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Miramax Critics' Choice: 4 Acclaimed Films [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

Rabbit-Proof Fence
After directing a number of major motion pictures in the United States, Australian-born filmmaker Phillip Noyce returned home to make this remarkable adventure-drama, based on a true story as well as a lamentable period in his nation's history. When European settlers first arrived in Australia, there was an almost immediate conflict between the recent arrivals and the nation's indigenous people, whose rich cultural heritage which bore little resemblance to that of the Europeans. By the mid-19th century, when white settlers had gained political control of the continent, many aborigines found themselves removed from their lands and their children taken from them, under the belief that the youngsters would be better off in a more "civilized" environment. Through most of the 20th century, it was official government policy that half- or quarter-caste indigenous children were to be taken from their families and raised as "white" children in orphanages, where they would be trained to work as domestic servants or laborers. In 1931, Molly (Everlyn Sampi) and her younger sister Daisy (Tianna Sansbury) and cousin Gracie (Laura Monaghan) were three half-caste children from Western Australia who were taken from their parents under government edict and sent to an institution, where they were subject to physical and emotional abuse as they were taught to forget their families, their culture, and their lives up to that point and re-invent themselves as members of "white" Australian society. Gracie and Daisy cling to Molly for support, and Molly decides they need to return to their parents. Molly plans a daring escape, and the three girls begin an epic journey back to Western Australia, travelling 1,500 miles on foot with no food or water, and navigating by following the fence that has been build across the nation to stem an over-population of rabbits. A.O. Neville (Kenneth Branagh), the government functionary in charge of relocating Western Australia's aborigines, takes a special interest in the case of the three girls, and brings in a veteran tracker, Moodoo (David Gulpilil) to help find them, secure in the belief he's acting in their best interest. Rabbit-Proof Fence was based on the acclaimed book by Doris Pilkington Garimara, whose Aunt Daisy was one of the three children who made the extraordinary journey and helped her with the research for the book. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Welcome to Sarajevo
A startling examination of the Bosnian war of the mid-1990s and the role of journalists in covering it, this film was based on real-life journalist Michael Nicholson's book Natasha's Story. Like Nicholson, cynical journalist Henderson (Stephen Dillane) is one of the rat pack of reporters looking for gore in the streets of besieged Sarajevo. He is outraged when grandstanding reporter Flynn (Woody Harrelson) helps local citizens remove the corpse of a mother gunned down on a family outing. But the next day, Henderson is among the journalist vultures at a grisly scene, and he has to tell a little girl that both her parents were killed. When his story is demoted by his television network in favor of a celebrity puff piece, Henderson is angry. At the behest of his producer, Jane Carson (Kerry Fox), he visits a local orphanage. Henderson becomes deeply involved with the plight of the children and starts documenting their individual stories even as his employers express increasing disinterest. Henderson campaigns to get the kids out of Yugoslavia, with the help of an American aid worker, Nina (Marisa Tomei). He promises a girl named Emira (Emira Nusevic) that he'll take her back to his home in England. To make good on his vow, he must risk both his career and his life. He adopts the child and she is happy in England. But he must return to war-torn Sarajevo when her birth mother, who had abandoned her, demands her daughter back. ~ Michael Betzold, Rovi

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
The astonishing true-life story of Jean-Dominic Bauby -- a man who held the world in his palm, lost everything to sudden paralysis at 43 years old, and somehow found the strength to rebound -- first touched the world in Bauby's best-selling autobiography The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (aka La Scaphandre et la Papillon), then in Jean-Jacques Beineix's half-hour 1997 documentary of Bauby at work, released under the same title, and, ten years after that, in this Cannes-selected docudrama, helmed by Julian Schnabel (Basquiat) and adapted from the memoir by Ronald Harwood (Cromwell). The Schnabel/Harwood picture follows Bauby's story to the letter -- his instantaneous descent from a wealthy and congenial playboy and the editor of French Elle, to a bed-bound, hospitalized stroke victim with an inactive brain stem that made it impossible for him to speak or move a muscle of his body. This prison, as it were, became a kind of "diving bell" for Bauby -- one with no means of escape. With the editor's mind unaffected, his only solace lay in the "butterfly" of his seemingly depthless fantasies and memories. Because of Bauby's physical restriction, he only possessed one channel for communication with the outside world: ocular activity. By moving his eyes and blinking, he not only began to interact again with the world around him, but -- astonishingly -- authored the said memoir via a code used to signify specific letters of the alphabet. In Schnabel's picture, Mathieu Amalric tackles the difficult role of Bauby; the film co-stars Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josée Croze, Anne Consigny, and Patrick Chesnais. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi

Dirty Pretty Things
Director Stephen Frears returns to the grittier themes of his earlier films for the urban thriller Dirty Pretty Things. Residing in London, the medically trained Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a Nigerian immigrant working as a taxi driver and a hotel concierge, but he still lives on the edge of poverty. He shares a room with Senay (Amélie's Audrey Tautou making her English-language debut), a Turkish refugee who works as a maid at the hotel. As illegal immigrants, Okwe and Senay live in fear of being deported. One night, working at the front desk, Okwe receives a call from prostitute Juliette (Sophie Okonedo) to check a broken toilet, where he makes a horrifying discovery. He reports it to the manager Sneaky (Sergi Lopez), who blackmails Okwe into staying quiet about it. Okwe soon discovers the presence of a shady business operation that sends him into the seedy London underworld. Senay becomes lured in with hopes of being able to fund her escape to America. Dirty Pretty Things marks the screenwriting debut of Steve Knight, co-creator of the game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi

Cast & Crew

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    Everlyn Sampi - Molly Craig
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    Tianna Sansbury - Daisy Craig
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    Laura Monaghan - Gracie Fields
  • David Gulpilil
    David Gulpilil - Moodoo
  • Kenneth Branagh
    Kenneth Branagh - A.O. Neville
Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.