The Hope College Knickerbocker Theatre will be showing four films as part of its Winter Film Series from Friday, Feb. 9, through Saturday, March 10.
Showcasing the best in independent and foreign films, the Knickerbocker film series continues to offer moviegoers a unique film experience. This year's Winter Film Series will feature "Joyeux Noel," "Sweet Land," "The White Countess" and "Riding Along for Thousands of Miles."
The series will open with the French film "Joyeux Noel," which will show on Friday-Saturday, Feb. 9-10, and Monday-Thursday, Feb. 12-15, at 7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. The Thursday, Feb. 15, show will be at 9:15 p.m. only. Based on a true story, "Joyeux Noel" tells of a brief moment of peace and humanity in the chaos of the trenches of World War One. On Christmas Eve 1914, caroling in the trenches leads to a sense of brotherhood and understanding that allows a brief truce. Men emerge into the No Man's Land between the trenches to exchange small gifts, share stories and pictures, and to bury their dead. Mass was held and a game of soccer was played, creating a surreally normal scene of life in a most abnormal place. This film is in French, German, and English with subtitles, and is rated PG-13. It has a running time of one hour and 55 minutes.
"Sweet Land" will run Friday-Saturday, Feb. 16-17, and Monday-Thursday, Feb. 19-22, with showings at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. One man's need to decide about selling his grandmother's farm in Southern Minnesota leads to a story of love and social strife in the 1920s. The grandmother, Inge, arrives in the desolate plains of the Midwest to marry Olaf, a Norwegian farmer. She finds herself quickly brought to the church with Olaf, but trouble begins when the minister refuses to marry them because of Inge's German heritage. She decides to stay with Olaf and moves in with him anyway. This rather shocking arrangement for the period causes the community to ostracize Inge and Olaf, but slowly their relationship begins to develop and blossoms into something special. "Sweet Land," screened at the Waterfront Film Festival in Saugatuck, is an homage to family, land, lost times, and old beginnings. The film is in English, Norwegian, and German without subtitles, and is rated PG. It has a running time of one hour and 50 minutes.
"The White Countess," the final film offering from Merchant Ivory, will run Friday-Saturday, Feb. 23-24, and Monday-Wednesday, Feb. 26-28, at 6:45 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. The film is about a man who simply dreams of owning the "perfect, little bar," and does until the world intrudes. Todd Jackson (Ralph Fiennes) is a blind man who in his younger years hoped for great things, but he has become disillusioned. Now he is looking for the small victories, and when he is saved from a dangerous situation by Sofia, a taxi dancer who used to be a Russian countess, he decides she would be the perfect hostess for his bar. With Sofia as the hostess, the right bouncers, cool jazz, and a select clientele, the White Countess becomes bright spot in a dark and troubled place. Unfortunately, nothing perfect lasts for long, and the outside world soon forces its way into this paradise. "The White Countess" features the style, elegance, and high production values made famous by James Ivory and Ismail Merchant. The film is in English, French, and Mandarin with English subtitles, and is rated PG-13. It has a running time of two hours and 18 minutes.
The film series will end with "Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles," showing Friday-Saturday, March 2-3, and Monday-Saturday, March 5-10, at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. It is the latest film from acclaimed director Zhang Yimou ("Hero," "House of Flying Daggers,") and marks his return to smaller-scale films examining the purity of rural China against the inhumanity of big cities. "Riding" centers on the character of Takata, an older man who has been estranged from his son for a decade. He arrives in Tokyo after hearing that his son has been hospitalized. Though his son refuses to see him, his daughter-in-law encourages him not to give up. He learns of his son's yearly pilgrimage to see a famous singer of Chinese folk operas and his favorite opera, "Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles." When Takata is informed that his son has cancer, he vows to undertake the journey and film the opera for his son. When he arrives, he finds the singer in prison for a crime, and Takata must navigate the vast bureaucracy simply to see him. The singer refuses to perform until Takata finds his own son, an eight-year-old boy he has never met from a far away rural village. Takata journeys through the desolate beauty of China in search of a personal connection and instead he reconnects with himself. The film is in Japanese and Mandarin with subtitles, and is rated PG. It has a running time of one hour and 47 minutes.
Admission to films at the Knickerbocker costs $6 for regular admission and $5 for students and senior citizens. The Knickerbocker Theatre is located at 86 E. Eighth St. in downtown Holland.
Additional information may be obtained online at www.hope.edu/arts/knick  or by calling the Knickerbocker Theatre at (616) 395-7403.