Bigger, Longer, and Uncut

It just seems like the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival goes on forever

Interview with the Assassin

The presence of reliable character actor Raymond J. Barry as ex-Marine Walter Ohlinger is a big plus for this American independent film about an unemployed TV news cameraman who discovers that one of his neighbors (Ohlinger) claims to have been the second gunman in the assassination of JFK. We see things from the cameraman's point of view as he embarks on a documentary with the alleged assassin that takes them back to Dealey Plaza in Dallas, as well as on a visit to Ohlinger's former Marine commander, who supposedly orchestrated the assassination, with Lee Harvey Oswald merely "a patsy." Barry is bone-dry and matter-of-fact as the killer recounts the events of November 22, 1963, and writer-director Neil Burger makes good use of some period footage and footage that re-creates the era. He even works in a credible explanation for the unrepentant Ohlinger's sudden candor after nearly four decades -- he's dying of cancer -- and makes a big show of having the bullet casing Ohlinger turns over to him tested by a forensics expert who confirms it's the real thing. The movie is as drenched in paranoia as anything from the feverish imagination of Oliver Stone, although it eventually loses steam and begins to unravel near the end, and the handheld camerawork occasionally gets tiresome. (Saturday, October 26, 7:30 p.m., Mizner; Wednesday, October 30, 7:20 p.m., Riverfront; Thursday, October 31, 9:10 p.m., Riverfront; Friday, November 1, 5:20 p.m., Riverfront; 88 minutes)

Jiyan

God Is Great, I Am Not
God Is Great, I Am Not

This heartbreaking story focuses on the aftermath of March 16, 1988, when Saddam Hussein's army attacked Halabja, a city of 70,000 in the Iraqi region of Kurdistan, with chemical and biological weapons. It's hard to imagine more politically charged material in a more politically charged time. But fortunately, filmmaker Jano Rosebiani is less interested in political propaganda than in putting a human face on the plight of the Kurds. The specific face is that of the title character, a 10-year-old girl orphaned by the attacks and left with burn scars on much of her face. This solemn child glides through the movie like a ghost, as little by little, we learn the extent of the suffering inflicted on her people. "When I look at us, I yearn for Hiroshima and Nagasaki," one character says mournfully. "Are there chemical attacks in America?" Jiyan matter-of-factly asks the Kurdish-American man who returns to his homeland to start an orphanage. The images of destruction in this already barren, desolate place, coupled with the mangled bodies we see at every turn, become almost unbearable. The stab at a faintly happy ending feels forced, but what has preceded it is so powerful that it doesn't matter. (Thursday, October 24, 5:30 p.m.; Mizner; Sunday, October 27, 3 p.m., Mizner; Thursday, November 7, 7:10 p.m., Riverfront; Friday, November 8, 1:10 and 7:40 p.m., Riverfront; 94 minutes; in Kurdish with English subtitles)

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