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Winter 2004 season

Tuesday 6th January at 8pm
Spirited Away [Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi]     Japan 2002  |  123 mins  |  15
On their way to their new home, young, disgruntled Chihiro and her parents accidentally stumble across a hidden entrance to a strange spirit world. When her parents are transformed and imprisoned, Chihiro has to find courage she never knew she possessed in order to set them free. No short synopsis can even hint at the pure wonder of Japanese master animator and Princess Mononoke director Hayao Miyazaki's dazzlingly imaginative and magical take on Alice Through the Looking Glass. This extraordinary trip through a surreal world may be seen from the viewpoint of a child, but the story, imagery and execution are geared very much for an adventurous adult audience. This year's Best Animated Feature Oscar winner, the film was redubbed with American voices for its US and UK release - we are screening the original, subtitled Japanese print. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 13th January at 8pm
Good Bye Lenin!     Germany 2003  |  121 mins  |  15
In 1989 East Berlin, idealistic communist Christiane suffers a heart attack and falls into a coma. When she wakes eight months later, the Berlin Wall has been pulled down and Germany is on the verge of reunification. The doctors tell her son Alex that a sudden shock could kill her, and with symbols of the capitalist invasion everywhere, he works furiously to hide from his mother all evidence that this momentous world event has occurred. Director Wolfgang Becker and co­ screenwriter Bernd Lichtenberg update Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle to create a political comedy-drama that combines these elements to remarkably successful effect, being both politically astute and uproariously funny, often at the very same moment, but still engaging our sympathies with its tale of characters who have both gained and lost in the changes that have affected their country. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 20th January at 8pm
Être et avoir [To Be and To Have]     France 2002  |  104 mins  |  U
The rise in popularity of the documentary feature continues with Nicolas Philibert's fly-on­ the-wall look at a single class French village school in a remote farming community, which has become the highest grossing documentary ever in its native France. The class has only about a dozen students whose ages range from four to twelve, and the film follows their progress over the course of a year as they are helped by Georges Lopez, the school's passionately dedicated teacher, whose entire life evolves around the pupils in his charge. Être et avoir is not just a portrait of a unique school. but an emotionally involving, wonderfully observed and intimate look at childhood and the process of learning not just about the world, but also about oneself. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 27th January at 8pm
The Son [Le fils]     Belgium / France 2002  |  104 mins  |  12A
When 16-year-old Francis attempts to join a carpentry class at a vocational training centre, he is at first rejected then inexplicably accepted by the middle-aged carpentry teacher Olivier. His attitude to the new student is mysterious from the start, but then the two have a history – Olivier has recognised Francis as the boy responsible for the death of his baby son. This latest work from the Dardenne bothers, who won the Palme D'Or three years ago at Cannes for Rosetta, begins as a mystery but evolves into a psychological thriller, though not in the typical Hollywood vein. The Dardenne's pared-down, economical approach, with its emphasis on gesture and expression rather than dialogue, and use of natural sound in place of the expected music track makes for compelling cinema, aided by a powerfully understated and Cannes award-winning central performance from Olivier Gourmet.

Tuesday 3rd February at 8pm
Chihwaseon: Drunk on Women and Poetry     Republic of Korea 2000  |  117 mins  |  15
The life story of the unruly. almost mythical Korean painter Jang Seung-Up is told from his early days as a child progidy in the 1850s to his disappearance in 1897. Unfolding as a combination of established fact and fanciful imaginings, lm Kwon-taek's Cannes award-winning film is a detailed study of the passions that drive an artist to create, which extend way beyond the two suggested by the English title. Set against a backdrop of domestic and political upheaval, this is a compelling and unusual portrait of artistic temperament and ability, featuring an arresting, complex central performance from Choi Min-Sik and breathtaking cinematography from Jung Il-sung.

Tuesday 10th February at 8pm
The Crime of Padre Amaro [El crimen del padre Amaro]     Mexico / Spain / Argentina / France 2003  |  118 mins  |  15
Arriving in the small Mexican backwater of Los Reyes, young Father Amaro is lodged with Father Benito, who is having an affair with local widow Augustina and performs private baptisms for the local drug baron in order to fund community projects. Amaro is destined for greater things, but his future is threatened and his vow of chastity tested when he falls for Augustina's beautiful daughter Amelia. A nominee this year for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, The Crime of Padre Amaro has angered the Catholic church in both Mexico and the US – certainly the film deals with issues within the church – including freedom of choice and the constricting nature of doctrine – but the film is primarily a human drama, the story of a young man for whom the simple notion of love has potentially disastrous consequences. Solidly directed by Carlos Carrera, it features another fine performance from the young star of Amores Perros and Y Tu Mama Tambien, Gael Garcia Bernal. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 17th February at 8pm
Rivers and Tides     Germany / France / Finland 2000  |  90 mins  |  PG
Andy Goldsworthy is an artist working in nature, using found objects to create works that have a limited lifespan that are ultimately destroyed by the very thing that gave birth to them: nature itself. Thomas Riedelscheimer's documentary follows Goldsworthy over the course of year as he creates often beautiful artworks from ice, twigs, leaves, rivers, beaches – everything in nature is potential material for the final pieces. Though Goldsworthy talks about his art and the process of creating it, Riedelscheimer's film does not attempt to explain it, unfolding instead as a mesmerising, beautifully shot work that most successfully communicates the talent, dedication, and perhaps even obsession, of a unique and extraordinary artist. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 24th February at 8pm
Belleville rendez-vous [The Triplets of Belleville]     France / Canada / Belgium / UK 2002  |  81 mins  |  12A
Champion is a young man with a love of cycling who lives with his Grandmother and is training to compete in the Tour de France. During the race, however, Champion is kidnapped by the French Wine Mafia, and it is up to Granny and Champion's beloved dog Bruno to rescue him from their clutches. Our second animated film this season (and, astonishingly, only our second ever) is, like Spirited Away, too smart and imaginative to be categorised as a children's film and like that film deserves to find a wider adult audience. Witty, fast paced, delightfully designed and animated, this is an exhilarating and often hilarious work, and with Miyazaki's film acts as a timely reminder that American animation studios are just one piece of a far larger, more varied industry.

Tuesday 2nd March at 8pm
Public Enemy [Gonggongeui jeok]     Republic of Korea 2002  |  138 mins  |  18
In present day Seoul, Detective Kang, unlike his more upstanding colleagues, does not play by the rules. Though this has landed him in deep water with his superiors and lost him his former partner, when he becomes the sole witness to a double homicide, he disregards almost every rule of honest police work in his effort to track down the chief prime suspect. Playing in some ways like a Korean Dirty Harry, Kang Woo­suk's hard-nosed police thriller has a similarly maverick cop at its centre, but balances the action and plot twists with some nicely oddball characterisations and a smart line in character humour. Featuring an appealing central performance from Sui Kyung-gu, with some very solid work in the supporting cast, making even the smallest part memorable, this is a brash, funny, sometimes violent genre work from the ever­expanding Korean mainstream.

Tuesday 9th March at 8pm
Some Voices          UK 2000  |  101 mins  |  15
When Ray is released from a psychiatric hospital, his brother Pete, who runs a cafe-restaurant in Shepherd's Bush, takes charge of looking after him, making sure he takes the medication he is now dependent on. Ray, meanwhile, develops a fondness for strong-willed, pregnant Glaswegian Laura, which threatens both his treatment and his already fragi le grip on reality. Adapted by Joe Penhall from his award-winning Royal Court play and directed by Simon Cellan Jones of the acclaimed TV series Our Friends in the North, this is the sort of film that lives or dies by its performances, and here they are first rate – with Daniel Craig as Ray, David Morrisey as Pete and Kelly Macdonald as Laura creating sympathetic, believable characters in this unusual but affecting urban love story.

Tuesday 16th March at 8pm
Animal Factory     USA 2000  |  110 mins  |  15
Convicted on the "three strikes" rule, Ron Decker, the son of respectable middle class parents, is sentenced to ten years hard labour at a harsh state penitentiary, and finds himself the subject of unwanted attention from other inmates, unti l he is befriended by the well-connected veteran Earl Copen. Based on a novel by ex-con turned actor Edward Bunker ( Mr. Blue in Reservoir Dogs), Steve Buscemi's follow-up to his directorial debut Trees Lounge is a powerful, almost documentary-like pr ison drama, brutally honest in its portrayal of the darker side of prison life in the manner of Oz, an episode of which Buscemi also directed. It features two compelling central performances from Edward Furlong and Willem Dafoe, plus a scene stealing cameo from Mickey Rourke.

Tuesday 23rd March at 8pm
El Bola     Spain 2000  |  87 mins  |  15
Pablo is a withdrawn twelve-year-old who spends his days playing a dangerous game of chicken on the local railway tracks to escape family life, which involves regular beatings from his domineering father. Known by the other kids as El Bola, because of the steel ball he carries for luck and continually rolls in his hand, his life changes one day when he is befriended by new school student Alfredo, who introduces him to the positive side of family life. Winner of four major Goya awards (the Spanish equivalent of the Oscars) including Best Film, director Achero Manas's debut feature bears the influence of Ken Loach but still has its own distinctive style and energy. Gritty, convincing and avoiding obvious stereotypes, the film benefits from a remarkable (and Goya Award winning) central performance from newcomer Juan Jose Ballesta as the young Pablo.

Tuesday 30 March at 8pm
Monrak Transistor     Thailand 2002  |  121 mins  |  15
Handsome country boy Phaen marries the beautiful Sadaw against her father's wishes, but their eternal happiness is interrupted when Phaen is conscripted into the army. Phaen goes AWOL and sets out to make his fortune as a singer - Sadaw, meanwhile, falls for a sweet-talking travelling salesman... The producers of the wonderfully stylised Tears of the Black Tiger create another uniquely inventive work, an energetic, offbeat love story spiced with Thai folksy pop music, delightfully comic scenes and some nicely judged digs at the Westernisation of Eastern culture, driven along by two energetic lead performances from Suppakorn Kitsuwan and Siriyakorn Pukkavesh.