Who doesn’t love a good blockbuster? Big budgets, thrilling action, and entertaining set pieces will continue to drive audiences to the movies, and for good reason. However, cinema art can also provide us with great moments that capture our curiosity and spark our imagination. In fact, some of the most critically acclaimed movies of all-time, and many Academy Award® winners, could be labeled as “cinema art.”
So, what is “cinema art?” Frequently produced and distributed outside the major studio system on a relatively small budget, cinema art movies typically handle serious matters in an artistic and often experimental way, geared towards more of a niche market rather than for a mass audience. In an artform where social realism takes precedence, on-location filming is favored over studio sets and sometimes amateur actors are even used.
Stretching back to the origin of movies, the genre has provided some of the most recognizable and talented filmmakers in cinema who have put their uncompromising visions onto the screen with a unique flare and style that is all their own. Foreign language movies are also included in this genre, recognizable by many of the same features with the addition of subtitles, although rarely referred to as “cinema art” in their respective countries. Instead, they are more commonly known as “auteur” or “national” cinema, the former originally coined in France to distinguish filmmakers of the French New Wave (a movement and form of European cinema art from the 1950s and 1960s).
Below are a few cinema art movies to keep an eye on this week as they debut in select Regal theatres nationwide:
HEER MAAN JA
Geo Films / IRK Films / Distribution Club
Genre: Action, Comedy, Family
Runtime: 2hr 26min
Starring: Hareem Farooq, Ali Rehman Khan, Faizan Sheikh, Aamina Sheikh, Ali Kazmi
Directed By: Azfar Jafri
Written By: Owais Korai Baloch
Heer and Kabeer are extremely enthusiastic about life and their future together until a tragedy and misunderstanding cause them to part ways. They reunite years later after Kabeer realizes the errors in his judgement and seeks forgiveness from Heer. The ensuing encounter leads to a roller coaster ride of a journey that sees the two get in and out of trouble as past conflicts and new revelations arise.
Pakistani director Azfar Jafri makes his fifth feature and second in 2019 following the release of Sherdil. Heer Maan Ja stars Hareem Farooq as Heer, marking the third time she has worked with director Jafri following her feature debut in the 2013 horror-thriller Siyaah.. and the 2018 action-comedy Parchi. Farooq is reunited with her Parchi co-star Ali Rehman Khan, who also records his third collaboration with the director.
TEL AVIV ON FIRE
Cohen Media Group
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Runtime: 1hr 40min
Starring: Kais Nashif, Yaniv Biton, Maisa Abd Elhadi, Lubna Azabal
Directed By: Sameh Zoabi
Written By: Dan Kleinman, Sameh Zoabi
Set in the lead-up to the Six-Day War, a Palestinian writer on a popular soap opera becomes caught in the middle of a dispute on the direction of the show between an Israeli security officer and the show’s financial backers.
Director/co-writer Sameh Zoabi returns to the comedy genre in which he made his 2010 feature debut, Man Without a Cell Phone. Zoabi enlists a number of experienced actors for his latest feature, Tel Aviv on Fire, including Kais Nashif and Lubna Azabal, who both appeared in the Ridley Scott-directed Body of Lies (2008). Azabal has also worked with other acclaimed writers and directors like Denis Villeneuve in Incendies (2010) and Ralph Fiennes and John Logan in Coriolanus (2011).
THE BATTLE: ROAR TO VICTORY
Genre: Action, Drama, History
Runtime: 2hr 15min
Starring: Hae-jin Yoo, Jun-yeol Ryu, Woo-jin Jo, Kazuki Kitamura
Directed By: Shin-yeon Won
Over a four-day period, a master swordsman and an expert marksman fight with the Korean independence militias in a fierce battle against the imperialist Japanese forces in Manchuria, China.
The Battle: Roar to Victory marks South Korean filmmaker Shin-yeon Won’s sixth outing as director. He made his feature debut in 2005 with Scary Hair, a movie he wrote and directed. Shin-yeon Won’s other credits include Seven Days (2007) and The Suspect (2013).
THE FIGHTING PREACHER
Remember Films / Purdie Distribution
Genre: Comedy, Drama, History
Runtime: 1hr 41min
Starring: David McConnell, Charley Boon, Kenna Dawn
Directed By: T.C. Christensen
Written By: T.C. Christensen
The Fighting Preacher tells the true story of Willard Bean, the 1905 World Middleweight Boxing Champion who steps away from the limelight to become a preacher in upstate New York.
T.C. Christensen serves as the writer, director, and cinematographer of The Fighting Preacher, the latest in the long line of faith-based movies he’s helped bring to the silver screen. He was first introduced to the story of Willard and Rebecca Bean through the book, A Lion and a Lamb, by Rand Packer. Originally planning to stay in New York for only five years, the Beans ended up staying for twenty-five, marking one of the longest missions in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “It’s entertaining and it has a lot of good messages,” says Christensen of his latest movie. “There is great conflict, which is the essence of drama. This film has it.”
TWICE THE DREAM
S & S Productions / Inspired Family Entertainment
Runtime: 1hr 41min
Starring: Monica Moore Smith, Savannah Ostler, Mason D. Davis
Directed By: Savannah Ostler
Written By: Savannah Ostler
After years of being forced to live their mother’s aspirations, Amber and Sam Bradshaw are offered an opportunity to chase their own dream of becoming musicians. When a family tragedy strikes along the way, they discover that it is their dreams that hold the family together.
Writer/director Savannah Ostler makes her feature debut in Twice the Dream, a movie she also stars in as Amber Bradshaw. Ostler’s previous on-screen credits include a variety of movies and television series including Blood Fare (2012) and Amarog (2018). Monica Moore Smith stars alongside Ostler as her sister, Sam Bradshaw. Smith has previously appeared in the musical Saturday’s Warrior (2016) and Tim Timmerman, Hope of America (2017), among others.