Fresh from one of its most successful festivals to date, the Yukon Film Society presents a trio of superb films in its monthly Available Light Cinema series, March 22 and 23.
Headlining the bill is the triple-Oscar winning Twelve Years A Slave, followed by award-winning documentary Cutie And The Boxer, and a new Coen Brothers feature, Inside Llewyn Davis.
Based on a nineteenth-century memoir outlining the true-life experiences of its author, Twelve Years A Slave is probably the most gripping, no-holds-barred cinematic portrayal of slavery in America yet.
Solomon Northup was a free black man who lived in Saratoga, New York in the 1840s. An accomplished violinist, he is tricked into accompanying a pair of con artists to Washington, ostensibly to perform as musical accompaniment to a traveling show. Once there, he is drugged and imprisoned.
With all proof of his identity stolen from him, he finds himself on a steamship bound for Louisiana, where he languishes under successive slave owners for 12 years.
Played with amazing strength and power by Nigerian-born actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, Northup is eventually restored to freedom through the intervention of a Canadian abolitionist, played by Brad Pitt.
The film Cutie and the Boxer is a unique documentary from first-time director Zachary Heinzerling, which earned him the Best Director award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
It portrays the lives of a married New York City couple that are both artists, Ushio and Noriko Shinohara.
Before emigrating to the United States from his native Japan in 1969, Ushio had already staked out a reputation as an avant-garde artist, for his highly original work.
Donning goggles and paint-saturated boxing gloves, Ushio would literally punch out his art onto canvas.
In 1972, he met and married 19-year-old art student Noriko, although he was 21 years her senior. Now in his ’80s and forty years into his marriage, Ushio has struggled for years with alcoholism, though he’s now sober.
Ever grumpy and pugnacious, his relationship with Noriko has often been stormy. Yet the couple has struggled on, with Noriko’s own art most often taking a back seat to Ushio’s egocentrically driven career.
It’s clear that after all these years, they still love each other.
The film Inside Llewyn Davis was a winner of the Grand Prix at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, and was nominated for two Oscars at this year’s Academy Awards.
The film tells the story of a struggling young folk singer in New York’s Greenwich Village circa 1961, and is partly inspired by the autobiography of real-life folk singer Dave Van Ronk.
As the film opens, Llewyn Davis’s life is in a bit of a mess.
His vocal partner in his stage duo has committed suicide, and his newly released album isn’t selling well. He is planning an abortion for the wife of a friend, whom he has impregnated, and has just found out that a previous girlfriend, whose abortion he had also paid for, kept her child instead.
Along with Oscar Isaac in the lead role, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, and Justin Timberlake turn in some fine performances in this well crafted, alternately comic and poignant tribute to the 1960s folk scene.
All three films are being shown at the Yukon Arts Centre, as part of the Yukon Film Society’s Available Light Cinema series.
Twelve Years A Slave plays on Saturday, March 22 at 7 p.m. The next evening, Sunday, March 23, features Cutie and The Boxer at 6 p.m. and Inside Llewyn Davis at 8 p.m.