The Middlebury Community Classic Film Club
Announces our Fall 2021 Series: Neighbors
Four Outstanding Films with Discussions September 23, October 21, November 18, and December 9.
Steve Gross, Club Convener
Our New Series for Fall 2021: Neighbors
Maybe it’s because we live in Middlebury, but the first thing that hit me when I thought about this film series was Robert Frost’s poem Mending Wall. Frost’s neighbor insists, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’ Yet this seems hardly self evident to Frost who asks, ‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it where there are cows? But here there are no cows.’ He wonders whom he is walling out and whom he is walling in. He further asks who he might be offending by building a wall in the first place.
Speaking about walls in our current climate, it’s natural to reflect on the walls coming up here and around the world between neighboring countries and regions. The same questions arise. Who are we walling out? Who are we offending? What purpose are these walls supposed to serve? What fears are they supposed to assuage? Far beyond the physical walls come the barriers we place between ourselves and our real and virtual neighbors. Yet on the other side of the equation is the chance to move beyond fear and mistrust into calming and nurturing relationships with our neighbors. That is the hope at any rate. As Frost taught us, ‘Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.’
Each of the four films selected for this series is meant to help us examine a facet of this question: What makes a good neighbor in the deeper sense and how do we get there? One film depicts an aging and lonely man who needs a caring neighbor to bring him out of an angry depression. Another takes us back to a small New England town at the dawn of the 20th century and the ties that kept those neighbors connected in life and death. The third transpires over two decades amidst the turbulent world of Afghanistan where two neighboring boys find friendship, tragedy and redemption. The fourth film pits two culinary traditions against one another in a heated competition until authentic neighborliness replaces intolerant proximity.
These films take place around the world in Sweden, the US, Afghanistan, and France. Their meaning is just as universal. We hope that this series will help us all reflect a little deeper on our own sense of being good neighbors and help us find ways to mend fences rather than building ever-higher walls.
Here are the four films in our spring 2021 series, Neighbors:
A Man Called Ove (2015) Discussion September 23. 3:00-4:30 PM in person. Location: Lion’s Club Picnic Pavilion, Middlebury Rec Park (close to the tennis courts) .
Ove is a 60 year old man living in despair. He mourns the passing of his wife and seems bitterly alienated from the neighborhood he once helped to lead. All that changes with the intervention of a caring new neighbor and her family. This comedy-drama from Sweden is based on the 2012 novel and stars Rolf Lassgård, Bahar Pars, Filip Berg, and Ida Engvoll.
Our Town (2003) Discussion October 21. Zoom or Ilsley Library (Depending on COVID conditions) 6:30-7:30 PM
It’s been said that 365 days a year, Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town is being performed somewhere in the United States. Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire is far from perfect, still it’s a place that we seem to long for. Maybe it’s the seeming simplicity of earlier days. The story of these neighbors is set in the early 20th century, but its message of community is timeless. In this film version, Paul Newman narrates as the Stage Manager. Co-stars include Jayne Atkinson, Jane Curtin, and Frank Converse.
Kite Runner (2007) Discussion November 18. Zoom or Ilsley Library (Depending on COVID conditions) 6:30-7:30 PM
Set in Kabul, this is the story of two friends living in a turbulent neighborhood and world. Amir is the son of a well-off family and Hassan is the child of a servant. All goes well until one day tragedy strikes. Hassan is attacked by neighborhood boys. The damage is doubled because Amir does not come to his aid. The Soviets invade Afghanistan and are replaced by the Taliban. Amir and his family emigrate to America where they prosper. Yet the burden of that old wrong persists. Amir must return to Afghanistan. This film, based on the 2003 novel stars Khalid Abdalla, Zekeria Ebrahimi, Ahmed Khan Mahmoodzada, and Homayoun Ershadi.
The Hundred Foot Journey (2014) Discussion December . Zoom or Ilsley Library (Depending on COVID conditions) 6:30-7:30 PM
When two rich culinary cultures meet face-to-face what will happen? This is the story of one family’s Indian restaurant opening in the shadow of a famed restaurant in a small French town. These neighbors start out as angry rivals, yet time and circumstance bend the curve of that relationship into one of tolerance and finally acceptance. This story, from the 2010 novel, stars Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal, and Charlotte Le Bon.
A word about logistics for this series:
Earlier this summer, before the delta variant, we had hoped to resume our in-person movie watching. We believe that movies are best viewed on a large screen with the company of fellow moviegoers. We looked forward to sharing cookies, coffee, popcorn and other treats with one another and frankly just having the chance to catch up with other Middlebury Community Classic Film Club friends, new and old. All of this seemed reasonably possible in June. But we have learned to be flexible during the pandemic so, with the variant came some reflection. As attractive as it is to be together on the one hand, there are now new risks, even for those who are vaccinated on the other hand.
But rather than simply switching back to a completely virtual system, we are going to try something of a hybrid model for the first film. Here’s how it will work: As before we will watch the films whenever we like prior to the discussion dates. Then for the first film, A Man Called Ove, we will meet in person at the Lion’s Club Picnic Pavilion, Middlebury Rec Park (close to the tennis courts). This will allow us to see one another out of doors where we can space ourselves and still have our group together. For the rest of the series, we will hope that safety conditions improve so that we can meet at the Ilsley. If not, we will meet virtually over zoom. We will make a determination several days ahead of time and get the word out to all of you.
Discussion Dates and times will be as follows:
A Man Called Ove (2015) Discussion September 23 3:00-4:30 PM in person. Location Lion’s Club Picnic Pavilion, Middlebury Rec Park (close to the tennis courts) .
Our Town (2003) Discussion October 21 Zoom or Ilsley Library 6:30-7:30 PM
Kite Runner (2007) Discussion November 18 Zoom or Ilsley Library 6:30-7:30 PM
The Hundred Foot Journey (2014) Discussion December 9 Zoom or Ilsley Library 6:30-7:30 PM
Just one more thing:
The first three films are available on Kanopy and you can access them as you normally would. However, The Hundred Foot Journey is not in Kanopy’s collection. The library has kindly offered to purchase a couple of DVD copies for our group and these will be available long before our December discussion date. For those wanting to stream the film, it is available to rent on Amazon prime and likely similar services.
Thanks to all of you!
With all of the twists and turns that we have gone through over the past year and a half, we want to thank each of you for being a part of our Middlebury Community Classic Film Club. We are really looking forward to kicking off the fall season with this new series, Neighbors and hope to see you in person on September 23rd!