International Film Festival arrives this week

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“Other Places, Other People,” is the title of the International Film Festival, opening this week from Tuesday, Sept. 7, through Sunday, Sept. 12. Now in its 16th year, the festival will screen 15 feature films, as well as a juried competition of shorts.

Because of the COVID pandemic, the Film Society will offer most films online as well as at the Film Center. The Film Society will not hold its traditional opening-night and closing-night receptions. Instead, a number of interviews with filmmakers will be Zoomed.

Online films, individually or all together, can be purchased at any time, and will be unlocked starting on Tuesday, Sept. 7.

Written and directed by Hong Sang-soo, the South Korean film “The Woman Who Ran,” opens the festival on Sept. 7. It describes what happens when Gam-hee (Kim Min-hee) spends time with three of her friends. She has been married for five years, and this is the first time she has been apart from her husband, who is on a business trip. This prolific filmmaker is known for subtleties and the natural performances he draws from the actors in his films.

“Mayor,” playing Wednesday, Sept. 8, is a Palestinian/Israeli documentary describing the world of Musa Hadid, who is the Christian mayor of Ramallah, the cut-off cultural center of Palestine’s West Bank. Directed by David Osit, this film spends time with the simple lighting of a Christmas tree, the appearance of Israeli soldiers, and the protests of the city’s residents after President Trump‘s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Screened on the festival’s official opening night, Thursday, Sept. 9, the Japanese film “Wife of a Spy” is set in Kobe, Japan, at the beginning of World War II. The film tracks the growing suspicions of Satoko about her husband, Yusaku. She is torn between her marriage and her commitment to her country.

The weekend brings eight additional films, starting on Friday, Sept. 10, with the Spanish/Mexican film “Identifying Features,” and the Moroccan film “Adam.” The former film, Sundance Award winner “Identifying Features,” is a haunting look at a Mexican mother searching for her son who left for the U.S. In the latter, Sundance Innovator nominee “Adam,” a pregnant woman shows up at a bakery looking for a job. Abla, who runs the small bakery, at first resists taking her on, while her daughter likes her.

Saturday, Sept. 11, brings three films. In the first, a German film, “I’m Your Man,” a scientist is paired in a study with a robot designed to make her happy. The second, an Iranian film called “There Is No Evil,” was shot and smuggled out of the country. An anthology, it narrates four stories of men with impossible choices to make. Also playing is the juried competition of International Shorts, with the selected winner shown at the end of the series. It will be screened again before the closing-night feature.

Sunday, Sept. 12, will screen the closing three films of the festival. The Polish film “Sweat” (not available online) concerns a fitness instructor who finds herself exhausted by the demands of her lifestyle. The German film, “Undine,” reimagines the myth of a water nymph, who in this case loses her lover and thinks she must kill him.

The closing-night film is “The Macaluso Sisters,” playing only at the Film Center. It is an Italian tale of five sisters and what happens when one of them dies. One last online feature is “My Donkey, My Lover and I,” a French comedy about a schoolteacher and her donkey. Antoinette decides to follow her married lover on a hiking trip, but her real relationship is with her donkey.

Viewers who decide to watch one or more of the festival films should go to Eventive and provide a log-in rather than the one used for mvfilmsociety.com. After purchasing a festival pass, viewers should email michael@mvfilmsociety.com for a discount code for online films. Once viewers unlock their films online, they have 48 hours to finish them. For the complete schedule, view or download the Official Festival Guide.