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Release Date: April 22, 2016

Washington Premieres, Unique Ciné-Concerts, Special Appearances and Performances, Film Sequences, Documentary Screenings, Mid-Century Silent Portraits, and Digital Restorations Highlight the National Gallery of Art Film Offerings for Spring 2016

Still from Don't Blink – Robert Frank by Laura Israel, 2015, to be shown on Sunday, June 19, at 4:00 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art, East Building Auditorium. Image courtesy Assemblage Films.

Still from Don't Blink – Robert Frank by Laura Israel, 2015, to be shown on Sunday, June 19, at 4:00 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art, East Building Auditorium. Image courtesy Assemblage Films.

Washington, DC—The National Gallery of Art's film program provides many opportunities throughout the year to view classic and contemporary cinema from around the world. Through screenings, scholarly notes, filmmaker discussions, and unique introductions by critics and academics, the program encourages viewers to learn more about the history of cinema and the role of media in society. Innovative retrospectives, restored works of historical value, silent films with live musical accompaniment, new documentaries, and experimental media by noted video artists are just some of the programs offered year-round.

The Gallery's film series this spring includes special film events, Washington premieres, new portraits of artists, unique ciné-concerts, several series hailing acclaimed auteurs, and special appearances by artists and performers. Documentary screenings present the works and lives of such disparate artists as John James Audubon, James McNeill Whistler, Samuel Beckett, Yvonne Rainer, and contemporary painter Rackstraw Downes. Two film series—Chantal Akerman: A Traveler's Tale and The Vision of Ousmane Sembene—feature recent documentaries on these masters alongside key works from their enduring filmographies, including the Washington premiere of Belgian director Akerman's last work, No Home Movie, and a digital restoration of Senegalese director Sembene's 1966 debut feature, La Noire de . . . (Black Girl), the first film by an African filmmaker to be seen widely in the west.

Other film series include Bernard Herrmann: Stage, Screen, and Radio, an investigation into the contributions of the American composer and conductor produced in association with PostClassical Ensemble, and The Cinema I: Mangolte Film, a three-part highlighting the original films of influential French-American cinematographer Babette Mangolte.

Three ciné-concerts bring to life two classics: Faust (with a score by contemporary Swiss composer Daniel Schnyder) and Die Nibelungen (accompanied by Dennis James on organ), as well as Kannapolis: A Moving Portrait, a set of mid-century silent portraits of everyday people filmed by depression-era itinerant filmmaker H. Lee Waters and accompanied by folksong and field sounds arranged by Jenny Scheinman.

Special Events: Washington Premieres, Screenings and Appearances

Notfilm followed by Film (featuring Buster Keaton)
Washington premiere
April 24 at 4:00
East Building Auditorium

Ciné-concert: Faust
Daniel Schnyder, David Taylor, and Kenny Drew Jr. in performance
April 30 at 2:30
East Building Auditorium

Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress, and the Tangerine
Amei Wallach in person
May 1 at 4:00
East Building Auditorium

Paris Belongs to Us: Recalling Rivette
May 7 at 2:30
East Building Auditorium

Ciné-concert: Die Nibelungen, Parts I and II
Dennis James in performance
May 14 at 1:00
East Building Auditorium

Rackstraw Downes: A Painter
Rackstraw Downes and curator Harry Cooper in discussion
Washington premiere

May 21 at 2:30
East Building Auditorium

Ciné-concert: Kannapolis: A Moving Portrait
Jenny Scheinman, Robbie Fulks, Robbie Gjersoe in performance
May 22 at 4:30
East Building Auditorium

Depression-era itinerant filmmaker H. Lee Waters documented more than a hundred towns in the Carolinas, Virginia, and Tennessee from 1936 to 1942 in his series Movies of Local People. He recorded people going about their lives in the small-town South, and then worked with musicians to mix folksongs, fiddle music, and field sounds.The full slate of Waters's movies are now housed at Duke University's Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Commissioned by Duke Performances. (H. Lee Waters, compiled by Finn Taylor and Jenny Scheinman, 1936 – 2015, 60 minutes)

Art on Film Dialogue: James McNeill Whistler and the Case for Beauty
Karen Thomas in person
May 29 at 2:00
East Building Auditorium

I Don't Belong Anywhere: The Cinema of Chantal Akerman
Washington premiere
June 4 at 2:00

La Noire de . . . (Black Girl) preceded by Borom Sarret
Washington premiere of the restorations
June 5 at 4:00
East Building Auditorium

Don't Blink – Robert Frank
Washington premiere
June 19 at 4:00
East Building Auditorium

Film About a Woman Who . . .
June 25 at 4:00
East Building Auditorium

Feelings are Facts: Yvonne Rainer
June 26 at 4:00
East Building Auditorium

Bernard Herrmann: Stage, Screen, and Radio
Through April 23
A towering figure in 20th-century American music, Bernard Herrmann (1911–1975) has long been regarded as only a Hollywood composer. Although he is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest American composers for film, his concert output remains virtually unknown. Working closely with the young Orson Welles and later with radio and screenwriter Norman Corwin, Herrmann was also America's foremost radio composer and the conductor of a radio orchestra — William Paley's visionary CBS Symphony — that boldly promoted new music. This series is the first ever to celebrate Herrmann "in the round," including work for film, television, radio, and the concert hall in a varied selection of screenings and performances. Some of Herrmann's memorable films to be screened include The Wrong Man, The Twilight Zone, and Vertigo.

Produced by PostClassical Ensemble in collaboration with the National Gallery of Art, AFI Silver Theatre, and Georgetown University. With thanks for generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Art Mentor Lucerne, WAMU, and the Estate of Norman Corwin. For screenings at the AFI Silver Theatre, see For a comprehensive list of all events, including concerts, visit

April 23 at 2:30
East Building Auditorium

The Vision of Ousmane Sembène
May 8–June 5

Before becoming a filmmaker in midlife, acclaimed Senegalese novelist Ousmane Sembène (1923–2007) had worked as a laborer, dockworker, tradesman, and union activist — roles that assured him a unique perspective as a creative artist. His eloquently crafted films deftly deploy parable, irony, satire, comedy, ritual, and melodrama in their pursuit of the recurring problems he felt were crushing Africa's soul and suppressing its cultural legacies. With very few resources, Sembène managed to forge a film industry at a time when colonial sub-Saharan Africans were banned from making movies. This series includes the Washington premiere of Sembène!, a new documentary about this influential artist, as well as his recently restored first feature La noire de . . .(Black Girl) and the brilliant, riotous Xala.

Washington premiere
May 8 at 4:00
East Building Auditorium

May 15 at 4:00
East Building Auditorium

La Noire de . . . (Black Girl) preceded by Borom Sarret
Washington premiere of the restorations
June 5 at 4:00
East Building Auditorium

Chantal Akerman: A Traveler's Tale
June 4–12

Brussels-born Chantal Akerman (1950–2015) referred to herself as a nomad, a wanderer who never remained, physically or mentally, in one spot. Her restiveness is reflected in her pioneering experiments with fiction, essay, documentary, abstraction, literary adaptation, and other forms (even musical), as she constantly probes themes of family, gender, performance, and history with her characteristic penchant for minimal budgets and small crews, and her distinctive gift for dramaturgy. The program begins with the Washington premiere of a new documentary on her remarkable career.

I Don't Belong Anywhere: The Cinema of Chantal Akerman
Washington premiere
June 4 at 2:00
East Building Auditorium

News from Home
June 4 at 3:30
East Building Auditorium

Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
June 11 at 2:00
East Building Auditorium

No Home Movie
June 12 at 4:00
East Building Auditorium

The Cinema I: Mangolte Film
June 18–25

Emigrating from France to New York City in 1970, Babette Mangolte (b. 1941) defined the "look" of many seminal avant-garde films when she collaborated with Chantal Akerman, Yvonne Rainer, Michael Snow, and Richard Foreman, among other artists. Her collaborations in the conceptual art, dance, theatre, and film worlds have led to many astonishing works of clarity, directness, and feeling, thanks to her cinematographic skills. While Mangolte continues to work as the director of photography on others' projects, she has all the while produced her own experimental films. Three programs celebrate Mangolte as maker, over the last four decades, of her own works in which (serving as cinematographer and director) she distills her inquiry into vision and meaning via the camera. With thanks to Filmmakers' Cooperative, Broadway 1602, and to Babette Mangolte.

I. Portraiture
June 18 at 1:00
East Building Auditorium

II. Performance
June 18 at 3:30
East Building Auditorium

III. Space
June 25 at 1:15
East Building Auditorium

Film programs are free of charge, and are screened in original formats whenever possible. Doors open approximately 30 minutes before each screening; seating is on a first-come, first-seated basis unless noted otherwise. Programs are subject to change.

Please see our accessibility page for information on services for the hearing impaired.

Press Contact:
Sarah Edwards Holley, (202) 842-6359 or [email protected]

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