Filmed on the Body

The 44th annual S.F. International Film Festival gets sexy, with women on top -- and just about everywhere else

The Storm(Egypt, 2000)
Three Kings was fine, but it showed only one side of the Persian Gulf War. Here's a film with another viewpoint, directed by Khaled Youssef, screenwriter and assistant to legendary Egyptian director Youssef Chahine. Geography teacher Hoda has raised two excellent sons by herself, her anti-Israeli husband having exiled himself or perhaps died. In order for one son to marry a rich girl, the other goes off to Iraq to send money back to a depressed Cairo. He ends up a soldier, reluctantly involved in the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Ironically, the smitten other brother enlists in the Egyptian army and fights to liberate Kuwait from the Iraqis, thus pitting brother against brother. If that isn't enough grief for a mother, Hoda also realizes that her womanly feelings have been reawakened by a man her son doesn't approve of. Then, to top it all off, the U.S. becomes directly involved in the war, increasing the stakes for everyone. The Storm deftly combines high entertainment value, melodrama, and political commentary -- the latter explaining what it's like to be a "plaything" of U.S. military policy. (Frako Loden)
Sunday, April 22, 9:30 p.m., PFA; Monday, April 23, 9:45 p.m., AMC Kabuki; Tuesday, April 24, 7:15 p.m., AMC Kabuki; Saturday, April 28, 1:15 p.m., AMC Kabuki

Stranger Inside (U.S.A., 2000)
Imprisoned teenager Treasure Lee (Yolonda Ross) does what she can to work her way toward her long absent mother, following in her footsteps to a maximum security ward in this effective drama by Cheryl Dunye. The woman she calls "Moms" is a surly borderline psychotic named Brownie, charismatically played by Davenia McFadden as a mixture of shrewdness, anger, and danger -- you can see why she's effectively running the prison. The entire cast, which includes Rain Phoenix as one of Brownie's non-biological "daughters," is very good, and Dunye gets props for creating the prison as a universe -- we see only the barest glimpses of the outside world. Dream flashbacks and some heavy religious symbolism work less well, but that's not a serious problem because the real focus of the film is Treasure's hunt for a mother. The film deserves a wider release and more attention than it will probably get as a made-for-HBO movie; it doesn't feel like television at all, down to its open ending. (Gregg Rickman)
Friday, April 20, 4:30 p.m., PFA; Friday, April 27, 9:30 p.m., AMC Kabuki; Saturday, April 28, 3:45 p.m., AMC Kabuki

The Storm
The Storm
Stranger Inside
Stranger Inside

Details

April 19 to May 3

For festival information call 931-FILM or visit www.sffs.org

For tickets, call (510) 601-8932

AMC Kabuki 8 Theater (1881 Post at Fillmore)

Castro Theater (429 Castro near Market)

Pacific Film Archive (2575 Bancroft at Bowditch, UC Berkeley campus)

Landmark's Park Theater (1275 El Camino Real near Valparaiso, Menlo Park)

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