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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Mike Rix of Johannesburg discusses "District 9," filmed in South Africa

May Contain Spoilers

I was born on the 20th of March 1974 in sunny Johannesburg. My love of movies began at a very young age. 80's classics like "E.T. The Extra Terrestrial," "Back to the Future" and "Rain Man" inspired me to study film after leaving school. At the Pretoria Technikon Film and Television School, my natural talent for low budget clay-mation was discovered when I threw together a one minute mixed-media animated short in the space of a day, which went on to score a unanimous 95% from the resident lecturers.

Since leaving film school in 1996, I've been involved in numerous productions for South African television, working as writer, director, animator and editor on shows such as Options, Arts Unlimited, Rise up and Read, Red Bull Flugtag, Sanlam Money Game, Golf Digest TV and Ultra Simple Golf, as well as numerous music videos, commercials and corporate training films. I also wrote, directed and edited Man in the Street, a micro-budget feature film screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2003.

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Michael Mirasol from Manila:WALL-E is the best film of the decade

May Contain Spoilers

I was born on February 6, 1975, into a quiet family in San Juan, Metro Manila (Philippines). I barely remember anything in that time before we moved at the turn of the 80s. From what I recall, I grew up in a fairly middle class neighborhood, but my mother would tell you that we were always poor. Thanks to mom and dad though, it never felt that way.

My mother grew up in much harder conditions, having only a pair of shoes to walk several kilometers to get to school in the province. Though she was a local beauty, she was smart and tough, working hard all the way to high school. Once she got the chance to move to the city to study at the University of the Philippines , she never looked back. It was still pretty tough for her even after she finished, helping support her 6 sisters. But she did find her way to work as a secretary for several government offices.

My father grew up in the same kind of environment (same province, Bicol region) with his three brothers. He told of childhood memories dating back to the

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Omer Mozaffar, a Pakistani Chicagoan, discusses James Cameron's "Avatar"

May Contain Spoilers

I was born in Karachi, Pakistan, at a very young age. My beloved parents rode the huge wave that was the South Asian diaspora, landing here in Chicagoland, where I've been ever since. Thus, like many of my peers, I've been in a state of constant exile.

On the South Side of Chicago, I'm a Pakistani. In the rest of Chicago, I'm a Southsider. In the rest of America, I'm a Chicagoan. In the rest of the world, I'm an American. That is today's "normal," isn't it? We are simultaneously, unintentionally local and global. Still, the most comfortable spot for me is a center seat in the anonymous darkness of a crowded theater on the opening night of a movie. If you are reading this note on Roger Ebert's blog, then perhaps you feel the same way.

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Gerardo Valero of Mexico City discusses "The Godfather: Part III"

I was born October 1° 1962 in Mexico City where I currently reside with my wife Monica. I have a degree in Architecture and a MBA from IPADE here in Mexico. My interest in movies started at a very young age as my father used to take me and my brothers to double or even triple features at our neighborhood theater.

I mostly remember seeing Tarzan movies and Disney classics though mostly we watched a lot of forgettable war and cowboy movies which I once feared would make me dislike cinema but on the

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Wael Khairy of Cairo, Egypt on "Monster"

I was born in London on February the 29th (leap year) 11 minutes before my twin brother. After birth, I stayed in the UK for five years and then moved to my home country, Egypt. I've been living in Cairo ever since.

My passion for cinema started at a very young age when my father gave me an old video cassette of "Jaws" as a birthday gift. The viewing of that movie triggered a movie watching frenzy and I've been reading about film ever since. Many people in Egypt simply know me for my film collection for it includes hundreds of titles (which may be normal elsewhere yet is very uncommon among Egyptians).

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Ali Arikan of Istanbul, Turkey on "24 Hour Party People"

With this video essay by Ali Arikan of Istanbul, Turkey, I launch my site's new feature, Foreign Correspondents. Film commentators from all over the world will contribute their video reviews, observations, musings, philosophies and pronouncements. Ali has been an online friend of mine for untold years, and is a favorite poster on my blog. He and several other Foreign Corresondents will be panelists at Ebertfest at the University of Illinois in April.

In the wings are fine critics from (alphabetically) Canada, Egypt, India, Mexico, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Uruguay. These voices are not often heard on internet sites serving U.S. movie lovers. They've added immeasurably to the quality of the discussions on my blog. I will link back to their blogs. Comments are open. The same thread will extend under several videos. Roger

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