Learn About Our World Like an American: AIFF’s Varsity World Film Week Takes Us Out of Our Comfort Zone
Sure, the stock market has been a bit up-and-down lately, Pope Francis gently scolded our Congress last week and stores are starting to stock Christmas decorations already. But in the grand scheme, we have it pretty good here in the United States. A unifying theme of the Varsity World Film Week in Ashland, October 2 through 8, just might be: look how bad it could be. Spanning the globe from the Australian bush to urban Norway, we see a humbling view of life beyond the red, white and blue curtain. These three picks reflect just a few of the harrowing issues in our global community today; may we all look past ourselves to the hurting around the world and right in front of us. Check out the full film list and schedule at AshlandFilm.org.
Boy and the World
Director: Alê Abreu
What Boy and the World lacks in dialogue, it makes up for with vibrant colors and a touching story. The animated film follows a small boy as he searches for his father. Through his journey, the boy learns that his formerly simple, small world is actually a big, complex world. He sees the world of commerce as an endless line of the very poor working for the very rich, and then those hard-working poor cast aside in the wake of manufacturing breakthroughs and cost-cutting. The boy is helped along the way by a couple of kind souls, who remind us of the endurance of love through hardship. Music plays a key role, the chugging beat of industry wages war against a sweet, simple tune.
Director: Chaitanya Tambane
Caste prejudices are laid bare in Court, a film set in a courtroom in modern India. Narayan Kamble isn’t your typical mobster at the defendant’s stand; he is an unassuming older gentleman, who uses his vocal talents as a folk singer and activist. He is known as the “people’s poet,” and uses his gift of song to educate and inspire all who are oppressed in India’s caste-ruled society. After one of Kamble’s performances, a sewage worker dies and the police attribute his passing to a line in one of Kamble’s songs linking sewage workers to suicide. Hence, Kamble is tried for inciting suicide.
The lingering camera shots in this film give the viewer the opportunity to experience life as it flows in India, and Court brings the viewer in close, revealing the injustice of a corrupt system and those who fall victim to it.
Tall as the Baobab Tree
Director: Jeremy Teicher
Tall as the Baobab Tree director Jeremy Teicher is only a few years older than the Senegalese youth he sought to portray in this film, and he uses that connection of age to bring to light the ongoing challenge of tradition versus education, all with the backdrop of breathtaking panoramic camerawork.
Debo and her older sister, Coumba, were the first in their families remote village to attend school in the city. When 11-year-old Debo is promised to be sold into an arranged marriage to pay off a family debt, Coumba steps in to protect her.
Not only are the events of this film based off of actual experiences, all of the actors are locals. Teicher will be present for Q&As at the first two screenings of this film, and will share a preview of the film he is currently working on in Eugene, Tracktown.
AIFF Varsity World Film Week
Friday, October 2—Thursday, October 8
$8.50, single film. $40, six films. Discounts for AIFF members.