“Contemporary Classics of International Film” series in May; films to be presented by cinema experts from Yale Film & Media Studies

Best Video Film & Cultural Center continues its film screening renaissance in May with a four-film series “Contemporary Classics of International Cinema.”

Starting on Tues., May 3, and running four successive Tuesdays, the series will showcase acclaimed movies from Belgium, Mauritania, Japan, and Iran, all released within the past decade. Each film will be presented by—and feature a post-film discussion led by—a faculty member of the Yale University Film & Media Studies department. Each screening starts at 7 PM and admission to each is $7.

The four films are:

Tues. May 3: “Two Days, One Night” (2014, Belgium, dir. by Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne, presented by Dudley Andrew)
Tues., May 10: “Timbuktu” (2014, Mauritania, dir. by Abderrahmane Sissako, presented by Dudley Andrew)
Tues., May 17: “Shoplifters” (2018, Japan, dir. by Kore-Eda Hirokazu, presented by Aaron Gerow)
Tues., Apr. 24: “The Salesman” (2016, Iran, dir. by Asghar Farhadi, presented by Farbod Honarpisheh)

Support for this series has been provided to Best Video Film & Cultural Center from CT Humanities (CTH), with funding provided by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) from the Connecticut State Legislature.

“Two Days, One Night” is a riveting Belgium/French/Italian social drama directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. It follows Sandra, a factory worker played by Marion Cotillard, who attempts to return to work after a month’s medical leave for depression. She finds, however, that in the interim the company has offered her co-workers €1,000 bonuses to make her redundant, leaving her job in doubt. Over the course of two days and one night, she attempts to convince her co-workers to forego the bonuses so she can keep her job.

“Timbuktu,” a Mauritanian/French production directed by Abderrahmane Sissako and set in the Malian city, dramatizes the hardships resulting from an occupation of the city by fundamentalist jihadists. A New York Times Critic’s Pick, the “glory” of “Timbuktu,” according to critic A.O. Scott, “lies in its devotion to local knowledge, in the way it allows its gaze to wander away from violence toward images of beauty and grace.”

Both “Two Days, One Night” and “Timbuktu” will be introduced by Dudley Andrew, who will also lead a post-film discussion. Dudley Andrew at Yale University is biographer of “André Bazin,” whose ideas he extends in “What Cinema Is!,” “Opening Bazin,” and in his editing and translating of themed collections of Bazin. With two books on 1930s French Cinema, Andrew was named Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and gained the Lifetime Achievement Award from SCMS. His current projects include issues in world cinema (migration) and comparative arts.

“Shoplifters,” directed by Kore-eda Hirokazu, is a family drama that delves deep on themes of poverty and connection. New York Times critic Manohla Dargis wrote, “Kore-eda’s great subject is the contemporary family, a topic that gives him an immensity of themes, including loss, love, class, alienation in the modern world and just about everything else.” It was nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards.

Aaron Gerow will introduce “Shoplifters” and moderate the post-film discussion. Gerow is Professor of East Asian cinema and culture at Yale University and has published widely on variety of topics in Japanese film and popular culture. His books include “Visions of Japanese Modernity: Articulations of Cinema, Nation, and Spectatorship, 1895-1925” (2010); “A Page of Madness: Cinema and Modernity in 1920s Japan” (2008); and “Kitano Takeshi” (2007). He also runs his own Japanese film website Tangemania (www.aarongerow.com).

The series wraps up with Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s 2016 Oscar-winning Best Foreign Film “The Salesman.” Farhadi wraps a gripping drama of violence, marital discord, and patriarchy around a theater company’s attempt to mount a production of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.” New York Times critic A.O. Scott wrote that, “Not since Pedro Almodóvar’s ‘All About My Mother,’ which brilliantly re-engineered ‘A Streetcar Named Desire,’ has a classic of the American stage been put to such ingenious cinematic use.”

Farbod Honarpisheh, who presents “The Salesman,” is currently a postdoctoral associate with Yale’s Film and Media Studies Program. His dissertation, “Fragmented Allegories of National Authenticity: Art and Politics of the Iranian New Wave Cinema of the 1960s and 1970s,” was completed at Columbia University. His research interests intersect film and media theory and history, critical theory, Iranian and Middle Eastern cinemas, comparative modernist studies (visual and literary), intermediality, the modern city, postcolonial theory, migration, and documentary studies.