Chiaroscuro Int’l Film Series returns for 11th season on Jan. 15

By Kerri VanderHoff


The Chiaroscuro International Film Series has announced its 11th season with five celebrated films from around the world. The theme for this year’s award-winning roster of films is “Journeys.”


Using a variety of narrative, cinematic and thematic devices, each film explores the idea of the journey — external, internal, metaphorical or otherwise. The programs begin at 2 pm on scheduled Sundays from January through March at UICA, 2 West Fulton in Grand Rapids and include a short film, the feature presentation, a panel discussion and a reception with refreshments. All programs are free and open to the public.


The 2017 films and their screening dates include:


Jan. 15 — Mustang (Ergüven, 2015) Turkey/France

The film is set in a remote Turkish village and depicts the lives of five young orphaned sisters and challenges they face growing up as girls in a conservative society.

Jan. 29 — Güeros (Palacios, 2014) Mexico

Three restless teens search for folk-rocker Epigmenio Cruz on the streets of Mexico City during the student strikes of 1999.


Feb. 12 — Of Horses and Men (Erlingsson, 2013) Iceland

Vignettes of life in a rural Icelandic community show the intertwined lives of humans and equines.


Feb. 26 — Timbuktu (Sissako, 2014) Mali/France/Mauritania

A Malian cattleman and his family face the wrath of Islamic fundamentalists after a tragic accident.


March 12 — About Elly (Farhadi, 2009) Iran

A young teacher disappears before being introduced to a potential suitor in northern Iran.


The Chiaroscuro film selection committee considers various criteria during the nominating process of the international films including variety in country of origin, length, critical acclaim, availability and status as a West Michigan premiere viewing.


The selection process for the local student short films is also done by committee. Each submitted film is viewed and finalists are chosen through discussion and consensus. Finalists also have the chance to win best short film of the series, with a cash prize of $250. More information on how to submit a film for consideration, as well as the award information for best short film, can be found on the website.


The panel discussion is organized with consideration of each film selected. Two experts are invited to sit on the panel, one is knowledgeable in film studies and the other deeply connected to the culture represented in the film. Feedback and questions from audience members is greatly encouraged.

The reception that follows the film viewing and panel discussion completes the afternoon immersion in world culture by offering complimentary food and drink and a comfortable space to gather outside the theater. This allows participants a space to mingle with others and build upon the ideas presented earlier in the program, encouraging further dialogue and cultural exchange in a friendly, casual setting.


Everyone is welcome to enjoy Sunday afternoons of film, food, and cultural exchange. The series offers an engaging way to experience the world without leaving town. All films are shown in the state-of-the-art theater at the UICA in downtown Grand Rapids, 2 West Fulton. Parking garage is available, entrance is off Commerce Street. Follow on Facebook and check the website often for updated announcements on panelists and other information.


About the Chiaroscuro International Film SeriesThe Chiaroscuro International Film Series is a non-profit cultural and educational organization fostering a deeper understanding of world cultures through the medium of film. Chiaroscuro enriches the West Michigan cultural landscape by presenting films in a setting that encourages discussion and enjoyment through a shared social experience.


Serving the greater Grand Rapids community, Chiaroscuro provides a forum for award-winning cinema and support of local emerging filmmakers.