Each year the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences invites countries to submit a single film for consideration in the competitive category of Foreign Language Film. This series offers a choice sampling of some of the finest among the 85 films which have been accepted for this year’s competition.

Series programmed by Karen Davis and Janis Plotkin

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(El ciudadano ilustre)

Friday, January 6  •  5:30

A Nobel Prize-winning writer accepts an invitation to visit his hometown in Argentina. The tiny hamlet of Salas and its residents have been the inspiration for all of his books. After a hero’s welcome, he soon learns to expect the unexpected from the real people whose lives he used to create the characters in his novels. Featuring Oscar Martinez, who won Best Actor at the 2016 Venice Festival for his nuanced portrayal. In Spanish with English subtitles. Directors: Gastón Duprat, Mariano Cohn. 117 min.

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Friday, January 6   •   8:00

This striking period drama by Andrei Konchalovsky (Runaway Train) reveals the price of loyalty to one’s convictions. Russian noblewoman Olga is arrested and imprisoned in occupied France for sheltering Jewish children.  She ends up in a concentration camp where she rekindles a romance with Helmut, now a Nazi SS officer. Seeing that the tide of war is quickly turning against the Nazis, they plot their escape. In French, German & Russian with English subtitles. 131 min

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Saturday, January 7  •  3:00

Gianfranco Rosi’s stunning documentary focuses on the tiny Sicilian island of Lampedusa, a key entry point for refugees fleeing war and persecution in Africa.  Brilliantly juxtaposing the lives of local residents like young Samuele, a slingshot aficionado and his doting grandmother, with heart-wrenching portraits of the refugees, Fire at Sea reveals the subtle connections between the micro and macro realities of our globalized world. In Italian with English subtitles. 114 min.

AWARDS: Winner, Golden Bear, 2016 Berlin International Film Festival
MVFF39 Official Selection

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(Hymyilevä mies)

Saturday, January 7  •  5:30

Winner of a top award at Cannes, Juho Kuosmanen’s debut feature recounts the tale of legendary Finnish boxer Olli Mäki and his bid for the 1962 World Featherweight title. Small-town hero Olli trains to win, but there’s just one problem: he’s fallen in love. Suffused with quirky Nordic humor, this is no ordinary fight flick. A real knockout! In Finnish with English subtitles. 92 min.

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Saturday, January 7  •  7:30

Young classics professor Julieta has a passionate life-changing encounter with a beautiful fisherman. Decades later, another chance encounter brings startling news that shakes up her life once again. This is classic Pedro Almodóvar, filled with powerhouse performances and tender melodramatics. In perhaps his strongest film to date, Spain’s premier auteur adapts three Alice Munro short stories into one gorgeous tale of passion, grief and longing. In Spanish with English subtitles. 99 min.

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(Cartas da Guerra)

Sunday, January 8  •  2:30

Angola,1971. Antonio, a young medic, is conscripted into the army during Portugal’s colonial war. Amid the certainty of suffering and the uncertainty of outcome, only the desire-filled love letters he writes to his wife at home can save him. Director Ivo Ferreira’s gorgeous black and white imagery turns the brutality of war into a poetic cry for peace. In Portuguese with English subtitles. 105 min.

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(Kalo Pothi)

Sunday, January 8  •  5:00

Mixing humor, tragedy and beautiful fantasy, first time writer/director Min Bahadur Bham borrows from his own experience growing up in a segregated village in Northern Nepal during the Maoist insurgency. The story centers on two boys, inseparable friends divided by caste, who concoct a plan to sell the eggs of a prized and pampered black hen. In Nepali with English subtitles. 90 minutes.

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Sunday, January 8  •  7:00

Aiman, an ambitious young correctional officer, will do anything it takes to be transferred to Singapore’s highest-security prison. His drive to become apprentice to the chief executioner Rahim is born of a desire to reconnect with a past that haunts him. Award winning Director Boo Jenfeng’s stylized tale dazzled audiences at Cannes last May. In Malay with English Subtitles. 97 min.

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Monday, January 9  •  6:00

16-year-old Ari is sent from Reykjavik to live with his estranged father in a remote fishing village in northern Iceland’s stunning Westfjords. The gifted and sensitive choirboy soon encounters bullying from the locals and gruff scorn from his father. In this cold, barren landscape, how will he survive? Writer/director Rúnar Rúnarsson’s extraordinary coming of age drama has won over 20 top festival awards. In Icelandic with English subtitles. 99 min.

Please note: This film contains a scene of sexual assault that might be disturbing for some viewers.

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(Under sandet)

Monday, January 9  •  8:15

As the 1945 defeat of Nazi Germany ends its bitter five-year occupation of Denmark, in a conflation of justice and revenge, some 2,000 German POWs are given the treacherous task of removing more than a million live landmines. On a barren sandy beach on the remote west coast, Writer-director Martin Zandvliet skillfully addresses sensitive issues of postwar culpability, while shifting our perceptions of perpetrators and victims. In German and Danish with English subtitles. 100 min

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Tuesday, January 10  •  6:00

Venice Film Festival winner Tanna is the tale of young lovers caught between the traditions and taboos of their tribe and following the desires of their hearts. Co-directors Bentley Dean and Martin Butler spent 7 months with the Yakel people of the South Pacific island of Vanuatu, developing a collaborative script based on actual events. The results are sensuous, magical and unforgettable. In Nauvhal with English subtitles. 104 min.

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Tuesday, January 10  •  8:15

Amid strikingly beautiful and stark landscapes, this true story of underage marriage reflects the painful reality of Yemeni tribal culture and the vulnerability of girls. Forced by her father to marry a man three times her age, Nojoom escapes her family and files for divorce in court. Wiser than her years, she has unshakeable resolve. In Arabic with English subtitles. Writer/Director: Khadija Al-Salami. 99 minutes.

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Wednesday, January 11  •  6:00

Q&A via Skype with director Pietra Brettkelly following screening

An extraordinary documentary that literally blows the dust off of 100 years of conflict, revealing cinematic gems of the Afghani film archives that were ravaged, burned and banned by Taliban interdiction. As brave archivists thread projectors with film from unmarked reels, the country’s rich history comes alive with images of former leaders, beloved actresses, and landmarks now gone. In Dari with English subtitles. 93 min.

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Wednesday, January 11  •  8:30

In a finale to an illustrious moviemaking career, director Andrzej Wajda (who passed away in October) charts the life of the passionate artist Wladyslaw Strzeminski, who battled Stalinist orthodoxy and his own physical impairments to advance his progressive ideas about art. Strzeminski was considered a peer of Kandinsky and a pioneer of the Polish Constructivist avant-garde of the 1920s and 30s. In Polish with English subtitles. 98 min.

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Thursday, January 12  •  6:30

This gutsy, unpredictable comedy-drama from acclaimed German writer-director Maren Ade examines the complexities of father-daughter relationships with candor, heart, and one of the nerviest mid-movie twists in a long time. This Cannes sensation, winner of the festival’s critics prize, goes down surreal, outrageous paths, but at its core, Toni Erdmann illustrates how children struggle to break free of their parents, only to learn that those emotional bonds aren’t so easy to sever. In German and Romanian with English subtitles. 162 min.

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