French director François Ozon has, over the last two decades, proven to be one of the most creative and intelligent forces in international cinema. He first came to my attention about 15 years ago with his homage to Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Water Drops on Burning Rocks. I became an ardent admirer a few years later, when I saw 8 Women and Swimming Pool, both of which I adore. (8 Women, in particular, is pure, wicked fun from start to finish.)
Though I’d lost touch with Ozon’s work in recent years, I did catch his 2012 film In the House, which I admire a great deal. It’s a slow-burning kind of film that starts out as an apparently routine domestic drama, but soon unravels into something stranger and cleverer.
In the House is well worth a look, and it’s playing this week for free at Castleton State College, as part of the school’s weekly 2015 film festival.
The movie plays at the Herrick Auditorium at 6:30 p.m. Free.
Saturday, March 14
At another of Vermont’s fine institutions of higher learning, cinephiles can catch the award-winning Belgian film Omar (2013), a long story set amid the endless war between Israel and Palestine. The title character is a Palestinian baker who thinks nothing of scaling the wall into Israel to meet up with his girlfriend. But when he semi-unwittingly becomes an informant, his already muddy allegiances become all the more unclear.
Also, Burlington’s ArtsRiot hosts what might be the week’s most intriguing screening. Pirates of Tebenkof is a documentary about salmon fishing in Alaska; that unusual word in its title refers to the Tebenkof Bay Wilderness, a 66,000-acre federal preserve in southern Alaska.
The film follows a group of fishermen who build a commercial fishing boat that they pilot out to Alaska to take part in an enormous salmon harvest. Two members of the crew will be present at the screening to fill in any details that the film itself could not cover.
True to ArtsRiot’s multidisciplinary mission, the screening of Pirates of Tebenkof will include a concert, as well. A performance by three musical acts — local singer-songwriter Maryse Smith, experimentally minded Burlington soundscapist SnakeFoot and Michael Nau of the Nashville-based band Cotton Jones — is included with the price of admission to the film.
Avid filmgoers will want to return once again to Castleton State to see A Screaming Man, a 2010 film about one man who struggles to find an articulate response to the civil war that rages in his home country of Chad. A Screaming Man won the Jury Prize at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival — no mean feat. It’s unlikely to ever again receive a screening in Vermont, so carpe diem.
A Screaming Man plays at 6:30 p.m. at Herrick Auditorium.
Wednesday, March 18
Burlington’s Fletcher Free Library will show the documentary Women in Space as part of an ongoing collaboration with Vermont PBS’ Community Cinema program.
Women in Space is part of the video series “Makers,” dedicated to exploring women’s issues. Narrated by Jodie Foster, this one traffics in literal exploration — space exploration, that is — and the women who have taken part in that otherworldly experience.
The screening will be followed by a conversation with local science educators, including Burlington High School physics teacher Lisa Sitek and Suzanne Weishaar, the science coach at Burlington’s Sustainability Academy.
Women in Space screens at 6:30 p.m.
Also tonight, Vermonters can see one of 2013’s most thought-provoking films: the Penn-and-Teller-producedTim’s Vermeer. As with so much of that duo’s work, the film investigates the nature of forgery and trickery in the art world.
In the film, inventor Tim Jenison expresses the theory that the great painter Johannes Vermeer used optical devices to create his masterpieces. So Jenison does what anyone would do: He obsessively invents devices with which he attempts to duplicate Vermeer’s technique. The result is a fascinating journey through the subject of artistic authenticity and fakery, as only Penn and Teller can present it.