The Foreign Film Series Kicks Off January 28

When I first moved to the Cape, the discovery of Cape Cod Community College’s Foreign Film Series was a great coup for someone suffering cinema withdrawal after leaving one of the world’s great film communities – New York City – for an extraordinarily beautiful place that lacked enthusiasm for movies.

The series is a free program offered by the Department of Languages and Literature, so it’s somewhat surprising that the majority of films scheduled for this spring’s season are English-language films. Of the 13 weekly selections, 7 are in English, including 4 that are actually U.S. productions. Now, as I said, I am happy there is such a series here on the Cape, and I have included the entire schedule in my online calendar since it is the mission of the Cape Cod Film Society to advance film appreciation in this region, but it would seem the series programmer could use a reminder as to the need for foreign-language films to be shown theatrically here.

Be that as it may, there are some great films on the schedule. Most notably, Ingmar Bergman’s classic film Wild Strawberries (1957) is showing on Tuesday, April 1st. I was lucky enough to have been introduced to this film in high school, which I’m sure is a rare experience because the film’s themes and its formal approach differ strongly from what an American teenager would be used to. And yet this is a great example of the power of cinema: how a film can bring us to understand something outside our own lived experiences and make us better people. In Bergman’s film, an aging professor has a kind of existential crisis as he looks back on his life. The surreal dream sequences and a maddeningly quiet sound design, as well as masterful performances by Victor Sjostrom and Bibi Andersson make this one of Bergman’s finest films. It is also one of the first of his features to be shown and appreciated on the U.S.’s burgeoning arthouse film circuit of the late 1950s. Put this one on your calendar to see.

The second film that I would love to revisit is Venus, which features Peter O’Toole in one of his last starring roles. Again, the film deals with aging, but it does so in such a beautiful way, never reducing its main character to tired stereotypes, which in this culture vacillate between old fools and wise souls. O’Toole plays Maurice, a septuagenarian actor who is still very much a man in that he appreciates beautiful women and doesn’t always think with his brain. O’Toole was nominated for an Academy Award for that performance, but lost to Forest Whitaker, who also did an incredible job portraying Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland.

There are also a couple of films I haven’t seen, like the Turkish feature Watchtower, directed by Pelin Esmer, showing on March 11th, and the week before that, Off White Lies, an Israeli film directed by Maya Kenig. Both of these look promising as well.

It’s cold outside and probably will be for a while, so check out some of these films at CCCC. All films start at 3:30 p.m. and screen in Lecture Hall A in the Science Building at Cape Cod Community College, 2240 Iyanough Rd., W. Barnstable (Exit 6 off of Rte. 6). Parking is available in lots 5, 6, & 7 at CCCC. For more information call 508.362.2131 ext. 4453.

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