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Columnist
College of Lake County shines a spotlight on top international films
By Lee A. Litas | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 2/3/2009 5:12 PM

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"Every time you show international cinema, you're hoping to connect with another culture; to see the surprising similarities and also to learn from the differences," said Patrick Gonder, the CLC film instructor who has helmed a free, international film series at the College of Lake County in Grayslake for over a decade.

This spring semester, CLC will feature four acclaimed international motion pictures as part of their International Education Program. The films are screened every Friday at 7:30 p.m., and are geared toward the general public with interactive discussions immediately following.

The series has been an extremely successful effort despite the stigma that sometimes is attached to subtitled, foreign-language films. For Gonder this is rudimentary.

"Imagine watching a Sean Connery film where his voice is dubbed. Taking away the voices of the actors erases a key component of that film (because) even if you don't understand the words, you hear the intonation, you hear the quality of the voice," he said, explaining the visceral response he hopes the films will produce in the audience.

Above all, the films highlight the necessity for a global view which Gonder emphasizes is so critical in this day and age.

The series will commence this Friday, Feb. 6, with acclaimed documentary "My Winnipeg," by indie director Guy Maddin. Voted Best Canadian Feature Film at the Toronto International Film Festival and by the Toronto Film Critics Association, Maddin's self-described "docu-fantasia" is a comedic love letter to his hometown that combines "architectural essay, city symphony, 1950s family melodrama, film noir and expressionistic fantasy sequences."

An introduction and post-screening discussion will be led by Dr. Chris Cooling, a new humanities instructor at CLC who is taking over Gonder's position this year.

"Chris has incredible knowledge of film and the film industry and it will be great to have a fresh pair of eyes and a new perspective on the series," Gonder said.

For Cooling, a transplant from Toronto, Canada, and graduate of the School of Cinematic Arts in California, this film indeed has special meaning.

"Just the title 'My Winnipeg;' the fact that it's 'mine' makes it very personal from the point of view of a very idiosyncratic, low-budget, Canadian filmmaker that has a very unique perspective on things," Cooling said.

The documentary is as much about Madden's tribute to his hometown as it is about the way he sees it, noted Cooling, stressing that not everything in the film is true, but is rather done from a subjective, and often playful, point of view.

Moreover, the fact that the film focuses on a small city like Winnipeg may even bear a striking resemblance to local life.

"Even for Canada, Winnipeg is not considered a major city in the way that Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver are, so as much as this film is about subjectivity, it is also about regionalism, small towns, places that are off-the-beaten path," Cooling said.

Because such things that don't normally get celebrated, romanticized or depicted in movies as being worthwhile of being on the big screen, Cooling likens this perspective to life in Lake County.

"I hope that this is a way that people here can reflect on their own experience, that of being outside of Chicago, not necessarily completely an urban center but still seeing the romance in it, and embracing the play and personal experience."

Future features will include: "The Band's Visit" on Friday, March 20; "Persepolis" on Friday, April 17; and "Kontroll" presented on Friday, May 8. Films feature adult content that may not be suitable for children. For more information go to: www.clcillinois.edu.