Just got an e-mail about a special screening of Ajami, to which I want to draw your attention. The Other Israel Film Festival, of which I have written frequently, is presenting a special evening at Film Forum featuring a showing of the film and a discussion of the state of Israeli cinema as depicted therein on February 15 at 6:30 p.m. If you were planning to see the film anyway -- and you should -- here's an opportunity to do so while helping out a worthy film event. Advance tickets can be purchased here; the special discount price attached to this offer is only good for advance tickets.
(And I can't believe I actually used the word 'therein.')
Elsewhere in town, hold some days and evenings free in early March. The Museum of Modern Art is presenting a mid-career retrospective of the films of Jia Zhangke beginning March 5. Jia will be attending a Monday night event, the star of The World, Zhan Tao will introduce a showing of that excellent work, and the program will include all of Jia's films to date. In little mor than a decade, with only eight features and a half-dozen shorts to his credit, Jia has re-invented Chinese cinema. At a time when Zhang Yimou can honestly say with a straight face that he is still an independent director -- as if the maker of the odiously Stalinist apologia Hero were some kind of dissident -- it is nothing less than thrilling to see work like Jia's and be reminded what a really beautiful risk-taking and fearless film looks like. I hesitate to recommend any of the films to the exclusion of the others, but if you can only see a few, you should definitely get to Platform, The World and Still Life. The last is a sublimely contemplative and deeply felt work, a stunning rebuke to the Chinese leaders who preach fealty to the past while destroying material reminders of it.