Series/Festivals

Week of April 24, 2002

Cinema in the City. Webster University sponsors once-a-month Wednesday screenings in Beatnik Bob's Cafe. This month features Max Reinhardt and William Dieterle's 1935 adaptation of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Starring Mickey Rooney as Puck, James Cagney as Bottom and Jean Muir as Helena, this early take on Shakespeare's classic romantic comedy offers magic flowers that cause love at first sight, resulting in Cupid-inspired confusion deep within a heavenly forest. Plays at 7:30 p.m. May 1 at Beatnik Bob's Cafe, City Museum, 15th and Lucas streets. NR

Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport. The Holocaust Museum and Learning Center presents a special screening of Mark Jonathan Harris' Into the Arms of Strangers (2000). This totally absorbing feature-length documentary focuses on a little-known chapter in the bleak history of the second world war: the massive effort by Britain to get 10,000 Jewish children out of Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia and into English foster homes before the start of war. England was the only nation willing to take in "the kinder" (the U.S. Congress rejected a similar proposal). Written and directed by Harris (an Oscar-winner for the Holocaust-themed documentary The Long Way Home), Into the Arms of Strangers is an exceptional work, consisting of extraordinary archival footage. Old newsreels and miraculously preserved home movies reveal prewar Germany through a child's eyes: a prosperous nation of crowded shops and busy streets, filled with ice skating and merry-go-rounds, birthday parties and family outings. The stories told by the kinder are harrowing: the little girl whose father could not bear to lose her and pulled her out the train's window as the kindertransport left the Berlin station; the child who, once in London, marched up to Baron Rothschild's front door and begged him to get her parents out of Germany (he did). An elderly woman recalls the day she bid her parents farewell and boarded the train. Fifty years later, she still dreams of that day. "I wake up and, as old as I am, I am still sobbing." This emotionally resonant film stands out as one of the most quietly powerful films ever made about the Holocaust. Plays at 7 p.m. April 29 at the Holocaust Museum. (JO)

Sunday Afternoon Film Series. The Holocaust Museum and Learning Center hosts a monthly series of movies relating to the Holocaust. This month features Frank Pierson's Conspiracy: The Meeting at Wannsee (2001). Kenneth Brannagh stars as Reinhard Heydrich, a high-ranking Nazi official who, in 1942, oversaw the notorious meetings in which the details of the Final Solution were determined. The meeting changed the course of history and resulted in the deaths of millions of Jews. The film, commissioned for television, was nominated for 7 Emmy Awards and won two. Plays at 2 p.m. April 28 at the Holocaust Museum. NR

Women in the Director's Chair. Webster University presents two programs from the Chicago-based international media arts/activist center Women in the Director's Chair. The program available for preview, "Roots and Routes: of Creation Myths and 'Other' Stories," offers six works marvelously diverse in style and theme, running from five to 22 minutes, in lush color as well as black-and-white. Imaginative, thoughtful artists from the U.S., South Korea, India, Venezuela and Jamaica use live action and animation, myth and nonfiction to visualize provocative ideas. In "Thirst," Indian villagers of a Harijan colony explain in the first person their fight for water rights and survival against traditional caste oppression. By contrast, with no spoken words, "Ella/She" wields haunting images to confront the politics of abortion in Venezuela. In the playful "Cooking Tales," a revealing dialogue punctuates the preparation of colorful chile and pepper dishes with sensuous sights and sounds so strong you'll swear you smell the aroma. A Jamaican grandmother tells a unique creation tale in the joyful, celebratory "Lullaby." The other program, "How to Properly Portray an American Flag," six works on independent-minded women who defy stereotypes, plays at 8 p.m. April 27. "Roots and Routes: Of Creation Myths and 'Other' Stories" plays at 8 p.m. April 28 at Webster University. Each program includes film and video works. (DC)

 
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