SPOTLIGHT ON DOCUMENTARIES
AFTERNOON OF A FAUN: TANAQUIL LE CLERCQ (2013) 93 min
Director: Nancy Buirski
A radiant film about Tanaquil Le Clercq – wife and muse to George Balanchine – who was struck down by polio at the peak of her career, and a vivid portrayal of a world and a time gone by.
THE DOG (2013) 101 min
Directors: Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren
Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren’s portrait of the motor-mouthed and completely uncorked John Wojtowicz, whose 1972 botched robbery of a Brooklyn bank was dramatized in DOG DAY AFTERNOON, is hilarious, hair-raising, and giddily profane.
FIFI HOWLS FROM HAPPINESS (Fifi az khoshhali zooze mike shad) (2013) 97 min
Director: Mitra Farahani
Shot throughout the final months in the life of the jubilant, egotistical and irascible Iranian painter Bahman Mohasses, Mitra Farhani’s film is at once a cinematic fresco of Mohasses’ life and a celebration of freedom.
23RD AUGUST 2008 (2013) 22 min
Directors: Laura Mulvey, Faysal Abdullah, and Mark Lewis
Faysal Abdullah, an Iraqi journalist living in London, tells the tragic story of his brilliant younger brother Kamel and offers a glimpse of the history of Iraq’s leftist intelligentsia, almost completely unknown in America.
IN THE DARK ROOM (2013) 90 min
Director: Nadav Schirman
A quietly riveting film about Magdalena Kopp, the co-revolutionary, lover, and then-wife of the international terrorist Carlos, and a fascinating non-fiction companion piece to Olivier Assayas’ CARLOS.
MANAKAMANA (2013) 118 min
Directors: Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez
The new film from MIT’s Sensory Ethnography Lab, shot inside a cable car that carries pilgrims and tourists to and from a mountaintop temple in Nepal, is both literally and figuratively transporting. Winner of the Filmmakers of the Present Prize at this year’s Locarno International Film Festival.
A Co-Presentation with Views From the Avant-Garde.
WHAT NOW? REMIND ME (E Agora? Lembra-me) (2013) 164 min
Director: Joaquim Pinto
Joaquim Pinto’s self-portrait is a testament to the joys of a fully lived life and a revivifying love of cinema in the face of a chronic and debilitating illness. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Locarno International Film Festival.
WHO IS DAYANI CRISTAL? (2013) 80 min
Director: Marc Silver
A startling hybrid documentary that follows the progress of forensic anthropologists as they determine the identity of a body found along the Arizona border, and charts a parallel course with Gael Garcia Bernal as a migrant making his way to the US.
GOOGLE AND THE WORLD BRAIN (2013) 90 min
Director: Ben Lewis
Country: USA, 2013
The borderline surreal story of Google’s project to digitize every book ever written will definitely make you laugh, maybe until you cry.
PARTICLE FEVER (2013) 97 min
Director: Mark Levinson
Physicist-turned-filmmaker Mark Levinson’s documentary about the 18-mile long CERN super-collider and the search for the Higgs particle is an epic scientific adventure.
TIM’S VERMEER (2013) 80 min
Tech genius Tim Jenison’s obsessive project was to re-paint “The Music Lesson” according to David Hockney’s controversial theories about Vermeer and the use of optics; the resulting film directed by Teller (as in Penn and) is a bouncy, entertaining, real-life detective story. A Sony Pictures Classics release.
How Democracy Works Now
Directors: Michael Camerini and Shari Robertson
THE GAME IS ON
2001, and despite rumblings in the heartland, all signs point toward a comprehensive immigration reform bill with bi-partisan support in congress from Ted Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts and Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas. President Bush and President Fox of Mexico make a joint public announcement in support of a bill. And then, 9/11 happens. For the moment, any hope of immigration reform vanishes into thin air.
MOUNTAINS AND CLOUDS
By 2002, immigration is becoming viable again, Kennedy and Brownback are back in action, and they have joined forces with Dianne Feinstein of California and John Kyl of Arizona to address the newly urgent issue of border security. Suddenly, the White House throws a wrench into the machinery by proposing a provision to be added to a security bill that would allow illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S. while their green cards are processed, frustrating both proponents and opponents of full-scale reform.
SAM IN THE SNOW
David Neal and Esther Olivarría, aides to Brownback and Kennedy respectively and two of the driving forces behind immigration reform on Capitol Hill, get back to work on a bill when the White House sends everything into a tailspin one more time with a proposal to create a vast new government entity to be called the Department of Homeland Security. Brownback is now put on the defensive by the growing anti-immigration sentiment in his own party, and we get a close look at a politician forced to weigh his options.
THE KIDS ACROSS THE HILL
By early 2003, Kennedy is alone and looking for a Republican co-sponsor, who he thinks he might find in John McCain. As Esther tries to write Kennedy’s bill, two Republican congressmen from Arizona, Jim Kolbe and Jeff Flake, are writing their own vastly different guest worker bill, and a Democrat from Chicago, Luis Gutierrez, is writing yet another. When the Republican “kids” find a Democratic co-sponsor, Esther struggles to maintain the political balance that will keep Kennedy’s comprehensive bill alive and well through the legislative “season.”
MARKING UP THE DREAM
Fall, 2003, and another smaller bill has made it through the senate. It’s called the Dream Act, and it offers in-state tuition to undocumented students and citizenship to those who graduate from college. The bill, as expected, is fervently embraced by the students themselves and by pro-immigration activists, and reviled by anti-immigration groups who see it as yet another offering of amnesty. The question is, will the bill survive the “mark-up,” where bills are hammered out between parties and senators one word at a time?
AIN’T THE AFL FOR NOTHIN’
September 2003, and Esther is nervous. She’s shopping for a Republican co-sponsor for Kennedy, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska is interested but wants a temporary worker program added to the bill, and the unions don’t like temporary worker programs: in public, they’re pro-immigration, but in private they’re trying to destroy the bill. Meanwhile, the AFL-CIO lobbyist Gerron Levi arranges a meeting between Kennedy and AFL president John Sweeney. Everything rides on this one conversation…
BROTHERS AND RIVALS
Because of their work on ground-breaking immigration reform the previous year, Arizona congressmen Jim Kolbe and Jeff Flake both face tough challenges in the 2004 primaries and angry charges of amnesty for illegals. In the new year, their aides join forces with Kennedy and McCain’s staffers in an effort to introduce a whole new bill that combines the best parts of earlier competing bills. If they succeed, it will be the first bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill from both houses to go to Congress.
Summer, 2004, and we’re in Arizona, the belly of the beast, where an anti-immigrant statewide ballot initiative called “Protect Arizona Now” has huge popular support. Frank Sharry and Alfredo Gutierrez, radio host, activist and former state senator, lead the movement to defeat the proposition. As the months go on, each strategy twist and new alliance has a dramatic effect on the poll numbers. And the entire nation is watching: if it goes badly here, it will go worse in Washington.
THE SENATE SPEAKS
As 2006 begins, Senator Kennedy is back in action, trying to gain bipartisan support for an immigration bill. But the House acts first, passing a harsh bill with no amnesty that threatens anyone who helps illegal immigrants. There are rallies all over the country urging the Senate to act. The senators and their aides work on a compromise that could actually pass unless, as Kennedy fears, politics trumps policy.
LAST BEST CHANCE
Spring 2007, and immigration advocates are optimistic. But with Senator McCain tied up with presidential primaries, Senator Ted Kennedy has lost his partner. Republicans change their offer, and things come down to what is in essence a moral tale of American politics: Kennedy must decide exactly how much he has to compromise in order to strike a deal on what could be his greatest legacy.
THE AGE OF INNOCENCE (1993) 139 min
Director: Martin Scorsese
Edith Wharton’s 1925 novel about a secret passion within the social universe of Old New York struck many writers and fans as an odd departure for Martin Scorsese. When it was released in 1993, THE AGE OF INNOCENCE was greeted with equal amounts of admiration and puzzlement. 20 years later, this stunning film seems like one of Scorsese’s greatest – as visually expressive as it is emotionally fine-tuned, the movie is a magnificent lament for missed chances and lost time. With an extraordinary cast led by Daniel Day-Lewis as Newland and Michelle Pfeiffer as Ellen. Grover Crisp and his team at Sony have now given Scorsese’s film the long-awaited restoration it deserves – this is the world premiere. Restored by Sony Pictures Entertainment.
BOY MEETS GIRL (1984) 100 min
Director: Leos Carax
Leos Carax’s debut feature is a lush black-and-white fable of last-ditch romance and a prodigious act of youthful self-mythologizing, drawn from a cinephilic grab bag of influences and allusions. Denis Lavant, in his first of five collaborations with Carax to date, plays an emotionally shattered filmmaker who finds consolation after a bad break-up in the arms of an equally depressed young woman. Shot when the director was all of 24, the film instantly situated Carax as a modern-day heir to the great French Romantics. It prompted the critic Serge Daney to declare “that the cinema will go on, will produce a Rimbaud against all odds, that it will start again at zero, that it will not die.” A Carlotta US release.
THE CHASE (1946) 86 min
Director: Arthur Ripley
This crazily plotted 1946 adaptation of Cornell Woolrich’s even crazier novel The Black Path of Fear is the very essence of the post-war strain of American cinema now known as “film noir.” Robert Cummings plays an everyman vet whose life is turned upside down when he finds a wallet that belongs to a sadistic gangster (Steve Cochran) who hires him as his chauffeur. The lovely Michèle Morgan is the gangster’s captive wife and Peter Lorre is his “assistant” Gino. For many years, THE CHASE was available only in substandard prints. When the negative was found in Europe, a full-scale restoration was undertaken, and here is the glorious outcome. Restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, funding provided by The Film Foundation and The Franco-American Cultural Fund.
THE LUSTY MEN (1952) 113 min
Director: Nicholas Ray
Nick Ray made six films (and shot material for several more) for RKO under Howard Hughes, with whom he enjoyed a tumultuous but close relationship. This one, set in the tough, restless world of the rodeo circuit, about “people who want a home of their own,” as Ray himself put it, was to be his last credited film at the studio. It is also one of his very best, and it has become more heartbreakingly lonesome and expressive with each passing year. With Robert Mitchum, Susan Hayward and Arthur Kennedy and a great supporting cast, shot by the great Lee Garmes, and now restored to its full elegiac beauty. Restored by Warner Brothers in collaboration with The Film Foundation and The Nicholas Ray Foundation.
MANILA IN THE CLAWS OF LIGHT (Maynila: Sa mga kuko ng liwanag) (1975) 124 min
Director: Lino Brocka
This searing melodrama shot on the streets of Manila with Bembel Roco and Hilda Koronel as doomed lovers, is one of the greatest films of Lino Brocka, the prolific Filipino filmmaker who tragically died in a car accident at the age of 52. “Lino knew all the arteries of this swarming city,” wrote his friend Pierre Rissient, “and he penetrated them just as he penetrated the veins of the outcasts in his films. Sometimes a vein would crack open and bleed. And that blood oozed onto the screen.” For too long, it has been difficult to see a lot of Brocka’s work, MANILA included. Now, this magnificent film has been given a full-scale restoration. Restored by the World Cinema Foundation and The Film Development Council of the Philippines at the Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, in association with LVN, Cinema Artists Philippines and Mike de Leon.
MAUVAIS SANG (1986) 116 min
Director: Leos Carax
Leos Carax made his international breakthrough with this swoon-inducing portrait of love among thieves. In the near future, an aging crime lord (Michel Piccoli) recruits young delinquent Alex (Denis Lavant) to steal a locked-up serum designed to fight a mysterious STD. When Alex falls for his boss’s girlfriend (a radiant Juliette Binoche), MAUVAIS SANG becomes something rarer: an ecstatic depiction of what it feels like to be young, restless and madly in love. With its balletic gestures and bold primary colors, much of the film plays as if through the eyes of its lovesick protagonist. And it hinges on one of the most thrilling scenes in modern movies: Lavant sprinting and cartwheeling through the Parisian night to David Bowie’s “Modern Love,” a bundle of desires set briefly and wildly free. A Carlotta US release.
MYSTERIOUS OBJECT AT NOON (Doka nai meuman) (2000) 83 min
Director: Apichatpong Weerasetakhul
For his first feature, Apichatpong Weerasethakul (UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES) orchestrated this beguiling, sui generis hybrid: part road movie, part folk-storytelling exercise, part surrealist party game. A camera crew travels the length of Thailand asking villagers to invent episodes in an ever-expanding story, which ends up incorporating witches, tigers, surprise doublings and impossible reversals. With each participant, MYSTERIOUS OBJECT ATNOON seems to take on a new unresolved tension. Celebrating equally the possibilities of storytelling and of documentary, it’s a work that’s grounded in a very specific region, but feels like it came from another planet. Restored by the Austrian Film Museum in collabotration with The World Cinema Foundation. A Strand release.
PROVIDENCE (1977) 110 min
Director: Alain Resnais
Alec Guinness once aptly likened his fellow actor John Gielgud’s voice to the sound of “a silver trumpet muffled in silk.” Gielgud’s extraordinary instrument is heard throughout Alain Resnais’ first English-language production. English playwright David Mercer’s script is set for most of its duration within the feverish mind of a dying novelist (played by Gielgud) during a sleepless night, as he compulsively conjures a labyrinthine narrative in which the same five people (played by Dirk Bogarde, Ellen Burstyn, David Warner, Elaine Stritch and Denis Lawson) are cast and recast. Resnais’ opulent, handsome film, with a lush romantic score by Miklós Rósza, has been long overdue for a restoration – it’s a feast for the eye and the ear. Restored by Jupiter Communications in collaboration with Director of Photography Ricardo Aronovich.
SANDRA (Vaghe stelle dell’Orsa) (1965) 105 min
Director: Luchino Visconti
Shady family secrets, incestuous sibling bonds, descents into madness, decades-old conspiracies: with SANDRA, Luchino Visconti traded THE LEOPARD’s elegiac grandeur for something grittier and pulpier: the Electra myth in the form of a gothic melodrama. Claudia Cardinale’s title character returns to her ancestral home in Tuscany and has an unexpected encounter with her long-lost brother and a reckoning with her family’s dark wartime past. Shooting in a decaying mansion set amid a landscape of ruins, Visconti found a new idiom for the great theme of his late career: the slow death of an aristocracy rooted in classical ideals but long since hollowed out by decadence and corruption. Restored by Sony Pictures Entertainment and Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna in collaboration with Archivio Storico delle Arti Contemporanee (ASAC).
THEY LIVE BY NIGHT (1948) 95 min
Director: Nicholas Ray
After his years in New York left-wing theater and on the road with Alan Lomax, Nick Ray went to Hollywood to work with his friend Elia Kazan. John Houseman brought Ray to RKO, then owned by Howard Hughes, and in 1948 the young director made one of the most striking debuts in American cinema. Adapted from Edward Anderson’s 1935 novel Thieves Like Us (which would be revisited in 1974 by Robert Altman), THEY LIVE BY NIGHT is at once innovative (the film opens with the first genuinely expressive helicopter shot), visually electrifying, behaviorally nuanced, and, in the scenes between the young Farley Granger and Cathy O’Donnell, soulfully romantic. Restored by Warner Brothers in collaboration with The Film Foundation and The Nicholas Ray Foundation.
TRY AND GET ME (1950) 85 min
Director: Cy Endfield
Soon-to-be-blacklisted director Cy Endfield’s coruscating film is based on Joe Pagano’s novel The Condemned (Pagano also wrote the adaptation), which was in turn based on the actual 1933 case of two men from San Jose who were taken into custody for the kidnapping and murder of a wealthy man and then dragged from their jail cells and lynched (the story of Fritz Lang’s American debut, FURY is drawn from the same incident). Endfield’s film, largely shot on location and animated by an acute awareness of class and economic pressures, carefully builds scene by scene to a truly harrowing climax. With terrific performances by Lloyd Bridges and Frank Lovejoy as the kidnappers. 35mm restored print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive; preservation funding provided by The Film Noir Foundation.