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2011, Magidson Films, 102 min, USA, Dir: Ron Fricke

Filmed over a period of five years and shot in 25 countries on glorious 70mm, the new meditative documentary from Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson (BARAKA, KOYAANISQATSI) transports us to sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial sites, and natural wonders. By dispensing with dialogue and descriptive text, SAMSARA subverts our expectations, encouraging interpretations inspired by images and music that infuses the ancient with the modern. The title is inspired by the Sanskrit word that means “the ever-turning wheel of life.”

1994, Studio Ghibli, 119 min, Japan, Dir: Isao Takahata

In this brilliant and often overlooked Studio Ghibli masterpiece, the forests are filled with groups of magical tanuki, mischievous raccoon-like animals from Japanese folklore, which are capable of shape-shifting from their standard raccoon form to practically any object. The tanuki spend their days playing idly in the hillsides and squabbling over food - until the construction of a huge new Tokyo suburb clears the nearby forest and threatens their way of life. In an effort to defend their home, the tanuki learn to transform into humans and start playing tricks to make the workers think the construction site is haunted, ending in a spectacular night-time spirit parade, with thousands of ghosts, dragons and other magical creatures descending on the city, in an abundance of fantastical characters that would not be matched onscreen by Studio Ghibli until SPIRITED AWAY.

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