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Eye on the world

The Global Film Initiative presents ten films from developing countries at the Walker Arts Center.


Global Lens 2008

WHERE: Walker Art Center
WHEN: May 7-18
TICKETS: $8, $6 for Walker members, buy three get fourth free, $24, $18 for Walker members, May 8 screening of Luxury Car and May 15 screening of Bunny Chow free

every year, the Global Film Initiative tours films from developing countries around the United States, to both support small filmmakers and expand their potential audience. Titled the Global Lens series, the tour showcases the Initiative’s efforts to provide funding for the production and distribution of films in developing countries. It covers costs for films that would otherwise not get made or be seen outside their own country.

In its fifth year, the Initiative is unique in that it develops and includes educational material to accompany some of the films, and the Walker Art Center holds special daytime screenings specifically for high school students, to widen their exposure to foreign films.

This year’s repertoire includes films from Croatia, Argentina, Lebanon, Iran, South Africa, the Philippines, Indonesia and China.

“The Custodian”

DIRECTED BY: Rodrigo Moreno
STARRING: Julio Chávez, Osmar Núñez, Marcelo D’Andrea
PLAYING: 7 p.m., May 9; 7 p.m., May 14

There’s nothing worse than an invisible existence, much less an unhappy, invisible existence.

Rubén (Julio Chávez) is a bodyguard for a wealthy minister of parliament in Argentina (Osmar Núñez). He spends most of the day following around a man that only acknowledges him when he needs something. In the first 15 minutes of the film, Rubén has three lines, with only a handful of words. Mostly he watches and waits, seemingly for his life to begin.

The only problem is that someone who is invisible is inherently not all that interesting. Nothing really happens, and while he waits and watches, so do we. The film is slow moving, and as this is the first feature-length film for this director, some of the shots are too long, though beautifully framed.

Patience counts however, because more happens in the last five minutes than in the first 90.

“All For Free”

DIRECTED BY: Antonio Nuic
STARRING: Rakan Rushaidat, Nataöa Janjic,Emir Hadûihafisbegovic
PLAYING: 9 p.m., May 7; 7 p.m., May 10

When Goran (Rakan Rushaidat) starts to hand out free drinks, people are understandably suspicious. He sold the house he inherited from his parents and bought a truck that doubles as a café, putting up a sign that says “All for free.”

He doesn’t have anyone in this world, so he decides to give it all away.

Surprisingly, there is never anyone around in the towns he travels to, except for the small random assortment of people who show up to take advantage of his free drinks, resulting in a haunting feel, like something is not quite right.

Faster-paced than many of the other films, “All For Free” sets everything up nicely, but ends abruptly, as Goran’s money runs out.

“Let the Wind Blow”

DIRECTED BY: Partho Sen-Gupta
STARRING: Aniket Vishwasrao, Nishikant Kamat, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Rajshri Thakur
PLAYING: 2 p.m., May 10; 3 p.m., May 18

The threat of nuclear war with Pakistan hangs heavily on the lives of two poor Indian friends who are trying to change their destiny. Roughly based on holy Hindu scripture, the film follows Arjun and his friends, who are all struggling to find work. The great irony is that rich and poor alike are arguing about the same things and none of that matters in the end.

Knowing the cultural context would help, but following the story as a foreign audience is still satisfying and a little scary, bringing to light just how precarious life is, and how in the end, maybe none of it matters.

“Bunny Chow”

DIRECTED BY: John Barker
STARRING: David Kibuuka, Kim Engelbrecht, Kagiso Lediga
PLAYING: 7:30 p.m., May 15; free, 7 p.m., May 17

Bunny Chow is a special type of fast-food from South Africa – a loaf of bread with the insides scooped out and filled with a choice of curry.

It is also the title for a South African selection for the festival, but how it all fits together, we’re not too sure. It seems like a case of cultural context, like they’re trying to tell us a joke that we just don’t get.

The story is simple. Three comedians head to the largest rock-and-roll festival in South Africa, Oppikoppi, for a weekend of revelry, but life, girlfriends and careers get in the way.

The film is shot in black and white with mostly handheld cameras and using only natural light. Written in a retro-scripting style, scenes were developed but not scripted, letting the actors improvise. To further cross the line between narrative and nonfiction, the four comedians are playing themselves, and they’re actually at the rock-and-roll festival that they’re attending.

Perhaps the best thing this movie did was partner with MTV, resulting in another blurring of lines between music and movie, featuring urban South African music that you don’t hear on KDWB.

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