Release Date: January 11, 2013
Opening 2013 Film Season at National Gallery of Art Highlights Recent Restorations, Classic Cinema, and Experimental Works by Jean Grémillon, Isaki Lacuesta, Su Friedrich, Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, and More
Film still from La Leyenda del tiempo (The Legend of Time) (2006, 35 mm, Spanish with subtitles, 109 minutes) to be shown at the National Gallery of Art on Saturday, February 23, 4:00 p.m. as part of the film series of Isaki Lacuesta: The Artist's Ruse.
Washington, DC—This winter, the free film program at the National Gallery of Art celebrates work by acclaimed experimental filmmakers, recent restorations in both 35 mm and DCP formats, and an array of classic cinema. Films are shown in original format unless otherwise noted.
Several recent restorations are presented this season, including the French poetic-realist classic Lumière d 'été on January 20, the seminal Ashes and Diamonds by Andrzej Wajda on February 2, and the 1960s independent film with Motown soundtrack Nothing But a Man on February 16. Sam Taylor's 1929 classic Taming of the Shrew screens January 12, showcasing the onscreen talents of married actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, Hollywood's first power couple.
Beginning February 3, the series Isaki Lacuesta: The Artist's Ruse highlights the films of this talented young Catalan cineaste. Other series include Jean Grémillon and the Poetry of Realism, featuring five of Grémillon's beautifully crafted works; L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema, a project devoted to the pioneering directors who enrolled in the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television in the 1970s and 1980s; and American Originals Now: Su Friedrich, honoring the work of the celebrated American essayist.
Other special film events this season include several ciné-concerts with live musical accompaniment, such as Thomas Ince's One a Minute and O Mimi San on February 16 and Marseille, the Old Port on March 16 with Alexandre Wimmer in performance. On February 9, the Gallery presents The Nicholas Brothers: Born to Dance, an illustrated lecture by Bruce Goldstein, a friend of the famous self-taught entertainer duo. The Washington premiere of Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters takes place on March 17, presented in association with the Environmental Film Festival.
Films are screened in the East Building Auditorium, located at Fourth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Works are presented in original formats and seating is on a first-come, first-seated basis. Doors open 30 minutes before each show and programs are subject to change. For more information, visit www.nga.gov/programs/film or call (202) 842-6799.
Art Films and Events
Taming of the Shrew
Introduction by Christel Schmidt
Saturday, January 12, 2:00 p.m.
The marriage of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, a union of two popular stars and two of the cofounders of United Artists, gave Hollywood its first power couple and one of the twentieth century's celebrated romances. Although the pair worked side by side at a studio they co-owned, it was not until the end of the 1920s that they finally appeared together on film. Taming of the Shrew became a lavish showcase for their legendary talents. Preceding the feature is footage of Pickford, including archival newsreel clips and home movies. (Sam Taylor, 1929, 35 mm, 66 minutes) Christel Schmidt is the editor of Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies. Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art with support from the Celeste Bartos Fund for Film Preservation.
The March to Washington
Sunday, January 20, 2:00 p.m.
Fifty years ago, in August 1963, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom became one of the biggest political rallies in the history of the United States. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech, and the rally encouraged passage of the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Voting Rights Act (1965). James Blue's documentary, produced for the United States Information Agency (USIA), was intended for use outside the country. In 1990 Congress authorized the screening of USIA films domestically and, in 2008, The March to Washington was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry. (James Blue, 1964, 35 mm, 33 minutes)
The Tin Drum
Washington premiere of the director's cut
Sunday, January 27, 4:00 p.m.
Nobel Prize winner Günter Grass' celebrated The Tin Drum—the prewar tale of young Oskar living in Danzig (Gdansk), who resolves to arrest his own development when he sees the awful savagery of adults—became an epic screen version, shot on location with a stunning international cast that included Charles Aznavour and Daniel Olbrychski. Extra footage restoring The Tin Drum to its original cut, including contextual details present when it won the Palme d 'or at Cannes but missing in release versions, adds 30 minutes of running time to earlier prints. (Volker Schlöndorff, 1979, DCP, German with subtitles, 163 minutes)
Ashes and Diamonds
Washington premiere of the digital restoration
Saturday, February 2, 2:30 p.m.
One of the great antiheroes of film history, Zbigniew Cybulski (1927–1967) plays Maciek Chelmicki, a soldier in the anticommunist and antifacist Home Army who receives one final demoralizing command, in Wajda's adaptation of the 1948 novel by Jerzy Andrzejewski. Set in a provincial town on May 8, 1945, as Poland was poised between a fresh Nazi defeat and the onset of the new Soviet dominance (the Red Army had pushed the Nazis out before taking hold), Ashes and Diamonds brings visual experimentation to a charged political thriller filled with symbols and haunting tableaux. This new theatrical restoration reinforces the film's reputation as "the seminal masterpiece of Polish cinema and one of the great masterworks of all time."—Peter Keough. (Andrzej Wajda, 1958, DCP, Polish with subtitles, 104 minutes)
The Nicholas Brothers: Born to Dance
Illustrated talk by Bruce Goldstein
Saturday, February 9, 2:30 p.m.
The fabulous Nicholas Brothers, Fayard (1914–2006) and Harold (1921–2000), are among the greatest dancers of the 20th century. Despite racial hurdles, these self-taught African American entertainers became one of the biggest musical acts of their time, headlining on Broadway, radio, and television, and in vaudeville and nightclubs. Their show-stopping numbers in such films as Sun Valley Serenade and Stormy Weather made them international icons. Known for effortless balletic moves and jaw-dropping leaps, flips, and splits, along with a consummate grace and humor, they remain impossible to categorize. Bruce Goldstein, a friend of the brothers, is director of repertory programming at New York's Film Forum. (Various formats, total running time approximately 90 minutes)
Ciné-Concert: Thomas Ince's One a Minute
preceded by O Mimi San
Introduction by Brian Taves
Andrew Simpson, piano
Saturday, February 16, 2:00 p.m.
Every film history hails Thomas Ince for transforming the chaos of early Hollywood production into an orderly process that evolved into the studio system. Brian Taves, author of Thomas Ince: Hollywood's Independent Pioneer, discusses the surprises to be found in his oeuvre. Ince created, for example, the first American cycle to star Asian performers—the team of Tsuru Aoki and Sessue Hayakawa.
Their melodrama set in Japan, O Mimi San (1914), is followed by One a Minute (1919), with a conundrum no less vital now as then: how does the mom-and-pop business compete when the chain store comes to town? (35 mm, total running time 90 minutes) Special thanks to George Eastman House and the Library of Congress.
Nothing But a Man
Saturday, February 16, 4:30 p.m.
Railroad worker Duff (Ivan Dixon) walks into a small-town church in Alabama and falls for Josie (Abbey Lincoln), the preacher's daughter. Though both are African American, Josie's father is not supportive and, in the middle of a palpably racist town, the couple's difficulties only intensify. In the early 1960s, a naturalistic portrayal of the Black American experience spelled risky box office. Nonetheless, Nothing But a Man, with its Motown soundtrack, proved a huge success at international festivals. (Michael Roemer and Robert M. Young, 1964, 35 mm, 95 minutes) A Library of Congress restoration.
Ciné-Concert: Marseille, the Old Port
Alexandre Wimmer in performance
Saturday, March 16, 2:00 p.m.
A celebration of Marseille—the largest port on the Mediterranean and a muse for filmmakers since the birth of cinema—begins with Marseille sans soleil, a poetic tale of three young people shooting a film about their city, with open-air cinematography reminiscent of the French new wave. This short was made by Marseille's self-taught cineaste Paul Carpita, son of a dockworker, who was passionate about recording the daily life of the working classes. With thanks to Stephania Sandrone, Linda Lilienfeld, and Mary Baron. (Paul Carpita, 1961, DigiBeta from 35 mm, French with subtitles, 17 minutes)
In Coeur fidèle's spare silent melodrama, a Marseille barmaid tries to flee her lover for another man. From the old Marseille waterfront with its bistros and ramshackle buildings to the park with the old merry-go-round, the visuals capture vividly the sensations of another era. "All of modern poetry is here… the quais, the boats, the dirty rooms; the great inspiring themes of the literature of the day"—Henri Langlois. (Jean Epstein, 1923, 35 mm, silent, 65 minutes)
Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters
Sunday, March 17, 4:30 p.m.
Twilight touching down on a near-empty American townscape is the consistent theme of Gregory Crewdson's hyperrealistic photography. Fascinated by the power of light to transform a banal setting into a sublime scene, Crewdson goes to great lengths to understand the communities where he shoots, preferring the abandoned factory towns and tawdry suburban neighborhoods that have come to represent post-industrial America. When he is not working in a real place, he replicates "frozen moments" on a sound stage, shooting with a large cast and crew. (Ben Shapiro, 2012, DCP, 77 minutes) Presented in association with the Environmental Film Festival.
The Fifth Season
Sunday, March 24, 4:30 p.m.
In Belgium's secluded Ardennes, where people live close to the land, a mystifying force is changing the natural order—seasons are erratic, seeds don 't sprout, and birds and bees ignore their labor. Without the cyclical rhythms, the local villagers are on the verge of lunacy and revert to their only hope for recovery—a sacrifice of one of their own. Weaving a surreal tapestry, The Fifth Season (La Cinquième saison) recalls the canvases of Magritte, Delvaux, and Ensor. "A mad elegy to the land"—Cameron Bailey. (Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth, 2012, HDCam, French and Flemish with subtitles, 94 minutes) Presented in association with the Environmental Film Festival.
Sixpack: The Austrian Experiment
For more than 20 years, the Vienna-based nonprofit distributor Sixpack Film has been disseminating the robust independent film culture of Austria—an eloquent and compelling cinema that flourishes far away from the commercial realm. Connected with a wide variety of artists, producers, festivals, and funders, Sixpack ensures a long lifespan for fragile works that prove tough to market via conventional channels. For Austria's vibrant avant-garde and documentary communities, Sixpack is a welcome resource and, for the rest of the world, Sixpack sets a standard, remaining unique in a field where marketing methodologies and financing are precarious and complicated. The films in the series are all recent Sixpack acquisitions. With special thanks to Ralph McKay.
Way of Passion
Sunday, January 6, 2:00 p.m.
The Good Friday procession in Trapani, Sicily, is an annual ritual that has survived in the town for four hundred years. Without intruding, the filmmakers manage to capture the celebrations surrounding this remarkable festival through the entire town, from the men carousing the night before, to women parading as Christ's brides, to the deeply moving processional itself, as villagers watch the local menfolk bearing the weight of the altar of Christ on their shoulders. "The groups of men are a feast for the eyes…one cannot get enough of watching, stirring associations with Mafia Padroni. The magic of this ritual seems to be enduring their suffering together"—Brigitta Burger-Utzer. (Joerg Burger, 2011, HDCam, Italian with subtitles, 89 minutes)
Sunday, January 6, 4:00 p.m.
The fabled Mexico City neighborhood Tlatelolco symbolizes the country's intense and tangled history. Its main square, Plaza de las Tres Culturas, contains the remains of Aztec temples, a 16th-century cathedral, and one of the world's great archaeological excavations—yet the plaza was also the site of a notorious bloodbath between demonstrators and the police just days before the 1968 Olympics. Austrian filmmaker Lotte Schreiber chose as her centerpiece Mario Pani's massive 1960s apartment complex, Unidad Habitacional Nonoalco-Tlatelolco, the largest housing project in Mexico and a one-time utopian city-within-a-city. (Lotte Schreiber, 2011, HDCam, Spanish with subtitles, 75 minutes)
Toward Nowa Huta
preceded by Workers Leaving the Factory (Again)
Saturday, January 12, 4:00 p.m.
Though he fled his hometown of Nowa Huta, filmmaker Dariusz Kowalski returned last year to this formerly thriving industrial area near Krakow, Poland, to capture its present-day life. Toward Nowa Huta refrains from judgments about the outwardly dreary state of things, the loss of jobs, or the bitter clashes of 1989, and instead records fresh reflections on the social fabric of this city that carries on in spite of crushing obstacles, and only occasionally looks back. (Dariusz Kowalski, 2012, HDCam, Polish and German with subtitles, 78 minutes)
Using the Lumiere brothers' legendary 1895 film La sortie de l 'usine Lumière à Lyon as inspiration, Workers Leaving the Factory (Again) records employees leaving a plant, their backs to the camerain a precise and calculated progression. The eeriness of the interiorspace and the ominous mood of the rising mass of workers create anunease that suggests there are more than a few workplace anxietieshere. (Katharina Gruzei, 2012, 35 mm, no dialogue, 11 minutes)
Low Definition Control (Malfunctions #0)
preceded by A to A
Sunday, January 13, 4:30 p.m.
A thoughtful discourse on public surveillance in contemporary society provides voiceover counterpoint to a sequence of startling images filmed without their subjects ' knowledge. Called "science fiction in a literal sense" by the filmmaker, Low Definition Control (Malfunctions #0) builds a compelling and chilling commentary on the deceptions and excesses inherent in observational photography and the many forms of social control in modern life. (Michael Palm, 2011, 35 mm, German with subtitles, 95 minutes)
Preceding the film is A to A, a dynamic study of one hundred islands in the middle of traffic circles, mostly bizarre architectural creations that comment on the humdrum and oddly funny horrors of the road. (Johann Lurf, 2011, 35 mm, no dialogue, 5 minutes)
Five Shorts from Sixpack
Sunday, January 20, noon
Kino (Chris Marker, 2012, 1 minute) is the legendary French essayist's minute-long festival trailer for the 2012 Viennale; Arcana (Henry Hills, 2011, 30 minutes) synchronizes John Zorn's music The Bribe, a tribute to Mickey Spillane, with a montage of footage; Funny Games Ghost (Stefan Hafner and Karin Hammer, 2012, 10 minutes) revisits shots from Michael Haneke's Funny Games and its American remake; Experimental Forest (Michaela Grill, 2012, 22 minutes) penetrates a forest's visual mysteries to create a luminous paean to nature; Zounk! (Billy Roisz, 2012, 6 minutes) captures an interplay of outlandish color and sound. (HDCam, total running time 89 minutes)
Jean Grémillon and the Poetry of Realism
One of the forgotten figures of midcentury French cinema, Jean Grémillon (1901–1959) entered filmmaking as a musician for the silent cinema. Caught up in the avant-garde spirit of Paris, he began making experimental shorts in the impressionistic style then in vogue. (In Maldone, an early presound feature, one can feel the vitality of these early experiments.) With the arrival of sound in the 1930s and the rise of new popular genres in France such as musicals and filmed theater, Grémillon left film temporarily but returned to make his mark in a new trend that was to become the ideal of French cinema in the prewar years. Poetic realism—dark and lyrical, populated by marginalized people in working-class locales—had captured the world's imagination. This series presents five of Grémillon's beautifully crafted works. With thanks to Cinémathèque de Toulouse, CNC, Tamasa, and Cinémathèque Française.
Gueule d 'amour
Saturday, January 19, 2:00 p.m.
Jean Gabin—provincial army hero known as "lover lips" among the ladies—meets his match in Parisian femme fatale Mireille Balin. Completely besotted, he gives up his career for her, opting for a life of obsessive self-reproach. "Gueule d 'amour is driven by the electricity between Gabin and Balin, but a source of its power lies in the visuals with which Grémillon meticulously sets his scene; shooting on location in Paris and Orange, out of inanimate objects he creates a France alive with personality"—Judy Bloch. (1937, 35 mm, French with subtitles, 90 minutes)
preceded by Chartres
Andrew Simpson, piano
Saturday, January 19, 4:00 p.m.
A rarely screened early feature, Maldone's location shooting, bold camera, superimpositions, experimental angles, and clever cutting mark it stylistically as one of the more sophisticated films of the late silent era. The narrative centers on Olivier Maldone (Charles Dullin, well-known man of the theater), a carefree field hand and vagabond, given a chance to enjoy the life of a landowner through marriage. Eventually, he finds real love in the carnal snare of a gypsy called Zita, and abandons the bourgeois life. (1927, 35 mm, French intertitles translated live, 90 minutes)
Chartres captures the beauty of the cathedral and of the city itself. (1923, 35 mm, silent, 12 minutes)
Lumière d 'été
American premiere of the digital restoration
Sunday, January 20, 4:00 p.m.
The characters in Lumière d 'été (Summer Light), meeting for relaxation in a remote mountain chateau, begin a mad romantic roundelay that ends in a bizarre masked ball. The suggestion of class prejudices within the group—bourgeois characters seem undesirable while the working-classes shine—infuriated the Vichy censors who suppressed the film. "Lumière d 'été is not only Grémillon's most overtly political film, it is arguably his finest technical achievement" — James Travers. The film's restoration was carried out by the Cinématheque Française and SNC (Groupe M6). (1943, DCP, French with subtitles, 112 minutes)
Le Ciel est à vous
Saturday, January 26, 2:00 p.m.
Le Ciel est à vous's (The Sky Is Yours) unusual feminist perspective flew in the face of the Vichy government's decree for women to stay home and raise children. Thérese Gauthier (Madeleine Renaud) is a free spirit who rules her husband and ignores her family. Her main ambition is to break the solo flying record for women. "The existence of petit bourgeois individuals who take pride in their work is beautifully and realistically evoked in what is considered by many to be Grémillon's masterpiece"—Judy Bloch. (1943, 35 mm, French with subtitles, 105 minutes)
Saturday, January 26, 4:00 p.m.
The primal power of l 'amour fou is measured against that other out-of-control force of nature, the waters of the sea. Off the Brittany coast, Jean Gabin, captain of a salvage tugboat, meets Michele Morgan, whom he rescues one ill-omened stormy night. They become lovers, trapped in a painful triangle with Gabin's delicate and devoted wife (Madeleine Renaud). Grémillon, who uses the sea metaphor to full effect, also exploits the potential of music and sound, dramatically adding to the edgy mise-en-scene, especially in the final sequence. (1941, 35 mm, French with subtitles, 81 minutes)
Isaki Lacuesta: The Artist's Ruse
The well-crafted cinema of Catalan filmmaker Isaki Lacuesta (born 1975) is a smooth blend of fiction, essay, allegory, documentary, compilation, even dramatic reenactment. Now building a reputation in Europe (in 2009 and 2011 he won the major award at the San Sebastián Film Festival), Isaki is a visual adventurer who seeks subjects that others would find daunting: a dadaist poet boxer, an ex–Argentine revolutionary, and a famous Spanish double agent are among his projects. Eschewing formal scripts, Isaki classifies his work as cine escrito (written cinema) and cine no escrito (unwritten cinema). "I always look, in an intuitive way, for a surprise." The series has been organized with the support of the Institut Ramon Llull and the Embassy of Spain.
Garbo the Spy
Sunday, February 3, 4:30 p.m.
Juan Pujol García (code name Garbo, after the actress) was a famous double agent whose well-timed trickery made possible the success of the Normandy invasions. As a star player for both Britain and Nazi Germany during the war, he was the only spy to receive both the Order of the British Empire and the Iron Cross II. Isaki was a co-writer on this compelling and polished documentary that features historians Nigel West and Mark Seaman, and a host of informants including Garbo himself. (Edmon Roch, 2008, 35 mm, English, German, Spanish, and Catalan with subtitles, 88 minutes)
Cravan vs. Cravan
Sunday, February 10, 4:30 p.m.
Maverick poet Arthur Cravan (1887–1918)—provocateur, professional boxer, and celebrated nephew of Oscar Wilde—is an ideal theme for Isaki's idiosyncratic method. Born in Switzerland, Cravan established himself in Paris and became involved with the art community there, crafting a persona as a flamboyant individualist and even editing his own avant-garde journal. Isaki uses French pugilist-turned-filmmaker Frank Nicotra as the vehicle to pursue the realities and myths of Cravan's life, his comings and goings in Europe and North America, and his uncanny disappearance in the Gulf of Mexico in 1918. (2002, 35 mm, Spanish, Catalan, and French with subtitles, 100 minutes)
All Night Long
Sunday, February 17, 4:30 p.m.
Inspired by travel writer Marcos Ordóñez's Beberse la vida: Ava Gardner en España (2004), Isaki explores Hollywood star Ava Gardner'sfanatical attachment to Spain. The actress visited the country for thefirst time in 1951 when cast as the lead (opposite James Mason) in Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, a story based on folkloric legendand shot in Tossa de Mar on the Costa Brava north of Barcelona.Working there changed Gardner's life. "A playful, accessible, andengagingly unorthodox documentary with countless clips from theactress ' back catalogue"—Neil Young. (2010, 35 mm, Spanish withsubtitles, 80 minutes)
Los Condenados (The Condemned)
Saturday, February 23, 2:00 p.m.
Los Condenados is Isaki's first work of pure fiction—a story, he says, "about the moral dilemma of remaining mute about the past." In Argentina, one-time 1970s revolutionaries (their lives interrupted by the so-called "Dirty War") gather in a mysterious jungle setting to find the remains of murdered friends believed buried there, their quest to dig up the missing bodies at odds with the lush green surroundings. At the center of the group is Martín (Daniel Fanego), rebel leader now living in Spain, who is persuaded to join the dig in spite of his ambivalent mood. (2009, 35 mm, Spanish with subtitles, 94 minutes)
La Leyenda del tiempo (The Legend of Time)
Saturday, February 23, 4:00 p.m.
At the heart of La Leyenda del tiempo is the figure of Camarón de la Isla, a celebrated gypsy flamenco singer and hero-celebrity who continues to inspire even after his untimely death at age 42. The narrative unfolds in thematic segments, centering on the lives of two characters deeply affected by Camarón's voice: Isra, a gypsy boy unable to sing, and Makiko, a young Japanese woman captivated by the famous cantaor, who makes a pilgrimage to Spain to learn more. A third character, a Japanese tuna fisherman (inspired by Rossellini's Stromboli), links the separate stories. (2006, 35 mm, Spanish with subtitles, 109 minutes) Special thanks to ICAA.
El Cuaderno de barro (The Clay Diaries)
followed by Los Pasos dobles (The Double Steps)
Sunday, February 24, 4:30 p.m.
As a truck filled with four tons of wet clay arrives from Spain in the Dogon region of Mali, the local people are mystified. What ensues then is an astonishing performance by Spanish artist Miquel Barceló and French choreographer Josef Nadj on top of the Bandiagara cliffs—El Cuaderno de barro is an athletic, stunning, and comical choreography for two men dressed in black suits using only their bodies to attack the wet clay, creating a magnificent work of art that harmonizes with the surroundings. (2011, HDCam, Bambara and French with subtitles, 60 minutes)
A second collaboration in Mali between Isaki Lacuesta and Miquel Barceló, Los Pasos dobles was awarded the top honor at the 2011 San Sebastián Film Festival. One of Barceló's obsessions is the French writer and artist François Augiéras (1925–1971), who loved exploration and mystery. In the mid-twentieth century Augiéras painted a series of massive frescoes (known as the "Sistine Chapel of the desert") that were swallowed up by the advancing sand. Isaki's quasi-fictional narrative is inspired by Augiéras, Barceló, and the Mali Dogon storytelling tradition, "concerned with creating a visual realm that approximates an internal reaction to Augiéras's painting and writing"—Chuck Bowen. (2011, HDCam, Bambara and French with subtitles, 87 minutes)
Responsible Realism: Belgium's Dardenne Brothers
Within European cinema, Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne occupy an exclusive spot, holding more coveted awards from Cannes than any other filmmaker. Their artistic success derives directly from the rigor of their method—meticulous use of natural light and handheld camera, and a documentary-like naturalism tinged with spiritual undertones. Scenarios consist of controlled studies of marginalized, often self-effacing characters, portrayed by unknown or amateur actors. Philip Mosley, author of The Cinema of the Dardenne Brothers: Responsible Realism, introduces the program. With thanks to the Embassy of Belgium.
Introduction by Philip Mosley
Saturday, March 2, 2:00 p.m.
Rosetta took European critics by storm when it opened, and even made a semi-successful foray into the American market. Its stark narrative—a teenage girl uses her meager resources to eke out an existence in a trailer park for herself and her alcoholic mother—profited greatly from the raw performance of actress Émilie Dequenne. "This may sound like the grimmest sort of neorealism, but the Dardennes keep the story so ruthlessly unsentimental and physical it would be a disservice to describe it as neo anything"—Jonathan Rosenbaum. (1999, 35 mm, French with subtitles, 95 minutes)
Saturday, March 2, 4:30 p.m.
The Son (Le Fils) weaves together the tale of Olivier, a middle-aged carpenter at a rehabilitation center for boys, and Francis, a new trainee. Although Olivier is divorced and living a quietly routine existence, he refuses to take on Francis as his apprentice until, curiously, he changes his mind. The reason for this shift of character, and the seeming oddness of their relationship, become the focal point of the film. (2002, 35 mm, French with subtitles, 103 minutes)
L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema
March 10–April 28
"At a particular time and place in American cinema history, a critical mass of filmmakers of African origin or descent together produced a rich, innovative, sustained, and intellectually rigorous body of work, independent of any entertainment industry influence"—Shannon Kelley. The National Gallery joins the American Film Institute Silver Theatre in presenting a selection of films closely associated with the creative renaissance realized by of a group of African and African American students who entered the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television during the 1970s and 1980s. Extraordinary windows on the legacies of Black communities, the films in the series are remarkable not only for their evocations of everyday life, but even more for the revelation of a diverse talent pool and political resolve. Presented in association with UCLA Film & Television Archive and supported in part by grants from the Getty Foundation and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The series curators are Allyson Nadia Field, Jan-Christopher Horak, Shannon Kelley, and Jacqueline Stewart. The series continues in April. (Texts following are based on material provided by UCLA.)
My Brother's Wedding
preceded by A Little Off Mark
Sunday, March 3, 4:30 p.m.
Charles Burnett's (Killer of Sheep) second film, My Brother's Wedding, has not been widely seen in this new director's cut, a full half hour shorter than its theatrical release. A portrayal of Black, lower-middle-class life in south central Los Angeles in the 1980s, it reveals the power of Burnett's unadorned style, though more driven by narrative than its predecessor. The protagonist Pierce (Everett Silas) is a naive, annoyed but idealistic dropout who works for his parents ' business. Shot on location, the film reveals the network of relationships that constantly tug at the lives onscreen. (Charles Burnett, 1983, DigiBeta from 16 mm, 82 minutes)
The hero of A Little Off Mark is the eternally nice, shy guy who tries all the wrong moves to meet the right girl. (Robert Wheaton, 1986, DigiBeta from 16 mm, 9 minutes)
preceded by Daydream Therapy
Sunday, March 10, 4:30 p.m.
Inspired by seeing a Black woman in Chicago evicted in winter, Haile Gerima blends narrative fiction, documentary, surrealism, and political modernism in his unflinching story about a pregnant welfare recipient in Watts, Los Angeles. Featuring the magnetic Barbara O. Jones as Dorothy, Bush Mama is an unrelenting and powerfully moving look at the realities of inner-city poverty and systemic disenfranchisement of African Americans. (Haile Gerima, 1975, 16 mm, 97 minutes)
Daydream Therapy, imagining the fantasy life of a hotel worker trying to flee his workplace humiliations, is set to Nina Simone's haunting rendition of "Pirate Jenny." (Bernard Nicolas, 1977, DigiBeta from 16 mm, 8 minutes)
Daughters of the Dust
followed by The Diary of an African Nun
Saturday, March 23, 4:30 p.m.
In the early 20th century off the South Carolina coast, three generations of Gullah women, descendants of African captives living on the Sea Islands, are planning a migration to the mainland for what they see as a better way of life. Not surprisingly, the family clashes over their reasons for this big move, and in the process expose deeply rooted concerns of displaced people. Julie Dash's tour de force, the first American feature by an African American woman to receive general theatrical release, was named to the National Film Registry in 2004. Preservation funded by the Packard Humanities Institute. (Julie Dash, 1991, 35 mm, 112 minutes)
From a story by Alice Walker, Julie Dash filmed The Diary of an African Nun, a stunning pantomime performance by Barbara O. Jonesas a nun in Uganda who questions the spiritual void in her life. (JulieDash, 1977, DigiBeta, 15 minutes) Preservation funded in part by the National Film Preservation Foundation.
preceded by When It Rains
Saturday, March 30, 2:30 p.m.
Eddie Warmack, an African American jazz musician, is released from prison for the killing of a white gangster. Not willing to play for the mobsters who control the music industry, he searches for his mentor and grandfather, musician Poppa Harris. Larry Clark's film theorizes that jazz is one of the purest expressions of African American culture, embodying the struggles of generations of Black people and now hijacked by a white culture that exploits jazz musicians for profit. Preservation funded in part by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Packard Humanities Institute. (Larry Clark, 1977, 16 mm, 111 minutes)
In When It Rains a man tries to help a woman pay her rent and learns a tough lesson about linking up with others. (Charles Burnett, 1995, 16 mm, 13 minutes) The series continues in April.
American Originals Now: Su Friedrich
A master of the essay film, Su Friedrich has built an international reputation with dynamic films dedicated to a personal exploration of the self. Her approach, neither didactic nor exclusive, brims with humor and pathos, perhaps the most recognizable elements of her style. A tireless experimenter since the late 1970s and a major contributor to the development of gay-themed cinema in the 1980s, Friedrich's feminist perspective never ceases to reveal the complexities—or question the cultural assumptions—of everyday life. Her films have won numerous awards and have been the focus of retrospectives, including the Museum of Modern Art. Since 1998, Friedrich has taught film and video production at Princeton University.
Seeing Red and The Head of a Pin
Su Friedrich in person
Sunday, March 31, 4:30 p.m.
Seeing Red (2005) weaves personal rumination, Bach's Goldberg Variations as performed by Glenn Gould, and the visual element of the color red into a stunning work. "Sometimes bracingly expressive, sometimes serenely beautiful"—Stuart Klawans.
Through narrative and experimental techniques, The Head of a Pin (2004) investigates the know-how of street-smart city dwellers, such as the filmmaker and her friends, as they attempt to "go back to nature." (HDCam, total running time approximately 50 minutes)
Su Friedrich in person
Sunday, March 31, 5:30 p.m.
Friedrich's most recent video, Gut Renovation is an epic personal essay on the gentrification of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. A resident for more than 20 years, the artist offers a unique perspective on the transformation of her neighborhood from a community of thriving small industries, working-class families, and other artists into a rezoned, whitewashed environment developed specifically for the upper classes. Discussion with the filmmaker follows the screening. (2012, HDCam, 81 minutes)
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