If your New Year’s resolution is to travel more, but your schedule or finances require you to delay takeoff for a few months, whet your appetite with For Your Consideration: A Selection of Oscar Submissions from Around the World.
The Smith Rafael Film Center’s annual selection from the dozens of films placed in competition for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film packs 15 movies into a single week beginning this Friday, Jan. 6.
The lineup includes familiar titles like Almodovar’s Julieta and the meditative Italian snapshot of the refugee crisis, Fire at Sea, as well as four -- Tanna, Land of Mine, Toni Erdmann and Paradise -- of the nine shortlisted films in the running for the gold statuette. (Nominations in all categories will be announced in the early morning of Jan. 24.)
It’s usually a good idea with any series or festival to sidestep the high-profile titles and focus on the films that may never play the Bay Area again. The moody black-and-white drama Letters from War (Sunday, Jan. 8) draws on the introspective correspondence of a Portuguese medic dispatched to Angola in the early ‘70s.
Min Bahadur Bham’s autobiographical debut feature, The Black Hen (also Sunday), was inspired by the filmmaker’s childhood in northern Nepal. The social-injustice melodrama I Am Nojoon, Age 10 and Divorced (Tuesday, Jan. 10), from Yemen, is an even more harrowing saga of vulnerable youth. Also worth a mention is A Flickering Truth, the new documentary from New Zealand maker Pietra Brettkelly (The Art Star and the Sudanese Twins) that resurrects pre-Taliban Afghanistan through damaged, rescued film footage.
If you received a windfall -- and extra vacation -- while you were reading this, the Palm Springs International Film Festival (Jan. 3-15) is showing more than 40 of the 85 foreign language submissions. Pack light.