MIRACLE
STEBUKLAS
2017, 91 min, Lithuania, Dir: Egle Vertelyte

Director Egle Vertelyte’s feature debut, which screened in the Discovery section at the Toronto International Film Festival this year, tells of a pig farmer struggling to save her farm and navigate the new world of Lithuania shortly after the fall of communism. The titular miracle occurs as a seemingly random American shows up offering to save the farm, but his intentions come into question as the workers and townspeople discover things are far more complicated. A melancholy but hilarious film (much in the tradition of working-class-friendly filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki) about an incredibly strong and driven woman trying to navigate this strange new world, and the creeping, confusing darkness of impending capitalism. Gorgeously shot in 4x3 Academy ratio and jam-packed with wonderfully humanist yet purposefully dry performances, MIRACLE is very nearly its namesake.


WELCOME TO GERMANY
WILKOMMEN BEI DEN HARTMANNS
2016, 116 min, Germany, Dir: Simon Verhoeven

Taking a refreshingly optimistic stance on the refugee crisis, WELCOME TO GERMANY follows the travails of a wealthy Munich family that takes in a young Nigerian refugee. A box office success in Germany, this timely and insightful social comedy addresses the inherent difficulties that refugees face, particularly the racism that persists in German society, and was named Best Film at both the Bambi Awards and the Bavarian Film Awards


THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS
1991, Universal, 102 min, USA, Dir: Wes Craven

Claustrophobic terror and a savage satire of Reaganomics drive this tale of a teenager who tries to keep his family from being evicted but ends up trapped in the home of his psychotic landlords.


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