Saturday, September 15, 2012

BAM hosts a tribute to FILM MOVEMENT's ten years of distributing extraordinarily high quality movies from around the world

A decade goes by in the flash of an eye, or so it seems, these days. Can FILM MOVEMENT, the company that began as a kind of movie-of-the-month-club for foreign and independent film buffs (and still is, among its other duties), really be celebrating its 10th anniversary? Yes, and what's more, the festivities are being hosted at BAMcinématek. Beginning this coming Tuesday, September 18, through Wednesday, September 26, this tenth anniversary of Film Movement (hereafter to be referred to as FM) will be celebrated via the screening of ten films, which will be shown over a nine-day period. (What? Someone couldn't spring for that extra day?)

If you don't know FM (and I cannot imagine that there are many film buffs who could, at this point, be unaware of it) and you love high quality foreign and independent films that might otherwise slip below the critical radar, then -- please! -- discover it. TrustMovies did that within the first year or two of the distributor's existence, once I began renting its titles from Netflix, and realizing, after a time, that if the film came with the FM logo, it was going to be worth seeing. Period. And while I have enjoyed some movies much more than others, and have not, unfortunately, seen all 120 titles over this ten-year period, I can still say, nearly a decade later, that I have has not yet encountered a movie from FM with which I was sorry I bothered.

Back in 2005, when I began my current writing-about-movies career at, I did an article on this distributor, coupled to a short review/run-down of around 30 of the 40 films that had appeared so far. In the article, I mentioned that maybe the highest praise I could give this little company was the fact that my companion of 17 years (now of 23), who is much less easily pleased by a film than am I, when he would ask me what our entertainment for the evening was going to be, if I told him that the movie came from Film Movement, he'd be willing to take a chance on it. He still is (though by now he has encountered a film or two he could have lived without).

Over the years, the company has chosen its movies from all around the world -- it is particularly thoughtful about this inclusivity -- in an array of genres that run from narrative to documentary, drama to comedy, history, romance (there's even a martial arts movie among these), and plenty of films that involve themes that are important today -- from immigration to human trafficking. Choosing ten films to represent the company must have proven a daunting task. But they managed it, and you can view the results -- the entire BAM/Film Movement schedule --  here.

What films to see at this FM retrospective? The opening night movie is one that looks awfully promising: Aliyah, below, which has been chosen as the film to lead off FM's eleventh year. The first full-length film from Elie Wajeman, it was chosen as part of the Director's Fortnight at this year's Cannes film fest and involves a young Parisian drug dealer (and his older brother, played by director Cédric Kahn), torn between enjoying the high life in Paris or accomplishing his “aliyah” (the term for Jews emigrating to Israel) which involves, among other things, Hebrew lessons and connecting with his Jewish roots.

Closing night will see a screening of one of FM's most beautiful movies, Alamar, below and at top, which really demands to be seen on a big screen like that at BAM. Combining narrative and documentary with a father/son tale, history, exotic location and surprising depth of character, this film is a "must" (you can read my earlier review of it, along with an interview with its Mexican filmmaker, Pedro González-Rubio, here).

Of the other eight films, all worth seeing, I would have to pick The Forest for the Trees (below) as the must-see of the bunch. Those of you who caught Maren Ade's terrific Everyone Else (from spring, 2010) will want to see her first, and much darker, feature about a young school teacher trying to adjust and fit in. This is amazing stuff, with an finale that will quietly knock your socks off, as you murmur "No, no, no..."

So, if you need an introduction to Film Movement, here's your opportunity -- and in one of the most enjoyable of movie-theater venues, the BAMcinématek. For directions, click here.

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