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Autumn 2005 season

Tuesday 20th September at 8pm
Kung Fu Hustle [Gong fu]     Hong Kong / China 2004  |  95 mins  |  15

In 1940s Canton, China, the scruffy but highly skilled kung fu masters of Pig Sty Alley are at war with their rivals, the well-dressed dancing Axe Gang. Hapless loser Sing aspires to be a member of the Axe Gang, but his fighting ineptitude lets him down and pushes him steadily towards his true destiny. If you are taking any of this seriously, then you haven't been following the works of Stephen Chow, who through riotously funny films such as The God of Cookery and Shaolin Soccer has established himself as the master of kung fu comedy. An explosion of inspired wire work and computer-generated mayhem, Kung Fu Hustle is a riot, its madcap fights, impossible stunts, endless TV and film referencing, cheery dance numbers and cartoon performances making it one of the most unpretentiously enjoyable films of the year. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 27th September at 8pm
Bullet Boy     UK 2004  |  89 mins  |  15

18-year-old Ricky is a kid that trouble seems to seek out. Released from a young offenders institution and determined to straighten up his act, he is picked up by his hot-headed best friend Wisdom, who gives him a gun as a coming-home present. When the two clash soon after with a group of local thugs, a violent feud erupts that is set to transform their lives and those of everyone close to them. Former documentary film-maker Saul Dibb makes his feature debut with this timely and disturbing tale set in Britain's rising gun culture, a work that has prompted comparisons to John Singleton's Boyz N the Hood and Mathieu Kassovitz's La Haine in its raw honesty and thematic strength. Featuring strong performances from its young cast, the film neatly sidesteps genre clichés and proves a realistic and troubling fable for our times.

Tuesday 4th October at 8pm
Torremolinos 73     Spain / Denmark 2003  |  91 mins  |  15

In 1970s Spain, failing Encyclopaedia salesman Alfredo and his wife Carmen are facing eviction, but find a way to pay the bills when they enter the world of adult Super-8 film production. For Carmen the experience proves unexpectedly liberating, and she soon finds success as a porn star, while Alfredo continues to dream of becoming the next Ingmar Bergman. Despite its subject matter, first time feature director Pablo Berger's tale of two innocents caught out by their own unexpected success is a sweetly affecting comedy-drama that captures the flavour of the times as acutely as Paul Thomas Anderson's similarly themed (though stylistically different) Boogie Nights, and features a winning performance from recent Almodóvar regular Javier Cámara.

Tuesday 11th October at 8pm
Café Lumière [Kôhi jikô]     Japan / Taiwan 2003  |  102 mins  |  U

Pregnant writer Yoko returns to Tokyo from a research trip to Taiwan, and embarks on a journey through her home city with her book-selling friend Hajime. Commissioned as part of a series of films to commemorate the birth of the great Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu, celebrated Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien's film draws on Ozu's themes and gentle film-making style, but creates its own, almost dream-like sense of place and time. A slow moving, hypnotic exercise in film-making style in which plot is kept to a minimum and the camera sometimes comes to rest on the smaller details of everyday life rather than actions that advance the narrative. Beautifully photographed by Pin Bing Lee and starring Japanese pop star Yo Hitoto as Yoko and, from Gohatto and Zatoichi, Tadanobu Asano as Hajime.

Tuesday 18th October at 8pm
Machuca     France / Chile / Spain / UK 2004  |  121 mins  |  15

In 1973 Chile, two 11-year-old boys from opposite ends of the social spectrum, who are studying at an English school in Santiago, become close friends, and together observe the dramatic upheaval in their country that ended with the military coup led by Augusto Pinochet. Andrés Wood's rights-of-passage film uses the boys' vastly different backgrounds to examine both sides of pre-Pinochet Chilean society, as the two learn from each other through their families and their lives. Wood's even handed approach focuses primarily on his two main characters, as the politics of change move steadily from the background to the fore, and is aided by winning performances from young Mathias Quer and Ariel Mateluna.

Tuesday 25th October at 8pm
The Keys to the House [Le Chiavi di casa]     Italy / Germany / France / UK 2004  |  111 mins  |  15

Guilt-ridden father Gianni has not seen his muscular dystrophy-afflicted son since birth, and agrees fifteen years later to escort the boy to Berlin for treatment, on the way attempting to forge a relationship with him. What sounds like a recipe for Hollywood-style sentimentalism is handled with genuine sensitivity but a refreshing lack of artificial emotional manipulation. The result is a refreshing, touching and sometimes starkly honest film with strong performances, notably Kim Rossi Stuart as Gianni, and Charlotte Rampling as Nicole, a woman he meets en route whose experience with cerebral palsy represents for Gianni a possible future for himself with his son.

Tuesday 1st November at 8pm
Moolaadé     Senegal / Burkina Faso / Morocco / Tunisia / Cameroon / Switzerland / Germany 2004  |  125 mins  |  15

In an African village, determined mother Colle, who has already lost two daughters to botched female circumcisions, refuses to allow her only surviving daughter to undergo the procedure. When four other girls escape the circumcision ceremony, Colle offers them 'Moolaadé' (protection), angering the village menfolk, who believe she is defying the law of Islam. The work of director Ousmane Sembene has been crucial in opening up African cinema to the world, and his latest is a powerful look at a practice that is widely regarded as barbaric, but also a potent study of the conflict between traditional rural values and the increasing effect of modernity and globalistion. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 8th November at 8pm
Festival     UK 2005  |  107 mins  |  18

At the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, a number of performers arrive, meet and interact, all with varying hopes of success. It's actually hard to write a simple synopsis for this almost Robert Altman-like interweaving of diverse stories and characters, who include Faith and her one-woman show about Dorothy Wordsworth, clergyman Brother Mike with his take on paedophilia, and egotistic TV comic Sean, who is on the verge of a big movie deal. Written and directed by Annie Griffin, whose The Book Group remains one of the most underseen and undervalued TV comedy series of recent years, this is an engaging, cynical, funny and occasionally rather dark look at the world of performance art and those who fight, with wildly differing results, to succeed in it. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 15th November at 8pm
A Common Thread [Brodeuses]     France 2004  |  88 mins  |  12A

Withdrawn 17-year-old Claire lives in a small rural French community, and has managed to conceal her pregnancy from both her parents and her fellow supermarket workers. Boredom leads her to quit her job, and she instead finds part-time employment with seamstress Madame Mélikian, who is in mourning for a son killed in a motorcycle accident. The two form a bond through their work and begin to drawn strength from one another, one who has just lost a child, the other soon to bring one into the world. Eléonore Faucher's debut film is a confident and touching character study, built on a foundation of strong performances – notably Lola Naymark as Claire and veteran actress Ariane Ascaride as Madame Mélikian – and neatly avoiding the traps of sentimentality.

Tuesday 22nd November at 8pm
Whisky     Hong Kong / China 2004  |  95 mins  |  15

After some years apart, two brothers at the lower end of the rag trade are set to re-unite for a memorial service for their mother, who died a year earlier. Failing sock factory owner Jacobo, apprehensive about the arrival of brother Herman and keen to prove that he has made something of his life, persuades his uncommunicative assistant Marta to pose as his wife. Matters are complicated, however, when Herman invites the pair on holiday with him. What reads like the recipe for wild farce is, in the hands of directors Pablo Stoll and Juan Pablo Rebella, a gently paced and cleverly devised character comedy in the vein of droll Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki that delights in the smallest of details, creating richly believable and oddly sympathetic characters out of the mismatched three. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 29th November at 8pm
The Lizard [Marmoulak]     Iran 2004  |  115 mins  |  12A

Jailed cat-burglar Reza – nicknamed The Lizard for his wall-climbing abilities – is due to be put on a 'spiritual diet' by the prison warden, but escapes by stealing a priest's robes and winds up masquerading as a village prayer leader. Those familiar with Iranian cinema through the works of Abbas Kiarostami and Mohsen Makhmalbaf are in for a surprise with Kamal Tabrizi's new film, a breezy, frequently very funny satirical comedy that owes more to Billy Wilder than its Iranian contemporaries. Sitting just underneath the comedy, however, is a serious examination of Iranian religion and politics, attracting even more controversy on its Iranian release than a certain Mel Gibson-directed religious movie you may have read about.

Tuesday 6th December at 8pm
Stander     South Africa / Canada / Germany / US / UK 2004  |  112 mins  |  15

In 1970s Apartheid South Africa, disillusioned cop Andre Stander switches sides and executes a string of outlandish bank robberies, in the process becoming something of a Ned Kelly-style folk hero. Initially very principled, Stander soon becomes seduced by the money his activities have made him, and has trouble reconciling his new lifestyle with his former beliefs. Sticking largely to the genuinely extraordinary true-life story that made Stander a household name in South Africa, New York-based director Bronwen Hughes delivers a fast-paced, hugely entertaining caper movie that shines in its engaging characters and sometimes breathless set-pieces. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 13th December at 8pm
Life is a Miracle [Zivot je cudo]     France / Serbia / Montenegro 2004  |  154 mins  |  15

In a 1992 Serbian village on the border with Bosnia, the villagers are convinced that the imminent Balkan war will not affect them, and continue about their daily lives until, inevitably, the shooting starts. Emir Kusturica brings to his latest film – his first fictional work in six years – the same manic energy that made Underground and Black Cat, White Cat so memorable, creating a vibrant, semi-comic, sometimes surrealistic multi-character look at the absurdity of war, celebrating the humanity and resilience of ordinary people in times of crisis.