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Latest from Denis, Sokurov, Greenaway Set for Film Forum’s Fall Slate

Latest from Denis, Sokurov, Greenaway Set for Film Forum's Fall Slate

Film Forum, the nonprofit New York City movie theater, has announced its Fall/Winter programming. Films include Claire Denis’ “35 Shots of Rum,” Peter Greenaway’s “Rembrandt J’accuse,” and Alexander Sokurov’s “The Sun,” which debuted at the Berlin International Film Festival more than four years ago. The schedule, with descriptions provided by Film Forum, is located below. Film Forum is located at 209 West Houston Street in New York City. For further information, visit the theater’s website.

“American Casino” Directed by Leslie Cockburn (September 2 – 15)
USA / 2009 / 89 minutes

Investigative reporters Leslie and Andrew Cockburn have spent nearly 30 years uncovering major stories (for PBS, CBS Reports, 60 Minutes, et alia), but with “American Casino” they take on the biggest economic crisis of our lifetime: the subprime mortgage meltdown that has caused more than a million Americans to lose their homes. The Cockburns interview Wall Street wizards who are as nervous about revealing their identity as any mobster in the witness protection program; they rewind to Phil Gramm (R, Texas) calling us “a nation of whiners… (facing) a mental recession”; they replay Alan Greenspan’s admission that his ideology was “flawed”; and they put a human face on the victims of bankers who targeted minority communities with no income verification loans, adjustable rates (that adjusted upwards, dramatically), and complex language that even the pros can’t fathom. Out of this mess, the filmmakers build a case against those who used government deregulation to make a fortune for the few and create havoc for the many.

“The Most Dangerous Man In America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers” Directed by Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith (Opens September 16 for an ongoing engagement)

“First, I didn’t like their decision, unbelievable, wasn’t it? You know those clowns we got on there. I tell you, I hope I outlive the bastards.” – President Richard M. Nixon (in conversation with J. Edgar Hoover, on the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the ongoing publication of the Pentagon Papers, July 1, 1971)

“I just say that we’ve got to keep our eye on the main ball. The main ball is Ellsberg. We’ve got to get this son-of-a-bitch.” – Nixon (in conversation with Attorney General John Mitchell, June 29, 1971)

In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg, a high-level Pentagon official and Vietnam War strategist, concludes that the war is based on decades of lies and leaks 7,000 pages of top secret documents to The New York Times, making headlines around the world.

A riveting story of how one man’s profound change of heart creates a landmark struggle involving America’s newspapers, its president and Supreme Court. A political thriller whose events lead directly to Watergate, Nixon’s resignation and the end of the Vietnam War.

“35 Shots of Rum” Directed by Claire Denis (September 16 – 29)
France/Germany / 2008 / 100 minutes / In French with English subtitles / Cinema Guild

Claire Denis, long known for her subtle, fluid and intriguing movies (“Beau Travail” is best known to U.S. audiences), sets her story in a Paris suburb: a widowed metro conductor, approaching retirement, lives with his beautiful grown daughter – the object of a neighbor’s romantic interest. The man’s former girlfriend also lives in their building and plays a role in their closely-knit lives. “35 Shots of Rum” considers the mysterious complexities that surround evolving relationships, whether romantic or parental. It is that rare movie in which the plot is driven by what people say and what they hold back, the meaningful pauses between words, a significant glance, a sexy outfit, a thoughtful gift. In other words, it holds a mirror up to life as it is actually led.

“An American Journey” Directed by Philippe Séclier (September 30 – October 6)
France / 2009 / 60 minutes / In French & English with English subtitles / Oscilloscope Laboratories

with “In the Street” Directed by by Helen Levitt, Janice Loeb & James Agee
USA / 1948/1952 / 14 minutes

More than 50 years ago, in 1957, Robert Frank’s seminal book, The Americans, was published to great acclaim – as well as to negative reviews that faulted his vision of a nation awash in poverty, racism and postwar jingoism. Today it is impossible to overstate the influence of Frank’s groundbreaking work. “An American Journey” travels back to the small towns and rural communities the photographer immortalized — exploring the world as Frank saw it and as it survives today. Artist Edward Ruscha, publisher Barney Rosset, photographers John Cohen and Raymond Depardon, and curators/critics Vicky Goldberg, Sarah Greenaugh and Peter Galassi explore the feelings of anger and alienation which fueled the Swiss-born Robert Frank in his American journey. “In the Street,” shot in East Harlem in the late 1940s, immortalizes a period in New York when the streets, sidewalks, stoops, and doorways were the playground of the poor. Their surprising, humorous vivacity is captured in delightful images of a more innocent era.

“The Yes Men Fix the World” Directed by Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno & Kurt Engfehr (October 7 – 20)
USA/India / 2009 / 87 minutes / Shadow Distribution

The Yes Men are anti-corporate troublemakers who get themselves invited to high-level corporate conferences and onto television, where they hilariously unmask global injustice. They are the 21st century’s answer to Abbie Hoffman, and like him they care less abut changing consciousness than changing policy. Announcing, as spokespeople for Dow Chemical, that they will at last take full financial responsibility for the victims of the Bhopal disaster, they create a media sensation that embarrasses the real powers that be. Outfitted in their wacky “Survivaball” getups, they address a room full of straight-laced suits who don’t think there’s anything funny about going to insane lengths to assure one’s personal safety in the event of any and all climate calamities. The Yes Men collaborated on the entirely fake issue of The New York Times, originally printed last fall, to the great amusement of many. They don’t exactly speak truth to power – but their lies are just as powerful and very, very funny.

“Rembrandt’s J’accuse” Directed by Peter Greenaway (October 21 – November 3)
The Netherlands / 2008 / 86 minutes

Controversial British filmmaker Peter Greenaway never fails to astound, confound, titillate and provoke. Recently, he has turned his attention to reinterpreting great works of art. Roberta Smith wrote in The New York Times: “If you’re in town for the Venice Biennale, don’t miss (Greenaway’s) marriage of High Renaissance painting and advanced technology that is ‘The Wedding at Cana’…possibly the best unmanned art history lecture you’ll ever experience.” Equally inventive is his “Rembrandt’s J’accuse,” a first-person analysis of “The Night Watch,” the 1642 masterpiece on view in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. Greenaway claims that the artist laid out dozens of clues regarding a murder — and for this indiscretion was forced into bankruptcy. Secret alliances, homosexual relationships, phallic symbolism, a transvestite dwarf, illegitimate children, and a Hitchcockian cameo by Rembrandt himself, all come into play. Greenaway complements his revisionist art history with witty dramatic recreations of these conspiracy theories that reference Rembrandt’s own aesthetic in their elegant framing and lighting.

“La Danse” Directed by Frederick Wiseman (November 4 – 17)
France/USA / 2009 / 158 minutes / In French & English with English subtitles / Zipporah Films

Documentary master Frederick Wiseman’s 38th film in a career that has spanned more than that number of years, turns his attention to one of the world’s greatest ballet companies, the Paris Opera Ballet. John Davey’s camera roams the vast Palais Garnier, an opulent 19th century pile of a building: from its crystal chandelier-laden corridors to its labyrinthine underground chambers, from its light-filled rehearsal studios to its luxurious theater replete with 2,200 scarlet velvet seats and Marc Chagall ceiling. “La Danse” devotes most of its time to watching impossibly beautiful young men and women – among them Nicolas Le Riche, Marie-Agnès Gillot, and Agnès Letestu – rehearsing the choreography of Mats Ek, Wayne McGregor, Rudolf Nureyev and Pina Bausch. For balletomanes and the curious alike, “La Danse” serves up a scrumptious meal of delectable moments, one more glorious than the next, made even more precious by their ephemeral nature.

“The Sun” Directed by Alexander Sokurov (November 18 – December 1)
Russia/Italy/France/Switzerland / 2005 / 110 minutes / In English & Japanese with English subtitles / Lorber Media

August 15, 1945: a shocked Japan hears the voice of divine leader Emperor Hirohito for the first time, as he implores his people to cease all military activity, initiating a formal end to WWII and the beginning of a new period of American Occupation, led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Acclaimed Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov (“Russian Ark,” “Mother and Son” “Alexandra”) creates an incisive, eerie portrait of the enigmatic Hirohito during the twilight of the war, as he faces surrender and renunciation of his divine status. Issey Ogata (who played the father in YI YI) gives a mesmerizing performance as the defeated emperor whose legendary meetings with MacArthur determine the fate of his nation and lay the foundation for Japan’s phoenix-like postwar reconstruction. “Wonderfully eccentric and fascinating … As a portrait of pathology – that of Japan and of Hirohito both – it’s terrific.” – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

“Before Tomorrow” Directed by Marie-Hélène Cousineau & Madeline Piujuq Ivalu (December 2 – 15)
Canada / 2008 / 93 minutes/ In Inuktitut with English subtitles

The lilting ballads of Kate and Anna McGarrigle set the tone for this tender, affecting tale of a small boy and his beloved grandmother, mid-19th century Inuits, living amid the harsh Arctic wilderness. “A profound, elemental and hauntingly beautiful period drama that makes an intimate story of endurance into a metaphor for an entire culture…The deceptively simple script…brilliantly reflects the cultural and spiritual values of the Inuits. In particular, the traditional stories Ningiuq tells her grandson take on a heart-rending resonance. Graced by unadorned performances from Madeline Ivalu (a featured player in “The Fast Runner” and “The Journals of Knud Rasmussen”), her real-life grandson and the supporting cast… (The acting) feels appropriately timeless yet emotionally precise…Superior craft contributions emphasize tradition and authenticity, from the well-worn caribou and seal-skin clothing and intricate facial tattoos to elaborate period props.” – Alissa Simon, Variety

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