Trailers: African Opener “Guelwaar” and Three New Releases

FilmLinc Daily begins a new column spotlighting upcoming films at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. This week's snapshot includes Guelwaar, the Opening Night film of the 20th African Film Festival New York, which runs April 3 – 9. The 1992 feature is directed by the late Senegalese filmmaker, Ousmane Sembène, considered one of Africa's most important filmmakers to reach international attention.

Documentary No Place On Earth opens theatrically at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center on Friday. The story of survival during the Holocaust won Audience Awards at the Palm Springs International Film Festival and Hamptons International Film Festival. Continuing their runs at the Film Center are doc Room 237 and animated feature From Up On Poppy Hill.

Guelwaar (New York African Film Festival, April 3)
Director/Writer: Ousmane Sembène
Cast: Abou Camara, Marie Augustine Diatta, Mame Ndoumbé Diop
Senegal, 1992 (115 minutes)

Sembene's 1992 feature is a "trenchant comic portrait of contemporary Africa," according to New York African Film Festival organizers. The story revolves around the mysterious death and even more mysterious post-death disappearance of Pierre Henri Thioune (aka, Guelwaar, or "the Noble One") who was a political activist, philandering patriarch and a pillar of the local Christian community. Sembene was one of the first film directors from an African country to achieve international recognition. The Senegalese filmmaker passed away in 2007, but remains a major figure in the rise of independent, post-colonial African cinema. Also screening April 3, the Opening Night of the 20th New York African Film Festival, is a 52 minute documentary titled Ousmane Sembène All At Once by Christine Delorme (France/Senegal).

No Place On Earth (New Release, Opens Friday)
Director: Janet Tobias
Subjects: Chris Nicola, Fruzsina Pelikán, Saul Stermer, Sonia Dodyk, Sima Dodyk
USA, 2013 (84 minutes)

Official Description: No Place on Earth brings to light the untold story of 38 Ukrainian Jews who survived World War II by living in caves for 18 months, the longest-recorded sustained underground survival. Built upon interviews with former cave inhabitants, as well as Chris Nicola, the caving enthusiast who unearthed the story, No Place on Earth is an extraordinary testament to ingenuity, willpower and endurance against all odds. The trailer gives an look at the shocking cave that served as both an underground exile from terror that also was a self-imposed tyranny, but their only chance of survival.

Room 237 (New Release, Now Playing)
Director: Rodney Ascher
Subjects: Bill Blakemore, Geoffrey cocks, Juli Kearns, John Fell Ryan, Jay Weidner
USA, 2013 (103 minutes)

Attention The Shining fans, this one is for you! The subjective documentary explores the many theories and hidden meanings contained in Stanley Kubrick's 1980 classic. Three decades on, The Shining still prompts debate, speculation and mystery. In Room 237, five very different points of view are explored via voice over, film clips, animation and dramatic re-enactments. As the official description explains, "Together, they'll draw the audience into a new maze, one with endless detours and dead ends, many ways in, but no way out." The film sold out screenings its opening weekend. Which theory do you agree with?

From Up On Poppy Hill (New Release, Now Playing)
Director: Goro Miyazaki
Writers: Tesuro Sayama, Hayao Miyazaki, Keiko Niwa, Chizuru Takahashi
Voice cast includes: Gillian Anderson, Sarah Bolger, Beau Bridges, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bruce Dern, Jeff Dunham, Isabelle Fuhrman, Christina Hendricks, Ron Howard, Chris Noth, Emily Osment, Aubrey Plaza, Charlie Saxton, Alex Wolff and Anton Yelchin.
Japan, 2011 (92 minutes)

Official Description: The setting is Yokohama in 1963, and the filmmakers lovingly bring to life the bustling seaside town, with its misty harbor, sun-drenched gardens, shops and markets, and some of the most mouthwatering Japanese home-cooking set to film. The story centers on an innocent romance beginning to bud between Umi and Shun, two high school kids caught up in the changing times. Japan is picking itself up from the devastation of World War II and preparing to host the 1964 Olympics – and the mood is one of both optimism and conflict as the young generation struggles to throw off the shackles of a troubled past. While the children work together to save a dilapidated Meiji-era club house from demolition, their tentative relationship begins to blossom. But – in an unexpected twist that parallels what the country itself is facing – a buried secret from their past emerges to cast a shadow on the future and pull them apart. From Up On Poppy Hill won the Best Animation Film Prize at the Awards of the Japanese Academy.

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