Skip to Main Content

Release Date: December 7, 2018

National Gallery of Art 2019 Winter Film Program Features Gordon Parks Retrospective, Washington Premieres, Cinema from Portugal, and Discussions with Filmmakers

Still image from Breaking the Frame by Marielle Nitoslawska (2012, 100 minutes), screening with Carolee, Barbara, Gunvor by Lynne Sachs (2018, 8 minutes), at the National Gallery of Art on March 3, 2019, at 5:00 p.m. Image courtesy Picture Palace Pictures.

Still image from Breaking the Frame by Marielle Nitoslawska (2012, 100 minutes), screening with Carolee, Barbara, Gunvor by Lynne Sachs (2018, 8 minutes), at the National Gallery of Art on March 3, 2019, at 5:00 p.m. Image courtesy Picture Palace Pictures.

Washington, DC—The 2019 winter film season (January–March) at the National Gallery of Art features several special cinematic events, Washington premieres, archival retrospectives, and discussions with renowned filmmakers.

Special events during the winter season include the Washington premieres of Gray House by Austin Jack Lynch and Matthew Booth and The Image Book by Jean-Luc Godard. There are also screenings of several recent documentaries: On the Wings of Brancusi, Breaking the Frame, Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda, Acid Forest, and More Art Upstairs. Screenings of new restorations include Jean-Pierre Melville's When You Read This Letter from the mid-1950s and Ishmael Reed and Bill Gunn's extraordinary Personal Problems (1980), which is screened with Ishmael Reed in person.

This season also features a retrospective of films by American photographer and filmmaker Gordon Parks presented in conjunction with the exhibition Gordon Parks: The New Tide, Early Work 1940–1950. Other series during the winter months include a complete retrospective of French filmmaker Jean Vigo; the occasional series From Vault to Screen, which focuses this season on the classic cinema of Portugal in archival prints from Cinemateca Portuguesa; and Hollywood's Poverty Row Preserved by UCLA, a look at the B-movie producers of the Golden Age in Hollywood and their offbeat, low-budget works that ultimately sparked the indie film movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

Films are shown in the East Building Auditorium, in original formats whenever possible. Seating for all events is on a first-come, first-seated basis unless otherwise noted. Doors open 30 minutes before showtime. Films are subject to change on short notice. For up-to-date information, visit

Special Events

On the Wings of Brancusi
American premiere
January 2, 4, 10, 12:30 p.m.
Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi (1876–1957) has been a fascinating and enduring influence on a generation of American artists. Insights into Brancusi's legacy are presented by artists Carl Andre, Lynda Benglis, Ellsworth Kelly, Martin Puryear, Richard Serra, Donald Judd, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, and others. Locations include the recreated Brancusi studio at the Centre Pompidou, the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Brancusi gallery, and studios and exhibitions of the artists. Anne d'Harnoncourt (director emeritus of the Philadelphia Museum of Art), Margit Rowell and Ann Temkin (cocurators of the 1995 Brancusi retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art), critics Robert Storr and Richard Woodward, and others offer interpretive commentary. (Edgar Howard and Susan Wald, 2018, 52 minutes)

Gray House
Washington premiere
Austin Jack Lynch and Matthew Booth in person
January 5, 2:30 p.m.
A striking synthesis of sound and image in a hybrid documentary/fictional form, by filmmaker Austin Jack Lynch (son of David Lynch) and photographer Matthew Booth is, at times, purposefully mysterious. Shifting between the natural world and architectural spaces, using both real and simulated settings, the film is a meditation on landscape, loss, loneliness, and human need. (Austin Jack Lynch and Matthew Booth, 2017, 75 minutes)

Personal Problems
Ishmael Reed in person
January 6, 4:00 p.m.
From 1979 to 1981, with little money but exceptional talent, a group of avant-garde artists assembled in New York to produce what American poet, playwright, artist, and essayist Ishmael Reed calls an "experimental soap opera" with a largely African American cast and crew. Unusual in the history of cinema, the actors in Personal Problems define themselves and their roles, and they largely improvise, thereby avoiding the stereotypes offered up by Hollywood. After a flurry of showings in 1981, the remaining 54 video copies of Personal Problems lay in Reed's attic for three decades until they were rediscovered by curator Jake Perlin, who brought a copy to Lincoln Center and BAMcinematek at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. (Ishmael Reed and Bill Gunn, 1980, 165 minutes)

Aviva Kempner in person
January 11, 19, 1:00 p.m.
Rosenwald documents the remarkable collaborations between businessman and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, author and educator Booker T. Washington, and African American communities in the South. Together they built over 5,000 schools during the Jim Crow era, a time when few African Americans received any public education at all. Rosenwald also established a fund that awarded grants primarily to unusually talented African American artists and intellectuals, including Marian Anderson, Ralph Bunche, W. E. B. DuBois, Ralph Ellison, Dr. Charles Drew, John Hope Franklin, Zora Neale Hurston, Gordon Parks, James Baldwin, Jacob Lawrence, and Woody Guthrie, among others. (Aviva Kempner, 2015, 95 minutes)

Godard's The Image Book
January 27, 4:30 p.m.
The reclusive 88-year-old Jean-Luc Godard (the only French New Wave director still living) continues to practice his enigmatic art. In this most recent work, The Image Book, he probes the topics that have preoccupied his late work—the state of film aesthetics, the discourse between history and cinema, the borders between filmmaking and other forms of image making—forming a broad philosophical inquiry into the state of the modern world. (Jean-Luc Godard, 2018, subtitles, 90 minutes)

Hip-Hop's Great Day: Gordon Parks and A Legacy of Photographic Inspiration
Nelson George, Adrian Loving, and Vikki Tobak in person
February 17, 2:00 p.m.
In a multidimensional presentation and discussion, artist and educator Adrian Loving and scholar Vikki Tobak explore the visual influences of Gordon Parks's legacy in photography and film, particularly his famous photograph A Great Day in Hip Hop (XXL Magazine) from September 1998. Tracing his impact on music videos directed by artists such as Fab 5 Freddy and Kendrick Lamar, Loving and Tobak celebrate Parks's ingenuity, dedication, and power. An excerpt from Nelson George's latest film, A Great Day in Hip Hop, is also screened and discussed. A book signing of Contact High: The Visual History of Hip-Hop follows. (Approximately 100 minutes)

When You Read This Letter
Washington premiere of the restoration
February 17, 5:00 p.m.
Celebrated chanteuse Juliette Greco—known as la Muse de l'existentialisme in mid-20th-century Paris—plays Sister Thérèse, a nun who leaves behind the quiet security of her convent to run a family business and help her real sister (Irene Galter) escape the clutches of a shifty lowlife (Philip Lemaire). A recently restored and rarely screened work from Jean Pierre Melville, When You Read This Letter has the added advantage of Henri Alekan's elegant location shooting, most of which took place in a now unrecognizable South of France. An intriguing missing link in Melville's influential oeuvre, When You Read This Letter has until now never been released in the United States. (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1953, subtitles, 104 minutes)

Breaking the Frame preceded by Carolee, Barbara, and Gunvor
March 3, 5:00 p.m.
With Breaking the Frame, filmmaker Marielle Nitoslawska crafts a daring profile of the radical New York artist Carolee Schneemann, a pioneer of performance art and avant-garde cinema. (Marielle Nitoslawska, 2012, 100 minutes). It is preceded by Carolee, Barbara, and Gunvor, personal portraits of three highly influential and prolific artists: Schneemann, Barbara Hammer, and Gunvor Nelson. (Lynne Sachs, 2018, 8 minutes)

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda
March 17, 4:30 p.m.
Artist, musician, singer, and composer extraordinaire Ryuichi Sakamoto is known for responding to even the smallest environmental shifts and tensions. This mindfulness is at times expressed in mixing the familiar tones and textures of life with manufactured and erratic sounds, such as those produced by the water-damaged grand piano he discovered and used after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. Sakamoto finds inspiration in unrelated sources—from the physical world to movie scores, from experimental music to ethnomusicology. After the Fukushima accident he was inspired by the antinuclear power movement, and after his own cancer treatments, he created the very personal async solo album. Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda, shot over five years, is an elegant and understated portrait that sheds light on one of the most interesting musical minds of the era. (Stephen Nomura Schible, 2017, 100 minutes)

Black Dreams at Sea: The Sardine Fisherman's Funeral and An Opera of the World
Elizabeth Alexander and Manthia Diawara in person
March 23, 2:30 p.m.
Painter Ficre Ghebreyesus (1962–2012) from Asmara in Eritrea and filmmaker Manthia Diawara from Bamako in Mali meet metaphorically in this program focusing on their work. Political refugees, activists, scholars, artists, and storytellers, both men settled in the United States and found themselves working odd jobs, joining the African American community of poets, and hunkering down within their own artistic practice. Ficre Ghebreyesus's epic painting The Sardine Fisherman's Funeral centers on the abebuu adekai, the figurative coffin of the Ga people in Ghana, replete with symbols, historical references, and Eritrean iconography expressing a depth of feeling for the power of the sea. Manthia Diawara's film An Opera of the World (2017), based on the African opera Bintou Were, mines the Malian filmmaker's own migration experience against the backdrop of recent tragedies on the Mediterranean Sea. Diawara's film features contemporary philosophers and employs footage of refugees in exodus, probing cinema's power to bear witness. Manthia Diawara and Elizabeth Alexander—poet, essayist, playwright, scholar, and president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation—discuss and contrast these works following the screening. (Approximately 100 minutes)

Acid Forest
March 24, 4:30 p.m.
Imagine a dead forest as a tourist attraction, a place where human visitors are not only observers, but are also observed by thousands of black birds. Lithuanian artist Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė (this year representing her country at the Venice Biennale) is known in the art world for her focus on "the gap between objective and imagined realities in a manner that cuts through anthropocentric ways of thinking," writes critic Kaleem Aftab. Beautiful, repellent, and mesmerizing, Acid Forest—largely achieved through complex aerial shots from a bird's perspective within a now treeless national park in Lithuania—eavesdrops on tourists' reactions to the obvious devastation before them. (Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė and Dovydas Korba, 2018, 63 minutes) Presented in association with the Environmental Film Festival

More Art Upstairs
March 30, 1:00 p.m.
For three weeks in September, beer-fueled debates in the bars of Grand Rapids, Michigan, are focused on art. Thousands arrive for ArtPrize, a competition and fair that allows ordinary people to engage with blue-chip artists in ways that rarely happen at more established venues like Art Basel. More Art Upstairs follows five artists exhibiting work in this unusual populist experiment. The public gets to vote, via their phones, on the art that should qualify to win half the prize money—the largest monetary award in the art world. What attracts the artists, in turn, is the chance to prevail in a public vote and gain exposure to some of the country's top critics, who award the other half of the prize. Part game show, part riveting art exploration, More Art Upstairs grapples with the democratization of culture, artists' need (or not) to connect with their audiences, and the fading of the canonical art establishment. (Jody Hassett Sanchez, 2017, 77 minutes)

Film Series

The Films of Gordon Parks
January 12–February 10
Best known as a groundbreaking photographer, Gordon Parks was also a prolific and influential filmmaker. This series of films and videos contextualizes Parks's early interest in the power of motion pictures, highlights his own film productions, and explores his influence on new generations of filmmakers and artists from the second half of the 20th century to the present day. Programmed in conjunction with the exhibition Gordon Parks: The New Tide, Early Work 1940–1950. Special thanks to the Gordon Parks Foundation.

Films of the New Deal
January 12, 1:00 p.m.
A program of government-sponsored documentaries that directly influenced Gordon Parks, this program features short newsreels produced by the Office of War Information. Examples include Manpower (1942, 10 minutes), It's Everybody's War (1942, 18 minutes), and The Negro Soldier (produced by Frank Capra, 1944, 43 minutes), among others. (Approximately 90 minutes)

Louisiana Story
January 12, 3:30 p.m.
Produced by the Standard Oil Company when Parks was employed there as a photographer, the iconic documentary feature film Louisiana Story follows midcentury oil extraction alongside the day-to-day life of a young Cajun boy, a witness to that unrelenting expansion. Robert Flaherty's focus on the lush landscape of Louisiana and on its inhabitants as the "actors" in his film directly influenced Parks's interest in the power of nonfiction storytelling. (Robert Flaherty, 1948, 79 minutes)

Gordon Parks: Early Documentaries
January 13, 4:00 p.m.
In June 1961 Life magazine published Parks's seminal photo-essay Freedom's Fearful Foe: Poverty, a profile of one family living in a favela on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Flavio is a portrait of that family's eldest son and his daily struggle to survive (1964, 18 minutes). Flavio is followed by two other journalistic works: Diary of a Harlem Family (1968, 20 minutes) and The World of Piri Thomas (1968, 60 minutes). Special thanks to the University of Indiana Libraries Moving Image Archive

The Learning Tree
January 19, 4:00 p.m.
The Learning Tree was the first production by a major Hollywood studio (Warner Brothers) to be directed by an African American. Gordon Parks's feature film debut is based on his 1963 semi-autobiographical novel of the same name about a teenager growing up in rural Kansas during the 1920s. Remarkably, Parks not only wrote the screenplay adaptation of his own novel and directed the film, he also produced it and composed the musical score. The Learning Tree was included in the National Film Registry by the United States National Film Preservation Board in 1989. (1969, 35mm, 106 minutes)

January 26, 2:00 p.m.
The commercial success of The Learning Tree prompted a multiyear contract with MGM Pictures, leading to Parks's hugely successful second feature film, Shaft. Single-handedly reviving the dormant private-eye genre, the story of John Shaft (played by Richard Roundtree) is told as much with narrative as through dynamic camera work and fast-paced editing. It is enhanced by Isaac Hayes's iconic score, particularly the Oscar-winning theme. (1971, 98 minutes)

Shaft's Big Score
January 26, 4:00 p.m.
Building on the global commercial success of Shaft, Shaft's Big Score raised the bar for the crime-fighting genre with pyrotechnics and even more adrenaline-rousing, high-speed chase scenes. Richard Roundtree's tough, skilled detective invited visions of a James Bond-like franchise, and this sequel showcases an even more heroic John Shaft, intent on solving the mystery of a friend's murder and the delivery of a small fortune intended for an inner-city children's center. (1972, 106 minutes)

February 2, 2:00 p.m.
With the success of his "blaxploitation" titles and crime dramas, Parks negotiated his next feature to be of more personal and historic interest: the biography of famed folk blues singer Huddie Ledbetter. Nicknamed "Leadbelly" by a madam, the man who wrote "Goodnight Irene" and "Rock Island Line" traverses the South with his twelve-string guitar. Leadbelly's life recalls an African American past characterized by racism, poverty, and imprisonment, as well as ingenuity, racial solidarity, and self-expression. Although lauded by critics, the film was not successfully promoted and proved a commercial failure, even though it is one of Parks's most intimate films. (1976, 126 minutes)

Solomon Northup's Odyssey
February 3, 4:00 p.m.
Eight years after Leadbelly, Parks returned to filmmaking, directing, writing, and scoring this drama for public television's American Playhouse series. Based on Northup's biography Twelve Years a Slave, Solomon Northup's Odyssey depicts the title character's harrowing experiences in forced servitude. A black man born free in upstate New York, Northrup worked as a carpenter and a talented violinist until he was lured away from his family to Washington, DC, where he expects to play a concert. Instead he is drugged, shackled, and sold into slavery in Louisiana. (1984, 133 minutes)

Half Past Autumn: The Life and Work of Gordon Parks preceded by The Weapons of Gordon Parks
February 9, 2:00 p.m.
Part of Warren Forman's Artists at Work documentary series, The Weapons of Gordon Parks is an early record of Parks told in his own words before his success as a filmmaker (1967, 28 minutes). It is followed by the HBO-produced documentary Half Past Autumn, an insightful and personal portrait narrated by Alfre Woodard, featuring interviews and reminiscences with Parks, his friends, collaborators, and family members. (Craig Rice, 2000, 101 minutes)

Moments without Proper Names preceded by Martin
February 10, 4:00 p.m.
Asked to make an autobiographical film for public television, Parks constructed a cinematic collage of his music, still photographs, archival news footage, and narration drawn from his lifetime of creative work. A filmic poem, Moments without Proper Names explores themes of childhood, racism, black self-determination, success, poverty, and war: all subjects that Parks dedicated his life to addressing with his art. (1988, 60 minutes) It is preceded by Parks's final film, Martin, a production of his ballet based on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., made for KCET public television, Los Angeles. (1989, 55 minutes)

Jean Vigo
February 16
Although he made only four films, Jean Vigo's (1905–1934) career had a profound effect on the history of art cinema, and Vigo himself is a treasured figure, due in part to his short and difficult life. Combining surrealist motifs with poetic sequences and mixing cinéma vérité with metaphor, Vigo's film treatments are infused with a sense of social justice, ultimately leading to problems with censors followed by numerous small edits to his work. Jean suffered poor health from an early age and finally died at age 29, three weeks after the Paris premiere of his now beloved L'Atalante. Jean Vigo's work has recently been restored and rereleased.

À propos de Nice followed by Jean Taris, champion de France and Zéro de conduite
February 16, 2:00 p.m.
Jean Vigo's first film mixes footage of strollers along Nice's Promenade des Anglais with scenes that mock the city's class inequities. In the background is the Carnival of Nice with its strange and fanciful papier-mâché figures. Mimicking the Soviet montage artists to create a swirling urban mosaic (cinematographer Boris Kaufman was the brother of Russian experimenter Dziga Vertov), Vigo depicts the outlandish within this famed Riviera city—and all under cloudy skies. (1930, silent with musical score, 23 minutes) A commissioned sports documentary on the famous French swimmer who competed in three Summer Olympics, Jean Taris, champion de France is also an abstract reflection on the human form in movement. (1931, silent with musical score, 9 minutes) In Zéro de conduite, four boys feeling the pains of boarding school life stage an uprising. Basing his scenario on his own bitter childhood memories, Vigo comments on youthful rebellion—adding surreal motifs like an epic slow-motion pillow fight—making insinuations that reach far beyond school life. This new restoration, the director's cut with previously unseen sequences, eliminates the intertitles added to earlier prints. (1933, 49 minutes)

Restored director's cut
February 16, 4:00 p.m.
A delicate tale of a barge-master and his bride filmed on the canals northeast of Paris during the winter of 1934 blends the serenity of poetic realism with tinges of surrealist futility. While earlier restorations of Vigo's masterwork reinstated bits of missing footage, this new restoration, using preserved nitrate prints, is much closer to the 1934 director's cut. Maurice Jaubert's avant-garde film score (Jaubert also scored Zéro de conduite) is one of the best in French poetic cinema. (1934, subtitles, 89 minutes) Restored in 4K by Gaumont in association with Cinémathèque Française and The Film Foundation, with the support of CNC, L'Immagine Ritrovata, and L'Image Retrouvée laboratories.

From Vault to Screen: Portugal
February 23–March 9
The occasional series From Vault to Screen brings together new restorations and overlooked treasures from major film archives around the world. During the winter season, the focus is on the holdings of Cinemateca Portuguesa—Museu do Cinema, a major collection in Lisbon. Although censorship laws limiting freedom of speech influenced the national culture until the 1970s, Portugal's artists and filmmakers managed to produce a small but interesting body of work. At first, they made literary adaptations, innocent comedies, and historical dramas, but by the mid-20th century, the transnational cinematic "new wave" was influencing domestic production. By the mid-1980s Portugal's legendary film maestro Manoel de Oliveira, a titan of world cinema, was astutely probing the mysteries of love and life and winning awards at major film festivals. In six programs, the series From Vault to Screen blends an engaging range of cinematic styles and eras in both new restorations and original prints. Special thanks to Linda Lilienfeld, Sara Moreira, Teresa Borges, Tiago Baptista, and the staff of Cinemateca Portuguesa.

Aniki-Bóbó preceded by Douro, Faina Fluvial
February 23, 2:00 p.m.
Douro, Faina Fluvial poetically depicts the lives of laborers who work along the Douro River in Porto. As the first film by Manoel de Oliveira (1908–2015), Portugal's most celebrated director, it is now a national treasure. (Manoel de Oliveira, 1931, 19 minutes) Oliveira's first feature-length work, Aniki-Bóbó, cast children from Porto's streets as protagonists in a drama inspired by a simple childhood rhyme. Using neorealist technique and adapting a story by Jose Rodrigues de Freitas, the film's critical reception was at first only lukewarm. Today Aniki-Bóbó is recognized as a landmark of world cinema. Twenty-one years passed before his next feature, Acto da Primavera (Rite of Spring), appeared in 1963. (Manoel de Oliveira, 1942, subtitles, 71 minutes)

Os Verdes Anos (The Green Years)
February 23, 4:00 p.m.
An influential but undervalued artist of postwar European cinema, Paulo Rocha (1935–2012) was most famous for Mudar de vida (1966), a neorealist love story filmed in a coastal village. Yet his lesser-known first feature Os Verdes Anos is both a sensitive new wave drama and a poetic city symphony, with lingering views of Lisbon's architecture, streets, and parks recorded at all hours of the day. Luc Mirot's vérité cinematography is both natural and thoughtful, carefully avoiding any extravagance. A young man arrives from the provinces ready to try his luck at shoemaking. He meets a young working-class woman, the two start a relationship, and all seems secure. Yet Rocha's outwardly simple tale hides deeper complexities, as the young man, feeling the hostile modern urban malaise, loses his trust in humanity and attempts to rebel. (Paulo Rocha, 1963, subtitles, 87 minutes)

A Revolução de Maio (Revolution in May)
February 24, 4:00 p.m.
A film of historical prominence, Revolution in May was produced by the National Secretary of Propaganda to mark the 10th anniversary of the demise of Portugal's First Republic and the rise of the Estado Novo (New State or Second Republic, 1933–1974). Led by Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, the Estado Novo was a right-leaning corporatist regime fueled by deeply conservative and autocratic ideologies that empowered Salazar to institute censorship and a secret police force to subdue opposition. Images and excerpts from the speeches and public appearances of Salazar were assembled with techniques derived from Russian montage, shaping what one critic called "a film of nationalist exultation." Revolution in May remains the only Portuguese fiction film that overtly delves into political propaganda. (Antonio Lopes Ribeiro, 1937, 138 minutes)

March 2, 2:00 p.m.
Belarmino portrays the life and times of Belarmino Fragoso (1931–1982), a favorite Portuguese fighter whose career in the ring spanned the 1950s through the 1970s. A landmark film from Portugal's new wave (Cinema Novo Portugues, an extension of the global movement that energized international film production during the 1960s), Belarmino was a surprising break from previous traditions of Portuguese cinema. With its casual documentary-style renderings of working-class Lisbon, compelling compositions filmed by Augusto Cabrita (a renowned midcentury Portuguese cinematographer), and footage of Belarmino himself training or strolling the city's streets, the film garnered sympathetic reviews from the European press and won the prestigious Premio da Casa da Imprensa in Portugal for its director, a new wave legend. (Fernando Lopes, 1964, subtitles, 80 minutes)

March 2, 4:00 p.m.
With his distinctively minimalist approach, Pedro Costa has earned the reputation "the Samuel Beckett of cinema." Ossos, a tale of young lives torn apart by tragedy and misfortune, became Costa's first entry in a trilogy set entirely in a decaying quarter of Lisbon, a haven for immigrants from former Portuguese colonies in Africa. The use of natural light, long takes, and low-key, shadowy shooting fostered the film's documentary tone. (Pedro Costa, 1997, 35mm, subtitles, 94 minutes)

March 9, 4:00 p.m.
Director Miguel Gomes has been praised for his aesthetic audacity—his recent six-hour, stylistically intrepid Arabian Nights, for example, transposes the timeless Middle Eastern folk tale to contemporary Portugal. In Tabu Gomes again mixes new elements with traditional form, crafting a structure that is part myth, part melodrama, and part poetic experiment. The film's multidimensional plot combines ill-fated love, rousing adventure, colonial mutiny, and political commentary. (Miguel Gomes, 2012, subtitles, 118 minutes)

Hollywood's Poverty Row Preserved by UCLA
March 9–31
During the 1930s and 1940s hundreds of low-budget but boldly conceived genre films were created in Hollywood's so-called Poverty Row—a stretch of B-movie studios along Gower Street from the Paramount lot to Sunset Boulevard. These often short-lived studios speedily compiled scripts and completed productions within days, usually employing casts of upstart actors. Some of them also released films from other outlier producers of offbeat work. The influence of these frequently fly-by-night operations should never be underestimated—their creations showed an artistic daring and, in retrospect, even anticipated the indie film movement of later decades. Several factors contributed to Poverty Row's decline, among them the advent of television and the general demise of the studio system. UCLA Film & Television Archive has made it their mission to rescue and preserve the films of Poverty Row. This series, a sampling from their collection, also features newsreels and short subjects of the era.

The Vampire Bat preceded by Hearst Metrotone News and Jack Frost
March 9, 2:00 p.m.
With an atmosphere worthy of Universal's contemporaneous horror films, this slick little thriller from Phil Goldstone's ambitious Majestic Pictures finds mad doctor Lionel Atwill at work in a village where bodies are turning up mysteriously drained of blood. In a cast that includes Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Melvyn Douglas, and Dwight Frye, could a creepy local guy (Frye) be responsible? (Frank R. Strayer, 1933, 65 minutes) Before the feature: Hearst Metrotone News, vol. 4, no. 250 (1933, 9 minutes) and Jack Frost (Ub Iwerks, 1934, 9 minutes)

The Sin of Nora Moran preceded by Hearst Metrotone News and Balloon Land
March 10, 4:30 p.m.
An audacious use of flashbacks within flashbacks contributes to the feverish, hallucinatory tone of this lurid melodrama about a circus performer (the enigmatic Zita Johann) who becomes the mistress of an ambitious politician. Accused of a murder she did not commit, she prepares to die in the electric chair. (Phil Goldstone, 1933, 65 minutes) Before the feature: Hearst Metrotone News, vol. 4, no. 269 (1933, 9 minutes) and Balloon Land (Ub Iwerks, 1935, 7 minutes)

False Faces preceded by Hearst Metrotone News and Snow White
March 16, 2:00 p.m.
Self-proclaimed cad Lowell Sherman (Way Down East) stars in and directs this difficult-to-classify mix of sophisticated comedy and grotesque horror, playing an unscrupulous surgeon whose innovative face-lifting technique proves to have some significant shortcomings. (Lowell Sherman, 1932, 35mm, 81 minutes) Before the feature: Hearst Metrotone News, vol. 4, no. 226 (1932, 9 minutes) and Snow White, a Betty Boop cartoon (1933, Dave Fleischer, 7 minutes)

Damaged Lives preceded by Hearst Metrotone News and Dancing on the Moon
March 16, 4:00 p.m.
Fate sticks out her foot to trip a young businessman, who returns from a debauched night on the town with a case of VD, which he promptly communicates to his innocent fiancée. Edgar G. Ulmer's pioneering film on exploitation (Ulmer also cowrote the screenplay) benefits from lush production values, thanks to underwriting by the Canadian Social Health Council. (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1933, 61 minutes) Before the feature: Hearst Metrotone News, vol. 4, no. 252 (1933, 9 minutes) and Dancing on the Moon (Dave Fleischer, 1935, 8 minutes)

Mamba preceded by Hearst Metrotone News and Me and the Boys
March 23, 12:00 p.m.
Crazed colonialism rages in this rare two-strip Technicolor production with a sadistic, insistently unlovable Jean Hersholt as a plantation owner in German East Africa. He imports an aristocratic bride (Eleanor Boardman) from the old country, only to find her falling for British officer Ralph Graves. (Albert S. Rogell, 1930, 78 minutes) Before the feature: Hearst Metrotone News, vol. 1, no. 269 (1930, 9 minutes) and Me and the Boys, a musical short with Estelle Brody and Ben Pollack's jazz band (1929, Victor Saville, 9 minutes)

Strange Illusion preceded by News of the Day and Grampy's Indoor Outing
March 30, 4:00 p.m.
Edgar G. Ulmer's hallucinatory version of Hamlet is transposed to a Los Angeles sanitarium, where a young man (Jimmy Lydon) has dreams of his mother (Sally Eilers) being seduced by a stranger, who promptly appears in the wolfish form of actor Warren William. (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1945, 87 minutes) Before the feature: News of the Day, vol. 17, no. 288 (1945, 8 minutes) and Grampy's Indoor Outing, a Betty Boop cartoon. (1936, Dave Fleischer, 7 minutes)

Hollow Triumph
March 31, 4:30 p.m.
A-List actors Paul Henreid and Joan Bennett play the leads in this little-known and handsomely photographed (by celebrated cinematographer John Alton) film noir. On the run from a murderous rival, a gangster (Henreid) assumes the place—and the mistress (Bennett)—of a prominent psychologist who just happens to be his double. Hard-hitting and gritty, the film, based on a 1946 novel by Murray Forbes, is a Poverty Row masterwork. (Steve Sekely, 1948, 35mm, 83 minutes) Restored 35mm print from the UCLA collection

Press Contact:
Laurie Tylec, (202) 842-6355 or [email protected]

General Information

For additional press information please call or send inquiries to:
Department of Communications
National Gallery of Art
2000 South Club Drive
Landover, MD 20785
phone: (202) 842-6353
e-mail: [email protected]
Anabeth Guthrie
Chief of Communications
(202) 842-6804
[email protected]

The Gallery also offers a broad range of newsletters for various interests. Follow this link to view the complete list.

Press Release

Laurie Tylec
(202) 842-6355
[email protected]