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Diane Carson

Cinema St. Louis' Q-Fest 2015 runs Sunday, April 19 through Thursday, April 23 with 12 different programs. They include five feature-length documentaries, six narrative fictional features, a shorts program of seven films, plus five other short films that precede feature screenings. Impressively diverse, high quality selections represent the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Venezuela, The Dominican Republic, and Israel.

Kumiko's Office Lady life consists of taking orders from an insufferable boss--get me tea, steep it longer, take these suits to the cleaners. Fancying herself a Spanish conquistador, following a map to a cave near a beach, Kumiko finds a damaged VHS tape of "Fargo," watches Carl (Steve Buscemi) bury ransom money in the snow, and becomes entranced.

The title of writer/director Noah Baumbach's latest film, "While We're Young," is as much a plaintive assertion as a description of Josh and Cornelia's status. In their mid-forties, on the cusp of having to reconcile themselves to their personal and professional choices, Josh and Cornelia encounter a nagging challenge to any complacency through Jamie and Darby, hip twenty-somethings.

Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó's "White God" focuses on 13-year old Lili, left with her estranged father who soon forces her to abandon her beloved dog Hagen on a highway. The film then splits its attention between Lili's struggles as a distraught, wounded teenager and Hagen's struggle to stay alive in a world that exploits animals, a dispossessed species, Kornél says.

For film fans who admire good acting, and I do, the combination of Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Christopher Plummer, Jennifer Garner and Bobby Carnavale together raises my hopes. In "Danny Collins," they do not disappoint; in fact, they prove that such talent can not only convey the humanity embedded in melodrama, but also tease out universal emotions.

The very name Timbuktu often conjures exotic, even mysterious associations, but the city has also enjoyed a reputation for tolerance of Christians, Muslims, and other faiths. Director Abderrahmane Sissako takes that association and turns it upside down. In his film "Timbuktu," he immerses the viewer in a city and its environs ruled by conservative, brutal jihadists

It's no surprise that a serious film about a contested divorce is fraught with emotional turmoil. Still "Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem" presents an unexpectedly gripping, impossible situation. Viviane, the title character, endures a painful predicament in her bid for divorce because, in Israel, the husband must fully consent before Orthodox rabbis can legalize a marriage's dissolution.

The 10th Annual African Film Festival, March 27 to 29, has a wide-ranging, impressive lineup of short and feature films representing Kenya, Cameroon, Tunisia, Burkina Faso and South Africa. From the sobering, Academy Award nominated "Timbuktu" to the humorous shorts "Beleh" and "Soko Sonko," the festival showcase the diversity of cinematic styles and subject matter, providing admirable depth and breadth.

The Catholic versus Protestant conflict in Northern Ireland, the "Troubles" as they're called, has provided the occasion for several powerful films, including "Michael Collins" and "In the Name of the Father." Director Yann Demange's feature debut, "'71," joins that esteemed group. With nonstop tension, it probes the Belfast community of IRA members, fighting the Brits as well as among themselves.

The Seventh Annual Robert Classic French Film Festival showcases nine films, eight features and one short, over three weekends in March. Each of the historically important works from the 1930s through the early 1990s has been recently restored, meaning these masterpieces will be seen as their creators intended, occasionally for the first time in decades.

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