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FLICC's Foreign Film Festival kicks off Friday

From Fritz Lang to Alfred Hitchcock to Guillermo Del Toro, some of Hollywood's greatest directors have come to the U.S. from other countries, bringing their unique perspectives to wide audiences. Throughout the month of February, the group Film Lovers in Carroll County will introduce county residents to the next wave of international filmmakers with its annual Foreign Film Festival.

The festival, held Fridays in February at the Carroll Arts Center, features work from Russia, Mexico, the Netherlands and Israel. Frank Baylor, director of FLICC, said the festival is designed as a way to bring films to Carroll audiences that they might not have a chance to see in theaters.

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"I don't have anything against action films or Hollywood films, but these are interesting films that you never have a chance to see on the big screen," Baylor said. "The film experience of seeing a movie on the big screen is just nothing like sitting in a living room watching a TV, no matter how big your TV is or how good your surround sound is."

The festival kicks off with "Mongol," a look at the early life of Genghis Khan directed by Sergei Bodrov. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2008.

Richard Soisson, member of FLICC, said he fell in love with the film immediately after viewing it for the first time.

"The cinematography is really wonderful, which is one of the reasons I wanted to see it on the big screen," Soisson said. "You could get a DVD and watch it at home, but you would really miss out on the great visuals."

The future films in the series include "Instructions Not Included," a Mexican film about a man raising a daughter alone until her birth mother returns; "Wadjda," a Dutch film about a Koran recitation competition and "The Band's Visit," an Israeli film that follows an Egyptian band that gets lost on its way to an Israeli concert.

Mambers of the Carroll County Arts Council who have volunteered at FLICC events are eligible to vote on films to be screened, and it takes at least two recommendations by members to get a film on the line-up, Soisson said.

"When FLICC talks about these movies, there's a lot of opinions obviously. We want to get a cross-section of foreign films," he said. "We think these four are a good cross-section of what foreign films are all about and I think audiences will enjoy all of them."

FLICC's goal has been to encourage people to see movies that might be outside their standard interests.

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"One of our goals has been to get more people interested in foreign films," Soisson said. "It can take some doing. A lot of times they might feel a little slow and the plot can take longer, but it's usually worth it in the end."

People can be hesitant to watch a movie with subtitles, he said, but the more often people have the opportunity to watch a subtitled film, the more adept they become at reading and watching at the same time. Lately Hollywood films have been including more subtitles into some blockbusters, such as "Avatar," "Fast Five" and "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," all featuring extended scenes with subtitles.

Baylor said the festival has been very successful in the past, attracting a core base of film lovers to nearly every show.

"The hard part to being successful in this kind of venture is not to get people in our doors but to leave their doors," Baylor said. "I think our audience participation demonstrates we're doing a pretty good job."

For a film lover, Baylor said going to a movie theater can compared to going to church.

"My favorite seat is in the back, and there are times during a movie where it just catches me that all of a sudden, every person is transfixed on the screen, and you can hear a pin drop," Baylor said. "When you can stop the movie and get up and make popcorn, it breaks the whole train of film."

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Reach staff writer Jacob deNobel at 410-857-7890 or jacob.denobel@carrollcountytimes.com.

If you go

What: Film Lovers in Carroll County Foreign Film Festival

When: 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Fridays in February. "Mongol," Feb. 6; "Instructions Not Included," Feb. 13; "Wadjda," Feb. 20; "The Band's Visit," Feb. 27.

Where: Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main St., Westminster

Cost: $6 adults, $5 Carroll County Arts Center members, students and seniors. Members of the McDaniel community are admitted free with ID.

For more information: Visit carrollartscenter.org or call 410-848-7272.

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