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Wednesday, May 5, 2004

Arts and Entertainment

The magic returns

Magic Lantern spring festival lights up cinema

Express Staff Writer

Each year as the tulips blossom and the valley breathes the seasonal quiet, the Magic Lantern in Ketchum welcomes a collection of independent and foreign films. This year the annual film festival begins Friday, May 7, and continues through Thursday, May 27. Throughout the festival the cinema will screen nine award-winning films fresh from the international festival circuit.

Omar Sharif stars in "Monsieur Ibrahim." Photo by Roger Arpajou

The festival opens with Denys Arcand’s "The Barbarian Invasions." The film is an award-winning dramatic comedy staged at the deathbed of Remy, a Canadian intellectual. The decline in Remy’s health brings together the cast of Arcand’s 1986 hit "The Decline of the American Empire." This time the vivacious, academic flock gathers in a Canadian hospital at the request of Remy’s son Sebastian. The father-son dynamic takes center stage as their diverging worldviews collide. Remy possesses leftist intellectual tendencies, which differ strikingly with the views of his son, a successful London-based businessman. In the midst of tragedy, the two compromise their clashing worldviews to establish a humorous friendship.

Michael Wilmington of the Chicago Tribune raved: "‘The Barbarian Invasions’ is a film that effortlessly makes you laugh with delight, cringe with pain and weep for life’s inevitable end."

The majority agrees with Wilmington. The Canadian film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and was nominated by the Academy for Best Original Screenplay. At the 2003 Cannes Film Festival the movie won awards for the Best Screenplay, and Marie-Josée Croze won Best Actress for her performance.

This week the festival also features Francois Dupeyron’s "Monsieur Ibrahim," a coming of age story starring Omar Sharif. This time around, Sharif, of "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Doctor Zhivago" fame, stars as the Muslim shopkeeper Ibrahim, who befriends a Jewish teenager, Momo. The unlikely friendship blossoms in a working class Parisian neighborhood during the 1960s.

Adapted from a novel by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, the tale traces the heartwarming relationship that begins when the Jewish adolescent steals from the corner grocery store. The shop’s proprietor, Ibrahim, becomes a surrogate father to the essentially orphaned teenage boy. The older man’s wisdom guides Momo as he struggles to take care of his depressed father, and wrestles with the temptations of neighborhood prostitutes. The French film earned a nomination for the Golden Globe Foreign Film award.

In the coming weeks, the festival will also feature "My Architect," a documentary film detailing the life and buildings of legendary architect Louis Kahn. The festival also ventures into the Australian outback in "Japanese Story," dances into the competitive world of Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet in "The Company," and travels through a family’s struggle with the fall of the Berlin Wall in "Goodbye, Lenin!"

The theater will also show Sundance honoree "The United States of Leland," starring Kevin Spacey, and "Kitchen Stories," a Scandinavian comedy based on a true story of Swedish scientists.

In contrast to the comedy, the festival rounds out with "Osama," the first film made in post-Taliban Afghanistan, which follows the survival of a fatherless family.


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.