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Bilal Qureshi

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

CANNES, France — For a town that derives its very essence from its annual May celebration of world cinema, the cancellation of the Cannes Film Festival in 2020 due to the pandemic came as a big blow. But thanks to falling infection rates and rising vaccinations, Cannes' red carpet and its iconic festival have returned with couture glamour and cinematic ambition.

Filmmaker Jasmila Zbanic was a 17-year-old student living in Sarajevo with her family when the Bosnian war began in April 1992. As clashes over Bosnia's referendum for independence first started, she says nobody imagined there could ever be a full war. "It started like [the] riots on Congress in January in [the] U.S. ... I was happy when this happened because I thought what a cool thing not to go to school and have [the] whole city stop," she says.

In May of 1970, at a San Francisco concert venue best known for reverberating with the sounds of the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, three masters of Indian classical music took the stage for a celebration of Indian ragas. The concert was recorded by another legend of the time: Owsley Stanley, the man who designed the Dead's innovative sound system, as well as making what was reputed to be the best LSD of its day.

In the opening pages of the 1994 Canadian novel Funny Boy, a young Sri Lankan boy named Arjie refuses to play cricket with the boys as his father insists. He'd rather bedazzle in bridal reds and join the girls' make-believe wedding.

In the new concert film Tripping with Nils Frahm, directed by Benoit Toulemonde, a small figure in a t-shirt and flat cap bounces around a Berlin stage — playing pianos and towering analog synthesizers, flipping switches, turning knobs and massaging keyboards in front of rapt audiences.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Indian Sun is a new authoritative biography of the Indian musician Ravi Shankar's life, published to coincide with this year's centenary of his birth.

Three years ago, a small film crew drove into the Austrian Alps in search of a remote valley. It would serve as one of the settings for Terrence Malick's vision of paradise.

"We'd taken a big, big risk when we decided to go," says the film's producer Grant Hill. "We had next to no funds. [We] felt, for some reason, we'd work that out as we went along — which, I wouldn't advise doing it again that way, but it worked. And this combination of the mountain background, the faces on the people, the weather really did — I mean, it was otherworldly."

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In the new movie Atlantics, a group of young men set off on a boat for Spain from the coast of Senegal. They're fed up with their lives, and have made the fateful — and fatal — decision to sail to Europe.

But Atlantics, which won the Grand Prix at this year's Cannes Film Festival and coming Nov. 29 to Netflix, is not a movie about them. It's the story of the women they've left behind. And it's a ghost story.

During his four terms in office, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi redefined the norms of Italian society and created a global blueprint for political strongmen. A business tycoon who owned multiple TV channels, Berlusconi governed Italy like one of his media businesses, eventually facing multiple investigations, sex scandals and charges of corruption.

Good morning from Toronto, where the NPR Movies team has decamped for the next seven days or so, as we attend the Toronto International Film Festival, the largest film festival in North America.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

In a hypnotic opening dance between two would-be lovers, the new film Birds of Passage immediately establishes that it is in no way a typical Colombian drug-war epic.

Filmmaker Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's debut film, The Lives of Others, won the Oscar for best foreign language film in 2006, bringing the enduring trauma of Germany's recent history to international attention.

Set in East Berlin before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the film told the story of two artists who are monitored, surveilled and threatened by an East German intelligence officer. It was hailed as a groundbreaking film both abroad and in Germany for its blend of political history and cinematic drama.

In one of the first scenes in Capernaum, the camera flies above the slums of Beirut.

There is no sight of the Mediterranean Sea or the glamour of the so-called Paris of the Middle East. This is another side of the Lebanese capital.

"You're seeing dilapidated buildings, children running around playing with pieces of metals and just whatever they could find on the street, not actual toys," film critic Nana Asfour said.

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.

"Rapturous," "Soaring," "Masterful!" It's that time of year again when critics use their hyperbolic best to preview the fall's most anticipated films. Starting at the end of August, studios show their Oscar hopefuls to accredited press across a trinity of prestigious film festivals – Venice, Telluride, and Toronto – the last of which concluded on Sunday night.

For the past two decades, photographer Dayanita Singh has been the subject of exhibitions and retrospectives at museums around the world. Her poetic images of Indian family life and architecture, abandoned spaces and private moments, are the kind of classically beautiful works coveted by curators and collectors.

In the great cultural 'awokening' that has followed the rise of Donald Trump, the stories of Muslim-Americans wrestling with questions of selfhood, belonging, and bigotry have seen their own flowering.

Foxtrot is Israel's most celebrated film of the year — and its most controversial.

It tells the story of one family grappling with the loss of their son at war. But it's also a searing critique of a society stuck in perpetual war.

Padmaavat, India's first 3-D IMAX spectacle, is a lavish, operatic Bollywood musical set in the 14th-century palaces and deserts of Rajasthan. It has elephant processions, kaleidoscopic tableaus of Indian palaces and gorgeous actors in bejeweled costumes. It was directed by one of India's most celebrated filmmakers, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and stars one of the country's most popular actresses, Deepika Padukone.

Can something as simple as saying "I'm sorry" stop a looming war in the Middle East?

That's the premise of a new film called The Insult — it's Lebanon's entry to the Oscars. In it, a neighborhood spat pushes the city of Beirut to the brink of chaos.

Filmmaker Ziad Doueiri says he was inspired by a real-life incident. He was watering his plants on the balcony of his home in Beirut, when the water spilled out onto a construction worker below.

In recent years, films about terrorism have become their own kind of genre. They're often geopolitical thrillers or espionage dramas, but a new film from Germany takes a different — and more intimate — approach.

In the Fade, Germany's entry to the Oscars, tells the story of a survivor picking up the pieces of her broken life. German filmmaker Fatih Akin says he made the film to spotlight something terrorism stories often overlook.

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