From March 22-April 8, the Carnegie Mellon University International Film Festival (CMUIFF) will present documentaries, narrative films, and shorts from all over the world examining the festival’s 2018 theme Faces of (In)Equality. Inspired by a quote from author Kurt Vonnegut – “The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal” – the featured works are meant to explore “what it means to be equal or unequal in any of these words’ multiple senses and connotations.” The festival also includes director appearances, panel discussions, and more. See a film schedule and details below:
Life and Nothing More Opening Reception
The festival opens with the Pittsburgh premiere of Life and Nothing More (Spain/USA, 2017). The work by Antonio Méndez Esparza (Aquí y Allá) stands as a story about ordinary people, all played by nonprofessional actors. In it, a single mother with a haunted and unforgiving past struggles to make ends meet with her three children in Florida. The event will take place in CMU’s McConomy Auditorium and includes a reception and Q&A with Esparza. Tickets cost $15 general/$10 seniors & students
and are available online or at the door.
The Doctor From India (US, 2018)
Directed by Jeremy Frindel (One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das), The Doctor From India is the fascinating story of one man’s mission to bring the ancient healthcare system of wellness called Ayurveda from India to the West in the late 1970s. In this meditative, immersive portrait, with interviewees including Ayurvedic practitioner Deepak Chopra, Frindel documents the life and work of Dr. Vasant Lad who, fulfilling his destiny as foretold by his family guru became a holistic health pioneer, helping to bring Ayurveda, which was almost unknown when he first arrived in the west, to become one of the most prominent alternative health systems in the world today.
Spoor (Poland, 2017)
Based on Olga Tokarczuk‘s best-selling novel Drive Your Plough Over the Bones of the Dead, this ecological thriller from director Agnieszka Holland follows a retired engineer and animal rights activist who lives alone in the Klodzko Valley on the Czech-Polish border. When the mysterious deaths of local hunters are blamed on animal attacks, she suspects something far more sinister.
For Ahkeem (US, 2017)
After a school fight lands 17-year old Daje Shelton in a court-supervised alternative high school, she’s determined to turn things around and make a better future for herself in her rough St. Louis neighborhood. But focusing on school is tough as she loses multiple friends to gun violence, falls in love for the first time, and becomes pregnant with a boy, Ahkeem, just as Ferguson erupts a few miles down the road. Through Daje’s intimate coming-of-age story, For Ahkeem illuminates challenges that many Black teenagers face in America today, and witnesses the strength, resilience, and determination it takes to survive.
Beauty & the Dogs (Tunisia/France, 2017)
When Mariam, a young Tunisian woman, is raped by police officers after leaving a party, she is propelled into a harrowing night in which she must fight for her rights even though justice lies on the side of her tormentors. Employing impressive cinematic techniques and anchored by a tour-de-force performance from newcomer Mariam Al Ferjani, Kaouther Ben Hania‘s film tells an urgent, unapologetic, and important story head-on.
Scarred Hearts (Romania, 2016)
During the summer of 1937, Emanuel, a young man in his early twenties, is committed to a sanatorium on the Black Sea coast for treatment of his bone tuberculosis. The treatment consists of painful spine punctures that confine him to a body cast on a stretcher-bed. Little by little, as Emanuel gets accustomed to the limitations of his new life, he discovers that inside the sanatorium there is still a life to be lived to the fullest.
BPM (Beats Per Minute) (France, 2017)
In Paris in the early 1990s, a group of activists goes to battle for those stricken with HIV/AIDS, taking on sluggish government agencies and major pharmaceutical companies in bold, invasive actions. The organization is ACT UP, and its members, many of them gay and HIV-positive, embrace their mission with a literal life-or-death urgency. Amid rallies, protests, fierce debates and ecstatic dance parties, the newcomer Nathan falls in love with Sean, the group’s radical firebrand, and their passion sparks against the shadow of mortality as the activists fight for a breakthrough.
The Departure (US, 2017)
Ittetsu Nemoto, a former punk-turned-Buddhist-priest in Japan, has made a career out of helping suicidal people find reasons to live. But this work has come increasingly at the cost of his own family and health, as he refuses to draw lines between his patients and himself. The Departure captures Nemoto at a crossroads when his growing self-destructive tendencies lead him to confront the same question his patients ask him: what makes life worth living?
Short Film Competition
The 2018 Short Film Competition will take place at the Melwood Screening Room.
Clash (Eshtebak) (Egypt, 2016)
Set entirely in an 8m police truck, a number of detainees from different political and social backgrounds are brought together by fate, during the turmoil that followed the ousting of former president Morsi from power.
Risk (US, 2016)
Laura Poitras (Citizenfour) returns with her most personal and intimate film to date. Filmed over six years, Risk is a complex and volatile character study that collides with a high stakes election year and it’s controversial aftermath. Cornered in a tiny building for half a decade, Julian Assange is undeterred even as the legal jeopardy he faces threatens to undermine the organization he leads and fracture the movement he inspired. Capturing this story with unprecedented access, Poitras finds herself caught between the motives and contradictions of Assange and his inner circle. In a new world order where a single keystroke can alter history, Risk is a portrait of power, betrayal, truth, and sacrifice.
3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Mali Blues (German, 2016)
For centuries, traditional music has unified Mali’s society. Yet the music of Mali is in jeopardy. Radical Islamists introduced sharia law, prohibited dance and secular music and destroyed instruments. Mali Blues tells the story of four musicians who refuse to accept hatred, suspicion, violence and a radical interpretation of Islam in their country.
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (US, 2017)
What do the most ravishingly beautiful actress of the 1930s and 40s and the inventor whose concepts were the basis of cellphone and Bluetooth technology have in common? They are both Hedy Lamarr, the glamour icon whose ravishing visage was the inspiration for Snow White and Cat Woman and a technological trailblazer who perfected a secure radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes during WWII. Weaving interviews and clips with never-before-heard audio tapes of Hedy speaking on the record about her incredible life—from her beginnings as an Austrian Jewish emigre to her scandalous nude scene in the 1933 film Ecstasy to her glittering Hollywood life to her ground-breaking, but completely uncredited inventions to her later years when she became a recluse, impoverished and almost forgotten.
Pendular (Brazil/Argentina/France, 2017)
The debut feature from Julia Murat follows an unnamed young couple, a sculptor and a dancer. They have just moved into a massive loft, with a ceremonial ribbon of tape laid down the center to mark where the sculptures will be displayed and the dances performed. Gradually the young artists’ works bleed together and inspire one another, moving the rhythm of the loft back and forth like a body rocking in a chair. With intense sexual imagery and unforgettable original art pieces, the film is an incredible collaboration that melds sculpture, dance, and film in perfect balance.
Human Flow Closing Night Reception
Over 65 million people around the world have been forced from their homes to escape famine, climate change, and war in the greatest human displacement since WWII. Human Flow (China/Germany/USA, 2017), an epic film journey led by the internationally renowned artist Ai Weiwei, gives a powerful visual expression to this massive human migration. The documentary elucidates both the staggering scale of the refugee crisis and its profoundly personal human impact. Captured over the course of an eventful year in 23 countries, the film follows a chain of urgent human stories that stretches across the globe in countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, France, Greece, Germany, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, and Turkey, from teeming refugee camps to perilous ocean crossings to barbed-wire borders.
All screenings take place in CMU’s McConomy Auditorium unless otherwise noted. General admission tickets to the opening night film and reception are $15, $10 for seniors and students. General admission tickets for all other screenings are $10, $5 for seniors and students. Full-access festival passes are available for $50, $25 for seniors and students. All tickets are available for purchase at the CMUIFF Faces of (In)Equality website.