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The Outskirts-DVD Review 11/04/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Berlin International Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, Dark Comedy, Dark Drama, FIPRESCI Award, Movies, Political Thriller, Pyotr Lutsik, Russian language film.
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The Outskirts (Russian) 1998
Okraina

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Don Quixote Award (Lutsik), Berlin International Film Festival
WINNER, FIPRESCI Prize, (Lutsik), Chicago International Film Festival
WINNER, Philip Morris Award (Lutsik), Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
WINNER, Jury Prize (Lutsik), Sarajevo Film Festival

Directed by Pyotr Lutsik
Starring Yuri Dubrovin, Nikolay Olyalin, and Aleksei Pushkin

A group of neighbors leave a collective farm and trek across the countryside to find the person who sold much of the land to oil interests and bring him to their brand of “justice.”

A very dark comedy that’s also listed as a political thriller. In fact, the darkness of the DVD itself (as the liner mentions) is literal, and you will probably have to turn up the brightness of your television. The film is shot in black and white, adding to the drab and often depressing landscape and interiors.

I came across this DVD accidentally, and its deadpan humor might not appeal to everyone. There is likely humor that gets lost in the subtitles, and political references that would not be understood. The director received several prestigious honors. Worth a try if you like to see something a little different; it certainly wasn’t predictable!

95 min. Not rated. Not suitable for children.

For more info:
The Outskirts

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Silent Light-DVD Review 04/22/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Cannes Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, Drama, Emotional Drama, German dialect (Plautdietsch) language film, Independent Spirit Awards, Movies.
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Silent Light (Low German) 2007
Stellet licht

Among other awards and nominations:
Winner, Jury Prize (Reydagas); nominated Palme d’Or (Reydagas), Cannes Film Festival
Winner, Best Film, Gold Hugo Award, Chicago Film Festival
Winner, FRIPESCI Prize, Best Latin American Film, Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival
Nominated, Best Foreign Film, Independent Spirit Awards

Directed by Carlos Reydagas
Starring Cornelio Wall, Maria Pankratz, and Miriam Toews

A mesmerizing film about a Mennonite couple who lives in a community in Northern Mexico. Johann (Wall) and Esther (Toews) have a large family and a quiet farm life. When Johann falls in love with another woman, Esther tries to live with his ongoing infidelity, but it breaks her heart.

This is a quiet story about a man’s struggle to live with himself when he falls short of his own beliefs. The director used locals, some of whom don’t even speak the same language he does; the film’s dialogue is in Plautdietsch, a variety of Low German that is the language spoken by the Russian Mennonites. The cast’s performances are very natural and real.

The incredible cinematography adds to even the most ordinary of scenes, such as driving down a road. The opening sequence was so beautifully filmed that I could have watched that for an hour.

136 min. Not rated. Sexual content and adult themes.

For more info:
Silent Light