Wow, that was a fun and/or sobering week. I’m still deciding which. You see, from Tuesday, Feb. 14 to Saturday Feb. 18, the Pollock Theater at UCSB screened five of the Oscar-nominated foreign films for 2011. I was lucky enough to attend these screenings and check out these amazing films.
First and foremost, I want to address my disappointment at the small number of students in the audience. The crowd was comprised of mostly older folks and hardly any college students. This is unfortunate, as these were powerful, well-made and engrossing films.
Now, I don’t want to put on a beret and start preaching the death of American cinema or anything (I mean, “The Avengers” is coming out soon, so it can’t be all bad), but rather I feel that students — especially film students — should experience these types of films to get an array of moods and storytelling techniques from around the world. It’s like food: Sure, meat and potatoes are good, but sometimes you just want something different, like sushi or Italian.
As for the screenings themselves, each one was complimented by the Pollock Theater’s always reliable, large, crisp screen and state-of-the art sound system. Each film was also introduced by Oscar-nominated foreign short films, which were each a joy to experience. The darkly humorous “Wild Life” from Canada appeared before “Monsieur Lazhar,” and the visually stunning “Morning Stroll” played before “In Darkness,” among other short gems.
The films were, as I’ve mentioned before, exquisite. There was the quiet dignity of the aforementioned “Monsieur Lazhar,” the raw intensity of “A Separation,” the brutality of “Bullhead,” the visceral tension of “In Darkness” and the esoteric “Footnote.”
All of these films had something unique to offer, and all of them were well worth seeing. I am grateful that USCB got the opportunity to screen these amazing films, and grateful that I got a chance to witness them.