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February 20, 2009

A secret in "The Reader" will make you question everything you know

Michael Berg, a young German law student, discovers that a former lover, Hanna Schmitz, is on trial for her role as an SS concentration camp guard in “The Reader.” In this Oscar-nominated film, Berg realizes he has information that can save her from prison. This is one of the movies featured during March and April at Colonial Williamsburg’s Kimball Theatre in Merchants Square.

Additional national and international documentaries and movies to be shown include:

  • The Reader, 6:30 and 8:45 p.m. March 1 and 5, 4 and 6:30 p.m. March 2-4 and 6-8. The Reader opens in post-WWII Germany when teenager Michael Berg becomes ill and is helped home by Hanna, a stranger twice his age. Michael recovers from scarlet fever and seeks out Hanna to thank her. The two are quickly drawn into a passionate but secretive affair. Michael discovers that Hanna loves being read to and their physical relationship deepens. Despite their intense bond, Hanna mysteriously disappears one day and Michael is left confused and heartbroken. Eight years later, while Michael is a law student observing the Nazi war crime trials, he is stunned to find Hanna back in his life – this time as a defendant in the courtroom. As Hanna’s past is revealed, Michael uncovers a deep secret that will impact both of their lives. Nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture. Rated: R.
  • Ashes of Time Redux, 4:30 and 6:45 p.m. March 6-11. Set in ancient China, Ouyang Feng (Leslie Cheung) is a fallen swordsman driven by greed toward both friend and foe. He is afraid of love after having his heart broken by an affair gone wrong. He is a perpetual loner, but the bounty hunters that work for him, like “Blind Swordsman” (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) and another of his best fighters, Hung Chi (Jacky Cheung), discover the intangible secret of true love while Ouyang retains his attitude towards his fighters and the precious lessons that they have taught. The film is less a straightforward action thriller than a visually striking meditation on memory and love. Mandarin and Cantonese with subtitles. Rated: R.
  • Last Chance Harvey, 4:15 and 6:30 p.m. March 10-15. A disastrous trip to London proves to have a silver lining for a middle-aged American jingle writer in this romantic slice-of-life drama starring Dustin Hoffman as Harvey and Emma Thompson as Kate. Something about Harvey’s situation and demeanor strikes a sympathetic chord in Kate, a lonely civil servant. Likewise, Kate’s intelligence and compassion prove unexpectedly invigorating to Harvey. Both Hoffman and Thompson were nominated for Golden Globes. Rated: PG-13.
  • Waltz with Bashir, 4, 5:45 and 7:30 p.m. March 13-18 and 6:30 and 8:15 p.m. March 19. Director Ari Folman’s animated, quasi-documentary follows the filmmaker’s emotional attempt to decipher the horrors that unfolded one night in September 1982, when Christian militia members massacred more than 3,000 Palestinian refugees in the heart of Beirut as Israeli soldiers surrounded the area. Folman was one of those soldiers, but nearly 20 years after the fact, his memories of that night remain hazy. When Folman realizes that his memories regarding that period of his life seem to have somehow been wiped clean, he travels the world to interview old friends and fellow soldiers from the war. Golden Globe winner for Best Foreign Language Film. Academy Award nominated Best Foreign Language Film. Hebrew/German/English with subtitles. Rated: R.
  • Two Lovers, 4:15 and 6:30 p.m. March 20-25. A depressed young man moves back in with his parents and finds his life turned upside down as he struggles to choose between the beautiful daughter of a close family friend and the scintillating but volatile next-door neighbor whose passion helps to reignite his lust for life. Nominated for the Golden Palm at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. Rated: R.
  • Wendy and Lucy, 4, 5:30 and 7 p.m. March 24-25 and March 27-April 1 and 6:30 and 8:15 p.m. March 26. Wendy Carroll (Michelle Williams) is driving to Ketchikan, Alaska, in hopes of a summer of lucrative work at the Northwestern Fish cannery, and the start of a new life with her dog, Lucy. When her car breaks down in Oregon, however, the thin fabric of her financial situation comes apart, and she confronts a series of increasingly dire economic decisions, with far-ranging repercussions for herself and Lucy. Winner of Best Performance (Williams) and Best Picture at 2008 the Toronto Film Critics Association Awards. Rated: R.
  • My Mexican Shivah, 7 and 9 p.m. March 28-29. Set in Polanco, a Jewish quarter of Mexico City, director Alejandro Springall’s seriocomic drama depicts the religious rituals and dysfunctional dynamics of a Mexican Jewish family coping with the untimely death of their beloved pater familias Moishe (Sergio Klaniner). Cultures collide as Moishe’s large family and assorted eccentric friends gather to pay their respects to the dead, sitting shivah for a week, as is the Jewish custom. Watching the loca familia in mourning is a pair of irascible (and invisible) Yiddish-speaking angels, who take stock of the deceased’s decidedly unorthodox life. Hebrew/Spanish/Yiddish with subtitles. This is part of the Eighth Annual Virginia Peninsula Jewish Film Festival. Not rated.
  • Steven Soderbergh’s Che.
  • Part One. 4:15 and 6:45 p.m. March 31-April 1 and April 5 and 6:30 and 9 p.m. April 2-4. On Nov. 26, 1956, Fidel Castro (Demian Bichir) sails to Cuba with 80 rebels including Ernesto “Che” Guevara (Benicio Del Toro), an Argentine doctor who shares a common goal with Castro – to overthrow the corrupt dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Che proves indispensable as a fighter. As he throws himself into the struggle, Che is embraced by his comrades and the Cuban people. The film tracks Che’s rise in the Cuban Revolution, from doctor to commander to revolutionary hero. Spanish with subtitles. Not rated.
  • Part Two. 4:15 and 6:45 p.m. April 7-8 and 10-12 and 6:30 and 9 p.m. April 9. After the Cuban Revolution, Che is at the height of his fame and power. Then he disappears, re-emerging incognito in Bolivia, where he organizes a small group of Cuban comrades and Bolivian recruits to start the great Latin American Revolution. The story of the Bolivian campaign is a tale of tenacity, sacrifice, idealism and of guerrilla warfare that ultimately fails, bringing Che to his death. Through this story, we come to understand how Che remains a symbol of idealism and heroism that lives in the hearts of people around the world. Spanish with subtitles. Not rated.
  • Parts One and Two. 4 p.m. April 6 Part One and 6:30 p.m. Part Two. Separate admission ticket required for each.
  • Theater of War, 4, 5:45 and 7:30 p.m. April 10-15 and 7 and 8:45 p.m. April 16-17. Meryl Streep is unforgettable in Mother Courage and Her Children, Tony Kushner’s adaptation of the Brecht masterpiece, presented by the Public Theater/NY Shakespeare Theater in Central Park during the summer 2006. Filmmaker John Walter’s new documentary could easily have been reduced to a star vehicle for Streep and Kevin Kline. But for Walter, the play is but a jumping off point for a compelling look at Brecht’s motives and politics. Theater of War is about theater and war, capitalism and Marxism, consumerism, greed, the maternal instinct, the postwar anti-Communist hysteria of the 1950s and one literary genius’s ability to make art from them all. Not rated.
  • The Class, 6:30 and 9 p.m. April 17-18 and 23 and 4 and 6:30 p.m. April 19-22. A remarkable new film about what happens over the course of a year between a single college (junior high or middle school) class in the multi-ethnic 20th arrondissement of Paris and their French teacher. Director Laurent Cantet shot multiple improvised takes of real students and a real teacher using three cameras to make The Class. 2009 Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film and winner of the Golden Palm at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. French with subtitles. Rated: PG-13.
  • The Betrayal, 6:30 and 8:15 p.m. April 24-26 and April 30 and 4, 5:45 and 7:30 p.m. April 27-29. In this documentary, filmmaker Thavisouk Phrasavath details the painful story of how he and his family faced hardship and poverty as Laotian refugees during the Vietnam War. Combining interviews and archival footage, Phrasavath explores not only the experience of betrayal that his family endured when they were forced to flee their homeland, but the large scheme of geopolitics that put the event into play. 2009 Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary and winner of the Spectrum Award at the 2008 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. English/Lao with subtitles. Not rated.

    Unless otherwise indicated, movie admission is $7 for adults and $6 for seniors, students and children. For more information, contact the Kimball Theatre box office at (757) 565-8588 or visit www.kimballtheatre.com.

    The Kimball Theatre, located in downtown Williamsburg’s Merchants Square, is owned and operated by The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the not-for-profit educational institution that operates the restored 18th-century capital of Virginia. The Kimball Theatre box office is open 3:30-7:15 p.m.

    Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution guests interact with history through “Revolutionary City®” – a dramatic live street theater presentation.

    Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at www.history.org.

    Media Contact:
    Penna Rogers
    (757) 220-7121



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