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Virginia Highlands Community College's Arts Array film series ready for spring screenings

staff report • Jan 5, 2013 at 6:42 AM

Virginia Highlands Community College’s Arts Array film series will begin a new semester of screenings with “Arbitrage,” considered one of the preeminent fictional films about Wall Street’s financial collapse.

The film will be shown at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 14 and 15, at the Abingdon Cinemall.

“The series programs foreign films, documentaries and independent American films that film buffs in the area don’t usually have access to in commercial movie theaters,” said series coordinator Ben Jennings. “We have had excellent community support for this series for over 40 years.”

“Arbitrage” stars Richard Gere as “master of the universe” Robert Miller, with a loving wife and an intelligent daughter ready to take over the family business. Professional secrets involving illegal fraudulent activities begin to emerge at the same time Miller’s personal secrets threaten to derail everything he has achieved.

The series will continue with “The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” about an introverted high-school freshman (Logan Lerman) coping with his first love, the suicide of his best friend and his own mental illness, on Jan. 21 and 22, and the French film “The Intouchables,” based on the true story of a wealthy man, left a quadriplegic after a para-gliding accident, and the friendship he strikes up with the young black ex-convict who is hired to care for him, on Jan. 28 and 29.

Other foreign films in the spring lineup include “Farewell, My Queen” (Feb. 11 and 12), a historical drama that explores the relationship between Marie Antoinette and one of her readers during the first days of the French Revolution, and “The Well-Digger’s Daughter” (March 25 and 26), the story of single father and well-digger Pascal Amoretti (played by acclaimed French actor Daniel Auteuil), who must make a heart-wrenching decision about the fate of his pregnant teenage daughter.

Documentaries to be screened this semester include “Ethel” (Feb. 4 and 5), a portrait of Robert Kennedy’s widow Ethel Kennedy made by her daughter, Rory, and “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” (April 8 and 9), filmmaker Alison Klayman’s detailed portrait of the contemporary artist and his place in Chinese culture.

The science fiction film “Cloud Atlas,” starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry,” will be shown Feb. 18 and 19.

Showing on Feb. 25 and 26 will be “Anna Karenina.” Set in late 19th-century Russia, this adaptation of the Leo Tolstoy novel features Keira Knightley as the aristocrat Anna Karenina, who enters into a life-changing affair with the affluent Count Vronsky, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

Arts Array will host the Rural Route Film Festival, a collection of 11 short films celebrating the beauties, eccentricities and diversity of rural life around the world, on March 4 and 5. The festival will showcase stop-action sand animation from Australia, a mythic fairy tale from France and short documentaries about flying over the Chilean Andes, ice fishing in South Dakota, salt trading in Euthiopia and “the best street sweeter they ever had in the city of Norton [Virginia].” Alan Webber, the festival’s producer, will be present for both days’ screenings.

“The Impossible,” the true story of a British couple (played by Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor) and their three young boys who were caught up in the mayhem of the 2004 tsunami in Thailand, will be screened March 11 and 12, followed March 18 and 19 by a 3D screening of Ang Lee’s fantastical “Life of Pi” and April 1 and 2 by “Hyde Park on the Hudson,” starring Bill Murray as President Franklin Roosevelt.

“Hitchcock,” starring Anthony Hopkins in the title role and Helen Mirren as his collaborator/wife Alma, will be screened April 15 and 16, followed by “Promised Land,” director Gus Van Sant’s film about a salesman for a natural gas company who comes to a small Pensylvania town to purchase farmland for “fracking,” on April 22 and 23.

Rounding out the season will be director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal’s critically acclaimed film “Zero Dark Thirty” (April 29 and 30), which chronicles the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks and his death at the hands of Navy SEAL Team 6.

Arts Array is the cultural outreach program of Virginia Highlands Community College and includes films, lectures and concerts. The film series is co-sponsored by Abingdon Cinemall, Emory & Henry College, King College, Virginia Intermont College and the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center.

Admission to the films is free for students and staff members of the sponsoring institutions. Members of the general community may attend for $7.50. A surcharge of $2.75 will be collected for the special 3D screening of “Life of Pi” in March.

For more information or to request a brochure on the series, call Jennings at (276) 739-2447 or email him at bjennings@vhcc.edu.

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