Washington, DC—The winter season opens with a diverse and exceptional array of international films, Washington premieres, and special events including two series focusing on classic and midcentury cinema of Italy. In conjunction with the exhibition Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals (February 20–May 30), Neorealismo 1941–1954: Days of Glory is dedicated to directors who crafted moving image art out of the turmoil of postwar Italy. Remembering Risorigimento, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the 19th century Italian reunification movement, includes a recently restored 35 mm print of Visconti's Il Gattopardo (The Leopard), courtesy of The Film Foundation and Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia-Cineteca Nazionale.
Other series this season include Stories from a Russian Province, a unique opportunity to experience recent works by contemporary Russian filmmakers, and Jem Cohen: Curious Visions, a two-part event with recent short films presented in person by the artist as well as a screening of his highly regarded feature collaboration with the Washington-based band Fugazi.
To round out the season, five Washington premieres will include Lou Harrison: A World of Music, Eva Soltes' extraordinary feature documentary on the American new age music pioneer; a set of classic silent films, including Diary of a Lost Girl with Louise Brooks; and two special afternoon screenings and discussions with veteran award-winning American filmmakers Charles Burnett and Lynn Hershman Leeson.
The winter film program lineup offers a wonderful reason to escape the winter weather and head indoors!
All films are shown in the East Building Auditorium. Programs are free of charge with seating available on a first-come, first-seated basis. Doors open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Programs are subject to change. Films are shown in original format. For current information, visit www.nga.gov/programs/film, or call (202) 842-6799.
Ciné-Concert: Diary of a Lost Girl (Tagebuch einer Verlorenen)
Sunday, January 2, at 4:30 p.m.
Music by 3epkano
A new musical score by the Dublin-based rock collective 3epkano is featured in live performance accompanying Pabst's celebrated Weimar-era classic Diary of a Lost Girl—a heady fusion of hard-edged expressionism and a tantalizing morality tale, starring American international acting legend Louise Brooks. (G. W. Pabst, 1929, 35 mm, German with subtitles, silent with live music, 115 minutes)
Killer of Sheep
preceded by When It Rains
Sunday, February 13, at 2:00 p.m.
Director Charles Burnett in person
One of only a few contemporary filmmakers to be honored with a MacArthur Fellowship and the Paul Robeson Award for outstanding life achievement, American independent Charles Burnett introduces Killer of Sheep, his inventive cine-poem of urban life in Los Angeles' Watts neighborhood during the 1970s. With its minimal budget, nonprofessional cast, and finely honed script, Burnett's film was honored with an early nomination to the National Film Registry. (Charles Burnett, 1977, 35 mm, 81 minutes)
Preceding the feature is When It Rains, one man's affecting crusade through Watts to save a young mother from eviction. "Each person he sees registers like a separate solo in a twelve-bar blues"—Jonathan Rosenbaum. (Charles Burnett, 1995, 12 minutes)
Les Lutins du Court-Métrage: Festival of New French Shorts
Sunday, February 13, at 5:00 p.m.
A selection of new French short films is filled with surprise, suspense, humor, and beauty. Four works, presented in original format, are shown as part of the Lutins du Court-Métrage festival organized together with L'Alliance Française de Washington. Titles include The North Road (La Route du Nord), Another's Reason (La Raison de l'Autre), The Best Place (L'Endroit Ideal), and The Herd (La Harde). (Approximately 105 minutes)
Lou Harrison: A World of Music
Saturday, February 26, at 4:00 p.m.
Director Eva Soltes in person
Music pioneer, writer, and activist Lou Harrison (1917–2003)—an early experimenter with alternate tunings and intricate mergings of Western and Eastern styles—has been a legend of the American music scene since the 1950s. The culmination of two decades of research and documentation, Lou Harrison: A World of Music features rare footage, personal recordings, and informal conversations with Harrison, as well as extended passages of his hauntingly beautiful scores. The director leads a post-screening dialogue. (Eva Soltes, 2010, HD-Cam, 90 minutes)
A Woman Like That
Saturday, March 5, at 1:00 p.m.
Director Ellen Weissbrod in person
A Woman Like That is an exploration into the life and work of 17th-century painter Artemisia Gentileschi, who defied all the odds by becoming a successful and respected artist in her own lifetime. Director Weissbrod humanizes Artemisia by developing the scant historic information about her and filming the few known attributed works while combining reenactments, interviews with scholars, and even a few interesting vox populi. (Ellen Weissbrod, 2010, DCP, 93 minutes)
For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism
Saturday, March 5, at 4:00 p.m.
Gerald Peary, Jonathan Rosenbaum, David Sterritt in person
For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism tracks down a few of America's long-term, well-established film critics and then asks this question: with newspapers and periodicals downsizing and devoting less space than ever to film criticism, what is happening to critics, especially with the recent glut of online criticism? Following the film, three eminent critics will discuss, debate, and invite the audience to participate. (Gerald Peary, 2009, HD-Cam, 80 minutes)
!Women Art Revolution—A Secret History
Sunday, March 6, at 4:30 p.m.
Director Lynn Hershman Leeson in person
The art world now supports women artists, but that was not always the case. Artist Lynn Hershman Leeson's latest project takes on the challenge of chronicling the last half century of the so-called feminist art revolution. A key participant in the movement herself, Hershman Leeson has marshaled her astonishing archive of video material into a feature documentary—forming nothing less than a cultural history that begins in the early 1960s. Interview footage with many celebrated painters, performance artists, curators, and academics is offset with her own interpretation as a front-row observer. (Lynn Hershman Leeson, 2010, HD-Cam, 83 minutes)
Ciné-Concert: The Italian
Saturday, March 19, at 1:00 p.m.
Music by Donald Sosin and Joanna Seaton
Early dramas on the subject of new immigrants to America rarely had the fervor or sophistication of The Italian, a Thomas Ince production about Beppo Donnetti (George Beban), a poor Venetian gondolier whose dreams become nightmares when he faces the realities of the Lower East Side. The Italian is preserved from the original paper print held in the Library of Congress collection. (Reginald Barker and Thomas Ince, 1915, 35 mm, silent with live music, 80 minutes)
Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow
Sunday, March 20, at 4:30 p.m.
"Is this a film about art, or film as art?" asks one reviewer of Sophie Fiennes' new film, a quasi-documentary journey into the working processes of renowned German artist Anselm Kiefer. Shot in Cinemascope at La Ribotte (Kiefer's huge studio estate in Barjac, France), Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow is an extraordinary film, a witness to the artist's creation of monumental works of art that, in this case, were made to exist in situ—exposed to the elements, subject to decay, immovable yet emergent. "At once the place where his paintings and sculptures are housed and displayed, and a colossal, evolving architectural artwork in itself"—Peter Bradshaw. (Sophie Fiennes, 2010, DCP, 105 minutes) Presented in conjunction with the Washington Environmental Film Festival
I. M. Pei: Building China Modern
Saturday, March 26, at 2:00 p.m.
Director Anne Makepeace in person
I. M. Pei returns to his ancestral city of Suzhou to conceive a modern museum for one of its ancient neighborhoods. "This city is 2,500 years old, water is everywhere, and it has a scale for life," he notes. Structures from the Ming and Qing dynasties retaining traditional materials and domineering tile roofs are ubiquitous. Pei's challenge is to respect not only this antique foundation but also to engage actively with nature and community—striking a balance with the future, to help advance China architecturally. In the end, this difficult project that Pei "had to do" became a bold environmental statement. (Anne Makepeace and Eugene Shirley for ITVS, Pacem, and South Carolina ETV, 2010, HD-Cam, 60 minutes) Presented in conjunction with the Washington Environmental Film Festival
Nostalgia for the Light
Saturday, March 26, at 4:00 p.m.
The latest insightful cine-essay from Patricio Guzmán (The Battle of Chile) is a multilayered portrait of Chile's vast Atacama Desert, the driest place on the planet. On one level, the Atacama is a perfect scientific platform for astronomers and archaeologists, as the altitude and absence of humidity are ideal for exploring the firmament, and aridity signifies a chance to recover model archaeological specimens. Guzmán, however, puts forward a disquieting conundrum: near the largest telescopes in the world, the essential human task of looking for dead loved ones—the "disappeared" from the Pinochet era—goes on quietly, unaided and unnoticed. (Patricio Guzmán, 2010, 35 mm, Spanish with subtitles, 90 minutes) Presented in conjunction with the Washington Environmental Film Festival
Ciné-Concert: Art in Motion!
Sunday, March 27, at 5:00 p.m.
Andrew Simpson, piano; Barry Dove, percussion
Artist Sharon Louden in person
Music and animation synchronize and harmonize in playful abstract shorts by classic and contemporary animators. From Oskar Fischinger's 35 mm Composition in Blue and Len Lye's Free Radicals, to Jules Engel's Swan and Norman McLaren's Lines, to New York artist Sharon Louden's new digital creations Footprints, Hedge, The Bridge, and Carrier—all the works presented are "whimsical, drawn-in-space creations that come alive and create their own narratives," as artist Louden describes her own work. Her new pieces are accompanied by live piano and percussion compositions. The older classic works feature their own original scores, intersections of visual and musical forms. (Approximately 80 minutes)
Stories from a Russian Province
The year 2011 marks two full decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the start of a new identity for Russia. This eclectic collection of stunning documentary works, rather than dwell on political issues, reflects on the psychological impact of the change on the Russian people. The idea of the province, the local "neighborhood," is the focus. Many works are produced by regional studios with filmmakers from the same social strata as their provincial subjects, betraying both a physical and an emotional distance from the "movers and shakers" of urban society. Interestingly, the series demonstrates above all that today's Russian documentarian inherits a deep sense of the culture and traditions rooted in Russian classical literature, rather than values derived from contemporary cinema. Organized in association with Seagull Films, Alla Verlotsky, and Victoria Belopolskaya with the assistance of St. Petersburg Documentary Film Studios, Sverdlovsk Film Studio, and Vertov Studio. Special thanks to the Trust for Mutual Understanding and to Alexander Rodnyanskiy. Films are in Russian with subtitles, and in various formats.
The Mother and Countryside 35 x 45
Saturday, January 8, at 2:00 p.m.
Liubov (a Russian word for love) is a no-nonsense, single, working-class woman in rural Russia with nine children. Her life as a mother had a heartbreaking start—she was sold to a man who raped her. Now, although she is constantly running and barely able to keep food on the table, her hardships are punctuated by moments of great joy. Not only a sensitive and intimate portrayal of an amazing character's plight, The Mother is also an innovation in storytelling. (Antoine Cattin and Pavel Kostomarov, 2007, 80 minutes)
In Countryside 35 x 45 photographer Lyutikov travels through Siberian villages taking photographs of residents, since authorities have decided to issue new Russian passports to replace the old Soviet documents. It seems a citizen without a valid passport cannot even buy a train ticket—but then again, if you have not had wages in eight years, where would you go? (Evgeny Solomin, 2009, 43 minutes)
Vacation in November and Wild, Wild Beach
Sunday, January 9, at 5:00 p.m.
Director Vitaly Mansky in person
Often outlandish, but admirably unflinching and even poetic, Wild, Wild Beach depicts Russians at play on the beaches of the Black Sea. Vitaly Mansky, best known abroad for Gagarin's Pioneers, joins with two fellow documentarians to track the wayward adventures of locals, sightseers, and celebrities—from an en-route President Putin to assorted down-and-outs. (Alexander Rastorguev, Vitaly Mansky, and Susanna Baranzhieva, 2006, 85 minutes)
Vacation in November, like other lyrical documentaries by Pavel Medvedev, is a haunting portrait of some of post-Soviet Russia's most isolated people and places. Miners in the tundra, on furlough from their regular jobs, embark on an annual reindeer hunt to supplement their incomes. (Pavel Medvedev, 2002, 30 minutes)
Civil Status, Bliss, and Flight of the Bumblebee
Saturday, January 15, at 2:00 p.m.
The "Marriage Palace" of Civil Status is a place where pivotal moments in a Russian's life tangle with the bureaucratic system: weddings, divorces, births, deaths—all are merely part of the ordinary routine of the registration office. (Alina Rudnitskaya, 2005, 29 minutes)
Bliss transports viewers to a deserted Central Russian village by the same name, where the population is mainly elderly women and an old man, and there is a baby on the way. Who is the father? His identity is unknown and the townspeople believe the baby may be a miracle. (Vitaly Mansky, 1996, 52 minutes)
Flight of the Bumblebee's six-year-old Lenya lives in a remote village in Siberia—yet he senses the advent of a new Russia. He lives with a desire for freedom and, as a typical Russian, is torn between a craving for revolution and the safety of conformity. (Yury Schiller, 1998, 30 minutes)
Tiny Katerina, The Holidays, and Fisherman and the Dancer
Sunday, January 16, at 4:30 p.m.
Director Marina Razbezhkina in person
Tiny Katerina captures the life of a very young Khanty girl who observes a complex world outside her own. She senses the unknown as it comes ever closer—not far from her nomad camp, an oil rig appears. (Ivan Golovnev, 2004, 25 minutes)
The Mansi children, at boarding school 500 kilometers from Ekaterinburg, are waiting impatiently for the winter holidays, eager to return to their native village free of computer games and modern gadgets. Observing the everyday life of remote villagers, The Holidays is a meditative, evocative film by an award-winning filmmaker who carries viewers across time and space. Winter vacation is a short respite from school life—but will any of the children ever return for good? (Marina Razbezhkina, 2005, 52 minutes)
Natalia and Yuri in Fisherman and the Dancer are the keepers of a weather station on the shores of Lake Baikal in Siberia, the world's deepest lake. Against the remote and forbidding landscape, Natalia, who adores dancing, worries about her children. Yuri, who wanted a life of fishing and hunting, realizes he has paid a price for his isolation. Sometimes, to dry Natalia's tears, the fisherman dances with his wife, while outside the incessant winds batter their island. (Valery Solomin, 2005, 52 minutes)
The Settlement, Life As It Is, and Who Mows at Night?
Sunday, January 23, at 4:00 p.m.
At a remote settlement in the Russian countryside, residents appear completely engaged in their farm work. Yet, some odd inconsistencies show up. Suffused with the sounds and rhythms of rural life, The Settlement is a visually arresting and enigmatic film—possibly a parable of post-Soviet life (a haunting coda hints at an answer)—from a renowned documentarian. (Sergei Loznitsa, 2001, 79 minutes)
Life on a Russian farm through the perceptions of an old woman doing her daily chores is the subject of Life As It Is. Poetic and beautiful, the film celebrates Russian women and their complex lives. (Marina Razbezhkina, 2002, 20 minutes)
Vasily is blind and lives alone. His life has a cadence—the same routines, same landscape, same people, same chores, same weather, day after day. Who Mows at Night? presents an unusual depiction of a simple but extraordinary man. (Gerasim Degaltsev, 1990, 20 minutes)
Neorealismo 1941–1954: Days of Glory
January 8–February 26
Born out of turmoil in postwar Italy, neorealism addressed a moral and aesthetic need in the Italian cinema, in Roberto Rossellini's words, "to express things as they are." Forsaking artificial sets and the mannered effects of studio production for natural locations and nonprofessional actors, the neorealist collaborators shared a conviction that the subject of art must be ordinary life (a perspective that was gaining ground elsewhere as well). This series spans the decisive decade when the political and social order in Italy was still fermenting; it features a variety of formal approaches by eight directors along with critical writers such as Cesare Zavattini and Carlo Lizzani. Presented in association with Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia-Cineteca Nazionale, Cinecittà Luce S.p.A., and the Embassy of Italy, with thanks to the Pacific Film Archive, Susan Oxtoby, Laura Argento, Rosaria Focarelli, and the Italian Cultural Institute of Washington.
Days of Glory
Saturday, January 8, at 4:30 p.m.
A rare moment from film history, Days of Glory documents the experience of the German occupation of Rome and the Italian resistance during World War II. "Carlo Lizzani has compared it to Rossellini's Rome Open City, saying both films are necessary for an understanding of the Italian experience. It depicts various key episodes from September 1943 until the liberation of the North in 1945. Visconti had eight cameras put at his service to cover the trial of Fascist Pietro Caruso. Among the electrifying details was the crowd of spectators mistaking a witness for the prosecution for Caruso, and killing him"—James Quandt. (Luchino Visconti, Marcello Pagliero, Giuseppe De Santis, Mario Serandrei, 1945, 35 mm, Italian with subtitles, 70 minutes)
Saturday, January 15, at 4:30 p.m.
Italian neorealism's major forerunner was, interestingly, an adaptation of a 1934 American crime novel—James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice, a story first adapted for the French screen by Pierre Chenal and suggested to director Visconti by Jean Renoir. Transposing the tale to Mussolini's Italy and a scenic Po Valley setting, Visconti enhances the passion between itinerant mechanic Gino and trattoria owner's wife Giovanna (Clara Calamai), with a few melodramatic accents and a verismo worthy of writers like Verga and Pavese. (Luchino Visconti, 1942, 35 mm, Italian with subtitles, 140 minutes)
Friday, January 28, at 2:30 p.m.
War and poverty have already taken their toll on Pasquale and Giuseppe, young Roman bootblacks whose pitiful existence gets even worse when they have to face life in a reformatory. De Sica and Zavattini created a moving account of a sad and scruffy childhood where the only relief from reality is a dream to one day be able to buy a beautiful white horse. (Vittorio De Sica, Cesare Zavattini, and others, 1946, 35 mm, Italian with subtitles, 93 minutes)
Saturday, January 29, at 2:00 p.m.
Partly a social critique but also a vehicle for Vittorio Gassman, Raf Vallone, and the young and sultry beauty Sylvana Mangano, Bitter Rice was shot in the Piemonte region, a spectacular rural backdrop for a dark and convoluted tale of passion, betrayal, and revenge set against the plight of female migrant rice workers as they begin to acquire a political conscience. The stunning location camerawork alone gives Bitter Rice a unique place in neorealist history. (Giuseppe De Santis, 1949, 35 mm, Italian with subtitles, 109 minutes)
Under the Sun of Rome
Saturday, January 29, at 4:30 p.m.
Children on the brink of growing up, roaming the working-class San Giovanni neighborhood south of Rome's Stazioni Termini, experience the small tragedies and triumphs of adult life in Castellani's enjoyable and finely tuned portrait. A contemporary reviewer noted in 1949, "Definitely an authentic tranche de vie—yet lacking in the tiresome moral bind of the naturalists, the dreary political aims of the populists." Featuring mostly nonprofessional actors with a dramatic cameo from Alberto Sordi, Under the Sun of Rome is a rare find, a beautiful print from Cineteca Nazionale in Rome. (Renato Castellani, 1947, 35 mm, Italian with subtitles, 104 minutes)
Sunday, January 30, at 4:30 p.m.
Rossellini's celebrated, rarely screened Paisan—a chronicle of Italy's liberation told through six short stories of human connections, from Sicily to the Po Valley, and linked together with newsreel footage—is often called the purest neorealist work. Written for the screen by Fellini, Rossellini, Amidei, and others from original texts, Paisan's irony and humor blend seamlessly with its fundamental tragedy and humanity. (Roberto Rossellini, 1946, English and Italian with subtitles, 124 minutes)
Friday, February 4, at 2:30 p.m.
Filmed in Rome's Cinecittà studios, Teresa Venerdí is a rarely seen and riotous Fascist-era romantic comedy, written and directed by De Sica (who also stars), and released the year before Visconti's Ossessione. De Sica's populist sentiments, more familiar from his classic neorealist works, are distinctly displayed in a disarming story of a young orphanage inmate called Teresa Friday (she was admitted on a Friday, or venerdì) who falls for a handsome doctor already struggling in a relationship with his showgirl lover Loletta (Anna Magnani). (Vittorio De Sica, 1941, 35 mm, Italian with subtitles, 94 minutes)
Saturday, February 5, at 2:00 p.m.
A new print of De Sica's and Zavattini's most enduring work, Bicycle Thieves expresses its theme of postwar Italian despair through the actions of its jobless male characters. "One such man is Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani), who miraculously lands a job hanging movie posters around town. Things go awry after Antonio's bicycle is stolen, forcing him and his young son Bruno to scour the city. For De Sica, the severity of Antonio's ordeal is as much a crisis of masculinity as it is one of economics"—Jonathan L. Knapp. (Vittorio De Sica and Cesare Zavattini, 1948, 35 mm, Italian with subtitles, 93 minutes)
Miracle in Milan
Saturday, February 5, at 4:00 p.m.
Introduction by Millicent Marcus
De Sica and Zavattini's third collaboration was this audacious populist fable about an orphaned waif who grows up to be a hero of the homeless in the shantytowns around Milan. The young champion goes toe-to-toe with the establishment, then wins his fight but finds out in the end things are not exactly as he thought. True to his neorealist leanings, De Sica cast members of Milan's homeless population in all but the major roles. (Vittorio De Sica and Cesare Zavattini, 1951, 35 mm, Italian with subtitles, 95 minutes)
La Terra Trema
Sunday, February 6, at 4:30 p.m.
Using only local Sicilian fishermen and their kin, La Terra Trema's epic portrayal of a fishing family struggling with poverty and oppression became a landmark of the neorealist cinema, renowned for its classic beauty and scale. Based on Verga's novel I Malavoglia and willfully resembling a documentary, La Terra Trema revealed its political aims in its opening statement, "The actors do not know a language other than Sicilian to express their rebellions, their griefs, their hopes." (Luchino Visconti, 1948, 35 mm, Italian dialects with subtitles, 165 minutes)
Friday, February 18, at 2:30 p.m.
With Cesare Zavattini's first-rate script, Bellissima was an out-and-out success for star Anna Magnani, who plays a strident stage mom coaxing her young daughter in a Cinècitta Studio–sponsored competition to select a new child star. While savagely satirizing the industry, Bellissima also manages to convey a heartrending sense of humanity. (Luchino Visconti, 1953, 35 mm, Italian with subtitles, 114 minutes)
Saturday, February 19, at 2:00 p.m.
A wartime tale of interracial attraction between an American GI (John Kitzmiller) and a young Italian woman from Livorno (Carla Del Poggio, the director's wife), searching for her missing brother, is at the heart of Without Pity. Director Lattuada, a talented Milanese filmmaker, was sadly underrated during his lifetime. Here he shares billing with Fellini as his principal screenwriter (the pair later teamed up on Variety Lights). Giulietta Masina also appears in the film as friend and confidante of Carla Del Poggio. (Alberto Lattuada, 1948, 35 mm, Italian with subtitles, 95 minutes)
Saturday, February 19, at 4:00 p.m.
Lattuada captures Gogol's cynical subtext while transposing the Russian writer's classic tale to the corrupt corridors of Italian government. Office worker Carmine de Carmine (played by well-known comedian Renato Rascel) finds an unexpected opportunity to improve his social position through the purchase of a handsome overcoat. "Weaving a manic comic patter as well as some noirish, fog-bound photography courtesy of Mario Montuori, Lattuada and scriptwriter Cesare Zavattini tailor a scathing, well-suited satire on the inhuman incivility of civil politics"—Jason Sanders. (Alberto Lattuada, 1952, 35 mm, Italian with subtitles, 99 minutes)
Sunday in August
Sunday, February 20, at 4:30 p.m.
A gentle film with neorealist leanings, Sunday in August is a story of Italians spending a day at the Ostia beach, a favorite spot for the working classes to relax outside Rome. "Shooting entirely on location, former documentary filmmaker Luciano Emmer beautifully and naturally evokes a dawn-to-dusk day at the beach. A cast of professional and nonprofessional actors includes Marcello Mastroianni in one of his first films as well as Franco Interlenghi from Shoeshine. Emmer so skillfully weaves his plot throughout the film that we are convinced such romances and small treacheries must take place all summer long"—Pacific Film Archive. (Luciano Emmer, 1950, 35 mm, Italian with subtitles, 88 minutes)
Chronicle of Poor Lovers
Saturday, February 26, at 1:00 p.m.
Carlo Lizzani, a principal if lesser-known participant in neorealist projects—his screenplay for Bitter Rice, for example, was nominated for an Oscar—directed Marcello Mastroianni in one of his best early performances as a fruit vendor in a Florentine neighborhood who tries to enlist a colorful group of locals against the Blackshirts. The Italian government was not pleased and tried to keep the film from entering that year's Cannes Film Festival where, in the end, it won an award. (Carlo Lizzani, 1954, 35 mm, Italian with subtitles, 108 minutes)
Jem Cohen: Curious Visions
Since the early 1980s, American filmmaker Jem Cohen (b. 1962) has been creating a unique oeuvre of shorts and features that extends the principles of portraiture to nonfiction cinema. Working in collaboration with his artist subjects, usually over several years and in a range of formats, Cohen's work both documents and transcends conventions. Shorts and excerpts from works in progress, introduced by the artist himself, are followed by Instrument, his feature on the musical group Fugazi. This program is the initial installment of a new quarterly film event, "American Originals Now."
Recent Shorts and Other Works
Saturday, February 12, at 2:30 p.m.
Director Jem Cohen in person
A program of new shorts surveys a range of concerns, from artists' creative processes to life lived on the streets of contemporary America. Cohen's patient lens portrays steady labor, scenes from the everyday, or simply hanging out, always colliding with provocative soundscapes. Titles include Anne Truitt, Working (2009, 13 minutes), a portrait of an artist and trusted friend; Half the Battle (2008, 12 minutes), "a reflection on the phenomenon of the touring musician"; Night Scene New York (2009, 10 minutes), observations of Chinatown commissioned by the Museum of Chinese in the Americas; and a few rousing excerpts from works in progress, including a feature recorded in Vienna, Austria. (Approximate running time 90 minutes)
Sunday, February 27, at 5:00 p.m.
Members of Fugazi in person
One of Washington's most successful bands, Fugazi is the epitome of DIY (Do It Yourself) ethics. Its members are both subjects and collaborators with Cohen on this documentary, part of the 2000 Whitney Biennial and winner of many awards. Incorporating more than ten years of recordings, Instrument weaves personal and concert footage, observational film, collected sound, and Fugazi's own original music into an epic portrait of the band, their environment, and the counterculture of the 1980s and ‘90s. "I thought of bringing ‘dub' to documentary—of a project where unadulterated real-time performances, abstract, rough-hewn Super-8 collages and archival artifacts would collide and conjoin in a way that honestly represented musical experience"—Jem Cohen. (1999, digiBeta, 115 minutes)
The Italian cinema is rich with romantic and heroic spectacles set against dramatic moments in Italy's history. To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Risorigmento, the Italian unification movement, the National Gallery presents three works that incorporate rich motifs from the era. Together they offer radically dissimilar styles and different ideological perspectives. The centerpiece is the new restoration of Visconti's epic The Leopard, presented through the courtesy of Martin Scorsese, The Film Foundation, Gucci, and Cineteca di Bologna. With thanks to the Embassy of Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute.
Saturday, March, 12, at 2:30 p.m.
In the post-Napoleonic period, Allonsanfan's protagonist Fulvio Imbriani (Marcello Mastroianni), a nobleman and ex-revolutionary, decides to return to the comforts of his former family life. Ultimately Imbriani's comrades engage him again in political activity, as he travels to the south for an insurrection and a new revolutionary cause. In their complex, opulent, and painstaking narrative, the Taviani brothers "lay into left-wing idealism and gullibility without departing from their own commitment for one second"—Tony Rayns. Courtesy Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia-Cineteca Nazionale. (Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, 1974, 35 mm, Italian with subtitles, 111 minutes)
Sunday, March 13, at 4:30 p.m.
Washington premiere of a new restoration
Visconti's period masterwork, based on Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's 1956 literary tour de force, has just been restored to its full glory. Premiering at the Cannes Film Festival, this new revival of The Leopard is one of the most remarkable achievements in film restoration history, recapturing the 19th-century aura that Visconti had envisioned. The Leopard began as a global collaboration, thus its restoration continues the project's history as an international partnership. The film has been restored in association with Cineteca di Bologna, L'Immagine Ritrovata, The Film Foundation, Pathé, Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, Twentieth Century Fox, and Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia-Cineteca Nazionale. Restoration funding provided by Gucci and The Film Foundation as part of the 2011 screening series Cinema Visionaries. (Luchino Visconti, 1963, 35 mm, Italian with subtitles, 201 minutes)
1860: I Mille di Garibaldi
Saturday, March 19, at 4:00 p.m.
Filmmaker Alessandro Blasetti (1900–1987) was a leading figure in midcentury Italian cinema, even setting in place the underpinnings for neorealism and a fondness for location shooting and unfamiliar actors. In honor of the Risorgimento, Blasetti's landmark 1860: I Mille di Garibaldi is screened in a rare print from a Roman collection. A complex and exciting plot relates the story of Garibaldi and Italy's liberation through the tale of an ordinary Sicilian villager, as his region stirs in revolt from a tyrannical Bourbon occupation. (Alessandro Blasetti, 1933, 35 mm, Italian with subtitles, 73 minutes)
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