PSIFF: Body of War, Secret Sunshine, The Trap and Shadows for Opening Weekend…

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Legendary 20 time Emmy winner Phil Donahue comes to Palm Springs Int’l Film Festival with his National Board of Review Award Winner for Best Doc 2007 and Best Doc Audience Winner (Toronto/Hamptons Fests) Body of War; New Korean master Lee Chang-Dong brings his Cannes Best Actress winning feature Secret Sunshine (official Oscar entry from Korea); young Serbian Srdjan Golubovic directs suspenseful neo-film noir The Trap (official Oscar entry from Serbia); Milcho Manchevski, previous Oscar nominee for Before the Rain, unveils his supernatural, sexy, revealing work in Shadows (official Oscar entry from Macedonia).

Body Of War
Directed by Ellen Spiro & Phil Donahue
Produced by Ellen Spiro, Phil Donahue
Running Time: 87 mins
www.bodyofwar.com
Screening: Saturday, Jan 5th 12:00pm/The Annenberg & Sunday, Jan 6th 7:00pm/The Annenberg

BODY OF WAR is arguably the most nakedly truthful documentary to date about the real effects of the Iraq war on one soldier. In BODY OF WAR, we meet Tomas Young, only 25 and paralyzed from a single bullet after serving in Iraq for less than a week. Hauntingly framed by historic footage of the House and Senate debates sending U.S. troops into battle, the film captures Tomas facing the challenges of his disability in unflinching detail. The recent abandonment of veterans’ medical needs as they return from war is topical and yet this is simply one of the many subjects this doc tackles. We see the effects of Tomas’ injury upon his family and new marriage as well as the agonizing physical and emotional daily toll. Through this intense struggle, Young finds his own passionate voice against the war. Co-directors and producers Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro have made a film that is poetic and political, achingly intimate and yet far-reaching in scope. Eddie Vedder contributes two powerful original songs that soar with the courageous veteran’s soul and spirit.

Secret Sunshine
Official Korean submission for Best Foreign Language Academy Award
Written & Directed by Lee Chang-Dong
Produced by Hanna Lee
Executive Produced by Kim In-Du & Lee Chang-Dong
Starring Jeon Do-Yeon & Song Kang-Ho
Screenings: Sunday, Jan 6th 1:30pm/Regal 7 & Tuesday, Jan 8th 5:30pm/Regal 6

Built around a revelatory performance by Jeon Do-Yeon, which was justly rewarded with the Best Actress prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Secret Sunshine begins as the story of how Shin-ae adjusts to her new surroundings and, prompted by the evangelical proselytizing of a born-again pharmacist, takes stock of her faith (or lack thereof) in some higher power. Then without warning, the film transitions into nail-biting thriller territory, and after that into the kind of allegorical portrait of human suffering favored by Lars von Trier and Robert Bresson. If it seems difficult to imagine how one movie could possibly be all of those things, it may be even harder to conceive of the agility with which Lee, a former high school teacher and novelist whose résumé also includes a recent stint as his country’s cultural minister, guides the film through its corkscrew reversals of light comedy and high melodrama, utter despair and flickerings of hope. – Scott Foundas, LA Weekly

The Trap
Official Serbian submission for Best Foreign Language Academy Award
Directed by Srdjan Golubovic
Written by Melina Pota Koljevic & Srdjan Koljevic
Produced by Jelena Mitrovic, Natasa Ninkovic, Alexander Ris, Jörg Rothe
Starring Nebojsa Glogovac. Natasa Ninkovic, Miki Manojlovic, Anica Dobra
Screenings: Friday, Jan 4th 4:00pm/Regal 5 & Saturday, Jan 5th 9:30am/Regal 5

Post-Milosevic Belgrade, capital of a nation struggling to find its soul, of a country whose turbulent recent past has left many in a moral and existential desert. This is the home of Mladen, his wife Marija and their son Nemanja. When Nemanja develops a serious heart condition, the doctors urge an operation abroad. But where to obtain the 26,000 euros? Just when the boy’s parents give up hope of raising the money, a man contacts Mladen and offers to pay the whole amount. But there is one thing Mladen must do: kill the man’s business rival. The proposal repulses Mladen, but as his son’s condition suddenly deteriorates, he begins to seriously consider the offer. If he accepts, he saves his boy’s life but loses his soul; if he refuses, he will grieve as a righteous man until the end of his life. The trap is set…

Shadows
Official Macedonia submission for Best Foreign Language Academy Award
Written & Directed by Milcho Manchevski
Produced by Milcho Manchevski , Amedeo Pagani, Corinna Mehner, Nermin Gladers,
Martin Husmann, Dimitar Gochev, Gerardo Herrero, Mariela Besuievsky
Starring Borce Nacev & Vesna Stanojevska
Screenings: Sunday, Jan 6th 12:30pm/Regal 1 & Monday, Jan 7th 7:00pm/Regal 5

If we were to choose one man who’s got everything going for him, then Lazar Perkov would be an excellent choice. He’s young, good-looking, has a beautiful wife, lovely little boy, great house and a good job as a hospital physician. In fact, everyone calls him “Lucky.” Nothing´s missing – except maybe Lucky himself, who’s always trying to live up to the expectations of others like his bored wife and roguish colleagues. And, above all, his famous physician mother, a driven woman who rose from obscurity to renown with an iron will that crushed all resistance, whether from the living or the dead… When Lucky is involved in a disastrous car crash and mysteriously saved from a sure death, his life begins to change. Shadows is a film about sex and death, and a few important things in between – a story of what happens if lady Macbeth had lived today and survived to have a grown-up son. This man, Lazar, would try to come to terms with her overbearing presence and her transgressions of the past. Scary, but offering no cheap thrills, sound bites nor easy solutions, Shadows is ultimately about a man trying to have a dialogue with the dead and becoming more alive for that experience.

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