In Artemisia, a featured film in the Women in Cinema festival opening this week, a young woman paints Judith, the Old Testament rebel who cut

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The Judith festival

A critical guide to the 1998 Women in Cinema film festival.

In Artemisia, a featured film in the Women in Cinema festival opening this week, a young woman paints Judith, the Old Testament rebel who cut off the head of Holofernes to get a little of her own back. Judith could well be the patron saint of this year's Women in Cinema festival, which includes scores of women doing things their own way. Cinema Seattle (the Seattle International Film Festival people) have been putting on the festival for three years now, and it's the best short festival on the year's schedule, with its reliable programming and manageable size. Opens Friday 1/23, closes Thursday 1/29. All films play at the Harvard Exit unless otherwise noted. For ticket information, see the calendar.

Mrs. Dalloway (Opening night gala)—Marleen Gorris' very fine adaptation always feels true to the mood of Virginia Woolf's tale of an aging woman at the end of World War I, but it doesn't always succeed in transforming itself into its own film. Still, the handful of times it becomes cinema, it's exhilarating. Particularly well done is the final set piece, where Mrs. Dalloway (Vanessa Redgrave) throws a party that she hopes will "make people glad to be alive." An amazing amount of the integrity and seriousness of Woolf's work is retained. The film will be followed by a real-life party. 1/23 at 7.

The Cow's Orgasm—A Greek film, scheduled for last year's SIFF, that never materialized. But it's here now, and it tells the story of two young women who want tolearn the ways of love. 1/23 at 9:30, 1/27 at 5.

Aime Cesaire, A Voice for History—This documentary by Euzhan Palcy is not only tedious, but an example ofhow not to write history. Palcy's look at the political poet Aim頃esair頤uring the 1940s African independence movement lacks any kind of critical perspective that would make the study of the "back-to-the-native-land" sentiment interesting. The first two parts paint Cesair頡s a saint. Palcy's series redeems itself in the third part, where African academics discuss the challenges of establishing democracy in a society that has little experience ruling itself. Unfortunately, by the time you get to this part, you'll have fallen asleep. 1/24 at 1.—Soyon Im

Shorts: Blood Relations—A handful of films in varying degrees of blahness. The two on the better side are Sienna McLean's Still Revolutionaries, a documentary about women in the Black Panther organization, and Jodie Markell's Why I Live at the P.O., an adaptation of a Eudora Welty short story. Markell's feature plays out like a Carol Burnett spoof about two Southern sisters with a nasty case of sibling rivalry. Screeching accents, overdone facial expressions, and vintage Woolworth fashions make their battles of the heart even funnier. 1/24 at 4:30.—S.I.

Oscar and Lucinda—Not bad if you can take two hours of rampant quirkiness. Gillian Armstrong bends her intelligence to this tale of two 19th-century oddballs who adore gambling. The film is, overall, inferior to Armstrong's other work (My Brilliant Career, Little Women) —but that still leaves a lot of room for it to be pretty good. Armstrong is at her best celebrating strong-minded women, but the film covers so much ground that Lucinda never really emerges as a character. Still, a bright-paletted visual sense carries the story through. 1/24 at 7.

Clubbed to Death—That's clubbed as in "rave," not as in "seal pups." A young woman wanders into a strange world of techno dance clubs that, like those Intel guys, never stops boogying. Apparently it's quite scary. With the short Busk. 1/24 at 9:30, 1/29 at 5.

Filmmakers' Brunch—Festival guests gather to eat bagels and chat in the lobby of the Harvard Exit and get all amped about the following panel discussion. Usually it's pretty fun. 1/25 at 10:30. Your ticket also gets you into the . . .

Panel Discussion—Filmmakers and distributors talk about their work. This year's guests include the fabulous Marleen Gorris (director, Mrs. Dalloway); Lina Shanklin (director, Summerspell), Sara Moore (director, Homo Heights), M.J. Peckos from First Look, Arianna Bacco from New Line, and Kim Adelman from fXM Shorts. 1/25 at noon.

Summerspell—A rural family, replete with secrets and lies, is the subject of this film from Lina Shanklin (One of Those Nights). 1/25 at 2.

Shorts: Girls Vertigogo—Among a crowd of hopefuls, a film worth checking out: Myra Paci's Girls' Night Out, starring Girls' Town's Anna Grace. It's the story of two young Manhattan women who are lured up to a gallery owner's apartment to see his etchings. We expect a morality tale to follow; someone always gets hurt when girls visit strange men. But Paci's women don't get used. 1/25 at 4:30.

Artemisia—It's gorgeous, it's erotic, and it's the story of a female painter in 17th-century Italy. Does it need be good on top of all that? Nope. An utterly enjoyable, lushly beautiful film that never quite gets you to believe its heroine exists. 1/25 at 7, 1/28 at 9:30—C.D.

Homo Heights—The debut feature from Sara Moore stars Quentin Crisp as a gay guru. With the short Pam Flam & the Center of the Universe. 1/25 at 9:30.

Where is Stephanie?—A documentary about a young woman's murder. With the short Resistance. 1/26 at 5.

Eighteen Springs—A love story set in 1930s Shanghai from Hong Kong director Ann Hui.With the short One Sunrise. 1/26 at 7.

Imitation of Life (Script Reading)—The Screenwriters Salon hosts a dramatic reading from the 1959 film Imitation of Life, a tale of racial tension. 1/26 at 7:30, Broadway Performance Hall.

Love and Anarchy—Lina Wertmuller's 1973 film about a yokel

who tries to assassinate Mussolini. 1/26 at 9:30.

Private Confessions—A film from Liv Ullman, adapted from Ingmar Bergman's 1994 novel. Sven Nykvist serves as cinematographer. With the short The Marriage Market. 1/27 at 7.

The Hitch-Hiker—Ida Lupino's penultimate film, the sun-baked thriller The Hitch-Hiker (1943), puts her working-class heroes in a film noir setting, but it's their feeling of helplessness that gives dimension to the tense tale. Lupino's gritty location shooting and cheap sets create a vivid world, an antidote to the Hollywood gloss. 1/27 at 9:30.—Sean Axmaker

Storyville: The Naked Dance—A delicious documentary about the New Orleans city-within-a-city, a district full of "do-wrong people," where prostitution thrived and jazz found its roots. Lots of old photos of naked ladies if you go for that sort of thing. With the short Advice to Adventurous Girls. 1/28 at 5.—C.D.

Things I Never Told You—Indie queen Lili Taylor stars in a love story from Spanish director Isabel Coixet. With the short Miriam Is Not Amused. 1/28 at 7.

Shoemaker—A Canadian film from Colleen Murphy that's so low-key it took me about an hour to find its pulse. But once I did I was glad I'd stayed; the dorky characters haunted me. A shoemaker with not quite all his marbles falls for a woman who answers his personals ad. With the short The Marriage Market. 1/29 at 7.—C.D.

Dream for an Insomniac—Romance and swooning with Ione Skye and Jennifer Aniston, as directed by Tiffanie DeBariolo. 1/29 at 9:30.

 
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