RISING FROM ASHES producer Greg Kwedar will participate in Q&A’s after the 7:30 and 9:45 screenings on Saturday, August 3 and after the 5:20 and 7:30 screenings on Sunday, August 4 at the Royal Theater.
We’re very pleased to open NICKY’S FAMILY July 19. Today the L.A. Times published a piece about Sir Nicholas Winton, a very modest hero whose life-saving accomplishments went unacknowledged for decades: “Winton said he didn’t talk about his accomplishments because ‘there were more important things going on than to dwell in the past.'”
Beginning July 19 we’ll be screening NICKY’S FAMILY, the acclaimed documentary about Nicholas Winton, an Englishman who organized the rescue of 669 Czech and Slovak children just before the outbreak of World War II: He was a big part of what we now know as the Kindertransport. This hero is still alive and in May CNN marked the occasion of his 104th birthday by broadcasting this piece about him and the new film.
Fill the Void by first time writer/director Rama Burshtein has been playing at Laemmle for a while now. And there’s a simple reason for that – it’s an exquisite piece of filmmaking.
The movie is foremost a loving portrayal and homage to haredi culture in Israel (ultra-religious Jews). Burshtein brings her hasidic community to life in rich, warm tones. Everything, specially interior space, is suffused in a welcoming, other-worldly light, as if she and talented cinematographer Asaf Sudry had uncovered a place where heaven and earth meet.
With such clear affection for her subject (Burshtein is deeply religious herself), you might think the film is one long sop to Ultra-Orthodox Judaism. You’d be wrong. In fact, Burshtein illuminates this world with nary a comment. The role of women, for instance, comes into clear focus, including the many aspects that would normally scandalize a modern, liberal audience – persistent segregation, cumbersome modesty rules, arranged marriages, etc. But Burshtein neither endorses such practices nor critiques them. This approach holds true for the film as a whole. Judgment is put to the side; in its place, the director gifts us with a profound sense of grace and acceptance.
If that’s not all, Burshtein has a knowingly deft and gentle touch when it comes to interpersonal relations. Though not lacking in passion or conviction, her characters bring us into the story with remarkable subtlety and restraint. It’s one of those films that you can see three times (and I have!) and discover it anew each time; an unseen gesture, a motivation not previously considered, an underlying theme freshly revealed. Still, despite repeat viewing, Fill the Void stubbornly defies pat summations, preserving a delicious sense of ambiguity up until (literally) the very last instant.
The sublime performance of Hadas Yaron, who won Best Actress at the Awards of the Israeli Film Academy for her lead role as the younger sister Shira, is emblematic of the cast as whole. It’s hard to imagine anyone not being moved by her performance, especially in the final scenes.
Sometimes a film shines such an intense, brilliant light upon its subject that all we can do as an audience is open our mouths in grateful wonder and appreciation. Fill the Void is such a film. You may see it (for the first or third time) at the Royal or Town Center 5 through July 11.
– Marc Horwitz
Film Title: A Hijacking
This taut Danish thriller by director Tobias Lindholm, about Somali pirates commandeering a merchant vessel in the Indian Ocean, keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. What’s more, it manages to do so without any of the testosterone-laden heroics of its mainstream, bid-budget counterparts.
Like best-in-breed horror films (recall the original Halloween), Tobias wisely knows the ever-present threat of violence is often more riveting and palpably effective then the mayhem itself. That’s not to say the film doesn’t have its moments, however.
Then there’s the smart juxtaposition of the various worlds colliding – the blue collar ethos of the sailors, the crisp, sanitized, yet pressure-filled realm of the modern corporation, and the raw energy and engineered chaos brought to bear by the Somali pirates. How Lindholm harnesses these seemingly disparate cultural forces — depicting how they are obviously different and yet how they are also surprisingly alike — is the fulcrum upon which A Hijacking emerges as a complex and inspired piece of filmmaking.
– Marc Horwitz
A film recommendation from Bob Laemmle.
The Attack is a fascinating drama that examines the Israeli/Palestinian situation from the vantage point of Lebanese Director Ziad Doueiri. Raising hosts of questions but resisting clear-cut answers, the filmmaker applies a deft and even-handed approach to his subject. Under Doueiri’s supervision, the acting is superb and believable to the point that it almost feels like you’re watching a documentary.
The story of how The Attack was made and distributed is nearly as compelling as the movie itself. Shot on location in both Israel and the Palestinian territories, the producers had to navigate and overcome complex political, bureaucratic and security issues. What’s more, the controversial nature of the film has led to a revolving door of financial backers.
While screening successfully to Arab audiences via the festival circuit, it’s unfortunate that the film will likely not be released in the Palestinian territories or most other Arab countries. However, it will play in Israel and tracking its performance there should prove interesting.
Of course, movie-goers around the world including Laemmle audiences here in L.A., should consider themselves fortunate indeed to be able to reap the benefit of Doueiri’s talent, passion, and commitment. Filmmakers like him and Tobias Lindholm (who’s equally riveting Danish thriller A Hijacking is also currently running) are just two present-moment examples of the incredible work being done by filmmakers across the globe. We are truly in a golden age of world cinema. Let’s be sure not to miss it!
– Bob Laemmle