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May 2010

The Mother of All Fears

The Milk of Sorrow (2009)

Olive Films

It is a peculiarity of the Academy Awards that a film's nationality often eclipses its filmmaker in the Best Foreign Language Film category. So it was not director Claudia Llosa who was named when "The Milk of Sorrow" was the dark-horse entry in last year's Oscar. Instead, that honor went to Peru. For some films, this would be less appropriate.

The movie begins with a black screen and the voice of an old woman singing about a rape. This is Perpetua (Bárbara Lazón), whose death forces her daughter Fausta (Magaly Solier) to reassess how she copes with her world. Fausta was born in the middle of Peru's recent terrorist uprising/civil war, and suffers from what is casually referred to as the "tit illness" — the pain and suffering her mother experienced before her birth transmitted to her via breast milk, and translated more metaphorically for the title.

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Bellocchio Plays Politics With Film

Gianranco Mura/IFC Films

Filmmaker Marco Bellocchio has been tackling some of the thorniest aspects of the Italian national psyche since his 1965 debut "Fists in the Pocket." He has yet to show signs of slowing down, crafting vital cinema throughout the past two decades. Through the story of an atheist son coming to terms with his mother's candidacy for sainthood, "My Mother's Smile" energized Mr. Bellochio's recurring themes of the church and the nuclear family. "Good Morning, Night" explored the Red Brigade's 1978 kidnap and assassination of former Prime Minister Aldo Moro. "The Wedding Director" lampooned a national cinema unable to reclaim its past neorealist glory. His latest, "Vincere," takes on none other than the infamous fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

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