One of Kiarostami’s most daring formal experiments turns the camera on the audience. Set entirely in a movie theater showing an adaptation of a twelfth-century poem by Nezami Ganjavi— never actually glimpsed but heard throughout—Shirin surveys in a succession of close-ups the reactions of those raptly watching the tragic love story, an audience made up of more than 110 actresses, including Juliette Binoche (who would later star in Kiarostami’s 2010 film Certified Copy). The result is a masterful study of spectatorship and the affective power of cinema.
This widely acclaimed film from Soviet director Elem Klimov is a stunning, senses-shattering plunge into the dehumanizing horrors of war. As Nazi forces encroach on his small village in present-day Belarus, teenage Flyora (Aleksei Kravchenko, in one of the screen’s most searing depictions of anguish since Renée Falconetti’s Joan of Arc) eagerly joins the Soviet resistance.
DCP, Blu-ray, DVD
Mathieu Kassovitz took the film world by storm with La haine, a gritty, unsettling, and visually explosive look at the racial and cultural volatility in modern-day France, specifically the low-income banlieue districts on Paris’s outskirts.
DCP, 35 mm, Blu-ray, DVD