BUNGALOW – Review by Diane Carson

It’s certainly difficult to make an engaging film about aimless, shallow people, and German director Ulrich Köhler hasn’t. Witness nineteen-year-old Paul in Bungalow. In opening scenes he goes AWOL from his German army unit, apparently on a whim. For the remainder of the film, at his parents’ bungalow (of the title), he meanders, swims, lounges, lies, and dodges the army MPs.

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WELCOME TO CHECHNYA – Review by Diane Carson

David France’s documentary Welcome to Chechnya makes painfully clear that brutal, state-sanctioned oppression still exists in this autonomous Russian region where LGBTQ individuals suffer beatings, long-term imprisonment with accompanying torture, and vicious, unpunished killings. President since 1917 Ramzan Kadyrov has initiated and supported such action.

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HOUSE OF HUMMINGBIRD – Review by Diane Carson

South Korean filmmaker Bora Kim’s House of Hummingbird burrows convincingly and completely into the psychological and emotional world of a lonely fourteen-year-old girl who, like the country, stands on the verge of change. The film’s young star, Ji-hu Park, observes, processes, and reveals her deepest thoughts and emotions through her eyes.

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WOMAN ON THE BEACH – Review by Diane Carson

South Korean director Sang-soo Hong observes a romantically involved couple and a friend in an isolated location, as they reveal their inner selves. What at first seems a microscopic study has universal implications about attempts to forge complex human connections despite a myriad of psychological and emotional complications.

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RUNNER – Review by Diane Carson

Director Bill Gallagher’s documentary called simply Runner does indeed, truth in naming, focus on twice Olympic marathon competitor Guor Mading Maker, previously Guor Marial. But that merely identifies his adult achievement as an elite athlete whereas Guor’s first, desperate running as a child was to hide in bushes in order to save his life in his native warring Sudan.

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WOMEN MAKE FILM – Review by Diane Carson

In Women Make Film, writer/director Mark Cousins has shouldered a monumental task. First, he promises A New Road Movie Through Cinema by looking “at film through the eyes of women filmmakers.” Second, he’ll accomplish this in forty chapters, not devoted to directors’ lives, not chronologically organized, and not exploring ways women are different from male filmmakers, though that emerges implicitly.

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QUEEN OF LAPA – Review by Diane Carson

Luana, a sex worker since age, is a nationally recognized activist who established a safe hostel where transgender sex workers to live and work. Filmmakers Theodore Collatos and Carolina Monnerat hang out in the hostel, following the ladies day to day, overhearing conversations, watching brief performances and visiting the streets. What becomes obvious, and as one says, “We’re like a family. . . we cry, we love, we fight.”

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HILL OF FREEDOM – Review by Diane Carson

South Korean writer/director Hong Sangsoo uses an imaginative idea to present the on-and-off relationship between Japanese teacher Mori and Kwon, an instructor at the Korean language institute. After a two year absence, Mori returns to Seoul, searching for Kwon, determined to gain her acceptance of his marriage proposal, previously rejected.

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