On Sept 9, UCLA Film and Television Archive, Slovenian Film Center, and the South East European Film Festival, SEE FEST unveil “Slovenia Begs to Differ”, a retrospective of the best Slovenian films from September 9 through 26 at the Billy Wilder Theatre at the Hammer Museum in Westwood, 10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90024. Opening night film is “Valley of Peace”, featuring lead actor John Kitzmiller, African-American star of Italian cinema of the 1950s, who won Best Actor Award for his role in this film at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival.
The film follows two children who lost their families in an air raid at the end of WWII and take to wandering the countryside, seeking a storied “Valley of Peace.” Taken under the wing of a stranded U.S. paratrooper, played by African-American actor John Kitzmiller, their faith in their deliverance is alternately vindicated and sorely tested in this strangely lyrical film that reflects Slovenia’s dogged pursuit of its own destiny in the tumultuous 20th century.
Also on the program are some of the most influential and fascinating Slovenian films—lyrical, poetic and free-spirited stories—of endearing misfits, including Vesna (Saturday, Sept. 10), a whimsical 1953 film that bursts with optimism in youth and is so popular that Slovenia’s highest film award was named in its honor; Dance in the Rain (Friday, Sept. 16), an elegant and enigmatic love story from 1961 that masterfully weighs whether life’s plateaus are cause for disillusion or hope, and often tops national critics’ polls; Paper Planes (Sunday, September 18), an unlikely love story from 1967 between a photographer tired of the advertising age under socialism and a young ballerina; Raft of the Medusa (Sunday, September 25), a cinematic homage to 1920s Dada-inspired avant-garde movement in pre-WWII Yugoslavia.
Program concludes Sept 26 with two contemporary films, Gravehopping, a deft, ironic comedy, followed by 9:06, a psychological thriller with director Igor Šterk attending the screening in person.