Film Forum offers 'exhilarating' lineup of international movies

March 26, 1995|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Sun Film Critic Contributing writer Lisa Wiseman provided information for this article.

The Baltimore Film Forum has announced its lineup for the 26th annual Baltimore International Film Festival, which runs from April 5 through April 29 and boasts 22 films representing more than 15 countries.

"This is simply the freshest, most exhilarating festival lineup in years," says Vicky Westover, director of the film forum, "and we could not be more excited."

The festival opens April 5 with the Maryland premiere of John Sayles' well-reviewed Celtic fantasy "The Secret of Roan Inish" at the Senator Theatre. The movie follows an Irish fishing family as it comes to terms with the legend of the Selkies, half-human and half-seal. The 8 p.m. screening is preceded by a 7:30 p.m. champagne reception and will be followed by complimentary desserts provided by Spike and Charlie's.

The remaining festival screenings are held at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

The regular Thursday-through-Sunday schedule opens at 7:30 p.m. April 6 with "The Sum of Us," an Australian comedy-drama about the relationship between a father and his gay son, starring Jack Thompson and Russell Crowe.

On April 7, the 7:30 p.m. offering is "L.627," French master Bertrand Tavernier's gritty look at narcotics cops in the underbelly of Paris. The early Saturday showing, at 7 p.m., is "I Am My Own Woman," Rosa von Praunheim's biographical portrait of TV transvestite Charlotte von Mahlsdorf (Lothar Berfeld); at 9 p.m., the film is "Picture Bride," a period drama

about an arranged marriage set in Hawaii's plantation era, lTC directed by Kayo Hatta. The film, set in 1915, won the Audience Award at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival.

On April 9, at 6:30 p.m., "The Buddha of Suburbia," a BBC production written by the Anglo-Pakistani writer Hanif Kureishi ("My Beautiful Laundrette" and "Sammy & Rosie Get Laid") will be shown. Four hours long (it was originally a four-part miniseries), it's an account of a young Anglo-Indian man growing up in England in the '70s and '80s; Roger Michell directed.

The festival cranks back into gear April 13 at 7:30 p.m. with "Darkness in Tallinn (City Unplugged)," an Estonian-Finnish heist movie that fuses political comment, razor-sharp comedy and suspense. On April 14, the 7:30 p.m. screening is "Exotica," the latest voyeuristic psychodrama from Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan, set in a strip-bar and touching on murder, suicide, table dancing and, yes, egg smuggling. Hong Kong gangster movie fans get a treat at 9:30 and 11:30 that night when "City on Fire," Ringo Lam's Hong Kong heist movie, gets its first big-screen showing in the Baltimore area. The film is reported to have inspired (or been plagiarized by) Quentin Tarantino in "Reservoir Dogs" -- now viewers may make up their own minds.

April 15 offers at 7:30 p.m. "Le Petit Musee de Velasquez," an amazing dance film featuring Canada's premier troupe, Lalala Human Steps. The second film that night (at 9 p.m.) is "Flesh Suitcase," an American film directed by Paul Duran about drug mules holed up in a sleazy hotel waiting for the heroin-loaded balloons they have swallowed to pass. It's been called "a road movie without the road."

The April 16 film, at 7:30 p.m., is "My Life and Times With Antonin Artaud," a fictional narrative recounting the last two years of the noted French playwright. The director is Gerard Mordillat; the stars are Sami Frey and Valerie Jeannet.

The following weekend opens with an April 20 showing of "Woyzeck," a Hungarian retelling of Georg Buechner's classic play. The screening is at 7:30 p.m.

Two films are on the slate for April 21. At 7:30 p.m., "The Cow," a Czech fable about the boy of an unwed mother and his cow, will be shown. It was directed by Karel Kachyna and is said to evoke the liberated, radicalized Czech cinema of the '60s.

The 9:30 p.m. screening is "Half the World," a dark eco-sci-fi comedy from Austria; it's set in an ozone-depleted, sun-blasted world where photographs from happier days are used as currency; the director is Florian Flicker.

The theme of April 22's showings is documentaries, beginning at 7:30 p.m. with "Jupiter's Wife," a documentary portrait of a homeless woman who believes she has magical powers. The director is Michel Negroponte. The great Baltimore-born rocker is the focus of "Frank Zappa," a BBC documentary by Elaine Shepard that features an extended interview with the late musical genius.

April 23's offering is "Selected Winners from the 1995 Black Maria Film and Video Festival," a collection of some of the best in independent filmmaking and animation.

The festival's last weekend gets under way at 7:30 p.m. April 27, with "In the Land of the Deaf," a French documentary about communication in a world without sound. The film, directed by Nicolas Philibert, is said to seduce viewers into the world of silence and impress them with the choreography of sign language.

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