49th Parallel, 10 on Ten, Children of Shatila

Babette Mangolte
Filmmaker and professor, UCSD Visual Arts Department

Michael Powell is probably best known for The Red Shoes and Black Narcissus, made after the war with his collaborator Emeric Pressburger. But the films they made during World War II, thanks to funding from the British Ministry of Information, are fascinating for their attempt to explain cultural differences between allied and enemies. I recommend 49th Parallel, shot in 1941. It revolves around the landing of a German submarine in north Canada at a time when the U.S. is not yet engaged in the war. Canada is allied with Britain. The German crew's attempt to penetrate the 49th parallel that separates Canada from the U.S. permits an examination of Nazi ideology clashing with Canadian individualistic pluralism. The film's remarkable for its dialogue, scenic beauty, and the fact that -- while shot primarily in studio during the war in England at the time of the blitz -- the script doesn't demonize the enemy.

49th Parallel - Criterion Collection
(England) 1941, Criterion Collection

Ayda Melika
Videographer, instructor, and San Diego Unified School District video producer

Abbas Kiarostami's 10 on Ten and Five Dedicated to Ozu are thought-provoking films challenging mainstream filmmaking trends. 10 on Ten is a self-portrait of Kiarostami demonstrating the creative process of making the film Ten. Throughout the film, he's in a car driving the audience around to share with them ten elements of his work. In a very intimate setting, this film demonstrates how his body of work is a journey of discovery. These lessons are a provocative and insightful contemplation of the art of cinema.Composed of five long shots, Kiarostami's Five structurally refers to the static-camera experiments of Andy Warhol. The remarkable landscape work is mostly filmed along the waters of the Caspian Sea, portraying tides and driftwood, dogs and ducks, croaking frogs, and the reflection of the moon. Five is an unforgettable viewing experience that feels a bit unbearable at first but extremely enlightening and meditative at the end.

(Iran) 2004, Zeitgeist Films

Five Dedicated to Ozu
(Iran) 2003, Kino Video

Doris Bittar
Artist, writer, and educator, www.dorisbittar.com

Mai Masri is an award-winning director from Ramalah, Palestine. Her Children of Shatila and Frontiers of Dreams and Fears are both worth checking out. Frontiers of Dreams and Fears was the Official Selection of the 2002 Human Rights Watch International Film Festival. Masri's flawless documentaries are poetic, brutal, and direct so as to make an entire audience weep. Masri steers us to specific lives that take us to the larger sociopolitical center of Palestinian aspirations. Frontiers of Dreams and Fears, in particular, documents the effects of being a Palestinian refugee through the eyes of teenagers from different refugee camps: one in Lebanon and one in Israel. Through letters and shared stories, the children get to know each other and organize to meet for the first time at the Lebanese-Israeli border.

Children of Shatila 1998, Arab Film Distribution

Frontiers of Dreams and Fears 2001, Arab Film Distribution

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