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Some light relief

Paula Fleri-Soler checks out the arthouse movies currently showing at Side Street Films.

Rooney Mara and Jack Reynor in The Secret Scripture.

Rooney Mara and Jack Reynor in The Secret Scripture.

Eden Cinemas’ Side Street Films continues with its draw of arthouse, independent and less mainstream offerings with two new titles opening every month.

Currently on offer is Irish drama The Secret Scripture, starring Va­nessa Redgrave as Roseanne Mc­Nulty, an elderly Irishwoman living in a mental institution who reminisces about her past (where she is played by Rooney Mara). Specifically she thinks about her love triangle with a fighter pilot (Jack Reynor) and a priest (Theo James).

Also currently showing until mid-June is Frantz, which is set in the aftermath of World War I. It is about a young German woman who grieves the death of her fiancé in France and meets a mysterious Frenchman who visits the fiancé’s grave to lay flowers.

June’s offerings include two comedies about friendship that reach across the cultural and racial divide

June’s offerings include two comedies about friendship that reach across the cultural and racial divide; and heaven knows, we can all do with some light relief.

In Dough, a British-Hungarian co-production, we meet Nat Dayan (Jonathan Pryce), a Jewish baker past his sell-by-date. His son isn’t interested in the family business and Nat cannot bear the thought that the dynasty is to end with him; especially since businessman Sam Cotton (Phil Davis) wants to expand his supermarket chain into Nat’s shop and is wining and dining Nat’s landlady (Pauline Collins) to get what he wants.

Cotton decides to speed up the bakery’s demise by poaching Nat’s assistant. With nobody to help him and unable to afford an experienced baker, Nat has no option but to take on his cleaner’s son, Ayyash Habimana (Jerome Holder), as an apprentice.

Ayyash is a Muslim refugee from Darfur. With his father missing, presumed dead, Ayyash is the man of the house and needs money to provide a better life for him and his mother. But working for Nat is not what Ayyash had in mind – a young Muslim and an old Jew wor­king together in harmony? Hardly a match made in heaven; more a mar­riage of convenience, es­­pecially when Ayyash starts using it as co­ver for a more lucrative job: dealing cannabis for local bad boy Victor Gerrard (Ian Hart). What follows is an uplifting story of friend­ship, loyalty and magic muffins...

The cast also includes Andy de la Tour, Daniel Caltigirone, Andrew Ellis, Malachi Kirby and Melanie Freedman as Nat’s beloved grand-daughter Olivia.

In Finland’s The Other Side of Hope, writer/director Aki Kaurismäki tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a Syrian asylum seeker and an elderly Finnish restaurant owner. Khaled (Sherwan Haji) arrives at the port of Helsinki concealed in a coal container, fleeing war-torn Syria to seek asylum in Finland.

Dazed and frustrated by the monolithic administration he encounters at the detention centre, he makes a break for it and heads out onto the streets. There he meets Wikström (Sakari Kuosmanen), a former shirt salesman who has recently left his alcoholic wife for a new life as a bachelor restaurateur.

Together, they help each other to navigate the adversities they face in these unfamiliar and often baffling new worlds. With hilarious sight gags, poker-faced one-liners and a toe-tapping rockabilly sound­­track, Kaurismäki’s latest offering balances his unparalleled wit with a pressing critique of the unforgiving bureaucracy that greets vulnerable asylum seekers in modern-day Europe. Humane and sincere, it’s proof of cinema’s power to tell stories that matter, with beauty and heart.

The film was awarded The Berlin Silver Bear for Best Director.

Dough and The Other Side of Hopeare being screened as part of Eden Cinema’s Side Street Films concept.

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