SLALOM – Review by Diane Carson

In her impressive debut feature, co-writer/director Charlène Favier daringly tackles the abhorrent sports coaches who sexually abuse their talented athletes. Zeroed in on ski trainer Fred and his most promising student, Lyz Lopez, Slalom makes a strong statement, addressing the victimization head on without ever exploiting the repulsive interaction with titillating moments, as too often happens with molestation stories.

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OSCAR NOMINATED ANIMATION SHORTS – Review by Diane Carson

Each year, a committee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences chooses five animated short films for Oscar contention. Three current nominees grapple with serious topics, while two relate playful stories with genuine charm. All showcase impressive, distinctive animation. The cinema program also includes three bonus works that made the shortlist but not the final, competitive group.

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MALNI: TOWARDS THE OCEAN, TOWARDS THE SHORE – Review by Diane Carson

With Sweetwater Sahme and Jordan Mercier as our Chinook guides, Malni – Towards the Ocean, Towards the Shore explores rich rain forest and expansive coastal terrain. The external exploration overlaps with thoughtful interrogation of the omnipresent spirit world. Describing his work as “ethnopoetic,” director Sky Hopinka, of Ho-Chunk and Pechanga ancestry, offers an artistic contemplation of the Chinook death myth.

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THIS IS NOT A BURIAL, IT’S A RESURRECTION – Review by Diane Carson

Some directors grasp the concept of film art. To that esteemed group I now add Lesotho filmmaker Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese. His This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection confronts a familiar problem. The exquisite presentation is anything but typical, from the dialogue to the sound, the compositions to the community interaction.

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I CARE A LOT – Review by Diane Carson

It isn’t often that a fictional film boldly explores the ugly side of those who con the elderly. Already, then, I Care a Lot wades into unusual territory. But that barely suggests the unexpected, wildly daring narrative that writer/director J Blakeson presents without sentimental indulgence. In fact, unmitigated depravity comes without a hint of empathy.

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15th Annual African Film Festival – Diane Carson reports

Washington University’s 15th annual African Film Festival runs March 26 through 28 with a short subject plus a feature each evening, offering a rich world of African shorts and features. This immensely rewarding African Film Festival achieves its goal to enhance awareness of the diversity of the African continent through visually appealing stories.

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TWO WAYS HOME – Review by Diane Carson

In Two Ways Home, director Ron Vignone addresses a prevalent, persistent issue. How does a bipolar individual, working toward self-respect, gain understanding, much less acceptance, by people unfamiliar with the condition? Add to this challenge a young woman, identified only as Kathy, recently released from prison and now returning to her rural Iowa home and hostile relatives, including her very angry twelve-year-old daughter Cori.

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THE FEVER, MARGIN, AND LANDS – Reviews by Diane Carson

The Fever, Margin, and Lands offer insights into South American worlds. As much an anthropologist as a filmmaker, Maya Werneck Da-Rin’s The Fever, Margin, and Lands offer remarkable insights into the people sharing the border of Colombia, Peru, and Brazil. The Amazon flows through and defines the region, an area with a rich history of indigenous people now grappling with what one man describes as “North Americanization.”

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THE COURIER – Review by Diane Carson

British director Dominic Cooke opens The Courier with on-screen titles announcing that by 1960 the United States/Soviet Union nuclear arms race had intensified with imminent destruction threatening. With the Cuban missile crisis as the historical backdrop, this cloak-and-dagger story, based on true events, unfolds with suspense and revelations regarding the CIA, Britain’s MI6, and a Russian traitor.

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THE INHERITANCE – Review by Diane Carson

The Inheritance listens and learns from a West Philadelphia collective, MOVE. At times the film feels like a documentary, at other times experimental. Writer/director Ephraim Asili doesn’t overwhelm with technical flash, but uses vibrant, primary color, wall backdrops to enliven the staged scenes, a nod to Jean-Luc Godard. It’s a work of contemporary activism and historical acknowledgement.

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