The Showroom Cinema has teamed up with Now Then Magazine to bring you Eye Openers. They’ve handpicked a selection of films which will stimulate and instigate debate. There’s an impressive selection comprising some of the best documentaries from last year’s Doc/Fest, great films from East Asia and releases you may have missed from 2013. Entry is just £5 when you show the Now Then App on your phone. Some of the highlights include:

Night Will Fall

In the spring of 1945, Allied forces liberating Europe found evidence of atrocities which have tortured the world’s conscience ever since. As the troops entered the German concentration camps, they made a systematic film record of what they saw. Work began on a documentary to show the horror they witnessed to the German population.
Sidney Bernstein, chief of the Psychological Warfare Film Section of SHAEF commissioned the film. Those involved in the production included Alfred Hitchcock and renowned editor Stewart McAllister; they produced perhaps the most remarkable testament of the 20th Century. “No German can say he didn’t know” insists the commentary, co-written by Richard Crossman, the future cabinet minister.

These sentiments were judged by the British Government to be unsuitable to the bridge-building mood towards Germany. The film was never shown.

40 years later an American researcher found a rusty can marked “F3080” in the vaults of London’s Imperial War Museum. It was in very poor condition and the last roll was missing, but in 1985 a scratched and blurry copy was shown on PBS in America. Now after three years of work by Dr Toby Haggith of the IWM, the entire film has been fully restored and piece by piece, frame by frame, the lost last reel has been put together from the original shot lists. For the first time in history the completed “F3080” is ready to be shown.

Wood Job!

Having flunked his university entrance exams, 18-year-old Yuki Hirano (Shota Sometani) abruptly decides to leave the city behind to take part in a one-year forestry programme, swayed not by a passion for all things lumberjack-related but simply the attractive girl on the programme’s brochure (Masami Nagasawa). Knowing little of what lies ahead, Yuki winds up in rural Kamusari, a small village deep in the mountains. Far, far away from convenience stores or mobile phone reception and facing an entirely new way of life, he begins to find out that the job is a lot tougher than he imagined.

Life Itself

Life Itself is the first ever feature-length documentary on the life of Roger Ebert, covers the prolific critic’s life journey from his days at the University of Illinois, to his move to Chicago where he became the first film critic ever to win the Pulitzer Prize, then to television where he and Gene Siskel became iconic stars, and finally to what Roger referred to as “his third act”; how he overcame disabilities wrought by cancer to became a major voice on the internet and through social media.

The Case Against 8

A behind-the-scenes look inside the historic case to overturn California’s ban on same-sex marriage. The high-profile trial first makes headlines with the unlikely pairing of Ted Olson and David Boies, political foes who last faced off as opposing attorneys in Bush v. Gore. The film also follows the plaintiffs, two gay couples who find their families at the center of the same-sex marriage controversy. Five years in the making, this is the story of how they took the first federal marriage equality lawsuit to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Circle

Zürich in the mid-1950s: The young shy teacher Ernst Ostertag becomes a member of the gay organization Der Kreis. There he gets to know the transvestite star Röbi Rapp – and immediately falls head over heels in love with him. Röbi and Ernst live through the high point and the eventual decline of the organisation, which, in the whole Europe, is seen as the symbol of gay emancipation. Ernst finds himself torn between his “bourgeois” existence and his commitment to homosexuality, for Röbi it is about his first serious love relationship. A relationship which will last a lifetime.

From the present, the film looks back to the time when the “Mother” of all European homosexual organisations had its high point until it fell apart. While the repression against homosexuals became increasingly more intense in Zurich, two young and very different men fight for their love and – together with their friends – for gay rights.

Carmen From Kawachi

Swapping country life for the big city, young Tsuyuko (aka Carmen) escapes her miserable life at home to travel to Osaka, becoming a hugely popular nightclub singer with men falling at her feet. This experimental, new wave film by iconoclastic director Seijun Suzuki (Tokyo Drifter, Branded to Kill) is the third and final part of his women-centered ‘Flesh Trilogy’ (along with Gate of Flesh and Story of a Prostitute) starring Yumiko Nogawa as the titular Carmen, Suzuki’s favourite collaborator.

Scattered Clouds

Newlywed Yumiko (Yoko Tsukasa) is suddenly widowed when her husband is killed in a traffic accident. The driver responsible is a company worker called Shiro (Yuzo Kayama) who though found innocent is so distraught that he begs for her forgiveness and offers financial aid. Despite her conflicting feelings, Yumiko finds herself in the middle of a dramatic, doomed and unexpected love story when she inadvertently begins falling deeply in love with Shiro.

This classic film, shot in beautiful colour Tohoscope, is tied together by a series of meetings and partings in which the characters are bound by a sense of guilt and duty to each other. With a distinguished career of 89 films to his name, this melodrama was to be Mikio Naruse’s last cinematic offering. An embodiment of his masterful style, this film that tells a story of desire and escape, remains timeless.
Nobody To Watch Over Me

Focusing on the accused’s sister, bright-eyed high school student Saori (Mirai Shida), this deep thriller follows the suffering of the family of a teenage murderer and the struggles of Detective Katsuura (Koichi Sato) ordered to protect them from the unwanted media onslaught and public scrutiny. In a deadly game of hide and seek, malicious netizens unsatisfied with the young suspect in custody expose the family’s personal information, as well as their every move.

A Hard Day

Taut, satirical and slick, Seong-Hun Kim’s South Korean police thriller sees homicide detective Ko Gun-Su run over a man in a dark rural street and dumps the body in a coffin alongside his mother. A few days later, a witness steps forward – a detective named Park Chang-min (Cho Jin-woong) and for a reason unclear to Gun-su, Park wants the body. Without another choice to depend on, Gun-su digs his mother’s grave and retrieves the body, only to find gunshot wounds on it. As Park’s threats become more vicious and hits closer to home, Gun-su decides to face Park head-on once and for all.

The Overnighters

In the tiny town of Williston, North Dakota, tens of thousands of unemployed hopefuls show up with dreams of honest work and a big paycheck under the lure of the oil boom. However, busloads of newcomers chasing a broken American Dream step into the stark reality of slim work prospects and nowhere to sleep. The town lacks the infrastructure to house the overflow of migrants, even for those who do find gainful employment.

Over at Concordia Lutheran Church, Pastor Jay Reinke is driven to deliver the migrants some dignity. Night after night, he converts his church into a makeshift dorm and counseling center, opening the church’s doors to allow the “Overnighters” (as he calls them) to stay for a night, a week or longer. They sleep on the floor, in the pews and in their cars in the church parking lot. Many who take shelter with Reinke are living on society’s fringes and with checkered pasts, and their presence starts affecting the dynamics of the small community. The congregants begin slinging criticism and the City Council threatens to shut the controversial Overnighters program down, forcing the pastor to make a decision which leads to profound consequences that he never imagined.

Playtime

Monsieur Hulot has a job interview – but before he can worry about impressing his future employer, he’ll need to find them first. Landing in a reimagined modernist Paris, he has to navigate endless corridors, slippery floors, sinking chairs, sliding doors and misleading reflections in a high-tech corporate labyrinth where organised chaos reigns and Hulot sticks out as a misaligned cog in the machinery of modern life.

For further details, visit the Showroom website.