The 10th annual Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival Faces of Conflict opens in Pittsburgh | Movie Reviews + Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper
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The 10th annual Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival Faces of Conflict opens in Pittsburgh 

More than a dozen films screen through April 3

Clockwise, from top left: Tales, Karbala, Magical Girl, Dreamcatcher and A War

Clockwise, from top left: Tales, Karbala, Magical Girl, Dreamcatcher and A War

The Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival: Faces of Conflict runs Thu., March 17, through April 3, with more than a dozen feature films and documentaries. Unless noted, films screen at McConomy Auditorium, on the CMU campus, and are $10 ($5 students/seniors). A complete schedule, including guest speakers and special events, is at www.cmu.edu/faces. Some recent films screening this week:

A WAR. Tobias Lindholm’s solidly acted war drama presents one of armed conflict’s most basic moral quandaries: In a battle situation, it’s OK, even admirable, to kill some people, but other deaths may constitute a crime. The leader of a group of Danish soldiers working in Afghanistan wrestles with this dilemma, as does a legal tribunal, when his decision to save one life costs the lives of others. To be followed by an opening-night reception with refreshments. In Danish, with subtitles. 7 p.m. Thu., March 17. $15 ($10 students/seniors)

DREAMCATCHER. Kim Longinotto’s forthright documentary profiles Chicagoan Brenda Myers-Powell, a former prostitute who now works tirelessly to convince other women to come off the streets. She also works with at-risk teenage girls, who feel they have few or no other options than to resort to prostitution. The life stories, which illuminate generational cycles of poverty, domestic violence and sexual abuse, are heartbreaking, but Myers-Powell stands unbowed, a sturdy shoulder to cry on and a mentor who says “I’ve been there.” Myers-Powell will attend the screening and do a Q&A. 7 p.m. Fri., March 18

TALES. This drama from Rakhshan Bani-Etemad looks at contemporary Iran through seven intersecting stories that illuminate social, political and economic tensions. There is the bureaucracy that frustrates citizens trying to get help; the struggle of women to maintain an independence free of their men; the cost of drug addiction (including HIV infection); and disgruntled workers trying to organize. Some vignettes are better than others, but throughout, it’s fascinating to see a filmmaker work to be so explicit in her critique. In Farsi, with subtitles. Noon, Sun., March 20. Melwood

KARBALA. This Polish drama from Krzysztof Lukaszewicz, Justyna Kapuscinska and Marcin Lomnicki presents a small slice of the Iraq war through the eyes of some of the coalition forces, namely a small Polish unit (with help from some Bulgarians). Set in 2004, the soldiers are tasked with holding Karbala’s city hall against an insurgency led by Muqtada Al-Sadr. During the strife, the once jocular men come up against injury and death; complicated moral quandaries; the fog of war; and the dawning sense of futility in defending an ill-defined mission. In various languages, with subtitles. 3 p.m. Sun., March 20. McConomy

MAGICAL GIRL. Spanish director Carlos Vermut’s fluid drama has the elements of a dark, voyeuristic journey, with death and sexual violence beginning in the sick room of a young girl with leukemia. When her stoic, caring father discovers he cannot afford her dying wish — the dress of a favorite anime character — he turns to blackmail. The subsequent chain of events exposes the underbelly of each character’s life. In Spanish, with subtitles. 7 p.m. Wed., March 23 (Celine Roberts)

Also screening this week: Alvaro Longoria’s documentary The Propaganda Game recounts his trip to North Korea, where his government-sanction-only visits and interviews proved as bizarre as satire. 7 p.m. Thu., March 24


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