UND’s 42nd annual Writers Conference begins today with the theme, “Inter(national) Affairs.” I’m thrilled to see what’s planned as well as this year’s movie list, which includes CASABLANCA, THE LIVES OF OTHERS and THE VISITOR. Here’s a preview of the conference and a schedule.
The first film of the week is CASABLANCA, a classic starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid. I’d seen it years ago, but recently re-watched it on the big screen at the Empire Arts Center. What struck me the second time around was the writing: the dialogue was so well-developed as well as the story. It won Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay at the Oscars in 1942. CASABLANCA will be shown at 6 tonight in the Memorial Union Lecture Bowl. If you haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer. They just don’t make ’em like they used to, but this year’s conference features two exceptions.
THE VISITOR stars Richard Jenkins (the dad from HBO’s SIX FEET UNDER). It’s written and directed by Thomas McCarthy, (whose new film, WIN WIN with Paul Giamatti and Amy Ryan *should* be in GF theaters soon). It’s about a professor who arrives at his New York apartment to find two illegal immigrants living there. This encounter changes him, filling his life with priceless lessons of hope and hardship. (It’s so good!) THE VISITOR will be shown at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Memorial Union Lecture Bowl. Here’s the trailer.
This last film I’ll preview won’t be shown until Friday, but it’s so worth seeing. THE LIVES OF OTHERS won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language film in 2007. It’s set in East Berlin, five years before the Wall fell, and focuses on a member of the Stasi (the Ministry for State Security). An author’s allegiance is questioned by the higher-ups, and a top interrogator is put on special assignment to survey him. I don’t want to say too much, but watching this opens your eyes to a different type of tyranny that took place in Germany. This movie has an ending that is so powerful in its simplicity, I cry every time I watch it. I think anyone who sees this will walk away a little more aware of past international hardship and a little more hopeful in the effects art can have on the human spirit. (That sounds like a wide range, I sound a bit lame, but this movie is profound.) If you don’t make it Friday, I’ll loan you my DVD. THE LIVES OF OTHERS will be shown at 1:30 p.m. Friday. Here’s the trailer.
I haven’t seen the other films featured during the Writers Conference this year, but if they’re anything like these three, I look forward to seeing ’em.
Here’s a list of the films. All will be shown in the Memorial Union Lecture Bowl. Hope to see you there or at any of the other many events during this year’s conference.
*6 p.m.: Film, “Casablanca.”
2 p.m.: Film: “Live From Bethlehem.”
6 p.m.: Film, “Witnesses.”
2 p.m.: Film, “Bamako.”
*6 p.m.: Film, “The Visitor.”
*1:30 p.m.: Film, “The Lives of Others.”
6 p.m.: Film, “Sugar Cane Alley.”