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Spring 1999 season

Tuesday 13th April at 8pm
The Opposite of Sex     US 1998  |  100 mins  |  18
DeDe Truit is a 16-year­ old, trash-talking sociopath who treats everyone with an equal level of contempt. Having desecrated her futher's funeral, she leaves her mother, dumps her boyfriend and moves in with her sensitive gay half-brother and quickly seduces his boyfriend, turning the lives of both men upside-down. The Opposite of Sex creates a series of seemingly typical sitcom characters and situations, but by viewing them almost solely from DeDe's cynical perspective (she is also the film's narrator, wittily commenting on the characters, plot developments and even the conventions of film structure), the film feels fresh and original, maintained throughout by refusing to give in to genre conventions and soften DeDe's character in any way. A consistently sharp and barbarous script provides meat for a first-rate cast, who include Martin Donavan, Lyle Lovett, Roseanne's Johnny Galecki and Friends star Lisa Kudrow. But it's Christina Ricci (who first made her name as young Wednesday in The Addams Family films) who steals the film as DeDe, a performance that looks set to establish her as a key actor of her generation.

Tuesday 20th April at 8pm
Sitcom     France 1997  |  80 mins  |  18
When the father of a bourgeois French household brings home a pet rat, it becomes a curious catalyst for profound personality changes in each of the members of his family. His son suddenly announces his homosexualtiy, his daughter develops suicidal tendencies and a fondness for S&M, and his wife begins acting out her own incestuous desires, all of which pushes his tolerance to the limit. What sounds like a formal exercise in taboo-busting Is actually an assault on the conservative values of conventional family life, an absurdist comedy that challenges accepted values and celebrates the seedy underside of normality with deadpan humour and by repeatedly rejecting the tasteful and predictable in favour of the outrageous and peculiar. Definitely not a film for the easily offended, but for the more tolerant souls with a fondness for the grotesque, this is a minor treat.

Tuesday 27th April at 8pm
The Acid House     UK 1998  |  110 mins  |  18
Following on from the phenomenal success of Trainspotting, this latest film based on the works of Irvine Welsh – dubbed by The Face as the 'poet laureate of the chemical generation' – is drawn from three of his short stories, each an unusual take on the seamier side of modern day Scottish life. In The Granton Star Clause, lad-about-town Boab suffers a series of downturns in his life, all of which changes when he meets God m a local pub. The Soft Touch focuses on Johnny, who proves too pliant to do anything when his wife moves in with the thug upstairs. In The Acid House, acid-tripping Coco Brown is struck by lightning and switches bodies with a newborn baby. Presented as three separate stories but with overlapping characters, this first film from director PaulMcGuigan is a witty and imaginative mixture of gritty realism and darkly surreal fantasy, effectively capturing the essence and style of Welsh's prose.

Tuesday 4th May 8pm
A Moment of Innocence [Noon va Goldoon]     Iran / France / Switzerland 1995  |  78 mins  |  18
Film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf is casting his new film using non­professional actors when a former policeman shows up at the auditions, a man Makhmalbaf once slabbed in his days as an anti-Shah protester. He decides to re-stage the incident and engages the ex-policemen to help him cast the younger versions of themselves, and to examine the incident from the two different perspectives. The concept of film-within-a-film is not a new one, but what gives A Moment of Innocence its special fascination is not just its basis in fact (including the appearance of the ex·policeman at a casting session, which itself triggered the production of this very production), but that both of the lead characters are played by themselves, and one is this film's director. Leaving behind the visual flamboyance of his previous work, Gabbeh, Makhmalbaf examines the process of setting up his reconstruction in painstaking detail, but is able to re-examine the incident that so dramatically affected the lives of both men, and how time.the incident itself and the intervening years have changed them into the people they are now.

Monday 10th May at 8pm
Hilary and Jackie     UK 1998  |  122 mins  |  15
The only fully British funded film to receive Oscar nominations this year, Hilary and Jackie tells the story of brilliant international concert cellist Jacqueline Du Pre and her sometimes stormy relationship with her sister Hilary, a talented musician in her own rightt. The film follows them from their early days when Hilary was the one in demand until Jacqueline was pushed by their mother to work at equalling her sister's skill, which proves to be the catalyst for her meteoric rise to international fame and success. Featuring a stunning cemral performance from Emily Watson as Jacqueline, Hilary and Jackie powerfully examines the difficult nature of genius and the physcal and emotional effects that can result when hard work and dedication are taken to the extreme.

Tuesday 11th May at 8pm
[Pi]     USA 1997  |  84 mins  |  15
Barricaded in his tiny New York apartment with his home made supercomputer,.Max Cohen has spent the last ten years searching for the numerical pattern he believes can predict movements on the stock market. An eventual breakthrough attracts the unwelcome attention not just of sinister Wall Street headhunters, but also of Hassidic researchers who believe he has discovered tl1e lost name of God.Rapidly building a reputation as the hippestindependent film of the year, 1C e-1rns Its reputation through it.s sheer Inventiveness and the energy and originality of its approach and execution.Eye-catchingly shot in high-cona·ast black· and-white and using a wide variety of stmple but effective aural and visual a·icks,the film gets right itlside the head of its lead character and involves us completely in his view of the world.Boasit ng a superb soundtrack. n is one of the most intimate andimagni ative American films in years,and proves that you don't need a big budget and a ton of CGI effects to make a first-rate,high-tech scientific thriller.

Tuesday 18th May at 8pm
The Eel [Unagi]     Japan 1996  |  116 mins  |  18
Having discovered that his wife has been having an affair while he has been away, white-collar worker Yamashita returns home unexpectedly one day and brutally kills her. He emerges from prison eight years later and opens a small vlilage barber shop, though talks to almost no-one except the eel he 'befriended' in prison. But when he saves a woman from suicide, his quiet, solitary life looks set to change forever. Starring Koji Yakusho,who will be familiar to TFS regulars for his lead role in Shall We Dansu, The Eel begins with betrayal. anger and violence but, like its lead character, makes a slow transition to something more life-affirming. Peppered with surrealistic touches and nicely observed and pleasmgly oddball characters, this is acclaimed director Shohei Imamura's firtst film for eight years and was the Palme D'Or winner at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival.

Monday 24th May at 8pm
Solaris     USSR 1972 |  165 mins  |  PG
As part of the Ramsgate Spring Festival, whose theme this year is 'Hidden Secrets', we are showing Andrei Tarkovsky's classic science fiction film, which won the Special Jury Prize at Cannes in 1972. Psychologist Kris Kelvin is assigned to investigate a space station orbting the mysterious oceanic planet of Solaris. He arrives to find the station run down and the two remaining scientists cold and secretive, but also encounters what appears to be his wife, who has been dead for seven years. Based on the novel by Stanislaw Lem, this story is used by Tarkovsky to examine the deeper aspects of the human condition, how we deal with love, death, fear, faith and underslanding. There are no space battles, no bizarre aliens and few special effects - Solaris is far closer to the feel of written science fiction than almost any other film of the period, engaging its audience on an intellectual and emotional level and through Tarkovslcy's own uniquely beautiful visual style.

Tuesday 25th May at 8pm
Fire     Canada 1996  |  107 mins  |  15
In modern-day New Delhi, the intelligent and beautiful young Sita is increasingly disappointed by life in her arranged maniage. Her faithless husband and the problems of her extended family cause a friendship to develop between her and her simliarly disillusioned sister­in-law Radha, which develops into a relationship that provides the sexual and emotional fulfilment that their marriages have falied to provide. This latest work from director Deepa Mehta's has caused tremendous controversy in her home country (cinemas showing the film have been openly attacked and vandalised) by breaking a whole range of taboos usually side-stepped or completely ignored by traditional Indian cinema; lesbianism, we are told here, is so far outside the experience of these Hindus that their language has no word for it. Fire tackles such issues with intelligence and sensittvity, challenging the patriarchal status quo and inventtvely parodying more traditional elements of Bollywood entertatnment.

Tuesday 1st June at 8pm
Pecker     USA 1998  |  86 mins  |  15
An 18 year-old Baltimore sandwich shop employee takes photographs of his peculiar family, friends and neighbours, and when he is persuaded to exhibit them he quickly becomes the toast of the New York art scene, transforming his life in a variety of not always positive ways. Once dubbed 'The Pope ofTrash' (this was a compliment), director John Waters has for almost thirty years been making films about oddball aspects of blue collar Baltmiore life, all stamped with his own paritcular brand of gleeful tastelessness. Pecker finds him on familiar turf, his prime target here the pomposity of the art world, which he assaults through his usual colleciton of daftly likable characters, his feel for the comically grotesque and his refusal to bow down to the conventions of good taste. The result is perceptive, intelligent, often hilarious and always good fun. And that title is the nickname of the lead character, derived from the way he pecks at his food. Well honestly, what did you think it meant?

Tuesday 8th June at 8pm
The Apple [Sib]     Iran / France 1997  |  85 mins  |  PG
This first film from the 18-year-old daughter of celebrated Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf (responsible for, amongst others, Gabbeh and this season's A Moment of Innocence and here sharing the writing credit) tells the story of two sisters imprisoned in their house by their over-protective parents for the first twelve years of their life, and only freed through the petitioning of concerned neighbours and the intervention of social workers. The grils are illiterate and severely lacking in social skills and are seemingly unprepared for challenge of adjusting to the outside world. Perceptively and intelligently made, The Apple is especially remarkable in that it is based on a true event and the principal characters are played not by actors, but their real-life counterparts, all of whom give remarkably naturalistic pe1iormances.

Tuesday 14th June at 8pm
Life is Beautiful [La vita è bella]     Italy 1997  |  116 mins  |  PG
In 1930s Tuscany, Guido, a playfully energetic jewish waiter, falls for a local schoolteacher and becomes determined to win her hand, all the while trying to avoid trouble from the local fascists. A few years later the two have a family, but the arrival of the Nazi's sees them transported to a concentration camp, where Guido attempts to hide the truth from his young son. Any work dealing with the holocaust has had to walk a difficult path and the idea that film could find humour in the situation seems beyond belief, but director/star Roberto Benigni's extraordinary, life-affirming comedy-drama not only dares the unthinkable but succeeds in spectacular fashion. A hilarious first half shifts in tone once the setting moves to the concentration camp, but the inevitably darker tone is still punctuated with humour, and somehow Benigni doe sthe seemingly impossible, finding comedy in tragedy without ever mocking or belittling the suffering that the holocaust brought, instead using the emotion and remarkable humanity of his characters to emphasise the sheer insanity of racial genocide. Moving, funny, inventive and unexpectedly uplifting, the film has been internationally acclaimed, andjust recentiy won three Oscars, including Best Foreign Language Film and Best Actor for Benigni.