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Middlebury College Language Schools announce 2007 International Film Festival June 16-Aug. 11

May 31, 2007

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - Beginning Saturday, June 16, and continuing through Saturday, Aug. 11, the Middlebury College Language Schools International Film Festival will feature a major film in each of the following languages - Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian. The films will be shown at Dana Auditorium in the Sunderland Language Center on College Street (Route 125). Showings are at 7 and 9:30 p.m. on Saturdays. The films, which are subtitled in English, are free and open to the public. Some of the films may be inappropriate for children. A schedule of the film festival is available on the college's Web site at

Friday, June 15, marks the beginning of the Middlebury College Language Schools summer sessions. This year, approximately 1,350 students will come to Middlebury throughout the summer to participate. During the course of the schools' 93-year history, more than 40,000 students - including more than 11,000 advanced degree holders - have attended the language programs. 

Filmgoers from the community are invited to participate in a discussion after the 7 p.m. screening each week. The discussions will be conducted in English and closed to the Language Schools' students because of their Language Pledge, a formal commitment to speak only the language of study for the entire session.

The films are selected to provide a wide variety of genres and themes that will appeal to a diverse audience. This year's selections include a documentary on the national phenomenon of baseball in Japan; a story of brave Tibetans striving to save endangered antelopes; a chronicle of the architects' process of rebuilding and celebrating a public space after the fall of the Berlin Wall; a documentary about Brazilian singer Maria Bethania and her 40-year career; and a Russian coming-of-age story about three girls over the course of one summer.
For more information contact Middlebury College Language Schools at 802-443-5510.

2007 International Film Festival schedule

Saturday, June 16: 7 and 9:30 p.m.
"Film Essay on the Euphrates Dam" and "A Flood in Baath Country"

Directed by Omar Amiralay
Syria/France, 2003
Color. 13 min. & 46 min. Arabic with English subtitles.

In 1970, Amiralay made the documentary "Film-Essay on the Euphrates Dam" in praise of the ruling Baath party's project to construct a system of dams. Today, after fatal construction flaws have been discovered, his new film, "A Flood in Baath Country," explores the metaphorical implications of such weakness. Without commentary or criticism, the film exposes Baath party propaganda and its debilitating effects on the people of al-Mashi village, 250 miles northeast of Damascus. The film is the harshest indictment yet of the regime, portraying the devastating effects of 35 years of Baath party rule on Syrian society.

Saturday, June 23: 7 and 9:30 p.m.
"Kokoyakyu: Japanese Baseball"

Directed by Kenneth Eng
United States, 2006
Color. 53 min. Japanese with English subtitles.

Forget about Olympic athletics, the American pros and even Friday-night football in Texas. Take a look at high school baseball in Japan. As shown in "Kokoyakyu: High School Baseball," the first English-language film to examine the phenomenon, baseball has become a national rite of passage. For thousands of Japanese teens, their families and teachers, as well as millions of spectators, the annual tournament that begins with some 4,000 teams and finishes with 49 competing for the national championship at Koshien Stadium in Osaka manages to be both pure baseball - and purely Japanese.

Saturday, June 30: 7 and 9:30 p.m.
"Kekexili: Mountain Patrol"

Directed by Chuan Lu
China, 2004
Color. 90 min. Mandarin with English subtitles.

"Kekexili: Mountain Patrol" is inspired by the illegal Tibetan antelope poaching in Kekexili, the largest animal reserve in China. The story, set against the exquisite backdrop of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, tells the tale of brave local Tibetans who face death and starvation to save the endangered antelope herds from a band of ruthless hunters.

Saturday, July 7: 7 and 9:30 p.m.
"The Other Side of the Tracks" (De L'autre coté du Périph)
Directed by Bertrand Tavernier and Nils Tavernier
France 1997
Color. 149 min. French with English subtitles.

One of 66 documentary film-makers to protest against the Debré immigration law, Bertrand Tavernier and his son Nils took up the invitation extended by the French Minister for Municipal Affairs to spend a month living in the Grands Pêcheurs suburb of Montreuil. Once there, the people they met revealed their own views about the difficulties of integration, amidst economic and social deprivation.

Saturday, July 14: 7 and 9:30 p.m.
"Berlin Babylon"
Directed by Hubertus Siegert
Germany, 2001
Black and White/Color. 88 min. German with English subtitles.

A documentary about the architects who rushed into Berlin after the fall of the Wall in 1989 to rebuild the newly vacated area, "Berlin Babylon" follows the process over a five-year period - from 1996 to 2000. Designers, builders, city planners and architects came together to erect buildings that would commemorate the Berlin Wall and unite a long-divided city. In the midst of this, politics intermingle with artistic tastes, resulting in a veritable storm of pointed and meaningful construction. Using aerial photography that contrasts the old with the new, the film features a soundtrack that includes ambient group Einsturzende Neubauten and Richard Wagner.

Saturday, July 21: 7 and 9:30 p.m.
"A Beautiful Memory: A Mother and Her Sons Against the Mafia" (Un bel ricordo)

Directed by Anthony Fragola
Italy, 2006
Color. 40 min. Italian with English subtitles.
The author of the documentary will attend the screening to introduce the film, and he will also address the public after the screening.

The documentary is based on an interview with Felicia Impastato, whose son was killed by the Mafia in Sicily 26 years ago because of his relentless and open struggle to break its control of civil society. His father was a mafioso, and it was the first time a Mafia son openly rebelled. In addition, Felicia Impastato was one of the first women to openly speak out against the Mafia and file a civil suit to bring justice to her son. The authorities, perhaps in collusion with the Mafia, tried to make it appear that his death was a failed suicide terrorist attack.

Saturday, July 28: 7 and 9:30 p.m.
"In the Pit" (En el hoyo)

Directed by Juan Carlos Rulfo
Mexico, 2006
Color. 84 min. Spanish with English subtitles.

According to Mexican legend, the devil demands one soul to be offered up for every bridge built, as a guarantee for the structure's durability. In Juan Carlos Rulfo's internationally-praised documentary, this age-old adage takes on mammoth proportions. "En el hoyo" looks into the daily lives of construction workers building the Second Deck of Mexico City's Perifrico Freeway.

Saturday, August 4: 7 and 9:30 p.m.
"Maria Bethania:  Music is perfume"

Directed by Georges Gachot
Spain, 2006
Color. 82min. Portuguese with English subtitles.

Georges Gachot, best known for his portrait of volatile pianist Martha Argerich, follows Bethania through rehearsals and recording sessions, where the unique chemistry of her relationship with great songs (often by Chico Buarque or old-timers like Vinicius de Moraes) is revealed in detail. She slowly warms to the camera, making observations about the music in general ("Samba is a sadness that cradles us," she quotes from one tune) and the unique atmosphere of birthplace Bahia in particular. In that heavily Africanized town, there are memorable visits with her famous brother, Caetano Veloso, and their big-hearted mother.

Saturday, August 11: 7 and 9:30 p.m.
Russian School Associate Director Galina Aksenova will introduce a series of three films:
Directed by Valeriia Gai Germanika
Russia, 2005
Color. 46 min. Russian with English subtitles.

This coming-of-age film depicts the summer adventures of three girls encountering the rollercoaster of adolescence. Katia, Sveta, and Sasha, pure post-Soviet, post-modern babies, blossom into "womanhood" through self-destruction. Their grown-up act entails the run-of-the-mill deviant behaviors: drinking, smoking, piercing each other's bellybuttons, suicide contemplation, and naked carousal with boys. Seeking to harm their bodies in every imaginable way, they essentially demonstrate how, though the manifestations have changed, the traditional notion defining (Russian) womanhood as burden - physical and otherwise - remains intact.

Directed by Valeriia Gai Germanika
Russia, 2006
Color.  16 min. Russian with English subtitles

This short film captures a candid conversation between two sisters about the death of their mother against the background of the daily life of the older sister.

Directed by Valeriia Gai Germanika
Russia, 2006
Color.  36 min. Russian with English subtitles

The odyssey of two brothers, ages 9 and 10, captures an apartment building in Strogino, their mother's apartment, a children's detention center, a gypsy camp, and an unhappy return home. Their dramatic adventures, as in any road movie, teach the heroes a great deal about the world, acquainting them for the first time with loneliness and treachery. "Boys" closely corresponds with Germanika's previous film, "Girls." However, if in the earlier film the adult world is passive and exists for the most part apart from the main characters, in "Boys" the world is as cold as a wintry landscape seen through a window.