Tuesday, April 20, at 7:15 p.m.; Sunday, April 25, at 12:30 p.m.
Documenting both the largest Tibetan uprising since the 1959 Chinese takeover and the Dalai Lama's pre–Beijing Olympics diplomatic tour, The Sun Behind the Clouds offers a succinct and sober look at the philosophical impasse at the heart of the Tibetan cause. In early 2008, co-directors Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam (a married couple and frequent collaborators on Asia-themed documentaries) hit the road with a group of fed-up Buddhist monks on a march from India into Tibet and followed the Dalai Lama as he continued to plead his case for a "middle way" between independence from China and a "meaningful autonomy" that protects Tibetan language and culture. The pitched battle between the Lama and the Chinese evinces politics at its worst, and many Tibetans have had enough. Clouds teases out the contradiction between the Lama's power as a symbol to the fiercely loyal Tibetan people and that of his diplomatic voice, which he is using to push what they see as an impotent agenda. The most heated confrontation here finds Tibet's famously serene monks reduced to a finger-pointing screaming match. It's a scene that suggests both the fondest wish of the Chinese—to divide the enemy against itself—and the increasing desperation for justice within the Lama's lifetime. —Michelle Orange
Ward No. 6
Sunday, April 18, at 7:45 p.m.; Friday, April 23, at 10 p.m.
Based on Chekhov's 1892 story of a provincial doctor who winds up in his own asylum, scourged out of professional complacency by dialogues with a philosophical inmate, Aleksander Gornovsky and Karen Shakhnazarov's film begins on a dust-blowing conceit, interviewing actual wards of state in a contemporary Russian institution. Whereas Andrei Konchalovsky's 1970 Uncle Vanya assured its Soviet audience that they were looking back on prehistory from the better world, in Ward No. 6, Aleksei Vertkov's prophet-madman is still awaiting "the beautiful life there will be on earth in time," here, today, on the far side of Russian Utopianism. Investigating the breakdown of Vladmir Ilyin's Dr. Ragin, Ward No. 6 divides Chekhov's dialogue between mock-documentary inquest, home video, and straight psychodrama. Like the best adaptations, even its inventions are good: a vision of the 17th-century foundation of the monastery-turned-hospital, which draws the sense of the story's continuity into the past, and the inmate who believes Soviet pol Yuri Andropov commanded him to kill John Lennon. —Nick Pinkerton