Gentlemen, Start Your Projectors

If Fort Lauderdale's film festival keeps growing, it may blot out the sun

Director Gayle Ferraro eschews voice-overs for interviews with locals who explain the religious customs and devotion, as well as the pollution problems facing the river. We also get a rare and fascinating glimpse inside the burial process and the industry that surrounds it.

Best of all, the director lets the camera rest languidly for slow, extended shots of her subjects -- a dying woman's labored breath, the carrying of a corpse through crowded streets. Which is really the magic of the film, letting the alien and exotic world of India speak for itself. The film was also shot in 35mm instead of video, giving a true sense of the lustrous colors of the place -- the vibrant reds and yellows of clothing set against the rich earth tones of the city. Which makes it a documentary both informative and pleasing to the eye. (3 p.m. Saturday, October 16, Cinema Paradiso, 79 minutes.) -- John Anderson

Imagining Ulysses

Bening and Evans: It's not nice to toy with Julia.
Bening and Evans: It's not nice to toy with Julia.
On the road to the afterlife in Ganges
On the road to the afterlife in Ganges

Details

The Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival runs Thursday, October 14, through Saturday, November 20, at Cinema Paradiso, 503 SE Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-525-FILM or www.fliff.com.

James Joyce and his writings have been studied, dissected, deconstructed, reworked, celebrated, and written about more than any other writer in the past 100 years. Of course, all this attention is for good reason, seeing that Joyce is arguably the greatest modern writer in the English language, or any tongue, for that matter. Not only that, but with writings as arcane and multilayered as Joyce's, there's plenty of fodder for the academic fires.

And now you can add Imagining Ulysses to the list of Joycean studies, an Irish documentary about the life of Joyce and his masterwork, Ulysses, considered the greatest novel of the 20th Century. Directed by David Blake Knox and Hilary Fennell, the film was produced as a celebration of the 100th anniversary of June 16, 1904, or Bloomsday, the day on which Ulysses unfolds.

Presented in 18 episodes to mirror the chapters of Ulysses, the film is keenly insightful without being dry or academic, with interviews from some of Ireland's greatest contemporary writers, like Frank McCourt, Edna O'Brien, and Irvine Welsh and filmmaker Neil Jordan. There are even several staged parodies, one of MTV's The Osbournes called The Joyces, that highlights their wacky home life, and a Jerry Springer-like talk show complete with hooting crowd and guests Virginia Woolf and D.H. Lawrence defending their harsh critiques of Joyce. One of the more touching episodes is on the life of Chinese translators Jieruo and Hsaio Ch'ien, who suffered through decades of hardship and oppression for their Western sympathies before they were finally able to translate Ulysses into Mandarin.

Of all the dusty tomes generated in the past 100 years on Joyce and his works, Imagining Ulysses has to be one of the more original and accessible. And as it playfully alights on the various subjects Joyce addresses in his book, it may well be the most Joycean. (3 p.m. Sunday, October 17, Cinema Paradiso, 89 minutes.) -- John Anderson

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