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Winter 2007 season

Tuesday 9th January at 8pm
Volver     Spain 2006  |  121 mins  |  15
Hard working Raimunda shares with her sister Sole the job of tending to the graves of their late parents and does her best to cope with her idle husband and her ailing Aunt Paula. Her life is one day turned upside down by an act of unexpected violence, further complicated when she is visited by what appears to be the spirit of her late mother, Irene. The latest film from Spanish maestro Pedro Almodóvar (All About My Mother) is very recognisably the work of this unique filmmaker, combining elements of his previous works – the largely female cast, the deft use of melodrama and comedy, the unconventional handling of thriller aspects – but still delivers plenty that is new and once again shines in its cast, who include Penélope Cruz, Carmen Maura and Lola Dueñas.

Tuesday 16th January at 8pm
Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait [Zidane, un portrait du 21e siècle]     France / Iceland 2006  |  95 mins  |  PG
Most recently notorious for his World Cup final head-butt, Real Madrid and France football captain Zinédine Zidane is widely regarded as one of the great footballers of modern times. An obvious subject for a film portrait, then, but the unexpected approach taken by directors Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno has resulted in a film that is as much an art installation piece as a documentary. Armed with no less than 17 cameras, they follow the player in real time for the entire length of a Real Madrid vs. Villarreal league match, observing his every move in almost voyeuristic detail. Against the odds it makes for mesmerising viewing, a remarkable example of how great cinema does not have to rely on established narrative or documentary conventions to enlighten, inform and enthral. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 23rd January at 8pm
An Inconvenient Truth     USA 2006  |  100 mins  |  U
It’s a fact that while most of us acknowledge that the human race has screwed up the planet, few are aware just how much of a mess we’ve made, or how ominous its future could be. Enter Al Gore, former US Vice President, occasional guest voice on Matt Groening’s Futurama and passionate environmental campaigner. An Inconvenient Truth is essentially a lecture on humankind’s disregard for and gradual destruction of the environment, and against all odds is one of the most compelling, not to mention frightening films of the year. An essential and fascinating warning of things perhaps to come, it prompted Philip French in The Observer to suggest that "Every man, woman and child in the country should see this film, if necessary at the point of a gun."

Tuesday 30th January at 8pm
Gypo     UK 2005  |  98 mins  |  15
Helen is a stressed-out working mother with a depressed husband and an irresponsible teenage daughter, but when she befriends racially abused Czech refugee Tasha, a ray of unexpected hope shines into her life. As most of you may by now be aware, director Jan Dunn’s first feature was shot entirely in the Thanet area, and is the first officially recognised UK-made contribution to the Dogme 95 manifesto. Viewing the same series of events from three different viewpoints, it features a gripping central performance from Pauline McLynn, given here the chance to exercise her considerable dramatic skills after her famed stint as Mrs. Doyle in Father Ted. The screening will be attended by the filmmakers, who will be hosting a Q&A session on the film.

Tuesday 6th February at 8pm
A Scanner Darkly     USA 2006  |  100 mins  |  15
One of the darkest novels by the late, great science fiction writer Philip K. Dick (whose book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was filmed as Blade Runner) has been faithfully brought to the screen in visually striking and unusual fashion. Acclaimed director Richard Linklater (Slacker, Dazed and Confused) employs a technique known as rotoscoping, in which live action is given the appearance of animation, a technique first employed in his 2001 film Waking Life. Set in a near-future Los Angeles, the story centres around undercover narcotics detective Bob Arctor, whose secret addiction to the brain-destroying substance known as ‘D’ is making him increasingly paranoid and slowly destroying his grip on reality. Keanu Reeves holds his own as the steadily imploding Arctor, but it is supporting players Robert Downey Jr. and Woody Harrelson who ultimately steal the film.

Tuesday 13th February at 8pm
Clerks II     USA 2006  |  97 mins  |  15
After an uneven string of films following his hilarious micro-budget debut film, Clerks, Kevin Smith returns to home territory with this belated but still welcome sequel that kicks against the thrust of mainstream US movies by openly celebrating those who elect to do nothing significant with their life. Ten years on and Dante and Randal are still lowly clerks at the same convenience store, but when it burns down take a sideways step to the gaudily decorated Mooby’s burger bar. Dante is soon to leave and marry girlfriend Emma, but seems almost unaware that he has a serious thing for Mooby’s hot manageress Becky. As before it’s all in the talk, with the guys riffing on everything from sex to pop culture to the validity of lesser known obscure racist insults, with no concern for even the existence of any sort of taste barrier. The result is smart, funny, and almost guaranteed to cause offence.

Tuesday 20th February at 8pm
Stray Dogs [Sag-haye velgard]     Iran / France 2004  |  93 mins  |  12A
What might sound like a set-up for an insufferably cute Hollywood movie becomes, in the hands of Iranian filmmaker Marziyeh Meshkini (wife of acclaimed director Mohsen Makhmalbaf and director of The Day I Became a Woman), the basis for a thoughtful and gripping tale of a dog, a young brother and sister and a quest to be re-united with absent parents. Set in post-Taliban Kabul, the twist here is that both their mother and father are in jail, and the kids develop a rather unorthodox approach to reunification, not to free the parents, but to become arrested and imprisoned with them. Taking its cue from Vittorio De Sica’s neorealist classic Bicycle Thieves (a film the kids watch and take inspiration from), this is a sad, socially conscious but sometimes bleakly funny film that is both rich in character detail and moving as a drama.

Tuesday 27th February at 8pm
C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America     USA 2004  |  89 mins  |  12A
Just what would present-day America be like if the South had won the war of independence? That’s the question posed by Kevin Willmott’s satirical mockumentary, which uses the fake documentary format to explore racist attitudes of years past and how some of them still linger worryingly in the present. In this revealing exposé, made by the ‘British Broadcasting Service’, Abraham Lincoln has been labelled a snivelling coward, Hitler was chosen as an ally, Mexico is annexed and outrageously named products (Jigaboo toothpaste, anyone?) can be bought at any store. Underlying the comedy, of course, is a serious subtext, and one that remains as troublingly relevant as it ever was.

Tuesday 6th March at 8pm
Mountain Patrol [Kekexili]     China / Hong Kong 2004  |  90 mins  |  15
A dramatic reconstruction of the true story of a volunteer conservationist team fighting against armed poachers may sound like the stuff of Hollywood, but the location here is the vast Kekexili nature reserve and the production a Chinese one. If that suggests a gentle, thoughtful and slow moving meditation on working under such harsh conditions, then you’re in for a surprise, as second-time-out director Lu Chuan delivers a sometimes breathless movie that would give any western take on the story a serious run for its money. But Mountain Patrol is far more than a series of thrillingly staged action sequences and sweeping panoramic exteriors, being primarily a grippingly performed character piece with a strong and worthy ecological message.

Tuesday 13th March at 8pm
Brothers of the Head     UK 2005  |  93 mins  |  18
Having made their names chronicling Terry Gilliam’s cinematic misfortunes in the remarkable Lost in La Mancha, directors Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe have not completely shaken off their documentary roots with their first fictional feature, a mockumentary portrait of two conjoined twins who become punk idols in late 1970s Britain. Based on the 1977 novel by Brian Aldiss, the film captures the feel of the times with uncanny authenticity, especially the brothers’ raw and energetic pub gigs and on-stage performances. The mixture of concert and backstage footage and faked interview material explores the music scene of the period creates a band and a surrounding industry that you find yourself wanting to believe actually existed.

Tuesday 20th March at 8pm
I Saw Ben Barka Get Killed [J'ai vu tuer Ben Barka]     Morocco / Spain / France 2005  |  102 mins  |  12A
If you don’t know your 1960s French history, then Sergele Peron’s dense but playful thriller is all set to change that, as it recounts and investigates the still unsolved abduction of charismatic exiled Moroccan politician Mehdi Ben Barka, grabbed from a Paris street in 1965 and never seen again. The non-linear narrative explores both the incident itself and a number of possible reasons for Ben Barka's kidnapping and probable murder, resulting in a complex, intelligent and engrossing thriller in the style of the sixties conspiracy movies of Francesco Rosi and Costa-Gavras that, despite its historical setting, also manages to comment on the politics and tensions of the here and now. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 27th March at 8pm
Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul     Germany / Turkey 2005  |  90 mins  |  12A
Following the riveting 2004 drama Head On, Turkish-German director Fatih Akin expands on that film’s musical chapter breaks with a full-blown documentary feature about the people and music of Istanbul. Presented by Alexander Hacke of the German industrial band Einstuerzende Neubauten and covering a wide range of music genres from traditional folk songs to rock and rap, Crossing the Bridge is a fascinating musical tour of a city that has absorbed a wide variety of cultural influences, and yet has retained its own unique identity.

Tuesday 3rd April at 8pm
Shut Up! [Tais-toi!]     France 2003  |  85 mins  |  12A
Eight years on from the fast-talking farce of Le Dîner de cons, director Francis Verber returns in similarly frantic form with this lively and very funny crime comedy. Professional tough guy Vogel is looking for revenge for the murder of his girlfriend, but lands himself in a prison cell with annoying, motor-mouth thief Quentin. When an unexpected opportunity for escape presents itself, the two go on the run and stumble from one absurd situation to another. What could so easily have been groan-inducing is made to work delightfully through the unwavering energy of Verber’s handling and the spot-on comic timing of veteran performers Jean Reno and Gérard Depardieu.