Border Cinema

Monday, January 24 at 7pm


Ai Weiwei (Germany 2017) 140 min. DCP. 

Over 65 million people around the world have been forced from their homes to escape famine, climate change and war in the greatest human displacement since World War II. This epic film journey by internationally renowned artist Ai Weiwei, gives powerful visual expression to this massive human migration. The documentary elucidates both the staggering scale of the refugee crisis and its profoundly personal human impact, following a chain of urgent human stories that stretches across the globe in countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, France, Greece, Germany, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Mexico and Turkey.


Monday, January 31 at 7pm


Wolfgang Fischer (Germany/Austria 2018) 94 min. DCP. With Susanne Wolff, Alexander Beyer, Gedion Oduor Wekesa

Premiering at the Berlinale, where it opened the Panorama Special section, Styx is a work of unrelenting intensity and technical brilliance. ER doctor Rike (Wolff) embarks on a one-woman solo sailing trip to Ascension Island in the Atlantic. When Rike comes across a sinking ship of refugees, she is quickly torn out of her contented and idealized world and must make a momentous decision. Aptly named after the mythological river that separates the living from the dead, Styx is an astute modern day parable of Western indifference in the face of marginalized suffering. 

“A blunt, breathless, and astoundingly unsentimental morality play that’s told with the intensity of a ticking-clock thriller…. ” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire


Monday, February 7 at 7pm


Sebastian Schipper (Germany 2019) 99 min. DCP. With Fionn Whitehead, Stéphane Bak, Moritz Bleibtreu. 

Two teenage loners in search of family find solace in friendship in this cross-cultural border-crossing adventure, a spirited portrayal of two vulnerable young men struggling to step into their adult selves without the security of family to ground them or male role models to emulate. Capturing with acute sensitivity what it means to live on the margins of mainstream society, Schipper depicts a rebellious British teen who escapes a stifling family vacation to drive through Morocco and Spain to visit his real father in France. (Tribeca Film Festival notes).


Monday, February 21 at 7pm


Cary Joji Fukunaga (U.S. 2009) 96 min. DCP. With Paulina Gaitán, Edgar Flores, Kristyan Ferrer.

Cary Fukunanga’s searing directorial debut is the tender story of siblings Sayra and El Casper traveling by train through Mexico to the United States. While Sayra, who is with her family, seeks a better life in the north, El Casper is fleeing retribution from the gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). An intimate portrait of youth, Sin Nombre also alludes to the political, international, and historical forces that render the journey between Central America and United States brutal, corrupt, and often insurmountable (Walker Art Center notes).


Monday, February 28 at 7pm


Denis Villeneuve (U.S. 2015) 121 min. DCP. With Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro. English and Spanish with English subtitles.

Hollywood took notice of Canadian director Denis Villeneuve after his 2013 Prisoners; two films later was this Mexican drug cartel thriller, and next to be released is Blade Runner 2049 – sure to make the filmmaker a household name (for better or for worse). “Sicario’s every moment unambiguously execrates the war on drugs, depicting clandestine U.S. interventions that only help perpetuate a billion-dollar industry at the expense of tens of thousands of Mexicans caught in the crossfire” (José Teodoro, Film Comment).


Monday, March 7 at 7pm


Orson Welles (U.S. 1958) 111 min. 35MM. With Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Orson Welles.

A bomb rolls into a small, seedy border town in one of cinema’s most astounding opening shots. The ensuing thriller – Welles’ monstrously corrupt detective investigates, with the help of a Mexican narc (Heston) recently wed to Janet Leigh – is the stuff of a deliriously grotesque noir nightmare. “The tallest tree in the wilderness of Welles’ post-Kane career! The dialogue is as intricately overlapped as the lighting is cross-hatched; the cameos are as vivid as possible in a black-and-white movie; the camera work and blocking have the coordination of an Olympic pole vaulter” (J. Hoberman).


Monday, March 21 at 7pm


John Wayne (U.S. 1960) 190 min. 35MM. With John Wayne, Richard Widmark, Laurence Harvey, Frankie Avalon.

John Wayne produced, directed and stars (playing Col. Davy Crockett) in this passion project, a chronicle of the 1836 Battle of the Alamo. From the Collection of the Library of Congress.


Monday, March 28 at 7pm


Gregory Nava (Guatemela/U.S. 1983) 140 min. DCP. With Zaide Silvia Gutiérrez, Rosaas Rosa, David Villalpando. K’iche’, English, Spanish with English subtitles.

Brother and sister Enrique and Rosa flee persecution at home in Guatemala and journey north, through Mexico and on to the United States, with the dream of starting a new life. It’s a story that happens every day, but until Gregory Nava’s groundbreaking El Norte (The North), the personal travails of immigrants crossing the border to America had never been shown in the movies with such urgent humanism. A work of social realism imbued with dreamlike imagery, El Norte is a lovingly rendered, heartbreaking story of hope and survival, which critic Roger Ebert called “a Grapes of Wrath for our time.”


Monday, April 4 at 7pm


Pavel Pawlikowski (Poland 2018) 88 min. DCP. With Tomasz Kot, Joanna Kulig. Polish, French, Russian, Croatian, Italian, German with English subtitles.

This sweeping, delirious romance by Paweł Pawlikowski begins in the Polish countryside, where Wiktor (Kot), a musician on a state-sponsored mission to collect folk songs, discovers a captivating young singer named Zula (Kulig, in a performance for the ages). Over the next fifteen years, their turbulent relationship will play out in stolen moments between the jazz clubs of decadent bohemian Paris, to which he escapes, and the corrupt, repressive Communist Bloc, where she remains—universes bridged by their passion for music and for each other. Photographed in luscious monochrome and suffused with the melancholy of the simple folk song that provides a motif for the couple’s fateful affair, Pawlikowski’s timeless story—inspired by that of his own parents—is a heart-stoppingly grand vision of star-crossed love caught up in the tide of history.


Monday, April 11 at 7pm


Christian Petzold (France, Germany 2018) 102 min. DCP. With Franz Rogowski, Paula Beer, Godehard Giese. German and French with English subtitles.

In Christian Petzold’s brilliant and haunting modern-day adaptation of Anna Seghers’s 1942 novel, Transit Visa, Georg, a German refugee, flees to Marseille assuming the identity of a recently deceased writer whose papers he is carrying. There he delves into the delicate and complex culture of the refugee community, becoming enmeshed in the lives of a young mother and son and falling for a mysterious woman named Marie.

“Like a remake of Casablanca as written by Kafka.” – INDIEWIRE


Monday, April 18 at 7pm


Samuel Maoz (Israel/Germany/France/Switzerland 2017) 114 min. DCP. With Lior Ashkenazi and Sarah Adler. Hebrew, Arabic and German with English subtitles.

One of the highlights of the 2017 Toronto Film Festival, and the winner of the 2017 Venice Film Festival Grand Jury Prize, Foxtrot also swept the Israeli Academy Awards–though it was highly controversial. An upper-class couple experiences gut-wrenching grief when army officials show up at their home to announce the death of their son; but what begins as a harrowing depiction of mourning turns into something stranger and more ambitious. In the follow-up to his debut feature, Lebanon (which won the Golden Lion at the 2009 Venice Film Festival and took the foreign-film world by storm), Samuel Maoz has created a provocative and fearless film, politically charged, stylistically thrilling, “march[ing] boldly through the no-man’s-land between realism and surrealism” (Film Comment). Co-presented with Bucknell’s Center for Jewish Life Office.

“Image by image, and with invocations of history and the Holocaust, Mr. Moaz suggests that normalizing catastrophic violence — and routinizing mourning — is finally little else than nihilism.” – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times


Monday, April 25 at 7pm


Aki Kaurismäki (France 2011) 93 min. 35MM. With André Wilms, Blondin Miguel, Jean-Pierre Darroussin. French with English subtitles.

In this warmhearted comic yarn from Aki Kaurismäki, fate throws the young African refugee Idrissa (Miguel) into the path of Marcel Marx (Wilms), a kindly old bohemian who shines shoes for a living in the French harbor city Le Havre. With inborn optimism and the support of his tight-knit community, Marcel stands up to the officials doggedly pursuing the boy for deportation. A political fairy tale that exists somewhere between the reality of contemporary France and the classic French cinema of the past, Le Havre is a charming, deadpan delight and one of the Finnish director’s finest films.