Release Date: February 5, 2008
National Gallery of Art 2008 Winter Film Program Includes Retrospectives Honoring Hungarian Filmmaker István Szabó and Russian Director Alexander Sokurov, Washington Premieres, and Personal Appearances
Washington, DC—An ongoing program of classic cinema, documentaries, avant-garde films, and area premieres is presented each weekend in the National Gallery of Art's East Building Auditorium, located at 4th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Programs are open to the public and free of charge. Doors open approximately 30 minutes before each show and seating is on a first-come, first-seated basis.
Art Films and Events
Balázs Béla Stúdió, 1961–1970
February 9 at 2:00
The Balázs Béla Stúdió, established in Budapest in 1959, quickly became a vital center of avant-garde and documentary filmmaking in Central Europe. A selection of short films from the first decade of the BBS will be presented in conjunction with the retrospective honoring Hungarian director István Szabó. All films in this program are Hungarian with subtitles.
Max Linder Ciné-Concert
World premiere of score by Gabriel Thibaudeau with Octuor de France
March 8 at 3:00
French comic Max Linder (1883-1925) was perhaps the first true "character" to appear in the movies. A debonair ladies' man and bon vivant forever getting into trouble on screen, Linder directed, wrote, and starred in nearly two hundred delightfully amusing shorts before World War I. Not only was he adored by audiences, but Charlie Chaplin called him an inspiration. This program features six films from the collection of Cinémathèque Québécois, including Max se trompe d'étage, Max en convalescence, Max veut grandir, Max n'aime pas les chats, and Max à Monaco. A new musical score was composed by Gabriel Thibaudeau and will be performed here by the renowned Parisan ensemble Octuor de France under the direction of Mr. Thibaudeau.
Silvestre Revueltas: Music for Film
Redes (The Wave)
!Vámonos con Pancho Villa!
March 16 at 4:00
Cinematography by Paul Strand and music by Silvestre Revueltas synchronize to create the raw political power of Redes, a dramatization of Mexican fishermen on strike in the village of Alvarado. The film is presented in conjunction with Two Faces of Mexican Music: Carlos Chávez and Silvestre Revueltas Revisited and is co-sponsored by the Library of Congress Music Division, the Mexican Cultural Institute, Filmoteca UNAM, and the Mexican Ministry of Culture.
Revueltas's music also enlivens the revolutionary spirit of !Vámonos con Pancho Villa!, a story of six intrepid rancheros who join the army of their hero Pancho Villa to help the Mexican cause, only to be led off course. Spanish with subtitles
Profit motive and the whispering wind
March 22 at 1:00
A poetic yet nearly wordless essay on the history of the progressive movement in America, Profit motive and the whispering wind was shot across the continental United States among the historical vestiges of the movement—tombstones, monuments, and forgotten landscapes now in the shadow of highways and malls. Mother Jones, Susan B. Anthony, and Eugene Debs, along with lesser known proponents of the movement, materialize in the "spirit of place . . . the trees and meadows and blown light of the great American landscape."
preceded by The Delaware Project
March 22 at 2:30
For Radiant City, Gary Burns, Canada's king of surreal comedy, joins journalist Jim Brown on suburban outing. Venturing into territory both familiar and foreign, they turn the documentary genre inside out, crafting a vivid account of life in The Late Suburban Age. The Delaware Project is a tone poem on a young woman's sense of disconnection in a landscape undergoing rapid development. Both films are presented in association with the Environmental Film Festival.
March 22 at 4:30
More than three decades ago, American architect Michael Reynolds conceived a project to design and build sustainable architecture from the scraps and waste of civilized society. Whether utopian idealist or eccentric crackpot, he held firmly to his notion that this sort of housing can alter the way society views itself in an age of ecological instability. Shot in the U.S., India, and Mexico, Garbage Warrior documents Reynolds' arduous process of introducing his ideas to a less than accommodating community. Presented in association with the Environmental Film Festival.
From the Archive: 16 at 12
Every Tuesday at noon March 25, the Gallery will feature unusual historical films in 16 mm from the National Gallery's film department, including artists' portraits and exceptional educational films on topics from prehistory to the present. Now considered an endangered format, these 16 mm prints are sometimes unique copies.
Duke Ellington at the White House
February 5, 12, 19, and 26 at 12:00
Washington native Duke Ellington observes his seventieth birthday at a White House party hosted by President Richard Nixon and First Lady Pat Nixon. This rare screening is part of the Gallery's Black History Month celebrations.
The City of Washington
March 4 and 18 at 12:00
The U.S. Treasury Department produced this unusual early film on the history of Washington's plan and presented it to President Herbert Hoover, a joint session of Congress, and the American Institute of Architects in April 1929.
Washington, City with a Plan
March 11 and 25 at 12:00
Produced with the cooperation of the National Gallery of Art on the occasion of the National Capital Sesquicentennial, this film continues the story of planning for the federal city twenty years after The City of Washington. It highlights the soon-to-be constructed Federal Triangle, using new footage of the city interspersed with existing historical material from the earlier film.
István Szabó's 20th Century
Honoring the commanding career of Hungarian filmmaker István Szabó on the occasion of his 70th birthday, this retrospective explores the diverse directions his films have taken over the decades since the 1960s. While Szabó has explored various forms of filmic representation, the most characteristic aspects of his cinema remain rooted in the fate of 20th-century Central Europe. The retrospective includes the director's most widely acclaimed work alongside a number of rarely seen early productions. Mr. Szabó will be present on the concluding weekend of the series (March 1–2) to introduce the programs.
The Age of Daydreaming
preceded by Koncert
February 9 at 4:30
Freshly graduated from college, Jancsi and his friends eagerly anticipate the launch of their careers and their new role in the grown-up world. Soon confronted, however, with bureaucracy, disillusionment, and the self-centered priorities of adult life, Jancsi steadily sees his youthful illusions disintegrate. An explicit ode to the French New Wave, this early film already explores a number of highly personal themes that mark Szabó's subsequent work. The Age of Daydreaming was the director's first feature and won the Silver Sail Award at the Locarno Film Festival in 1965 where it was first shown to an international audience. The early short Koncert precedes the feature.
February 10 at 4:00
Containing autobiographical elements (Szabó grew up fatherless), the film focuses on the theme of personal loss in the context of recent Hungarian history as it centers on the story of Bence Takó, a boy who lost his father during the siege of Budapest in 1945. With the help of some treasured personal belongings, the boy gradually builds up fictional roles for his father, depicting him as a pivotal figure in recent historic events. As Bence matures, he realizes that the myths he has created increasingly get in the way of his own development.
February 10 at 5:30
A delightful backstage drama set against a huge international production of the Tannhäuser opera by Richard Wagner, the film explores with a touch of satire the impact that interpersonal relationships can have on a collective performance.
preceded by a selection of Budapest shorts
February 16 at 12:30
The imagery of post-1945 Budapest is explored in the allegorical tale of an abandoned and derailed tram discovered by a group of people in the countryside. They decide to put the vehicle back on track and push it to safety in the capital's depot. The symbolic journey takes the tram's passengers through the most recent events of Hungarian history, while confronting certain individuals along the way.
February 16 at 2:30
Set in Hungary during the final months of World War II, Confidence takes up the story of two fugitives who reluctantly agree to pose as husband and wife in order to protect their real-life spouses, and themselves, from the Nazis. Szabó received the Silver Bear Award in Berlin upon the international release of the film.
February 16 at 4:30
With controversial German composer and conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler as the focus, Taking Sides returns to the theme of politicized art in Nazi Germany. Besides well-placed archival documentary footage, the film's strength lies in the forceful rendition of the confrontation between an American officer and the conductor whom he is sent to investigate.
February 17 at 4:00
Sunshine ambitiously chronicles the history of 20th-century Central Europe through three generations of men in a wealthy Hungarian Jewish family. Subsequently living through the upheavals of world wars and dictatorships, the dynasty's rise and fall closely intertwine with the broader context of world history. Ralph Fiennes portrays the son, grandson, and great-grandson of the Emmanuel Sonnenschein, the patriarch with whom this epic journey begins at the turn of the last century.
February 23 at 4:00
Based on W. Somerset Maugham's 1937 novel Theater, Being Julia explores the emotional and professional crises and triumphs of the celebrated British stage actress Julia Lambert. Nearing middle age, she falls for the charms of a young American, ignoring the consequences the torrid affair might have on her career and marriage. As she slowly discovers her lover's true intentions, however, she plots revenge. Annette Bening's tour de force performance as the aging Julia and cinematographer Lajos Koltai's elegant rendition of 1930s London are electrifying.
February 24 at 4:00
For his most recent film, István Szabó returned to a story from his homeland after a hiatus of over a decade. Following a predecessor's scandalous demise, a naïve civil servant is given the title attorney general in a small community near Budapest. In no time, requests for special favors mount up, as nearly everyone in town claims to be a distant relative. Szabó turned to a novel by celebrated Hungarian writer Zsigmond Móricz who, according to the director, offers "a precise and profound presentation of interpersonal relations in Hungary.
István Szabó will introduce the film
March 1 at 2:00
Szabo's masterwork about a self-deceiving, narcissistic artist who rationalizes his moral compromises for the sake of personal success, Mephisto features Klaus Maria Brandauer as the actor who, under protection from a Nazi party member, leaves behind his left-wing theater roots and becomes a celebrated performer in an Aryan production of Goethe's Faust.
István Szabó will introduce the film
March 1 at 4:30
Set against the atmosphere of a crumbling Austro-Hungarian empire, Colonel Redl (Klaus Maria Brandauer) probes the character of a man who rises from his Ruthenian working class roots to become a notorious colonel and spy for the Hapsburg army. Relinquishing racial, sexual, and social identity, Redl's submissive nature, paired with ambition, becomes the driving force of his existence.
István Szabó in person
March 2 at 4:30
While recovering from a wound after World War I, Austrian soldier Klaus Schneider discovers his impressive talents as a clairvoyant. Deciding to market his gift in the show business milieu frequented by the decadent postwar elite, he gains increasing fame in Vienna and Berlin under the stage name Hanussen. Despite his apolitical stance, his predictions and powers inevitably lead him to associate with the National Socialist rule. This final segment of Szabó's informal trilogy—with Mephisto and Colonel Redl— is another striking collaboration between Szabó, actor Klaus Maria Brandauer, and cinematographer Lajos Koltai.
Two Washington premieres
Russian director Alexander Sokurov (b. 1951) combines a poetic cinematic language with images that are hauntingly beautiful.
The Sun (Solntse)
March 9 at 4:30
A carefully modulated account of several extraordinary days in the life of Emperor Hirohito—following the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—is Sokurov's theme in The Sun. This director's third entry in an ongoing series about the fall of powerful autocrats, The Sun, unlike the others in the series, is guardedly sympathetic in its portrayal of a man sequestered within his own palace, tinkering with his hobbies before he sets in motion Japan's surrender. Japanese with subtitles.
Elegy of Life: Rostropovich Vishnevskaya
March 15 at 2:30
The subject of Sokurov's documentary is one of the most colorful and beloved husband-and-wife teams, Mstislav Rostropovich and Galina Vishnevskaya (both 79 when these interviews were carried out at the time of their 50th wedding anniversary). She, a legendary soprano, and he, a renowed cellist-conductor, reminisce on their working methods, their life together, and the cruel ironies fate bestowed on them. Archival footage and concert sequences provide more details. Russian with subtitles.
March 15 at 4:30
"Sokurov's new film is a characteristically beautifiul and elemental tale of a grandmother (Galina Vishnevskaya) traveling to Grozny to visit her 27-year-old grandson, a Russian army captain posted in Chechnya whom she has not seen in seven years. As one might expect from a director with metaphysical tendencies, Sokurov's subject is not only Chechnya but every war. . . and Alexandra is Sokurov's love letter to Vishnevskaya—the iconic, commanding character she portrays is a tribute to her legacy."—Dmitri Eipides. Russian with subtitles.
In Glorious Technicolor
The celebrated color process known as Technicolor, once the most widely used motion- picture process in Hollywood movies, is recaptured in these recently restored prints from two major film archives. The unique three-strip technique employed from the 1930s through the 1950s enhances melodramatic plots and mesmeric emotions in these lavish films, while supporting their uniquely rich visual style.
I've Always Loved You
March 29 at 2:00
I've Always Loved You is an unusual Republic Film production, an over-the-top melodramatic tale of love between a tyrannical conductor and his talented young pianist protégée. Of note is cinematographer Tony Gaudio's striking use of Technicolor, as well as the inserts of Arthur Rubenstein's virtuoso playing (dubbing the onscreen piano sequences). Print from UCLA Film and Television Archive.
Leave Her to Heaven
March 29 at 4:30
Gene Tierny's beautiful yet destructively possessive character is at the center of this melodramatic noir-ish masterpiece in which each act of transgression is magnificently rendered by legendary cinematographer Leon Shamroy. Print from the Academy Film Archive.
The Barefoot Contessa
March 30 at 4:30
A film à clef tells the tale of an untamed Spanish flamenco dancer transformed by American movie executives into a Hollywood star. The title's contessa (Ava Gardner) was allegedly inspired by the life of Rita Hayworth. Gardner's stunning looks, "made for Technicolor," were rendered unforgettable by British cinematographer Jack Cardiff, a true pioneer of color cinematography and the Technicolor technique. Print from UCLA Film and Television Archive.
General Film Information
Films are shown in original format in the National Gallery of Art's East Building Auditorium at 4th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. The auditorium is equipped with an FM wireless listening system for visitors with hearing impairments. Receivers, earphones, and neck loops are available at the Information Desk near the main entrance. Seating is on a first-come basis. Please plan to arrive at least ten minutes before showtime. Programs are subject to change. For current information, visit www.nga.gov/programs/film or call (202) 842-6799.
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