minutes. Sponsored by Richard Jenney and Film Movement. Community Partners: Governor's Institute of Vermont, Phantom Theater. POSTMEN IN THE MOUNTAINS A father and son take a three-day journey on foot through the mountains of the Hunan province of China; it is the father's last trip as postman and it is his son's first. The 112-mile, sometimes perilous journey is not only a chance for the father to impart the route and the job to his son, but also a chance for the two of them to explore their relationship and reflect on their lives. The film takes us not only into the lives and relationship of father and son, but also takes us into the beauty and solitude of the landscape. 100 minutes, in Chinese with subtitles. Sponsored by The Artisan's Hand. THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED This remarkable documentary by two Irish journalists chronicles the ousting of populist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, on April 12, 2002, and his reinstatement two days later after a mass public uprising. Kim Bartley and Donnacha O'Briain were planning to film a portrait of Chavez, and fortuitously found themselves inside the presidential palace during the weekend of the coup. Stephen Holden of The New York Times writes:"More than a scary close-up look at the raw mechanics of a power grab, the film is also a cautionary examination of the use of television to deceive and manipulate the public." 74 minutes. Community Partners: Peace and Justice Center, American Friends Service Committee. SINCE OTAR LEFT The richly deserving winner of the grand prize in the International Critics Week at Cannes this year, Julie Bertonelli's film is an exquisitely bittersweet drama set in Tblisi, the crumbling capital of the post-Soviet republic of Georgia. Three generations of women -- the stoically beautiful Ada, her lusty mother Marina, and whip-smart grandmother Eka -- live together in a book-filled apartment. When news comes that Marina's brother Otar has been killed while on the job in France, Maria and Ada decide to conceal his death rather than break Eka's heart. Yet their lie soon spawns larger and larger ones. The New York Times: "SINCE OTAR LEFT sustains a perfect balance of pathos, humor and a clear-headed realism." 102 minutes, in Georgian and French with subtitles. Sponsored by terry Doran and Deborah Richter. Community Partner: Vermont Commission on Women. SOUNDS OF BRAZIL With its tangled influences from indigenous peoples, African slaves, Portuguese and other emigres, Brazilian music is incredibly complex. Finnish director Mika Kaurismaki grew so deeply enamored of this music - and curious about the origins of the samba - that he undertook a 2500-mile journey through Brazil to document the range of sounds. Variety: "An exhilerating sweep through Brazilian music, with an emphasis on music's role in everyday life." 83 minutes, in English and Portuguese with subtitles. Sponsored by Figrig Web Crafters and Hunger Mountain Coop. Post-film event: after the FRIDAY, MARCH 26 show, Burlington-based Sambatucada will provide music for a samba dance party at Bethany Church at 8:30 PM. TO BE AND TO HAVE Director Nicolas Philibert says,"At its heart the film speaks about how difficult it is to grow up." This French documentary reminds us of education's potential: to teach us how to live. It is the story of the gifted teacher Georges Lopez, his students, and the one-room school house they share in the Auvergne region of rural France. As the film follows the class over the course of a year, we get to know the students and their lives in and out of the classroom. Toronto Globe and Mail: "It's a sublime portrait of grace in an imperfect world." 102 minutes, in French with subtitles. Community Partner: Vermont National Education Association. I VITELLONI A rough translation of the title of Federico Fellini's 1953 film, shown here in a beautifully restored version, is "The Young Bulls," referring to the five aimless buddies approaching thirty in a sleepy Italian coast town. A.O. Scott, The New York Times: "Without this sweet, lyrical story, we would probably not have AMERICAN GRAFFITI, MEAN STREETS or DINER. . . It shows all of Fellini's unrivaled virtues - his lyrical sense of place, his abiding affection for even the most hapless of his characters, his effortless knack for bustling composition - and very few of his later vices . . . There is no grandiosity, no self-mythologizing, no theatricality for its own sake." 103 minutes, in Italian with subtitles. Sponsored by Sarducci's Restaurant. WHAT I WANT MY WORDS TO DO TO YOU This moving film offers an unprecedented look into the minds and hearts of the women inmates of New York's Bedford Correctional Facility; it goes inside a writing workshop led by playwright Eve Ensler, consisting of 15 women, most of whom were convicted of murder. Through a series of exercises and discussions, the women, including former Weather Underground members Kathy Boudin and Judith Clark, and New Hampshire schoolteacher Pamela Smart, grapple with the nature of their crimes and their own culpability. The film culminates in an emotionally charged prison performance of the women's writing by actresses Glenn Close, Rosie Perez and Marisa Tomei. 75 minutes. Post-film event: Producer Judith Katz will discuss the film after the SATURDAY, MARCH 20 showing. Sponsored by The Larsen Fund. Community Partners: Vermont Commission on Women, Vermont Prisoners' Project. THE WORLD STOPPED WATCHING During the 1980's, Nicaragua's Sandinista movement and the consequent US-supported "Contra War" attracted journalists from all over the world. But what happened after the war ended in 1990 and the spotlight was turned off? This fascinating Canadian film follows several journalists who returned to Nicaragua in 2001 and found a country struggling with poverty and political corruption, unreported by the international press. They also tracked down some subjects of their most riveting reporting. The journalists include Bill Gentile, a former photographer for Newsweek; Randolph Ryan, formerly of The Boston Globe; and Gilles Paquin of the Montreal Gazette. 80 minutes, in English and Spanish with English subtitles. Post-film event: Journalist Gilles Paquin will discuss the film after the SATURDAY, MARCH 20 show. Community Partners: Peace and Justice Center, American Friends Service Committee. YOU CAN'T BE NEUTRAL ON A MOVING TRAIN Deb Ellis and Denis Mueller's film documents the life and times of historian and activist Howard Zinn. Zinn, now 82, believes that historians cannot simply chronicle the past, but must also actively participate in the present. The film traces the trajectory of Zinn's life from his early childhood in the slums of New York City; his work and organizing in the shipyards of New York; his experiences as a bombardier during World War II; teaching history at the all-black Spelman College; and his involvement in the Vietnam War protests in the 60's. There are interviews with Alice Walker and Marion Wright Edelman (former Spelman students), Tom Hayden, Noam Chomsky and others. 78 minutes. Sponsored by Vermont Compost Company. Community Partners: Peace and Justice Center, American Friends Service Committee, Adult Degree Program of Vermont College. Post-film event: Co-director Deb Ellis will discuss the film after the SATURDAY, MARCH 27 show.