Foreign Film Activity

Our November Foreign Film is direct from the U.S. premiere at Mill Valley Film Festival in October!

The Swallows of Kabul is a 2019 French animated film directed by Zabou Breitman and Eléa Gobé Mévellec. It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. The film is an adaption of the novel of the same name by Yasmina Khadra.

 Two married couples in Kabul, living under the callous rule of the Afghan Taliban, find their destinies intertwined in this beautiful animated feature based on the eponymous international bestseller. Rendered in hand-drawn, delicate watercolors, The Swallows of Kabul has its weighty subject matter leavened by keen detail. The film’s artistry, along with its sympathetically drawn characters, turns the story of four individuals linked by their extraordinary circumstances into a universal tale of endurance and survival.  82 min. • French, with English subtitles. Click HERE  to review a short trailer.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86% 

About Yasmina Khadra:
Yasmina Khadra is the pseudonym of the Algerian writer Mohammed Moulessehoul, born in 1956. A high ranking officer in the Algerian army, he went into exile in France in 2000, where he now lives in seclusion. In his several writings on the civil war in Algeria, Khadra exposes the current regime and the fundamentalist opposition as the joint guilty parties in the Algerian Tragedy. Before his admission of identity in 2001, a leading critic in France wrote, ‘A he or a she? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that Yasmina Khadra is today one of Algeria’s most important writers.’

Below are the dates for the showings; SIR members can attend any of them at the Walnut Creek Public Library at North Broadway and Lincoln.  Bring your family and friends. 

Friday November 8th – 7:30pm   
Saturday November 9th – 4:30pm and 7:30pm  
Saturday November 16th – 4:30pm and 7:30pm

Metered parking is available in the library basement, but beware if you are more than four feet tall and do not have eyes like an owl, as the meter directions are complicated and difficult to see in the poor lighting.  They are clearly designed more to generate $45 parking tickets than to sell parking spaces.  I recommend you use quarters rather than a credit card, as it cuts the operations in half.

If you find this activity to be of interest to you, please contact Sir David Bushnell, (925) 838-3914 or for costs and other details.
The Branch Executive Committee (BEC) approved a new Branch 8 activity: Foreign Films, to be headed by chairman David Bushnell.  The activity consists of foreign films shown monthly by the Mountain Shadow Film Society in the Walnut Creek Library.  The films are mostly film festival winners or Oscar foreign language film entries that don’t get shown in our area.  They are conservatively chosen – without violence, sex, nudity, guns, or drugs to carry the story, and usually have a comedy before.  Cost is $12 for non-members, $10 if you join Mountain Shadow as my wife and I have.  There are 2 matinee and 3 evening showings each month on Fridays and Saturdays.

Activity membership merely means that the chairman will send you a showbill and schedule each month, similar to the August showbill you found on the luncheon table.  You can attend or not; there is no obligation and reservations are not necessary.  David has been a member for 3 years and enjoyed some fantastic films from at least 20 countries.  If you find this activity of interest, send an e-mail to David at and he will put you on the activity membership list. Of course wives, friends, and family are also welcome to attend.



Full Text of the BEC presentation:

1.  Mountain Shadow Film Society was organized around five years ago by John Bennison and his wife Germaine, whose day jobs are in real estate.  John is a movie aficionado who got tired of going to Berkeley or San Francisco to see good foreign films after a local theater stopped showing them.

2.  John chooses the films; they are feature-length.  He relies on published results of film festivals such as Cannes, Toronto, Park City, and Marin.  He has been successful in finding really good films.  Some get presented in Berkeley or San Francisco, but not in central Contra Costa County.  Often the films were a country’s entry to the Foreign Language section of the Oscars.

3.  John selects films rather conservatively, in they do not rely on sex, nudity, drugs, or violence to tell the story.  They can come from anywhere, almost always in a foreign language with subtitles.  In my three years of membership, we have had films from Chile, Brazil, Spain, Canada, Scotland, Iceland, Sweden, France, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Egypt, and Israel.  Probably some more I have forgotten.

4.  As these are private showings, we aren’t assaulted with the conventional violent and inane trailers.  Instead, John usually finds a short comedy (how old-fashioned!).  We do have a few announcements and a drawing.

5.  There are currently five showings, two matinees and three in the evening.  The number has been growing.  All are at the Walnut Creek library, which seats 125 or so on folding chairs.  Visibility and sound are adequate.  Adequate metered parking in the library basement and lot.

6.  Price is $12 for drop-ins, $10 per show for 12 show yearly subscriptions.  At the moment there are usually10 to 30 seats in each show that are “un-subscribed”.  These would be available to SIR on a first come basis.  Sometimes the shows are sold out, so you have to get there early.  There are probably some SIRs attending already.  They sell refreshments – water and candy bars for a dollar.  Mountain Shadow Members can check out DVDs of previous shows.

7.  After each show there is a short discussion group in an adjacent room.  Usually 10 or 15 attend.

8.  As there aren’t any showings with a lot of extra space, it probably wouldn’t work for a Branch 8 group to attend together.  My wife and I usually get together with 6 or 8 friends for dinner before our show.  Others could do that, or go to dinner after a matinee, but I’m not sure how I would organize it. 

9.  My role as chairman would simply be to send out e-mail previews and show times and dates and write the Hotshot article.  You could see it as merely advertising a commercial venture, like the SIRs at the Opera activity.  On the other hand it is a great opportunity that most members are probably not aware of.

10.  Of course Mountain Shadow is a coed event.  Surprisingly, the audience is older than you would think.  We would fit right in.  Of course, most would like to try it out a couple of times before becoming members.