CIFF Year 36

Share this:

Where to start?   Frankly, I have reviewed the films and every year, it seems to get even more difficult to make my choices.  So, when I don’t know what to schedule, I turn to several friends who I know have assiduously studied the program.  Here are their picks the first weekend.


  • The Cat Vanishes – 5:25.  A suspenseful thriller in the vein of Alfred Hitchcock (director of “The Lady Vanishes”), THE CAT VANISHES is a tale of mistrust seeping into the relationship of a couple who know each other well. Luis and Beatriz are long-married spouses. He’s a university professor and she’s a translator. Together they lead a refined life full of books and classical music. But Luis is just being released from a psychiatric hospital after battering his academic assistant. (Convinced his former friend was plagiarizing his work on what was to be his magnum opus, Luis attacked him in a fit of delusional paranoia.) Beatriz is hesitantly eager to start over with the husband she loves. But Luis doesn’t seem quite right: he’s too cooperative; he’s distant; he laughs at slapstick TV shows; he agrees to go to the beach. Plus, though he takes a daily cocktail of psychotropic drugs, it dawns on Beatriz that Luis might be behind the disappearance of her beloved cat. And she’s convinced he’s about to pounce on bigger prey.
  • Sacrifice – 1:55 p.m.  An adaptation of Orphan of Zhao (the first Chinese opera to become known in Europe), dominated Chinese theaters upon its release and is sure to impress American viewers with its dramatic performances, alluring ancient Chinese scenery and absorbing Shakespearean plot. It is a complex tale of betrayals and revenge, as the jealous court official Tu Angu (Wang Xueqi) seeks to eradicate his prosperous enemies, the Zhao clan. Weaving together traps, poisons, sword fights, and all out warfare, Tu almost succeeds with his devious schemes, but the upright physician Cheng Ying (Ge You) has mercy on the infant child carrying the last remaining Zhao blood. However, his good intentions do not go unpunished and his own son’s life becomes the unbearable price of righteousness. In keeping with his earlier film, “Farewell My Concubine,” acclaimed director Chen Kaige delivers a dramatic cinematic achievement.
  • Superthief: Inside America’s Biggest Bank Score – 7:25 p.m.  If a Bank Burglar Hall of Fame is ever built, it has to be placed in Collinwood, OH. The Cleveland neighborhood is home to some of the U.S.’s most prolific and daring bank robbers of all time—the most famous of whom is Phil Christopher, who pulled off a bank job in Laguna Niguel, California for a record-setting $30 million in 1972. SUPERTHIEF is a documentary about the men who put together one of the most enterprising and remarkable bank burglaries of all time, as well as the men tasked with bringing the crooks to justice. 


  • The Monk – 12:30 p.m.  Based on a Gothic novel from 1796, THE MONK chronicles the fall from innocence of a devout Spanish monk. Vincent Cassel (“Ocean’s Twelve,” “Black Swan”) is Capucin Ambrosio, an impassioned Padre whose fervent sermons fire the imaginations of many who come to Mass in the ancient monastery. Earnest beyond measure, Ambrosio has never committed a transgression, making him much feared and admired among his fellows. Then a mysterious figure appears at the cloister—Valerio, who wears a mask to hide his severely-burned face. He fervently desires to become part of the order, and he practically worships Ambrosio. But horror has writhed its way into the monastery for Valerio is actually a she-devil, bent on destroying the pious Father. Once Ambrosio satisfies his carnal lust for this girl, he is overcome with desire for another—the virginal Antonia. This torrid film, set in the labyrinthine walls of a closed community at the time of the Spanish Inquisition, burrows into sinister places where hubris and lust pave the way for iniquity.


  • Dreileben4:25, 6:50, 9:30.  DREILEBEN is a series of three interlocking films, a narrative experiment directed by some of Germany’s best filmmakers. All revolve around the villagers of Dreileben (“Three Lives”) and their manhunt for a killer loose in the forest. Each segment is told in the director’s unique style and from different points of view, so that the characters intersect in parallel worlds. When taken as a whole, the films form a puzzle in which simultaneous events gain meaning as they gradually fall into place.


If you are looking for a great night out, join our group ( to see the following films.

  • Caris’ Peace 4:50 PM. The biggest fear of any stage actor is being on stage and suddenly forgetting their lines or not even knowing what play they’re in. What happens when that nightmare becomes the reality? Caris Corfman was a prized graduate of the Yale School of Drama and a well-respected, professional actress on the brink of stardom when she was found to have a brain tumor. The subsequent surgery to remove the tumor left her without the ability to retain new memories. CARIS’ PEACE is the story of Corfman’s struggle with depression and the tribulations of living a normal life. Gaylen Ross with Rebecca Nelson have created this powerful documentary which provides an intimate look into the fearless pursuit of Corfman’s life’s work—the creation of her own one-woman show dealing with the repercussions of her surgery.
  • The Art of Love – 7:10. Director Emmanuel Mouret is at it again, whisking the ingredients of modern relationships into a frothy concoction that’s a Francophile’s delight. Often described as a Gallic Woody Allen, Mouret’s forte is the amusing games sophisticated people play in the name of l’amour. THE ART OF LOVE focuses on the parallel stories of several couples who suffer various forms of lovesickness. When Isabelle admits she hasn’t had sex in a year, her friend Zoe offers her own boyfriend as therapy. Achille longs for a partner when suddenly his kooky neighbor shows up in a negligee, looking for someone to start an affair. Well-off Amelie longs to give back to the community. And when her platonic friend Boris suggests she give herself to him for charitable purposes, Amelie hits on a scheme to relieve him of his desire. Vanessa and William are so progressive that they agree to sleep with other people—though neither of them wants to.

I am getting excited. Hope to see you soon.


Leave a Reply