OVID’s May Lineup: Russian patriots, Iranian cinema x 2, Souleymane Cissé, True Crime x 3, The Scandalous Life of Henry Miller, “educational sex” & more!

This month OVID presents 21 new films and 13 exclusives.

We begin the month with Town of Glory, which takes us to the provincial town of Yelnya in Russia, where you’re never too young to be recruited in the military under President Putin’s grand regime. Then, a double-bill of Iranian films starring Leila Hatami: Alireza Raisian’s Deserted Station, based on a story by Abbas Kiarostami, plus critically acclaimed Leila, by the late renowned filmmaker and early co-founder of the Iranian New Wave movement Dariush Mehrjui, about a married couple unable to conceive, praised by the Los Angeles Times as “eloquent, unflinching and devastating.”

True crime doc exclusives include Roubaix, Police Department, Ordinary Business, about a murder case in a northern French town, which is anything but ordinary, and Ok, Joe! which uncovers the stories of Black American GIs who faced rape charges in occupied France after WWII.

Also on the docket are several bio-docs, including Henry Miller: Prophet of Desire, an intimate portrait of the provocative writer who, according to author and friend Erica Jong, “cultivated a fearless style,” and a celebration of one of Africa’s most esteemed filmmakers, A Daughter’s Tribute to Her Father: Souleymane Cissé.

We take you to Spain in 1973 for Pablo Berger’s riotous romp about the making of “educational” sex films, Torremolinos ’73. Then we’ll take you to Romania with Corneliu Porumboiu’s “dryly funny” and “enigmatic” When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism (The New York Times).

Full details on May’s complete lineup are below!

(Image from Erika Etangsalé's In the Billowing Night, premiering on OVID on May 21st)
Town of Glory (2020)

Wednesday, May 1

Town of Glory
Directed by Dmitry Bogolyubov
Syndicado | Documentary | Russia | 2020

A heroic Soviet past and a destitute post-industrial present make the provincial town of Yelnya in Russia susceptible to the Kremlin’s aggressive anti-Western propaganda, leading to the militarization of society from kindergarten to pension age. With few exceptions, Yelnyans raise their children to become good patriots. Filmed over three years, this film introduces Western viewers to the people who admire Vladimir Putin’s mission to make Russia great again. Yelnya has remained economically marginalized ever since the Soviet Union collapsed, but people believe that President Putin is bringing back glory and power to the Russian nation. 


Thursday, May 2

The Butterfly
Directed by Philippe Muyl
With Michel Serrault, Claire Bouanich, Nade Dieu
First Run Features | Feature | France | 2002

Legendary actor Michel Serrault stars as Julien, an ornery butterfly collector. When eight-year-old Elsa and her often-absent mother move into the apartment next to his, the persistent and curious Elsa adopts a reluctant Julien as her surrogate grandpa. But when Julien leaves town for a week-long hiking expedition in the Alps to find the “Isabella,” an exotic butterfly as elusive as it is beautiful, he instead discovers an uninvited companion – Elsa!

“Intoxicating…its combination of psychological insight and emotional restraint helps it transcend sentimentality. A scrupulous, even-toned gentleness, clear-eyed intelligence and refusal to condescend.” —The New York Times

“Evokes with humor, poignancy and even suspense a sense of what is most important in life.” —Los Angeles Times

Deserted Station (2002)

Friday, May 3

Deserted Station
Directed by Alireza Raisian
With Leila Hatami, Nezam Manouchehri, Mehran Rajabi
First Run Features | Feature | Iran | 2002

In this lyrical and intimately nuanced story conceived by Abbas Kiarostami and starring Leila Hatami (from Dariush Mehrjui’s Leila), a photographer and his young wife are stranded in a remote Iranian village after their car breaks down. The only adult inhabitant leaves with the photographer to find help, while the woman takes over the duties of teaching the village children – whose parents are nowhere to be found.

“Both intensely thoughtful and wonderful to look at.” Hollywood Reporter

“Unearthly beauty… Kiarostami’s signature themes are abundant.” —Village Voice


Directed by Dariush Mehrjui
With Leila Hatami, Ali Mosaffa, Jamileh Sheikhi
First Run Features | Feature | Iran | 1999

Reza and Leila, an attractive and affluent young couple deeply in love and recently married, discover that Leila is unable to conceive. Invoking tradition, Reza’s mother convinces her daughter-in-law that Reza must, out of necessity, take a second wife to produce an heir. Hailed as “the most interesting and accomplished filmmaker the United States has never heard of” by Godfrey Cheshire in The New York Press, the late Dariush Mehrjui became more familiar to audiences with the critical and box office success of Leila, which topped the critics’ lists for best films of 1999. 

“Provocative, wise and brilliant.” —Village Voice 

“A cinematic gem! Beautifully acted.” —The New York Times


Tuesday, May 7

11 Flowers
Directed by Wang Xiaoshuai
With Jingchun Wang, Wenqing Liu, Guo Liuxing Zhong
First Run Features | Feature | China | 2011

A striking, autobiographical coming-of-age tale set in the final days of China’s Cultural Revolution. Eleven-year-old Wang Han lives with his family in a remote village in Guizhou province. Life is tough, but they make the most of what little they have. When Wang is selected to lead his school through their daily gymnastic regiment, his teacher recommends that he wear a clean, new shirt in honor of this important position – a request that forces his family to make a great sacrifice. One afternoon, soon after Wang is given the precious shirt, he encounters a desperate, wounded man on the run, who takes it from him. Beautifully performed by a troupe of child actors, and vividly creating a sense of time and place, 11 Flowers is a delicate and moving film about growing up in a time of great upheaval.

“Delicate and autobiographical (Wang Han was the director’s name when he was a child, and the story is constructed from his boyhood memories), 11 Flowers clings steadfastly to its youthful point of view.” —Critic’s Pick! The New York Times

Roubaix, Police Department, Ordinary Business (2007)

Thursday, May 9

OK, Joe!
Directed by Philippe Baron
Icarus Films | Documentary | France | 2024

After the landing of the Allied forces in 1944, writer Louis Guilloux was recruited as an interpreter for the American army. He would soon be confronted with the dark side of liberation: the violence committed by American soldiers on civilians, the army’s system of racial segregation and selective punishment of Black American soldiers. Haunted by what he witnessed, he went on to recount this little-known side of the Allied liberation in his 1976 novel OK, Joe!. Sparked by the recent reissue of Guilloux’s novel, director Philippe Baron set out through the Breton countryside to retrace this suppressed history. Interspersing archival footage, interviews, and scenes from modern-day Breton countryside, Baron crafts an unsettling account of the forgotten tragedies of World War II.

“This painful story opens our eyes to events that others preferred to forget. Behind those Liberation snapshots of American soldiers kissing enraptured young French women there was also a lot of alcohol, rape, and crime.” —Télérama

“While this documentary is often hard to watch, viewing it is necessary to preserve the collective memory.” —l’Humanité


Roubaix, Police Department, Ordinary Business
Directed by Mosco Boucault
Icarus Films | Documentary | France | 2007

A teenage runaway. A stabbing spree during a Christmas dinner that leaves multiple casualties. A series of sexual assaults in a subway station. This is the “ordinary business” that police in the working-class northern French town of Roubaix deal with over the course of several months. We follow their investigations into these crimes — even as they are hampered by false accusations, the complexities of family relationships, and sometimes the ineptitude of the police themselves. When an elderly woman is murdered in her bed, detectives from Roubaix’s central police station quickly realize they’re dealing with eye-witnesses whose story is designed to cover up more than it reveals. This murder case was the inspiration for the 2019 dramatic feature Roubaix, une lumière (Oh Mercy!), which premiered at Cannes. As their story falls apart, a darker truth is revealed. Raw and compelling, and hard to believe it’s not fiction.

“Documentary filmmaker Mosco Boucault filmed the mysteries of a police station and those of the human soul.” —Télérama


Friday, May 10

Robe of Gems
Directed by Natalia López Gallardo
With Nailea Norvind, Antonia Olivares, Aida Roa, Juan Daniel García Treviño
Visit Films | Feature | Argentina, Mexico | 2022

In the countryside of Mexico, the fates of three women collide when the case of a missing person leads them on a path of pain and redemption. A woman whose sister has disappeared; another, in the process of a divorce, offers to help her; a third, a commercial police officer, attempts to reform her son, who is entranced by the organized crime lifestyle.

Silver Bear Jury Prize – Berlin International Film Festival

Robe of Gems quickly seeps under your skin — and as its first visuals make abundantly clearly, every second is a marvel to look at.” —Concrete Playground

“A visually stunning, thoughtful, and profoundly unsettling study of the impact of male violence.” —Screen Daily


Wednesday, May 15

Town Destroyer
Directed by Alan Snitow, Deborah Kaufman
Bullfrog Films | Documentary | USA | 2022

This story focuses on a dispute over historic murals depicting the life of George Washington: slaveowner, general, land speculator, President, and a man Seneca leaders called “Town Destroyer” after he ordered their villages destroyed during the Revolutionary War. The murals, at San Francisco’s George Washington High School, were painted in 1936 by leftwing artist Victor Arnautoff, a student of Diego Rivera. The murals both praise Washington and—rare for the time—critically depict him overseeing his slaves and directing the bloody seizure of Native lands. Trauma, student safety, and cancel culture, is addressed within the context of art, history, and racial reckoning.

“Victor Arnautoff’s breathtaking masterpiece of muralism is illuminated in this thoughtful, balanced, and insightful film.” Susan Kelk Cervantes, Founding Director, Precita Eyes Muralists Association

“Offers a rich exploration of an important episode in our current era of iconoclasm.” Elizabeth Hutchinson, Associate Professor and Co-chair of Art History, Barnard College/Columbia University


Truth Tellers
Directed by Richard Kane
Bullfrog Films | Documentary | USA | 2022

This is the story of artist and activist Robert Shetterly, and a history lesson on what it means to be a citizen of a democracy. Shetterly’s subjects include contemporary activists for racial and indigenous justice Zyahna Bryant, Reggie Harris, Maulian Dana, Sherri Mitchell, and Rev. Lennox Yearwood, climate activists Bill McKibben, Kelsey Juliana, and Bill Bigelow. Shetterly’s portraits place them in the context of our great civil rights leaders John Lewis, Frederick Douglass, Fannie Lou Hamer, Bayard Rustin, Sojourner Truth and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

“I am an ardent fan of Robert’s work and of the man himself. He is the Diogenes of our time, searching for truth in the work of his subjects. He has become an invaluable chronicler of 21st century America.” Bill Moyers, American journalist and political commentator


Thursday, May 16

The Shooting on Mole Street
Directed by Mosco Boucault
Icarus Films | Documentary | USA | 1998

On March 1, 1996, 15-year-old Shafeeq Murrel was killed on the street in South Philadelphia — innocently caught in the crossfire between rival pairs of crack dealers out for revenge. Shafeeq’s murder was one of 435 in Philadelphia that year, and it was soon shelved as a cold case. Then, detectives David Baker and Julie Hill took it on— two middle-aged white cops working a Black neighborhood in their battered Plymouth Gran Fury. A taut police procedural, this gripping documentary follows Hill and Baker verité style, while capturing the complex dynamics of a community where selling drugs is seen as the only option for many young men.

Official Selection International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) 1998


Friday, May 17

Reporters Against Power
Directed by Kees Schaap
First Hand Films | Documentary series in 6 episodes, 42 mins each | Netherlands | 2016

Journalists have long played a role in the resistance against powerful dictatorships and injustice. Journalist Fidan Ekiz travels to Columbia, Turkey, Uganda, Russia, Myanmar and Hong Kong to speak to the people committed to reporting on the society around them, despite the considerable risks that this involves. In this six-part series, Ekiz explores how journalists can make a profound difference, while facing threats both to their safety and to the concept of truth itself. These episodes offer a background on situations that have only darkened since the time of filming.

In the Billowing Night (2021)

Tuesday, May 21

In the Billowing Night
Directed by Erika Etangsalé
Sudu Connexion | Documentary | France | 2021

Jean-René is a retired workman who has lived in Mâcon, France, since emigrating from Reunion Island at the age of 17. His journey is interspersed with enigmatic dreams and pains that are rooted in the wounds of the French colonial past. 

“A melancholic, intimate exploration of the personal cost of migration.” —The Film Verdict


My Mother’s Life
Directed by Maïram Guissé
Sudu Connexion | Documentary | France/Senegal | 2022

Journalist and documentary filmmaker Maïram Guissé turns the camera to her mother, Fatimata, to craft a rich portrait of her life and memories. From her move from Senegal to France in the 1980s to her career as a low-wage care worker, My Mother’s Life balances the personal and intimate with the collective experience of migration and cultural displacement.

“Maïram Guissé paints a beautiful portrait… both singular and universal.” —Le Parisien


Wednesday, May 22

A Daughter’s Tribute to Her Father: Souleymane Cissé
Directed by Fatou Cissé
Visit Films | Documentary | Mali | 2022

An intimate portrayal of the life and career of Souleymane Cissé, one of Africa’s most celebrated filmmakers. Tracing the Malian director’s trajectory from his formative years in Bamako to the present day, through interviews with Cissé and those who knew him best, this celebration of his groundbreaking films highlights their enduring relevance.

“Both nuanced and kaleidoscopic… the resultant impression of Cissé is positive and ambivalent, a portrait that does justice to the complexity of human beings.” —Africa is a Country


Thursday, May 23

Directed by Hans Petter Moland
With Lena Headey, Charlotte Rampling, Stellan Skarsgard
First Run Features | Feature | Norway | 2000

Kaisa (Lena Headey), a beautiful and feisty Scottish woman, finally has her life together…at least until her mother (Charlotte Rampling) asks an enormous favor: to bring back to her estranged father (Stellan Skarsgard). The two of them, father and daughter together, set out on a wild, brutally funny yet heartbreaking journey that takes them through their emotional past, before reaching their ultimate destination.

“Beautifully acted, ferociously observant!” —The New York Times

“A breakout performance by the ravishing Lena Headey!” —The New York Post

When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism (2013)

Friday, May 24

When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism
Directed by Corneliu Porumboiu
With Diana Avramut and Bogdan Dumitrache
Cinema Guild | Feature | Romania | 2013

During the production of his new movie, a director wants to add a scene to improve the film’s narrative by emphasizing the aesthetic of female nudity. Endless negotiations ensue between lunch and dinner.

“For those unfamiliar with contemporary Romanian cinema, Metabolism is a hardcore immersion into distinctly innovative storytelling.” —Indiewire

“Dryly funny, enigmatic…” Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times

Tuesday, May 28

The Second Time Around
Directed by Leon Marr
With Linda Thorson and Stuart Margolin
First Run Features | Feature | Canada | 2016

Two older people find, unpredictably, a sweet and deep connection developing as fellow residents in a retirement community. Opera, family, friends and health challenges are part of their adventure into later life love.

”Take heart, Golden Agers, there is a little gem of a film now playing that should resonate with you as well as all in search of a tender though quirky love story. It’s all so heartfelt, yet, best of all, there is nothing remotely maudlin about the scenario.” —The Montreal Gazette

Thursday, May 30

Midnight Traveler
Directed by Hassan Fazili
Oscilloscope Laboratories | Documentary | Canada, Qatar, UK, US | 2019

When the Taliban puts a bounty on Afghan director Hassan Fazili’s head, he is forced to flee the country with his wife and two young daughters. Capturing the family’s uncertain journey firsthand, Fazili documents their harrowing trek across numerous borders revealing the danger and uncertainty facing refugees seeking asylum juxtaposed with the unbreakable love shared amongst the family on the run.

“A remarkable achievement.” —Screen International

“A film that should be required viewing for anyone seeking to enter the debate on the refugee crisis.” —Financial Times

Friday, May 31

Henry Miller: Prophet of Desire
Directed by Gero von Boehm
With Henry Miller, Erica Jong, Tom Schiller, Georg Stefan Troller, Tony Miller, Arthur Hoyle, Brassaï, Anaïs Nin, Barbara Kraft
First Hand Films | Documentary | 2017

In this intimate snapshot of the rebellious and scandalous American author, friends and fellow writers remember his work, exploration of taboos, and visions of a freer society. Henry Miller had five wives and considered himself bound to both the continent of Europe and to the US. Miller’s stormy relationships with women were the stuff of legend and inspired him to create ever more works. Bestsellers like Tropic of Cancer and Sexus revolutionized literature by offering erotic descriptions of unprecedented linguistic frankness. This led to Miller’s books being banned in the United States and Great Britain right into the 1960s. 

“A terrible man” is what Miller was, in the words of his friend, writer Erica Jong, “who cultivated a fearless style. The voice he found expressed the abundance of the man. It was not the sex the Puritans hated and feared. It was the abundance. It wasn’t the obscenity that offended but the vitality.”

Torremolinos ’73
Directed by Pablo Berger
With Javier Cámara and Candela Peña
First Run Features | Feature | Spain | 2003

Spain, circa 1973. Alfredo is a struggling door-to-door encyclopedia salesman. Meanwhile, his wife Carmen is obsessed with becoming a mother. Alfredo’s boss gives Alfredo a choice: make ‘educational’ sex films at home for a Scandinavian distributor, or get fired. Alfredo chooses the former, and it quickly becomes apparent that a) Alfredo has a knack for directing and b) Carmen is a fabulous actress! Starring Javier Cámara (Pedro Almodóvar’s Talk to Her) and Candela Peña (All About My Mother).

“A joyous celebration of sex and filmmaking!” —The New York Times

“An absolute riot!” —Time Out 

“A smart, unpretentious comedy about passion, movies and love!” —Washington Post

Complete list of films premiering on OVID this month (in alphabetical order):

11 Flowers, Wang Xiaoshuai (2011)
A Daughter’s Tribute to Her Father: Souleymane Cissé, Fatou Cissé (2022)
Aberdeen, Hans Petter Moland (2000)
Deserted Station, Alireza Raisian (2002)
Henry Miller: Prophet of Desire, Gero von Boehm (2017)
In the Billowing Night, Erika Etangsalé (2021)
Leila, Dariush Mehrjui (1999)
Midnight Traveler, Hassan Fazili (2019)
My Mother’s Life, Maïram Guissé (2022)
OK, Joe!, Philippe Baron (2024)
Reporters Against Power, Kees Schaap (2016)
Robe of Gems, Natalia López Gallardo (2022)
Roubaix, Police Department, Ordinary Business, Mosco Boucault (2024)
The Butterfly, Philippe Muyl (2002)
The Second Time Around, Leon Marr (2016) 
The Shooting on Mole Street, Mosco Boucault (2024)
Torremolinos ’73, Pablo Berger (2003)
Town Destroyer, Alan Snitow & Deborah Kaufman (2022)
Town of Glory, Dmitry Bogolyubov (2020)
Truth Tellers, Richard Kane (2022)
When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism, Corneliu Porumboiu (2013)

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