The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and UCLA Film and Television Archives' Contemporary Documentary Series continues Tuesday at 8 p.m. at UCLA's Melnitz Theater with an evening of excellent films dealing with improving the quality of life and celebrating the triumph of the individual over adversity.
In her poignant 58-minute "Breaking Silence," film maker Theresa Tollini succeeds in getting several victims--and a perpetrator--of incest to share their experiences, which are intercut devastatingly with typical smiling family snapshots (and also with nightmarish sketches drawn by sexually abused children). We come away realizing that incest is as American as apple pie, that tragically it tends to perpetuate itself and that its perpetrators tend to be men trying to live up to macho stereotypes, and that it must be brought out in the open, as it is here, if it is to be overcome.
Randy Bradley's 12-minute "Here I Am: The International Games for the Disabled" emphasizes the need for the handicapped to get past what they can't do to be able to do what they can. And what the 1,700 disabled athletes (from 45 countries) who gathered in Melville, N.Y., in 1984 can do is extraordinary. There are wheelchair-bound basketball whizzes, blind runners and jumpers and even a husky weightlifter with cerebral palsy. Bradley's heartwarming film allows us to see the handicapped in an entirely new and highly encouraging way.
Similarly, A. Ivankin's "The Pyramid" focuses on Soviet athlete Valentin Sikul, a saintly, bearded giant who was a high-wire artist until he broke his spine in a fall and then devised a system of rehabilitation through pulleys and weights that has allowed him to overcome paralysis and to return to the circus as a strongman-juggler. The film's title comes from a configuration of men and weights totaling to nearly a ton that Sikul is able to lift. Out of the ring, he devotes himself tirelessly to applying his methods to paralytics.
Best of all is Paul and Holly Fine's "The Gift of Life," a 1985 CBS Report on organ transplants and those who wait for donors. The Fines focus primarily on Al Lilly, an affable 34-year-old family man in Reading, Pa., and they spent more than a year sharing Lilly's agonized wait for a liver donor. This is a film of real-life suspense that spells out the urgent need for all of us to sign up for organ donor programs. Information: (213) 825-2345, 825-2581.
Barbet Schroeder's "Charles Bukowski" has been so popular that EZTV (8547 Santa Monica Blvd.) has set the premiere of Part II Thursday through Sunday at 8 p.m., with 10:30 p.m. showings Friday and Saturday; the same schedule will be repeated next week. Two more hours of 26 vignettes, originally shown as sign-offs on French TV, allow us to perceive in Bukowski all the better the sensitivity and vulnerability (especially to women) behind the writer's often outrageous, deliberately shocking observations. Reading from his poetry, visiting familiar places, sipping beer or wine, the battered, bleakly humorous Bukowski again reveals his shifting feelings of misanthropy and loneliness. He's admiring of Celine, Hemingway and Dos Passos; less so of Henry Miller, with whom he is often compared. More than ever we're allowed to see the twin drives of the need to write and the need to be free that have shaped Bukowski's hard, marginal yet finally productive existence. Information: (213) 657-1532.
"Contract" and "The Constant Factor," two 1980 Krzyzstof Zanussi films screen Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at UCLA, Melnitz. The first is a scintillating work of acute social observation that can be taken as a parable of the disintegration beginning to take place in Poland at that time. Having seen Robert Altman's "The Wedding," Zanussi thought he could do it better--and did. "Contract" begins as an affectionate satire of the vicissitudes of getting married that darkens so subtly we scarcely realize it. Maja Komorowska and Leslie Caron (in one of her best roles) are featured. "The Constant Factor" details its hero's struggle to stay true to himself in the face of the Polish bureaucracy. Information: (213) 825-9261.