The MSSU Harrison and June Kash International Film Society and Bookhouse Cinema will present “Bringing Them All Back Home: MSSU Faculty Share Their Favorite International Films.”

Beginning Tuesday, Jan. 14, through March 24, the film series will showcase a series of films which will be presented by faculty members. Admission to all films are free and open to the public.

January 14

Cornell Auditorium, Plaster Hall

Presenter: Dr. Chad Stebbins 

The Lives of Others

(Germany, 2006, 137 min., rated R)

In 1984 East Berlin, an agent of the Stasi secret police, conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives.

“This film is one of my favorites because it aptly shows the living conditions in East Germany before the Berlin Wall fell, while you gain sympathy for a character you initially abhorred. It also has many surprising plot twists and leaves you rather choked up at the end.” – Chad Stebbins



January 21

Cornell Auditorium, Plaster Hall

Presenter: Dr. Michael Howarth


(China, 2002, 107 min., rated PG-13)

Zhang Yimou’s Hero is an exhilarating and moving martial-arts film set in ancient China. A nameless fighter (Jet Li) is being honored for defeating three of the king’s most dangerous enemies – Broken Sword (Tony Leung Chiu Wai), Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung Man-yuk) and Moon (Zhang Ziyi). As the nameless warrior recounts his individual battles with each of the assassins, the story unfolds in a series of gorgeous and spectacular action scenes.

Hero is the rare film that is both thrilling and thought-provoking, rich with complex themes like loyalty and honor. It’s also one of the most beautiful films you’re likely to ever see, akin to watching poetry unfold before your eyes.” – Michael Howarth


January 28

Bookhouse Cinema

Presenter: Dr. Susana Liso

El secreto de tus ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes)

(Argentina, 2009, 129 min., rated R)

Hoping to put to rest years of unease concerning a past case, retired criminal investigator Benjamín Espósito (Ricardo Darín) begins writing a novel based on the decades-old unsolved mystery of a newlywed’s rape and murder. With the help of a former colleague, Judge Irene Menéndez Hastings (Soledad Villamil), Benjamín attempts to make sense of the past. The journey through his memories sets Benjamín on a thrilling, emotional path that leads to a shocking realization.

“The film depicts an Argentina far from politics and social disarray as in many other movies.

Here we witness how a 25-year-old rape and murder case is solved, while unearthing the buried romance of the main characters.” – Susana Liso


February 4

Bookhouse Cinema

Presenter: Dr. Zak Watson 

La Cité des Enfants Perdus (The City of Lost Children)

(France, 1995, 112 min., rated R)

A noir-influenced fantasy that lives between the dreams and nightmares of childhood, La Cité des Enfants Perdus (1995) harmonizes the strange and the familiar in a rusted, steampunk future covered in condensation, seawater and darkness. A mad scientist (Daniel Emilfork) steals dreams; a circus strongman (Ron Perlman) searches for his lost little brother; a cyborg cult promises sight to those willing to lose their eyes, and a brain in an aquarium speaks through a horn.

“I chose this film because its every shot is beautiful. It marries the wonder of childhood to the trickery of cinema and its madness is thoroughly consistent. It is funny and scary, often at the same time and the casting is pitch-perfect.” – Zak Watson


February 11

Cornell Auditorium, Plaster Hall

Presenter: Dr. Bill Kumbier


(Lebanon, 2018, 126 min., rated R) 

Capernaum follows the street life of Zain, a 12-year-old Syrian refugee in Beirut. After running away from his abusive and negligent family, Zain meets Rahil, an Ethiopian refugee, and finds temporary shelter in her makeshift shack, where he helps by taking care of her infant son, Yonas.

“This recent film is unrivaled in its portrayal of the struggle of refugee children from a child’s perspective: the sympathy and sensitivity with which the director, Nadine Labiki, presents Zain, played by a non-actor, reminds me of Francois Truffaut’s depictions of childhood, but with the added emotional force impressed by the terrible consequences of refugee life. Capernaum is the most intensely focused and powerful film I have seen in many years.” – Bill Kumbier


February 18

Bookhouse Cinema

Presenter: Dr. Bill Fischer 


(Chile, 2012, 118 min., rated R)

After 15 years of military rule under Augusto Pinochet in Chile, the government begrudgingly agrees to a plebiscite. Vote “SÍ” and Pinochet stays in power; vote “No” and an open election will be held. Amidst fear and debate, the “No” campaign turns to an unlikely source for help: an advertising firm well versed in promoting shampoo and soda pop.

“This film elegantly moves from playful to deadly serious and back again, while illuminating how political messaging functions and why it sometimes requires real bravery to be joyful and hopeful. Excellent performances by Gael García Bernal and Antonia Zegers, with some really interesting technical choices by director Pablo Larraín.” – Bill Fischer


February 25

Cornell Auditorium, Plaster Hall

Presenter: Michele Holt

The Intouchables

(France, 2011, 112 min., rated R)

After he becomes a quadriplegic from a paragliding accident, an extremely wealthy aristocrat hires a young man from the projects to be his caregiver. A rocky and riotously amusing initial relationship turns into a lasting friendship, changing both men forever.

“This movie is one of my favorites because it treads through a touchy and emotional landscape with laughter. Only the French would dare to treat such serious subjects as disability, poverty, race and social class distinctions with humor, and in the end, find a common, leveling space for them all.” – Michele Holt


March 3

Bookhouse Cinema

Presenter: Dr. Steve Wagner


(Algeria-France, 1969, 127 min., rated M/PG) 

Based on true events, Director Costa-Gavras’s Oscar-winning film closely parallels the real-life assassination of a Greek doctor and humanist whose 1963 murder led to public scandal and eventual overthrow of the democratic government in Greece. Part mystery and part thriller, the film made its mark as a groundbreaking political roman à clef, and its edge-of-your-seat plot, vérité photography and driving score resonate even today.

“This film appeals to me as a historian of the Cold War, but also as a lover of films that realistically portray the international intrigue of the late 1960s.” – Steve Wagner


March 10

Cornell Auditorium, Plaster Hall

Presenter: Dr. Amy Gates

The Willow Tree

(Iran, 2005, 96 min., not rated)

Youssef (Parvis Parastui), blind since a childhood accident, has built a life – a small “paradise” – for himself with his devoted wife, adoring daughter, and career as a professor at a Tehran University where he specializes in the poetry of the Persian Sufi mystic Rumi. Corneal transplant surgery restores his sight, but with sight comes a change in perception, as he regrets the years lost in darkness, becomes detached from the world he has known and tries to come to terms with the moral choices and need for second chances sight brings.

“I first encountered The Willow Tree, directed and co-written by Majid Majidi, several years ago as part of a ‘Faith and Film’ series, and its unsettling, beautiful, poetic meditation on human desires and despair has continued to haunt me. This symbol-laden film features beautiful imagery and an outstanding performance by Parvis Parastui.” – Amy Gates


March 24

Bookhouse Cinema

Presenter: Dr. Conrad Gubera

Raise the Red Lantern

(China, 1991, 125 min., rated PG)

After her father’s death, 19-year-old Songlian marries the much older Chen Zuoqian, becoming the latest concubine in Chen’s burgeoning harem and finding herself at the bottom of an oppressive hierarchy in 1920s China.

“A revolutionary film during the height of the Communist regime in mainland China, the director (Zhang Yimou) took great risks with the script and the production. It’s a film that holds the viewer with great fascination and anticipation.” – Conrad Gubera