FRIDAY, JANUARY 4 –  THURSDAY, JANUARY, 10

Each year the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences invites countries to submit a single film for consideration in the competition category of Foreign Language Film. This year 87 films have been accepted for competition and, for the 16th consecutive year, the Smith Rafael Film Center offers a choice sampling. This is a rare opportunity to view some of the most distinguished works in international cinema, many of which are film festival prizewinners. Series programmed by Janis Plotkin and Karen Davis.

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RUBEN BLADÉS IS NOT MY NAME

PANAMA

Friday, January 4  •  5:30
Sunday, January 6  •  6:00

Latin American icon Rubén Blades is one of the most beloved singer-songwriters of his generation. In the 1970s his socially charged lyrics and explosive rhythms introduced salsa music to an international audience. Blades won 17 Grammys, acted in Hollywood, earned a law degree from Harvard and even ran for president in his native Panama. He opens up with unusual candor in this absorbing documentary.  In Spanish and English with English subtitles. Director: Abner Benaim. 85 min.

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NEVER LOOK AWAY

GERMANY

Friday, January 4   •   7:30

Spanning three eras of German history, this drama from Oscar-winning filmmaker Florian Henckel von Donnersarck (The Lives of Others) tells the story of Kurt (Tom Schilling), a young artist (loosely based on Gerhard Richter) who falls in love with fellow student Ellie (Paula Beer). Her father (Sebastian Koch), a respected doctor, is dismayed by his daughter’s choice and vows to destroy the relationship. Rated R. In German with English subtitles. 188 min.

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ELDORADO

SWITZERLAND

Saturday, January 5  •  3:00

Director Markus Imhoof reflects on the contemporary international refugee crisis. From the relocation camps of Southern Italy to asylum hearings in Switzerland, the film presents a deeply compassionate portrait of human migration, and the search for that mythical city of gold – El Dorado. Winner, Amnesty International Film Prize, Berlin Film Festival. In German, French, Italian and Kurdish with English subtitles. Director: Markus Imhoof. 90 min.

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THE HEIRESSES

PARAGUAY

Saturday, January 5  •  5:00
Wednesday, January 9  •  7:45

The longterm relationship between Cela and Chiquita is deteriorating, particularly since each started selling off the riches she had inherited to help manage their complicated financial situation. When Chiquita is sent to prison for fraud, Chela is obliged to leave the comfort of her petit bourgeoisie existence and start running a personal taxi service. One day she meets Angy a younger and charismatic woman… Winner, Best Actress (Ana Brun) at the 2018 Berlin Film Festival.  In Spanish with English subtitles. Writer/Director: Marcello Martinessi.  98 min.

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DOGMAN

ITALY

Saturday, January 5  •  7:15

Marcello, a gentle dog-groomer and doting dad, wants nothing more than to be a peace-keeper in his Southern Italian rough-and-tumble seaside village. But his friendship with Simone, a small-time palooka with an outsized anger management problem, bodes well for neither man nor beast. When the community leans on Marcello to banish the criminal from their midst, his dogged loyalties are wrongly placed, with escalating stakes. Winner: Best Actor (Marcello Fonte), Cannes Film Festival.  In Italian with English subtitles. Director: Matteo Garrone. 103 min.

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THE WILD PEAR TREE

TURKEY

Sunday, January 6  •  2:00

Sinan, an aspiring writer, returns home after university hoping to scrape enough money together to publish his first novel. He wanders the town encountering old flames and obstinate gatekeepers and finds his youthful ambition increasingly at odds with the deferred dreams of his father. An evocative, richly layered tale of creative struggle and familial responsibility, this is one of master director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s most personal works to date. In Turkish with English subtitles. 188 min.

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MARLINA THE MURDERER IN FOUR ACTS

INDONESIA

Sunday, January 6  •  8:00

In the deserted hills of an Indonesian island, Marlina, a young widow, is robbed by bandits of her livestock . When she is sexually attacked, she shrewdly defends herself, setting out on a journey to find justice, empowerment and redemption.  But the road is long, especially when she begins to be haunted by the ghost of her victim.  A courageous revenge fantasy, rooted in both the #MeToo movement and in Indonesia’s contemporary gender conditions. In Indonesian with English subtitles. Director: Mouly Surya. 93 min.

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WOMAN AT WAR

ICELAND

Monday, January 7  •  5:30

Halla is a mild-mannered village choir director with a secret life as an eco-activist, able to down a power plant with one single arrow. But in her domestic life, she dreams of adopting a Ukrainian orphan. As the net tightens around her, Halla’s life and future are on the line. Imbued with devilish Nordic humor, Woman at War is pure joy to behold. Winner, Nordic Council Film Prize. In Icelandic with English subtitles. Director: Benedikt Erlingsson. 101 min.

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THE GUILTY

DENMARK

Monday, January 7  •  8:00

In the shadows of a late-night police dispatch station, a young officer on duty is lured into a web of danger and suspense by a series of untraceable calls from a desperate young mother. This taut, expertly crafted, Hitchcockian nail-biter is no ordinary Danish whodunit. Like the best classical thrillers, it relies more on what you don’t see than what you do. Winner, Sundance Audience Award. In Danish with English subtitles. Director: Gustav Möller. 85 min.

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YOMEDDINE

EGYPT

Tuesday, January 8  •  5:30

Known as “Mr. Charisma” at an Egyptian leper colony, Beshay earns a living selling salvageable items from the village dump. Grieving the loss of his wife, he embarks on a desert journey to find the family that abandoned him in childhood, accompanied by a 10-year-old Nubian orphan nicknamed “Obama”. Yomeddine is a magical film filled with gentle humor and unforgettable moments of grace. Winner, François Chalais Award, Cannes. In Arabic with English subtitles. Director: A.B. Shawky. 97 min.

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I AM NOT A WITCH

UNITED KINGDOM

Tuesday, January 8  •  7:45

9-year-old Shula, accused of witchcraft, is exiled to a camp run by corrupt officials. Tethered to other “witches” by a long white ribbon, she hears she will turn into a goat if she escapes. As a child witch, Shula is a local star, but as her awareness grows, she must decide whether to remain a witch, or flee to freedom. A visually stunning, boldly satirical feminist fable. Winner, BAFTA Film Award. In Nyanja with English subtitles. Director: Rungano Nyoni. 93 min.

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YELLOW IS FORBIDDEN

NEW ZEALAND

Wednesday, January 9  •  5:30

Survivor of the Cultural Revolution and graduate of China’s proletarian “Number 2 Light Industrial School”, aspiring designer Guo Pei is a fish out of water, but with her turbocharged need to succeed, she will stop at nothing until her creations are accepted by Paris’ chief arbiters of Haute Couture. This documentary features a gown spun by 300 embroiderers, a 50 lb. dress designed for popstar Rihanna. A treat for fashionistas! In Chinese with English subtitles. Director: Pietra Brettkelly. 97 min.

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SECRET INGREDIENT

MACEDONIA

Thursday, January 10  •  5:30

Underemployed, thirty-something Vele uses stolen marijuana to make a cake for his father to relieve his cancer pain. He suddenly finds himself cornered by the criminals who want their drugs back and the nosy neighbors who want the recipe for the “healing” cake.  Set in a modern-day Macedonia battered by economic turbulence, this humane and relatable dark comedy explores the universal terrain of family tensions, the dangers of superstition and the healing power of love.  In Macedonian with English subtitles. Director: Gjorce Stavreski.  104 min.

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SUNSET

HUNGARY

Thursday, January 10  •  7:45

Filmmaker László Nemes’ powerful follow-up to his Oscar-winning Son of Saul is set in 1913 Budapest on the eve of World War I. Young Irisz Leiter arrives in the Hungarian capital with hopes to work as a milliner at Leiter, the legendary hat store founded by her late parents. Searching for a brother she has never known, Irisz discovers symptoms of tyranny, war and the death throes of the Austro-Hungarian empire. 142 min. 

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