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‘Angie’ Kicks Off 9th Women’s Festival

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Women in Film’s ninth International Women’s Film Festival kicks off tonight at 7:30 p.m. with a benefit premiere at the Avco Cinema in Westwood of Martha Coolidge’s comedy “Angie,” with Geena Davis in the title role as an Italian American women who bears a child out of wedlock.

The festival itself gets underway Thursday at Universal Studios, where it will run through Sunday with a continuous program of panel discussions, short films and animated works as well as feature-length movies.

The festival closes with Coolidge’s splendid 1992 made-for-cable movie, “Crazy in Love,” focusing on three generations of women living on an island and delineating the unconscious negative impact a mother (Gena Rowlands) has upon her daughter (Holly Hunter) and the daughter’s marriage.

Among the films sure to cause the greatest stir is Nick Broomfield’s absolutely compelling “Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer,” which screens Sunday at 4:45 p.m. in the Hitchcock Theater. It’s an example of the documentary as a work of investigative reporting at its sharpest. Broomfield digs into the sensational case of Wuornos, dubbed by the media as “America’s first female serial killer” and reveals justice that is dubious at best. Wuornos, a prostitute, is shown to possibly be covering up for her lesbian lover in the slaying of seven of her johns; a whole array of people cash in on Wuornos, a worn, frayed, sometimes fiery woman who is nevertheless articulate and even persuasive in her own defense.

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“Aileen Wuornos” inevitably brings to mind Errol Morris’ expose “The Thin Blue Line,” for it also has real-life characters no novelist would dare invent, most notably the “born-again” horse breeder who adopts Wuornos for reasons that remain murky, and Wuornos’ flashy, publicity-seeking ex-rock musician attorney. Whereas Morris’ style was cool, detached neo-film noir, complete with re-created scenes, Broomfield’s is appropriately jagged, urgent and shoot-from-the-hip, for he frequently filmed those trying to prevent him from doing so.

For a change of pace try Diane Kurys’ elegant “Love After Love” (Theater I at 8:15 p.m.), a consideration of how difficult it is for a couple, even sophisticated Parisians, to sustain a longstanding open relationship into the competitive, disillusioned ‘90s.

The film unfolds in the year between the 35th and 36th birthdays of its heroine, a successful novelist (Isabelle Huppert at her most beautiful and poised), who for 20 years has lived with an equally successful architect (Bernard Giraudeau), a handsome man in his 40s who is a heartless womanizer.

Finding herself at a crossroads, the novelist discovers that after drawing from her own life for her work--as has Kurys herself--she must now “invent herself.”

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For full schedule and more information: (213) 463-6040.

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Thirteen Episodes: The UCLA Film Archive will present “Heimat II: Chronicle of a Generation in 13 Films,” German writer-director Edgar Reitz’s equally monumental sequel to his internationally heralded 1984 “Heimat,” which roughly translates as “Homeland.” The original, which transformed film into a true novel form, spanned 1918 to 1982 in the course of 15 1/2 hours and told of the impact of two world wars and the Third Reich and its aftermath on the lives of two families, united by marriage, in a small village.

For his sequel, Reitz moves back to 1960 and deals with the departure of the family’s postwar generation to seek its fortunes in the cities. The two-hour Episode I (screening Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Melnitz Theater) captures the apprehension and excitement which young people have always experienced when leaving home to continue their education in a distant, unfamiliar locale.

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This irresistible segment follows hero Hermann Simon (Henry Arnold), a handsome 19-year-old pianist and classical guitarist with a broken romance behind him, who arrives in Munich to study at the Conservatory and makes his way, gradually developing his self-confidence through experiences both amusing and tender.

Reitz has the great gift of making the act of writing and directing seem but a single effortless, completely cinematic act. There’s nothing Masterpiece Theater here, and Reitz’s people are not literary creations but real flesh and blood individuals.

All 13 episodes will reprise starting March 12 at the Goethe Institute, 5700 Wilshire Blvd., (213) 525-3388. UCLA information: (310) 206-FILM.


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