Under the Radar 2.5

By Sharon Weinberg

If you're looking for hidden gems, overlooked releases, or the slightly forgotten, check out the items on this list.

  • The Cave of the Yellow Dog


    A touching story about a little girl and a stray dog, this works as a drama and an educational film. The family in the movie is real, playing themselves in a fictional story. You see what everyday life is like for a Mongolian nomadic family, who live off their livestock. By the way, Zachor the dog won the Palme Dog Award at the Cannes Film Festival. I also recommend Byambasuren Davaa's two documentaries, The Story of the Weeping Camel and The Two Horses of Genghis Khan.

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  • Diva


    This 1980s art house release is a welcome blast from the past. It blends mystery, romance, and opera. There is an ardent opera fan, a prostitution ring, mixed-up cassette tapes, a street-smart Vietnamese shoplifter and her mysterious, wealthy partner. Filmed in Paris, many scenes are downright breathtaking, including an awesome chase scene involving a moped through the Paris Metro. Maybe best of all, it features the lovely soprano Wilhelmenia Fernandez as the Diva, who refuses to be recorded. I have to wonder how many viewers fell in love with opera, just for a little while, after seeing this movie.

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  • Mooz-lum


    A coming of age flick in the wake of 9/11, as a young man struggles with his identity and faith, writer/director Qasim Basir uses his own experiences growing up Muslim as a broad basis for the movie. The youthful actors, including Evan Ross and Summer Bishil, are very good and ones to watch. This memorable, thought-provoking narrative rings true.

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  • My Life as A Zucchini


    Every kid has a backstory at the orphanage. So it is for Icare (AKA Zucchini), Simon and Camille, who must overcome their past to find new friendships and another definition of family. This was the Swiss official submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. It made the shortlist, though not nominated in that category. Instead, it received an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature. The DVD has the original French soundtrack; or, you can select the English version.

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  • Saving Face


    Highlighted by nuanced performances from Michelle Krusiec and Joan Chen, this movie about the relationship and secrets between a Chinese American daughter and her more traditional mother is at once charming and sensitive. Filmmaker Alice Wu's debut, it played at Sundance and the Toronto International Film Festival, and got a GLAAD nomination for Outstanding Film - Limited Release.

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  • The Secret of Roan Inish


    Here is looking to another branch of the family to explain the explainable. A selkie folk tale with a wondrous twist, this indie American/Irish favorite focuses on a little girl's determination to find her long lost baby brother. For another great selkie story, check out the critically acclaimed animated feature, Song of the Sea.

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  • Served Like A Girl


    Interesting, well done, and honest, this documentary centers on women veterans competing in the Ms. Veteran America pageant. They talk about their experiences in the military and then after, and why they want to be part of the pageant. The winner serves as an ambassador to help get funds and services, and gives a steady voice to various issues

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