CMU International Film Festival explores ‘Faces of Others’
Published: Thursday, March 29, 2012
Updated: Thursday, March 29, 2012 00:03
Since March 22, the Carnegie Mellon University International Film Festival has screened films from around the world that explore the “faces of others.”
The festival hosts 16 films, through April 22, including two Sundance award-winning documentaries. All of the films explore the festival’s theme: “The Faces of Others.”
“There’s a lot of mystery and unknown in the ‘other,’” said Sara Faradji, the assistant to the director of the festival. “We’re seeing different types of others.”
Because the films explore cultures from all over the world, all viewers are invited to study the “other.”
Each film “deals with different kinds of people, and those people will be ‘others’ to somebody,” said the festival’s founder David Shumway, who is the director of the Humanities Center at CMU. Shumway said he founded the international film festival in 2006 to complement a film course he taught at CMU.
This year’s most prominent films, Putin’s Kiss, a Danish- and Russian-made film from, and Five Broken Cameras, from Palestine, were awarded at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival for cinematography and directing, respectively.
“The festival has grown each year, not necessarily with the films, but in terms of attendance,” Shumway said.
The films are screened at locations across Pittsburgh at locations such as the Harris Theater and AMC Loews Waterfront 22 and on CMU’s campus at McConomy Auditorium at the Carnegie Mellon University Center. Screenings average about 200 to 300 attendees, according to Faradji.
Over the past six years since its creation, the film festival has moved away from its original academic course model. It has now become something large in its own respect.
“The main goal was to bridge the communities and the students,” said festival director Jolanta Lion. “The festival became one of the major festivals in Pittsburgh.”
One of Lion’s responsibilities as director is deciding which films to include each year. During this search, she came across the film Five Broken Cameras, which was screening at a film festival in Amsterdam. She was so moved by the film that she decided to include it in CMU’s festival before its award-winning appearance at Sundance.
The film depicts the conflicts between Israeli and Palestinian forces in a small Palestinian village through the eyes of first-time director Emad Burnat.
“[Burnat’s] purpose was to film his son growing up, but [he] captured this whole conflict,” Lion said.
Five Broken Cameras depicts the conflicts of his village as well as his growth as a filmmaker through the lenses of five cameras, which are all destroyed during his documentation by the violence going on there.
Each of this year’s film screenings feature an interactive activity afterward. After the festival screening of Five Broken Cameras on April 12, award-winning director Burnat appeared for a question-and-answer session.
The other Sundance-award-winning film, Putin’s Kiss, is screening at CMU on Thursday, March 29. The film explores conceptions of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin among Russian youth. While Putin is often displayed as a tyrannical leader by Western media, in Russia, he is revered by young people as a strong leader. The film follows the young Marsha as she begins to question her feelings toward Putin and her loyalty to her country. Putin’s Kiss won best cinematography in a documentary at Sundance.
The films selected for the festival depict different kinds of life, ranging from politicians in Putin’s Kiss to the prostitutes of Whore’s Glory. The latter film explores one of the world’s oldest professions in different cultures throughout the world, offering viewers a look into a hidden world that can be found in every country
This weekend, the festival will show another documentary, El Sicario, Room 164. The thrilling documentary explores the underground world of Mexican drug trafficking through the eyes of hit man “El Sicario.” The now reformed “El Sicario” lives his life behind a mask to protect his identity as he shares his stories with director Gianfranco Rosi. The entire film is shot in the hotel room where Sicario used to torture and kill his kidnapped victims.
Complete information on the films and the screening schedule can be found online at cmu.edu/faces.