by Lucy Leitner
It’s the eighth edition of the Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival. Each year is a different set of faces, a different theme that literally puts a human face on a something to which we can all relate. From March 20 through April 5, the McConomy Auditorium on CMU’s campus will feature the Faces of Work.
The year’s festival is dedicated to the late CMU professor, filmmaker, and psychologist Paul Goodman whose professional focus was on workers worldwide. His award-winning documentary Shipbreakers is among the 15 films featured at the festival.
The films range from the Chinese treatment of Internet dependence as an addiction to war-torn Rwanda’s optimistic path to recovery.
By centering on a theme, the festival shows how, though the faces are diverse and the words that come out of the mouths are all different languages, we are all united by certain themes.
“We try to take into account a broad, globally relevant theme that could encompass a wide variety of film subjects, such as ‘Faces of Democracy’ or ‘Faces of Migration,’” said festival director Jolanta Lion. “Oftentimes we also select a theme that corresponds well with the missions of our sponsors.”
Following each festival, Lion, the Assistant Director of the Humanities Center at Carnegie Mellon University, decides on a new theme based on the aforementioned factors. She travels to festivals around the world to find films that fit into the theme and will appeal to the audience in Pittsburgh. The student festival selections committee helps her to narrow down the list.
This year’s selections include several prestigious titles:
Walesa: Man of Hope
Poland. A biopic about the Solidarity Trade Union leader and Nobel Peace Prize-winning politician Lech Walesa. The event features an appearance by former Polish first lady Danuta Walesa.
USA/India. A documentary about the fascinating and chaotic trade of shipbreaking on Indian ports. The screening is the opening night event at CMU and features food from Coriander India Grill, as well as a panel discussion with director Ralph Vituccio and local professors and journalists.
Egypt/USA. A view of Egypt’s 2011 revolution from inside Tahrir Square. The event includes a panel discussion with Pitt professors.
China/Israel/USA. A behind-the-barbed-wire look into a Chinese military facility where Internet addiction is treated like a disease that requires rehabilitation. After the screening, director Shosh Shlam will answer questions.
Peru. Lima is the site of a fatal epidemic in this dystopian look at urban desolation in which the protagonist disposes of human corpses for a living. The film will be screened twice — one will be free while the other features a Q&A with director Adrian Saba.
Eat Sleep Die
Sweden. A young Muslim immigrant struggles to find work while caring for her ailing father in southern Sweden.
Master of the Universe
Germany/Austria. A glimpse into the not-always-glamorous life of an investment banker. This screening is only open to SMU students and faculty.
Sofia’s Last Ambulance
Bulgaria/Germany/Croatia. The film spotlights the issue of a deteriorating emergency response system through this day-in-the-life film of three first responders in Sofia, Bulgaria. The film will be preceded by Dr. Paul Goodman’s short Nurse, a profile of a neo-natal nurse at Pittsburgh’s Mercy Hospital.
Open City of Amereida
Chile/USA. This documentary details the history of the city that was created as a laboratory for architecture and perspectives on the unique philosophy by which its inhabitants abide. The event features a Q&A with director Andres Tapia-Urzua and Chilean wine.
Chad/France. A noir drama about a unique dancer with a rare condition that enables flexibility who becomes involved in criminal activities when the family business hits hard times. Afro-Brazilian music and dance ensemble Nego Gato will perform at the screening.
Madame Presidenta: Why Not U.S.? — Vamos Meninas!
USA/Brazil. Director Heather Arnet (CEO of the Women and Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania) travels to Brazil to ask women how the culture shifted to enable a woman to be elected president. The event includes a Q&A with Arnet.
Poland. An underdog story about a single mother in a managerial role at a supermarket that delves into broader issues of gender roles in the workforce and workers’ rights in Poland. Renowned Polish writer Piotr Adamowicz will moderate a discussion after the screening.
Iran. Loyalty and friendship are tested in this thriller about mismatched roommates in contemporary Tehran. Conflict Kitchen will cater the reception and director Parviz Shahbazi will answer questions after the screening.
USA. As tuition rates skyrocket, students at legendary college of dissent UC — Berkeley organize protests for affordable public education. The event features a discussion with local college professors.
Rwanda/USA. An uplifting look at the creative means that women try to start anew in post-genocide Rwanda. This closing night event features a Q&A with director Lisa Fruchtman and a reception catered by Dave & Andy’s Homemade Ice Cream.
The Faces of Work festival also includes the shortFACES film competition. Each selected 8-minute film will be screened before the feature films, with $1,000 going to the first prize winner.
The annual Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival is planned and executed almost entirely by CMU and Pitt students under the guidance of Lion. To learn more about the festival and purchase tickets, visit the web site: http://www.cmu.edu/faces.