Arts & Leisure

Hirschfield Film Series continues into the new year

A SCENE FROM "An Elephant Sitting Still," which will screen at Middlebury College's Dana Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 11.

MIDDLEBURY — The Hirschfield International Film Series will continue its showings of foreign and independent films in 2020. These films are free and screened on most Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m. in Dana Auditorium at the Sunderland Language Center on Middlebury College’s campus. All films are open to the public.
This series runs from September 2019 through May 2020. New titles are added monthly. Here’s the line up for January:
Saturday, Jan. 11
3 and 8 p.m., Dana Auditorium
“An Elephant Sitting Still”
In Mandarin with English subtitles.
(Bo Hu, China, 2019, 3 hours, 50 minutes) Free
Under the gloomy sky of a small town in northern China, different protagonists’ lives are intertwined in this furious tale of nihilistic rage. While protecting his friend from a dangerous school bully, 16-year-old WEI Bu pushes the tormentor down a staircase. WEI escapes the scene and later learns that the bully is hospitalized and gravely injured. WEI’s neighbor, the 60-year-old WANG Jin, is estranged from his family and, with nothing to lose, decides to join him. Later the pair is joined by HUANG Ling, WEI’s classmate. She is bedeviled by a destructive affair with a married school official. Together, this unlikely and desperate trio, decide their only hope is to flee as the bully’s gangster brother, enraged parents, and vindictive school authorities embark on a cold-blooded hunt for WEI across town. As WEI threads his way through the urban wilderness, he begins to come to terms with his own lost life. In the end, he boards a long-distance bus with HUANG and WANG toward a city in Manchuria, where it is a rumored that a circus elephant is said to be sitting still, seemingly oblivious to pain and tribulations of the world at large.
Berlin International Film Festival Winner: FIPRESCI Prize, Best First Feature Award Special Mention. 
Saturday, Jan. 18
3 and 8 p.m., Dana Auditorium
“System Crasher”
In German with English subtitles.
(Nora Fingscheidt, Germany, 2019, 1h 58min) Free
She is small, but dangerous. Wherever Benni ends up, she is immediately expelled. The wild 9-year- old girl has already become what child protection services call a “system crasher”. And she is certainly not looking to change her ways. Because Benni has one single goal: to be back at home with her mommy! But Bianca is scared of her own daughter. Mrs. Bafané from child protection services is trying her best to find a permanent placement for Benni. She hires the anger management trainer Micha as Benni’s school escort and suddenly there is a seed of hope. Will Micha be able to succeed where all others despaired? While being acutely authentic, first-time director Nora Fingscheidt transcends a psychological study and crafts vibrant, visceral and emotional cinema, which evokes unforgettable performances.Germany’s Official Selection for the 92nd Academy Award for Best International Feature Film. 
Saturday, Jan. 25
3 and 8 p.m., Dana Auditorium
“Varda by Agnés”
In French and English with English subtitles.
(Agnés Varda, France, 2019, 1h 55min) Free
The final film from the late, beloved Agnès Varda is a characteristically playful, profound, and personal summation of the director’s own brilliant career. At once impish and wise, Varda acts as our spirit guide on a free-associative tour through her six-decade artistic journey, shedding new light on her films, photography, and recent installation works while offering her one-of-a-kind reflections on everything from filmmaking to feminism to aging. Suffused with the people, places, and things she loved—Jacques Demy, cats, colors, beaches, heart-shaped potatoes—this wonderfully idiosyncratic work of imaginative autobiography is a warmly human, touchingly bittersweet parting gift from one of cinema’s most luminous talents. 
More information can be found at Go.middlebury.edu/Hirschfield

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