By Ygal Kaufman
The Darkside Cinema is set to host the sixth annual International Oregon State Film Festival, organized by OSU’s School of Language Culture and Society. The festival features 17 films over seven days, with a broad sampling of genres and tone which should appeal to the film lover in everyone. You probably don’t have time to hit all of them, so here’s a selection of the best the festival has to offer.
Mexico/France/Germany/Netherlands, dir. Amat Escalante
Wednesday, Oct. 15 at 6 p.m.
This is an insanely raw dramatic thriller from Mexico about the drug trade and its collateral damage by the excellent up-and-coming director Amat Escalante. It concerns the trials and truths of Heli, a boy living with his father and sister who toils away for a meager living in a factory. When a young policeman’s crooked plan to marry Heli’s 12-year-old sister goes haywire, everyone feels repercussions, and Heli is forced to make decisions with far-reaching implications. For fans of Escalante’s electric 2008 drama Los Bastardos, this follow-up is nothing short of a masterpiece. Beautifully directed, unremittingly depressing, and graphically violent, it’s not for the faint of heart. But for those who take the journey there is a satisfying gem in this darling of 2013’s Cannes Film Festival.
Sweet Alibis (2014)
Taiwan, dir. Yi-chi Lien
Thursday, Oct. 16 at 8 p.m.
Taiwan does not have the deep cinematic tradition that nearby countries like China, Japan, South Korea, or even the Philippines has, but it is becoming a player in the global art market place. It still has a long way to go to make it onto the radar of Western audiences. This light and breezy action/comedy/thriller starring Taiwanese TV stars Alec Su and Ariel Lin is hopefully just the first in a growing trend for the island nation. Su and Lin play newly partnered Kaohsiung cops assigned to what appears to be a rather innocuous case of a puppy’s death. Su, the veteran of the team, is a shrewd and some would say cowardly investigator, while his young partner is the hothead, jumping into action before she has time to think. Gee, I wonder if they will have friction at first and then grudgingly grow to like each other… Despite the predictable premise, sparks do fly as the two actors show off a lot of chemistry while solving crime in this likable and slickly produced cop tale.
Germany, dr. Rainer Fassbinder
Friday, Oct. 17 at 6 p.m.
As a tribute to the great German star Armin Mueller-Stahl, who turns 84 later this year, this classic comedy gets a rare opportunity to be viewed on the big screen. Don’t miss it. Starring Mueller Stahl and the great Barabara Sukowa, this wry and subversively political paean to capitalism (and its pitfalls) is as timely now as when it was released over 30 years ago. Sukowa steals the show as a determined earner who will do whatever it takes to rise from the bordello to the boardroom. Stinging in its commentary but always light on its feet, this film is a great change of pace from the often heavy-handed social commentary of today.
Ich – Udo (2012)
Germany/USA, dir. Jeremy Fekete
Sunday, Oct. 19 at 2:30 p.m.
In the United States we have guys like Lance Henriksen, Bruce Campbell, and Joe Estevez to rock out with a straight-to-video schlockfest. Then we have guys like Harvey Keitel, Robert DeNiro, and John Malkovich to tackle more serious Oscar bait-y type stuff. In Germany, they have one man, one jack of all trades who will be your art house scenery chewer, sexy lord of vampires, serious period drama anchor, and everything in between. He is Udo Kier, and as he celebrates his 70th birthday this week, what better time to take in some of the magic of his career? This brisk documentary covers the life and art of one of the most recognizable actors on Earth, from his breakthrough role in 1974’s Andy Warhol-produced Blood for Dracula, through his scene-stealing turn in Blade, to his current cameos in everything Lars Von Trier. You know his face, now get to know him.
The International Oregon State Film Festival runs from Monday, Oct. 13 through Sunday, Oct. 19 at the Darkside Cinema. For showtimes and ticket info, visit http://liberalarts.oregonstate.edu/feature-story/sixth-annual-international-film-festival-october-13-19.