The First Cape Town Recovery Film Festival (CTRFF) marks the start of an annual event at the heart of an initiative to celebrate and encourage a Recovery Culture and Lifestyle in the city. The idea for this project developed out of the feedback got from a couple of film screenings done at The Labia Theatre (Bill W – The Movie and Happy – The Movie, both sold out the main screen) and from similar events in the USA and the UK.
Wake Island (1942), Director: John Farrow, Running time: 88 minutes. December, 1941. With no hope of relief or re-supply, a small band of United States Marines try to keep the Japanese Navy from capturing their island base. In November 1941, Major Caton takes command of the small Marine garrison on Wake Island. His tendency toward spit and polish upsets the men's tropical lassitude, but Pearl Harbor changes everything. Soon the island is attacked and the Marines pull together day by day.
The Walls of Hell (1965), Director: Eddie Romero, Running Time: 88 minutes Gateway to the bloodiest battle of the Philippines. The Japanese Imperial Navy plans their last stand of WWII in the thick walls and narrow streets of the walled city of Intramuros in the Philippines. American soldiers team with brave Filipino freedom fighters to fend them off and free the city.
Waterloo Bridge (1940), Director: Mervyn LeRoy, Running time: 108 minutes. Vivian Leigh stars as a ballerina in war-torn England who turns to prostitution when she believes her fiance has died in the war in this drama based on Robert E. Sherwood's acclaimed play.
The Way Ahead (1944), Director: Carol Reed, Running time: 91 minutes. World War II is impending, but most Britons don't believe it; while a few, including petrol-pumper Jim Perry, are busily training for the new British army. After Dunkirk, Lieut. Perry finds himself training others, mostly recruits who as yet don't take the war seriously. They soon learn that training under Perry and Sergeant Fletcher is serious business. Our platoon secretly embarks on an eventful voyage to North Africa, and contact with the enemy nears. (Written by Rod Crawford for IMDb)
Wheels of Terror (The Misfit Brigade) (1987), Director: Gordon Hessler, Running time: 105 minutes. A motley group of routine German prisoners (including David Patrick Kelly, Jay Sanders and Bruce Davison) are enlisted by a Nazi colonel (David Carradine). The government, desperate for fighting men, promises them freedom if they can destroy a targeted train on the Russian front.
When Lions Roared (1994), Director: Joseph Sargent, Running time: 184 minutes. Michael Caine, John Lithgow, Bob Hoskins and Ed Begley Jr. star in this award-winning mini-series. At the Tehran and Yalta Conferences, the strong personalities of three of the world’s most powerful leaders threaten their fragile alliance. This riveting historical drama portrays the precarious relationship between Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin at the pivotal moments when the final strategies of the war hung in the balance.
When Trumpets Fade (1998), Director: John Irvin, Running time: 92 minutes. First broadcast on HBO in June of 1998--shortly before the theatrical release of Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan--this World War II drama offers an equally intimate and devastating study of combat and its tragic aftermath. Set in Germany during the closing days of the war, the film uses a little-known episode of U.S. military history--the bloody battle of the Hurtigen Forest--as the backdrop for the story of a battle-weary private (Ron Eldard) who is the only surviving member of his platoon. Despite his request for dismissal on the grounds of mental disability and shell-shock, he is considered a promising soldier by his superiors, promoted to sergeant, and assigned to command a fresh platoon of young, inexperienced soldiers. The cycle of war continues, and the film ends as it began--with one soldier carrying a mortally wounded comrade from a scene of devastating loss. A veteran of several war films, director John Irvin emphasizes the gritty, physically exhausting realities of combat with keen attention to detail on location in Hungary. This film is decidedly downbeat (don't look for any Spielbergian uplift here), but its depiction of warfare is undeniably powerful, earning praise for Irvin and HBO for tackling such an uncompromising project. (Jeff Shannon for Amazon.com)
Where Eagles Dare (1969), Director: Brian G. Hutton, Running time: 155 minutes.
During WW2 a British aircraft is shot down and crashes in Nazi held territory. The Germans capture the only survivor, an American General, and take him to the nearest SS headquarters. Unknown to the Germans the General has full knowledge of the D-Day operation. The British decide that the General must not be allowed to divulge any details of the Normandy landing at all cost and order Major John Smith to lead a crack commando team to rescue him. Amongst the team is an American Ranger, Lieutenant Schaffer, who is puzzled by his inclusion in an all British operation. When one of the team dies after the parachute drop, Schaffer suspects that Smith's mission has a much more secret objective.
Windtalkers (2002), Director: John Woo, Running time: 134 minutes. It's 1943, and the U.S. has developed an indecipherable secret military code based on the Navajo language. Yahzee and Whitehorse are to be trained as code talkers. Then John Woo's Pacific war film erupts into violence, with a savage battle that has one survivor, Joe Enders (Nicolas Cage). Badly wounded and feeling guilty at the loss of his companions, Joe recuperates in Hawaii where he is helped by a sympathetic nurse (Frances O'Connor). Joe disguises his hearing loss and he is promoted as Yahzee's battlefield bodyguard. Ordered to "protect the code at all times," Joe must prevent Yahzee from being captured. At first, Yahzee and Whitehorse, whose bodyguard is Ox Henderson (Christian Slater), are subjected to prejudice--particularly from Rogers (Noah Emmerich). But when the unit is shipped to Saipan, the Marines begin to appreciate the code talkers. Director Woo has created a powerful drama.
Wing and a Prayer (1944), Director: Henry Hathaway, Running time: 98 minutes. Don Ameche and Dana Andrews head an all-star cast in this acclaimed film about life aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier after the attack on Pearl Harbor. A group of young, eager Navy pilots become frustrated when their higher-ups enact a non-combat strategy against the Japanese. To make matters worse, the pilots must answer to a rigid, unyielding commander (AMECHE). Against all odds, the men fly into action in the decisive Battle of Midway. Nominated for a 1944 Best Original Screenplay Oscar, this stunning war drama uses actual combat footage to tell its engrossing story.
The Winter War (Talvisota) (1989), Director: Pekka Parikka, Running time:125 minutes. Russia attacked Finland in late November 1939. This film tells the story of a Finnish platoon of reservists from the municipality of Kauhava in the province of Pohjanmaa/Osttrobottnia who leave their homes and go to war. The film focuses on the farmer brothers Martti and Paavo Hakala. (IMBd)
Wish Me Luck (2004), Directors: Gordon Fleming and Bill Hays, Series made for television. A wonderful British Drama about Liz Grainger, a young middle-class English woman, who undergoes brutal interrogations as part of her training for World War II intelligence work in occupied France. Liz wants to work directly against the German enemy because of her anger at the recent death in action of her brother. She meets another woman recruit, Matty, who is also in training as a resistance agent. The organization that recruits for the United Kingdom intelligence work is lead by the flamboyant and cosmopolitan Colonel James Cadogan, "Cad." The primary aim of his organization is sabotage and subversion, leading ultimately to France’s liberation from Germany. The first wave of agents sent into occupied France are volunteers from the Armed Forces; however, since their numbers have been reduced by German counter-intelligence, replacements now are being recruited from among civilians.
Women in War (1940), Director: John H. Auer, Running time: 71 minutes. A "good-time girl", raised by her somewhat lax divorced father, finds herself involved in an accidental death, and the only way she's able to get out of it is to volunteer--albeit reluctantly--to be a nurse in the war effort. She travels to England and is assigned to a hospital under a very strict matron. What the girl doesn't know is that the matron is the mother she has never seen. (Written by IMDb)
The World at War (1973, 2003), Director: Hugh Raggett, Running time: 1375 minutes. The World at War is the definitive television work on the Second World War. It set out to tell the story of the war through the testimony of key participants - from civilians to ordinary soldiers, from statesmen to generals. First broadcast in 1973, the result was a unique and irreplaceable record since many of the eyewitnesses captured on film did not have long to live. The programme's producers committed hundreds of interview-hours to tape in its creation, but only a fraction of that recorded material made it to the final cut. For more than 30 years the interviews have never been allowed to be published - until now.The well-known names interviewed for the series include Albert Speer, Karl Wolff (Himmler's adjutant), Traudl Junge (Hitler's secretary), James Stewart (USAAF bomber pilot and Hollywood star), Anthony Eden, John Colville (Parliamentary Private Secretary to Winston Churchill), Averell Harriman (US Ambassador to Russia) and Arthur 'Bomber' Harris (Head of RAF Bomber Command). Highly respected historian and bestselling author Richard Holmes has skilfully woven this valuable original material into a compelling narrative, creating a truly phenomenal oral history of the Second World War.
World War II: The Home Front (2006), Director: David Wheatley, Running time: 288 minutes. This BBC production contains two separate stories: Monsignor Renard and Total War. The documentary Total War traces the sacrifices and suffering of civilians on the home front where millions more civilians died than soldiers as they became fair game. Monsignor Renard tells the story of the German occupation of France during the war through the eyes and experiences of a humble and extraordinary priest—a man of profound faith whose beliefs are tested to the breaking point as he is forced to choose between the peaceful teachings of the Christian doctrine and the violent necessities of the emergent Resistance.
Varian's War (2001), Director: Lionel Chetwynd, Running time: 121 minutes. This is the untold story of Varian Fry (William Hurt), a forgotten hero of World War II. He built an elaborate underground rescue network that managed to save some of the most influential cultural figures of our age. He saved artists (such as Marc Chagall), writers, and scientists. The safe arrival of these treasured individuals in the United States permanently changed the face of American culture and enriched all of our lives forever.
Victory (1981), Director: John Huston, Running time: 117 minutes. A group of P.O.W.s at a German prison camp agree to compete against Nazi soccer players in this World War II drama set in 1943 Occupied Europe. German Major Karl von Steiner, who played soccer professionally before the war, comes up with the idea. When his superior officers find out about the competition, they pit the Allies against Germany's best team -- but they don't realize that the P.O.W.s plan to use the upcoming big game as a means of escaping. The Allied team includes John Colby, a British officer who also played soccer before the war, and Robert Hatch, an American soldier who cares far more about gaining his freedom than the game itself. When the P.O.W.s realize they have a good shot at beating the Nazi team in front of a huge crowd, they must decide what's more important: finishing the match or getting out alive.
Voices from Hitler’s Army (2007), Kultur Video, Running time: 300 minutes. Like old soldiers everywhere, they are fading away, but these German veterans of World War Two have an incredible and sometimes shocking story to tell. This is a unique opportunity to see and hear the last testimonies of Hitler’s armies.
Von Ryan's Express (1965), Director: Mark Robson, Running time: 117 minutes. When U.S. combat pilot Col. Joseph Ryan (Frank Sinatra) is captured by Nazis, he does what it takes to survive prison camp, including, by all appearances, befriend the enemy. Hence, his prison mates give Ryan the insulting nickname "Von Ryan." But in time, Ryan takes over from the commanding British officer (Trevor Howard) and masterminds commandeering a train to Switzerland with the Nazis in hot pursuit.
U-571 (2000), Director: Jonathan Mostow, Running time: 117 minutes. Faithful to the conventions of the World War II genre, Mostow's (BREAKDOWN) submarine thriller pays earnest homage to the pluck and determination of ordinary people forced to overcome extraordinary odds. The mostly young and inexperienced crew of the S-33 is deployed on a top secret, high-priority mission to intercept a disabled German u-boat (the titular U-571) and capture the ship's encryption system--the Enigma--in order to crack the Nazi's communication codes and hasten an allied victory in the North Atlantic. Racing against a German rescue effort, the S-33 stages a daring raid on the U-571. But after capturing the U-571, the Americans find themselves its prisoner as they must pilot the leaky, disabled vessel through hostile enemy waters.
Underground (1941), Director: Vincent Sherman, Running time: 95 minutes. Set during the early days of World War II, Underground is an intriguing tale of danger and suspense set in Nazi Germany starring Jeffrey Lynn (Butterfield 8) and Philip Dorn (Spy Hunt).- Celebrated director Vincent Sherman (Backfire, The Adventures of Don Juan, All Through the Night, Mr. Skeffington) lives up to his reputation for directing some of the most memorable films made in the 40’s, 50’s and even 60’s with this story of the anti-Nazi underground and its attempts to usurp the Nazi regime and put an end to its war machine through the broadcast of an outlawed radio program. - Released almost six months before the United States entered WWII, Underground provides an interesting historical perspective of the American take on Germany’s Nazi Occupation before the fighting hit home. Vincent Sherman at 98 years old, is the oldest living Hollywood director.
The Unknown Soldier (Tuntematon sotilas) (1955), Director: Edvin Laine, Running time: 181 minutes. It is the summer of 1941. An eastern-Finnish machine gun company receives an order to turn in their surplus equipment. The company is transferred to the front lines. The next morning the soldiers wake to the sound of guns - the war has begun. The Finnish troops attack and quickly move across the border. The young, nervous rookies of the company get their baptism of fire, and the men become familiar with death and the hardships of war. Under strength and badly equipped they fight a superior enemy. The lists of heroes and of the dead seem endless. Edvin Laine's epic interpretation of Väinö Linna's war novel "Tuntematon Sotilas" is an entire chapter in the book of Finnish movie history. (Written by Peter Lagerstrom for IMBd)
Un Pilota ritorna (1942), Director: Roberto Rossellini, Running time: 81minutes. A Fascist pilot, Lt. Gino Rossati (Massimo Girotti), is flying a bombing run from Italy to Greece in the early spring of 1941. He is shot down by British aircraft and becomes a prisoner of war, first of the British and later the Greeks. In one of the prison camps, he falls in love with Anna (Michela Belmonte), the teenage daughter of an Italian doctor. During a bombardment by the Italians, he is able to escape by stealing a British plane. He returns home, although wounded, and lands in time to hear the reports of Greece's surrender. The film's supervisor and story author, "Tito Silvio Mursino," the screen pseudonym of Vittorio Mussolini, was the son of Italy's Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. (Nicole Gagne for All Movie Guide)
Up Periscope (1959), Director: Gordon Douglas, Running time: 111 minutes. Anyone with a fondness for the conventions of the submarine picture will be content with the modest pleasures of Up Periscope, a World War II melodrama starring James Garner in one of his early Maverick-era roles. Pulled away from a week-long romance, Garner tags along with the sub to a Japanese-held island, where he will SCUBA ashore and copy a secret radio code. On top of the reliable suspense of a man alone behind enemy lines, the film also offers captain Edmond O'Brien, whose previous mission has his crew suspecting him of cowardice. Will he cut and run before Garner returns to the submarine? Director Gordon Douglas made a batch of entertaining pictures over the years (a bunch of Sinatra titles, the giant-bug classic Them!, In Like Flint) and he coolly finds some effective ways to photograph men in the close quarters of a sub. The main draw is James Garner in his youthful prime; even if the movie doesn't exploit his comic talent, it shows how effortlessly he connects with an audience. The supporting cast consists of the kind of actors who inevitably seem to people a WWII ship's crew: solid character actors (Alan Hale Jr., who performed similar undersea duties in Destination Tokyo), oddballs and one-offs (Frank Gifford, Edd "Kooky" Byrnes), and future names (Warren Oates). (Robert Horton for Amazon.com)
Uprising (2001), Director: Jon Avnet, Running time: 177 minutes.
After Germany invades Poland in 1939, the Nazis decree that 350,000 Warsaw Jews be forcibly moved into a cordoned area known as the Warsaw Ghetto. Idealistic teacher Mordechai Anielewicz (Hank Azaria) decides the Jews must rise up against the Nazis and creates the Jewish Fighting Organization (JFO). He tries to secure the support of Adam Czerniakow (Donald Sutherland), the morally conflicted head of the Warsaw Ghetto's Jewish Council, but Adam declines because he knows that any act of resistance will provoke the Germans to retaliate by killing innocent Jews. Determined to mobilize a resistance alone if he has to, Mordechai recruits his friends and covert couriers whose ability to pass as Aryan helps them smuggle in arms and explosives from the Aryan side of the city, building up an arsenal to fight the Nazis.
When the Germans begin deporting 300,000 Jews to the Treblinka death camp, the JFO begins acts of resistance that culminate with ghetto fighters firing their first gunshots against the Nazis. When it becomes clear that the JFO is a force to be reckoned with, the German High Command sends in General Stroop (Jon Voight), who is determined to end the uprising in two or three days.
Uranus (1990), Director: Claude Berri, Running time: 105 minutes. Uranus is set in a post-war French village that has been all but obliterated by the bombing. Jean-Pierre Marielle plays a middle-class family man who agrees to shelter many of those who've lost their homes. The polyglot of political beliefs held by these new tenants sows the seeds of discontent. The most vocal of the town's dissidents are the Communists, who terrify everyone with threats of turning in collaborators to the French Forces of the Interior. The only person in town afraid of no one is hulking innkeeper Gerard Depardieu, whose ultimate death uncovers much of the hypocrisy disguising itself as patriotism in the village. While never exactly sympathizing with the collaborators, Uranus is careful to point out that the "unofficial" executions of these unfortunates was no more morally acceptable than the Nazi invasion that encouraged collaboration in the first place. (Hal Erickson for All Movie Guide)
Florence, Italy, on the brink of WWII: it was a time of social unrest and, of course... afternoon tea. Join Oscar winner Cher and an incredible cast of leading ladies as they host this "radiant, beautiful filmthat is "worth savoring" (Mademoiselle). Prewar Florence is the place to be for any proper British woman who relishes culture and the arts. These ladies have everything they could ever want or needincluding a promise from dictator Mussolini himself that not even the imminent world war will impose upon their lifestyle. But when it appears that his word is not kept, and these expatriates who chose to stay in Italy instead of seeking refuge in their own countryare in trouble, it takes a young outcast boy and a brazen American woman (Cher) to keep them in the high life and out of harm's way.
The Thin Redline (1999), Director: Terrence Malik, Running time: 170 minutes. One of the cinema's great disappearing acts came to a close with the release of The Thin Red Line in late 1998. Terrence Malick, the cryptic recluse who withdrew from Hollywood visibility after the release of his visually enthralling masterpiece Days of Heaven (1978), returned to the director's chair after a 20-year coffee break. Malick's comeback vehicle is a fascinating choice: a wide-ranging adaptation of a World War II novel (filmed once before, in 1964) by James Jones. The battle for Guadalcanal Island gives Malick an opportunity to explore nothing less than the nature of life, death, God, and courage. Let that be a warning to anyone expecting a conventional war flick; Malick proves himself quite capable of mounting an exciting action sequence, but he's just as likely to meander into pure philosophical noodling—or simply let the camera contemplate the first steps of a newly birthed tropical bird, the sinister skulk of a crocodile. This is not especially an actors' movie—some faces go by so quickly they barely register—but the standouts are bold: Nick Nolte as a career-minded colonel, Elias Koteas as a deeply spiritual captain who tries to protect his men, Ben Chaplin as a G.I. haunted by lyrical memories of his wife. The backbone of the film is the ongoing discussion between a wry sergeant (Sean Penn) and an ethereal, almost holy private (newcomer Jim Caviezel). The picture's sprawl may be a result of Malick's method of "finding" a film during shooting and editing, and in some ways The Thin Red Line seems vaguely, intriguingly incomplete. Yet it casts a spell like almost nothing else of its time, and Malick's visionary images are a challenge and a signpost to the rest of his filmmaking generation. (Robert Horton for amazon.com)
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944), Director: Mervyn LeRoy, Running time: 138 minutes. The amazingly detailed true story of "The Doolittle Raid" based on the novel of the same name. Stunned by Pearl Harbor and a string of defeats, America needed a victory—badly. To that end, Colonel Jimmy Dolittle, a former air racer and stunt pilot, devises a plan for a daring raid on the heart of Japan itself. To do this, he must train army bomber pilots to something no one ever dreamed possible—launch16 fully load bombers from an aircraft carrier! This movie is remarkable in it's accuracy and even uses film footage from the actual raid.
This Happy Breed (1944), Director: David Lean, Running time: 105 minutes. This Happy Breed, written by Noel Coward, shows how the ordinary people lived between the wars. Just after WWI the Gibbons family moves to a nice house in the suburbs. An ordinary sort of life is led by the family through the years with average number of triumphs and disasters until the outbreak of WWII.
Till We Meet Again (1989), Director: Charles Jarrott, Running time: 240 minutes. Sweeping from the risqué music halls of Paris to Hollywood in the ’30s, to World War II in England to the sun-drenched vineyards in France’s Champagne region, Till We Meet Again tells the story of three extraordinary generations of women who risked their lives for love and country. Starring an all-star cast including Hugh Grant and Courteney Cox Arquette.
To Late the Hero (1970), Director: Robert Aldrich, Running time: 144 minutes. A WWII film set on a Pacific island. Japanese and allied forces occupy different parts of the island. When a group of British soldiers are sent on a mission behind enemy lines, things don't go exactly to plan.
Tonight We Raid Calais (1943), Director: John Brahm, Running time: 70 minutes. British Intelligence dispatches Commando Geoffrey Carter (John Sutton) on a one-man raid to destroy a munitions plant that manufactures bombs in Nazi-occupied France. He enlists the aid of a patriotic farmer, M. Bonnard (Lee J. Cobb), that lives near the plant, over the objections of his daughter Odette Bonnard (Annabella), who believes that the British were responsible for the fall of France. Her attitude softens toward Carter, who is living with the family as posing as a son, but Odette cannot bring herself to aid in Carter's plan because of her fear of reprisals against her family. She turns informer and the Nazis capture Carter.
Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), Director: Kinji Fukasaku, Running time: 144 minutes. "Tora! Tora! Tora!" is the Japanese signal to attack - and the movie meticulously recreates the attack on Pearl Harbor and the events leading up to it. Opening scenes contrast the American and Japanese positions. Japanese imperialists decide to stage the attack. Top U.S. brass ignore it's possibility. Intercepted Japanese messages warn of it - but never reach F.D.R.'s desk. Radar warnings are disregarded. Even the entrapment of a Japanese submarine in Pearl Harbor before the attack goes unreported. Ultimately the Day of Infamy arrives - in the most spectacular, gut-wrenching cavalcade of action-packed footage ever. You'll see moments of unsurpassed spectacle and heroism: U.S. fighters trying to take off and being hit as they taxi; men blasted from the decks of torpedoed ships while trying to rescue buddies; savage aerial dogfights pitting lone American fliers against squadrons of Imperial war planes. It's the most dazzling recreation of America's darkest day - and some of her finest hours.
To the Shores of Tripoli (1942), Director: H. Bruce Humberstone, Running time: 86 minutes. When a carefree playboy (John Payne) joins the Marine Corps, he tests the skill and patience of the tough veteran sergeant (Randolph Scott) who tries to whip him into a real Marine. But as his training proceeds, the recruit's cocky selfishness is replaced by selfless valor, and he eventually earns the love of a beautiful Navy nurse (Maureen O'Hara). Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, To the Shores of Tripoli was shot with the cooperation of the USMC and contains authentic scenes of Marine combat training and ground drills.
The Train (1965), Director: John Frankenheimer, Running time: 133 minutes. Paris, August 1944. With the Allied army closing in, German commander and art fanatic Colonel von Waldheim (Paul Scofield) steals a vast collection of rare French paintings and loads them onto a train bound for Berlin. But when a beloved French patriot is murdered while trying to sabotage von Waldheim's scheme, Labiche (Burt Lancaster), a stalwart member of the Resistance, vows to stop the train at any cost. Calling upon his vast arsenal of skills, Labiche unleashes a torrent of devastation and destruction loosened rails, shattered tracks and head-on collisions in an impassioned, suspense-filled quest for justice, retribution and revenge. Inspired by an actual event and highlighted by spectacular stunt work and visual effects, The Train is "an edge-of-your-seat, thrilling, suspenseful and superior film" (The Motion Picture Guide).
A Town Like Alice (1981), Director: David Stevens, Running time: 305 minutes. Set against the brutal chaos of World War II, a love story begins that will take two lovers through a living nightmare of captivity, across three continents and two decades. From the steamy jungles of Malaya to the dusty and desolate outback of Australia. Based on Nevil Shute' international bestselling novel A Town Like Alice follows the lives of Jean Paget and Joe Harman. Meeting in Malaya, an attractive young English captive, and he a cheerful Australian POW, tortured for a simple act of kindness. Separated first by their captors then by the distance of passing years, the two are finally reunited in the rugged outback of Australia to face a challenge every bit as demanding as their wartime trials.
Triumph of the Spirit (1989), Director: Robert M. Young, Running time: 120 minutes. Oscar nominees Willem Dafoe (Shadow of the Vampire, Platoon), Edward James Olmos (Stand and Deliver) and Robert Loggia (Jagged Edge) deliver "performances [that] will astonish you" (Jeffrey Lyons) in this "extraordinary" (The Wall Street Journal) story of life, death and conscience. It "may be one of the most powerful films you will see in a lifetime" (KABC-TV). And most incredible of all, it's true! World War II was the time. Auschwitz was the place. Survival was the prize. Boxer Salamo Arouch (Dafoe) is interned in the Nazi death camp with his family and friends. For the amusement of his captors, Salamo is forced to fight his fellow in mates brutal contests that send the loser to the gas showers. Salamo's prowess in the ring is both his salvation and his nightmare, as his "victories" condemn others to death. Still he fights on, hoping he might somehow save his father his friends perhaps even his soul.
The Tuskegee Airmen (1995), Director: Robert Markowitz, Running time: 106 minutes. Featuring an all-star cast headed by Laurence Fishburne, fireballs of high speed air action explode off the screen in this exciting story of the "Fighting 99th," the first squadron of black American pilots to be allowed to fight for their country. Based on the true story.
Twelve O'Clock High (1949), Director: Henry King, Running time: 132 minutes. This gritty World War II action drama staring Gregory Peck, Oscar winner Dean Jagger, Hugh Marlowe, Gary Merrill and Millard Mitchell is seen as one of the most realistic portrayals of the heroics and perils of war. Convinced an air force commander (Gary Merrill) is at the breaking point, Brigadier General Savage (Peck) takes over his struggling bomber group. Kind and understanding, he adopts a crushing discipline to revitalize the demoralized troop. At first resentful and rebellious, the flyers gradually change as Savage guides them to amazing feats. But the stress of command soon takes it's toll and the weary general reaches his own breaking point.
Sailor of the King (1953), Director: Roy Boulting, Running time: 83 minutes. Based on the WWI adventure novel Brown on Resolution by C.S. Forester, Sailor of the King is an enjoyable British-made war drama buoyed by its energetic star, Jeffrey Hunter, and an exciting and suspenseful premise. The picture opens on a slow note with British Navy captain Michael Rennie ending a tryst with English girl Wendy Hiller; years later, the product of that union is British-Canadian sailor Jeffrey Hunter, whose ship is dispatched to intercept a powerful German warship by now-Admiral Rennie. The ensuing fight sinks Hunter's ship and damages the German boat, but Hunter evades capture and hunkers down on the island where the Nazi captain (Peter Van Eyck) has docked for repairs; there he wages a one-man assault against the ship using only a rifle and his own skills. Roy Boulting's direction is crisp and assured, and the cast, especially the underappreciated Hunter (in his first leading role), is uniformly fine, which should make Sailor of the King a worthwhile discovery for WWII action fans. (Paul Gaita for Amazon.com)
Saints and Soldiers (2004), Director: Ryan Little, Running time: 90 minutes. A handful of fighting men must defy the odds to save their own lives and thousands of others in this drama set during World War II. In late 1944, a band of nearly a hundred American soldiers are making their way through a wooded region of Belgium when they are ambushed by German forces in a battle that became known as “the Malmady Massacre.” Inspired by a true story, Saints and Soldiers is the first feature film from Ryan Little, a Utah-based filmmaker who previously made a number of short subjects relating to issues of faith in the Church of Latter Day Saints.
Sands of Iwo Jima (1950), Director: Allan Dwan, Running time: 109 minutes. The legendary gung-ho WWII combat film, stars John Wayne as the battle-hardened Sgt. Stryker, a role that would, perhaps more than any other, come to define the actor's iconography. As he begins to hammer an ethnically diverse group of recruits into combat-ready shape, they learn of his notorious toughness, and of the mystery surrounding his demotion. Stryker finds that Pete Conway (John Agar) the son of his late commanding officer, hated his father and hates Stryker for his likeness to the man. After Stryker and his unit have been fighting on Tarawa Atoll, Cpl. Al Thomas (Forrest Tucker) neglects his post, resulting in the death of one man and the wounding of another. While the squad listens to the moans of Bass (James Brown) the wounded man, Stryker, following orders to entrench, refuses to let anyone help him. Bass is rescued, and when he sees Stryker in Hawaii, tells him about Thomas' screw-up. Stryker and Thomas get into a fight which is stopped by a major, but Thomas accepts the blame, knowing Stryker's career could be destroyed, and begs his forgiveness for his dereliction of duty.
Saving Private Ryan (1999), Director: Steven Spielberg, Running time: 169 minutes. Director Steven Spielberg's World War II tour de force chronicles the journey of a GI squad on a dangerous mission behind enemy lines. Led by Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks), the unit is under orders to track down a soldier, Private Ryan (Matt Damon), so he might return home to his mother in America, where she is grieving the unimaginable loss of her three other sons to the war. The first unforgettable 20 minutes of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN realistically and horrifically depicts the Normandy invasion as Miller. his second-in-command, Sergeant Horvath (Tom Sizemore), and the others in the unit land at Omaha Beach.
The Sea Wolves (1981), Director: Andrew V. McLaglen, Running time: 120 minutes. During World War II, a military regiment made up of elderly soldiers embarks on a dangerous mission to destroy a Nazi ship containing a radio transmitter. The men of the Calcutta Light Horse have been recruited for the assignment by British intelligence officers Colonel Lewis Pugh and Captain Gavin Stewart. After receiving training, the troops head off to attack their target, which is located in a Goa, India harbor. But to accomplish their goal, the soldiers must first steal a boat and ferret out a spy. Will this ragtag bunch of fighters have what it takes to pull off their complex operation?
The Second Front (2004), Director: Dmitri Fiks, Running time: 92 minutes. In the midst of World War 2, intelligence services from England, Germany and Russia collided in a fierce fight for the mind of Nicky Raus, a genius German Jewish scientist who's developing a weapon of tremendous power. An American agent, Frank Hossom, enters the game when German agents undertake a daring operation stealing the scientist. Frank has to get the scientist back - dead or alive. His mission is complicated by his developing relationship with Olga Ryabina, Nicky's lover, an actress forced to work for KGB. The love triangle and the international intrigue weave into a deadly net. (IMBd)
Schindler's List (1993), Director: Steven Spielberg, Running time: 196 minutes. Winner of seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, it also won every major Best Picture Awards from the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Society of Film Critics, the National Board of Review, the Producers Guild, the Los Angeles Film Critics, the Chicago, Boston and Dallas Film Critics; a Christopher Award; and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Golden Globe Awards. Steven Spielberg was further honored with the Directors Guild of America Award. The film presents the indelible true story of the enigmatic Oskar Schindler, a member of the Nazi party, womanizer, and war profiteer who saved the lives of more than 1,100 Jews during the Holocaust. It is the triumph of one man who made a difference, and the drama of those who survived one of the darkest chapters in human history because of what he did. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film, which also won Academy Awards for Screenplay, Cinematography, Music, Editing, and Art Direction, stars an acclaimed cast headed by Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, Caroline Goodall, Jonathan Sagalle, and Embeth Davidtz.
Shining Through (1992), Director: David Seltzer, Running time: 132 minutes. In this romantic espionage thriller set against the backdrop of World War II, a secretary from Queens is transformed into a government spy. After discovering her attorney boss and lover is actually a secret agent, she convinces him to let her go undercover. With the help of a fellow operative she penetrates the Berlin home of a high-ranking enemy official, and works swiftly to accomplish her mission.
The Shop On Main Street (1966), Director: Elmar Klos, Running time: 125 minutes. An inept Czech peasant is torn between greed and guilt when the Nazi-backed bosses of his town appoint him "Aryan controller" of an old Jewish widow's button shop. Humor and tragedy fuse in this scathing exploration of one cowardly man's complicity in the horrors of a totalitarian regime. Made near the height of Soviet oppression in Czechoslovakia, The Shop on Main Street features intense editing and camera work which won it the Academy Award® for Best Foreign Film in 1965.
Sink the Bismarck! (1960), Director: Lewis Gilbert (II), Running time: 97 minutes. It's spring 1941, and Great Britain is the only country in Europe yet to be defeated by the Nazi army, but all of that could change soon. The Nazis have launched their juggernaut battleship, the Bismarck, to close off British supply lines and ultimately invade England. A counterstrike is ordered, and with an arsenal of ships at their command, Royal intelligence officers Jonathan Shepard (Kenneth More) and Anne Davis (Dana Wynter) fight desperately to destroy the Bismarck.
Soldier of Orange (1979), Director: Paul Verhoeven, Running time: 156 minutes. Based on real events, Soldier of Orange tells the story of Dutchman Erik Lanshof (a star-making performance by Rutger Hauer) and a small group of students as they struggle to survive the Nazi occupation to the end of the Second World War. The destinies of the characters range from joining the German army to making for England, the OSS, and the Resistance. Across a canvas lasting almost three hours, director Paul Verhoeven unfolds a saga of friendship, espionage, and romance with almost documentary realism--though not as graphically violent as his later American films, the torture scenes are intense--crafting a deeply affecting film widely regarded as the greatest ever made in Holland. Comparable recent films such as Enigma (2001) and Charlotte Gray (2002) do not come close. Hauer is brilliant at the heart of what is a detailed and thoughtful drama made with integrity and passion. Twenty years later in 1997, Verhoeven made Starship Troopers, a satirical science-fiction companion to this modern European classic. (Gary S. Dalkin for Amazon.com)
Soldier's Story (1984), Director: Norman Jewison, Running time: 101 minutes. An African American officer investigates a murder in a racially charged situation in World War II. A black soldier is killed while returning to his base in the deep-south. The white people of the area are suspected at first. A tough black army attorney is brought in to find out the truth. We find out a bit more about the dead soldier in flashbacks—and that he was unpopular.
Solntse (2005), Director: Aleksandr Sokurov, Running time: 115 minutes. As Japan nears defeat at the end of World War II, Emperor Hirohito starts his day in a bunker underneath the Imperial Palace in Toyko. A servant reads to him a list of activities for the day, including a meeting with his ministers, marine biology research, and writing his son. Hirohito muses about the impact on such schedules when the Americans arrive but is told that as long as there is a solitary Japanese person living, the Americans will not reach The Emperor. Hirohito replies that he at times feels like he himself will be the last Japanese person left alive. The servant reminds him that he is a deity, not a person, but Hirohito points out that he has a body just like any other man. He later reflects on the causes of the war when dictating observations about a hermit crab, and then about the peace to come when composing a letter to his son. Soon enough General Douglas MacArthur's personal car is sent to bring him through the ruins of Tokyo for a meeting with the supreme commander of the victorious occupying forces. Underlying all the conversation that follows is the question of Hirohito's future, either as Emperor or a war criminal. The two very different men strangely bond after sharing dinner and Havana cigars, and Hirohito leaves, renounces his divine nature, and is re-united with his family in the palace to face a new life to help re-build his war-ravaged country as a constitutional monarch. (Written by Brian Greenhalgh for IMDb)
Sophie's Choice (1982), Director: Alan J. Pakula, Running time: 150 minutes. A young would-be writer named Stingo (Peter MacNicol) shares a boarding house with beautiful Polish immigrant Sophie (Meryl Streep) and her tempestuous lover, Nathan (Kevin Kline); their friendship changes his life. This adaptation of the bestselling novel by William Styron is faithful to the point of being reverential, which is not always the right way to make a film come to life. But director Alan J. Pakula (All the President's Men) provides a steady, intelligent path into the harrowing story of Sophie, whose flashback memories of the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp form the backbone of the movie. Streep's exceptional performance--flawless Polish accent and all--won her an Oscar, and effectively raised the standard for American actresses of her generation. No less impressive is Kevin Kline, in his movie debut, capturing the mercurial moods of the dangerously attractive Nathan. The two worlds of Sophie's Choice, nostalgic Brooklyn and monstrous Europe, are beautifully captured by the gifted cinematographer Néstor Almendros, whose work was Oscar-nominated but didn't win. It should have. (Robert Horton for Amazon.com)
Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2005), Director: Marc Rothemund, Running time: 117 minutes.
2005 Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, Sophie Scholl - The Final Days is the true story of Germany's most famous anti-Nazi heroine brought to thrilling, dramatic life. Sophie Scholl stars Julia Jentsch (of recent cult fave The Edukators) in a luminous performance as the fearless activist of the underground student resistance group, The White Rose. Armed with long-buried historical records of her incarceration, director Marc Rothemund expertly re-creates the last six days of Sophie Scholl's life: a heart-stopping journey from arrest to interrogation, trial and sentence in 1943 Munich. Unwavering in her convictions and loyalty to her comrades, her cross-examination by the Gestapo quickly escalates into a searing test of wills as Scholl delivers a passionate call to freedom and personal responsibility that is both haunting and timeless.
Stalag 17 (1953), Director: Billy Wilder, Running time: 120 minutes. Billy Wilder's adaptation of the Broadway hit stars William Holden as the cynical Sefton. Set in the eponymous German prison camp during WWII, the director's broad, black comedy focuses on a group of decidedly unheroic prisoners. While they spend most of their time trying to entertain each other with comedy routines and pin-ups, they also occasionally entertain thoughts of escape. But escape is the last thing on the mind of the hard, calculating Sefton, a wheeler-dealer who's salted away a stash of creature comforts which are the envy of the barracks. When a couple of prisoners are killed while attempting to escape, Sefton collects the money he won by betting against their success, and many believe that it was he who informed the Germans. After a new prisoner, Lt. Dunbar (Don Taylor) talks openly about having bombed a German ammo train, he's immediately subjected to a harsh interrogation by sadistic commandant Oberst von Scherbach (Otto Preminger). Their suspicions confirmed, the prisoners take revenge against Sefton.
The Story of G.I. Joe (1945), Director: William A. Wellman, Running time: 108 minutes. The mightiest action drama ever filmed! Robert Mitchum (Cape Fear) and Burgess Meredith (Of Mice and Men) star in this gripping World War II drama based on the newspaper columns of Pulitizer Prize-winning war correspondent Ernie Pyle. Directed by legendary filmmaker William Wellman, "The Story of G.I. Joe" depicts Ernie Pyle's (Meredith) experiences with the men of Company C of the 18th Infantry and their role in the invasion of Italy. Pyle joins Captain Bill Walker (Mitchum) and his men in the desert of North Africa and follows these gallant soldiers as they fight their way from the beaches of Sicily to the hills of southern Italy. Few films have so honestly portrayed the harrowing existence of the infantry soldier in World War II—an unsentimental, often brutal, but always human story of the mud, blood and death that surround the infantryman in combat. Mitchum's performance made him a star and earned him an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor. Critics and film historians agree—this is simply one of the best films ever made about World War II.
The Story of Tank Commander Nishizumi (Nishizumi Senshacho-Den) (1940), Director: Kimisaburo Yoshimura, Running time: 136 minutes. Filmed during the war with China, when all films were subject to military censorship, The Story of Tank Commander Nishizumi consequently casts the war in a positive, yet (to Yoshimura's credit) realistic light. With a light touch, Yoshimura tells the life story of Nishizumi, beginning with his early schooling in a Japanese village. Following in his father's footsteps, Nishizumi goes to military school and is sent to the Chinese front. He becomes the leader of a tank regiment and his easy and generous ways quickly win over his soldiers. The film follows Nishizumi and his unit as they move into battle, where Nishizumi proves to be a great leader, respected and admired by his troops. As the Japanese close in on Nanking, Nishizumi is wounded several times, but never leaves the front lines, preferring to command while injured. At the battle of Nanking, Nishizumi is shot and killed by a Chinese soldier. As he dies his soldiers stand loyally around him, and he passes with the words, "All I have done is for my Emperor." ~ Brian Whitener, All Movie Guide
Straight Into Darkness (2003), Director: Jeff Burr, Running time: 95 minutes.
The horrors of war flow deep in the veins of two young American G.I.s who desert their platoon during the waning days of World War II in Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3 director Jeff Burr's chilling tale of terror on the battlefield. Despite the best efforts of Allied forces, Axis troops still have a stronghold over many key European outposts. With time quickly running out before they are attacked by the enemy and branded deserters by their own battalion, these two desperate soldiers soon team with a deadly band of killer orphans to take out a key Nazi base and secure yet another victory for the increasingly powerful Allies. (Jason Buchanan for All Movie Guide)
Submarine X-1 (1969), Director: William A. Graham, Running time: 90 minutes.
Academy Award nominee James Caan commands a covert naval operation in this riveting drama inspired by an amazing true story discovered in declassified British War Office files. With "first-class underwater photography" (Variety) and taut suspense, this tale of heroism paved the way for films like The Hunt for Red October. Commander Bolton (Caan) has lost his submarine, the Gauntlet, in a sea battle with the Nazis in 1943. Although the survivors still blame him, he's cleared of charges and assigned to lead a top-secret training program with three experimental miniature X-1 subs, each manned by a crew of only four. Their mission: to sink the mighty battleship Lindendorf, the same ship that destroyed the Gauntlet!
Sudba Cheloveka (Destiny of a Man) (1959), Director: Sergei Bondarchuk, Running time: 103 minutes. The story of a man (Andrey Sokolov) whose life was ruthlessly crippled by World War II. His wife and daughter were killed during the bombing of his village, he spent some time as a prisoner, and his only son was killed in action only a few days before the victory. (Boris Shafir for IMDb)
Sundown (1941), Director: Henry Hathaway, Running Time: 91 minutes. Englishmen fighting Nazis in Africa discover an exotic mystery woman living among the natives and enlist her aid in overcoming the Germans.
Swing Kids (1993), Director: Thomas Carter (II), Running time: 114 minutes. In 1939, Nazi Germany declares war on freedom and demands conformity from its youth. But a group calling themselves Swing Kids rebel with their "swing music" from America. When two of them dare to stand up against the powerful forces around them—traditions will be broken and loyalties must be crossed! Robert Sean Leonard (Dead Poets Society) and Christian Bale (Shaft, American Psycho) deliver gripping performances as two friends who must choose between their individual freedom or loyalty to the murderous Third Reich. Also featuring screen favorite Barbara Hershey (Beaches, Tin Men), Swing Kids is an inspirational and powerful story about friendship—and finding the courage to fight for what you believe in!
Sword of Honour (2001), Director: Bill Anderson (III), Running time: 193 minutes. Thirty-five-year-old Englishman Guy Crouchback returns home from Italy at the start of the war determined to fight the good fight. Horrified by Nazi barbarism and emotionally shattered by a painful divorce, Crouchback eagerly accepts a post with the elite Royal Corps of Halberdiers. But nothing has prepared him for the absurd reality of life in the British army or the return of his alluring ex-wife.
The Quiller Memorandum (1966), Director: Michael Anderson, Running time: 104 minutes. With little else to help him beyond sharp wits, a strong will and a very dedicated schoolteacher, American spy Quiller (Segal) combs West Berlin for the headquarters of a shadowy neo-Nazi movement. Closing in on one disturbing truth, he quickly learns another: he is not the pursuer, but the prey,in a rapidly closing trap!
Raid on Rommel (1971), Director: Henry Hathaway, Running time: 98 minutes. Captain Foster plans on raiding German-occupied Tobruk with hand- picked commandos, but a mix-up leaves him with a medical unit led by a Quaker conscientious objector. Despite all odds they succeed with their mission. On the way they pick up and drug the mistress of an Italian general, blow up the entire fuel supply for the Afrika Korps, and swap philatelic gossip with Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.
The Raiders of Leyte Gulf (1963), Director: Eddie Romero, Running time: 80 minutes. Jennings Sturgeon stars in this WWII drama as Emmett Wilson, an American soldier doing reconnaissance near the island of Leyte in the Philippines. Captured by the Japanese, Wilson is brought to a POW camp where the Japanese torture him, hoping to obtain information about the impending invasion. When Wilson won't talk, the Japanese begin killing one innocent Filipino a day until he'll divulge the information. Already incensed, the Filipino rebels receive help in the form of an American paratrooper who organizes a raid to free Wilson.
Run Silent, Run Deep (1958), Director: Robert Wise, Running time: 93 minutes. "Rich" Richardson (Clark Gable) is a hard-driving, dedicated submarine officer with a single-minded purpose to seek out and smash the Japanese destroyer he believes sank his former ship. Given a new command, Richardson drills his men to the point of mutiny as he relentlessly trains them for the battle ahead. At last, word comes of the destroyer's position, and, disobeying orders, Richardson finally confronts his foe, unaware that an even greater enemy lurks nearby...one who's been targeting him for a watery grave. Co-starring Burt Lancaster as Gable's executive officer, this gripping WWII adventure-thriller set a new standard for submarine pictures.
Paradise Road (1997), Director: Bruce Beresford, Running time: 120 minutes. In a time of war, an extraordinary group of women turned a song of hope into a symphony of triumph. From the director of "Driving Miss Daisy" comes a true story of courage, triumph, friendship and strength starring Glenn Close ("Dangerous Liaisons"), Oscar®-Winner Frances McDormand (1996 Best Actress, "Fargo") and Emmy Award Winner Julianna Margulies (TV's "ER"). This compelling drama reveals the heroic actions of a group of women held prisoner by the Japanese during World War ll. These diverse women from different countries, speaking different languages, unite to form a vocal orchestra-creating a life affirming symphony of human voices.
Patton (1970), Director: Franklin J. Schaffner, Running time: 171 minutes. A critically acclaimed film that won a total of eight 1970 Academy Awards (Including Best Picture), Patton is a riveting portrait of one of the 20th century's greatest military geniuses. One of it's Oscars went to George Patton, the only Allied general truly feared by the Nazis. Charismatic and Flamboyant, Patton designed his own uniforms, sported ivory-handled six-shooters, and believed he was a warrior in past lives. He out maneuvered Rommel in Africa, and after D-Day led his troops in an unstoppable campaign across Europe. But he was rebellious as well insight and poignancy, his own volatile personality was one enemy he could never defeat.
Pearl Harbor (2001), Director: Michael Bay, Running time: 183 minutes. Director Michael Bay uses a tragic romantic triangle to set the stage for the infamous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in this epic tale of love, loss, and patriotism. When Evelyn (Kate Beckinsale), a beautiful Navy nurse, meets dashing ace Army fighter pilot Rafe (Ben Affleck), the two fall madly in love, only to be separated abruptly when he is called upon to help fight the war in Europe. Unforeseen circumstances lead Evelyn into the arms of Danny (Josh Hartnett), another fighter pilot and Rafe's best friend since childhood. In the meantime, the Japanese military is planning the surprise early morning raid on Hawaii that will pull the United States into World War II. Spectacular special effects vividly recreate the attack in devastating detail as bombs explode, torpedoes shoot through the water, and bullets fly, shaking tranquil Pearl Harbor to its core.
The Pianist (2002), Director: Roman Polanski, Running time: 150 minutes. Nominated for 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and winner of 3, The Pianist stars Oscar winner Adrien Brody in the true-life story of brilliant pianist and composer Wladyslaw Szpilman, the most acclaimed young musician of his time until his promising career was interrupted by the onset of World War II. This powerful, ultimately triumphant film follows Szpilman s heroic and inspirational journey of survival with the unlikely help from a sympathetic German officer (Thomas Kretschmann). A truly unforgettable epic, testifying to both the power of hope and the resiliency of the human spirit, The Pianist is a miraculous tale of survival masterfully brought to life by visionary filmmaker Roman Polanski in his most personal movie ever.
Piece of Cake (1988), Director: Ian Toynton, Running time: 52 minutes per episode, six episodes. These Masterpiece Theater series tells the stories of the men of the RAF Hornet Squadron during the early days of World War II.
Play Dirty (1969), Director: Andre de Toth, Running time: 113 minutes. Two soldiers are given the task of destroying an oil dump on the coast in order to stop Rommel's progress across North Africa.
Pride (1998), Director: Shunya Ito, Running time: 50 minutes per episode (11 episodes). Few films made in Japan have created such international outrage as Shunya Ito's Pride -- an affectionate biopic on that country's most notorious prime minister, Hideki Tojo, who was hanged in 1948 during the Tokyo trials for war crimes. Funded by ultra right-wing investors, this film struck many in China and Korea—two countries on the receiving end of much of Japanese war crimes—as close to a deliberate provocation, especially since Japan has yet to officially come clean about such wartime atrocities as the Rape of Nanking or the murderous Unit 731. Instead of the incarnation of evil that U.S. propaganda portrayed him as, Tojo, played by Masahiko Tsugawa, is presented as being a brilliant leader, a passionate nationalist, and a loving family man. His goal was not the subjection of Asia under a Japanese empire, but to cast off the yolk of Western colonialism. American prosecutor Joseph Keenan (Scott Wilson) is seen as shrill, ignorant, and scheming, while Indian judge Radhabinod Pal as the sole dissenting jurist is the film's only non-Japanese hero. (Jonathan Crow for All Movie Guide)
Private Buckaroo (1942), Director: Edward Cline, Running time: 68 minutes. Singer Lon Prentice’s (Dick Foran) efforts at joining the army finally pay off when he is enlisted along with Harry James (himself) and his band of musicians. Also in the uniform are the famed Andrew Sisters (Maxene, Patty & Laverne Andrews) . Together they put on a musical feast that was intended to boost the morale of the United States troops during World War II.
The Prosecution (A Vad) (1970), Director: Sandor Sara, Running time: 83 minutes. Loosely based on a true story, this wrenching historical drama is filled with the filmmaker Sandor Sara's rage at the terrifying effects the Red Army invasion of the mid '40s had upon his country. Featuring graphic brutality, the story centers upon a single peasant family and begins as Peter returns home on a 24-hour furlough from the Hungarian army. Once there, his family pleads with him until he agrees to desert, and he hides when his troopmates come looking for him. Soon victorious Russian troops burst into the area and promptly pillage the farm. Later on, some of the Russians return to rape Peter's sisters. Peter uses his revolver to kill one of the soldiers and wound the other. Unfortunately, this brings the cruel Russian officer back to hold an informal tribunal, a proceeding that results in even more horrific tragedy. (Sandra Brennan for All Movie Guide)
PT 109 (1963), Director: Leslie H. Martinson, Running time: 141 minutes. John F. Kennedy lived long enough to see this Hollywood account of his Navy career and his heroism following a ruthless attack by a Japanese ship on his small patrol craft. Cliff Robertson is an amiable choice to play Kennedy, though one won't find a lot of the late president's mannerisms in his performance. The key battle sequence, which finds Kennedy and his crew bloodied and battered while trying to stay alive in shark-infested waters, makes a big impression on young viewers. (Tom Keogh for Amazon.com)
Purple Heart (1944), Director: Lewis Milestone, Running time: 100 minutes. One of Hollywood's most striking films of World War II has very little war in it, yet it whips up a fearsome power. A U.S. bomber that took part in the Doolittle raid on Tokyo crash-lands in Japanese-occupied China afterward. Captured, the officers and crew are hauled before a Japanese court and tried for war crimes. The trial is illegal and stacked against the Americans from the outset. But that doesn't stop it from developing into a fierce duel of nerves and icy politesse, especially between the U.S. commander (Dana Andrews) and the Japanese general (Richard Loo), who is the chief architect of the strategy to break the Americans and learn how the raid was carried out. (Richard T. Jameson for Amazon.com)
The Purple Plain (1954), Director: Robert Parrish, Running time: 102 minutes. Academy Award winner Gregory Peck gives a "commanding and convincing" (Citizen-News) performance in "exotic" (Mirror-News) World War II drama. An "engrossing" (Citizen-News) and "visually alluring" (LA Examiner) film full of harrowing suspense, The Purple Plain is "something everyone should see" (LA Daily News). After his wife is killed during the Blitz, Forrester (Peck) is bent on achieving one thing in the war: his death. But when his plane crash-lands in enemy territory, he realizes that he must save himself in order to guide his two injured companions to safety. As they cross the Burmese desert with no food and little water, Forrester's will to live grows stronger than ever.
Objective Burma (1945), Director: Raoul Walsh, Running time: 142 minutes. A group of men parachute into Japanese-occupied Burma with a dangerous and important mission: to locate and blow up a radar station. They accomplish this well enough, but when they try to rendezvous at an old air-strip to be taken back to their base, they find Japanese waiting for them, and they must make a long, difficult walk back through enemy-occupied jungle.
Once There Was a War (1966), Director: Palle Kjaerulff-Schmidt, Running time: 72 minutes. A calm, doggily funny study of a young boy growing up in the suburbs of Copenhagen during WWII. In this child's eye view of war, there is scarcely a German to be seen, except for the odd embarrassed sentry, considered as fair game for mockery. RAF bombers fly overhead, eagerly watched because they drop mysterious strips of tinfoil, to be collected and hoarded away as treasures. Adults, huddled in corners muttering about the Gestapo, impinge chiefly as nuisances because they worry, they forbid excursions. There are airy fantasies of heroism ('Hello, Winston' begins his report to London, 'it's me'), and occasional nightmares in which his family is tortured to death. Mostly, though, he is too busy poring over dirty books and worrying about girls to think too much about the war. Beautifully shot on location in soft, naturalistic tones, with witty high-contrast lighting for the fantasy sequences, it's a strangely haunted and haunting film, all the more effective for its insouciant air of being miles removed from the realities of war. (Time Out Film Guide)
Only The Brave (2005), Director: Lane Nishikawa, Running time: 59 minutes. Alex is in love with her best friend, Vicki, her mother has dissapeared and she sets fire to things in her spare time. Vicki comes from an abusive home and wants Alex to run away with her. Alex is a bit of a nerd and a teachers pet, so takes advantage of this by trying to seduce her drippy school teacher. Alex watches as Vicki, unable to escape her terrible homelife and an psychological wreck, sets alight to herself and burns to death. - This hour-long Australian coming-of-age film explores the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of two teenage friends. Alex (Elena Mandalis) and Vicki (Dora Kaskanis) escape the brutality of their parents through drugs and petty vandalism. Eventually, they realize that their friendship may have the potential to be something more.
Open City (1945), Director: Roberto Rossellini, Running time: 105 minutes. The Allies had barely driven the Nazis out of Rome when Roberto Rosselini went to work on Open City, considered by most to be his greatest work. Shot on bits and short ends of scavenged film, this film helped define Italian neorealism. Audiences were convinced that the actors were all amateurs (they weren't) and the whole film was improvised (it wasn't; the three screenwriters included Federico Fellini). With its semi-documentary camera style and use of actual locations, the film does feel very real. Of course, so does the opening half-hour of Saving Private Ryan, and like that film Open City is at its heart a classic war yarn any Hollywood studio would feel at home with. The story involves members of the Italian underground trying to smuggle badly needed cash out of Nazi-occupied Rome to partisan fighters in the mountains, while the Nazis are hunting down one of the underground, a notorious freedom fighter and seditionist. Anna Magnani (an actor well established in her own country who became an international star with this film) is often singled out for her portrayal as the pregnant, unwed woman who gets caught up in the action on her wedding day, but the entire cast is topnotch. The sparse subtitles are both a blessing and a curse—there is less to read, which allows the viewer to concentrate on the visuals, but there are times when non-Italian-speakers will feel like they're missing out on some juicy dialogue. (Geof Miller for Amazon.com)
Operation Amsterdam (1960), Director: Michael McCarthy, Running time: 105 minutes. Oscar winner Peter Finch, Eva Bartok and Tony Britton lead an all-star cast in this "brisk and exciting" (The Film Daily) WWII thriller that plunges headlong into the dangerous world of espionage! In a daring life-or-death mission, three British agents enter Amsterdam to take as many of the city's industrial diamonds as they can before the impending Nazi invasion. As the bombs drop and the clock ticks, will these brave agents complete their mission and bring the diamonds to Mother England, or will they find themselves trapped in a volatile city full of enemies, with no means of escape?
Operation Crossbow (1965), Director: Michael Anderson, Running time: 116 minutes. A fearsome rumor reaches Britain's World War II command. The Nazis are developing rocket technology that could rain death on London and, then, New York. Quickly, England develops a plan to send saboteurs into the sites manufacturing the rockets. Just moments after the carefully chosen commandos parachute into the drop zone, their pilot receives an urgent message. The mission may be compromised. Abort. Operation Crossbow is the partly fact-based tale of how that team succeeded against daunting odds. Michael Anderson (The Dam Busters, Logan's Run) directs, guiding a huge cast in a film that builds to a spectacular finale, yet never neglects war's unsparing personal costs. As a record of a wartime espionage incursion and as an intrigue-filled thriller, Operation Crossbow is on both counts Operation Accomplished.
Operation Pacific (1951), Director: George Waggner, Running time: 111 minutes. World War II serves as the backdrop for this undersea tale, which dramatizes the adventures and crises encountered by seamen aboard a naval submarine. At the center of this story is the continuing love affair between a naval officer (John Wayne) and a nurse (Patricia Neal)—who are divorced from each other. Overzealous John Wayne is ultra-dedicated to his Navy command during World War II, but Patricia Neal wants to change that as his love interest.
Oro, Plata, Mata (1982), Director: Peque Gallaga, Running time: 194 minutes. A tale set in World War II Philippines about how a rich family copes with the war and how the people change amidst violence and death (Written by Quark Henares for IIMBd)
Orde Wingate (2006), Director: Bill Hays, Running time: 174 minutes. Barry Foster stars as Orde Wingate in this celebrated BBC production about the military career of one of the most controversial and unorthodox Allied commanders of World War II. Born into a religious family, the young Orde Wingate became a passionate Zionist during foreign service in Palestine. The revolutionary guerilla tactics he developed there helped to prepare the future leaders of the Israeli Defense Force and secure his own place in history.
Ahmad Mahmoud: A Noble Novelist (2004), Director: Bahman Maghsoudlou, Running time: 60 minutes.
Ahmad Mahmoud (1931-2002) was a leading Iranian novelist who, over his fifty-year career, published nine short story collections and six novels, including The Native Boy (1972), The Strangers (1972) and The Neighbors (1974). His writing reflects his political engagement, his concern for the poor and the working class, and his love for his native region of Khuzestan. Mahmoud testifies eloquently to all these concerns in lengthy, and moving, on-camera interviews. This portrait of a well-loved and incredibly talented writer, later overlooked as anti-revolutionary, attests to the extreme difficulties often faced by Iranian writers. Language: Farsi with English subtitles.
Ahmad Shamlou: Master Poet of Liberty (1999), Director: Moslem Mansouri, Running time: 62 minutes.
Ahmad Shamlou (December 12, 1925 - July 24, 2000) was a Persian poet, writer, and journalist. Shamlou s poetry is complex, yet his imagery—which contributes significantly to the intensity of his poems - is simple. For infrastructure and impact, he uses a kind of everyday imagery in which personified oxymoronic elements are spiked with an unreal combination of the abstract and the concrete unprecedented in Persian poetry before him. He is considered as the founder of Persian blank poetry. It is said that you cannot find a literate household in Iran where there is none of his poetry books available. He is an engaged poet in the sense that his poetry addresses socio-political issues of his time, with a prophetic emphasize on Liberty and Human Rights.
He has also written and translated numerous articles and books on a spectrum of subjects, from political to literary. His voluminous Ketab-e Koucheh (The Book of the Allies) is a major contribution to understanding Iranian folkloric beliefs and language. In 1984 he was nominated for the Noble Prize in Literature.
America So Beautiful (2001), Director: Babak Shokrian, Running time: 91 minutes.
America So Beautiful follows the odyssey of a group of Iranian Immigrants in Los Angeles, trying to find their place in America amidst the unfolding of the 1979 Iran hostage crises. Houshang believes his ticket out of his uncles Persian market is to become a partner in a glittery disco - if he can just come up with the money. As Houshang struggles to pull his family into the deal, he decides to show them a piece of the drem by taking them out for an evening at the disco. They instead encounter a night of surprise and transformation, filled with hilarity, pain and revelation. Houshang's desperate night of assimilation becomes a moving search for identity, culture and an effecting dissection of the American dream. (Written by Ken Hastings for IMDb)
The Apple (1997), Director: Samira Makhmalbaf, Running time: NA
A father imprisons her two children in the house for 11 years from when they were 2 years old up to when they became 13 years old. When the neighbors become aware of the fact and inform the welfare ministry to come and help the children, the girls have already become retarded and could not talk and walk like the girls their own age. After a while the welfare ministry sends the children back to their father on the condition that he does not imprison them again but their father imprisons them once again. A nurse whom has come to the house to take care of the children is forced to lock the father in the house to be able to take the children to play in the streets. The girls experience their first social life when they step into the street and their father whom has been locked in the house notices the condition of his imprisoned girls. At the end the girls whom were now free, struggle to free their father from the house prison.
Bab'aziz: The Prince Who Contemplated His Soul (2006), Director: Nacer Khemir, Running time: 96 minutes.
Bab Aziz is a feast for the eyes, the ears, and most of all the heart. A small girl follows her elderly grandfather out into the desert of the soul in search of a gathering of dervishes, and what a gathering it is! But getting there, like life itself, is the transformative part, without which the arriving itself can never happen. This tale within a tale within a tale is sure to delight fans of Sufism, mysticism, great epic tales, and really good music. (Aaron Vlek "Aaron Vlek)
Baran (2001), Director: Majid Majidi , Running time: 94 minutes.
In a Tehran building site, a 17-year-old Iranian named Lateef is known more for his playful antics than his hard work. Then things take an unexpected turn when an Afghan coworker falls from the building and the worker's son, Rahmat, enters the scene to become the new provider for his family. But even as Lateef finds himself irresistibly drawn to Rahmat, it's not until the revelation of Rahmat's secret (that he is actually a young woman, posing as a man) that both of their lives are forever changed!
Bashu the Little Stranger (1989), Director: Bahram Beizai, Running time: 117 minutes.
This touching, thought-provoking Iranian children's drama, from 1989 has a simple story, but complex undertones as it is simultaneously a quiet plea for peace and tolerance, an entertaining story and a sly, metaphorical criticism of Moslem fundamentalist thinking. It also presents a view of Iranian rural life seldom seen by Westerners.
Beyond Words (2004), Director: Jahanshah Ardalan, Running time: 39 minutes.
After being away from his country of birth for close to two decades, the Iranian born filmmaker goes back to discover his roots and the land of his ancestors, Kurdistan. During the many trips there, he realizes a lot more than just his own family background.
The film was mostly shot in the Iranian Kurdistan. At first I went there to look further into my family's 1000 years of documented History in Kurdistan. An old childhood mystery about Kurdistan gradually took over and changed my focus. That enigma shrouded in myths and folk tales, centered on the elusive men of the Ghaderi order of Derwishes or Sufies in Kurdistan.
Blackboards (2000), Director: Samira Makhmalbaf, Running time: not available.
This is a film by a very young, Iranian filmmaker, Samira Makhmalbaf, who was nineteen years old at the time that she filmed it. She comes from an Iranian family steeped in the filmmaking tradition, as her father, Mosen Makhmalbaf, was a director. Her mother used to act in her husband's films, as did Samira, as a child. In fact, her father was the producer, as well as the co-screenwriter and editor, for this film.
This film, which received the 2000 Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize, takes place in the Kurdistan region of Iran and was filmed in Kurdish. None of the performers are professional actors, except for Behnaz Jafari, who is a noted Iranian stage and film actress and plays the only female role in the film. Local village people were used for the other roles, except for the role of one of the teachers, which was played by a Kurdish filmmaker. The film was shot on location in the rugged mountainous terrain in the Kurdistan region of Iran, near the Iranian/Iraqi border.
Black Tape: A Tehran Diary (2002), Director: Fariborz Kamkari, Running time: 85 minutes.
Grand Prize Winner - Maverick Spirit Award, Cinequest Film Festival In Black Tape: A Tehran Diary, a video tape found in the garbage is revealed to be a young Kurdish wife's daily video diary. The film follows Galavije who is quickly shown to be not much more than a sex slave to her Iranian husband. Told from Galavije s video diary accounts, the film slowly reveals Galavije s imprisonment by her husband as well as his murky involvement with the military. After she becomes pregnant, she begins to fear for her life and starts fighting back. The film courageously investigates injustice through its combination of political intrigue and innovative narrative technique.
Born Under Libra (2001), Director: Ahmad Reza, Running time: 95 minutes.
Born Under Libra made headlines in Iran when the film's director was kidnapped by arch-conservatives and left to die in the desert. (He was later rescued.) In a plot familiar to both the cinema and daily life in Iran, young people struggle to reconcile progressive attitudes with strict religious traditions of an older generation. Daniel is in love with fellow university student Mahtab, but her father is campaigning for segregated classes at the university. Daniel's association with an ultra-religious group and Mahtab's sympathies with the reformist's push the couple further apart. After his love letter to Mahtab is made public, the couple flees Tehran for the countryside, but their attempt to return to the city is a nightmare through a dangerous wasteland. Born Under Libra, starring one of Iran's most popular actors, Mohammad Reza Farutan (Two Women) is a romantic drama of youthful unrest and an allegory for Iran's ongoing political turmoil.
Hamid Nematollah's compelling drama "stakes out a new path for Iranian cinema" (Variety) as it exposes key problems plaguing modern-day Tehran. Johan is a gentle and thoughtful young man who works as a window dresser at a fashionable boutique. When a poor and very beautiful young girl enters his store Johan feels compelled to steal a pair of blue jeans for her. This action triggers a downward spiral that will change Johan's life forever. "Painfully real and engaging" (Kevin Thomas Los Angeles Times). In Farsi with English subtitles.
Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame, Director: Hana Makhmalbaf, Running time: 77 minutes.
This remarkable and beautifully shot Iranian film explores the fundamentalist Muslim Taliban regime through the eyes of children; too young to fully understand it but old enough to feel its impact on their lives. Baktay is a six-year-old Afghan girl with a strong desire to read and attend school, something which only boys are encouraged to do. Whilst her mother is away Baktay steals her lipstick to use as a pencil, and trades stolen eggs for a notebook. She then heads off to school, on a dangerous route which takes her into the 'play area' of a group of wild boys playing war games. What follows is a skillfully handled contrast between the innocence of youth and the brutality of the grown-up world that they are imitating.
Cafe Setareh (2007), Director: Saman Moghadam, Running time: 102 minutes.
Three women who live in a poor neighborhood in Tehran actively seek a better life in this contemporary slice of Iranian life. Café Setareh focuses on Fariba, Saloomeh, and Moluk in a triptych of warm-hearted, interwoven stories. Fariba operates the café of the title, while her alcoholic, unemployed husband sponges off her; Saloomeh debates on whether to marry Ebi, whose one good deed doesn’t make up for his mean, controlling streak; and Moluk, a middle-aged landlady, pines for a man who has his own problems.
Cease Fire (2006),Director: Tahmineh Milani, Running time: 105 minutes.
In search of a divorce attorney, high-powered project engineer Sayeh (Mahnaz Afhsar) winds up in a psychiatrist's office, where she recounts the stormy fights she's had with her spoiled contractor husband (Mohammad Reza Golzar). Before long, the shrink has the bickering couple investigating their inner children. Director Tahmineh Milani tackles gender inequalities in Iran with a humorous touch in this romantic comedy.
Children of Heaven (1999), Director: Majid Majidi, Running time: 89 minutes.
A delightful Iranian movie about a boy who accidentally loses his sister's shoes and must share his own sneakers with her in a sort of relay while each attends school at different times during the day. Finally, the boy enters a much-publicized foot race, hoping to place third. The prize: a new pair of sneakers.
The Circle (2000), Director: Jafar Panahi, Running time: 91 minutes.
Director Jafar Panahi's portrait of the status of women in fundamentalist Iran is, by any stretch of the imagination, depressing. But just getting the film made was a major political feat, given Iran's dogmatic view of women and unstable political climate. The fact that this film (made by a man) is sensitive to women's plight sheds a ray of hope that, given time, things may gradually change.
Close Up (1990), Director: Abbas Kiarostami, Running time: 100 minutes.
On a bus in Tehran, an unemployed movie buff reading a published screenplay passes himself off as its author, the internationally acclaimed filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Invited into the home of a credulous family, the impostor announces his plan to make a film starring their adult son. The father, growing skeptical, invites a journalist to visit, who, in turn, brings the police. Having read an account of this true case, the director Abbas Kiarostami decided to make a film of it, in which each participant would re-enact his own role-including Kiarostami himself. In so doing, he also gained permission to film the trial, which was presided over by religious authorities. In this 1990 masterpiece of ironic reflexivity, Kiarostami's clear, self-possessed vision reveals the dogma of others while conveying none of its own, besides a faith in the power of the cinema itself to expose the artifice on which it depends. If religion is the suppression of the evidence of the eye through the dictate of the word, such calmly unwavering images, with their wry humor and generous sympathy, have the force of a quiet, steadfast resistance. (Richard Brody for the New Yorker)
The Color of Paradise (1999), Director: Majid Majidi, Running time: 90 minutes.
Awash in the sights and sounds of an Iranian summer, this moving family drama stars Mohsen Ramezani as Mohammed, an 8-year-old blind boy whose poor widower father (Hossein Mahjoub) nearly abandons him at a school for blind children. Welcomed home by his grandmother and sisters, the bright boy is eager to immerse himself in the world of the seeing—but his father fears Mohammed may hinder his attempts to remarry into a prosperous family.
When Hussein (Hossain Emadeddin) finds a receipt for a necklace in a stolen purse, he's flabbergasted by the large sum of money. He knows that his miniscule salary will never be enough to afford such luxury. What's more, he's sick of the hypocrisy of a social system that makes people like him (on the lower rungs) feel like an outcast. But all that is about to change--at least for one night.
The Cow (1974), Director: Dariush Mehrjui, Running time: 129 minutes.
Influenced by Italian Neorealism, The Cow has the beauty and simplicity associated with the great films of that movement. In a small village in Iran, Hassan cherishes his cow more than anything in the world, for both emotional and economical reasons. While he is away, the cow mysteriously dies, and the villagers protectively try to convince Hassan the cow has wandered off. Grief stricken, Hassan begins to believe he is his own beloved bovine. The story is Mehrjui's treatise on emotional attachment told in his characteristic simple and touching manner.
The Cow won great acclaim at the Venice Film Festival after being smuggled out of Iran in 1971, and was twice voted the best Iranian film ever made by a survey of Iranian film critics.
Dance Of Dust (1991), Director: Abolfazl Jalili, Running time: 73 minutes. Awards: Silver Leopard, 51st Locarno International Film Festival. Best Asian Film, 11th Tokyo International Film Festival. A moving masterwork about the harsh life of a young boy who lives and works in a brick kiln. The extreme poverty that the boy lives in has been considered to be an unpatriotic image of Iran, but only the ignorant do not know that poverty is everywhere and this film is a harsh reminder that today's world still has much poverty.
Daughters of the Sun (2000), Director: Maryam Shahriar, Running time: 92 minutes.
Amanagol (Altinay Ghelich Taghani), the daughter of a poor rural family in Iran, becomes "Aman", when her father shaves her head, disguises her as a boy, and dispatches her to another village to work weaving carpets. Proficient at the job, "Aman" is nonetheless exploited by the owner and isolated from all those around her. Her secret becomes jeopardized when a young co-worker, engaged to an older man, falls in love with her.
Day Break (2005), Director: Hamid Rahmanian, Running time: 90 minutes.
In Iran, capital punishment is carried out according to Islamic law, which gives the family of the victim ownership of the offender's life. Day Break, based on a compilation of true stories and shot inside Tehran s century-old prison, revolves around the imminent execution of Mansour, a man found guilty of murder. When the family of the victim repeatedly fails to show up on the appointed day, Mansours execution is postponed again and again. Stuck inside the purgatory of his own mind, he waits as time passes on without him, caught between life and death, retribution and forgiveness.
The Day I Became a Woman (2000), Director: Marzieh Meshkini, Running time: 78 minutes.
This is the story of women at three stages of life in Iran. The first part centers on a young girl on her ninth birthday who is told that she can no longer play with the boys she had been playing with only the day before because she is now a "woman". Told from the perspective of a nine year old "woman" who does not feel like or know what that label refers to, we see how devastatingly this affects both the girl and the boy with whom she had been friends. The second part is about a young woman who decides to enter a bicycle race against her husband's wishes. As first the husband and then increasing numbers of men from the village ride beside her to convince her to return home, the race begins to symbolize a freedom she desperately wants from the limitations which have been placed on her. Finally, the third part shows us an old woman who has come into some money and is now free to do what she wants. The way she chooses to use this freedom, however, makes one wonder just how free she is.
Acclaimed director Abolfazl Jalili offers a compassionate story of a young Afghan refugee who lives illegally in Iran. Young Kaim drifts to the Delbaran crossing on the Afghan-Iran border, where he finds work at a coffee shop frequented by truck drivers. He feels at home in this small oasis of friendliness, though the sounds of war can be heard in the background, violent bandits prowl the roads, and opium is everywhere. As we watch Kaim run from one task to another day after day, we soon realize that we are watching a boy who is being cheated out of his childhood.
Deserted Station (2002), Director: Alireza Raisian, Running time: 88 minutes.
Deserted Station is the story of a photographer (Nezam Manouchehri) and his wife (Leila Hatami), a former schoolteacher, who are driving on pilgrimage to Mashad from Tehran. When their car breaks down and they find themselves stranded in an ancient, crumbling village, the husband encounters the village's sole adult male and self-appointed guardian, who also teaches the village children. As the husband accompanies the village guardian to another town to get a part for the car, his wife takes over as teacher. Although a quiet and reserved woman, she quickly develops a close bond with the women and children of the village, who instinctively notice she is suffering from a personal loss.
Kiarostami's story returns to many of his trademark themes: the clash of urban and rural cultures, the folly of dependence on technology, and the significance of women and education to the future of Iran. Director Alireza Raisian, who also made THE JOURNEY, based on a screenplay by Abbas Kiarostami, brings a sensitivity and humor that gives these themes a sense of humanism. Shot beautifully by cinematographer Mohammad Aladpoush, Deserted Station's desolate environs are visually stunning and offer the perfect frame for the subtle magic and mystery of this story. Leila Hatami's sensitive portrayal wins the Best Actress award in the 2002 Montreal International Film Festival.
Divorce Iranian Style (1998), Directors: Kim Longinotto and Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Running time: 80 minutes.
In a small Tehran courtroom, the stories of three strong-willed women unfold as they employ reason, charm, pleas for sympathy, anger, and even a disarming wit to win what they each desperately need—a divorce. Divorce Iranian Style offers a unique window into the impassioned but very practical business of divorce (and marriage) in the lives of three Iranian women: Jamileh, who was saved by her own son from the hands of her abusive husband; the outspoken teenaged Zibah, who proudly stands up to her 38-year-old husband and his family; and the remarried Maryam, who is desperate to regain custody of her two daughters.
Donya (2003), Director: Manuchehr Mosayyeri, Running time: 103 minutes.
In this breezy domest comedy, Donya (Hediyeh Tehrani) returns from America to discover that it is not easy to find a place to live in modern-day Tehran. Eventually, she hires Haji (Mohammad Reza Sharifinia), the well-to-do owner of a realty company, to help her out. Though a traditional conservative and much older than Donya, Haji falls for his attractive new client. Haji's newly stirred passions prompt him to do things he might not ordinarily do, including updating his clothing style, cutting his hair, and sending his wife and family on a vacation to get them out of the way.
From Nasser Taghvai, one of the original filmmakers of the Iranian New Wave, comes his latest documentary, Dress Rehearsal: The Brave Hurr’s Ta’zieh. This rare glimpse into Iranian culture chronicles the performance of a ta’zieh, an ancient and uniquely Iranian passion play that celebrates the glory of martyrdom for the sake of justice. Based on the life stories and fables of Islam’s prophet Mohammad, but influenced by Iranian folklore, the ta’zieh became the sole dramatic form in the world of Islam after the rise of the Shiite sect. The overall subject of any ta’zieh is the martyrdom Imam Hussein, grandson of the prophet Muhammad, in the desert of Karbala. Among the Imam’s comrades, each of whom is the subject of a specific ta’zieh, the story of the Brave Hurr assumes a singular place. Originally the enemy of the Imam, Hurr does an about-face after he meets the holy leader, and then joins forces to fight with him. Generally performed on the streets or in open venues, the ta’zieh "is the only original dramatic art of the Islamic world," proclaims director Taghvai.
Father (1996), Director: Majid Majidi, Running time: 96 minutes.
Award winning film from 1996 directed by Majid Majidi. A 14-year-old boy is forced to provide for his family after the death of his father. He travels to the southern parts of the country. Upon his return to his hometown, he is shocked that his mother is remarried to a policeman.
A Few Kilos of Dates for a Funeral (2006), Director: Saman Salur, Running time: 85 minutes.
From one of Iran s most talented young filmmakers comes this sensitive drama about two lost souls who run a lowly gas station in a deserted area of Iran. Sadry and his new assistant struggle to eke out a living with their gas station. With few customers and little in common, they spend most of their time alone except for occasional visits by the local postman. Despite their apparent loneliness, each of the three men dream of romance and are driven to pursue impossible relationships.
With its visually stunning black and white cinematography and off-kilter compositions, A Few Kilos Of Dates For A Funeral is stylishly directed by award-winning newcomer Saman Salur. His clever mix of drama with black humor paints a fresh face on the cinema of Iran.
Modernism and tradition clash in contemporary Iran as a progressive, recently widowed teacher and her conservative, controlling father-in-law fight for custody of her two small children. According to tradition, Fereshteh should remain in her father-in-law's home with her children, which he sees as an opportunity to force her to marry his younger son, but she refuses. Afraid of losing custody of the boys, she decides to take them and disappear from her father-in-law's realm of control, aided by her women friends. The Fifth Reaction is about a nation plagued by the conflicting philosophies of hard-line religious groups and an educated, cosmopolitan population.
All of Tehran is preparing to celebrate the traditional New Year with the festival of fire (Fireworks Wednesday), which falls on the last Tuesday night before the official New Year begins. On this auspicious evening, a young woman named Rouhi is employed by a young couple to clean their house. Sweet and naive, Rouhi is engaged to be married, but her innocence is shattered when she finds her employers household in crisis over accusations of infidelity.
Fireworks Wednesday delves into the untidy lives of contemporary Iranians to reveal the complicated relationships of its three-dimensional characters, beautifully realized by these seasoned actors. Exploring the social hierarchies of Iranian society, this film gives us a rare glimpse into the private lives of a people often misunderstood by the outside world. Fireworks Wednesday reaches beyond the political rhetoric of today's headlines to show us a society of people who must contend with problems not unlike our own.
The Fish Fall in Love (2005), Director: Ali Raffi, Running time: 96 minutes.
Atieh's singular passion is food, and her small but popular restaurant on the sleepy Caspian coast of Iran is her pride and joy. But when her former fiance Aziz appears after a twenty-year absence, she and her friends believe he intends to close the restaurant. So, Atieh prepares his favorite dishes, all sinfully delicious, and serves them to Aziz one after the other, in a desperate effort to convince him not to. Loosely based on the Persian fable of Shahrazad and "A Thousand and One Nights", director Ali Raffi uses the language of food to paint a richly textured portrait of life and love in Iran.
Football Under Cover (2006), Directors: Ayat Najafi & David Assmann, Running time: 86 minutes.
Teheran in April 2006. Iran's national women's team and a local Berlin women's football team play their first official friendly match. The atmosphere at the stadium is super-charged with girl power. Outside the stadium, a few men peer through the fencing, trying to catch a glimpse of the proceedings, because today, men are barred from the game. Although their only desire was to play football together, it has taken the young women of both teams a whole year to get where they are today. Theirs has been a battle against testosterone, arbitrariness and oppression.
City of Hope... City of Friendship... City of Death..." So mutters fatigued police investigator Habib as he returns to Mashad, the holy city that guards so many memories for him. Just a cog in the Iranian justice system, he's become more and more disillusioned with the officials he serves, and his arrival in Mashad only encourages his feeling that his superiors are interested more in asserting their power than in serving justice. Yet Habib's job in the city is not to catch up with the past, but to catch the serial killer who's been butchering women in the streets at night. The trail points to the local cult of religious fanatics run by the Master--could the killer be the leader's favored, loose-canon pupil, Sayef? Layers of intrigue are increasingly revealed as Habib comes closer to the culprit, but will he find the truth before more victims fall prey?
One of the major filmmakers of Iran's New Wave, Massoud Kimiai directs this haunting drama about four soldiers who come to Tehran on leave. Accompanied by their commanding officer, the soldiers experience life-changing adventures that reveal the sights and sounds of modern-day Tehran.
By interviewing three generations of filmmakers, documentarian Jamsheed Akrami paints a portrait of the state of Iranian cinema since the Islamic revolution of 1979. Segments focus on the role of the government in film production, the banning of Hollywood films, the censorship codes imposed under the revolutionary regime, the depiction of women and children, and how Iranian films have been received around the world.
The Girl in the Sneakers (Dokhtari Ba Kafsh-Haye-Katani) (2000), Director: Rasul Sadrameli, Running time: 88 minutes.
In the Islamic Republic of Iran, strict laws govern public interaction between the sexes. Boys and girls who are not related can be picked up by the police for doing nothing more than simply enjoying a walk together in the park. 15-year-old Tadaie and her friend Aideen undergo such a humiliation. Tadaie’s furious parents forbid her to ever see the boy, but the spirited Tadaie refuses to give in. She decides to leave home and thus begins a fascinating odyssey through the Tehran streets that are not without danger to this sheltered, upper-middle-class girl. THE GIRL IN THE SNEAKERS tells a beautiful story of youthful rebellion and its consequences. Made without any moral judgment, it is a lovely snapshot of first love and its subsequent disappointment.
Going By (2001), Director: Iraj Karimi, Running time: 86 minutes.
On any given day a variety of travelers take the road from Tehran to northern Iraq. On this particular day, four carloads of people take this main road, each for different reasons. The characters do not know each other, and their final destinations differ, but their conversations about life and death have much in common. While staying within the conventions of the road movie, director Iraj Karimi successfully adds a metaphorical dimension to the daylong journey of the characters. By turns, pleasant and profound, Going By is a remarkable debut feature for Karimi, one of Iran’s most prominent film critics.
Haji Washington (1982), Director: Ali Hatami, Running time: 98 minutes.
Hajji Hossein-Gholi Noori is sent to the United States, then under the presidency of Grover Cleveland, to open up the first embassy for Iran by Nasir al-Din Shah Qajar. He is sent there with one helper on this mission and soon hires three workers to maintain the embassy. It doesn't take long for him to realize that there is no real work for him there and he is forced to quit his staff and allow his helper to attend medical school in Washington D.C. Although most of the first meeting of Hajji and the President is comical, the overall tone of the film is rather elegiac in nature.
What came about(when viewing this movie) was a... movie about secrets, and hidden pasts, and the things and people who shape and help our lives. Just when I thought I'd seen the last of the surprises, this movie surprised me again. I don't want to give away how nice and refeshing it is to see a love story in the most innocent of expressions, no nudity, and no sex. And Iran certainly doesn't invest alot of money into their movie making budgets and it proves that you don't always need these common things to produce a really great movie. I can say this, there are some movies (Iranian films) that just lose my attention or I have to force myself to sit through, and there are others; such as The Hidden Half that you can't even imagine missing for a moment.(Reviewed by Laundan Tehrani for Amazon)
Hamoun is a psychological comedy/drama about a bumbling Iranian intellectual, Hamid Hamoun. The film follows 24 hours in the life of Hamoun as he is trying and failing to write his dissertation about love and faith while also trying to cope with his wife Mashid, a successful artist, who wants a divorce. Hamoun's refusal to accept his collapsing reality, is both a character study and metaphor for a condition of modern urban life in Iran. In 1997, Hamoun was voted the best Iranian film ever made by a survey of Iranian film critics. Mehrjui's The Cow had previously held that honor.
The House Is Black (1963), Director: Forugh Farrokhzad, Running time: 20 minutes.
The film is a look at life and suffering in a leper colong and focuses on the human condition and the beauty of creation. During the shooting she became attached to a child of two lepers, whom she later adopted. Although the film attracted little attention outside Iran when released, it has since been recognized a landmark in Iranian film. Reviewer Eric Henderson claims that the film paved the way for the Iranian New Wave movement.
Depicts contemporary Iran at a turning point in its history, exposing both an extreme fundamentalism being fostered by its leadership and the seeds for change in its youth culture.
Iron Island (2005), Director: Mohammad Rasoulof, Running time: 90 minutes.
A huge, abandoned oil tanker becomes its own world as squatters make their lives upon it. Presiding over this haphazard society is Captain Nemat (Ali Nassirian), a leader who's part visionary, part supply sergeant, part snake oil salesman. As he bounds up and down the tanker's halls and stairways, he charmingly persuades the families living in rusted rooms to obey his rules while he hustles the goods they all need to survive. But this microcosm is threatened from within (the ship is slowly sinking) and without (the owners want to sell it for scrap metal), forcing Nemat to seek a radical solution. Meanwhile, Nemat's protege Ahmad (Hossein Farzi-Zadeh, The Beautiful City) has fallen in love with a girl who's already promised to marry another man. While Iron Island can be read as an allegory about life in the Muslim world, life on board the tanker feels organic and follows its own internal logic, making the movie vivid and vital. The movie's political conundrums feel implacably real and have no easy or absolute solution. But Nassirian is the movie's core; he holds Iron Island together with the same unquenchable drive that Nemat uses to hold together his ship-bound kingdom. Altogether, a rich and compelling film. (Bret Fetzer for Amazon.com)
The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam (2005), Director: Kayvan Mashayekh, Running time: 95 minutes.
The life and trials of legendary poet, mathematician, astronomer and warrior Omar Khayyam is told in this epic adventure praised by many of the nation's top film critics. Shot in English, this film transports the viewer to 11th century Persia, and delves into the roots of the forming Islam philosophy, and the split between pacifist Muslims and jihadists that resonates to this day. Featuring stunning locations and epic battles, set against a story of romance and intellectual discovery, The Keeper will appeal to broad audiences, especially fans of "Gladiator", "Braveheart" or "Kingdom of Heaven."
Last Supper (2002), Director: Fereydoun Jeyrani, Running time: 96 minutes.
Mrs. Mashreghi, who is a prominent university professor, is divorced from her husband. She leads a happy life for a while until one her students who is almost the same age of her daughter falls in love with her; a love which is completely rejected by society.
Reza and Leila, an attractive and affluent young couple deeply in love and recently married, discover that Leila is unable to conceive. Although Reza steadfastly insists that it matters not in the least, his mother feels otherwise: she is determined that her son have children and continue the family line. Invoking tradition, she convinces her daughter-in-law that Reza must, out of necessity, take a second wife to produce an heir. The heartbreak that follows is so eloquently recorded that the final outcome is "in a word, devastating." (The New York Times)
This provocative, eloquent and ultimately devastating story, from "Iran's longest-running cinematic master" (Village Voice), is a stunning portrayal of the clash between tradition and modern marriage; between manipulation and the power of love.
Letters in the Wind (2002), Director: Ali Reza Amini, Running time: 76 minutes.
Comparable to Full Metal Jacket, the film follows a young man as he does his military service at a camp near Teheran. He has smuggled a tiny tape recorder into the barracks and listens to the voice of a woman, sometimes allowing his buddies to listen. The tape recorder is their lifeline to a more cheerful world outside the misery of their military service. Letters in the Wind, despite being offically unable to leave Iran's borders, has become internationally acclaimed.
The Lizard, Kamal Tabrizi
This very funny film pokes fun at a career criminal's attempts to disguise himself as a mullah long enough to make plans to smuggle himself across the border to freedom from prison he has just broken out of in the most unusual way! Although subtitled, there is no need to know Persian to get two hours of laughs!
Based on a true story, Low Heights is an action film filled with dark humor. Ghassem (Hamid Farrokhnezhad) is a man at his wit's end and desperate to get his family out of Iran. Along with his pregnant wife, he hijacks a plane, but undercover officers onboard the flight will not let the hijacking go smoothly. His quirky family provides comic relief with the numerous tense scenes in this Fajr Film Festival Audience Award winner.
“This is our father’s house,” says Shirin Sar-poulaki (Shila Khodadad), the beloved girl of a trusted, influential man in the old Carpet Market in Bazaar, Haj Ebrahim (Dariush Arjmand). Shirin leads a quiet, ordinary life, but when his uncle (Saeed Kangarani) insist on and convinces her father to agree with some conditions, She begins working in an air travel agency to confront the sweet agonies of her life. She goes to work in her uniform, while her destiny comes to her for the first time. A young American boy comes to agency to buy a ticket to Shiraz, and that’s it: Love in the first sight as portrayed in any fable and fairy tale. The story has just begun; Haj Ebrahim disagrees to give her daughter’s hand to a foreigner – especially an American.
A gripping movie, Mariyam follows a young Iranian-American teenage girl (Mariam Parris) living in New Jersey in 1979, whose devout Muslim cousing Ali (David Ackert) comes to the U.S. to study. As Mariyam grapples with the typical high school pressures like dating and catty rivals, tensions between Ali and Mariyam's father (Shaun Toub) spring from a dark family secret. When hostages are taken at the American embassy in Iran, prejudice flares up, throwing Mariyam's life into turmoil. The story of Mariyam manages to take the crises of adolescence and socio-political conflict and make both equally vivid. Writer-director Ramin Serry skillfully grounds the culture clash between Muslim fundamentalism and conventional American morality in everyday concerns, capturing an historical moment with details that resonate powerfully. The entire cast is superb; Parris's compelling presence keeps the movie's issues immediate and personal.
Maxx (2005), Director: Saman Moghaddam, Running time:110 minutes.
A smash hit in Iran, Maxx is a delightful musical comedy starring a cast of fresh faces, including Farhad Ayish in the title role. In this hilarious tale of mistaken identity, Maxx, a performer in a Los Angeles nightclub, receives an invitation to participate in a musical festival in Tehran. Upon arriving in Iran, Maxx is astounded by the warm welcome and at the many invitations to important cultural events. Little does he know that his invitation was originally intended for a prominent symphony conductor with a similar name. When authorities in Tehran discover Maxx is a rapper, chaos erupts.
Men at Work (2006), Director: Mani Haghighi, Running time: 75 minutes.
This film tells the hilarious story of four old friends who, driving back from a failed skiing trip, encounter a strange and enormous rock. The men's frivolous attempt to dislodge the rock gradually disintegrates into a tale of betrayal, defeat and renewed hope. The heroes of the film are doctors, engineers and businessmen in the throes of mid-life crises. Their middleclass problems and the absurd phallic rock venture gives rise to great humor.
The Mirror (1998), Director: Jafar Panahi, Running time: 95 minutes.
When a young girl becomes lost in the hustle and bustle of Tehran, her journey turns into a dazzling exercise on the nature of film itself. In this ingenious and daringly original feature, world renounced director Jafar Panahi (The White Balloon, Crimson Gold) has wrapped a blunt political critique inside the layers of a deceptively simple film.
A Moment of Innocence (1996), Director: Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Running time: 75 minutes.
Released in '96 director Mohsen Makhmalbaf has created a cinematic masterpiece in this introspective semi-documentary film which provides the audience with a highly personal glimpse into real life events from his past. From the opening sequence of one solitary man walking along the train tracks as the "call to the faithful" echoes from a nearby mosque the film draws its audience into an almost surreal world containing a storyline being told by two individuals from two very different perspectives.
The storyline merges and deviates back and forth between the memory of one particular event from the past that forever effected the course of both their lives. When all is said and done one ultimately learns that while perspectives and accounts may alter with the passing of time actions and events remain unchanged. Time disappears and one becomes lost in the intelligent dialogue and exotic urban landscape of Tehran to such a degree that when the closing credits suddenly and unexpectedly appear on the screen one feels as though awakening from a dream. And like a dream one is left with much to ponder and dissect in the days that follow. This is what filmmaking is all about! (Brian E. Erland)
The Mirror of the Soul: The Forough Farrokhzad Trilogy (2002), Director: Nasser Saffarian, Running time: 152 minutes.
Forough Farrokhzad, Irans most celebrated contemporary poet became a legend in her own time for her innovative and controversial poetry. In this extensive, three-part documentary, Farrokhzads life, work, and very soul are laid bare so the world can discover this remarkable artist. Director Nasser Saffarian deftly combines interviews with family members and peers with footage of Farrokhzad herself shot by master director Bernardo Bertolucci to bring out her personality and to capture the essence of her art. Saffarian digs deep into her personal and professional life to uncover new information about this outspoken poet who pushed the boundaries of Iranian society.
This compelling documentary includes: The Green Cold, a revealing look at her personal life; The Mirror of the Soul, an exploration of her controversial, sometimes erotic poetry; and Summit of the Wave, an overview of her work in theater and film, including her groundbreaking film The House Is Black.
My Name is Rocky (2001), Director: Bahman Moshar, Running time: 57 minutes.
This shocking documentary, which premiered this year at the Montreal Film Festival, paints a heartbreaking picture of the growing population of runaway girls in Tehran. An unseen religious judge allows the filmmaker to record proceedings that seem to fall somewhere between a hearing and a trial. The condemnatory tone of the judge interrogating the girls is mercifully balanced by the more sympathetic questions asked by director Moshar. The film presents an unflinching account of a hopeless generation of young Iranians trying to survive in a purgatory between familial pressures and social restrictions.
Mystic Iran: The Unseen World (2002), Director: Aryana Farshad, Running time: 52 minutes.
Join filmmaker Aryana Farshad on a mesmerizing journey deep into the heart of her native Iran. Shot entirely on location, this unprecedented cinematic tour reveals spiritual rites and rituals hidden for centuries. From the women's chamber of the Great Mosque, to the temple-caves in the land of Zarathustra, to the sacred dance of the Dervishes in Kurdistan, discover religious ceremonies and locations never before seen by the outside world.
Who is that strange boy sitting quietly in the corner of a bus full of screaming fans going to the football match? In fact, this shy boy is a girl in disguise. She is not alone; women also love football in Iran. Before the game begins, she is arrested at the checkpoint and put into a holding pen by the stadium with a band of other women all dressed up as men. They will be handed over to the vice squad after the match. But before this, they will be tortured—they must endure every cheer, every shout of a game they cannot see. Worse yet, they must listen to the play-by-play account of a soldier who knows nothing about football. Yet, these young girls just won’t give up. They use every trick in the book to see the match.
Jafar Panahi’s films are often described as Iranian neo-realism. Although all of his films, including Offside, have been banned by Iran, he continues to make movies which explore the very human side of the conflicts in his native country. In the case of Offside, he used a fake name and false papers in order to get permission to shoot at an actual soccer match in Iran. As a result, Offside has a documentary feel which captures the very real humor and determination of the Iranian women–and men–who love soccer and are willing to go to extreme lengths for the opportunity to cheer on the home team.
On the heels of the recent controversial elections in Iran comes this documentary from Rakshan Bani-Etemad (The May Lady), the most outspoken and respected female director working in Iran today. This fascinating documentary focuses on the Iranian elections of 2002 and the role of women in Iranian society as Bani-Etemad follows a group of women who run for office and gradually narrows her view to the plight of one woman who attempts an heroic but unsuccessful run for the presidency.
Paper Airplanes (1997), Director: Farhad Mehranfar, Running Time: 90 minutes. This visually absorbing feature debut by the documentary maker Farhad Mehranfar is arguably his most charming film to date. A traveling projectionist assigned to show movies to villagers in remote areas takes his son with him to the northern region of Iran. The trip deepens the son’s understanding of his father’s work and introduces him to people and places outside of his urban cultural environment. While glorifying the magic of film as a modern medium of storytelling, The Paper Airplane also pays nostalgic homage to the vanishing cultural rituals that are threatened by the “imported” medium.
Party (2007), Director: Saman Moghadam, Running time: NA.
In this searing, eviscerating social commentary from Iran, journalist Amin Haghi projects the courage and fortitude to speak out against the despotic state via contributions to Persia's most left wing publication, but he takes a fatal and seemingly irreversible misstep by publishing his later brother's critical war memoirs. The action, in fact, so offends the government that it triggers Amin's immediate imprisonment. His friends and girlfriend soon arrive to try to bail their buddy out of jail, but hit a brick wall when they discover that the funds owed far extend their means. Then one comes up with the not-so-bright idea of raising cash by renting Amin's house out for special parties. One out-of-control celebration later (replete with North American music and alcoholic beverages), and government authorities turn up to address the situation. Director Saman Moghadam uses the story as a parable, to comment unflinchingly on the political repression plaguing all levels of Persian society.
The Pear Tree (2009), Director: Dariush Mehrjui, Running time: 96 minutes.
In this bittersweet Iranian drama, middle-aged author Mahmoud (Homayoun Ershadi) reflects on his youth, and the story flashes back to post-WW II Iran and awkward 11-year-old Mahmoud (Mohammad Reza Shaban-Noori) at a country estate north of Tehran where the youth falls under the spell of his 14-year-old female cousin known only as M (Golshifte Farahani). As Mahmoud's infatuation increases, his adolescent dreams soar to creative, religious, and erotic heights. Decades later, a barren pear tree leads his memories back to M.
Persepolis is the poignant story of a young girl coming-of-age in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. It is through the eyes of precocious and outspoken nine-year-old Marjane that we see a people's hopes dashed as fundamentalists take power—forcing the veil on women and imprisoning thousands. Clever and fearless, she outsmarts the "social guardians" and discovers punk, ABBA and Iron Maiden. Yet when her uncle is senselessly executed and as bombs fall around Tehran in the Iran/Iraq war the daily fear that permeates life in Iran is palpable. As she gets older, Marjane's boldness causes her parents to worry over her continued safety. And so, at age fourteen, they make the difficult decision to send her to school in Austria. Vulnerable and alone in a strange land, she endures the typical ordeals of a teenager. In addition, Marjane has to combat being equated with the religious fundamentalism and extremism she fled her country to escape. Over time, she gains acceptance, and even experiences love, but after high school she finds herself alone and horribly homesick. Though it means putting on the veil and living in a tyrannical society, Marjane decides to return to Iran to be close to her family. After a difficult period of adjustment, she enters art school and marries, all the while continuing to speak out against the hypocrisy she witnesses. At age 24, she realizes that while she is deeply Iranian, she cannot live in Iran. She then makes the heartbreaking decision to leave her homeland for France, optimistic about her future, shaped indelibly by her past.
Rumi: Poet of the Heart, Director: Haydn Reiss, Running time: 90 minutes.
Rumi - Poet of the Heart is a fifty-five minute documentary that introduces us to the work of Persian poet Jelaluddin Rumi. This is accomplished through an intimate dialog with Coleman Barks, his English language translator. The work also features the narration of actress Debra Winger and sensitive observations by scholars such as Huston Smith, Robert Bly, Simone Fattal, Deepak Chopra and the Sufi mystic Sheik Jelaluddin Loras. (Nicholas Croft)
Santuri: The Music Man (2007), Director: Dariush Mehrjui, Running time: 106 minutes. Just as he's achieved enormous success, gifted and popular musician Ali's (Bahram Radan) heroin addiction takes its terrible toll in this poignant drama from Iran. Authorities ban him from performing publicly, and his wife, pianist Hanieh (Golshifteh Farahani), leaves him. Ali blames his failure on Hanieh, but as he continues to plunge toward the bottom, he must concede his own fault in his downfall. Dariush Mehrjui directs.
Sara (2009), Director: Dariush Mehrjui, Running time: NA
Ibsen's 19th century classic play A Doll's House is closely adapted and set in modern Iran in this unique Iranian drama. This version is set in a wealthy Tehran home and in Sarah's husband Hessam's bank. Outwardly Sara is the perfect submissive Moslem wife, but to her friend Simi she confides that she took out a loan 10 years ago from Goshtasb to help pay for her husband's medical expenses. To repay her debt, she embroiders wedding gowns. When Hessam threatens to fire Goshtasb, his bank manager, for faking a signature, Goshtasb threatens to retaliate by telling Hessam of the loan. Simi, hoping it will spare her former lover's job, thinks Hessam deserves to hear the truth and does not stop Goshtasb. Hessam is not grateful and begins to bully the bank manger. Sara watches her world fall to dust, but then awakens to her own rights.
This gentle, low-key comedy follows a female civil servant of an Islamic country (presumably Iran, but specifics aren't given) as she travels around a sparsely populated island, trying to get the inhabitants to vote on election day. Her efforts are both helped and hindered by the reluctant soldier who has been assigned to accompany her--but far more significant hurdles are language barriers, deep-seated gender prejudices, and mechanical breakdowns. The civil servant struggles to maintain her faith in democratic processes in the face of indifference, antagonism, and absurdity. When someone tells her, "Voting doesn't catch fish," she has no reply, yet perseveres in her attempt to make the world better. Secret Ballot is slow-paced, but the movie's rhythms suit the world it depicts. Nassim Abdi, as the civil servant, gives a wonderfully engaging performance; her innocent, open face captures both the humor and the sadness in her struggle. (Bret Fetzer)
September 11 (2002), Director: Samira Makhmalbaf, Running time: 135 minutes.
Samira Makhmalbaf, daughter of director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, one of 11 directors to contribute to this moving compilation of stories in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The result is a daring and moving global cinematic reply that forces us to look at the entire event afresh. (NY Times)
Siavesh (1998), Director: Sama Moghadam, Running time: 88 minute.
Rock musician Siavash is set to play in his band s first live show, when he decides to visit the tomb of his father--killed in the Iran-Iraq War--to seek his blessing. After the concert is a success, a friend reveals that Siavash s father was not martyred in the war but instead has returned to Tehran with other POWs. Distraught and confused, the young musician turns to his photojournalist girlfriend for help and support.
The directorial debut of popular filmmaker Saman Moghadam (Maxx; Café Setareh), this groundbreaking drama captures the mood of Iran just after the Iran-Iraq war in which a younger generation of Iranians was less fervent about religion than their parents and more concerned with leading a peaceful life. Originally banned by authorities, the film pushed against the barriers of censorship by featuring rock music, which was discouraged in Iran, and by showing public interaction between young men and women.
Smell of Camphor, Fragrance of Jasmine (2000), Director: Bahman Farjami, Running time: 93 minutes.
In this audacious black comedy, Bahman Farjami, a filmmaker who has not directed for twenty years due to censorship, experiences a strange set of coincidences that convince him the Angel of Death must be near. As a means of confronting his fears, he decides to make a film about his own funeral. As he researches the funeral rites of his country and culture, Farjami glimpses a side of Iranian society which he was not aware of. In the midst of this, his view is shaded by his own mounting family problems. Through a series of fiascos leading to comic and cathartic vision of his own disastrous funeral, he goes on an emotional roller-coaster ride that culminates in a Fellini-esque dream so intense that it may lead to his actual death.
Originally made as an experiment of various scenes of a higher budget film project. Directed by Bijan Daneshmand and shot by Paul Cronin. Set in London, the film is about the friendship between Kami, a forty year old westernised Iranian businessman whose father has passed away, and Agha, the Mullah or Priest who conducts the burial ceremony. We see how Agha, an opium addict with a penchant for Persian Sufi poetry, takes the distraught Kami under his wings. During their weekly meetings Agha not only exposes Kami to the Spiritual poetry of Rumi and Hafiz but to the euphoric pleasures of opium, the preferred drug of Iranians since time immemorial.
Soul Mate (2004), Director: Mehdi Fakhim-zadeh, Running time: 96 minutes.
From Iranian actor-director Mehdi Fakhim-zadeh comes this searing drama about Behrouz, a man who has recently been released from an asylum and has had several bouts of madness. Behrouz accidentally meets Shirin, and the pair impulsively decide to get married, beginning a series of life adventures for the odd couple. Soul Mate stars popular Iranian actress Roya Nounahali.
The Suitors (1988), Director: Ghasem Ebrahimian, Running time: 106 minutes.
A well-to-do Iranian, Haji, arrives in Manhattan from Teheran with his reluctant new bride. Overcome by nostalgia for the old country, his closest friends hold a traditional feast. But a bizarre series of events ends with Haji's death—leaving behind a beautiful, bewildered widow... and four zealous suitors.
A new resident launches a wave of confusion and misunderstanding among the tenants of a luxury apartment block in this comedy from Iran. Shirin (Baran Kosari) borrows her father's car one day and despite great care on her part, she ends up in an auto accident and has no money to pay for the repairs. Needing help, Shirin turns to her friend Mohammad (Saber Abbar), who makes his living selling pirated videos. Mohammad lives in a newly opened apartment complex in Tehran, where one of his best customers, arty film buff Khosro (Nima Shahrokshahi), lives with his crotchety and disapproving father Abdollazadeh (Omid Rouhani) and his mother (Gohare Kheirandish), who still does their washing by hand, drying the clothes by hanging them from the satellite dishes on the roof. Shirin moves into Mohammad's flat for a spell, and she strikes up a friendship with one of his neighbors, a cheerful TV addict named Sholeh (Bahareh Rahnama). Meanwhile, Mohammad thinks he's lucked into a lucrative new career when he takes a job doing maintenance on satellite TV dishes, but the job doesn't work out quite as he expected, while Shirin unwittingly launches a clash of cultures among her new neighbors. Dayereh Hamzi (aka Tambourine) was the first theatrical feature film from director Parisa Bakhtavar, who previously distinguished himself working in television. Mark Deming, All Movie Guide
Taste of Cherry (1997), Director: Abbas Kiarostami, Running time: 95 minutes.
Driving through the streets of Tehran, Mister Badii (Homayoun Ershadi) is looking for someone to bury him when he commits suicide—or rescue him if he fails. But it's difficult to find anyone who will help. A taxidermist (Abdolrahman Bagheri) eventually agrees, mostly so he can use the money to care for his sick son. But there's another reason -- he once attempted suicide himself. This film won top honors at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival.
Ten (2002), Director: Abbas Kiarostami, Running time: 94 minutes.
World-renowned Iranian writer-director Abbas Kiarostami (Taste of Cherry, Through the Olive Trees) has created a deceptively simple work—shot on digital video within the confines of a single vehicle—that brings the intricate nature of Iran’s sexual and social politics into sharp focus. Seen through the eyes of a beautiful, chador-clad divorcée, the film catches her impromptu conversations with various female passengers (and her imperious young son) as she navigates Tehran’s congested and vibrant streets over the course of several days. As Kiarostami’s "dashboard cam" eavesdrops on these extraordinary and moving stories of sex, divorce, love and religion, an entirely original and fascinating portrait of modern Iran emerges.
Lotf-ali Khan whom is a retired bank employee and attached to his family has a heart-failure one night at home. His family take him to the cemetery as they think that he is dead but he gains consciousness before they bury him and his family run away of fright. No matter how much Lotf-ali Khan shouts for help so that his family help him and take him out of the cemetery, it is useless. Eventually when Lotf-ali Khan returns home he does not feel the same attachment to his family anymore. He tries to compensate for his past, a past that he was ignorant towards people. But this is very difficult. He has displeased a thousand of people in his life.
The Tree Of Life (Derakht-e-jan) (1998), Director: Farhad Mehranfar, Running time: 11 minutes. A beautiful setting, a rich story that takes place with a nomadic tribe who live in the misty forests of Talesh mountains in the spectacular scenic Gilan province. The film shows the ceremonies and belief of these fascinating tribal people who still live according to the ancient customs and lifestyle which synchronizes with the seasons.
Ezzatollah Entezami, one of Iranian cinema’s most honored actors, heads a strong cast as a veteran police inspector who begins to feel the effect of his life’s work. Overcome with loneliness and his own impending mortality, he begins to imagine seeing his dead wife as he investigates a murder case involving an elderly drug addict who washed up on a beach. Unraveling the mystery leads the weary detective on a path of self discovery. Entezami (Once Upon a Time Cinema; The Cow) offers one of the most poignant, compelling performances of an impressive career that spans the entirety of Iran’s contemporary cinema movement.
Two Women (2000), Director: Tahmineh Milani, Running time: 96 minutes.
Country girl Fereshteh and city girl Roya, schoolmates at Tehran University in the early '80s, become friends when the former tutors the latter to pay her way through architectural school. Their friendship and innocent fun are clouded only by the presence of a young man who stalks the pretty Fereshteh, demanding she marry him. She brushes him off and the girls feel strong enough to disregard his advances, until one day he throws a bottle of acid at Fereshteh's cousin, mistaking him for her boyfriend. Blaming her for brining disgrace onto the family, Fereshteh' s father forces her to return home from university, which has been closed due to the turmoil following the Islamic revolution anyway.
Under the Moonlight (2001), Director: Seyyed Reza Mir-Karimi, Running time: 96 minutes.
Seyyed Hassan, a young seminary student, is preparing to don the clerical attire. While the other students are also busy with similar preparations, Seyyed Hassan's supplies are stolen by a small boy. To identify the culprit, Seyyed Hassan sets out for the suburban area where he meets people who have never met a cleric and know nothing about the clerical profession. Under such unfamiliar circumstances, Seyyed Hassan acquires a new understanding of society and human beings.
Under the Skin of the City (2001), Director: Rakhshan Bani Etemad, Running time: 93 minutes.
Tuba, a mother of four, is a hard-working factory worker who is faced with unexpected challenges that threaten her family and way of life. Her oldest son, Abbas works to obtain a foreign work visa, which he hopes will allow him the opportunity to provide more for his family, and win the affections of a pretty office girl. To make his final payment, he sells the family home, but when his travel plans fall apart, Tuba is forced to take drastic measures to save her house and her son. Widely regarded as the "First Lady of Iranian Cinema," Rakhshan Bani-Etemad's first U.S. release is a stirring and powerful family drama that provides a fresh and provocative vision of Iranian urban society.
Fabria, prosecuted in Iran because of her love affair with another woman, flees to Germany. Her application for asylum is turned down-but her desperate prospects are improved by the suicide of her fellow inmate Siamak. She assumes his identity and, using his temporary permit of sojourn, heads off to a provincial village. At first glance, her survival seems to be assured, but in the refugee hostel, she is obliged to uphold her male disguise in cramped quarters and a single mistake could blow her cover. In order to pay for forged documents, she takes an illegal job in a sauerkraut factory, where she meets Anne, who is very solicitous about Siamak’s well-being and derives some kind of pleasure from the strange foreigner. While spending more and more time together, they become dangerously close and Anne begins to suspect Fariba’s true identity, and Fariba’s fate falls into danger when she is faced with being forced to return to Iran.
From acclaimed director Tahmineh Milani comes this searing tale about the struggles of women in modern-day Iran. Poor Sima puts up with her philandering and abusive husband, Ahmad. He is so blatant with his indiscretions that he asks Sima to cover for him when he plans a trip with his girlfriend Saba. In an Iran where unmarried couples can be arrested for fraternizing in public, Ahmad needs Sima to pretend that Saba is his cousin. Sima and the couple’s young daughter accompany Ahmad and Saba on their trip—a humiliating situation for the devoted wife and mother. But, a surprising turn awaits the trio when they stop in a town where a man has just murdered his wife for her alleged affair. Marila Zarei (The Fifth Reaction) and Amin Hayayee (Coma), two of Iran’s newest stars--shine in this controversial drama.
The Visit (2008), Director: Marc Henrich, Running time: 43 minutes.
What does it mean to be Iranian in the United States? This lyrical short drama offers an insightful glimpse into the world of one Iranian man that will resonate with all immigrants.
Building a new life in San Francisco and leaving his family far behind, Hamid (Farid Nabavi) is in love with his beautiful live-in girlfriend May (Irina Yuen), though he is unwilling to commit to her. When Hamid's traditional parents arrive for a surprise visit from Iran, he faces a moment of truth. Should he fulfill his parents' wishes and return to Iran? Or will he choose his own new path and remain in the US? In Farsi and English with English subtitles.
The White Balloon (1995), Director: Jafar Panahi, Running time: 85 minutes.
Razieh wants a fat goldfish for the Iranian New Years celebration instead of the skinny ones in her family's pond at home, because the fat fish looks like it's dancing when it swims. After many attempts she and her brother convince their mother to give them her last bit of money. Between their home and the fish store, Razieh loses the money. She finds it, but it is temptingly just out of her reach.
The Willow Tree (2005), Director: Majid Majidi, Running time: 96 minutes.
Blind since childhood, Youssef has a devoted wife, loving daughter, and successful university career, but his affliction fills him with secret torment. As if in answer to his prayers, a clinic restores his sight - a miracle that is double-edged. Although this new world of sight and color floods him with ecstasy - the breathtaking images seen through his reawakened eyes include a dazzling vista of snow-blanketed hills, a shower of molten gold sparks in a jewelry foundry, an array of lollipop lights behind a rain-speckled car window - it also plunges him into a labyrinth of confusions and temptations. A pretty student begins to eclipse his previously invisible wife; he silently watches a subway pickpocket, who fixes him with a look of withering complicity. Eager to claim the lost life he feels he is owed but unable to take the next step, Youssef is inflamed with possibility and paralyzed with egoism.
A resonant metaphor for life s second chances and a powerful parable of sight and insight, The Willow Tree s vivid imagery and emotional immediacy makes this Majid Majidi’s most mature and ambitious film to date.
Wind Temple (2003), Director: Kamal Tabrizi, Running time: 111 minutes.
Ten-year-old Sakura (Miyu Yagyu) travels with her father Makoto (Takaaki Enoki) from Japan, to Isfahan, Iran, to pick up a Persian carpet designed by her late mother. Although warmly greeted by Makoto’s friend Akbar (Reza Kianian), it soon becomes clear that the carpet – needed in 20 days’ time for a Japanese street-festival – has not even been started. Coming to the rescue is Ruzbeh (Farboud Ahmadjo), Akbar’s tenacious and streetwise 11-year-old nephew, who mobilises the locals into a sort of carpet-weaving Task Force in a bid to get the job done. This Iranian-Japanese co-production fittingly celebrates cross-cultural collaboration as a way of getting results and, perhaps more importantly, enriching each other’s traditional way of life. Although essentially a conventional fish-out-of-water story, director Kamal Tabrizi brings a variety of tones and textures to the film to keep it from following a predictable pattern. Vibrant, good-natured and with a deeply-embedded emotional thread running throughout, this is an accessible family film with much to offer fans of Iranian cinema, fans of Japanese cinema and fans of cinema full-stop.
The Wind Will Carry Us (1999), Director: Abbas Kiarostami, Running time: 118 minutes.
The movies of Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami defy the expectations of anyone raised on Hollywood or even European films. The Wind Will Carry Us, for example, is about a filmmaker who comes to a small village where an old woman is dying, hoping to document a harsh ritual of mourning practiced by the villagers. Unfortunately for him, the invalid clings to life, and he spends most of his time driving up and down a mountainside because his cell phone only gets good reception at the top. But while he waits and frets, around him the life of the village continues, and this vitality—captured in moments that seem like a diversion from the movie's supposed –is fundamentally what The Wind Will Carry Us is about. What seems dull one moment will suddenly become a rich and subtle expression of human behavior. A strikingly different cinematic experience. (Bret Fetzer for Amazon.com)
Woman On Fire (2003), Director: Zia Mojabi, Running time: NA.
Simin is a hardworking humorless Iranian-American wife without much appreciation for the finer things who lives with her husband, the aloof and artistic Bijan, and their young son, a piano prodigy. Simin's entire reason for living and working is the love of her husband but he soon falls in love with a woman who is much more akin to himself culturally and class wise. Simin however is not prepared to let go of her man.
"Woman on Fire is based on the Greek tragedy Medea. By definition then, it is like a train wreck: the audience watches the protagonists as they stumble onto the inescapable horrific end," Zia Mojabi.
Banned in Iran, this taboo-breaking film uses the claustrophobic life of women behind bars as a metaphor for Iranian society since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Mitra, in prison for killing her violent stepfather, confronts new warden Tahereh on the eve of a riot, fearlessly challenging her dogmatic views - which, over time, began to change.
In Zarin, a young woman hides from the crowds and the rituals, vulnerable and in fear. The change corresponds to a video artist more and more at home with cinematic convention. She has become a storyteller—and a dangerously polished one at that. Neshat is still exploring video's space between the movie theater and the art gallery. Reviews are very mixed on this art movie.