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INTERNATIONAL LENS, a film series with a global perspective, provides a forum to promote conversation among Vanderbilt’s diverse students, faculty, staff, and the greater Nashville community. International Lens endeavors to transcend geographic, linguistic, ethnic, religious, and political boundaries by encouraging conversation and greater cross-cultural understanding through cinema.

The series is organized by the Department of Cinema & Media Arts in collaboration with College of Arts and Science, Dean of Students offices, and other departments, centers, and programs across the University.

There is no charge for admission.

Films are screened in Sarratt Cinema at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted. 

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Spring 2024 Schedule of Films

22nd Annual Animation Show of Shows

Thursday, January 25

Various Countries (2022) 

This film anthology comprises the work of artists from various countries in Europe, Asia, and North America, including nine female filmmakers and one restored classic. All are inventive, engaging, and thought-provoking, with their tones ranging from the whimsical to the profound; techniques from stop-motion to hand-drawn to computer-aided; and most exploring anxieties and hopes of our world and the sense of human connection in it. The program culminates with a striking restored 4K digital remaster of Frederic Back’s classic 1987 Oscar-winner, “The Man Who Planted Trees.”  88 min.

 We will be joined virtually for a special introduction of this annual series by Ron Diamond, curator and producer of the Animation Show of Shows.

Nobody’s Watching

Thursday, February 1

Presented by Benigno Trigo, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Chair in the Humanities and Professor of Spanish and Portuguese

Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, USA (2018)  Dir: Julia Solomonoff

Nico, a former star of an Argentinian soap opera, moves from Buenos Aires to New York to take a role in an indie movie. When the project stalls, he chooses to stay, believing that his talent will help him find success. Too blond to play Latino and his accent too strong to play anything else, Nico finds himself unmoored in a city which sees him as just another Hispanic immigrant, if it sees him at all. A fresh and unexpected take on the immigrant tale, the film achingly and eloquently explores the existential implications of dislocation and isolation.  English and Spanish with English Subtitles. 102 min.

This film screened in conjunction with the Spanish and Portuguese Film Festival at Vanderbilt University.

The Picture Taker

Thursday, February 8

USA (2022)  Dir: Phil Bertelsen

Photographer Ernest Withers’ nearly 2 million images were a treasured record of Black history that came to illustrate America’s civil rights stories. But Withers’ lesser-known work has complicated his legacy – decades of secret FBI service uncovered after his death. He had been a paid FBI informant who provided photos and information about activists who had welcomed him into their inner circle. Was he a friend of the civil rights community, or an enemy – or both? This film explores Withers’ motives and raises questions about community, power, and patriotism in times of great social upheaval, and the lens through which we judge history.  English. 80 min.

Past Lives

Thursday, February 15

USA, South Korea (2023)  Dir: Celine Song

Nora and Hae Sung, two deeply connected childhood friends, are separated from each other when Nora’s family emigrates from South Korea. The two reconnect briefly online twelve years later, but then finally two decades later, they are reunited in New York after Hae Sung visits for a for one fateful week. The film forces us to confront notions of destiny, love, and the choices that make a life, in this heartrending modern romance. English, Korean. 105 min.

Mali Blues

Thursday, February 22

Mali, Germany (2017)  Dir: Lutz Gregor

The West African country of Mali is a birthplace of the blues, a musical tradition later carried by the transatlantic slave trade to America’s cotton fields. Yet today, as fundamentalist Islam and sharia law become more widespread, dance and secular music are prohibited, musical instruments are destroyed, and musicians are forced to flee their homeland. This vibrant documentary follows four artists: a rising pop star, a celebrated ngoni player and traditional griot, a young street rapper, and a Tuareg band leader and guitar virtuoso. Each combines rich musical traditions with contemporary influences, using their music to stand up to extremism and inspire tolerance and peace.  French with English subtitles. 93 min.


Thursday, February 29

Presented by Anna Castillo, Assistant Professor of Spanish

Argentina (2020)  Dir: Darío Doria

Vicenta discovers that her teenage daughter, Laura, who is mentally and physically disabled, had been raped by her uncle and is now pregnant. The law is clear: Laura can have an abortion, but the system puts all kinds of obstacles in her way to prevent her from exercising this right. Through small clay figurines and live-action news clips, this documentary narrates the real human rights story of Vicenta, a poor, illiterate, working-class woman who starts a war against the Argentine State to achieve what she considers fair: the legal termination of her daughter’s pregnancy.  Spanish with English subtitles. 70 min.

This film screened as a collaboration between Cinema Ritrovato on Tour and iLens, along with the Vanderbilt Center for Languages, Dept. of French & Italian, and CLACX

L’Inferno (Dante’s Inferno)

Friday, March 1

Presented by Anna Marra, Senior Lecturer in the Department of French and Italian

Italy (1911)  Dir: Francesco Bertolini, Adolfo Padovan, Giuseppe de Liguoro

In partnership with the Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago and Cinema Ritrovato on Tour, is this Cine-Concert film featuring the groundbreaking 1911 Italian silent film L’Inferno, accompanied live by Stefano Maccagno (piano) and Furio Di Castri (double bass) on the mesmerizing original musical score composed by Maestro Maccagno. L’Inferno, loosely adapted from the first canticle of Dante’s Divine Comedy, was the first full-length Italian feature film ever produced. The film’s depictions of Hell closely followed those in the engravings of Gustave Doré, which were familiar to international audiences and employed groundbreaking special effects for its time.  Silent with live musical accompaniment.  66 min.

This film screened as a collaboration between Cinema Ritrovato on Tour, Blair School of Music, Max Kade Center, Dept. of French & Italian, Vanderbilt Center for Languages, Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago.

Knits Island

Thursday, March 21 

Presented by: Carmine Grimaldi, Assistant Professor of Cinema & Media Arts

France (2023)  Dirs: Ekiem Barbier, Guilhem Causse, Quentin L’Helgouac’h   

Somewhere on the internet is a land where communities pretend to live out a survivalist fiction. Filmmakers spent 963 hours inside this video “game,” creating a fascinating film shot entirely in this virtual environment, blurring the boundary between virtual and real through their encounters with these communities. While some participants see it as an escape from their daily lives, others live out their most disturbing fantasies as they make unsettling preparations for an apocalyptic future. The filmmakers’ dangerous mission becomes an investigation into the virtualization of our lives, and the limits and possibilities of the metaverse. English and French. 95 min.

This film screened in association with the Film Theory and Visual Culture Seminar at the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities.

Return to Seoul

Thursday, March 28

France/Germany/Belgium/South Korea (2022)  Dir: Davy Chou              

After traveling to visit friends, Freddie ends up in South Korea for the first time since she was born, after being adopted and raised in France. Upon impulsively deciding to reconnect with her origins, Freddie begins to track down her biological parents and suddenly finds herself embarking on an unexpected journey in a country she knows very little about, taking her life in unexpected directions. A remarkably moving film that creates a probing portrait of a character whose feelings of unbelonging have kept her at an emotional distance from nearly everyone in her life.  French, Korean, English.  119 min.

And the Band Played On

Thursday, April 4

Presented by Jessica Castilho, MD, MPH; Assistant Professor and Physician-Scientist in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt Univ Medical Center

USA (1993)  Dir: Roger Spottiswoode

A deadly epidemic is spreading around the world, but when it first began no one paid attention: not the government, not health officials, not the press, not even the people who were dying. By the time we woke up to the danger, it was too late… This film is an account of the early days of the AIDS crisis, focusing on the lives of people who suffered from the illness in the early and mid ’80s, and separate research groups who were aggressively competing to isolate the disease, including a young doctor whose work is thwarted at every turn by fear, official indifference, and bitter medical rivalries.  English. 141 min.

This film screened in association with National Public Health Week at Vanderbilt University.

32 Sounds

Thursday, April 11

USA (2022)  Dir: Sam Green             

This immersive documentary and profound sensory experience explores the elemental phenomenon of sound by means of a sonic tour through the history of sound science and experimental music. In weaving together 32 specific sound explorations, an interactive listening presentation challenges our understanding of the phenomenon of sound, demonstrating the ways in which sound shapes our perception, our memories, and our conception of the surrounding world.  English. 95 min.

Films are 7:30pm in Sarratt Cinema unless otherwise noted

There are no longer masking requirements inside of Vanderbilt campus buildings or at Sarratt Cinema. In order to keep our community safe, please do not attend any of our screenings if you are feeling unwell.