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Jewish Journal

AFI’s film affair

by Danielle Berrin

November 6, 2007 | 11:36 am

Movies! Movies! Movies!

In a city where we are inundated with them all the time, the American Film Institute has programmed 11 days (Nov. 1-11) of the most provocative international films to hit the silver screen. With a film line-up as enticing for its edgy documentaries as its riveting political dramas, Los Angeles residents have a once-a-year opportunity to glimpse the best in cinematic storytelling.

The Calendar Girls will be camping out at the Arclight with a torah scroll of must-see films:

* Jason Reitman’s latest, Juno, written by the explosively talented Diablo Cody (a former stripper who made it to the bigtime when Ivan Reitman’s offspring read her sexy memoirs)

* Artsy Julian Schnabel’s newest work, The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, is based on the true story of the Elle France magazine editor who suffered a debilitating stroke but resolved to use his only functioning body part - his left eye - to write his memoirs.

* Persepolis, the adaptation of a graphic novel by Iranian Marjane Satrapi whose revolutionary female protagonist captivated audiences at Cannes

* Noah Baumbach, a fresh contemporary voice in cinema, screens Margot at the Wedding, an intimate portrait of erudite family dysfunction starring Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Jason Leigh as quarreling sisters.

* Operation Filmmaker proves that no good deed goes unpunished when actor Liev Schreiber invites a young aspiring filmmaker from Iraq to assist on his film, but when things don’t go as planned, Schreiber finds himself negotiating moral terrain he never anticipated and wrestling with the responsibility he bears for extricating the boy from a war zone.

From Israel:

* The Quest for the Missing Piece is director Oded Lotan’s investigation into the tradition and practice of circumcision. Thought provoking and undoubtedly humorous, Lotan actually sets out on a journey to find the strip of skin whose excision left him bereft.

* The Band’s Visit, a story of cross-cultural difference and reconciliation depicted through the trials of an Egyptian police band who find themselves lost in Israel on the way to a concert. They encounter friendship and invaluable lessons along the way.

* Also from the holy land is Jellyfish about “the emotional misadventures of three women whose paths cross at a Tel Aviv wedding.” This film won the Camera d’Or (best first feature) at Cannes in May.

And of course there are many exceptional films without the purview of the Jewish lens.

Brilliant Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien screens The Flight of the Red Balloon; Known for her penetrating explorations of female sexuality French femme Catherine Breillat debuts the U.S. premiere of The Last Mistress. With films from China, South Korea, Lebanon, Austria and Romania, special showcases on American, African and Latin cinema, you can take your imagination around the globe through the world’s most popular modern art form—cinema!

For schedules and ticket information, visit www.afifest.com and get thee to the theater!

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