July 27 - August 2

The American Cinematheque presents...

Universal Studios Hitchcock International Director Series Featuring the ABSOLUT New Directors Showcase

Sponsored by United Airlines

Honorary American Host Committee

Kathryn Bigelow, Joe Dante, Taylor Hackford, Randa Haines, Curtis Hanson, Arthur Hiller, Ron Howard, Mimi Leder, Rob Reiner, Martin Scorsese, Tom Shadyac, John Singleton, Steven Soderbergh, Steven Spielberg

Saturday, July 31, 10:00am – 1:00pm

Meet the Filmmakers!

National vs Global Filmmaking in the New Millenium

Panel Discussion: What direction is filmmaking headed? To what audience do you want to speak? Ken Loach, Idrissa Ouédraogo, Kenji Fukasaku, Arturo Ripsten and Claire Denis discuss their interests and concerns.

Moderated by Emanuel Levy, Variety Film Critic, film professor and author.

Noon: Introducing the new directors of The ABSOLUT New Directors Showcase.

Back to Archive Index







The American Cinematheque, Universal Studios, Absolut Vodka and United Airlines honor the 100th anniversary of the birth of legendary director Alfred Hitchcock with the first annual Universal Studios Hitchcock International Director Series.

This weeklong forum on filmmaking brings together ten directors, representing ten different countries, whose work demonstrates, on a global level, the variety, beauty and importance of this art.

Five evenings are dedicated to the presentation of a film by, and discussion with, a major international director. Acclaimed directors Ken Loach (Great Britain), Arturo Ripstein (Mexico), Kinji Fukasaku (Japan), Idrissa Ouédraogo (Burkina Faso, Africa) and Claire Denis (France) join us this year to discuss their work.

On Saturday morning these five renowned directors participate in a panel discussion to share their views on National vs. Global filmmaking. The panel is moderated by Variety film critic and film historian, Emanuel Levy.

Joining the esteemed panel and audience are five directors whose first films have shown the promise of exciting careers, Deepa Mehta (India/Canada), Garin Nugroho (Indonesia), Lynne Ramsay (Scotland), Tsai Ming-Liang (Taiwan) and Eric Mendelsohn (United States).

The spotlight turns on these five emerging directors and their work in the ABSOLUT New Directors Showcase. Five screenings highlight one film from each of these filmmakers. Each screening is followed by a Q&A with the director.

Tuesday July 27, 7:30 pm

Ken Loach, Great Britain

LADYBIRD LADYBIRD, 1994, British Consulate, 101min. Based on true events, LADYBIRD LADYBIRD tells the story of Maggie Conlan, a mother, barely in control of her life, who is declared unfit and whose children are taken from her by social services. What ensues is a desperate battle to reclaim her family and her humanity from bureaucrats who keep pushing her down. Filmed with an unpredictable spareness of style and story, LADYBIRD LADYBIRD is dominated by Crissy Rock’s ferocious, emotionally wrenching performance as Maggie. "LADYBIRD LADYBIRD is a good one – more painful to watch than any slasher film, because its emotional violence literally hits home. – Richard Corliss, Time. Followed by discussion with Ken Loach.

"There was this genius Ken Loach making these films, and you started to know what the faces looked like and what the language was…. There wasn’t anything you could learn because Ken was showing it so much better than anyone else." -- Stephen Frears

One of Great Britain’s leading filmmakers for more than thirty years, Ken Loach has long been held up as a pioneer of "realist" cinema. Loach’s films champion the plight of the British working-class, often portraying these characters in such a harsh, unflinching light that the films seem to approach the realm of docu-drama. The 1990’s have shown Ken Loach to be a master filmmaker working at the peak of his craft and such films as RIFF RAFF, RAINING STONES, LAND AND FREEDOM, and MY NAME IS JOE have been honored with numerous prizes at Cannes and other festivals throughout Europe.

Wednesday July 28, 7:30 pm Idrissa Ouédraogo, Burkino Faso

TILAI. 1990, New Yorker, 81 min. Shot entirely in Ouédraogo’s native Burkina Faso, TILAI is a film about a man whose affair with his stepmother is discovered and whose brother is assigned by law to kill him. An austere tragedy of generational conflict and inflexible tradition, TILAI garnered Ouédraogo a reputation as a world-class filmmaker. "TILAI is an extraordinary film. It is one of those rare cases when you discover a film artist, as we did with YAABA, and like his next movie even more than his previous one." -- Richard Peña, Film Society of Lincoln Center. Followed by discussion with Idrissa Ouédraogo.

Born in 1954 in Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), Idrissa Ouédraogo’s earliest impressions of cinema were formed by the films of Charlie Chaplin. After working in local theatre and making short films for the government, Ouédraogo pursued his films studies abroad in both the Soviet Union and France. He made his feature debut with YAM DAABO in 1986. Since then he has directed five more features, including YAABA and TILAI, which won the Special Jury Prize at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival. Compared to Jean Renoir and Satyajit Ray for his non-simplistic humanism, Ouédraogo’s films are defined by a strong sense of place and character, and a refined visual style based on long takes and natural sounds.

Friday July 30, 7:30 pm

Kinji Fukasaku, Japan

CREST OF BETRAYAL (Chushingura Gaiden – Yotsuya Kaidan) 1994, Shochiku Film Co. 105 min. Genre maverick Fukasaku cultivates a hothouse hybrid of two of the most famous Japanese period scenarios. Koichi Sato (son of famous Japanese star Rentaro Mikuni) is Iemon, one of the forty-seven masterless samurai plotting revenge after their lord is forced to commit hara-kiri. He is also being haunted by Oiwa, the wife he murdered to marry insane rich girl, Oume. Phantasmagorical imagery punctuates samurai sword fights and colorful kabuki production design in this powerful examination of the spiritual microcosm and ethical macrocosm of the feudal Japanese psyche. With Saki Takaoka, Tsunehiko Watase, Masahiko Tsugawa. Followed by discussion with Kinji Fukasaku.

Acknowledged as the master of the Yakuza genre, or Japanese gangster film, Kinji Fukasaku has managed to create and mold a unique style while simultaneously walking the sometimes-difficult line between art and box office. During more than thirty years of filmmaking, Fukasaku has directed more than fifty theatrical films including, BATTLES WITHOUT HONOR AND HUMANITY, BLACK LIZARD, WOLVES, PIGS AND PEOPLE, and TORA! TORA! TORA! (co-directed by Richard Fleischer).

Saturday, July 31, 7:30 pm

Arturo Ripstein, Mexico

EL EVANGELIO DE LAS MARVILLAS (DIVINE) (1998, 112 min.) A black comedy about the end of millenium, DIVINE, follows the rites and trials of a cult-like religious community as its members prepare for the end of the world. Followed by discussion with Arturo Ripstein.

**Please note that the originally scheduled film EL CORONEL NO TIENE QUIEN LE ESCRIBA (NO ONE WRITES TO THE COLONEL) will not be shown and has been replaced by DIVINE.  

The son of a film producer, Arturo Ripstein grew up surrounded by the world of cinema. In 1962, he worked as an assistant to Luis Buñuel on THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL and in 1965 he made his directorial debut with TIEMPO DE MORIR (TIME TO DIE), an unusual Western based on a screenplay by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Carlos Fuentes. Crossing over genres and cultural references, Ripstein’s cinema is a provocative world rife with lost, marginal characters inhabiting a seductive landscape of forbidden love and tragic violence. Considered one of Mexico’s greatest filmmakers, Ripstein has made more than twenty-five films, including EL IMPERIO DE LA FORTUNA (REALM OF FORTUNE), LA MUJER DEL PUERTO (WOMAN OF THE PORT), and PROFUNDO CARMESI (DEEP CRIMSON).

Monday, August 2, 7:30 pm

Claire Denis, France

Born in France and raised in West Africa, Claire Denis has become one of France’s most gifted writer-directors. After learning her craft as an assistant director to such filmmakers as Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch and Jacques Rivette, Denis burst onto the scene in 1988 with the critically acclaimed CHOCOLATE. She has since gone on to make six more feature films including J’AI PAS SOMMEIL (I CAN’T SLEEP) and NENETTE ET BONI. With a focus on the relationships between alienated characters living on society’s fringe, Denis has demonstrated a remarkable story-telling ability that allows the viewer to get deep inside the lives of her characters, to feel with them, and, hopefully, to understand the inner-conflicts that drive them towards the difficult decisions they must make.

J’AI PAS SOMMEIL (I CAN’T SLEEP), 1994, New Yorker, 110 min. Based around the notorious murders of the "Granny Killer" that occurred in Paris during the late 1980’s, J’AI PAS SOMMEIL follows the crisscrossing lives of a number of immigrant inhabitants. Rather than play up the malignant threat hanging in the air, Denis has created a eerie, probing mood-piece that emphasizes the isolation and estrangements intrinsic to living in a strange land. "[The film] calmly lures viewers into an ordinary world where the sinister and the benign wear the same face." – Caryn James, New York Times. Followed by discussion with Claire Denis.





The ABSOLUT New Directors Showcase

Saturday, July 31 2:00 pm

Lynne Ramsay, Scotland

RATCATCHER, 1998, G2 Films, 93 min. Set in the 1970’s during a sweltering Glasgow summer, RATCATCHER tells the story of a young 12 year-old boy who harbors an emotionally destructive secret and his awkward relationship with an older girl. Gracefully treading familiar ground with fresh foot-steps, RATCATCHER is alternately bleak and hopeful, a powerful film by any comparison. "The film’s charged images and situations ultimately suggest a cinema of memory compulsively struggling to reconcile trauma and nostalgia, oscillating between violent eruption and becalmed suspension." – Gavin Smith, VILLAGE VOICE. Followed by a discussion with Lynne Ramsay.

Scotland’s Lynne Ramsay won the Prix du Jury at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival for her short, GASMAN, and her feature debut RATCATCHER was received this year with a standing ovation. Hailed in Variety by David Rooney as "a resonant new voice," Ramsay has quickly risen to the front ranks of emerging European directors.

Saturday, July 31 4:30 pm      Tsai Ming-Liang, Taiwan

THE RIVER, 1997, CMPC, 115 min. Employing Ming-Liang’s trademarks, precipitation and pessimism, THE RIVER is a powerful film focussing on the disintegration of family. Water, so often portrayed as a source of cleansing and redemption, is used here as a river, flowing through Taipei, that carries nothing but moral decay and emotional agony. As a father and son set off on a journey in search of a faith healer, the spare use of dialogue and absence of music forces the viewer to inhabit the alienated lives of these characters as they hurdle toward an inevitable, truly shocking climax. Followed by a discussion with Tsai Ming-Liang.

 Raised in Malaysia, Tsai Ming-Liang moved to Taiwan to study film and has since completed four features including REBELS OF A NEON GOD, VIVE L’AMOUR and THE RIVER, a minimalist, modernist trilogy exploring the decay of modern society. His most recent film is the critically acclaimed THE HOLE.

SUNDAY, August 1 11:00 am

Eric Mendelsohn, United States

JUDY BERLIN, 1999, Shooting Gallery, 97 min. The story of a day in the life of David Gold who has recently returned home from California, where he failed to make it as a filmmaker. Wandering the streets on the day of a solar eclipse, David crosses paths with a former girlfriend who is preparing to leave for Los Angeles with hopes of becoming a star. An acute observance on the complex needs and weaknesses in human relationships, JUDY BERLIN is packed with standout performances that are delivered with wit, charm and bittersweet melancholy. Followed by a discussion with Eric Mendelsohn.

A talented writer/director/editor Eric Mendelsohn recently won the Director’s Award at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival for his debut feature JUDY BERLIN, which was also an official selection of the Cannes Film Festival's Un Certain Regard. The film also opened the New York festival New Directors New Films. Mendelsohn’s work on JUDY BERLIN has brought on favorable comparisons to the films of Woody Allen and even inspired critic Ray Greene to write that "JUDY BERLIN is better Woody Allen than Woody himself has pulled off in close to ten years."

 SUNDAY, August 1 2:00 pm

Garin Nugroho, Indonesia

AND THE MOON DANCES, 1995, 125 min. In this strikingly exotic film, a troubled young boy and girl are forced to confront the violence of their society when their mentor, a master in Javanese arts, is accidentally killed in a fire. "Nugroho’s film doesn’t so much tell a story as it explores ambiguities of mood, texture, light and meaning. There’s nothing folksy or ‘third-world’ about this daringly modernist film which uses a rich sound design to point up submerged emotional truths." – Tony Rayns, TIME OUT FILM GUIDE Followed by a discussion with Garin Nugroho.

A native of Indonesia, Garin Nugroho has earned a strong following on the international festival circuit for his stunning, naturalistic style. He has completed four films, including BULAN TERTUSUK ILALANG (AND THE MOON DANCES) and DAUN DI ATAS BANTAL (LEAF ON A PILLOW), which have won numerous awards and helped Nugroho to become an inspiration to young Indonesian filmmakers. "Nugroho is certainly the most audacious filmmaker in Southeast Asia."—John Powers

SUNDAY, August 1 5:15 pm  Deepa Mehta, India/Canada

U.S. Premiere!

EARTH, 1998, Zeitgeist Films, 110 min. The second film in a series of three films based on the elements, Earth is an achievement of epic scope. Set in1947, as India heaves violently forward towards independence, the film examines the life of Lenny, a young polio-stricken girl who has grown up ina wealthy, nonpartisan family, and who must contend with the deep divisions, personal and religious, that are beginning to scar her country. Followed by a discussion with Deepa Mehta.

 Born in India in 1949, Deepa Mehta emigrated to Canada in 1973 where she has worked as a writer, producer, editor and director. Her debut feature, SAM AND ME, won an honorable mention at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival. She has since directed three more films including FIRE, which inspired a riotous reaction in India, and her most recent film, EARTH.