Reading Advisory at the Ames Public Library
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Reading Advisory at the Ames Public Library
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Eastern European Films at Ames Public Library

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Once upon a Time in Anatolia (DVD FOREIGN ONC)  In Turkish with English captions.  150 min.  2011. 

In the dead of night, a group of men - among them, a police commissioner, a prosecuter, a doctor and a murder suspect - drive through the Anatolian countryside, the serpentine roads and rolling hills lit only by car headlights. They are searching for a corpse, the victim of a murder. The suspect, who claims he was drunk, can't remember where he buried the body. Details about the murder emerge and the investigators' own hidden secrets come to light. In the steppes, nothing is what it seems, and when the body is found, the real questions begin.

Police, Adjective (DVD FOREIGN POL)  In Romanian with English captions.  115 min.  2011. 

Cristi is a young undercover cop who undergoes a crisis of conscience when he is pressured to arrest a teenager who offers hash to classmates. Not wanting to ruin the life of a young man he considers merely irresponsible, Cristi must either arrest him or face censure by his superior, for whom the word 'conscience' has a different meaning.

Protektor (DVD FOREIGN PRO)  In Czech with English captions.  100 min.  2012. 

Emil is a Prague radio reporter in 1938. His wife Hana's new film has just made her famous. As the Nazis come to power, Hana's Jewish heritage precipitates her fall from stardom. To protect her, Emil collaborates with the new Nazi radio station. As Emil enjoys this new respect, his loyalty to his wife begins to falter. The assassination of the Third Reich Deputy Protector, plus a chance encounter, brings their marriage to a crisis, possibly sealing Hana's fate.

Satantango (DVD FOREIGN SAT)  In Hungarian with English captions.  435 min.  1994. 

In an abandoned agricultural collective, a handful of lost and lonely characters eke out a living until a charismatic con man arrives to shake things up.

The Shop on Main Street (DVD FOREIGN SHO)  In Czech/Slovak with English captions.  125 min.  1965. 

In 1942, Tono and his wife are struggling because of his antipathy towards the fascist regime.  His brother-in-law, the local fuehrer, chooses Tono to oversee a button shop owned by a sweet, harmless Jewish widow, Mrs. Lautman.  Unable to explain his position to Mrs. Lautman, Tono gradually accepts her belief that he is her assistant.  When the Jews are ordered deported, the well-meaning Tono decides to shield her from the Nazis.

A Short Film about Love (DVD FOREIGN SHO)  In Polish with English captions.  83 min.  1988. 

A postal worker falls in love with an older woman who lives in the flat opposite his. She tells him that “love” is nothing more than biological impulses. As a reaction to his voyeurism, she draws him into a game that neither can win.

Since Otar Left (DVD FOREIGN SIN)  In Georgian, French, and Russian, with English captions.  99 min.  2003. 

Three generations of Georgian women live in the city of Tbilisi. Eka obsesses over her physician son Otar while the other two women deal with Eka’s desire to see him.

Something like Happiness (DVD FOREIGN SOM)  In Czech with English captions.  107 min.  2005. 

A trio of friends living in a Czech housing project finds happiness in unexpected places. As a large chemical factory looms over their bleak suburb, Monika, Tonik, and Dasha hope for a brighter future in another place. While supermarket employee Monika hopes that she will venture to America to be with her boyfriend, Tonik secretly pines for Monika, and single mother Dasha finds comfort in the arms of a married man while slowly drifting from reality. As Tonik flees his conservative parents to live on the farm of his eccentric aunt, Dasha's grip on reality finally slips ─ leaving her two young children in the care of Tonik and Monika. As things begin to look up for the willing but inexperienced new parents, a lifetime of happiness is finally within their reach.

Storm (DVD FOREIGN STO)  In Bosnian, Serbian, English and German, with English captions.  103 min.  2009. 

Hannah Maynard, prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague, is leading a trial against a former commander of the Yugoslavian National Army, accused of the deportation and killing of Bosnian-Muslim civilians. When a key witness commits suicide, the case appears to unravel. Hoping to uncover new findings, Hannah travels to the witness' burial in Sarajevo and meets his sister Mira, who has more to say than she admits. Despite threats of violence, Mira reluctantly agrees to testify at The Hague. She and Hannah must risk life and limb to make it to the court, only to discover that there are traitors in their own ranks.

Strike (DVD FOREIGN STR)  In English, German, or Polish, with English captions.  104 min.  2006. 

An illiterate single mother, Agnieszka, works long hours as a shipyard welder − until her superiors deny compensation to the widows of 21 workers killed in an industrial disaster. Risking everything to defy the bureaucracy, she inspires the largest labor strike in history, becoming a national hero.

@Suicideroom (DVD FOREIGN SUI)  In Polish with English captions.  110 min.  2012. 

A series of humiliating events before his graduation pushes Dominik into the virtual world for comfort. He spends his time as an avatar in the “Suicide Room,” but his online adventures begin to dangerously bleed into his real life. Animated sequences draw the viewer into the virtual world portrayed in this psychological drama of a teenager trying to escape the torment of bullying.

Summer Holiday (Boogie) (DVD FOREIGN SUM)  In Romanian with English captions.  102 min.  2012. 

During a seaside vacation with his wife and young son, Boogie bumps into his best friends from high school. They reminisce about their “glory days” of drinking binges and outrageous sexual escapades. Frustrated with his job and the constraints of his life, Boogie indulges in one wild night of boozing and chasing women with his old pals. But he soon realizes that a life of marriage, parenthood, and responsibility might be the best fate of all.

Tales From the Golden Age (DVD FOREIGN TAL)  In Romanian with English captions.  141 min.  2009. 

The final fifteen years of the Ceausescu regime were the worst in Romania's history. Nonetheless, the propaganda of that time referred to that period as the “golden age.” Using the moniker as a starting point, the most popular, comic and bizarre urban legends from that harrowing period arise into a hilariously surreal film.

Three Monkeys (DVD FOREIGN THR)  In Turkish with English captions.  109 min.  2008. 

An ambitious politician flees a hit-and-run accident in the dead of night. Afraid of hurting his election chances, he pays off his chauffeur Eyüp to take the rap. While Eyüp stews in jail, this devil's bargain takes its toll on his brooding son Ismail and restless wife Hacer, who falls into an illicit affair with the politician. Ismail's discovery of his mother's infidelity and Eyüp's suspicions after he gets out of jail crank up the simmering tensions in a household already haunted by hidden ghosts.

Times and Winds (DVD FOREIGN TIM)  In Turkish with English captions.  111 min.  2008. 

Director Reha Erdem paints a portrait of life in a remote village of Turkey with this tale of three preteen friends whose childhood dreams are crushed by the apparent wickedness of their adult guardians. Ömer's father is the local imam and a respected member of the community, but he treats Ömer with such disdain that the youngster can frequently be found praying for his father's death. Yakup is a boy who houses secret affections for the teacher of the local schoolhouse. His obsession turns to repulsion, however, when he sees his father admiring the woman's beauty, as well. Lastly, Yildiz's mother is a cruel woman who drives her daughter like a slave. When Yildiz accidentally sees her parents making love, it leaves a lasting impression on the girl's fragile psyche.

Tuesday, After Christmas (DVD FOREIGN TUE)  In Romanian with English captions.  99 min.  2011. 

In the days leading up to Christmas, a married man forces himself to choose between his wife and his mistress. This sharply observed, deeply felt drama showcases the strengths of current Romanian cinema in its beautifully calibrated performances, expert craftsmanship, and dazzling technical mastery.

The Turin Horse (DVD FOREIGN TUR)  In Hungarian with English captions.  143 min.  2011. 

On January 3, 1889, in Turin, Italy, Friedrich Nietzsche steps out of the doorway of number six, Via Carlo Albert. Close by, a cab driver is having trouble with a stubborn horse. The horse refuses to move, whereupon the driver takes his whip to it. Nietzsche puts an end to the brutal scene, throwing his arms around the horse's neck, sobbing. Afterwards, he lies motionless and silent for two days on a divan, until he loses consciousness and his mind.

12:08 East of Bucharest (DVD FOREIGN TWE)  In Romanian with English or Spanish captions.  89 min.  2006. 

On the 16th year after the fall of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, a local anchorman invites two men to share their moments of revolutionary glory on his talk show. One is an impish retiree who sometimes poses as Santa Claus, the other is a henpecked, hard-drinking teacher. They recall the day when they stormed their town hall calling "down with Ceausescu." Or did they?

Up and Down (DVD FOREIGN UP)  In Czech with English captions.  112 min.  2004. 

The discovery of an abandoned child by two smugglers kicks into gear a series of tragi-comic events.

The Way I Spent the End of the World (DVD FOREIGN WAY)  In Romanian with English captions.  106 min.  2006. 

In 1989, Eva, her little brother Lalalilu, and their parents live on the outskirts of Bucharest. Seven-year-old Lalalilu adores his 17-year-old sister. She and her boyfriend Alexandru accidentally break Ceausescu's statue while kissing in school. When caught, Eva refuses to apologize, is expelled, and transfers to technical school. There she meets Andrei, and they plan to escape from Romania. Learning of her plan, Lalalilu and his loyal, rebellious friends plot to exact revenge on the dictator Ceausescu for driving his sister away.

Werckmeister Harmonies (DVD FOREIGN WER)  In Hungarian with English captions.  145 min.  2000. 

In a frostbitten, fogbound provincial town lives a young postman, Janos Valushka. One day a traveling circus comes to town, displaying the stuffed body of the largest whale in the world in a corrugated metal trailer. Their arrival in the midst of a terminal frost prompts bizarre rumors which quickly run rife, alluding to a shadowy figure, dubbed the Prince, who supposedly accompanies the circus. Within a short time, the gathering tensions ignite, and an apocalyptic unrest is unleashed, the madness sweeping across the frigid, foggy community, and forever changing Janos' life. Hungarian director Bela Tarr twists reality into impressionism in this adaptation from László Krasznahorkai's novel, while regarding the characters with intensity through long, uninterrupted takes.

When Father Was Away on Business (DVD FOREIGN WHE)  In Serbo-Croatian with English captions.  135 min.  1985.  

A six-year-old boy tells his version of why Daddy could not stay with his family in post-World War II Yugoslavia. In reality, the child’s father has gone to prison for romancing the lover of a high-ranking party member, but the boy thinks his father is away working.

Witnesses (DVD FOREIGN WIT)  In Croatian with English captions.  88 min.  2003. 

A collection of interrelated stories center on ethnic conflicts and moral ambiguities in a small Balkan town.

A Year of the Quiet Sun (DVD FOREIGN YEA)  In Polish with English captions.  106 min.  1985. 

An American war crimes investigator finds love with a Polish widow in the days just after the war’s end, despite the fact that neither speaks the other’s language.

Zelary (DVD FOREIGN ZEL)  In Czech with English or French captions.  147 min.  2003. 

During World War II, nurse Eliska is part of a resistance movement with her lover, surgeon Richard. When he is discovered, she leaves the hospital to hide from the Nazis. A colleague sends her with a patient to the Moravian mountain village of Zelary. The patient agrees to hide her as his wife. They live in a cabin for two years, waiting for an end to the Nazi occupation. Despite their differences, they form a bond.

Zurek (DVD FOREIGN ZUR)  In Polish with English captions.  72 min.  2003. 

Halina, a young widow, tramps around a Polish border town in search of her grandchild’s father. Her impaired teenage daughter refuses to name the father, which causes a problem with the infant’s upcoming baptism.