SUNDAY

Switzerland is generally considered an orderly society, one of those capitalist places with a socialist vibe. In Xavier Koller’s films, however, a rugged and even perverse individualism thrives. The Swiss actor-director, best known in the United States for his Oscar-nominated 1990 film Journey of Hope, depicts life high in the Swiss Alps, where a single person can defy convention and authority. Made in 1985, Der Schwarze Tanner is set during World War II, when Swiss government officials decreed that alpine farmers who specialized in cows, sheep, and chickens should also grow vegetables to prevent famine in the isolated countryside. Many farmers refuse, but the most doggedly resistant is Tanner, who derides neighbors who plant potatoes on the mountainsides. Aided by a dog that keeps at bay all men who wear ties, Tanner continues to run his farm as he always has. His final victory over his bureaucratic tormentors, however, is a Pyrrhic one. Der Schwarze Tanner has comic moments, but it’s not as exuberantly satirical as 1979’s The Frozen Heart (pictured), the tale of an impoverished small-time basket-maker whose drinking buddy freezes to death one night. The basket-maker reports the death to the local authorities, whose response is to dump the body in the jurisdiction of a neighboring town. The dead man’s friend takes revenge with an elaborate scheme predicated on the villagers’ greed. The two films complement the museum’s retrospective of early-20th-century German artist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, who often worked in Davos, Switzerland. They screen at 4 p.m. Sunday, April 6, at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 842-6799. (Mark Jenkins)

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