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For Oscars Season, 5 Stories of Cinema from around the World

By Alexandra Vail

Counting down the minutes to Oscars night? No doubt you've watched all nine Best Picture nominees. If it's the Academy Awards you've got on your mind and yet you just know the movie is never as good as the book, you've come to the right place: we've taken a spin through our archives and are proud to present five stories of cinema from around the globe. From a movie-theater quarrel in Catalonia to a meditation on Iranian film, these stories will keep you entertained in the run-up to the red carpet.

“The couple in the movie was really in love. I can see we're not in love like that.”

In Mercè Rodoreda’s “Afternoon at the Cinema,” translated from Catalan by Martha Tennent, a trip to the movies causes a woman to reconsider her engagement.

Photo by Jeremy Yap on Unsplash.

“Each time an Iranian film wins an award, each time a reviewer calls Iranian cinema ‘vibrant’ and Iranian society ‘intellectually vital,’ one feels vindicated. ‘We are not barbarians!’ is that cry across continents that forces others to listen and take note.”

In “Iran as Cinema,” translated from Farsi by Zara Houshmand, Salar Abdoh walks us through the evolution of Iranian cinema and its impact on the country's residents and expatriates alike.

“Always the same / old films / soundtrack crackling like handfuls of rice / thrown at the newlyweds' white car.”

Luljeta Lleshanaku remembers old days at the movies in her poem “The Cinema,” translated from Albanian by Shpresa Qatipi and Henry Israeli.

Photo by Peter Lewicki on Unsplash.

“What’s in my mind is the lovely lilt of lively voices, the noises, the thrilling music, what I heard when I set foot in the theater, what my ears anticipated that my eyes would see.”

Domenico Starnone tells a tale of a childhood fascination with stories and film in “Making a Scene,” translated from Italian by Elizabeth Harris.

“We see life as Spider experiences it, through the filter of the miserable mental framework of this young man with the strange suitcase and little notebook of microscopic handwriting.”

Enrique Vila-Matas's narrator examines his own identity through the lens of David Cronenberg’s film Spider in “East End,” translated from Spanish by Samantha Schnee.

Published Feb 7, 2020   Copyright 2020 Alexandra Vail

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