Missouri Southern State University's Harrison and June Kash International Film Society and Bookhouse Cinema will present "Bringing Them All Back Home," a collection of MSSU faculty members' favorite international films, on Tuesdays beginning in mid-January through mid-March.
All films will begin at 7 p.m.; admission is free and open to the public.
"We asked 10 of our faculty who are international film buffs to select their favorite movie to show this spring," said Chad Stebbins, director of MSSU's Institute of International Studies, in a statement. "Most of them had a very difficult time, as they had three or four films in mind. But we insisted they pick just one, and this is the list that emerged. I think we ended up with an excellent range of films."
Featured films are:
• "The Lives of Others" (Germany, 2006, 137 minutes, rated R), on Jan. 14 in Cornell Auditorium in Plaster Hall. Stebbins will be the presenter.
In East Berlin in 1984, an agent of the Stasi secret police, conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives.
“This film is one of my favorites because it aptly shows the living conditions in East Germany before the Berlin Wall fell, while you gain sympathy for a character you initially abhorred. It also has many surprising plot twists and leaves you rather choked up at the end," Stebbins said.
• "Hero" (China, 2002, 107 minutes, rated PG-13), on Jan. 21 in Cornell Auditorium in Plaster Hall. Michael Howarth, an assistant professor of English and director of the honors program, will present.
A nameless fighter is honored for defeating three of the king’s most dangerous enemies, and he recounts his individual battles with each of the assassins.
"'Hero' is the rare film that is both thrilling and thought-provoking, rich with complex themes like loyalty and honor. It’s also one of the most beautiful films you’re likely to ever see, akin to watching poetry unfold before your eyes," Howarth said.
• "The Secret in Their Eyes" (Argentina, 2009, 129 minutes, rated R), on Jan. 28 at Bookhouse Cinema, 715 E. Broadway. Susana Liso, a faculty member in the modern languages department, will present.
Retired criminal investigator Benjamín Espósito begins writing a novel based on an unsolved mystery of a newlywed’s rape and murder. With the help of a former colleague, Benjamín attempts to make sense of the past.
“The film depicts an Argentina far from politics and social disarray, as in many other movies. Here, we witness how a 25-year-old rape and murder case is solved while unearthing the buried romance of the main characters," Liso said.
• "The City of Lost Children" (France, 1995, 112 minutes, rated R), on Feb. 4 at Bookhouse Cinema. Zak Watson, chair of the English and philosophy department, will present.
The film is a noir-influenced fantasy, a rusted steampunk future covered in condensation, sea water and darkness. A mad scientist steals dreams, a circus strongman searches for his lost brother, a cyborg cult promises sight to those willing to lose their eyes and a brain in an aquarium speaks through a horn.
“I chose this film because its every shot is beautiful. It marries the wonder of childhood to the trickery of cinema, and its madness is thoroughly consistent. It is funny and scary, often at the same time, and the casting is pitch perfect," Watson said.
• "Capernaum" (Lebanon, 2018, 126 minutes, rated R), on Feb. 11 in Cornell Auditorium in Plaster Hall. Bill Kumbier, an associate professor of English, will present.
The film follows the street life of Zain, a 12-year-old Syrian refugee in Beirut. After running away from his abusive and negligent family, Zain meets Rahil, an Ethiopian refugee, and finds temporary shelter in her makeshift shack, where he helps by taking care of her infant son, Yonas.
“This recent film is unrivaled in its portrayal of the struggle of refugee children from a child’s perspective: the sympathy and sensitivity with which the director, Nadine Labiki, presents Zain, played by a nonactor, reminds me of Francois Truffaut’s depictions of childhood but with the added emotional force impressed by the terrible consequences of refugee life. 'Capernaum' is the most intensely focused and powerful film I have seen in many years," Kumbier said.
• "No" (Chile, 2012, 118 minutes, rated R), on Feb. 18 at Bookhouse Cinema. Bill Fischer, an assistant professor of history, will present.
After 15 years of military rule under Augusto Pinochet in Chile, the government begrudgingly agrees to a plebiscite.
“This film elegantly moves from playful to deadly serious and back again, while illuminating how political messaging functions and why it sometimes requires real bravery to be joyful and hopeful. Excellent performances by Gael García Bernal and Antonia Zegers, with some really interesting technical choices by director Pablo Larraín," Fischer said.
• "Intouchables" (France, 2011, 112 minutes, rated R), on Feb. 25 in Cornell Auditorium in Plaster Hall. Michele Holt, a faculty member in the modern languages department, will present.
After he becomes a quadriplegic from a paragliding accident, a wealthy aristocrat hires a young man from the projects to be his caregiver.
“This movie is one of my favorites because it treads through a touchy and emotional landscape with laughter. Only the French would dare to treat such serious subjects as disability, poverty, race and social class distinctions with humor and in the end, find a common, leveling space for them all," Holt said.
• "Z" (Algeria/France, 1969, 127 minutes, rated M/PG), on March 3 at Bookhouse Cinema. Steve Wagner, a history faculty member, will present.
Based on true events, the film parallels the real-life assassination of a Greek doctor and humanist whose 1963 murder led to public scandal and eventual overthrow of the democratic government in Greece.
“This film appeals to me as a historian of the Cold War but also as a lover of films that realistically portray the international intrigue of the late 1960s," Wagner said.
• "The Willow Tree" (Iran, 2005, 96 minutes, not rated), on March 10 in Cornell Auditorium in Plaster Hall. Amy Gates, a faculty member in the English and philosophy department, will present.
Blind since a childhood accident, Youssef has built a life for himself with a family and career as a professor. Corneal transplant surgery restores his sight, but with sight comes a change in perception.
“I first encountered 'The Willow Tree,' directed and co-written by Majid Majidi, several years ago as part of a ‘Faith and Film’ series, and its unsettling, beautiful, poetic meditation on human desires and despair has continued to haunt me. This symbol-laden film features beautiful imagery and an outstanding performance by Parvis Parastui," Gates said.
• "Raise the Red Lantern" (China, 1991, 125 minutes, rated PG), on March 24 at Bookhouse Cinema. Conrad Gubera, a sociology faculty member, will present.
After her father’s death, 19-year-old Songlian marries the much older Chen Zuoqian, becoming the latest concubine in Chen’s harem and finding herself at the bottom of an oppressive hierarchy in 1920s China.
“A revolutionary film during the height of the Communist regime in mainland China, the director took great risks with the script and the production. It’s a film that holds the viewer with great fascination and anticipation," Gubera said.