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This coming weekend marks the arrival of International Festival 2005, "Globally Green: Cultural Perspectives and Environmental Issues." As a result, the Activities Board and Student Dormitory Council are ceding Thursday and Saturday nights to films (loosely) related to environmental issues. Interestingly enough, they are both about cute birds endowed with human qualities. Should these not appeal to you, there's always the Black Plague and troubled teenage boys. But not in combination.

The Seventh Seal
Wednesday, November 2

One of Ingmar Bergman's classics, this movie focuses on a Swedish medieval knight named Block who comes home from the Crusades to find his community ravaged by the Black Plague. Approached by the Grim Reaper, Block challenges him to a game of chess on which his life rests. You wouldn't think a movie that features war, disease, and religious violence would make for very many funny parodies, but tell that to the writers of [ITAL]Sesame Street[ITAL] and Woody Allen (who used [ITAL]The Seventh Seal[ITAL] as the basis for his comedy [ITAL]Love and Death[ITAL]).

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
Thursday, November 3
8, 10, and 12 pm

Every major city has at least one celebrity bird. New York has the famous red-tailed hawk Pale Male, and San Francisco has a population of displaced wild parrots, each of them named and known by a local homeless man named Mark Bittner. A vagrant musician, Bittner doesn't have much else to do besides befriend these parrots, and his relationship with them sounds like it makes for an endearing, quirky little film. I certainly hope the poor guy got a good deal out of being the focus of a nationally released documentary. And the parrots too, for that matter.

March of the Penguins
Saturday, November 5
8, 10, and 12 pm

This is a movie of profound truths; namely, that penguins are kinder, smarter, braver, better parents, and better-looking than most people. Focusing on the mating, breeding, and parenting rituals of the emperor penguin, the movie manages to capture the birds in an uncannily human light, without ever staging events or removing them from their natural habitat. The result is a film that's pretty hard to find fault with. Hopefully you will come out of this film a better person; plus you'll pick up handy tips for surviving in Antarctic conditions and avoiding hungry sea mammals.

Mysterious Skin
Sunday, November 6

No more birds; this movie is about boys, and quite a thought-provoking film it is. Brian Lackey, a young man living in Kansas, is convinced that periodic blackouts during his childhood were alien abductions. In fact, he has unconsciously blocked out a number of childhood sexual experiences that he was forced to share with his friend Neil, who is a local teenage gay hustler. Don't be deterred by the fact that Neil is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, previously of [ITAL]Third Rock from the Sun[ITAL] fame. This movie is a welcome antidote to the over-the-top [ITAL]Will & Grace[ITAL] portrayal of gay men, and it has the international awards to prove it.