CineCulture returns with virtual films for the fall semester

Alba Rohrwacher (Alice) and Wajdi Mouawad (Joseph) star in ‘Skies of Lebanon’ film.

Image: Alba Rohrwacher (Alice) and Wajdi Mouawad (Joseph) star in ‘Skies of Lebanon’ film.

Attention film buffs! Experience groundbreaking films from artists worldwide through CineCulture at Fresno State. The course allows the public three to five days to screen the weekly movie at their leisure, then join in a discussion about the film at 5:15 p.m. on Friday evenings during the fall semester. Discussants often include directors or actors in the film and offer greater insight into each film’s storyline, direction, and technical aspects involved. With rare exceptions, the movies are free to stream, and the public is invited to join in the discussion.

Participation is simple. Just check the lineup below, then every week, head to the CineCulure website for a link and instructions on how to view that week’s film. To participate in the weekly discussion, just email Dr. Mary Husain at mhusain@csufresno.edu by the Thursday before the Friday discussion for the Zoom link.

CineCulture is a film series provided as a service to Fresno State campus students, faculty, staff, and the community. CineCulture is also offered as a 3 unit academic course (MCJ 179) in the Media, Communications and Journalism Department.

Skies of Lebanon

  • Aug. 29-Sept. 2, online viewing.
  • 5:15 p.m. Sept. 2, Zoom discussion with actress Isabelle Zighondi.
  • Grand Prize at the Francophone International Film Festival in Tübingen, Germany.
  • 2020 International Critics’ Week of the Cannes Film Festival.
  • In French and Arabic with English subtitles.

Using stories told to her by her grandmother of life during the Lebanese Civil War (1975-90), director Chloé Mazlo crafts a touching and heartbreaking wartime love story. Alice, a young Swiss woman who moves to Beirut in the 1950s, falls in love with Joseph, a Lebanese astrophysicist with dreams of sending his fellow citizens into space.  Joseph and Alice appear to lead the perfect life. However, after years of bliss, the civil war threatens their Garden of Eden, and nothing will ever be the same again. Sponsored by the French program and the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literature.

As Far as I Can Walk

  • Sept. 5-9, online viewing.
  • 5:15 p.m. Sept. 9, Zoom discussion with director Stefan Arsenijevic.
  • In Serbian and English with English subtitles.

The film follows a couple who left Ghana with dreams of a better life in Europe and now live as refugees in Belgrade, Serbia. Siisi is doing everything to integrate. His biggest challenge, however, is to win back the woman he loves. When she disappears one day, Strahinja sets out to find her. As Far as I Can Walk is a reimagining of a traditional medieval epic in which contemporary African migrants take the place of Serbian national heroes. Urgent and timeless at the same time, the adaptation raises questions about identity, tradition, race and love. 

Eternal Spring

  • Sept. 12-16, online viewing.
  • 5:15 p.m. Sept. 15, Zoom discussion with director Jason Loftus.
  • In Mandarin with English subtitles.

In this animated documentary, Canadian director Jason Loftus tells the story of what happened in March 2002, when a state TV signal in China is hacked by members of the banned spiritual group Falun Gong. In the aftermath, police raids sweep Changchun City in northeastern China, and comic book illustrator Daxiong (Justice League, Star Wars), a Falun Gong practitioner, is forced to flee. He arrives in North America, blaming the hacking for worsening the violent repression against this religious movement. But his views are challenged when he meets the lone surviving participant who escaped China. Combining present-day footage with 3D animation inspired by Daxiong’s art, Eternal Spring retraces the event on its 20th anniversary and brings to life an unprecedented story of determination to speak up for political and religious freedoms, no matter the cost. 

Mariupol: The Chronicles of Hell

  • Sept. 19-23, online viewing.
  • 5:15 p.m. Sept. 23, Zoom discussion with director Liza Tatarinova.
  • In Ukrainian with English subtitles.

Ukrainian filmmaker Ielyzaveta Tatarinova documents the fall of one of Ukraine’s tenth-largest Mariupol – ruined but not conquered. The city in the east of Ukraine, with almost half a million people, has survived the occupation, destruction, and a humanitarian catastrophe. The occupiers were murdering civilians, preventing them from escaping. This film tells the story of the survivors, their life in hell, and ultimately salvation. 

Father

  • Sept. 26-30, online viewing.
  • 5:15 p.m. Sept. 30, Zoom discussion with director Srdan Goluibovic.
  • In Serbian with English subtitles.

Nillaka, a day laborer and father of two in a small town in Serbia, is ordered to give up his children to social services after poverty and hunger drive his wife to commit a desperate act. Until he can provide adequate conditions for their upbringing, the children will be placed in foster care. Despite Nikola’s best efforts and several appeals, social services refuse to return his children, leaving him feeling hopeless. But when Nikola discovers the local administration may be corrupt, he decides to travel across Serbia on foot and take his case directly to the national ministry in Belgrade. Against all odds and driven by love and despair, this father refuses to give up on justice and his right to raise his children. 

Olga

  • Oct. 3-7, online viewing.
  • 5:15 p.m. Oct. 7, Zoom discussion (speaker TBA).
  • Best Screenplay at the 74th International Critics Week of the Cannes Film Festival.
  • Swiss entry for Best International Feature Film at the 2022 Academy Awards.
  • Best Feature Film, Best Screenplay and Best Sound at 2022 Swiss Film Awards.
  • In French and Ukrainian with English subtitles.

Set against the backdrop of the Euromaidan uprising and civil unrest in Kyiv, Ukraine, in late 2013, Olga is the story of a 15-year-old gymnast struggling with her dual identity. She trains for the Olympics as a Swiss athlete thanks to her deceased father’s nationality. At the same time, her Ukrainian mother, a freelance journalist, reports on the ground in Kyiv and faces daily dangers. Sponsored by The French program and the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures.

Costa Brava, Lebanon

  • Oct. 10-14, online viewing.
  • 5:15 p.m. Oct. 12, Zoom discussion (speaker TBA).
  • Lebanese entry for Best International Feature Film at the 2022 Academy Awards.
  • In Arabic with English subtitles.

This contemporary fiction tells the story of three generations of the Badri family who resides in an idyllic mountain home. Though the location is picture-perfect, familial arguments bubble up beneath the surface. Grandmother Zeina, ex-singer Soraya and teenager Tala yearn to return to Beirut. On the other hand, father and husband Walid and Rim, the youngest child, refuse to leave their eco-paradise. The whole family’s resolve wavers, but then the government seizes their property and carves it into a landfill. Sponsored by the French program and the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures.

Peaceful

  • Oct. 17-21, online viewing.
  • 5:15 p.m. Oct. 21, Zoom discussion (speaker TBA).
  • World premiere at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival
  • In French with English subtitles. 

The moving story of a mother (Catherine Deneuve) facing the unbearable and her son (Benoît Magimel) in denial of a serious illness and facing his approaching death. Between them, a doctor (Gabriel Sara) and a nurse (Cécile de France) fight to do their job and bring them to acceptance. Mother and son have one year, four seasons, to “dance with the disease, tame it, and understand what it means: to die while still alive.” The film is deeply poignant while realistic at the same time. Sponsored by the French program and the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures.

A couple share a deep kiss and embrace in front of tall green and tan cliffs and with natural arches.

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

  • Available on Kanopy/Fresno State Library database or the Fresno County Library.
  • 5:15 p.m. Oct. 28, Zoom discussion with Dr. Ed EmanuEl.
  • In Chinese with English subtitles.

Based on a novel, the film tells the story of two young men, university students, who are sent to a remote mountain village in southwest China for three years of communist re-education to purge them of their decadent western education. Amid the backbreaking work and stifling ignorance of the community, they fall in love with a local beauty, the daughter of the most renowned tailor in the region. When they discover a hidden suitcase filled with banned books by western writers, they read these works to the little seamstress for hours on end in a secret meeting place. Thirsting for knowledge of the world beyond, she is mesmerized by the novels of 19th-century French writer Honoré de Balzac and eventually falls in love with the two young men who read this author’s stories to her. On her mystical journey, the Little Seamstress finds the courage to leave her village for broader horizons.

The Lunchbox

  • Film available on the Fresno State Library database/Academic Video Online/Alexander Street Press, or Amazon for $2.99.
  • 5:15 p.m. Nov. 4, Zoom discussion with Professor Joan Sharma.
  • In Hindi with English subtitles.

Housewife Ila is trying to add some spice to her marriage through her cooking. She desperately hopes that this new recipe will finally arouse some kind of reaction from her neglectful husband. She prepares a special lunchbox to be delivered to him at work. Unbeknownst to her, it is mistakenly delivered to another office worker, Saajan, a lonely man on the verge of retirement. Curious about the lack of reaction from her husband, Ila puts a little note in the following day’s lunchbox. This begins a series of lunchbox notes between Saajan and Ila, and the mere comfort of communicating with a stranger anonymously soon evolves into an unexpected friendship. They each discover a new sense of self and find an anchor to hold on to in the big city of Mumbai that so often crushes hopes and dreams. Still strangers physically, Ila and Saajan become lost in a virtual relationship that could jeopardize both their realities. 

A final film with a discussion on November 18 will be announced at a later date.

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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