Last Friday, I found myself snacking on Chinese treats and watching a student perform Alicia Key’s If I Ain’t Got You karaoke-style after seeing the Chinese film I Am Here at the 2015 CMU International Film Festival. The film depicts the fast-paced lives of young boys featured on the popular Chinese reality-show singing competition Super Boy, then contrasts the weighty pressure of show-biz with breathtaking scenes of the boys exploring vast, reflective outdoor spaces. After the film, the audience was invited to perform their own karaoke songs as an experiential response to the film’s story.
This is what makes CMU’s International Film Festival so worth attending: not only does it bring well-crafted international films to CMU’s spacious McConomy Auditorium (and a few other film venues around Pittsburgh), but it also incorporates creative activities and discussions exploring the film’s themes.
Monday, April 6, 1:30pm
I Am Eleven (Austrailia, 2014) + screening of Goodman short
Wednesday, April 8, 7:00pm
10 Minutes (Korea, 2014) + reception
Thursday, April 9, 7:15pm
Dangerous Acts (Belarus, 2013) + Actor Oleg Sidorchik will attend
Friday, April 10, 7:15pm
The Mighty Angel (Poland, 2014) + Reception
Saturday, April 11, 6:30pm
Court (India, 2014) + Closing Night Reception
I also attended the festival’s Sneak Peek showing of Song from the Forest, which documents American musicologist Louis Sarno’s decision to permanently live with the nomadic Bayaka tribe in Congo’s rainforest. In a sound-immersive experience of rainforest and city sounds, and amazing Bayaka music, the film follows Sarno’s trek with his Bayakan son to visit New York City for the first time. After the film played, a panel of ethnomusicologists, environmentalists, and the film’s Music Supervisor offered their perspectives on the film’s questions of culture and land. They also invited the audience to attend the related Tropical Forest Congo exhibit at Phipps Conservatory.
All-in-all, CMU’s festival delivers fascinating stories of unfamiliar terrain with some creative resources for a little extra exploring.