posted August 11, 2006

Knickerbocker Theatre Announces Film Series

The Hope College Knickerbocker Theatre will again play host to a series of contemporary independent films, featuring selections ranging from unusual documentaries to moving dramas from Friday, July 21, through Thursday, Sept. 7.

The five films being featured are "The Mountain Patrol: Kekexili," "The Beauty Academy of Kabul," "Sisters In Law," "Water" and "Sketches of Frank Gehry."

The series will open with "The Mountain Patrol: Kekexili," a National Geographic film running Friday and Saturday, July 21-22, and Monday-Friday, July 24-28, at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Kekexili, the largest animal reserve in China, is home to many rare species, including the Tibetan antelope. With the antelope prized for its skin, which is used in making luxurious, albeit illegal, shahtoosh scarves, its numbers have been dwindling drastically in the past 20 years as poachers slaughter the animals, often hundreds at a time. In the 1990s local Tibetans formed a volunteer patrol to try to stop the illegal poaching - sometimes at the cost of their own lives. "Mountain Patrol: Kekexili" chronicles the life-and-death struggle between these volunteers and the poachers. The film is unrated and is in Tibetan with English subtitles.

The film series will then travel to Afghanistan for "The Beauty Academy of Kabul," showing Monday-Saturday, July 31-Aug. 5, at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. It is a film about beauty in form and in content, but in Afghanistan beauty raises serious questions, such as why women were willing to risk imprisonment, even death, to run beauty salons under the Taliban; and why, in a land that has suffered decades of war and loss, where people are ill, wounded, and illiterate, women are so anxious to learn makeup-application techniques. It is also a film about globalization, a case study of how American culture is received abroad: is the school imposing shallow American materialism, or helping women support and express themselves as they have across the world for centuries? "The New York Times" has called "The Beauty Academy of Kabul" "hilarious and moving." The film is unrated and is in English and Persian with English subtitles.

The acclaimed documentary "Sisters In Law" will show Tuesday-Saturday, Aug. 8-12, at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Winner of the Prix Art et Essai at the Cannes Film Festival and screened to acclaim at more than 90 festivals around the world, "Sisters In Law" is the latest documentary from internationally renowned director Kim Longinotto. In the little town of Kumba, Cameroon, there have been no convictions in spousal abuse cases for 17 years, but two women determined to change their community are making progress that could change the world. This fascinating, often hilarious documentary follows the work of State Prosecutor Vera Ngassa and Court President Beatrice Ntuba as they help women fight often difficult cases of abuse, despite pressures from family and their community to remain silent. "One of the best documentaries of all time" was the review from the Telluride Film Festival. "The New York Times" has said, "Who are these women, and can they please take over the world soon?"

The conflict between tradition and love in India is the setting for "Water" showing Monday-Saturday, Aug. 14-19, and Monday-Thursday, Aug. 21-24, at 7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. It is 1938, India is ruled by the British, and it is around this time that Mohandas K. Gandhi has arrived from Africa to begin his activism for independence as well as battle the traditions that bind the Hindus. Barely in her teens, Chuyia is married to a much older and sickly male, who passes away shortly after the marriage. Chuyia is returned unceremoniously to her parents' house, and from there she is taken to the holy city, Banaras, and left in the care of a wide assortment of widows. Chuyia does not know that according to holy Hindu scriptures she has been destined to live there for the rest of her life. Another woman at the house, Kalyani, meets and falls in love with young Narayan, a follower of Gandhi who wants to marry her despite his mother's protests. But new problems arise leaving the future of Kalyani and Chuyia both in question. "Time Magazine" has called the film "a triumph." The film is in Hindi with English subtitles and is rated PG 13.

The series will close with "Sketches of Frank Gehry," showing Monday-Wednesday, Aug. 28-30, and Monday-Thursday, Sept. 4-7, at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Oscar-winning director Sydney Pollack takes a sharp sideways turn with "Sketches of Frank Gehry," a documentary about the noted architect. Although the two men have been friends for years, Pollack bypasses the opportunity to pay a fawning tribute to Gehry, instead presenting a well-balanced portrait that offers both positive and negative commentators the chance to etch their thoughts into celluloid. The series of interviews between the two men have the kind of relaxed atmosphere that could only exist after years of friendship, and Gehry comes across as an astonishingly normal and likeable fellow who keeps his ego firmly in check. The film is not rated.

Tickets for all the movies are $6 for regular admission and $5 for senior citizens and children. Updated information may be obtained by calling the Knickerbocker Information Line at (616) 395-7403 or visiting www.hope.edu/arts/knick. The Knickerbocker Theatre is located in downtown Holland at 86 E. Eighth St.