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Adaptations

Adaptations

Since its inception, cinema has dialogued with, incorporated, and even cannibalized other art forms—pre-existing texts—and the immense question of adaption has long been a foundation of film art. To explore this vast, challenging basis of storytelling, we offer this eclectic on-going series, which ranges from spry reinventions of Shakespeare on the streets of Buenos Aires to a freewheeling Portuguese adaptation of timeless Middle Eastern folk tales.

SWEET BEAN

Naomi Kawase Japan, 2015

From director Naomi Kawase comes this small but heartfelt feel-good movie, an affecting tale of friendship that deplores us to remember the simple pleasures in life. Gentle and absorbing throughout, the film features a beautifully controlled performance by the late Japanese actor Kirin Kiki.

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HARD TO BE A GOD

Aleksei German Russia, 2013

Years in the making by visionary Russian director Aleksei German, this medieval epic adapted from a novel by Soviet sci-fi masters the Strugatskiy brothers (Stalker) plunges humanity into the mire on a quest for civilization itself. See our festival review and our exploration of medieval cinema.

TRANSIT

Christian Petzold Germany, 2018

Christian Petzold (Barbara) boldly transforms Anna Seghers’ WW2 novel into a haunting period film set in an ambiguous present. A stirring melodrama of love during oppression, Transit is every bit as scintillating as Casablanca, thanks in part to the outstanding duo of Franz Rogowski and Paula Beer.

THE PORTUGUESE WOMAN

Rita Azevedo Gomes Portugal, 2018

The newly married wife of Lord von Ketten is determined to make her husband’s family abode, an inhospitable castle in Italy, into a home. When he sets off to battle, staying away for eleven long years, she carves out a life for herself—reading, singing, dancing, swimming, and riding in the forest.

FAUST

Aleksandr Sokurov Russia, 2011

The last piece in Russian director Alexander Sokurov’s “tetralogy of power,” a loose adaptation of Goethe’s masterwork, won the Golden Lion award in Venice. With distorted visuals and absurdist verve, Faust is a cinematic feat made of medical discoveries, philosophical musings and erratic passions.

ARABIAN NIGHTS: VOLUME 1, THE RESTLESS ONE

Miguel Gomes Portugal, 2015

Three volumes, three unidentified filmic objects of uncommon beauty, and three instant classics of contemporary cinema. Miguel Gomes’ outstanding masterpiece takes over. A vision of modern Portugal told with the inspiration of the timeless folk tales of Arabian Nights.

ARABIAN NIGHTS: VOLUME 2, THE DESOLATE ONE

Miguel Gomes Portugal, 2015

The second installment of Miguel Gomes’ magnum opus is arguably the most melancholic of the three. While the whole trilogy is a unique blend of fine irony, dark humor, blissful fantasy, and fervent commitment to the present, this middle section confirms Arabian Nights as the ultimate political film.

HYENAS

Djibril Diop Mambéty Senegal, 1992

Visionary director Djibril Diop Mambéty (Touki Bouki) makes a feisty assault on economic imperialism in this loose adaptation of Friedrich Durrenmatt’s play, The Visit. Relocated to a Senegalese town, Hyenas is a comic, cutting critique of globalization conveyed with playful, imaginative flourish.