Release Date: June 28, 2011
Summer Films at the National Gallery of Art Celebrate Recently Preserved Cinematic Treasures, International Classics, 50th Year of the Film-Makers' Co-op, and More
Washington, DC—The summer film program at the National Gallery of Art opens in July with a cinematic portrait of late artist Louise Bourgeois, the inspirational French-American sculptor, in Marion Cajori and Amei Wallach's Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress, and the Tangerine. This is one of several film series this season to highlight international cinema. Beginning on July 9, the Gallery's annual preservation series, From Vault to Screen: New Preservation from France, salutes the national film archive of France with several ciné-concerts that feature live musical accompaniment to a variety of silent French films.
In July the Gallery also honors the 50th anniversary of the Film-Makers' Cooperative, the nonprofit, artist-run organization dedicated to independent, avant-garde cinema, by presenting the series Film-Makers' Co-op at Fifty.
Other film series this season include This Other Eden: Ireland and Film, featuring more than a dozen titles from the early days of Irish cinema to the present; A Polish Quartet: Jerzy Skolimowski in the 1960s, presenting early works by this highly original postwar director and graduate of the prestigious Łódź Film School; and Recovered Treasure: UCLA's Annual Festival of Preservation, a selection of newly preserved American television programs, documentary, and narrative features.
Washington premieres include two documentary films: How to Make a Book with Steidl, about Gerhard Steidl's seminal printing house in Göttingen, Germany, and A Boatload of Wild Irishmen, an exploration of the work of American filmmaker Robert Flaherty.
Films are screened in the East Building Auditorium, located at 4th 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/film, e-mail [email protected], or call (202) 842-6799.
Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress, and the Tangerine
Filmmaker Amei Wallach in person
Sunday, July 3, 2:00 and 4:30 p.m.
A famously magnetic and mercurial character, Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010) was at the forefront of American art for decades while she exposed and explored, in particular, the emotional consciousness of women. A potent inspiration for younger artists, Bourgeois created until the end of her long life, always experimenting in a wide variety of media. The filmmakers of Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress, and the Tangerine enjoyed access to the artist from 1993 to 2007 and, as a result, compiled an intense and dramatic cinematic journey into her life and imagination. (Marion Cajori and Amei Wallach, 2008, HD-Cam, 99 minutes)
Passages from James Joyce's "Finnegans Wake"
preceded by The Boy Who Saw Through
Introduction by Ann Horton-Line and Michael Kerbel
Saturday, July 16, 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 30, 12:30 p.m.
Long out of circulation, Mary Ellen Bute's extraordinary film adaptation of James Joyce's novel has just been restored by the Yale University Film Study Center in association with ColorLab and with support from the National Film Preservation Foundation. A groundbreaking American experimental filmmaker, Bute (1906–1983) was best known for her celebrated musical films of the 1930s and 1940s, animated shorts widely screened in prominent theaters before features. Passages was the first-ever Joycean film adaptation and arguably remains the most successful. (Mary Ellen Bute, 1965, 35 mm, 90 minutes) Ann Horton-Line and Michael Kerbel are from the Film Study Center at Yale.
In 1958 Bute and her cinematographer husband, Ted Nemeth, collaborated on producing their first narrative short, The Boy Who Saw Through, based on a short story about a Victorian boy who possesses the power to look through walls, starring a twelve-year-old Christopher Walken. (George C. Stoney, 1958, 35 mm, 25 minutes)
How to Make a Book with Steidl
Saturday, July 23, 1:00 p.m.
The creative energies and commitment of one of Europe's most gifted printers and publishers is brilliantly documented in the Washington premiere of this engaging film. Since the 1960s Steidl Verlag of Göttingen, Germany, has been operated by Gerhard Steidl, who still oversees production. Robert Frank's The Americans, Gunter Grass's The Tin Drum, and works by Joseph Beuys, Ed Ruscha, Karl Lagerfeld, Lewis Baltz, and Bill Brandt—to name but a few—are among Steidl's many well-known accomplishments. (Gereon Wetzel and Joerg Adolph, 2010, 35 mm, 88 minutes)
A Boatload of Wild Irishmen
Saturday, September 24, 2:00 p.m.
American Robert Flaherty (1884–1951) is hailed as father of the feature documentary on the basis of several iconic works, including Man of Aran, shot in 1934 off Ireland's coast and featuring a famously staged sequence with a small fishing boat struggling to make shore.
Now a controversial figure, Flaherty broke new ground in the 1920s, filming everyday lives and then using that material to create entertaining narratives. Director Mac Dara Ó Curraidhin visits Flaherty's far-flung locations, interviews people who knew him (including the late Richard Leacock and Joseph Boudreaux, who played the boy in Louisiana Story), and draws a few interesting conclusions. (Mac Dara Ó Curraidhin, 2011, HD-Cam, 84 minutes)
From Vault to Screen: New Preservation from France
July 9–August 7
The National Gallery's summer preservation festival this year salutes the Archives Françaises du Film / Centre national du cinéma et de l'image animée (CNC), the national film archive of France, which since 1969 has been conserving the country's incomparable cinematic heritage. Approximately 2,000 new titles are added each year to its collections, now preserved at two facilities in Bois d'Arcy and Saint-Cyr. Organized in association with curator Eric Le Roy and film conservator Caroline Patte, who requested "carte blanche" in making their selections, this program includes unique silent French farce and boulevard comedy, a mystery film, and early "wonders of science" shorts, tinted and toned as they were when originally released. Very few of the films made by these production houses survive. Indeed, Studios Éclair, one of the oldest, estimates that 80 percent of its production has disappeared. With thanks to the Embassy of France and to the staff of CNC for their collaboration.
Ciné-Concert: Poetry in Motion—The Scientific Short
Andrew Simpson, piano
Conservator Caroline Patte in person
Saturday, July 9, 2:30 p.m.
The poetry to be found in fleeting "science" footage has been a constant since the early days of cinema. These 15 delicate tinted shorts, made for the series Scientia by the production house Éclair between 1910 and 1920, are much more than odd curiosities; they are elegant precursors of the nature film, surveying the dusky domains of insects, snails, caterpillars, man-eating plants, and sea critters. L'Écrevisse (Crawfish, 1912), Le Scorpion Languedocien (1912), Les Orchidees (The Orchids, 1913), La Puce (The Flea, 1914), Le Chrysantheme (The Chrysanthemum, 1914), Les Plantes Carnivores (The Carnivorous Plants, 1914), Les Libellules (The Dragonflies, 1917), and more. (Silent with live piano, total running time approximately 70 minutes)
Ciné-Concert: Son Premier Film
Stephen Horne, piano
Conservator Caroline Patte in person
Sunday, July 10, 4:30 p.m.
In Paris to get an inheritance, provincial actor Céleste Noménoé (phonetically, "[his] name is Noah") becomes famous overnight after his surprise film debut, but now he is known only as "Grock." Son Premier Film (His First Movie), a comedy in the popular tradition of théâtre de boulevard, was made for the production company Établissements Jacques Haïk. (Jean Kemm, 1926, 35 mm, silent with live piano, 99 minutes)
Ciné-Concert: Mots Croisés
followed by Bonheur Conjugal!
Phil Carli, piano
Sunday, July 17, 4:30 p.m.
New York bank employee Percy Johnson, off to France with fiancée Mary Brown after winning a crossword-puzzle championship (hence the film's title, Mots Croisés, or "Crosswords"), encounters en route the Snowdens, who have ménage à quatre on their minds; then those train tickets to Nice get switched, and hilarious complications ensue. The production house Cinédor produced this engaging farce. (Michel Linsky and Pierre Colombier, 1926, 35 mm, silent with live piano, 61 minutes)
In Bonheur Conjugal! (Marital Bliss), debt-ridden playboy Jack de la Mainmise, bored with his time-to-settle-down marriage to the wealthy bourgeoise Comtesse de la Roche Hapique, runs off to follow his first love, actress Monette, on tour in the south of France, but only after mortal consequences. (Robert Saidreau, 1922, 35 mm, silent with live piano, 64 minutes)
preceded by Le Chapeau de Madame
Andrew Simpson, piano
Saturday, August 6, 2:00 p.m.
To save her boss (the couturier Pommier of La Maison Pommier), Jacqueline dupes a rich patron (the visiting American art lover Rochedufer) into placing a huge order. Rochedufer trumps her by asking for a rendezvous, which leads to surprising revelations. A stylish comedy with hand-painted deco sets, L'Arpète (The Dressmaker's Apprentice) anticipates the work of Sacha Guitry and others. (Donatien for Franco-Film, 1929, 35 mm, 97 minutes)
In Le Chapeau de Madame, Madame's oversized hat, already too big to fit through a door, causes an altercation between blocked theater patrons and her husband that escalates and ends up in court. (Gaumont Film, director unknown, 1907, 35 mm, 7 minutes)
Ciné-Concert: Le Manoir de la Peur
preceded by La Main
Andrew Simpson, piano
Sunday, August 7, 4:30 p.m.
Fear strikes Provençal villagers when a crime wave ensues just after a mysterious stranger and his valet move into a nearby country home in Manoir de la Peur (The Manor House of Fear). Jean Lormeau decides to crack the mystery, with of course a break for l'amour. (Alfred Machin and Henry Wulschleger for Films Alfred Machin, 1927, 35 mm, 72 minutes)
Gendarmes in La Main (The Hand) are baffled when the body of gun collector Sir John Rowell is found in his isolated home, but what is that one-armed hobo up to? (Édouard-Émile Violet for Les Films Lucifer, 1920, 35 mm, 19 minutes)
Film-Makers' Co-op at Fifty
"We don't want rosy films—we want them the color of blood." Fifty years ago two dozen or so filmmakers—Jonas Mekas, Robert Breer, Shirley Clarke, Stan Vanderbeek, and Jack Smith among them—wrote the nine-point manifesto of the New American Cinema Group, a communal, collaborative organization founded on the principles of "self-sufficiency and free expression through the art of cinema." Acknowledging the force of other movements throughout the world, including Free Cinema in England and the nouvelle vague in France, they seized the moment and established the Film-Makers' Cooperative (incorporated as the New American Cinema Group Inc. on July 14, 1961). In so doing, they succeeded not only in forming their own collective, but they also influenced the formation of other independent, nonprofit, artist-run organizations around the world. This series of five programs celebrates the Co-op, now in its very active 50th year of financing, producing, distributing, screening, and supporting avant-garde cinema. Special thanks to executive director M. M. Serra and to the artists themselves.
Sleepless Nights Stories
Saturday, July 16, 4:30 p.m.
"For two hours we stroll with Jonas Mekas through New York nights, through apartments, studios, backstage rooms, bars and clubs. We meet old acquaintances like Yoko Ono, Patti Smith, Carolee Schneemann, Marina Abramovic, friends, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, and also many new acquaintances. The father of the diary film begins with the words ‘I can't sleep.' Who hasn't been in that situation.... Sleepy and yet wide awake, you find yourself in the world of those exhausted from the day's exertions. In Sleepless Nights Stories we witness (approximately) twenty-five tales from a thousand and one nights...remnants of films by one of the greatest avant-garde filmmakers whose life rewrote film history" —Berlinale 2011. (Jonas Mekas, 2011, DigiBeta, 112 minutes)
Jonas Mekas: Personal Record
Filmmakers Jonas Mekas, Ken and Flo Jacobs, and M. M. Serra in person
Saturday, July 23, 4:30 p.m.
A mix of mostly 16 mm recent and historic short works, personally selected for this program by Jonas Mekas, includes Award Presentation to Andy Warhol (1964), a documentation of an event and an homage; a sequence of five rolls of film shot at a Ringling Bros. Circus, titled Notes on the Circus (1966); Cassis (1966), recorded at the summer home of Jerome Hill; Report from Millbrook (1966), filmed "on a weekend visit to Tim Leary's place"; the episodic works World Trade Center Haikus (2000) and Seven Days from 365 (2007); as well as the short, personal pieces The Song of Avila (1966) and Jacobses (2010). (Total running time approximately 75 minutes)
Ken Jacobs: Recent Works
Filmmakers Ken and Flo Jacobs in person
Sunday, July 24, 5:00 p.m.
Committed to pushing technical and aesthetic boundaries during his long and illustrious career, avant-gardist Ken Jacobs (who trained with painter Hans Hofmann) famously cofounded the first department of cinema at the State University of New York, Binghamton, one of the very first to specialize in avant-garde film and video. With many accolades and awards behind him, Jacobs is still deeply dedicated to his experiments in temporality and perception, engaging more recently in digital manipulation and 3-D. Titles in this program include his Hot Dogs at the Met (2009), Jonas Mekas in Kodachrome Days (2009), and A Loft (2010), among others. (Total running time approximately 70 minutes)
A Co-op Omnibus
Filmmaker and Co-op director M. M. Serra in person
Saturday, July 30, 4:00 p.m.
With thousands of titles by hundreds of new and former members dating from the 1960s to the present day, the circulating collection at the Film-Makers' Cooperative is a veritable treasure trove of experimental film history and practice. This program highlights a handful of groundbreaking shorts, including restorations or new prints of these influential titles: Peggy and Fred in Hell (Prologue) (Leslie Thornton, 1988); Water Motor (Babette Mongolte, 1978); The Male Gayze (Jack Waters, 1990); Susie's Ghost (Bill Brand, 2011); Cake and Steak (Abigail Child, 2002–2004); Beirut Outtakes (Peggy Ahwesh, 2007), and Release (Bill Morrison, 2010). (Total running time approximately 75 minutes)
preceded by Lupe
Sunday, July 31, 5:00 p.m.
Described by director Jack Smith as "a comedy set in a haunted music studio," Flaming Creatures is a seminal avant-garde work not only because of its outlandishness and unabashedly brazen imagery but even more because of its remarkable sophistication and aesthetic power. As an actor, director, and writer, Smith was a major countercultural figure and a decisive influence on the development of American experimental theater, underground cinema, and performance art. "Had Jack Smith produced nothing other than this amazing artifice, he would still rank among the great visionaries of American film" —J. Hoberman. (Jack Smith, 1963, 16 mm, 45 minutes)
A contemporary of Jack Smith, Puerto Rican filmmaker José Rodriguez-Soltero cast spectacular transvestite Mario Montez in the title role of his short Lupe—a campy, roiling homage to the ill-fated life and brief career of Mexican screen actress Lupe Vélez. (Montez himself also appeared in many of Warhol's underground films, including The Chelsea Girls). (José Rodriguez-Soltero, 1966, 16 mm, 50 minutes)
Recovered Treasure: UCLA's Annual Festival of Preservation
UCLA Film & Television Archive's Festival of Preservation, now in its 17th year, is a brilliantly diverse showcase of the rare and the recognized, the engaging and the challenging, culled from the archive's extensive holdings. This selection of new preservation is from the most recent festival and includes American television programs, documentary, and narrative features. Special thanks to Shannon Kelley.
preceded by The Forgotten Village
Friday, August 5, 2:30 p.m.
One of the most celebrated political films in American history, Native Land was based on the Senate's LaFollette Civil Liberties Committee hearings on labor-union busting and corporate spying; it was a paean to the labor movement, assembled largely from newsreels and staged sequences. More revolutionary in tone than any previous work of Paul Strand, the topic seemed somewhat out of touch with 1940s wartime political objectives. (Paul Strand and Leo Hurwitz, 1942, 35 mm, 80 minutes)
The Forgotten Village, John Steinbeck's first work as screenwriter, was shot by famed cinematographer Alexander Hammid. Released just before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the film was nearly forgotten in the war effort. (Herbert Kline, 1941, 35 mm, 67 minutes)
Saturday, August 6, 4:30 p.m.
A Cecil B. DeMille milestone rarely revived, The Crusades compensates for its famously flamboyant historical analysis with a wonderfully absurdist Hollywood abandon—hundreds of sword-wielding extras amid lavish pre-Code costumes and set pieces. Released in the wake of Cleopatra's popularity, this extraordinary film has now been deemed worthy of reappraisal as a critical work by an American master at the height of his powers. (Cecil B. DeMille, 1935, 35 mm, 125 minutes)
Sleep, My Love
Saturday, August 13, 12:30 p.m.
An early Douglas Sirk gem featuring Claudette Colbert as a socialite wife emotionally bullied by fickle husband Don Ameche, Sleep, My Love includes enough moody gothic cinematography (shot by Joseph Valentine) to compensate for its occasionally mechanical plot. There are also a few wonderfully eccentric moments, such as a beautiful Chinatown wedding sequence that also provides Colbert an opportunity to bare her emotions. (Douglas Sirk, 1948, 35 mm, 96 minutes)
Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean
Saturday, August 13, 2:30 p.m.
Members of the all-female Disciples of James Dean fan club convene at their one-time clubhouse: a Woolworth's near Marfa, Texas, where Giant, Dean's last film, was shot in 1955. It's the 20th anniversary of their hero's death. Based on the play by Ed Graczyk, Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean—with its stellar cast (Karen Black, Sandy Dennis, and Cher) and memorable set of past and present five-and-ten-cent stores separated by a two-way mirror—is the first effort in UCLA's project to save the legacy of director Robert Altman. (Robert Altman, 1982, 35 mm, 109 minutes)
This Is Your Life
Julie Kohner, daughter of Hanna Bloch Kohner, in person
Sunday, August 14, 4:30 p.m.
Three episodes from the famed 1950s NBC television show This Is Your Life, hosted by Ralph Edwards, present the stories of three women who survived the Holocaust, the first to be disclosed on national television. This Is Your Life, Hanna Bloch Kohner (May 1953), This Is Your Life, Ilse Stanley (November 1955), and This Is Your Life, Sara Veffer (March 1961). (Axel Gruenberg and Richard Gottlieb, 35 mm, total running time 85 minutes) Special thanks to the Ralph and Barbara Edwards Family Trust.
On the Vitaphone, 1928–1930
Saturday, August 20, 2:00 p.m.
Vitaphone's synchronized sound technology was devised by Warner Bros., Bell Labs, and Western Electric. While not the earliest synchsound, Vitaphone in its day was a real innovation; discs and film used the same motor, so matching sound and image became less risky. UCLA is restoring its collection of these musical and comic shorts in collaboration with Warner Bros., the Library of Congress, and the Vitaphone Project. This program features gems such as Niagara Falls, She Who Gets Slapped, Marlowe and Jordan in Songs and Impressions, and Dooley and Sales in Dooley's the Name. (35 mm, 1928–1930, approximately 100 minutes)
Rendezvous with Annie
preceded by a selection of "Soundies"
Saturday, August 20, at 4:30 p.m.
A charismatic wartime comedy finds Jeffrey Dolan (Eddie Albert) missing his wife Annie so much that two pals fly him, AWOL, across the Atlantic to see her. When the war ends, Jeffrey is stunned to discover that Annie has given birth to their son. Naturally, a few awkward issues surface, since no one was supposed to know of his secret visit. Screenwriters Mary Loos and Richard Sale adapted the scenario from their popular magazine story. (Allan Dwan, 1946, 35 mm, 80 minutes)
"Soundies" were musical shorts featuring popular vocalists and bands of the day, inexpensively made for coin-operated "Panoram" visual jukeboxes. UCLA has preserved a selection of these unique films—the 1940s equivalent of music video—with support from the Grammy Foundation. This selection includes I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good, Sioux City Sue, Bar Babble, Corrine, Corrina, Prisoner of Love, and more. (35 mm, 1941–1946, approximately 35 minutes)
Strangers in the Night
followed by The Big Shakedown
Sunday, August 21, 4:30 p.m.
Strangers in the Night, an early work of Anthony Mann, is a darkly gothic wartime tale about a marine who falls in love with a pen pal, only to discover later that his pal's mother (Helene Thimig) is a bizarre character who may have concocted the whole epistolary exchange. The "inky noir style and fatalist themes would later emerge full force in Mann's T-Men and Border Incident in the late 1940s" —Paul Malcolm. (Anthony Mann, 1944, 35 mm, 56 minutes)
Silent idol Charles Farrell joins a then unknown Bette Davis to costar in a fast-paced early-sound Warner Bros. gangster melodrama about counterfeit goods and the innocent onlookers who get caught in racketeers' intrigues. "As a B-movie featuring major stars in career transition—some up, some down—The Big Shakedown is exemplary of the films that shaped this pivotal period of Davis' career" —Paul Malcolm. (John Francis Dillon, 1934, 35 mm, 64 minutes)
Waiting for Godot
preceded by Samuel Beckett 's Film
Saturday, August 27, 4:30 p.m.
Waiting for Godot was an episode in the short-lived television series Play of the Week, an independently produced anthology show that aired on New York's WNTA-TV Channel 13 and affiliates between 1959 and 1961. Play of the Week presented 67 productions featuring well-known actors who demanded little money. (Here, for Beckett's masterpiece, Zero Mostel is Estragon, and Burgess Meredith plays Vladimir). "Godot exemplifies the potential heights the small screen could reach as a legitimate venue for meaningful and challenging dramatic arts"—Mark Quigley. (Alan Schneider, 1961, DigiBeta, 102 minutes)
Samuel Beckett's only screenplay is a 20-minute, almost silent short. "Film is in essence a chase film; arguably the craziest committed to celluloid, a chase between camera and pursued image that finds existential dread embedded in the very apparatus of the movies. The link to cinema's essence is evident in the casting, as the chased object is none other than an aged Buster Keaton" —Ross Lipman. (Alan Schneider, 1965, 35 mm, 20 minutes)
Sunday, August 28, 4:30 p.m.
Barbara Loden, once known only as Elia Kazan's wife and favorite actress, was eventually celebrated as an American auteur for this exceptional portrayal of a woman living a life of quiet desperation in rural working-class Pennsylvania in the 1960s. A formative work in the independent cinema movement, Wanda's sensitive take on a complex subject earned it a spot in the pantheon of great cinema vérité. "UCLA's new 35 mm restoration is blown up from the previously lost 16 mm camera rolls, and brings a sharper and truer rendition of the film's unique color palette" —Ross Lipman. (Barbara Loden, 1970, 35 mm, 102 minutes)
This Other Eden: Ireland and Film
August 27–September 25
By bringing together a variety of fiction, documentary, and ethnographic material made by Irish filmmakers and a number of outsiders, This Other Eden sheds light on the intriguing and subtle relationships that exist between storytelling and real life, as portrayed in the complex and colorful world of Irish cinema. Starting in 1927 with a dose of American Will Rogers's humor, then examining a few works that derive from Ireland's deep literary tradition, and ending with a new essay on "father of the feature documentary" Robert Flaherty, the series observes facets of Irish history, literature, mythology, emigration, and even religion from a multitude of storytelling perspectives. In a year of celebration of Irish culture in North America, many of the films are from the collection of the Irish Film Institute, Dublin. The series has been organized in association with curator Sunniva O'Flynn of the Institute, with special thanks to the Museum of Modern Art and to Culture Ireland.
Children of Eire
preceded by With Will Rogers in Dublin and Ireland: The Tear and the Smile
Saturday, August 27, 2:00 p.m.
In With Will Rogers in Dublin (1927, 3 minutes) the humorist delivers a few gibes, while Ireland: The Tear and the Smile is hosted by Walter Cronkite for CBS and includes commentary from Sean O'Faolain, Brendan Behan, Éamon de Valera, and others (Willard Van Dyke, 1959, 27 minutes). The program concludes with Children of Eire, scripted by Nobel Prize winner Heinrich Boll and containing a pictorial record of 1960s Ireland, rich in literary allusion yet filled with a measured cynicism: recently returned emigrants sport new American finery, cinemagoers in County Mayo turn out to see "local girl" Grace Kelly, and everywhere a proliferation of abandoned buildings. (Klaus Simon, 1961, 16 mm, 42 minutes)
Rocky Road to Dublin
preceded by The Making of "Rocky Road to Dublin"
Friday, September 2, 2:30 p.m.
Cinematographer Raoul Coutard captured the spirit of late 1960s Dublin, combing its dance halls, bars, and schools to illustrate this polemical work of Peter Lennon, a returning émigré journalist whose aim was to "reconstruct the plight of a community which, having survived seven hundred years of English occupation, nearly sank under the weight of its own heroes and clergy." (Peter Lennon, 1968, 16 mm, 70 minutes)
The Making of "Rocky Road to Dublin" reunites Peter Lennon and Raoul Coutard some 35 years later as they recount the shooting of their then controversial but now celebrated documentary on Ireland. (Paul Duane, 2004, DigiBeta, 30 minutes)
The Quiet Man
preceded by A Lad from Old Ireland
Saturday, September 3, 1:00 p.m.
"Only an American would use emerald green," declares a character in John Ford's enduring comedy set in Mayo and Galway, a work that fulfilled the director's desire to shoot a film in Ireland and make the most of a consummate cast that includes Maureen O'Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, and John Wayne. A generous homage to village life at its most idyllic, The Quiet Man also "hid a few tough ironies," wrote critic Paul Taylor, "deep within its misty recreation of an exile's dream." (John Ford, 1952, 35 mm, 129 minutes)
A Lad from Old Ireland was a Kalem Company silent production, the first ever filmed by an American studio on location outside the United States. (Sidney Olcott, 1910, DigiBeta from 35 mm, 10 minutes)
This Other Eden
Sunday, September 4, 2:00 p.m.
Cast with players from Dublin's Abbey Theater, This Other Eden shares a few similarities with The Quiet Man, although the overall effect is different. A prominent outsider—in this case the wealthy son of an English colonel—identifies romantically with the Irish people, decides to buy property and settle down, falls for a native Irish beauty, but in the end still manages to provoke his new neighbors when they try to set up a memorial for a celebrated rebel martyr. Based on a popular 1950s play by Louis D'Alton, the film was an early project of Ireland's now legendary Ardmore movie studios. (Muriel Box, 1959, 35 mm, 80 minutes)
The Secret of Roan Inish
Saturday, September 10, 2:00 p.m.
Coastal Ireland in the 1940s is the setting for The Secret of Roan Inish, John Sayles's homage to oral tradition and storytelling. A young girl loses her mother and brother and is exiled to the ancestral home. Soon she begins to unearth family legends, including a bizarre tale involving her younger brother and the Selkies—creatures that are part human, part seal. Based on Rosalie K. Fry's novella The Secret of the Ron Mor Skerry, originally set in Scotland, the film's locations in northwest Ireland not only exhibit an abundance of seagulls, wind, and waves but manage to evince a supernaturally mysterious mood that enhances the tale and even adds a tinge of anti-globalization sentiment. (John Sayles, 1994, 103 minutes)
Down the Corner
Sunday, September 11, 2:00 p.m.
Part of a new wave of Irish filmmaking in the 1970s, director Joe Comerford made this half-documentary, half-fictional narrative of five teenage boys in working-class Ballyfermot, a suburban development of Dublin where "the crime rate is too high, and the police presence too low." The boys' relationships are cast against a background of family life, school, and—when one of them is injured while robbing an orchard—in a hospital. (Joe Comerford, 1977, 60 minutes)
The Ballroom of Romance
Saturday, September 17, 2:00 p.m.
Adapted by William Trevor from his own short story, this beautifully rendered drama (made originally for a BBC broadcast) depicts the frustrations and few joys of rural life in the 1950s when provincial dances at local halls were a momentary escape from bleak isolation. The drama centers on Bridie (Brenda Fricker), who goes back once again to the nearby ballroom where, in her youth, she had experienced many romantic aspirations. Her earlier hopes had been dashed, and now, at the end of her evening, she finds her only comfort in the company of a desperate and, she realizes, unsuitable mate. (Pat O'Connor, 1982, 16 mm, 65 minutes)
preceded by John Huston's Dublin
Saturday, September 17, 4:00 p.m.
James Joyce's desire to portray what he saw as the spiritual "deadness" of Dublin through the reflections of Gabriel Conroy on one evening's outing with his wife receives beautiful treatment by John Huston and his son Tony, who wrote the screenplay. Huston allegedly said of his final work, "all I know about filmmaking is in this film." The graceful unfolding of the festive dinner and the gradual progression toward Gretta's (Anjelica Huston) revelation of past love and Gabriel's (Donal McCann) final epiphany becomes "a small masterpiece on the order of Welles' The Immortal Story . . . completely unapologetic towards its literary antecedent" —Brian Case. (John Huston, 1987, 35 mm, 83 minutes)
John Huston's Dublin, originally broadcast on the Canadian television series Cities, is a look at this city's charms through the insights of a longtime Dublin aficionado. (John McGreevy, 1980, DigiBeta, 50 minutes)
The Butcher Boy
Sunday, September 18, 4:30 p.m.
Following Patrick McCabe's acclaimed and complex novel, The Butcher Boy—a disquieting and darkly humorous depiction of a boy's descent into delinquency and apparent madness—was shot in provincial locations including the novelist's County Monaghan home. As an only child, Francie Brady (Eamonn Owens) suffers the dual disadvantages of poor parentage and a serious paucity of social skills. Francie's troubles really only begin there, however, as this fiercely savage tale, unexpectedly comic and moving, unfolds through a variety of devices, including strange touches of magic realism. (Neil Jordan, 1997, 35 mm, 110 minutes)
A Boatload of Wild Irishmen
Saturday, September 24, 2:00 p.m.
American Robert Flaherty (1884–1951) is hailed as father of the feature documentary on the basis of several iconic works, including Man of Aran, shot in 1934 off Ireland's coast. Now a controversial figure, Flaherty broke new ground in the 1920s, filming everyday lives and then using that material to create entertaining narratives. Director Mac Dara Ó Curraidhin visits Flaherty's far-flung locations, interviews people who knew him (including the late Richard Leacock and Joseph Boudreaux, who played the boy in Louisiana Story), and draws a few interesting conclusions. (Mac Dara Ó Curraidhin, 2011, HD-Cam, 84 minutes)
Adam and Paul
preceded by A Sense of Poetry
Saturday, September 24, 4:00 p.m.
Beautifully stylized in a manner reminiscent of Beckett or Joyce, Adam and Paul—a cinematic day in the life of contemporary Dublin from the point of view of two homeless junkies—is also touchingly comic and dreamlike. The two damaged nomads wander the city's streets, forever hanging onto the sad hope of finding some help from their friends. At the same time, the eerie beauty of their surroundings opens up as the night evolves toward the morning. (Lenny Abrahamson, 2004, 35 mm, 83 minutes)
Ciné-Concert: Aran of the Saints
preceded by His Mother and other shorts
MacDara O'Chonaola, Caitríona Ní Almhain, Mícheál Ó hAlmhain, and Deirdre Ní Chonghaile, in performance
Sunday, September 25, 5:00 p.m.
Aran of the Saints, a rare and remarkable work documenting life on the Aran Islands in 1932, records religious activity, even a young boy's funeral, but also presents the day-to-day activities of an island community: arrival of goods from the mainland, children at school, fishing, planting crops, weaving, commerce, and games of "tig" in the lush green fields. Made by the Catholic Film Society of London, the film is a textured anthropological study of a community, and as such, it presents a stark contrast to the portrait of an isolated family battling the elements in Flaherty's Man of Aran a mere two years later. In a dynamic fusion of old and new, the film is performed with a new score devised by vocal and instrumental musicians from Aran. (1932, restored from 16 mm to HD-Cam, approximately 30 minutes)
His Mother is an early Kalem production about an Irish peasant fiddler who, once discovered by wealthy American tourists, makes a success of himself in New York and abandons his poor mother in the process. (c. 1910, DigiBeta, 10 minutes)
A Polish Quartet: Jerzy Skolimowski in the 1960s
A force in Polish cinema during the 1960s, Jerzy Skolimowski (b. 1938) cowrote the scripts for Andrzej Wajda's Innocent Sorcerers and Roman Polanski's Knife in the Water, graduated from the prestigious Łódź Film School, and directed and acted in four low-budget, semi-autobiographical features—works that portray the familiar theme of youthful alienation with a fresh stylistic punch. "I like to make movies with serious layers," he said of these early works, before leaving Poland when Hands Up! was shelved for its criticism of communism and the Polish people. Although his main passions later in life have been poetry and painting, Skolimowski's most recent feature, Essential Killing (2010), about the dramatic death of a presumed terrorist, was lauded abroad as an extraordinary work of film art, yet it was never released in North America. Based on his groundbreaking early career alone, Jerzy Skolimowski retains a favored place in the pantheon of postwar Polish masters. Presented in collaboration with the Polish Cultural Institute, New York, with additional support from the National Film Archive, Warsaw.
Identification Marks: None
Saturday, September 3, 4:00 p.m.
An attractive young Jerzy Skolimowski cast himself as callow student hero Andrzej, struggling to find his niche in life while awaiting military service. His Łodź Film School diploma film, Identification Marks: None (Rysopis), although cobbled from fragments of earlier projects, was immediately spotted as a breakthrough for its intense visual style: direct, bold, and discursive. Some critics recognized the beginnings of a Polish "new wave," while others simply saw the arrival of a bright new talent and heralded the first independent production in communist Poland. (1964, 35 mm, Polish with subtitles, 75 minutes)
Sunday, September 4, 4:30 p.m.
Skolimowski's second feature is again focused on the life of young protagonist Andrzej. Finished now with military duty, Andrzej has embarked on an amateur boxing career, until he meets Teresa (Aleksandra Zawieruszanka), a government engineer, with whom he runs off and regrettably evades an important match. "A brooding farewell to youth, Walkover (Walkower) also delivers a satiric critique of Polish bureaucratic paternalism that depicts Church and State as theatrical and alienating realms" —Harvard Film Archive. (1965, 35 mm, Polish with subtitles, 77 minutes)
Saturday, September 10, 4:30 p.m.
A one-time medical student tries to diagnosis his own odd indifference to his world. A year after Walkover, Skolimowski made the brilliant but highly stylized Barrier (Bariera), visually the most daring of his early works, as epigrammatic as a modernist painting. Symbols—rope, piggybank, saber, aimless crowds, a restaurant devoid of patrons, and more—suggest the film's main themes but also particular states of mind. The effect is a strange, otherworldly ambience. Celebrated composer Krzysztof Komeda created the jazz score. (1966, 35 mm, Polish with subtitles, 77 minutes)
Sunday, September 11, 4:30 p.m.
The final film in the Andrzej cycle, Hands Up! (Ręce Do Gory)—whose official ban precipitated Skolimowski's emigration—was not screened in Poland until the 1980s (this 1981 reedited version is the only one now available). Filled with surreal visual moments, this work is less aesthetically provocative than Barrier but nevertheless loaded with interesting ironies. "For one, the idealistic past is linked with Stalinism…. We observe in a series of extravagant situations the anatomy of philistinism, conformism, the devaluation of once proud ideals. It is to these surrenders that the phrase ‘Hands up!' is addressed" —Boleslaw Michalek and Frank Turaj. (1968–1981, 35 mm, Polish with subtitles, 76 minutes)
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