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Standouts In Women's Film Festival

March 04, 1985

The International Women's Film Festival continues at the Fox International Theater, 620 Lincoln Blvd., Venice, with an array of outstanding work by women film makers.

Women in the process of liberating themselves are often abrasive, and to their credit Hungary's Marta Meszaros, in her "Nine Months" (today) and Sweden's Gunnel Lindblom, in her "Sally and Freedom" (Saturday) do not in any way soften their portraits of such women while never losing their compassion for them. Meszaros' heroine (Lili Monori) is a factory worker who resists settling down with her handsome, loving boss (Jan Nowicki); Lindblom's heroine (Eva Froling), in a need for independence, walks out on her loving husband only to find she can't handle the freedom offered by her new lover (Hans Wigren).

The only film in the series to have a local run is Euzhan Palcy's irresistible "Sugar Cane Alley" (Thursday) about an indomitable elderly Martinique black woman (Darling Legitimus) determined that her bright grandson will escape a life cutting sugar cane. Another Meszaros film, "Adoption" (Wednesday), shown at Filmex '76, is an impressive, low-key study of a 43-year-old widow (Kati Berek) yearning for motherhood.

Agnieszka Holland, Andrzej Wajda's frequent collaborator, is represented by the powerful, courageous "Provincial Actors" (Thursday), which offers a tense, claustrophobic view of the strife-ridden marriage--a metaphor for life in Poland--of a pair of actors (Tadeusz Huk, Halina Labonarska) in a small theatrical troupe taken over by a Warsaw director who proceeds to strip the play they are mounting of all political implications. The late Jennifer Kendal, best known for her appearances in the films of James Ivory, is radiant in Aparna Sen's deeply felt, occasionally awkward "36 Chowringee Lane" (Saturday) as an Anglo-Indian spinster.

Anyone who has ever visited Australia can tell you that it is the last major bastion of male supremacy and chauvinism in the English-speaking world. How it came to be is revealed with tart thoroughness by Megan McMurphy and Jeni Thornley's in their terrific documentary "For Love or Money" (Friday), which traces the hard lot of Australian women from the establishment of the British penal colony in 1788 onwards.

Another documentary, Gail Singer's "Abortion: Stories from the North and South" (Sunday) offers a calm, informative worldwide survey of its subject. Playing with it are two films that were unavailable for preview: Lucy Ostrander's "Witness to Revolution," a documentary on pioneering radical Anna Louise Strong, and Marva Nabili's "Nightsongs," about a Vietnamese refugee living in New York's Chinatown. For showtimes: 396-4215.

Among the offerings in "The Films of Erich Von Stroheim" at the County Museum of Art this week are the 1923 "Merry-Go-Round" (Saturday at 8 p.m.) and the 1922 "Foolish Wives" (Sunday at 8 p.m.). In the elegantly mordant "Foolish Wives," famed for its elaborate Monte Carlo set built at Universal, Von Stroheim takes the plot of his first film "Blind Husbands" and deepens it considerably, turning his own character into the first fullest manifestation of his The Man You Love to Hate characterization. While "Foolish Wives" was originally about 70 minutes longer than its present restored 140-minute length, Von Stroheim got only to shoot the introductory sequences of "Merry-Go-Round" when he was replaced by Rupert Julian.

(For full program information: 857-6111.)

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