RULE #1: BELIEVE THE AUTOCRAT

RULE #1, BELIEVE THE AUTOCRAT: DOCS FROM MARXFILM

Rule #2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule #3: Institutions will not save you.

So go the first of six rules of survival according to Masha Gessen from her article in the New York Review of Books two days after the election results in the US. Her experiences as a loud critic of Vladimir Putin grant her authority: she was a dissenting journalist through the rapid monopolization of the media and the subsequent erosion of the judiciary system. A decade out and still under Putin’s rule, the resistance leaders featured in these three documentaries have a far narrower range of motion. These are on-the-ground accounts of the 2012 protests after the re-election of Putin and the Euromaidan Revolution in Kiev. As documents of chaotic and dangerous moments, these films do not attempt to craft a primer for action but broadcast an ongoing experience that requires in-depth coverage.


MY FRIEND BORIS NEMTSOV
Dir. Zosya Rodkevich
2016, 71 min.

TUESDAY, APR 4 – 10 PM
TUESDAY, APR 11 – 7:30 PM
FRIDAY, APR 14 – 7:30 PM
SUNDAY, APR 23 – 7:30 PM
THURSAY, APR 27 – 7:30 PM

“An intimate portrait of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov—once Deputy Prime Minister and ‘an heir of President Yeltsin’, later an uncompromising adversary of Putin—that was assassinated near the Kremlin in February 2015. Election campaigns and hotel beds, protest rallies and office routine, train compartments and courtrooms, night walks and police vans –you have never seen any politician so close. This is a story how a journalist assignment turns into a genuine friendship.”

Very big thanks to Antipode Distribution.


KIEV/MOSCOW (PART 1 and 2)
dir. Elena Khoreva
2015, 60 min +75 min.

THURSDAY APR 6 – 9 PM
MONDAY APR 24 – 9 PM **Q&A WITH MAX TUULA OF MARXFILM**
SUNDAY APRIL 30 – 6:30 PM

This doc drops you directly into the 2014 Euromaidan uprising in Kyiv. It is cold January and the initial anti-corruption crowds have crystallized into an overall siege. Between new restrictions on assembly and the Berkut police force, protest faces deadly risks. Soon Russia annexes Crimea: Khoreva embeds with armed Russian units in Donetsk and then appears in the middle of nationalist protests in Moscow. The action jumps around a lot: this is a crash-course in history as it occurs.

The setting is very much KIEV/MOSCOW, but this film brings out the universal quality of attending a protest in any county with a highly militarized police force. Kiev looks like a war zone, heightened by building takeovers, constant explosions, and many tragic deaths. Poroshenko is helped onto a plow truck, where he pleads with protestors to stop thrashing around… unsuccessfully. Oleg Tsaryov (Yanukovych’s former top deputy) slides through the halls of power, shifting to his next phase of leading the separatist movement in Western Ukraine.

It is not only revolutionary young professionals who hold the banner of anti-corruption: nationalist groups in both Kiev and Moscow tap into popular support. Part 2 of KIEV/MOSCOW follows workers in various sectors in both cities, providing the context that creates democratic reformers, hardline nationalists and many shades in between.


THE TERM
Dirs. Alexey Pivovarov, Alexander Rastorguev, Pavel Kostomarov
2014, 83 min.

THURS APR 6 – 7:30 PM
MON APR 24 – 7 PM **Q&A WITH MAX TUULA OF MARXFILM**
SUN APR 30 – 5 PM

This documentary follows the 2012 protests in Moscow following the re-election of Vladimir Putin. It opens on doomed romance: that of Solidarnost activist Ilya Yashin and Putin’s goddaughter Ksenia Sobchak. THE TERM gets close to many of the major opposition leaders in the streets, spending the most time with the intensely popular 2018 presidential hopeful Alexey Navalny. We share a car cabin with anti-Putin politician Ilya Ponomarev debating with Sobchak on the urgency of Putin’s overthrow. Sergey Udaltsov rides the subway, confidently joking that he will be the new president by the next stop. These moments lead up of the Bolotnaya Square protest; the giant gathering that resulted in exiles and lengthy jail sentences for many of the activists featured here — and harsher penalties for many of those who are not.

THE TERM also features moments with Pussy Riot, Yoko Ono, and Madonna.

SOUTH OF HEAVEN

This April, Spectacle is pleased to present a collection of throwbacks on horseback from down Mexico way. Four supernatural westerns covering everything from witches to werewolves, from the devil to Dracula: it may still be chilly in NYC, but here at the Goth Bodega it’s Spring Break.

THE LIVING COFFIN
(aka EL GRITO DE LA MUERTE)
dir. Fernando Mendez, 1959
72 minutes. Mexico.
In Spanish with English subtitles.

Lawman Gaston and his partner Crazy Wolf saunter into town to investigate an attempted murder. When they arrive, the family tells a harrowing tale of haunting and mischief that’s been keeping them up at night. Can the duo solve this mystery and release the family from their terrible curse? Are the tombs beneath the residence truly housing the dead? Has the Crying Woman returned to exact a terrible revenge? Will they escape the deadly swamp?

While the legend of The Crying Woman was done many times before and after this film, EL GRITO DE LA MUERTE (the original title, translating to “The Cry of Death”) owes as much to the gothic offerings of Poe as it does to the tropes of Scooby Doo.

Gaston Santos (a well known bullfighter turned actor) teams up once again with director Fernando Mendez, writer Ramón Obón and cinematographer Víctor Herrera who all earlier that same year made the beautiful and shadowy Spectober favorite THE BLACK PIT OF DR. M.

THE RIDER OF THE SKULLS
(aka EL CHARRO DE LAS CALAVERAS)
dir. Alfredo Salazar, 1965
80 minutes. Mexico.
In Spanish with English subtitles.

A masked rider (not Zorro) arrives in a sleepy Mexican villa in the midst of a slew of vicious werewolf attacks during what seems like a solid month of full moons. The Rider is given lodging by a señorita and her young son – Perico – who appear to be the next targets of the flannel-clad lycanthrope. The Rider, with the help of a local witch dispatches of the monster who turns out to be the boys father. As he rides off into the sunset with Perico by his side one may expect the credits to roll but don’t rise from the opulent comfort of your seat just yet, viewer, this adventure is far from over. The Rider (now taller and with a different mask) along with the help of a new boy and their manservant Cléofas (the films “comic relief”) fight a vampire in some highly unconvincing day for night photography. It’s worth mentioning that the vampire not only has the giant head of a bat but also has the power to change into an equally unconvincing rubber bat and flies off. Finally, The Rider faces his deadliest foe yet when he teams up with a woman in possession of the cabeza of none other than the Headless Horseman and his two robed skeleton henchmen leading to a machete fight at sunset.

Director Alfredo Salazar is best known for his contributions to Mexican horror in the form of many, many Santo/Blue Demon movies as well as penning such psychotronic fare as THE NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES and the should-be classic THE MAN & THE MONSTER (produced by and starring his brother Abel). Star Dagoberto Rodríguez had a 30-or-so year career in Mexican film and television, which is more than likely the reason he removes his mask and reveals his identity in the middle of the film. Due to its “monster of the week” feeling and suspicious change of companions/mask/location/etc the working assumption is that THE RIDER OF THE SKULLS is actually three episodes of a serial stitched together to make it feature length. Nevertheless, Salazar wears his love of classic Universal monsters on his sleeve and creates a film unlike any other.

GHOST TOWN
(aka EL PUEBLO FANTASMA)
dir. Alfredo B. Crevenna, 1965
80 min, Mexico
In Spanish w/ English subtitles

The Rio Kid bursts onto the screen promising to lay waste to anyone claiming to be a faster gunslinger than he! Little do the townsfolk know that the reason The Rio Kid is so quick with the pistolero is because he’s been alive for 200 years and drinks the blood of his victims. Enter El Texano (clearing his family name) and his partner Don Nestor (fresh out of prison) – both vowing revenge!

More black and white genre blending from mid-60’s Mexico: while this film features more singing than the others in our series, it also has one of the more sympathetic antiheroes of the group. While The Rio Kid is in fact a literal monster, he also comes off as somewhat of a folk hero when he stops the assault of a young woman. In the end though, the duo save the town but cannot save the subtitles – that one’s on us.

THE DEVIL HORSE
(aka EL CABALLO DEL DIABLO)
dir. Federico Curiel, 1975
88 min, Mexico
In Spanish w/ English subtitles

More songs, more comedy, and tons more fistfights and bar brawls than one might expect from a Faustian western but here we are. When a young man dies he makes a deal with the devil in exchange for his soul (classic) and returns to Earth. Despite being considerably more evil and taking it out on animals and family, no one seems to have a problem with him until the aforementioned Devil’s Horse gallops in.

Curiel like Salazar contributed to the seemingly never-ending avalanche of Santo films throughout the the 60’s and 70’s and 1968’s THE EVIL ONES but is most well known for his vampire films including – EMPIRE OF DRACULA and THE VAMPIRE GIRLS.

INDIE BEAT: A MORNING LIGHT

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A MORNING LIGHT
dir. Ian Clark, 2016
82 minutes. USA.

THURSDAY, MARCH 16 – 7:30 PM – ONE NIGHT ONLY!

In collaboration with The Playlist’s Indie Beat podcast, Spectacle is pleased to present a one-night-only special screening of Ian Clark’s A MORNING LIGHT. Clark’s film is an atmospheric, sci-fi thriller focused on Zach and Ellyn—who begin to sense a strange presence has embedded itself in the forest. As they immerse themselves in the surrounding wilderness their experiences become progressively more bizarre. Do the sounds and light phenomena affecting them come from somewhere else, or is this merely an invention of their perception?

Starring ZACH WEINTRAUB • CELIA ROWLSON-HALL • AUSTIN WILL • DUSTY DECKER
Music by ELEH • Colorist SEAN WELLS • Wardrobe Design BRONWYN LESLIE
Produced by BENJAMIN WIESSNER • JIM CUMMINGS • IAN CLARK
Written, Directed, Edited, Photographed by IAN CLARK
Made with Support from BORSCHT • OREGON ARTS COMMISSION • NW DOCUMENTARY • STRAHLEN • SNOWGHOST

“A cinematic approximation of the metaphysical.” — Kevin Rakestraw, FILM PULSE

“Visually stunning and sonically unsettling.” — ATLANTA FILM FESTIVAL

 

METAMORPHOSES

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METAMORPHOSES

dir. Christophe Honoré, 2014
France. 102 minutes.
In French with English subtitles.

METAMORPHOSES (Christophe Honoré, 2014) from Spectacle Theater on Vimeo.

THURSDAY, MARCH 23 – 7:30 PM
SATURDAY, MARCH 25 – 10 PM
SUNDAY, MARCH 26 – 7:30 PM
TUESDAY, MARCH 28 – 10 PM
THURSDAY, MARCH 30 – 10 PM

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When Europa skips class and meets a magnetic young man named Jupiter, she embarks on an unexpected and magical journey. Traveling aboard Jupiter’s eight-wheel truck, they arrive in a mythical land inhabited by powerful gods who can transform humans into plants or animals in the blink of an eye. Europa watches, listens, and plays in their immortal home, becoming acquainted with Jupiter’s friends, Bacchus and Orpheus. As the confrontation between seductive, yet vengeful gods and innocent mortals unfolds, Europa grasps a greater sense of life and love in this revelatory modern-day retelling of Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

“Playful, dirty, edgy, and wondrous.” Dustin Chang, ScreenAnarchy

“A remarkably beautiful film.”Jonathan Romney, Film Comment

Special thanks to Monument Releasing.

 

 

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ARCHIE’S BETTY

ARCHIE’S BETTY
dir. Gerald Peary, 2015
US. 70 minutes.

FRIDAY, MARCH 10 – 7:30 PM – w/introduction from comic book artist Robin Chapman
SUNDAY, MARCH 12 – 5 PM
FRIDAY, MARCH 24 – 10 PM
MONDAY, MARCH 27 – 7:30 PM

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A kaleidoscope of compulsion, comics history, and passionate fandom, ARCHIE’S BETTY starts as a light and straightforward documentary on the origins of the Archie Comics gang.  But soon, the story twists into a strange small town mystery when director Gerald Peary discovers that his well-known, 25-year-old, article on the subject might have been a little inaccurate.  Original Archie artist Bob Montana left more loose ends than clues as to who Archie, Betty, Veronica, Moose, Jughead – and even Mr. Weatherbee and Ms Grundy – might have been inspired by. Naturally, the residents of Montana’s hometown of Haverhill seem to all be sure that they know the real story.  But … who’s right?

Packed with interviews from Archie Comics writers and artists, Archie historians, Montana’s classmates, and Peary himself, ARCHIE’S BETTY is the culmination of the director’s lifelong obsession with the Riverdale gang.

Robyn Chapman is an editor, a publisher, and (sometimes) a cartoonist. She is  the proprietor of Paper Rocket Minicomics and The Tiny Report, and she has had many different jobs in comics. She spent five years at The Center for Cartoon Studies, initially as their first fellow and later as their program coordinator and a faculty member. During her time at CCS she earned her MFA, having previously earned her BFA at the Savannah College of Art and Design. For a time she worked at Brooklyn’s best comic shop, Desert Island. Previously she worked as an assistant editor at Graphic Universe, the graphic novel imprint of Lerner Publishing Group. Currently she is an associate editor at First Second.

She is the editor/publisher of the Micro-Press Yearbook and the author of Drawing Comics Lab (Quarry Books). In the spring of 2016 she debuted Twin Bed, her first solo comic in a long, long time.

“Delightful, touching, and appropriately comic.” Ross McElwhee

“It’s such a fun and touching personal documentary. Highly recommended
for viewers of all ages from birth to beyond the infinite. Even if you are not
a comic book fan, you will love the story this movie tells. If you are nostalgic
for the 1950s, you will be in seventh heaven.” – Joseph McBride, film historian and biographer

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SPECIAL DISCOVERIES FROM MUBI

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SILVERED WATER, SYRIA SELF-PORTRAIT
dirs. Wiam Bedirxcan and Ossama Mohammed, 2014
Syria. 110 minutes.
In Arabic with English subtitles.

SATURDAY, MARCH 11 – 7:30 PM – ONE NIGHT ONLY!

A look at first-hand video accounts of violence in modern-day Syria as filmed by activists in the besieged city of Homs.

“Introducing an essential dialectical element to the film, Mohammed’s powerful found footage essay is gradually woven into new footage shot on the ground during the siege of Homs by co-director Wiam Simav Bedirxan, a woman whose Kurdish name gives the film its title. She and Mohammed begin a correspondence, one of words but also presumably of video, he from afar in Paris and she walking the besieged streets in Syria, wandering among exploding buildings, deserted streets, and with young children in “revolutionary” schoolrooms. Her footage, more solitary, high-definition, less violent and more diary-like than than the piecemeal shotgun blast of images from Mohammed’s collection, feels like a direct extension of her sight, sensations and thoughts. Less pointed (and loaded) then the “key” sequences of the Mohammed’s montage, nevertheless Bedirxan’s images, when alongside or feathered into the found footage, speaks of filming as living, the camera “seen as a weapon by the regime.

Her footage is not of protests or bloody deaths but of the interiors, city corners, injured street cats, and young children that make up her daily, isolated life, “images,” she says, “that flee into my small camera.” Mohammed, despite some desperate-feeling footage shot in Paris, fundamentally seems to have no camera, only eyes and videos. The two, Bedirxan and Mohammed, trade longings and self-doubts, each somewhat talking to themselves, images as monologues. But when placed next to or within the work of the other, the film forms a kind of larger scale correspondence between the two, of exile and besieged, man and woman, Syrian and Kurd. He speaks of different kinds of cinema, cinema of “realism,” of “the marvelous,” of “murder,” “the poetic,” and of “fantasy.” He speaks of cinema of murderers, and of cinema of victims. Implicitly, what he speaks of and what he and Bedirxan have made is a cinema of witnessing and of experiencing, of nearness and distance, and of exile and of homeland.” Daniel Kasman, MUBI

SILVERED WATER, SYRIA SELF-PORTRAIT is now streaming on MUBI. Available March 3 – April 2. Watch here.

Official Selection: Toronto Film Festival, Cannes Special Screening, Locarno Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Busan Film Festival, London Film Festival, Vienna Film Festival, CPH: DOX Copenhagen Film Festival and Torino Film Festival

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BETWEEN FENCES
dir. Avi Mograbi, 2016
Israel/France. 71 minutes.
In Hebrew, Tigrigna, and Arabic
SATURDAY, MARCH 18 – 7:30 PM – ONE NIGHT ONLY!
Avi Mograbi and Chen Alon meet African asylum-seekers in a detention facility in the middle of the Negev desert where they are confined by the state of Israel. Together, they question the status of the refugees in Israel using “Theater of the Oppressed” techniques. What leads men and women to leave everything behind and go towards the unknown? Can the Israelis working with the asylum seekers put themselves in the refugees’ shoes?
BETWEEN FENCES will be available to stream on MUBI starting March 17. Watch here.
Official Selection: Berlinale — Forum, Cinéma du Réel, Rio de Janeiro Film Festival and DocAviv Film Festival
MUBI is a curated online cinema, streaming hand-picked award-winning, classic, and cult films from around the globe. Every day, MUBI’s film experts present a new film and you have 30 days to watch it. Whether it’s an acclaimed masterpiece, a gem fresh from the world’s greatest film festivals, or a beloved classic, there are always 30 beautiful hand-picked films to discover. 

MARCH MIDNIGHTS


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FATAL DEVIATION
Dir. Simon Linscheid, Shay Casserley, 1998.
Ireland. 76 min.

FRIDAY, MARCH 17 – MIDNIGHT
FRIDAY, MARCH 18 – MIDNIGHT

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In keeping with St. Patrick’s Day tradition, we’re dragging Irish pride into the gutter with a holiday screening of FATAL DEVIATION, Ireland’s first (and only) feature-length martial arts film. Written, produced, cinematographed, cast by, stunt-coordinated, and starring James Bennett, the film tells the story of Jimmy Bennett (unrelated), a young man returning home after a long absence, his future uncertain, his father gone. After witnessing Jimmy’s takedown of local drug gang The Drug Lords Gang (featuring Mikey Graham, member of Ireland’s lone boy band BOYZONE), a monk belonging to the local church’s secret underground kung fu sect approaches with an offer to train Jimmy for the upcoming no-holds barred Bealtaine tournament.

As Jimmy learns the monk’s secret techniques of cutoff shorts tai-chi and kicking near small fires, The Drug Lords Gang increasingly pressures Jimmy to join them. When he refuses, the Drug Lords call ace fighter Seagull back from Hong Kong to take Jimmy out in the tournament. Jimmy’s only hope is mastering the FATAL DEVIATION, as taught by a man strongly resembling a drunk Led Zeppelin Hermit.

Filmed in the verdant backwater of Trim and featuring exactly one (completely unintentional) stunt, this is a film best witnessed in the safety of a group. Lacking Irish wit or charm and leaving you bewildered, FATAL DEVIATION has the same effect as a day spent chugging Car Bombs, but without the next day’s hangover. So put down that green beer – if someone’s going to slander the Irish good name, who better to do so than the Irish?


PART OF THE SPRING MIDNIGHT SERIES:
NASCHY AS II WANNA BE: RETURN OF NASCHY

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HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB
Dir. Carlos Aured, 1975
Spain, 95 min. (original cut)
In Spanish with English subtitles.

SATURDAY, MARCH 4 – MIDNIGHT
FRIDAY, MARCH 10 – MIDNIGHT
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 15 – 10 PM
SATURDAY, MARCH 25 – MIDNIGHT

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“Bastards! I curse you all!”
It’s been exactly four years since the great Jacinto Molina Álvarez, aka Paul Naschy, last graced a midnight here at Spectacle. The time has never been better for the Spanish Lon Chaney to haunt the twee streets of Williamsburg, his bare-chested bravado and wry wit a perfect balance to gallons of Tempra-red blood and unspeakable black magic. The lord of the night returns for midnights through 2017! It’s time to get…
AS NASCHY AS II WANNA BE!

The year is 1454, and the diabolical warlock Alaric de Marnac (Naschy, natch) and his mistress Mabille De Lancré (Emma Cohen, from CUT-THROATS NINE and Jess Franco’s AL OTRO LADO DEL ESPEJO) are accused of witchcraft, vampirism and lycanthropy before being tortured and killed (and Marnac gets his head cut off!), but not before cursing the offspring of their killers. Now it’s the 1970s, and a group of friends led by Hugo de Marnac (Naschy in a second role!) and Maurice Roland (Naschy regular Victor “Vic Morror” Alcazar) attend a seance, asking tongue-in-cheek about the location of Marnac’s head. Spoiler hint: they find it, and a whole lot more…Directed by Carlos Aured (BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL, THE MUMMY’S REVENGE, contrasting beautiful French landscapes with gruesome murders (don’t worry, our cut’s the original Spanish version with all gore/nudity intact), it’s an excellent introduction to Naschy’s non-werewolf roles, with everything you’d want from a midnight: gallows revenge speeches, nightgowns aplenty, and Naschy’s talking head in a box! Be sure to join us this March as HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB!


 


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RETOURNEMENT A RIVERDELL
Dir. Various, 1989/1991
America, 100 min.
In English.

SATURDAY, MARCH 11 – MIDNIGHT
FRIDAY, MARCH 24 – MIDNIGHT
SATURDAY, MARCH 31 – MIDNIGHT

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Somewhere deep within everybody, there’s a town as American as apple pie – a place where a ginger-headed princox and his next door neighbor’s daughter might share a malt fizz at the corner medicine shop, where a weathered jalopy still bolts down the street quicker than those new automobiles from Korea or Japan. A lifetime away from the time a certain weekly program helpfully venn-diagrammed America’s favorite happy fool with the garish intrigue of David Lynch’s TWIN PEAKS, there was RETOURNEMENT A RIVERDELL: a foreign film in English, assembled by elite power structures to emboss postwar nostalgia in magnetic tape, kicking around the loneliest late-night airwaves of television before a slow death (and shameful rebirth) on VHS under a different name.

The film offers a glimpse into the disappointments of growing up that can be called Lacanian: Archiie comes home to find Riverdell has changed, but not nearly enough. While Regggie has assumed the position of a cutthroat AMERICAN PSYCHO-style businessman, Archiie must wrestle with his own suburban privilege a priori the evaporating mirage of his childhood home… And in the same mirror he witnesses not just the crestfallen zeitgeist of a generation, but a deeper contraction within his own morals – having spent his entire adult life avoiding that old predicament with Bettty and Veronika.

RETOURNEMENT is not entirely unlike Laurence Kasdan’s THE BIG CHILL: in essence, a documentary of curdled Boomer expectations smuggled like candy contraband into a TV dinner narrative template. When Jughead and his idiot son bob their way through a New Jack Swing cover of “Honey Honey” in front of pretty much everybody in town, the real lesson of RETOURNAMENT A RIVERDELL reveals itself thus: time’s passage makes fools of us all.

PRIDE OF PLACE

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PRIDE OF PLACE
Dir. Dorothea Gazidis and Kim Longinotto, 1976
UK, 60 mins.

MONDAY, MARCH 1 – 7:30 PM
MONDAY, MARCH 6 – 7:30 PM
SUNDAY, MARCH 19 – 5:00 PM
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 22 – 7:30 PM
FRIDAY, MARCH 31 – 10 PM

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If you caught last month’s SCRUBBERS (Zetterling, 1982), don’t miss PRIDE OF PLACE, the documentary by and for revolutionary teen boarding school prisoners.

Director Kim Longinotto was banished to a Buckinghamshire boarding school at the tender age of 10. Seven years later, she flew the coop and – after a few down-and-out years – landed at England’s National Film and Television School.

The time came for Longinotto to pick up a camera, and she wielded it like a hammer against her punitive alma mater. The resulting film, made with co-director Dorothea Gazidis, blew the lid off England’s august propensity for stiff upper lips and institutional child abuse.

PRIDE OF PLACE is an observational documentary that refuses to hear both sides. Shot from the students’ point of view, Longinotto and Gazidis regard their setting as a junior police state. They leave no room for finger-wagging. You won’t hear morning talk show bromides about “sparing the rod.”

One year after PRIDE OF PLACE was released, the aforementioned boarding school was closed by the state. After seven years in this brutal borstal, a spell on the streets, and a return to the scene of the crime, Longinotto got the last word.

Special thanks to Women Make Movies.

IN GIRUM IMUS NOCTE ET CONSUMIMUR IGNI

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(aka WE TURN IN THE NIGHT, CONSUMED BY FIRE)
dir. Guy Debord, 1978
France, 96 mins.
In French with English subtitles.

SATURDAY, MARCH 4 – 10 PM
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 8 – 7:30 PM
MONDAY, MARCH 13 – 10 PM
SUNDAY, MARCH 19 – 7:30 PM
FRIDAY, MARCH 24 – 7:30 PM

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“I will make no concessions to the public in this film… Since the cinema public needs more than anything to face these bitter truths, which concern it so intimately but which are so widely repressed, it cannot be denied that a film that for once renders it the harsh service of revealing that its problems are not so mysterious as it imagines, nor even perhaps so incurable if we ever manage to abolish classes and the state — it cannot be denied that such a film has at least that one virtue. It will have no other.” – Guy Debord

Everyone’s favorite Situationist returns to Spectacle for the first time with IN GIRUM IMUS NOCTE ET CONSUMIMUR IGNI, the notorious magnum opus of “anti-cinema” that closed out the filmmaking career of French philosopher and writer Guy Debord.

If THE SOCIETY OF THE SPECTACLE has been proven beyond-relevant in the interceding years (as is so often the case, relevant beyond the confines of its actual self as a piece of text), IN GIRUM IMUS NOCTE ET CONSUMIMUR IGNI is a “repudiation of legends”, a densely layered film essay that slavishly interrogates (and rationalizes) its author’s defiance. Here Debord is reflexively caustic, littering the film with subtweets of his then-contemporaries and the myths surrounding his own legend – taking particular umbrage at the notion that he was a theorist (as opposed to practitioner), and, albeit in veiled terms, the New Left’s inability to subvert the grand lines of mass exploitation outside major city struggles.

In an eerily measured voiceover narration, Debord takes shots at unions (‘“always ready to prolong the grievances of the proletariat for another thousand years in order to preserve their own role as its defender”), culture critics (“amazingly enough, despite all the obvious evidence to the contrary, there are still some cretins, among the specialized spectators hired to edify their fellow viewers, who claim that it is ‘dogmatic’ to state some truth in a film unless it is also proved by images”), establishment intellectuals (“they have wasted their time at college, bargain shopping for worn-out fragments of secondhand knowledge”), and the spectating audience itself – or rather, what Debord calls “the complete vacuity of mediatized society”.

IN GIRUM IMUS NOCTE ET CONSUMIMUR IGNI is thus a political coming-of-age tale in its own way. Many of its images were culled from the ostensibly benign bourgeois French and American movies Debord so hated; more than an enigmatic few would appear to have been shot by Debord himself, or collected over the years. The montagery is genteel by 2017 standards, but there is real power to Debord’s insistence – albeit despairing – that “avant-gardes only have one time”. The fleeting, clean-limned nature of this assemblage speaks for itself: while THE SOCIETY OF THE SPECTACLE diagnosed a half-awake system of power, Debord here holds both image and consumer equally culpable for the broader distraction – a still-terrifying idea today.

Special thanks to Ken Knabb, Konrad Steiner and NOT BORED!.

“Has the time come to challenge this unscathed interlocutor? I could do so, inasmuch as his nostalgia blinds Debord, in spite of himself, to the current context of what all his perseverance derives from. You can’t just have thirty years of history end on a shot of the high waters of the Venice lagoon and expect to get away with it….

But we also need to understand poetry’s protective function. Why was it in the resource of art that twice – first with the Surrealists after October 1917 and then with the Situationists in the early 1960s – new historical circumstances produced, in France, a true break, unprecedented intensity, tremendous repercussions with regard to an ossified political Marxism? Marxism should learn from such amazing cunning! We won’t miss the opportunity this time.

This Marxism – of which Debord, in terms of the ethics of the subject, would be the interlocutor and, in his own way, the equal – I could call a living Marxism.” – Alain Badiou, Le Perroquet, 1981

TRICKS OF THE TRADE: TRUE/FALSE PORTRAITS OF SEX WORK

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“The representation of female prostitution in the movies takes place in a complex, dynamic field in which the forces of male fantasy and patriarchal ideology…merge or collide….”
– Russell Campbell, Marked Women: Prostitutes and Prostitution in the Cinema

The films in this series attempt to eschew the usual trappings of sex work as portrayed in cinema (especially narrative cinema) by a adopting a neutral documentary-style approach, even as they all contain staged elements. Each film is, to varying extents, a hybrid of the two forms. The filmmakers adopt a non-judgmental (or sympathetic) view of sex workers even as they may define sex work itself as a symptom of larger forces of inequality within patriarchy, capitalism or communism. Each film is the result of active collaboration with their subjects (and, in some cases, their clients), and are predicated on an extraordinary level of access. While some of the films contain scenes of graphic sexuality, they are either neutral or aggressively anti-erotic, although the extent to which they may or may not be considered exploitative is a complex question which must ultimately be left to the viewer.


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K (A FILM ABOUT PROSTITUTION)
Dir. György Dobray, 1989
Hungary, 85 min.
In Hungarian with English subtitles

THURSDAY, MARCH 2 – 10 PM
TUESDAY, MARCH 14 – 10 PM
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29 – 7:30 PM

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“This is the the most dangerous place in the country. I grew up here, and I can’t break out. I get up and my first thought is Rákóczi Square.” The Square is Budapest’s red light district, a place where “anything can happen in the criminal code.” Director Dobray spent months documenting the denizens of the square, including a group of cross-dressing sex workers, a woman whose face was slashed by a client, and the off-and-on (and, to some extent, staged) relationship between young sex worker Andrea and her “boyfriend” Tarzan, a pimp and lifelong resident of the Square. Made in 1989, the year Communism fell in Hungary, K (A FILM ABOUT PROSTITUTION) was banned for decades, and is rarely, if ever, screened in the US.


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KARAOKE GIRL
Dir. Visra Vichit-Vadakan, 2013
Thailand/USA, 77 min.
In Thai with English subtitles

THURSDAY, MARCH 2 – 7:30 PM
SATURDAY, MARCH 11 – 7:30 PM
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 15 – 7:30 PM
TUESDAY, MARCH 21 – 7:30 PM
SUNDAY, MARCH 26 – 5 PM

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KARAOKE GIRL follows a young sex worker in Bangkok through portraits of her daily life, introducing us to the nuances of a vocation borne out of a simple necessity: supporting a family in rural Thailand. The film threads memoirs of her countryside childhood with the complicated reality of her urban life. Cast as herself, 23-year-old Sa is revealed to us through both documentary and fiction as she navigates both the city and the country, family and romance. Through the lens of one woman’s real-life experience, KARAOKE GIRL humanizes and complicates the depiction of a social class which is usually painted as flat caricature. Rather than presenting a traditional narrative, KARAOKE GIRL offers a personal landscape of a woman who is thoughtful and optimistic despite her difficult past. “This film is Sa’s anthem—her way of sharing with me (and you) her fears, hopes, and dreams.” — Director Visra Vichit Vadakan


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PROSTITUTE
Dir. Tony Garnett, 1981
UK, 94 min.
English

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 1 – 10 PM
FRIDAY, MARCH 10 – 10 PM
THURSDAY, MARCH 16 – 10 PM
MONDAY, MARCH 20 – 10 PM

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Sandra, a “street girl” of Birmingham, moves to London’s West End hoping that a job at a high-class escort service will improve her financial situation. Her flatmate Louise, a social worker, tirelessly campaigns to reform the country’s severe prostitution laws which keep their sex worker friends in and out of jail. Both women will be stymied by the prejudices and hypocrisies of mostly male authorities. Though it is a fictional narrative, director Garnett (a celebrated producer of social-realist dramas, including Ken Loach’s KES) spent years researching PROSTITUTE, his directorial debut, befriending both “street girls” and “more expensive call girls” (some of whom appear in the film), listening to their stories, and shaping their experiences into this naturalistic docudrama. Garnett intended to make “a film from the girls’ point of view, not the clients…Just an insight into their daily lives. No judgements. A film about work.”


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WHORES’ GLORY
Dir. Michael Glawogger, 2011
Germany/Austria, 115 min.
In German/French/English/Thai/Japanese/Spanish/Bengali with English subtitles

TUESDAY, MARCH 7 – 10 PM
MONDAY, MARCH 13 – 7:30 PM
FRIDAY, MARCH 17 – 7:30 PM
TUESDAY, MARCH 23 – 10 PM

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WHORES’ GLORY is a cinematic triptych on prostitution: three countries, three languages, three religions. In Thailand, women wait for clients behind glass panes, staring at reflections of themselves. In Bangladesh, men go to a ghetto of love to satisfy their unfulfilled desires on indentured girls. And in Mexico, women pray to a female death to avoid facing their own reality. WHORES’ GLORY was the last film in Glawogger’s “Globalization Trilogy” following MEGACITIES and WORKINGMAN’S DEATH, and his final completed feature before his death at 54. In writing about the film, Glawogger said “Prostitution is not to be condemned or defended. Prostitution simply is. It is like war. War is.” This is indicative of his general approach to the film, in which he uneasily balances an assumed vérité neutrality (though several scenes are completely staged) while operating on the foundation that sex work is fundamentally destructive. Despite this, Glawogger’s scope and ambition make WHORES’ GLORY an essential document of sex work around the globe.