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For more than four decades, the Arts Array film series has given local movie buffs the chance to catch big-screen showings of “alternative” films that otherwise might never have made it into theaters around the Tri-Cities.
That tradition will continue this week when Arts Array kicks off its 41st season with the French animated film “The Illusionist,” showing at 4 and 7:30 p.m., Monday and Tuesday at the Abingdon Cinemall.
“The series programs foreign films, documentaries and independent American films that film buffs in the area don’t have access to in commercial movie theaters,” said Arts Array coordinator Ben Jennings. “We have had excellent community support for this series all these years.”
Directed by Sylvain Chomet, who made the acclaimed “The Triplets of Belleville,” “The Illusionist” is a story of two paths that cross. Set in the 1950s, it deals with the friendship between an aging magician who is forced to travel from town to town in search of a stage to perform his act and a teenage girl who still has her capacity for wonder. The story was originally written by the great French comic Jacques Tati as a love letter to his daughter.
Other foreign films on the schedule for this fall include the French films “Le Concert” on Sept. 12 and 13, and “Of Gods and Men” on Nov. 21 and 22. Of special interest will be “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” in 3D (Oct. 17 and 18), the film documentary about the most ancient visual art ever created by man in a cave in southwestern France.
The Danish Academy Award-winning Best Foreign Language film “In a Better World” will be shown on Sept. 19 and 20, followed by the epic Chinese film about the siege of Nanking during World War II, “City of Life and Death,” on Nov. 7 and 8.
“Another Year,” the latest film by England’s acclaimed director Mike Leigh, will be shown on Sept. 5 and 6, and Mexican director Alejandro González Iárritu’s “Biutiful” will be shown on Nov. 14 and 15.
Rounding out the series will be several American independent and documentary films. “The Tree of Life,” directed by Terrence Malick and starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, will be shown Sept. 26 and 27, followed by the western “Meek’s Cutoff” on Oct. 10 and 11, and the comedy “Beginners” on Oct. 24 and 25.
Documentaries include the Academy Award-winning “Inside Job,” about the economic crisis of 2008, to be screened Oct. 3 and 4, and “Rejoice and Shout,” a history of gospel music in America, on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.
The Arts Array film series is part of the comprehensive cultural outreach program of Virginia Highlands Community College. The series is co-sponsored by Abingdon Cinemall, the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, Emory & Henry College, Virginia Intermont College and King College.
All screenings are held at the Abingdon Cinemall in Abingdon, Va.
Admission is free for students and faculty members from the supporting institutions. Members of the general community may attend for $7.50.
For a brochure on the series or more information, call Jennings at (276) 739-2447 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org .