Photo: A scene from Majid Majidi’s “Sun Children,” which is representing Iran in at the 2021 Academy Awards.
Belmont World Film announced the lineup of its 19th annual International Film Series, running March 16-May 10, and featuring the virtual screening of eight of the world’s top films accompanied by online discussions with filmmakers or expert speakers.
Entitled “Family Ties,” the series features films from Belgium, Bhutan, the Czech Republic, Cuba, France, Iran, and Tunisia that focus on the varied definitions and configurations of family.
More than a third of the films are directed by women and half the films are carried over from last year’s Series, which was canceled at the last minute due to the pandemic; half are completely new films screened recently at leading international film festivals.
Of the eight films, previous Oscar nominee Agnieszka Holland’s (Europa, Europa) The Charlatan from the Czech Republic is currently shortlisted for this year’s Oscar for Best International Feature Film. Previous Oscar nominee Majid Majidi’s (Children of Heaven) Sun Children from Iran and first-time director Pawo Choyning Dorji’s Lunana from Bhutan were also their countries’ submissions for that Oscar category.
“We feel fortunate that we are able to continue to bring this annual film tradition to our audience members, even though we won’t be together in a theater and especially since we had to cancel last year’s Series just two days prior to its start,” says BWF Executive Director Ellen Gitelman.
“The few Zoom discussions we’ve had over the past year have confirmed that our audience members crave the opportunity to reflect upon, discuss, and understand the films’ both individual and universal topics.”
Seven of the eight films will be available for streaming for one week each, starting Tuesdays at 12:01 a.m. until the following Monday at 9 p.m.; A Son will only be available for streaming for 72 hours, starting Friday, April 2, at 7:30 p.m. until Monday, April 5, at 9 p.m. Each week concludes with a moderated discussion with an expert speaker or a Q&A with the film’s director on Mondays at 7:30 p.m. via Zoom. Films can be watched as many times as desired during a 48-hour period.
This year’s line-up includes:
- March 16-22: Lunana directed by Pawo Choyning Dorji (Bhutan) New England premiere. An aspiring singer, living with his grandmother in the capital of Bhutan, dreams of getting a visa to relocate to Australia, but first must serve at the most remote school in the world, located in a glacial village in the Himalayas.
- March 24-30: Charlatan directed by Agnieszka Holland (Czech Republic, Ireland, Slovakia, Poland) New England premiere. Oscar nominee Holland (Europa, Europa) directs this true story of a natural healer caught in the crosshairs of the former Czechoslovakia’s totalitarian regime in the 1950s.
- April 2-5: A Son directed by Mehdi Barsaoui (Tunisia, France, Lebanon, Qatar) New England premiere. In the summer of 2011, in the immediate aftermath of Tunisia’s “Jasmine Revolution,” an upper middle-class family spends a weekend in southern Tunisia. A surprising story unfolds, resulting in an examination of the family’s liberal and modern lifestyle, as well as how religious traditions impact established medical practices.
- April 6-12: Surprise Screening
- April 13-19: The Dazzled directed by Sarah Suco (France) East Coast premiere. A 12-year-old girl’s parents join a controlling religious commune in southwestern France, making her on outcast at school and dashing her dreams of becoming a circus acrobat. Based largely on the director’s experience growing up in a community that espoused sharing and solidarity, this feature debut portrays the damaging effects such cults can have on family members, effectively brainwashing them into giving up their true selves for what appears to be a greater spiritual calling.
- April 20-26: Sun Children directed by Majid Majidi (Iran) New England premiere Previous Oscar nominee Majidi directs this story about a 12-year-old boy and three friends who work to support their families by committing petty crimes to make fast money. When they are given the job of finding an underground treasure by the local crime boss, they must enroll in a charitable school that will give them access to an underground tunnel.
- April 27-May 3: Gloria Mundi directed by Robert Guédiguian (France, Italy) New England premiere. Guédiguian (Snows of Kilimanjaro, BWF 2012) reunites his regular cast of actors in this family drama about surviving in today’s gig economy. Set in Marseille, the story centers around the birth of baby Gloria. Despite the family’s joy, some family members have fallen on hard times, pinning their hopes on the baby’s uncle when he opens a successful business.
- May 3-10: Agosto directed by Armando Capó (Cuba, Costa Rica, France) New England premiere. A Cuban teenager, the primary caretaker for his beloved grandmother, develops his first crush during the summer of 1994, when the collapse of the Soviet Union and the ensuing shortage of food, supplies, and electricity compel people to make the perilous journey to the US by boat. Set in the director’s rural hometown of Gibara and loosely based on his experiences.
The festival is funded in part by a generous grant from the Belmont Cultural Council and is sponsored by the Belmont Food Collaborative. Community partners include the Boston Latino International Film Festival, Café Czech, the Czech and Slovak Association in Boston, and Iranians in Boston.
Individual film tickets are $14 each. A “Passport” includes eight films for $85 (as much as $3.37 savings per film). Memberships, which include complimentary tickets or passports and other benefits, are also available. EBT, WIC, and ConnectorCare cardholder tickets and passports are half price.
To purchase tickets and passes, or for more information visit www.belmontworldfilm.org or call 617-484-3980. Like us at www.Facebook.com/BelmontWorldFilm or follow us on Instagram @Belmont_World_Film or Twitter at @BelmntWorldFilm