Framingham State kicks off annual international movie series on Wednesday.
The bad news for film aficionados at Framingham State College?
Arthur Nolletti Jr., who initiated the school's film studies program, retired in July after teaching at the college for 38 years.
The good news for film aficionados everywhere?
Nolletti will continue to host the International Film Series he founded almost 35 years ago.
The series kicks off Wednesday with "Tokyo Sonata," (Japanese, 2008) directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. The lineup also includes "Tulpan," (Kazakhstan/Russia, 2008) directed by Sergei Dvortsevoy, on Oct. 21; "Katyn," (Poland, 2007) directed by Andrzej Wajda, on March 10; and "Cherry Blossoms," (Germany, 2008) directed by Doris Dorrie, on April 7.
All the films will be shown at 7 p.m. in the Dwight Performing Arts Center, 100 State St., on the Framingham State campus. Following each screening, Nolletti will lead a discussion of the evening's feature.
"Again I'm trying to find interesting foreign films to bring to the campus, especially from some new countries not represented before and some new filmmakers," says Nolletti. "It's that combination."
Filmgoers attending the Kurosawa movie expecting one of his horror movies will be in for a different kind of shock. "This is a director who has specialized in J-horror films, films like 'Cure' and 'Bright Future,' but this is his first attempt to extend beyond that genre," says Nolletti. "He's used some of that genre here, but he's basically working in the area of the home drama a very revered genre in Japanese film. Plus, he's dealing with a contemporary situation the worldwide recession."
Nolletti describes "Tokyo Sonata" as "a moving, unpredictable comedy-drama about a dysfunctional family trying to cope with harsh economic times.
"The head of the family has lost his job, but is too ashamed to tell his wife and two sons, who have their own secrets. All of these secrets are eventually revealed when the wife is (willingly) taken hostage, the oldest son heads off to Iraq, and the youngest son in the most positive act of all offers dazzling proof that art can take root even in the least likely soil."
The 119-minute film is in Japanese with English subtitles.
"Tulpan," a Cannes Film Festival award-winner, marks the feature film debut of documentary filmmaker Dvortsevoy. "He uses documentary techniques to tell the story of a 20-year-old man from Kazakhstan who's returning home after serving in the Russian navy," says Nolletti. "It's a sweet film, a delightful film. There's actually a scene in it that's bound to become a classic of comedy."
Sorry, no revelations.
"Tulpan" is "both a fascinating study of the traditional lifestyle of nomadic shepherds in southern Kazakhstan and a gentle, often surreal comedy about a young man whose dream is to find a wife and tend his own flock of sheep," Nolletti continues. "Unfortunately, the sheep are not always cooperative, and the only eligible woman around is a proud beauty named Tulpan, which means 'tulip."'
The 100-minute film is in Kazakh and Russian with English subtitles.
"Katyn," notes Nolletti, has been acclaimed as the crowning achievement of Wajda's 60-year career. "Some people think it's somewhat old-fashioned in terms of its filmmaking technique, but it doesn't really matter," says Nolletti. "It seems to me after you've had a career like this man's had, you can call your own shots when it comes to style."
"Katyn" refers to the forest where the Soviets secretly massacred more than 20,000 Poles in 1940, then steadfastly denied their involvement for nearly 50 years. "Wajda interweaves a handful of stories that foreground not only individual suffering, but also extraordinary acts of courage," says Nolletti. "In the closing scene he also shows us as he must a few of the executions. Appropriately, they are accompanied by a subdued requiem chant; then the screen fades to black."
The 121-minute film is in Polish with English subtitles.
"Cherry Blossoms" represents an homage to Yasujiro Ozu's 1953 masterpiece "Tokyo Story."
"The reason I wanted to use this film is that the director has been fond of Japanese film and Japanese culture for many, many years," says Nolletti. "She's basically taken this Japanese classic and reworked it in a contemporary German setting."
"Cherry Blossoms" deals with a middle-aged couple who decide to visit their grown children in Berlin. The visit is motivated by the devastating news the wife learns, but keeps secret: her husband is terminally ill.
"Though indebted to Ozu for its central action, Dorrie's tale ultimately focuses on how a young Japanese butoh dancer helps the surviving spouse transcend grief and celebrate life as an ongoing process of self-discovery," says Nolletti.
The 124-minute film is in English, German and Japanese with English subtitles.
"I think each and every one of these films is extremely interesting for a variety of reasons and keep showing the vitality of what's going on in the international scene," Nolletti concludes.
For more information about the International Film Series or to order a subscription, call 508-626-4985 or e-mail email@example.com. The college Web site at www.framingham.edu/arts can be visited as well. Individual tickets are also available for $5.
The MetroWest Daily News