THE ASCENT
VOSKHOZHDENIE
1977, Janus Films, 111 min, Soviet Union, Dir: Larisa Shepitko

Larisa Shepitko’s emotionally overwhelming final film won the Golden Bear at the 1977 Berlin Film Festival and has been hailed around the world as the finest Soviet film of its decade. Set during World War II’s darkest days, THE ASCENT follows the path of two peasant soldiers, cut off from their troop, who trudge through the snowy backwoods of Belarus seeking refuge among villagers. Their harrowing trek leads them on a journey of betrayal, heroism and ultimate transcendence.


BATANG WEST SIDE
2001, 315 min, Philippines/USA, Dir: Lav Diaz

Filipino director Lav Diaz burst into the international arthouse film scene with this epic murder mystery set against the illusion of the American Dream. The story begins with the senseless slaying of Hanzel (Yul Servo), a Filipino youth from the crime ridden streets of Jersey City. Police detective Juan Mijares (Joel Torre) sets out to solve the case, by interviewing the teen’s family and friends and piecing together a fractured portrait of his life. Soon, the detective’s discoveries reveal some relentlessly bleak truths about the Philippine diasporic experience. With the ambitious scope of a great work of literature and a surprisingly brisk pace (for Diaz), BATANG WEST SIDE is one of the director’s most hauntingly beautiful films. “We have to examine our history - more than 300 years of Spanish colonization, almost one hundred years of American intervention, four years of Japanese reign, more than twenty years of Marcos terrorism - all these things destroyed our culture, our psyche. We have to examine that. We have to look back. BATANG WEST SIDE is that. It is an examination of our past, our future - a collective canvas of what we are as a people, as a nation.” – Lav Diaz.


THE CLOCK
1945, Warner Bros., 90 min, USA, Dir: Vincente Minnelli

Director Vincente Minnelli’s take on the universal boy-meets-girl story. Off-duty soldier Robert Walker meets Judy Garland in New York. Some sightseeing and a day later, they fall in love. One of those rare films in which Judy didn’t sing at all, proving she was also capable of carrying a purely dramatic role.


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