International Film Festival begins with Piter FM

Last Thursday was the beginning of Carnegie Mellon’s Fourth International Film Festival: Youth and Identity. Each of the films selected represents one of the seven languages taught in the modern languages department (Russian, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese), and all of them relate to issues facing youths from around the world.

Free to the community, the International Film Festival began in 2004 with the goal of promoting foreign languages and increasing awareness of the cinema outside the U.S.. The theme of this year’s festival, Youth and Identity, was chosen for its relevance to college students. The seven films all deal with recent issues; only one, Cinema Paradiso, was produced before 2002.

This academic year in Pittsburgh has seen several successful film events including the Faces of Democracy Film Festival and the Three Rivers Film Festival. Like these others, the International Film Festival offers something to the community, explained Alyx Kronstein, a sophomore Russian studies major and one of the festival’s student organizers. “This festival, because it is completely run by college students and undergraduates, it fits with us,” Kronstein said. “It shows that college students can be valuable and breaks the stereotype that they’re too lazy or self-centered to care about film.”

The festival opened with last Thursday’s screening of Piter FM, a Russian romantic comedy set in St. Petersburg. Guests were also offered free Russian food, including Napoleon cake with layers of flaky pastry separating layers of cream.

In the film, Maksim (Yevgeni Tsyganov) is an architect who finds the cell phone of Masha (Yekaterina Fedulova), an unconventional radio DJ. This causes several ill-conceived attempts for the two to meet so Maksim can return the phone. The film portrays Russia’s youth in the optimistic and playful culture of St. Petersburg. To highlight this representation, the film playfully juxtaposed giggly young girls and punk-rockish guys with boring adult characters. The best scenes were not on film, but right in the audience; it was a pleasure to watch several of the Russian professors’ eyes light up as they laughed along with the crowd.
All of the films will play in McConomy. The schedule is as follows:

7 p.m., April 4 — The Beat That My Heart Skipped (Jacques Audiard, 2005, French) Tom, a hoodlum who works with the shady side of real estate, decides to drop his “duties” in order to practice the piano for an audition.

7 p.m., April 5 — Sophie Scholl – The Final Days (Marc Rothemund, 2005, German) In Munich, 1943, brother and sister Hans and Sophie Scholl are caught at their university as members of the Nazi resistance group, “White Rose.” They are accused of high treason and sentenced to death, leaving Sophie with no choice but to leave her family.

7 p.m., April 12 — Iden & Tity (Tomorowo Taguchi, 2003, Japanese) Nakajima is a member of the rock band Speed Way. Torn between writing music that sells and music with meaning, Nakajima begins to believe that Bob Dylan’s spirit is guiding his life. Moved by the film, Dylan allowed the use of his name and music lyrics.

6 8 10 p.m., April 14 — Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Torro, 2006, Spanish) A young girl, Ofelia, uses fantasy to escape her mother’s new marriage, in addition to the horrors of post-war Fascist repression at its height in rural Spain.

6 p.m., April 18 — Cinema Paradiso (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1990, Italian) For Salvatore, the cinema is the place to escape into a new world. He leaves his Italian village to become a director, but has to return 30 years later for a funeral.

7 p.m., April 19 — Together (Chen Kaige, 2002, Chinese) The coming-of-age story of Xiaochun, a 13-year-old boy. A talented violinist, Xiaochun leaves his small home city for Beijing, where he auditions at a prestigious music school. The film follows Xiaochun as he attempts to find himself within the exciting new world of Beijing.