Terrence Malick's To The Wonder.

Stop working immediately! It's time to watch some trailers.

Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem and Rachel McAdams star in Terrence Malick's latest, To The Wonder, which opens Friday at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center. The 20th New York African Film Festival wraps up tonight with Moussas Touré's TGV, but first check out Nigerian director Chinonye Chukwu's clash between two cultures, Alaskaland.

Brazilian master Carlos Diegues will be the subject of a comprehensive survey beginning Friday. Highlights include Orfeu (1999) and Bye Bye Brazil (1979), which was an international box office success and an important part of the Cinema Novo movement. April is Audrey Hepburn month in our Family Films series and, this weekend, she and Fred Astaire head to Paris in this classic 1957 Gershwin musical, Funny Face.

To The Wonder (Opens Friday!)
Writer/Director: Terrence Malick
Cast: Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, Javier Bardem, Rachel McAdams

Terrence Malick's new feature centers on a couple who return to Oklahoma after visiting Mont Saint-Michel in France. In the romantic drama, the couple encounters trouble when Neil renews his ties with a childhood friend, Jane, while Marina meets a fellow expat—a priest—who is struggling with his vocation. In his final review after a long and legendary career, Roger Ebert wrote of To The Wonder: “A more conventional film would have assigned a plot to these characters and made their motivations more clear. Malick, who is surely one of the most romantic and spiritual of filmmakers, appears almost naked here before his audience, a man not able to conceal the depth of his vision…There will be many who find To the Wonder elusive and too effervescent. They'll be dissatisfied by a film that would rather evoke than supply. I understand that, and I think Terrence Malick does, too. But here he has attempted to reach more deeply than that: to reach beneath the surface, and find the soul in need.”

Alaskaland (New York African Film Festival)
Writer/Director: Chinonye Chukwu
Cast: Alex Ubokudom, Chioma Dunkley, Leland B. Martin, Corey Campbell

Screening on the final day of the African Film Festival, Nigerian feature Alaskaland is a debut film. Chukwuma was raised in Alaska but is Nigerian. He struggles to balance his cultural heritage, and reconnects with his younger sister Chidinma after a two-year estrangement. The filmmaker received the prestigious Princess Grace Award and strives to “make films that are at the forefront of change,” according to Shadow and Act. Chukwu said on Facebook: “It would be too cliché, and maybe even ambitious, for me to say that I want to change the world, but this is, in fact, the vision I had when I created Where’s the Fire? Filmworks.”


Bye Bye Brazil (Brazilian Saga: Carlos Diegues' Cinematic Adventures)
Director: Carlos Diegues
Writers: Carlos Digues, Leopoldo Serran
Cast: José Wilker, Betty Faria, Fábio Júnior, Zaira Zambelli

A motley crew of traveling performers entertains a wide range of audiences across the massive northern Brazilian landscape. Accordionist Ciço (Fábio Júnior) and his wife Dasdô (Zaira Zambelli) join the rollicking caravan, leading to a string of adventures across the Amazon. Noted the New York Times about Bye Bye Brazil: “[The film] became one of the most popular and fiscally successful imports of late '70s and early '80s South American cinema. Bye Bye is a muted and low-key ensemble drama about a shabby circus crawling from small town to small town through the Brazilian backwaters.”

ORFEU trailer

Orfeu (Brazilian Saga: Carlos Diegues' Cinematic Adventures)
Director: Carlos Diegues
Writers: João Emanuel Carneiro, Carlos Diegues, Vinicius de Moraes (play), Paulo Lins, Hamilton Vaz Pereira, Hermano Vianna
Cast: Toni Garrido, Patrícia Franca, Murilo Benício, Zezé Motta

In this adaptation of Vinicius de Moraes’ play Orfeu da Conceição, Diegues frames the classic Orpheus tale in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Orfeu (Toni Garrido) is the top composer in his samba school, and while working on new arrangements for the upcoming Carnival, he meets newcomer Eurídice (Patricia Franca). Their intense love affair sets off a cycle of jealousy and violence. “That was the most gratifying night I have had in connection with this film, even more than the night of the premiere,'' Diegues said according to the New York Times after premiering the film at a favela like the one depicted in the film. ''I don't make movies to teach, I make them to learn, and I'm happy that this movie has been able to throw light on a subject and a reality that a lot of people would prefer to ignore.”

Funny Face (Family Films)
Director: Stanley Donen
Writer: Leonard Gershe
Cast: Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, Kay Thompson, Michel Auclair

This romantic Gershwin musical brings together Audrey as a bookseller pining after a French philosopher, and Fred Astaire as a fashion photographer looking for a fresh face. The film is remembered for its elegant dancing, a bohemian backdrop and Audrey’s white socks! Recommended for ages 9 and up. Film Society programmer Isa Cucinotta says: “Funny Face is a not to be missed musical comedy featuring an iconic Audrey Hepburn. From Edith Head’s costumes, to the Gershwins’ music to Fred Astaire’s dancing—'S wonderful! 'S marvelous!”