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AFI Fest unveils preem-heavy lineup

Caine retro, Latin, European, Asian showcases included

See lineupThe AFI Film Festival has announced its lineup for the 2002 edition of the event, selecting 134 films from 2,080 entries. Submissions increased by 18% over 2001.

The fest will screen 12 features, 12 documentaries and 32 short films from 37 countries including 48 US premieres and 6 world premieres. Event runs Nov. 7-17 and will be headquartered at the ArcLight Hollywood, with screenings at ArcLight ( as well as five dedicated festival screening rooms as part of the ‘festival village’) and 3 Galas at the Cinerama Dome.

In addition to a tribute to actor Michael Caine, special screenings hosted by Leonard Maltin, as well as a retrospective of six classic Caine films at the Skirball Cultural Center, November 11, 12 and 13.

Sections at the AFI include competitions for international, short and docu films. Fest will also screen features in noncompetitive Latin, European and Asian showcases and American Directions sections.

Special screening section will include “Only the Strong Survive,” by documentarians D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, Phillip Noyce’s Michael Caine starrer “The Quiet American,” Phillip Noyce’s “Rabbit Proof Fence,” and David Cronenberg’s “Spider,” as well as the “Made in Germany” program presented in cooperation with the Export-Union of German Cinema showcasing 10 features and documentaries including Germany’s boxoffice hits “Nowhere in Africa” and “Manitou’s Shoe,” as well as Marlene Dietrich’s debut in a femme fatal role in “Three Loves,” from director Curtis Bernhardt.

“AFI Fest has become the festival of record for international cinema here in Los Angeles each year,” said AFI Fest director Christian Gaines. “Our 2002 program is remarkable in the diversity of voices and visions from all corners of the world and the way it reflects the diversity of Los Angeles.”

Added Nancy Collet, AFI Fest’s director of programming: “From international masters to new filmmakers–Im Kwon-Taek. Ken Loach and Pedro Almodovar to Manon Briand, Sherine Salama and Claude Duty, to name just a few–the 2002 lineup brings the best of world cinema to a single venue and forum for Angelenos to discover.”

AFI 2002 Fest opens with the US premiere of Denzel Washington’s directorial debut “Antwone Fisher” and will close with Pedro Almodovar’s “Talk to Her.” The festival’s centerpiece gala Nov. 12 is the US premiere of Canadian writer/director Atom Egoyan’s pic “Ararat.”

AFI Film Festival Lineup


AN ADOLESCENT–US Premiere–A reckless affair between an adolescent girl and a middle-aged policeman becomes a search for individuality, freedom and pure love. (JAPAN, 2001, 132 MIN, DIR Eiji Okuda; SCR Izuru Narushima, Katsuhiko Manabe)

BLISSFULLY YOURS–US Premiere–A rare example of indie filmmaking produced outside the Thai studio system, BLISSFULLY YOURS is the tale of three characters living on the border of Thailand and Burma. (Thailand, 2002, 125 MIN, DIR/SCR Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

CHAOS AND DESIRE –US Premiere–Writer/director Manon Briand has said that her connection to water is like that of a pilot to air. In her haunting second feature, she turns this possibility into a profound metaphor for the protagonist’s immobilizing detachment from her past. (Canada, 2002, 114 MIN, DIR/SCR Manon Briand)

EVERY STEWARDESS GOES TO HEAVEN–US Premiere–Teresa is a stewardess who lives in her own private heaven of pantomime and little trays of frozen food. She is afraid of the grounded world of men, love, motherhood and family, preferring a life of airports and eternal flight. (Argentina/Spain, 2002, 93 MIN, DIR Daniel Burman; SCR Daniel Burman, Emiliano Torres)

HOLD MY HEART— US Premiere–If someone stole your daughter, would you steal her back? HOLD MY HEART is a bittersweet tale about how far an ordinary guy is willing to go when someone steals what’s closest to his heart. A warm story about how a father and daughter fumble their way to a relationship they feared was long lost. (Norway, 2002, 92 MIN, DIR Trygve Allister Diesen; SCR Knut Kristiansen, Trygve Allister Diesen)

HYPNOTIZED AND HYSTERICAL (HAIR DRESSER WANTED)–US Premiere–A completely off-kilter confection with witty musical numbers. Three young women on their own individual quests meet in a hypnotic world. Each is looking for someone she has lost: Elodie wants her daughter back; Natacha, her cat; and Mariane, her soul. (France, 2002, 96 MIN, DIR Claude Duty; SCR Jean-Philippe Barrau, Pascale Faure, Claude Duty)

MAX–US Premiere–It’s 1918 in Munich and celebrated art gallery owner Max Rothman meets fellow war veteran and aspiring young artist Adolf Hitler. Max attempts to divert Hitler’s mania from politics to art, only to become the Nazi Party’s symbol of cultural corruption. (USA/Canada/Germany, 2002, 108 MIN, DIR/SCR Menno Meyjes)

OKAY–US Premiere–Nete is a woman in control of her life. She makes her own decisions about herself, her work, and her husband and child. Her father has only three weeks to live, but when he moves in with Nete it becomes clear he’s not going anywhere right away. (Denmark, 2002, 93 MIN, DIR Jesper W. Nielsen; SCR Kim Fupz Aakeson)

SAMSARA–US Premiere–Tashi, a young Buddhist monk, has been meditating in solitude for three years when he meets Pema, a peasant girl. He wants to marry her, but first he must decide whether it’s better to live a simple life devoted to prayer or to experience a real existence with her. (India/Germany, 2001, 98 MIN, DIR Pan Nalin; SCR Tim Baker, Pan Nalin)

SHATTERED GLASS–US Premiere–Based on the novel of the same name, SHATTERED GLASS is a tragically comic story about two very dissimilar brothers who finally face their past. Jesko, perceived as an unbearable cynic, is lured by his brother under false pretenses to his family’s villa. There he finds his crazy mother, whom he hasn’t seen in 20 years. (Germany, 2002, 87 MIN, DIR/SCR Chris Kraus)

SNAKESKIN–US Premiere–From the suburbs of New Zealand, Alice would like to be a cowgirl living free on Route 66. Her role models are Thelma and Louise. She has no religion, but she believes in the Force. When Alice takes to the road, it is in search of symbols and signs, of fictitious characters and familiar events. (New Zealand, 2001, 94 MIN, DIR/SCR Gillian Ashurst)

THIS IS NOT A LOVE SONG–US Premiere–Shot in only two weeks and fueled by incredibly energetic performances, THIS IS NOT A LOVE SONG chronicles two petty thieves trying to escape an unexpected event in order to return home–through marshes, heath land and dark forests–to the big city. (UK, 2002, 94 MIN, DIR Bille Eltringham; SCR Simon Beaufoy)


7TH STREET–World Premiere–“There are two ways to learn about the world. One way is to travel all over the planet and see all the different lands. And the other way is to stay in the same place.” Actor/director Josh Pais documents the many deaths and rebirths of the East Village’s 7th Street, his home since 1967. USA, 2002, 72 MIN, DIR/SCR Josh Pais)

ANONYMOUSLY YOURS–US Premiere–Deep in the uncharted world of sex trafficking in Southeast Asia, four women’s stories are exposed, revealing a reality engulfing as many as 40 million women worldwide. (Burma/USA, 2002, 87 MIN, DIR Gayle Ferraro)

BLIND SPOT: HITLER’S SECRETARY–US Premiere–In 1942, Traudl Junge, an unassuming 22-year-old typist with no interest in politics, became the personal secretary to Adolf Hitler. In 2001, after nearly 60 years of silence, she decided to speak about her experiences. (Austria, 2001, 90 MIN, DIR André Heller, Othmar Schmiderer)

CINEMANIA–The impassioned, obsessive culture of intense cinephilia is revealed as the filmmaker follows six film buffs frequenting the art house movie theaters of New York City. (USA, 2001, 80 MIN, DIR/SCR Angela Christlieb, Stephen Kijak)

FAMILY–US Premiere–This personal and compelling documentary takes a journey in pursuit of director Sami Martin’s father, who abandoned his Danish family when Sami was very young. (Denmark, 2001, 90 MIN, DIR/SCR Sami Martin Saif, Phie Ambo)

JIMMY SCOTT: IF YOU ONLY KNEW–Best known for his impossibly high singing voice, enigmatic jazz legend Jimmy Scott has been called by The New York Times “the most unjustly ignored singer of the 20th century.” This is a personal and meditative portrait of Scott and the most intimate document of Scott’s life to date. (USA, 2002, 77 MIN, DIR Matthew Buzzell; SCR Brian Gerber, Matthew Buzzell, Sylvio Sharif Tabet)

MOZAMBIQUE WHERE FILM GOES–US Premiere–This documentary chronicles the journey of a traveling cinema group–modern day buskers–who cross Mozambique bringing films to villagers who have no access to a cinema. (Italy, 2002, 80 MIN, DIR Nello Ferrieri, Raffaele Rago; SCR Elizabetta Antognoni, Nello Ferrieri)

PHOTOS TO SEND–In 1954, world-renowned photographer Dorothea Lange traveled to County Clare, Ireland, on assignment for Life magazine. In her directorial debut, Irish American cinematographer Dierdre Lynch retraces Lange’s footsteps, traveling the country roads to visit many of the same people whom Lange met nearly 50 years ago. (USA/Ireland, 2001, 89 MIN, DIR/SCR Dierdre Lynch)

PROM NIGHT IN KANSAS CITY–World Premiere–Director Hali Lee’s own prom was a drag, yet this quintessentially American ritual endures. To discover why, the filmmaker returns to his hometown of Kansas City to follow a diverse group of teenagers as they prepare for the night of their lives. (USA, 2002, 54 MIN, DIR Hali Lee, Peter von Ziegesar)

THE SMITH FAMILY–A Mormon family explores their faith and their ability to forgive when faced with infidelity, homosexuality and illness. (USA, 2002, 80 MIN, DIR Tasha Oldham)

UNPRECEDENTED: THE 2000 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION–Delving much deeper than the mainstream press into the shocking events which occurred in Florida during the November 2000 Presidential election, UNPRECEDENTED makes a compelling case for how democracy was undermined and racism flourished. (USA, 2002, 50 MIN, DIR Richard Ray Perez, Joan Sekler; SCR William Haugse, Richard Ray Perez, Joan Sekler)

A WEDDING IN RAMALLAH–A powerful and intimately observed documentary set in the West Bank town of Ramallah, A WEDDING IN RAMALLAH tells the story of a Palestinian man, Bassam, who returns home from America to find a ‘home-made bride.’ Bassam’s wedding turns out to be only the first act in a remarkable drama. (Australia, 2002, 94 MIN, DIR/SCR Sherine Salama)


Shorts Program 1 (TRT: 85 MIN)

2 MINUTES–US Premiere–Denmark, 2001, DIR/SCR Jacob Tschernia

ALCHEMY–USA/France, 2002, DIR/SCR Anna Condo

THE BOX MAN–USA, 2002, DIR/SCR Nirvan Mullick

IMAGINE YOURSELF BACK TO FRONT–US Premiere–Spain, 2001, DIR/SCR Agustina Covian

JOURNEY MAN–US Premiere–UK, 2002, DIR/SCR Dictynna Hood

LUCKY MAN–USA, 2002, DIR/SCR Rafael Lima


TV DREAM HOMES–USA, 2001, DIR Pamela Ezell

Shorts Program 2 (TRT: 103 MIN)

BOYS GIRLS–World Premiere–USA/Israel, 2002, DIR/SCR, Noaz Deshe





DIR Tiffany Shlain; SCR Tiffany Shlain, Maya Draisin, Xandra Castleton

SUV TAGGERS–USA, 2001, DIR Judith Vogelsang


WHITE LIKE THE MOON–USA, 2001, DIR/SCR Marina Gonzalez Palmier

Shorts Program 3 (TRT: 99 MIN)

AT DAWNING–US Premiere–UK, 2002, DIR/SCR Martin Jones

BATTLESHIP CONTEMPKIN–USA, 2001, DIR Chris Brown SCR Jonathan Dees

BRAZIL–US Premiere–Spain, 2001, DIR/SCR F. Javier Gutierrez

CIGAR BY CAR–USA, 2002, DIR/SCR Marlo Angell

FITS AND STARTS–USA, 2002, DIR Vince Di Meglio; SCR Vince Di Meglio, Tim Rasmussen

INA’S BIRTHDAY–US Premiere–Germany, 2001, DIR/SCR André Bergelt

MONA, MON AMOUR–US Premiere–USA, 2001, DIR Michael Sporn; SCR Patti Stren

TEMPO–US Premiere–Sweden, 2002, DIR/SCR Per Carleson

VINCENT–Belgium, 2002, DIR/SCR Gert Embrechts

Shorts Program 4 (TRT: 102 MIN)

BOOK OF KINGS–USA, 2002, DIR/SCR Chris Terrio

BYE BYE INKHEAD–Ireland, 2001, DIR Adrienne Michel Long; SCR Gai Griffin

DR. CUDDLE–US Premiere–Germany, 2001, DIR Anja Jacobs; SCR Markus Sauermann

LEFT-HANDED–Canada, 2002, DIR Baoqi Ye; SCR Baoqi Ye, Alison Humphrey

MBOUTOUKOU–Cameroon, 2002, DIR/SCR Victor Viyuoh

THE ROUTINE–USA, 2002, DIR/SCR Bob Giraldi

WORMHOLE–USA, 2002, DIR/SCR Jessica Sharzer


CIVIL BRAND–Starring DaBrat, MC Lyte, Lisa Raye and Mos Def, CIVIL BRAND is a hip-hop tale of young black women behind bars. Forced to work under slave conditions in this “prison for profit,” the women unite against the guards and try to overtake the prison. (USA, 2002, 96 MIN, DIR Neema Barnette; SCR Preston A. Whitmore, Joyce Renee Lewis)

EVENHAND–World Premiere–EVENHAND is a different kind of police story–about boredom and fear. (USA, 2002, 94 MIN, DIR Joseph Pierson; SCR Mike Jones)

I’M WITH LUCY–US Premiere–After suffering the public humiliation of her fiancé breaking up with her in a crowded Bloomingdale’s elevator, Lucy (Monica Potter) throws herself back into the dating scene with abandon. (USA, 2002, 90 MIN, DIR Jon Sherman; SCR Eric Pomerance)

LOVE LIZA–Winner of the 2002 Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance, LOVE LIZA is a beautifully drawn portrait of Wilson Joel (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a Web designer struggling for meaning following the sudden death of his wife. (USA, 2002, 93 MIN, DIR Todd Louiso; SCR Gordy Hoffman)

LOVE THE HARD WAY–Brilliant student Claire falls in love with Jack (Adrien Brody), a small-time criminal who blackmails foreign businessmen. When Jack refuses to open up to her, Claire finds a different way in. (GERMANY, 2001, 99 MIN, DIR Peter Sehr; SCR Marie Noelle, Peter Sehr, based on the novel by Wang Shuo)

SAFETY OF OBJECTS–Based on a book of short stories, SAFETY OF OBJECTS is the third film by director Rose Troche (GO FISH). The film interweaves four suburban households in a dramatic framework of subversive humor and detailed characters, with stellar performances by Glenn Close, Dermot Mulroney, Patricia Clarkson and Mary Kay Place. (USA, 2002, 120 MIN, DIR/SCR Rose Troche)

THE SLAUGHTER RULE–Shot on CinemaScope and set in rural Montana during a harsh winter, a fatherless teenager is recruited by an outsider coach to play six-man football, and must decide if the coach is a true friend or a foe. (USA, 2002, 113 MIN, DIR/SCR Alex Smith, Andrew Smith)

SOLITUDE –Sex. Betrayal. Dysfunction. Welcome to the family. A brother and sister berate, badger and bewitch each other in front of their company. (USA, 2002, 99 MIN, DIR/SCR Susan Kraker, Pi Ware)

WEST BANK BROOKLYN–World Premiere–Saddam wants everyone to think he’s Puerto Rican, Mustafa is trying to get out of an arranged marriage and Ali is trying to keep the peace. With unflinching humor, WEST BANK BROOKLYN is the story of a group of young Arab Americans trying to find their place in America. (USA, 2002, 85 MIN, DIR/SCR Ghazi Albuliwi)

XX/XY–A young artist (Mark Ruffalo) and two Sarah Lawrence grads tread on the wild side of sexual lust and drunken experimentation–relationships which are reborn a decade later. (USA, 2002, 91 MIN, DIR/SCR Austin Chick)


BALZAC AND THE LITTLE CHINESE SEAMSTRESS–US Premiere–Dai Sijie’s film adaptation of his best-selling autobiographical novel is a visually lush vision of life in a remote Chinese village in the early 1970s. (China/France, 2002, 116 MIN, DIR Dai Sijie; SCR Nadine Perront, Dai Sijie)

CHIHWASEON–Set in the 1850s, Korean master Im Kwon-Taek’s latest film chronicles the life of an artist, Kim Byung-moon, who saves young Seung-up from being beaten by a group of drifters, encouraging Seung-up to pursue art. (Korea, 2002, 117 MIN, DIR Im Kwon-Taek; SCR Kim Young-Oak, Im Kwon-Taek, based on a story by Min Byung-sam)

DARK WATER–Rich with the type of atmospheric tension found in the best horror films, DARK WATER chronicles a mother and daughter who discover the truth behind their new apartment’s dark dripping walls. (Japan, 2002, 101 MIN, DIR Hideo Nakata; SCR Yoshihiro Nakamura, Ken-ichi Suzuki, based on the book by Koji Suzuki)

THE DESERTED VALLEY–US Premiere–Winner of the Silver Lotus Award at the 2002 Vietnam Film Festival, THE DESERTED VALLEY is a poem of loneliness and an ode to humanity, in which a love tragedy between three lonely teachers compromises a remote Vietnamese school’s future. (Vietnam, 2001, 90 MIN, DIR Pham Nhue Giang; SCR Nguyen Quang Lap)

IRANIAN SPREAD–US Premiere–IRANIAN SPREAD tells the story of the cross-country travels of a bogus Iranian bank note, offering fascinating vignettes of cultural mores and interpersonal situations. (IRAN, 2002, 100 MIN, DIR/SCR Kianoosh Ayyari)

MILLENNIUM ACTRESS–Directed by renowned anime director Satoshi Kon, MILLENNIUM ACTRESS is a compelling and visually stunning romance/ adventure where fantasy and reality converge in an epic saga spanning a millennium. (Japan, 2002, 87 MIN, DIR Satoshi Kon; SCR Sadayuki Murai, Satoshi Kon)

SHAOLIN SOCCER–US Premiere–Dubbed in English, this new action comedy has become one of Hong Kong’s most successful films, due in part to the extensive and imaginative use of special effects, effectively illustrating the awesome and mystical power of Shaolin soccer. (China, 2001, 111 MIN, DIR Stephen Chow; SCR Stephen Chow, Tsang Kan Cheong)

SMALL VOICES–US Premiere–Melinda runs a small school in the far-flung provincial town of Malawig. Her students say, “Only the rich can afford to dream, we can’t,” which drives Melinda to try to teach them that poverty does not make them victims. Against the skepticism of the town, Melinda and her students join a humble singing contest. (Philippines, 2002, 109 MIN, DIR Gil M. Portes; SCR Adolfo Alix, Gil M. Portes, Sendey Que)

TO STAY ALIVE–US Premiere–TO STAY ALIVE is a story of love. The love of three young girls for a life which is socially so cruel that it takes them to the threshold of a deadly fall. (Iran, 2002, 97 MIN, DIR Dariush Mehrjoui; SCR Vahideh Mohammadifar, Dariush Mehrjoui)

THE WAY HOME –A phenomenal success in its native Korea, THE WAY HOME lovingly charts the fortunes of a spoiled city boy sent to the countryside to live with his aging grandmother. (Korea, 2002, 85 MIN, DIR/SCR Lee Jeong-Hyang)


THE CUCKOO–US Premiere–Set in September 1944, when Finland was forced to sign an armistice with the invading Soviet troops, THE CUCKOO distills the large-scale movements of history–and the quirks and foibles of three individuals–into an intimate, humorous anti-war film. (Russia, 2002, 99 MIN, DIR/SCR Alexander Rogozhkin)

DIVINE INTERVENTION–Utilizing breathtaking visuals and unflinching humor, DIVINE INTERVENTION reveals the dreams and nightmares of Palestinians and Israelis living in uncertain times. (France/Palestine/Morocco/Germany, 2002, 92 MIN, DIR/SCR Elia Suleiman)

GEBIRTIG–A tale told with melancholy, wit and irony, GEBIRTIG carries an acute awareness that all understanding and longing for love between Jews and Gentiles is overwhelmed by the burden of a never-ending past. Like Woody Allen once said, “You don’t have to Jewish to be traumatized, but it helps.”  (Austria/Germany/Poland/USA, 2002, 115 MIN, DIR/SCR Lukas Stepanik, Robert Schindel)

IRREVERSIBLE–Time destroys everything. The arrow only points one way, from our birth to our death. Irreversible. (France, 2002, 94 MIN, DIR/SCR Gaspar Noe)

THE MAN ON THE TRAIN–US Premiere–Patrice LeConte’s (RIDICULE, GIRL ON THE BRIDGE, LES BRONZES) latest film features two of France’s most famous entertainers–Jean Rochefort and Johnny Hallyday. Hallyday plays an aging gangster/thief who arrives via train in a small town, where he befriends Rochefort, a refined, retired schoolteacher. (France, 2002, 95 MIN, DIR Patrice Leconte; SCR Claude Klotz)

MORVERN CALLAR–Lynne Ramsay’s second film is a darkly comic tale of a disaffected young woman who disposes of her boyfriend’s body–and then hits the road. (UK, 2002, 97 MIN, DIR Lynne Ramsay; SCR Lynne Ramsay, Liana Dognini, based on the novel by Alan Warner)

RESPIRO–US Premiere–On Lampedusa, an island near western Sicily, rival boy gangs play roughly among seaside cliffs. Husbands go out to sea, while wives work in the fish-packing plant. But Grazia’s free-spirited attitude causes talk in the entire village. (Italy/France, 2002, 95 MIN, DIR/SCR Emanuele Crialese)

SLEEPING ROUGH–US Premiere–Two uprooted, reclusive people cross paths when Majok, a young Sudanese illegal immigrant–most at ease among the cows in the Dutch plain–meets Jakob, an elderly reclusive veteran disillusioned by life. (Netherlands, 2002, 92 MIN, DIR Eugenie Jansen; SCR Helen van der Meulen)

SUPPLEMENT–SUPPLEMENT dissects the insecurity that lies beneath the love of a young couple. He’s torn in half for fear of sinking into the rat race for money, while she’s afraid that she’s standing in her boyfriend’s way to self-fulfillment. But, equally, she wonders whether she should not force him to face up to life. (Poland, 2002, 101 MIN, DIR/SCR Krzysztof Zanussi)

SWEET SIXTEEN–Ken Loach’s new film, SWEET SIXTEEN, is a companion piece to his earlier film, MY NAME IS JOE. This beautiful story recounts a young man’s struggle to realize his dreams amid Glasgow’s mean streets. (UK, 2002, 106 MIN, DIR Ken Loach; SCR Paul Laverty)


ABOUT THE LIVING–US Premiere–Dalia dies at six. Her mother, father and brother find ways of eluding the pain. Eleven years later, however, the memory returns, and each one must now take on the pain at the point where he or she left off. (Mexico, 2001, 80 MIN, DIR Jorge Aguilera; SCR Andrés Garcia Barrios, Jorge Aguilera)

CITY OF GOD–A true story of a young man who grows up in the notorious slum–Rio de Janeiro’s ‘City of God’–whose ambition as a photographer is our window in and ultimately may be his only way out. (Brazil, 2002, 130 MIN, DIR Fernando Meirelles; CO-DIR Katia Lund; SCR Braulio Mantovani, based on the novel by Paulo Lins)

THE CITY OF NO LIMITS–US Premiere–Victor flies to Paris to join his family at the bedside of their gravely ill father, whom he discovers attempting to escape from the hospital. While family members bicker over their forthcoming inheritance, Victor discovers that his father’s madness hides a terrible secret that can scar them all forever. (SPAIN/ARGENTINA, 2001, 118 MIN, DIR Antonio Hernandez; SCR Antonio Hernandez, Enrique Braso)

THE DANCER UPSTAIRS–Based on Nicholas Shakespeare’s novel, THE DANCER UPSTAIRS is John Malkovich’s highly anticipated directorial debut. Idealistic police detective Agustin Rejas (Javier Bardem) faces the greatest challenge of his career as a corrupt Latin American nation nears collapse under a highly organized terrorist movement. (Spain/Italy/Ecuador, 2001, 117 MIN, DIR John Malkovich; SCR Nicholas Shakespeare)

DON’T TEMPT ME–What if Heaven were woefully short of new arrivals, whereas Hell was overrun? Victoria Abril, Penelope Cruz and Gael Garcia Bernal star in this hysterical comedy about the afterlife. (SPAIN/FRANCE/ITALY/MEXICO, 2001, 112 MIN, DIR/SCR Agustín Díaz Yanes)

THE INHERITANCE–It’s easy to see why this was such a hit at the Brazilian box office. Daniel Filho’s vibrant comedy about four vastly different women reunited by the death of their mother perfectly captures the confounding dynamics and unique bond that exist between sisters. (Brazil, 2002, 93 MIN, DIR Daniel Filho; SCR Miguel Falabella, Daniel Filho, João Emanuel Carneiro, Mark Haskell Smith)

INTACTO–Using a strikingly cool visual style, provocative performances and a vivid imagination, Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo has fashioned an elegant and mysterious thriller about the randomness of luck and fortune. (SPAIN, 2001, 108 MIN, DIR Juan Carlos Fresnadillo; SCR Andres M. Koppel, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo)

A LUCKY DAY–US Premiere–Set against the backdrop of today’s Buenos Aires–a city of unrest, unemployment and poverty–an optimistic Elsa struggles to fulfill her dream of traveling to Italy to see her lover. (ARGENTINA/ITALY, 2002, 97 MIN, DIR Sandra Gugliotta; SCR Marcelo Schapces, Julio Cardoso, Sandra Gugliotta)

NOTHING MORE–US Premiere–Red tape muddles up the lives of people worldwide, but in Cuba it reaches ever more ludicrous extremes. NOTHING MORE, Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti’s first feature film, takes a comical look at Cuban bureaucracy, presenting us with the story of a bored young postal clerk who dreams of leaving the country to join her parents in Miami. (Cuba, 2001, 88 MIN, DIR Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti; SCR Manolita Rodriguez, Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti)

TESTIMONY: THE MARIA GUARDADO STORY–Director Randy Vasquez has created a wonderful portrait, fluidly melding activist Maria Guardado’s personal experiences with broader, critical questions about the sometimes-unsavory alliances of US policy implemented abroad. (USA, 2002, 64 MIN, DIR/SCR Randy Vasquez)


ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE–From acclaimed documentarians D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus (STARTUP.COM, DON’T LOOK BACK, ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS) comes a rocking documentary about the rhythm and blues soul performers who were the backbone of the Motown sound and Stax Records–before it became disco-fied. Wilson Pickett, Sam Moore, Mary Wilson, Isaac Hayes, the Chi Lites, Rufus Thomas and his daughter, Carla Thomas, are just some of the musicians who not only survived but continued working. (USA, 2002, 95 MIN, DIR Chris Hegedus, D A Pennebaker)

THE QUIET AMERICAN–From the classic novel by Graham Greene comes a murder mystery centered on a love triangle set against the French Indochina War in Vietnam, circa 1952. The film stars this year’s AFI FEST Honoree, actor Michael Caine. (AUSTRALIA, 2002, 96 MIN, DIR Phillip Noyce; SCR Christopher Hampton, Robert Schenkkan, based on the book by Graham Greene)

RABBIT PROOF FENCE–What if the government kidnapped your daughter? It happened every week in Australia between 1905 and 1971, as half-caste Aboriginal children were forcibly and permanently removed from their outback families and trained as servants. (Australia, 2002, 96 MIN, DIR Phillip Noyce; SCR Christine Olsen, based on the book by Doris Pilkington)

SPIDER–From the director of CRASH, NAKED LUNCH, M. BUTTERFLY and THE FLY comes SPIDER. The details of life are acute to Spider (Ralph Fiennes), who is in a constant struggle to overcome a traumatic event early in his life that forever shapes the real world in which he is forced to live. (CANADA/UK, 2002, 98 MIN, DIR David Cronenberg; SCR Patrick McGrath)

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