Geneva Anderson digs into art

The strong sex: two very different films screen today at the Mill Valley Film Festival about women who survived against all odds

“Sweet Dreams,” a documentary by Lisa Fruchtman and her brother Rob Fruchtman, tells of Rwandan women, Tutsi and Hutu, who survived the 1994 genocide and now drum side by side in the country’s first female drum troupe. They have also started the first ice cream venture in Rwanda.

Now in its 6th day, the 35th Mill Valley Film Festival continues its excellent programming. A lot of the films have sold out.  Here are two films screening today (Tuesday) for which tickets are still available.

Sweet Dreams: Though the 100 days of killing that claimed an estimated 800,000 Rwandans ended 18 years ago, the genocide left the East African country paralyzed.  Thousands of women were also raped and thousands more left without family.  If ever there was need of healing, it was in Rwanda.  Lisa and Rob Fruchtman’s  Sweet Dreams (2012) tells the story of a remarkable group of Rwandan women survivors who decided to learn how to be happy through drumming and, of all sweet things, ice cream.  

Lisa Fruchtman, a Berkeley-based veteran film editor with features such as Apocalypse Now and The Godfather Part III under her belt, and an Academy Award for The Right Stuff,  travelled to Rwanda 4 times to document the story of Tutsi and Hutu women coming together to form the country’s first female drum-troupe.  She worked with her brother, producer/director Rob Fruchtman to direct, produce and edit the film.  Forbidden to even touch a drum in ancient times, the talented Rwandan women take to drumming with joyous fervor that not only helps heal their own wounds but profoundly touches others.  At the same time, in an equally bold move toward economic security, the women join forces with an American woman and entrepreneur to open an ice cream business and bring something brand new to Rwanda.  The venture is fraught with snafus along the way but these women keep their faith and have a song for everything.   This INSPIRATIONAL and humorous documentary is beautifully filmed and had Sunday’s enthusiastic audience in tears.  Filmmakers will be in attendance and available for audience Q & A after the screening. (Screens Tuesday, October 9, 7:30 PM, Rafael 3)

As the only human survivor after an unexplained global tragedy, German actress Marina Gedeck bonds tightly with her loyal dog in Julian Roman Pölsler’s “The Wall” a film that is true to Marlen Haushofer’s exceptional novel. Image: courtesy of Music Box Films

The Wall (Die Wand):  Austrian director Julian Roman Pölsler’s film is based on Marlen Haushofer’s 1962 dystopian hit novel of the same name (about to be re-printed in English later this year).  The film stars German actress Martina Gedeck from the brilliant 2006 Stassi thriller The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen) and tells the story of a completely ordinary middle-aged woman (Gedeck) who is vacationing with friends in a remote mountain hunting lodge.  Her friends go out to a pub and she stays back with the dog and when they don’t come back, she makes a very creepy discovery.  She is imprisoned on the mountainside by an invisible wall, behind which there seems to be no life.  She appears to be the sole remaining human on earth, along with the dog (a red hound that will steal your heart), a cat, some kittens, and a cow, with which she forms a tight-knit family.  

The film rests entirely on Gedeck’s shoulders and she is riveting, delivering a very credible performance that will leave you shivering and running home to snuggle with your dog.  The odd beauty of this film is that this last survivor scenario may be your own romanticized idea of heaven, or hell.  Who among us hasn’t said “Fuck the world! I’m sick of people…give me just my dog!  Watching Gedeck bide her time laboring hard, protecting her pack, and introspectively processing her life, leads us to right into her moments of intensely felt angst, terror, joy and sorrow.  (Screens Tuesday, October 9, 9:30 PM, Sequoia 1)

 The festival’s homepage is here and there are three ways to purchase tickets:

Online: To purchase tickets for MVFF screenings, browse the film listings—the full schedule is online here. When you find a film you would like to see, click “buy tickets” to put the tickets in your cart. You can continue browsing, or click “check out” to complete your order. Tickets purchased online incur a $1.50 processing fee per order.

Tickets you have purchased online are available for pick-up at the Mill Valley Film Festival Box Office(s). Seating is guaranteed until 15 minutes prior to screening. No late seating.

In-Person at pre-festival Box Offices:

1104 Fourth Street, San Rafael 94901
Sept. 11– 15, 4:00pm–8:00pm (CFI Members)
Sept. 16: 10am – 7pm
Sept. 17 – Oct. 3: Weekdays 4:00pm – 8:00pm, Weekends 2pm – 8:00pm
Opening Night, Oct. 4: 2:00pm – 11:00pm
Festival Hours, Oct. 5 – 14: Weekdays 3:00 – 10:00pm, Weekends 10:30am – 10:00pm
Note: Monday (10/8) & Friday (10/12) are weekend hours

ROOM Art Gallery
86 Throckmorton Avenue, Mill Valley 94941
Sept. 16: 10am – 2pm
Sept. 17 – Oct. 2: 11:00am – 4:00pm
85 Throckmorton, Mill Valley 94941
Oct. 3: 11:00am – 4:00pm
Oct.4: 2:00pm – 11:00pm
Oct. 5 – 14: Weekdays 3:00pm – 10:00pm, Weekends 10:30am – 10:00pm
Note: Monday (10/8) & Friday (10/12) are weekend hours

BY PHONE: toll free at 877.874.6833
NOTE: If you have trouble purchasing online and cannot purchase tickets in person, leave a message on box office voicemail: 877.874.6833.
All orders placed over the phone are subject to a charge of $10.00 per transaction. Tickets delivered via mail (USPS) incur a $3.50 convenience fee.

RUSH Tickets: If seats are available, tickets will be sold at the door beginning at 15 minutes prior to screening. Those tickets are cash only. No discounts.

October 9, 2012 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment