Film Festival

When 10 Sep 2010 - 21 Nov 2010
Where Freer Sackler Gallery
1050 Independence Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20439
United States
Enquiry 202.633.1000

September 10 – Nov 14 2010

Freer Gallery, Meyer Auditorium, screenings usually either start at 2pm, 3pm or 7pm.

September 10, 12, 17, 19, 24, 26, October 1-3, 8-9, 31, November 5, 7, 12, 14 2010

Calendar of Films:

Flight of the Red Balloon

Taiwan’s most acclaimed filmmaker pays homage to Albert Lamorisse’s classic children’s film with this poignant story of a tempestuous single mother (Juliette Binoche), her precocious young son, and the Taiwanese exchange student she hires as his nanny. At once a sublime tribute to Paris and a compassionate exploration of the inevitable complications of human relationships, this film has been hailed as “a gem” (Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune), “a movie of genius” (J. Hoberman, Village Voice), and “a work of art on the order of a poem by Yeats or a painting by Rothko” (John Anderson, Washington Post). (Dir.: Hou Hsiao-hsien, Taiwan, 2007, 115 min. French and Mandarin with English subtitles).

Night and Day

After he’s arrested for smoking marijuana, a famous Korean painter flees to Paris where, between emotional calls home to his wife, he falls in with a group of expatriate Koreans and becomes smitten with a beautiful young art student. But repeated coincidences and surreal images gradually blur the line between the real and the imaginary. Director Hong Sang-soo’s characteristic dry humor suffuses his portrayal of Koreans living abroad, the allure of Paris, and his feckless hero’s neuroses and delusions. “Some of it is hilarious, some sad, all filtered through Hong’s inimitably wry take on the unbearable lightness of being” (Scott Foundas, Village Voice). Intended for mature audiences. (Dir.: Hong Sang-soo, Korea, 2008, 144 min. Korean and French with English subtitles). Co-sponsor: Embassy of France.

Late Spring

This “heartbreaking postwar masterpiece” (Scott Tobias, The Onion) by Yasujiro Ozu explores the relationship between a widowed father and his adult daughter as they negotiate the changing social pressures of a modernizing Japan. He wants her to marry so she won’t be alone after his death, but she is steadfast in her desire to remain single and care for him. Elegantly told in Ozu’s uniquely pensive style, this tremendously moving film is one of his most revered and influential. (Dir.: Yasujiro Ozu, Japan, 1949, 108 min. B&W, Japanese with English subtitles). Co-sponsor: Embassy of France.

35 Shots of Rum

Yasujiro Ozu’s masterpiece Late Spring is transported to Paris’ African immigrant community in this beautiful contemplation of the bond between a widowed father and his overly devoted daughter. Claire Denis’ tribute to the Japanese master retains Ozu’s basic storyline and compassionate sensibility, but also cleverly filters the original film’s themes through a very different period and setting, and infuses it with her own powerful style. “To fall in love with it, viewers only have to be receptive to a movie that examines the ties that bind with grace, wit and depth,” writes David Fear in Time Out New York. (Dir.: Claire Denis, France, 2008, 100 min. French and German with English subtitles). Time Detail: PLEASE NOTE: This is the correct time for this film. Please disregard the information in the printed events calendar. Co-sponsor: Embassy of France.
Sleepwalking through the Mekong

In the 1960s, Cambodian musicians blended traditional Khmer music with Western pop to create Khmer rock, a genre that has been revived by the Los Angeles-based band Dengue Fever. This film documents the band’s tour of Cambodia, where they performed with local musicians, reconnected with charismatic lead singer Chhom Nimol’s roots, and found a vibrant modern Cambodia far different from the tragic images so often associated with it. (Dir.: John Pirozzi, United States, 2007, 68 min. video, English and Khmer with English subtitles).

The Golden Age of Cambodian Cinema

Join filmmaker and Cambodian cinema specialist Davy Chou (the grandson of famous Cambodian movie producer Van Chann) as he presents a history of Cambodian cinema from the 1960s and 70s. Chou has been tirelessly tracking down films and filmmakers from this period, during which Khmer rock and Khmer movies together created a lively, inventive pop culture that was tragically destroyed by the Pol Pot regime. Don’t miss this opportunity to see rare film clips and learn about a rich cinematic world that remains virtually unknown in the West.


Today’s Hanoi serves as the backdrop for this steamy tale of a precarious love triangle. When a young wife’s husband proves unable to consummate their marriage, her best friend—who secretly desires her—pushes her into the arms of a seductive lothario. Seething with sexual tension, this sensuous feature from Chuyen Bui Thac “is a subtle, melancholy exploration of erotic angst and uncomfortable awakening” (Manohla Dargis, New York Times). Copresented by the Global Film Initiative as part of the Global Lens 2010 film series. (Dir.: Chuyen Bui Thac, Vietnam, 2009, 110 min. Vietnamese with English subtitles). Co-sponsor: Embassy of Vietnam, Washington, D.C.

The Little Girl of Hanoi

Filmed amid the rubble of a recently bombed Hanoi, this harrowing tale—of a girl searching for her soldier father after losing the rest of her family during a bombardment—is at once a powerful drama and a very rare look at life in the city during the Vietnam War. In the words of film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, “the film is remarkable not only for its sincerity and emotional directness, but for its accomplished visual style.” (Dir.: Hai Ninh, Vietnam, 1974, 72 min. B&W, video, Vietnamese with English subtitles). Co-sponsor: Embassy of Vietnam, Washington, D.C.

The Guava House

The main character of this film from Dang Nhat Minh—one of Vietnam’s most acclaimed directors—is a 50-year-old man whose emotional and mental development ended after a childhood fall from a guava tree. Obsessed with returning to his childhood home, he is caught scaling his neighbor’s fence, in the process forming a relationship with the daughter of the powerful civil servant who lives there. As described at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, “Director Dang Nhat Minh uses the memories of a man who can’t grow up to reflect upon a land which still has difficulty in reconciling itself to the past and in finding a direction towards the future.” (Dir.: Dang Nhat Minh, Vietnam, 2000, 100 min. Vietnamese with English subtitles). Co-sponsor: Embassy of Vietnam, Washington, D.C.

At the End of Daybreak

Twitch film critic Todd Brown calls Ho Yuhang “one of the Malaysian indie film movement’s brightest lights, blessed with a keen eye and an uncanny sense for human nature.” Evoking film noir in its suspenseful plot and moody atmosphere, his second feature is about a troubled 23-year-old man from the wrong side of the tracks who falls for a 15-year-old girl from a rich family. When their secret affair comes to light, all of the characters’ dark sides come out in sometimes shocking ways. (Dir.: Ho Yuhang, Malaysia, 2009, 94 min. Mandarin with English subtitles). Co-sponsor: Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia and the Singapore Embassy.

DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival

Films will be announced in September. Visit for further details.

Mundane History

This feature is, on the surface, the story of the son of a wealthy family forming a relationship with his caretaker after being paralyzed in an accident. But this description hardly does justice to the film’s mesmerizing atmosphere, intriguingly elliptical time scheme, and heady engagement with everything from Thai history to evolution to reincarnation and the birth of the universe. It all adds up to one of the most stunningly inventive films of 2009. (Dir.: Anocha Suwichakornpong, Thailand, 2009, 82 min. Thai with English subtitles). Co-sponsor: Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia and the Singapore Embassy.


Selected for the Cannes International Film Festival’s Directors’ Fortnight, this trippy story of insanity and murder betrays its director’s training as a visual artist, and has drawn comparisons to the work of David Lynch. After killing his wife, a mentally disturbed man loses the ability to speak and is committed to a mental hospital, where he forms a bond with an enthusiastic female kleptomaniac and is subjected to an experimental treatment known as “videocure.” (Dir.: Ho Tzu Nyen, Singapore, 2009, 86 min. English, Mandarin, Bahasa Indonesia, and Nepalese with English subtitles). Co-sponsor: Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia and the Singapore Embassy.

The Rainbow Troops

This adaptation of Andrea Hirata’s popular novel is one of the most successful films in Indonesian box-office history. It tells the touching tale of three boys coming of age in rural Indonesia, while studying in a school that is on the verge of closing because of dropping attendance. Mixing humor and sadness, director Riri Riza manages to both address important Indonesian social issues and evoke the universal mysteries of childhood. (Dir.: Riri Riza, 2008, 124 min. Bahasa Indonesia with English subtitles). Co-sponsor: Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia and the Singapore Embassy.

Sans Soleil

Chris Marker’s cinematic meditation on time, memory, and place spans the globe from Japan to Guinea-Bissau, Iceland, and San Francisco (for a tour of sites from Hitchcock’s Vertigo). It blends fact, fiction, witty juxapositions, and startling philosophical insights into an unclassifiable collage that has influenced artists and filmmakers for nearly three decades. “Like a piece of sci-fi anthropology,” writes Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian, “it visits humanity as if from another planet, juxtaposing human conventions and customs.” Includes images that may disturb some viewers; intended for mature audiences. (Dir.: Chris Marker, France, 1983, 100 min. English). (Related Exhibition: Fiona Tan: Rise and Fall).

The Island (a.k.a. The Naked Island)

Director Kaneto Shindo says he conceived of this film “as a ‘cinematic poem’ to try and capture the life of human beings struggling like ants against the forces of nature.” Using no dialogue, it patiently follows the daily activities of a family of subsistence farmers on a remote island, turning their arduous chores into a hypnotic visual rhythm and finding the beauty in perseverance. (Dir. Kaneto Shindo, Japan, 1960, 94 min. B&W, no dialogue).


Akira Kurosawa’s Samurai-era murder mystery, in the words of Roger Ebert, “struck the world of film like a thunderbolt,” winning the top award at the Venice Film Festival, an Academy Award, and paving the way for greater awareness of Japanese cinema around the world. By telling its story from the mutually contradictory points of view of four separate characters—each with their own agenda—Kurosawa broke new ground for narrative cinema and created an enduring classic. (Dir.: Akira Kurosawa, 1950, 88 min. B&W, Japanese with English subtitles).

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