Bob Kaufman Film Rarities


SUNDAY, DECEMBER 8 – 7:30 PM
ONE NIGHT ONLY!
(This event is $10.)

Spectacle is thrilled to host author and curator Raymond Foye as he presents a program of film rarities honoring the late poet and painter Bob Kaufman. Our feature is Will Combs’s recently restored HEARTBEAT (c 1978 b/w, digital transfer, 24 minutes) a film long out of circulation. About this work, the filmmaker has written:

“As a young film student immersed with the works of Godard and cinema verite’, Will Combs barged into the backyard of the remaining Beats in San Francisco’s North Beach in the mid 1970’s. Using surplus film stock and a spring-wind Bolex, he began to capture the temperament of the Era, kabuki style. HEARTBEAT features rare and personal footage of Bob Kaufman, Jack Micheline and Hube the Cube in their environment, infusing poetry with a concise inquiry into the Beat Era.”

Also on the program are recently discovered and remastered film and video footage of Kaufman, including excerpts from his famed reading at Malvina’s Cafe in San Francisco on December 6, 1974, his first major reading since he broke a ten-year silence, and his 1979 reading with Philip Lamantia at the San Francisco Art Institute.

Poet and publisher Kaye McDonough will be present to discuss her friendship with Kaufman and read from her North Beach diaries from the 1970s and 80s.

This program celebrates the recent publication of the Collected Poems of Bob Kaufman by City Lights Books.

WILL COMBS, a renowned visual artist, maintains an active studio on Sonoma Mountain.

RAYMOND FOYE is a publisher, editor, writer and curator who has lived in New York’s Chelsea Hotel since 1979. He studied film with Stan Brakhage at the Art Institute of Chicago, and attended the San Francisco Art Institute. He worked as an editor at City Lights Books (The Unknown Poe, 1980) and New Directions (Bob Kaufman: The Ancient Rain, 1981). From 1990-1995 he was Director of Exhibitions and Publications at Gagosian Gallery, New York. Since 1995 he has independently organized dozens of art exhibitions worldwide, including the first gallery exhibitions of Allen Ginsberg’s photographs, and the art works of Harry Smith. He serves as literary executor for John Wieners, James Schuyler, and Rene Ricard.

KAYE MCDONOUGH was born in Pittsburgh and studied literature at Vassar College, and UC Berkeley where she earned her degree in Art History. She has an MFA from Sarah Lawrence Colelge. She is a poet and printer, who lived in the North Beach community for 20 years (1965- 85). She founded the Greenlight Press, devoted to fine letterpress editions including the classic Jack Micheline book Purple Submarine. She is the author of Pagan: Selected Poems (New Native Press, 2014) and Zelda: Frontier life in America (City Lights, 1978), she is currently working on a memoir: The Spell of Bohemia: Twenty Years in San Francisco’s North Beach 1965 – 1985.

BOB KAUFMAN was born in New Orleans, and had a career as a merchant seaman and labor organizer before turning up in San Francisco in 1957. He founded Beatitude magazine, while his books and broadsides were published by City Lights and New Directions. His defiant stance against police authority led to repeated beatings and incarcerations. In 1963 he took a ten-year vow of silence following the Kennedy assassination. He resumed writing and making public appearances in 1973 and continued to produce important work until his death in 1986.

oMo

oMo
dirs. Carlos Arco & Peter Brensinger, 2019
United States. 35 mins.
In English.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 15 – 5 PM
ONE NIGHT ONLY! WORLD PREMIERE with Carlos Arco & Peter Brensinger IN PERSON for Q&A!
(This event is $10.)

In pristine forests, families of cardboard boxes roam amidst fallen leaves. Plastic bags cavort through the air as garden hoses coil around branches to look on. A world absent of humans, or one in which our mundane things have outlived and succeeded us? But even in this sylvan idyll, something is very wrong. A corrupting influence has crept in and left a brutal mark among the stones of fallen empires. As an eclipse draws close, two beings from opposite sides of the land may hold the keys, but of redemption or destruction?

oMo shares its origins with that long lineage of highly independent fantasy micro-epics lovingly crafted and shot in woodlands and empty lots across America especially since the dawn of home video. But from the first moments of life granted inanimate objects through graceful puppeting, oMo diverges. Wisely shot without dialogue, exposition, or legible words of any kind, this is a quest by way of expansive landscapes and percussive ambient sound design, even the human cast conveying hints of an elaborate mythos only through expressive silent film pantomime. oMo is familiar yet mysterious, interspersed with moments of universal recognition among the beats of an alien progression, telling nothing while hinting at much much more.

ALIENATING RESURRECTIONS: MAHAL (1949)

On Tuesday December 3rd, we are pleased to welcome filmmaker Daniel Schmidt (DIAMANTINO) back to Spectacle for a special presentation of Kamal Amrohi’s MAHAL (1949) alongside James Kienitz Wilkins’ short film SPECIAL FEATURES (2014). The screening is part of a multi-venue series organized by Schmidt, with companion double features at Light Industry and Metrograph. Schmidt’s last visit to Spectacle was nearly four years ago, when he and filmmaker Alexander Carver presented João Pedro Rogrigues’ O FANTASMA alongside Pier Paolo Pasolini’s LE MURA DI SANA. Schmidt describes his latest series, ALIENATING RESURRECTIONS, as follows:

“There are few dreams I am able to recall years later. Dreams that persist, despite their inherent evanescence, outliving the very memories of waking life which scientists hypothesize they’ve been conjured to reinforce. Dreamy dreams – whose ornamentations are surely boring to anyone besides me. But I wonder if others share a similar grouping of remnants. They are united by their common inhabitants – intimate relations from my life who have departed from theirs. Here they are alive. The circumstances of their resuscitation are never clear, nor is it clear they ever died – but there is something deathly about them. While in life our relationships were often strong – my memories of them loving – in dreams it is the vitality of these relationships which are now paradoxically faded. Aunts who were like mothers, a mother who was like a best friend, a best friend who was like a lover – reappear defamiliarized, of uncertain allegiance – often aloof, sometimes possessed. They gravitate towards some second death, wounded in some obscure, unknowable way. Physically intact, yet spiritually wraithlike, their motives and sense of self are opaque to me and perhaps to them. Often, they seem like imposters who have forgotten the reason for their disguise. They are both alienated and alienating. I awaken similarly disoriented. Always mesmerized by the opportunity to be in their presence, but estranged by who they’ve become.

I do not experience lucid dreaming. I remain without awareness, and without capacity to make decisions. I only just learned you can train yourself to develop this talent – would be cool to try. For now, it is only in waking life that I can stray into such liminal realms. Namely while making and watching movies. Through these collaborative actions I find I am able to at least consciously participate and orient myself to the phenomena of dreams – and engage the elusive revenants within.

Here I’ve gathered eight films that have allowed just that. Films that explicitly and implicitly concern alienating resurrections. Most have at their centers – the emotional narratives of people who experience a sort of demise and a sort of revival. While some elaborate on their initial deaths – the central concern is of the problems and possibilities wrought by their rebirths – both for themselves and the living whom they encounter.

In contrast to predictable desires held by the undead populations of so many commodified fictions – the ghost seeking vengeance, the vampire seeking blood, the zombie seeking brains – these films are instead populated with phantoms who often lack direct motivations and are mired in existential confusion – perhaps seeking identity or freedom from it. They are lost amidst relatively earthly environments, usually in one or two simple locations, unburdened of the archetypal phantasmagoria. For some – like in my dreams – it is their personalities which are illusory. In the pop-sci lingo of oneirology their personalities are the “interobjects” – dreamed condensations of two unlike objects that could not occur in real life. The films’ shapes resonate around these characters with a generative ambiguity. Most, if not all, derive from this a vital sense of humor – ranging from mordant to whimsical, satirical to absurd.

Of course, this eight-starred constellation is merely a survey of a much larger, inexhaustible galaxy of art concerning such specters. Here, some personal favorites – four longer films by inspiring strangers, paired with four shorter films by inspiring friends. I feel each on their own and when grouped together exemplify what critic and programmer Dan Sullivan described as “cinema’s freedom to be a liquid medium—always something slightly other than what we think it is.” A freedom and flexibility that might stimulate similar openness to life and death, loosened from strict interpretations and the desire to define, while both awake and asleep.”

MAHAL
(THE MANSION)
dir. Kamal Amrohi, 1949
165 mins. India.
In Hindi and Urdu with English subtitles.

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3 – 7 PM w/introduction from Daniel Schmidt
ONE NIGHT ONLY!
(This event is $10.)

A musical. An all-night metaphysical requiem. Hari Shankar, the son of a famous judge, arrives at a desolate mansion he purchased in a government auction and learns of its tragic past from a remaining servant. Thirty years prior, the estate’s original owner, an anonymous man of means, drowned in a flooded river while travelling back to home to his lover. With his final words he vowed to return to her in the next life. However, the lover, Kamini, soon after succumbed to the same fate – while searching the waters for him. Thereafter, Shankar discovers a portrait, presumably of the former proprietor, which bears a striking resemblance to his own. He readily conceives that he is the reincarnation of the drowned man – reborn to reunite with his lost love.

Profoundly disoriented – Shankar’s stunning interpretation evaporates moments later when he hears a woman’s voice wavering through his new home. Through a series of elusory encounters with the singer – he arrives a new belief: that she is the ghost of Kamini – and he, Shankar, is falling in love with her. She confides this is true, as is her undying love for him. To be united in the flesh – she proposes Shankar commit suicide and be reborn again with her. Then, fearing such a plan could fail, she suggests Shankar instead murder the servant’s daughter – so that she may inhabit the body for herself.

Who is reincarnated? Who is a ghost? And what might they carry from the past life to this one or into the next? To say more would give away the revelations best shared with these haunted protagonists. It might also overly emphasize the causality and chronology of a saga whose harmonic digressions are just as touching and touched by uncertainty and a longing to know and control.

In one such passage, the perspective shifts to that of Shankar’s unloved wife, Ranjana, via her written correspondence to her family. Within the letters she asks for counsel as she mournfully seeks to understand her husband’s despondence over the course of two unhappy years. Eventually, having learned of Kamini, Ranjana spies on her and Shankar. In a simple yet strikingly staged image – Ranjana eavesdrops by standing very close and very nearby their conversation, surely within view of their peripheral vision. Yet she remains unseen. Is this theatrical blocking or is Ranjana herself a ghost?

Vagueness permeates the world of MAHAL. There’s a lack of distinction between the infinite space of the mansion and a seeming eternity of twilight that surrounds it. The anonymous servants, who, as is customary, are reciprocally unaware of the wealthy identities of whom they serve; remain, often shrouded, to perform their roles in the mansion indefinitely. Obsession is the protagonist, ensnaring all in sinuous orbits. They spin, flickering between lonely oblivion and luminous passion, intersecting and then rushing apart again. A building and bodies, alternately possessed and forsaken.

MAHAL entranced its viewers as well – and was tremendously popular upon its initial release in India. An ouroboros film – it is also a provenance. Bollywood’s first gothic, and in a sense, first horror film. It was also strikingly the first Hindi film to feature ornate sets. As Amrohi’s directorial debut feature – he imagined someone beyond the famous performers of the day and cast Madhubala as Kamini in her first significant role, becoming an icon of sensitivity and tragedy at age 16.

Kamini, like the film, is mesmerically and ironically layered – at times authentic while veiled, at others chimeric while exposed. But amid these visions there was a second discovery – one of sound. Much as Shankar was first drawn to her ethereal singing, Mahal’s audiences, and the larger public who heard its songs on the radio – were drawn to this, unfamiliar voice – and insisted to know her identity. Bollywood relented and for the first time revealed the identity of a playback singer – it was Lata Mangeshkar. Thus began her 10,000+ career of recorded songs. Using nascent sonic techniques, Mangeshkar recorded a consonant, almost corporeal presence, within Madhubala’s Kamini. Standing in the corner of the studio, with the microphone in the center of the room – she moved towards it singing:

Time stands still,
The stars are silent,
The world is at rest.
Yet my heart is uneasy.
Suddenly, I hear footsteps nearing,
As though someone were
walking through my heart…

Most significantly, perhaps, MAHAL was the first Indian film to feature a reincarnation narrative. Fittingly, the film itself has been reincarnated many times over. One can see its dark reflection in remakes, homages and rip offs from Mumbai to the cinemas beyond. Woefully unrestored and underseen – it is at times lost, but now returns seeking old and new lovers with its melody of sound and image.

screening with

SPECIAL FEATURES
dir. James Kienitz Wilkins, 2014
12 mins. United States.

A GERMAN YOUTH


A GERMAN YOUTH

(UN JEUNESSE ALLEMANDE)
dir. Jean-Gabriel Périot, 2015
93 mins. France/Germany.
In German and French with English subtitles.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6 – 7:30 PM
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7 – 10 PM
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 8 – 5 PM
MONDAY, DECEMBER 9 – 7:30 PM
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 10 – 10 PM
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 11 – 10 PM
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 12 – 10 PM

ONLINE TICKETS        FACEBOOK EVENT

A GERMAN YOUTH chronicles the political radicalization of some German youth in the late 1960s that gave birth to the Red Army Faction (RAF), a German revolutionary terrorist group founded notably by Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof. The film is entirely produced by editing preexisting visual and sound archives and aims to question viewers on the significance of this revolutionary movement during its time, as well as its resonance for today’s society.

A GERMAN YOUTH gathers its sources from three irreconcilable sides: the West German government, the RAF and the movie-makers of the time (including Godard, Fassbinder and Antonioni), as well as the images respectively produced by each. The story of the film is told in the present tense and chronologically, without retrospective excerpts, indeed exclusively through images that are contemporary with the events in the story. The connections between the characters as well as the story’s dramatic arc and flair are brought to life through the editing.

A GERMAN YOUTH is a real story of failures and fears. A story told through powerful, historical images. During the director’s research about the RAF, he watched over a thousand hours of archival footage.

“Exploring the rise and fall of the Baader-Meinhof Group (aka the Red Army Faction) through student movies, protest films, news broadcasts and other audio-visual records of the epoch, this densely layered documentary reveals how members of a disillusioned post-war generation gradually transformed into left-wing militants whose actions would have deadly consequences for all involved. Essential for anyone interested in cinema and politics…” – Jordan Mintzner, The Hollywood Reporter

A GERMAN YOUTH presents the historical evidence and leaves the audience to form their own opinions and draw their own conclusions about how and why the Red Army Faction came to be and how and why they should be remembered. The answer differs depending on who you are and what beliefs you hold, and needless to say, it is not a simple one. And while A German Youth does not ask us to side with Andreas Baader, Ulrike Meinhof, Gudrun Ensslin, Holger Meins and the rest of the RAF, it does want us to understand them, and to learn from them.” – Lee Jutton, Film Inquiry

JEAN-GABRIEL PERIOT was born in France in 1974 and has directed several short films. Between documentary, animation and experimental films, most of his works deal with violence and history. A GERMAN YOUTH is his first feature.

Special thanks to Big World Pictures.

BURNING FRAME: A Monthly Anarchist Film Series

CALLING ALL LEFTISTS! The past few years have been a whirlwind: exhausting, invigorating, and ripe with potential. It’s tremendously difficult, when in the thick of it, to pause, reflect, or even find a moment to catch a breath. Especially when “it” refers to the rise of fascism on a global scale, with any number of future cataclysms hovering just over the horizon. But we digress.

Join us, then, for a series that asks: if not now, when? Come for great works of radical political filmmaking, stay for the generative discussions, or even just to gossip and gripe. The hope isthat this forum for authentic representations of successes, defeats, and the messy work of political action, will be thrilling, edifying, and maybe even inspire your next organizing project. To butcher the title of a great film for the sake of a moderately applicable pun: “Throw away your dogma, rally in the cinema.”

UNCIVIL REST: CINEMATIC REFLECTIONS ON THE 8-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF OCCUPY WALL STREET
dir. Various, 2011-????
Approx. 90 mins.

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 21 – 7:30 PM – ONE NIGHT ONLY!
ONLINE TICKETS       FACEBOOK EVENT

The razing of Zuccotti Park – enacted by the state to quite literally squash Occupy Wall Street – succeeded in so far as the movement, whose nom de guerre was also its central organizing tactic, was constituted within and thus constrained by physical space. From its outset, however, Occupy had become something grander and more abstract than an assemblage of squatters in a park. It actualized as a vital experiment in new forms of organizing and orienting oneself in collective struggle. The state may have bulldozed the people’s bookstore, but the wisdom gained, and strategies tested, have informed the approach of activists throughout the decade – Occupy Sandy, Standing Rock, and Occupy ICE being but a few notable examples.

Crucial to its global impact were the people who recorded every step of the occupation: live streamers, documentarians, fine artists, and ordinary smartphone-owners. Burning Frame proudly presents a supercut of vivid imagery captured during Occupy Wall Street and its aftermath. After the screening, we will be joined by a panel of former Occupy organizers for a candid discussion on the successes, failures, and legacy of Occupy – with the expressed aim of answering the perennial question: “Where do we go from here?”

HIDDEN VISIONS: Snapshots of Contemporary Independent Cinema

In collaboration with filmmakers Christopher Jason Bell (who we hosted with a near-complete retrospective in 2018) and Brandon Colvin (A DIM VALLEY), Spectacle is proud to host Hidden Visions: Snapshots of Contemporary Independent Cinema. It’s the first of its kind – a weekend-long festival celebrating long-and-short form works outside the increasingly mainstream festival food chain. In keeping with our screenings of GO DOWN DEATH, VIDEOFILIA and A BREAD FACTORY, these are uncompromising slices of low-to-no-budget cinema from over a dozen filmmakers (NYC-based or otherwise) guaranteed to shake the dust off your resting notions of “indie film”.

INCORRECTIONAL
dir. Christopher Jason Bell, 2018
86 mins. United States.
In English.

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 8 – 7:30 PM
ONE NIGHT ONLY w/filmmaker Christopher Jason Bell in person for Q&A (This event is $10.)
NEW YORK CITY PREMIERE!

ONLINE TICKETS       FACEBOOK EVENT

Teenage Saeed (Rayvin Disla, GO DOWN DEATH) and his father Ali (Ali Alwan) live together in New York City but run separate lives. The dysfunctional relationship between the two push them further towards surrogate families — Saeed with his schoolmates and Ali with his girlfriend and her kid. This tenuous version of stability only lasts so long, though, as both find themselves in conflict due to petty squabbles and love triangles. When the tensions between father and son finally become inescapable the unavoidable eruption occurs, whatever frail union the two had is destroyed. Saeed and Ali, not quite themselves, are led on their own paths to repair what has been ruined.

HIDDEN VISIONS: SHORTS PROGRAM #1
Dir. Various, 2017-2019
Approx 100 mins.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 8 – 10 PM
ONE NIGHT ONLY w/filmmakers Micah Khan, Brian Ratigan & Zach Fleming in person for Q&A! (This event is $10.)

ONLINE TICKETS       FACEBOOK EVENT

MANIAC EYES
dir. Matthew Wade. 19 mins.

STAYACTION
dir. Zachary Fleming, 2016. 12 mins.

URSULA PROMO
dir. Tyler Rubenfeld, 2019. 7 mins.

SAFE HOUSE
dir. Micah Khan, 2018. 7 mins.

DULL HOPE
dir. Brian Ratigan, 2018. 3 mins.

DREAM OF SAMARRA
dir. Usama Alshaibi, 1 min.

THE FLOWERING
dir. Usama Alshaibi, 2017. 4 mins.


WORLD OF FACTS
dir. Mike Gibbiser, 2019
97 mins. United States.
In English.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 9 – 3 PM
ONE SCREENING ONLY!

ONLINE TICKETS       FACEBOOK EVENT

After an accident no one could have expected, Maureen (Gretchen Akers) must return toher hometown so that her partner, Ted (Alex Stein), can receive medical care under the supervision of his family. Meanwhile, a long-term illness forces Maureen and her father, Peter (Bryan Saner), into mirrored positions of caretaker, watching over an unconscious spouse in differing degrees of comfort and confidence. Once home, Maureen and her sister Louise (Rebecca Spence) reorient themselves to the new routines and the challenges of holding bedside vigil amid a cluster of beeping machines, trapped in that purgatory particular to hospital visitors.

WORLD OF FACTS explores the inherent tension between hyper-intimacy and minimalist observation, and manufactures through formal means the experiences of its characters. The film explores both the vulnerability and strength of a family’s most profound, yet most common, experience. Borrowing its name from a passage in Paul Auster’s memoir about his father’s death—”I have entered the world of facts, the realm of brute particulars”—the film focuses its attention on the closely observed details of the everyday, which pervade the time-out-of-time experience of modern mourning and of grieving for things yet to come.

HIDDEN VISIONS SHORTS PROGRAM #2
Dir. Various, 2017-2019
Approx. 95 mins. United States.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 9 – 5 PM
ONE SCREENING ONLY w/filmmakers Sarah Salovaara, Paul Taylor, Annelise Ogaard and Theodore Collatos in person for Q&A!
(This event is $10.)

ONLINE TICKETS       FACEBOOK EVENT

DEC 9TH
dir. Theodore Collatos, 2018

SUCCULENT
dir. Paul Taylor, 2018. 15 mins.

ROUTINE ISLAND
dir. Jessica Kingdon, 2018. 9 mins.

PARTY DRESS
dir. Molly Fisher, 2017. 7 mins.

HELLO NOSTRAND
dir. Travis Wood, 2018. 5 mins.

LUCKY DOG
dir. Sarah Salovaara, 2019. 11 mins.

GIRL POWDER
dir. Annelise Ogaard, 2018. 6 mins.


SLACKJAW
dir. Zach Weintraub, 2015
70 mins. United States.
In English.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 9 – 7:30 PM
ONE NIGHT ONLY!

ONLINE TICKETS       FACEBOOK EVENT

Rob (Rob Malone) and his friend Austyn (filmmaker Zach Weintraub) apply to become human guinea pigs at the local medical testing facility of a vaguely intentioned multinational company called EvCorp. As the facility’s mere presence has bitterly polarized the town, the two apply in stealth. Austyn is accepted, ushered away and out of contact into EvCorp’s shadowy interior, leaving Rob to bear the burden of secrecy and the private concern that all may not be well with his friend. As he navigates both sides of the town’s deepening rift, guilt and denial do battle in his mind – evoking eerie visions, paranoia and a strange physical malady.

screening with

WELCOME, MARK
dir. Zach Weintraub, 2015.
25 mins. United States.
In English, and Cantonese with English subtitles.

Jia Ning, a Beijing fashion photographer, agrees to help translate for Mark, a British amateur photographer coming to China for the first time.

TUX & FANNY
dir. Albert Birney, 2019
81 mins. United States.
In English.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 9 – 10 PM
ONE NIGHT ONLY w/filmmaker Albert Birney in person for Q&A!
(This event is $10.)

ONLINE TICKETS        FACEBOOK EVENT

Tux and Fanny are two friends living together in the forest and these are their adventures!

“…Inventive, warm-hearted, speculative, and sweetly exquisite. Its monochrome protagonists are essentially humanoid gingerbread cookies, who move with a stark and jittery simplicity that conveys a similarly stark and frank emotionalism. The pink Tux speaks in a resonant bass voice; Fanny, who’s purple, speaks in higher, reedier tones; and both of them speak Russian throughout. (The movie is subtitled in English.) The feature is episodic, following Tux and Fanny, who share a small house and sleep in separate beds in one bedroom, through adventures that quickly veer toward the surreal and the whimsically macabre. Its tone brings to mind Arnold Lobel’s ‘Frog and Toad’ series of children’s books, though it’s not a children’s movie.”Richard Brody, The New Yorker


PARQUE CENTRAL
dir. Ricardo S. Gaona, 2017
79 mins. United States/Guatemala.
In English, and Spanish with English subtitles.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 10 – 5 PM
ONE NIGHT ONLY w/filmmaker Ricardo S. Gaona in person for Q&A moderated by comedian Jake Flores!
(This event is $10.)

ONLINE TICKETS       FACEBOOK EVENT

In the heart of Antigua, Guatemala, a humble park plays an international intersection as tourists stroll through the center of the centuries old town. Beneath the shade of trees, day in and out, indigenous children shine shoes, sell ice creams and trinkets while dodging the patrol of local police attempting to shut them down.

“The brisk, experiential and formidably well-shot documentary likewise mostly eschews words and overt angry sentiments for an immersively stitched-together day-in the-life of the tourist paradise’s most necessarily canny subsistence laborers.” – Vadim Rizov, Filmmaker Magazine

FUTURE LANGUAGE: THE DIMENSIONS OF VON LMO
dir. Lori Felker, 2019
85 mins. United States.
In English.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 10 – 7:30 PM
ONE SCREENING ONLY!

ONLINE TICKETS       FACEBOOK EVENT

FUTURE LANGUAGE: The Dimensions of VON LMO is a distorted portrait of an artist that explores storytelling, ego, delusion, conviction and memory. VON LMO is a musician/artist and self-proclaimed alien-hybrid who was a part of the late 70s New York No Wave music scene. Between trips to his home planet of Strazar and multi-dimensional travel, VON has also spent some very real time in prison and on the streets of Earth. Challenged with translating his Future Language for audiences across the galaxy, Lori, our filmmaker and VON LMO fan, gets sucked into VON’s orbit and finds herself lost in his story.

Brian Ratigan is an animator and director of stop motion films and experimental work. He is the founder of Non Films and is based in New York City. Ratigan serves as Director of Animation for Kumar Pictures, co-founded Atlanta production company Sugartooth Group, and manages Chaotic Cinema.

Micah Khan is a no-budget film director recently featured on Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network for The People’s Network Showcase.

Zach Fleming is a Brooklyn based filmmaker who loves horror films and tragicomedies. He currently works as a producer in the magical world of advertising and is writing a feature or two he can’t afford to make.

Matthew Wade is an animator, filmmaker, illustrator and composer. He graduated from Vancouver Film School’s Classical Animation department in 2010 before moving to LA to cut his teeth in the world of freelance commercial animation. He has worked on spots for Foot Locker, Vans, Target, the NFL, SCAD, SyFy, Adult Swim, Patagonia, and many more. He now works from his hometown of Boise, ID to work on more personal projects (while returning to LA part of the year for work).

Sarah Salovaara is a filmmaker and editor from New York City, currently based in Los Angeles. The Future is Then, her mid-1990s tech industry satire about a Trinidadian travel agent and the three white men who try to upend her business, premiered at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival and will be released on November 18, 2019 via BRIC TV. In 2017, her series Let Me Die a Nun, starring Ana Fabrega and Hari Nef, was nominated for a Gotham Independent Film Award. Her feature-length script, MARIELA EL RIVES, about a late-in-life lesbian who travels to Cuba for sex tourism, was selected for the 2019 IFP Project Forum.

Lori Felker is a filmmaker/artist, teacher, programmer, and performer. Her moving image work focuses on the ways in which we process, share and disseminate information, via screens, dreams, gestures, games, and dialogue. By employing and pushing these structures, she attempts to study the ineloquent, oppositional, delusional, frustrating, and chaotic qualities of human interaction. Lori works in a variety of mediums and has shown her work internationally at festivals and spaces including the Rotterdam International Film Festival; NYFF: Views from the Avant-Garde; VideoEx, Zurich; Ann Arbor Film Festival; Festival du Nouveau Cinema, Montreal; Curtas Vila do Conde Film Festival, Portugal; LA Filmforum; BAMcinemaFest, Brooklyn.  She loves every facet of filmmaking and has worked as a cinematographer, editor, and performer for various artists and directors. She is an Illinois Arts Council Artists Grant recipient, a Wexner Center Artist in Residence and a Fulbright Fellow. She has also spent beloved, valuable time as a Festival Coordinator and/or programmer for the Chicago Underground Film Festival, Milwaukee Underground Film Festival, Slamdance and Roots & Culture Gallery. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Film Department at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

Albert Birney is a Baltimore based filmmaker. He has directed three feature films, THE BEAST PAGEANT (co-directed with Jon Moses), SYLVIO (co-directed with Kentucker Audley), and TUX AND FANNY. SYLVIO was named one of the ten best films of 2017 by The New Yorker. His films have premiered at SXSW, the Maryland Film Festival, Slamdance and the Ottawa International Animation Festival. He is currently in production on his next feature, STRAWBERRY MANSION.

Theodore Collatos began his career as an award-winning street photographer, which grew organically into documentary, experimental and dramatic filmmaking; often with his producer and wife Carolina Monnerat. Most recently, his Queen of Lapa, a multiple award winning documentary directed together with Monnerat in Rio de Janeiro, had its International Premiere at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2019, was Grand Jury Award Winner at NewFest and is currently playing the festival circuit. Also known for TORMENTING THE HEN (2017) Indie Memphis Film Festival Winner and DIPSO (2013), which premiered in competition at EntreVues Belfort Festival du Film and was an Athens Film Festival Winner. Collatos is a features programmer at Bushwick Film Festival, contributor to Filmmaker Magazine, Talkhouse Film and Fandor, who’s commercial clients include Lululemon Athletica, The United Nations, Think Human, Dentons Venture Technology and Fox Rothschild LLP.
Usama Alshaibi was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1969 and spent his formative years living between the United States and the Middle East. He’s an active filmmaker and artist with many short films, documentaries and feature films to his credit. His films have screened at underground and international film festivals, and have been broadcast on television stations across the globe. In early 2004, nine months after the United States invaded Iraq, Usama returned to his birthplace to shoot his first feature documentary titled NICE BOMBS The documentary had a theatrical release in Chicago and New York, and a broadcast premiere on the Sundance Channel. His controversial feature film PROFANE has played globally at underground film festivals and won several awards, including best feature film when it premiered at the Boston Underground Film Festival. Usama lived in Chicago for over 17 years and worked as a digital archivist at the Chicago History Museum, and as a radio host and producer for Chicago Public Media. Currently Alshaibi is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Colorado State University, and lives in Colorado with his young daughter Muneera.

Tyler Rubenfeld is a Michigan-born, New York-based filmmaker, graphic designer, and visual artist.  In 2017, his short film INNARDS had its world premiere at BAMcinemaFest and went on to screen at the Chicago International Film Festival and Sidewalk Film Festival. In 2019, his short film URSULA PROMO premiered on NoBudge. His latest short, DECENT LIVING, will be making the festival rounds within the year (you know, hopefully). He’s also in pre-production on a feature, PLANETS, to be shot in the summer of 2020.

Jessica Kingdon is a Chinese-American director/producer named one of 25 New Faces of Independent Film by Filmmaker Magazine in 2017. Her upcoming feature documentary UNTITLED PRC PROJECT received support from SFFILM, Chicken & Egg, Cinereach, Sundance, and Field of Vision.  Her award-winning Vimeo Staff Pick short COMMODITY CITY (2017) played at over 50 film festivals. Her short ROUTINE ISLAND (2019) is an Eyeslicer Radical Film Fund recipient and premiered at Rooftop Film Festival. Residencies include the Points North Institute Shortform Editing Residency, the Artist Academy at the New York Film Festival, and the UnionDocs Lab.  Producer credits include BORN TO BE (dir. Tania Cypriano, NYFF 2019), THE WATERSLIDE (dir. Nathan Truesdell, True/False 2018), OLD STONE (dir. Johnny Ma, Berlinale 2016), and the upcoming FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY (dir. Colin Healey). She is a member of the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective.

Annelise Ogaard is an award-winning filmmaker and lesbian based in New York City. Her independent short films have screened internationally to acclaim and disgust.

Christopher Jason Bell is a former critic and active filmmaker. His first feature THE WINDS THAT SCATTER premiered at Northside Festival and went on to play in Madrid, South Korea (winning Best International No Budget Feature Film at the KIXFF), Cambodia, Chile, Argentina, and numerous places in the USA. You can now watch the film on the Kinoscope platform. His latest short, THE CITY IS LIKE A CHARACTER IN THE FILM, premiered in 2018 and was selected to play in the Eastern Oregon Film Festival and Filmfort. Also in 2018, Spectacle Theater put together a retrospective of his work in Brooklyn, New York. Filmmaking aside, Christopher also hosts the Indie Beat podcast which interviews various people in the art. Notable guests include Jennifer Phang (“Advantageous”), Nick Hayes (co-creator of successful political campaign videos including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), and Frank Mosley (actor, filmmaker, and Berlinale Talent Campus alum).

Jake Flores’ material has gotten him raided by the government, retweeted by everyone from Tom Morello to Bette Midler, and published in The New York Times. His stuff has been quoted on CNN by Wolf Blitzer and taught at Yale. He has appeared on The Majority Report, Chapo Trap House, Cumtown, Fun Fun Fun Fest, SXSW, Comedy Central’s Roast Battle, Comedy Cellar Radio and has been shouted out on The Joe Rogan Experience and The Doug Stanhope Podcast. He has toured around the country and opened for Doug Stanhope, Tig Notaro, Greg Fitzsimmons, Jim Norton, Felipe Esparza and Patton Oswalt.

FREE AT LAST!

After a 20 year hiatus, new films are finally entering the public domain. Come celebrate our newly accessible cultural heritage as we screen some of the best of 1923…



LITTLE OLD NEW YORK
dir. Sidney Olcott, 1923.
110 mins. United States.
Silent with English intertitles.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 18 – 7:30 PM
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 23 – 3 PM
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 29 – 10 PM

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Revenge! Harps! Crossdressing! Boxing! Bondage! Steamboats!

In order to receive a large inheritance and exact her father’s revenge upon his wealthy estranged brother, Pat(ricia) O’Day (Marion Davies) must travel to America from Ireland disguised as her ailing brother Pat(rick) O’Day. There she must avoid detection, honor a deathbed promise to her father, and check her anti-English impulses. Pat shows a knack for business, gets caught up in her cousin’s investment scheme, and must risk all to save the (extended) family’s home. Come for the fisticuffs, stay for the jigs!

NEW DIGITIZATION from the Library of Congress and a NEW soundtrack by Ben Model




THE BURNING CRUCIBLE
Dir. Ivan Mosjoukine, 1923
108 mins. France.
Silent with French intertitles and English subtitles.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 19 – 7:30 PM
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 30 – 3 PM

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“One day, I saw LE BRASIER ARDENT. The audience howled and whistled, shocked by a film so different from their usual fare. I was ecstatic… I decided to abandon my trade, ceramics, to try to make films.” – Jean Renoir

Too surreal to be straightforward romance, too sweet and sentimental to be anything but, silent oddity THE BURNING CRUCIBLE combines French amour-fou with Russian mystical melancholy in this tale of a detective who falls in love with the ‘lost wife’ he’s honor-bound to return to her doting husband.

The only directorial feature by Russian star Ivan Mosjoukine (who also wrote and played 11 different roles in the film), THE BURNING CRUCIBLE reflects the unique synthesis that made Mosjoukine himself so popular in his adopted country. Described by one admirer as ‘the subtle alchemist of passion and pain’, here he plays famous detective ‘Z’, who haunts the dreams of young wife Elle (played by Mosjoukine’s real-life wife Nathalie Lissenko). Elle and her husband, a doting, wealthy businessman, have grown apart. Tormented by jealous visions, the husband chases her through the streets of Paris in a scene worthy of Buster Keaton, accidentally stumbling into a unique detective agency dedicated to finding lost items – including the affection of wives. Unwittingly hiring the very man Elle’s dreamt of, he puts Z on the case, but in trying to discover the root of Elle’s apathy, Z uncovers a shared passion for Paris and a growing attraction to the lively young woman.

All this takes place on sets far too large for the human scale, amid truly bizarre set pieces including a dance contest literally to the death, a secret society with rooms of disembodied organs, and the swankest bedroom in Paris. Less ‘anti-‘ and more valentine to the bittersweetness of falling in love,THE BURNING CRUCIBLE’s earnestness is constantly tempered by a hefty dose of surreal humor.

EYES OF FIRE


EYES OF FIRE
dir. Avery Crounse, 1983
90 mins. United States.

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 8 – MIDNIGHT
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 13 – 7:30 PM
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 15 – 10 PM
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 30 – MIDNIGHT

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Set in the 1750’s, EYES OF FIRE follows a group of colonial pioneers who narrowly escape persecution after their preacher (Dennis Lipscomb) has an affair with a married woman. Exiled from the small settlement, they make their way deeper into the wilds of future-America, haunted by the spectral threat of attack by Native Americans, until they find their way to a valley the natives avoid due to superstitions about the sinister nature of the land.

A sort of Protestant riff on AGUIRRE: THE WRATH OF GOD and potentially the first “western horror” hybrid film, EYES OF FIRE is a startlingly original and effective independent film that slipped largely under the radar on release in the early 80’s. It conjures a genuine sense of dread and tackles its colonial subject matter in a surprisingly modern way, and boasts some deliriously good and unsettling low-budget practical effects.

Showing in a less-than-stellar VHS rip but losing none of its potency, this is a real Thanksgiving horror treat.

BACK TOGETHER AGAIN: The Films of Milton Moses Ginsberg

Hailed in cinephile circles for its audacity and economy, Milton Moses Ginsberg’s 1969 debut COMING APART, starring Rip Torn, anticipated both the imminent porno chic mainstream of DEEP THROAT, and the rawness and transgression of ’90s American independents.

Unfairly panned by Andrew Sarris, COMING APART nosedived in attendance after its first week, its static-camera faux-documentary intimacy presaging the zeitgeist by just a hair, and its subject matter, including mental illness, sexuality, and misogyny, too real for the nudie-cutie crowd. Its box office misfortune would follow Ginsberg for the remainder of his career, complicating the production of his 1973 follow-up THE WEREWOLF OF WASHINGTON; in 1975, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. For the following decades, he would work in relative obscurity, primarily as a commercial editor for television—until the ’90s, in which a Museum of Modern Art repertory screening of the debut drew renewed interest in Ginsberg leading to a favorable New York Times profile and a Kino Lorber distribution deal. Much like the trajectory of fellow traveller Mark Rappaport, Ginsberg would eventually return to moving image in the form of video-essays, made in a similarly minimal spirit as COMING APART, tackling issues such as mortality, end times, the history of noir, and more.

Now, as COMING APART celebrates a half-century, feted at Metrograph on the anniversary of its debut, Spectacle presents a retrospective of these post-debut works.




THE WEREWOLF OF WASHINGTON
dir. Milton Moses Ginsberg, 1973
90 mins. United States.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 4 – 10 PM
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 17 – 5 PM
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 29 – 7:30 PM

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A Watergate-era horror-comedy starring Dean Stockwell as a reporter bitten by a werewolf, assigned as a press assistant for the president of the United States (Biff McGuire).




THE MIRROR OF NOIR
dir. Milton Moses Ginsberg, 2015
120 mins. United States.

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 7 – 10 PM
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 11 – 7:30 PM
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 26 – 10 PM

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THE MIRROR OF NOIR describes the journey of several filmmakers who invented German Expressionist Cinema – and, forced to flee Germany, helped invent American film noir in Hollywood. The film focuses not on their physical journey – but on the journey of their cinematic style and the darkness of their vision. It also tells the story of a boy growing up in the Bronx who develops an obsession with haunted heroes and a fatal attraction to femmes fatale.




KRON
dir. Milton Moses Ginsberg, 2011
45 mins. United States.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 5 – 10 PM
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 16 – 7:30 PM
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 25 – 7:30 PM
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 30 – 5 PM

Preceded by:
DARK MATTER
Dir. Milton Moses Ginsberg, 2018
16 mins. United States.

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Earning his living photographing tiny objects – faceted diamonds for gem dealers, the architecture of insects for biologists – Kron decides to turn his close-up lens on the intricate movements of the watches he’s been obsessively collecting his entire life. As he magnifies their tiny gears and spinning wheels, Kron feels himself being drawn into their microscopic universe – and becoming increasingly haunted by re-found memories, his own mortality and time itself. Let’s call his Proustian journey ‘The Private Life of Time.’




THE END
Dir. Milton Moses Ginsberg, 2017
85 mins. United States.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 16 – 5 PM
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22 – 10 PM
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 25 – 10 PM

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Several haunting questions have taken on a sudden immediacy: Is humanity facing extinction in this very century? Have we already turned corners from which there is no turning back? And do sci-fi films merely offer us distraction, or have they been accurately describing the end of our existence? THE END collects the most prescient clips from past and present sci-fi films – and asks members of the scientific and political communities to assess whether these fantasy films that have been entertaining us for decades have actually been correct in predicting our total demise as a species – and soon!

THE FILMS OF MICHÈLE ROSIER

Michèle Rosier (1930-2017) was a pioneering fashion designer (she created the vinyl-intensive V de V sportswear label), a journalist who worked as editor of the women’s lifestyle magazine Le Noveau Femina, and an avowed leftist. She also had a 40+ year career behind the camera, directing several documentaries for French television as well as a handful of theatrical features, most famously the George Sand biopic GEORGE QUI?, starring Anne Wiazemsky. Rosier’s cumulative body of work is staggering, and the movies bely an utterly idiosyncratic filmmaking sensibility: wryly funny, curious about people, jazz-suffused (with scores by Mal Waldron, Keith Jarrett and Aldo Romano) and forever interrogating the limits of liberation in post-1968 France. While she’s a known quantity in France, Rosier has never before been given a proper retrospective in the United States; we’re honored to show these works in a two-part series spread over November and December, with her signature work MON CŒUR EST ROUGE (MY HEART IS RED) screening in a brand new digitization with fresh subtitles translated and timed by Spectacle volunteers.

This series is part of Brooklyn Falls for France, a cultural season organized by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and FACE Foundation in partnership with Brooklyn venues. Special thanks to Go Films, Hervé Boulliane, Bernard Payen (Cinematheque Francaise), Nathanaël Arnould (Institut National de l’Audiovisuel) and Amélie Garin-Davet.




GEORGE QUI?
(GEORGE WHO?)
dir. Michèle Rosier, 1973
106 mins. France.
In French with English subtitles.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1 – 10 PM
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 4 – 7:30 PM
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 24 – 7:30 PM
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 13 – 7:30 PM with introduction from Hervé Boulliane, longtime friend of Michèle Rosier
MONDAY, DECEMBER 23 – 10 PM

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Rosier’s extraordinary feature debut is a buried gem of post-New Wave French filmmaking, starring the inimitable Anne Wiazemsky as the scandalizing writer George Sand (1804-1874). Born into nobility as Aurore Dupin, Sand was the most prolific female author of the 19th century, notorious for smoking cigars and flouting laws banning women from dressing as men. While her life is storied (she was close friends with Balzac, Delacroix and Flaubert, as well as one of Frederic Chopin’s lovers; he described her gaze as “like a fiery flood” in his journal), Rosier’s approach mischievously and anachronistically engages the limitations of the staid and stale drawing-room biopic. GEORGE QUI? juxtaposes current-day discussions about Sand’s proto-feminism (as well as her militant opposition to the Paris Communards) with the very real movement for gender equality raging outside the cinemas. Beyond Wiazemsky’s coy leading turn, the film features delectable discussions about sex, love and literature, with a supporting turn from Bulle Ogier as stage actress Marie Dorval, and Gilles Deleuze in a bizarre cameo as pioneering Catholic philosopher Hugues-Félicité Robert de Lamennais – Rosier’s idea.



MON CŒUR EST ROUGE
(MY HEART IS RED)
dir. Michèle Rosier, 1976
110 mins. France.
In French with English subtitles.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 23 – 5PM
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 24 – 5PM
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 26 – 7:30 PM
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5 – 7:30 PM with introduction from Hervé Boulliane, longtime friend of Michèle Rosier
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18 – 10 PM

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MON CŒUR EST ROUGE stars Françoise Lebrun as Clara, a market research analyst hired by a big cosmetics company to interview women from different walks of life about their makeup-purchasing habits. (Rosier’s original treatment for the film put it like this: “What began as research for better ways to lie to women becomes a quest for truths only women can reveal.”) The process sees her probing questions of femininity in a Paris that’s modernizing at a rapid rate; while Clara strikes up a spur-of-the-moment romance along the way, much of the film concerns people’s embrace of (and resistance to) the new freedoms of the Sixties and Seventies. MON CŒUR EST ROUGE is a bruisingly funny cross-examination of second wave feminism and its discontents – ending in an extraordinary finale at a “Women’s Fair”, with a murderer’s row of Rosier’s collaborators playing luminaries such as Freud, Sartre, Aristotle, Marx and Shakespeare in drag – provoking dreams of an alternative history away from masculine supremacy.


UN CAFE, UN!
(ONE COFFEE, ONE)
dirs. Michele Rosier & Jacques Kebadian, 1982
40 mins. France.
In French with English subtitles.

screening with

LA FEMME, L’HOMME
(THE WOMAN, THE MAN)
dir, Michele Rosier, 1975.
54 mins. France.
In French with English subtitles.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 13 – 10 PM
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 19 – 10 PM
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 21 – 5 PM

These two short documentaries (both made for French television) demonstrate Rosier’s abiding interest in the lives and careers of ordinary people, her keen eye for human foibles and her undergirding focus on gender inequality. Part of the series grands jours et jours ordinaires (big days and ordinary days), UN CAFE UN details a small coffee shop and bistro in Paris over the course of one long working day, carefully registering small moments (like one businessman’s very long gulp of his first beer, or a bored child soliciting the attention of the various old ladies who flock to the espresso counter on the regular.) With a sly nose-thumbing attitude for the tired rigors of documentary sociology, LA FEMME, L’HOMME sees the filmmaker asking women from a variety of personal backgrounds for their opinions on the future of femininity – anticipating the interviews with working-class women that formed the backbone of her second theatrical feature MON CŒUR EST ROUGE.



MOUSE, YOU ARE HAPPY TODAY

(SOURIS, T’ES HEUREUX CE JOUR-LA)
dir. Michele Rosier, 1978
76 mins. France.
In French with English subtitles.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 14 – 5 PM
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 21 – 3PM
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 22 – 5 PM

screening with

SORAYA OF AUBERVILLIERS
(SORAYA A AUBERVILLIERS)
dir. Michele Rosier, 2004
50 mins. France.
In French with English subtitles.

In 1978, Michèle Rosier filmed the marriage of Soraya and Pascal Alvarez in the working-class suburb of Aubervilliers – resulting in a humanist, warmly funny documentary surveying the the entire community and pageantry of the wedding. Thirty-six years later in SORAYA OF AUBERVILLIERS, she wanted to see how their marriage – and the city – had evolved.



AH! LA LIBIDO

dir. Michele Rosier, 2007
83 mins. France.
In French with English subtitles.

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3 – 10 PM
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6 – 10 PM
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 14 – 3 PM

Whether by intent or coincidence, Rosier’s final feature seems a French riff on Sex and the City, about a quartet of young professional women (journalists working for the newspaper Liberation) as they endure the ecstasies and tribulations of singledom (or not). The film culminates in a bizarre twist ending – after the group has hired a sex worker to challenge some of their more staid mores – whereby one of them realizes she may be happier in a bad relationship with a middle-aged slimeball.


EMBRASSE-MOI
(HUG ME)
dir. Michèle Rosier, 1987
93 mins. France.
In French with English subtitles.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 3 – 7:30 PM
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 14 – 7:30 PM
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 23 – 10 PM

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The first film shot by legendary cinematographer Darius Khondji (CITY OF LOST CHILDREN, SE7EN) and anchored by a heartbreaking performance by Sophie Rochut, EMBRASSE-MOI is a slice-of-life drama about Louise, an 12-year-old girl left to her own devices over the summer following her parents’ divorce. Her mother (Dominique Valadie) is a renowned concert pianist, anxious to begin a second life free of entanglements. Her father (Patrick Chesnais) is a workaholic industrialist, distracted to the point of denial about the collapse of his marriage. Rosier’s command of her cast is impossible to deny, as is the brave unsentimentality of EMBRASSE-MOI’s approach: Louise clocks her mother’s newer, younger lover in one brazen panning shot across his naked body. While Rosier denied any autobiographical interpretations of EMBRASSE-MOI, it’s hard not to read at least a kinship between Louie’s solitude and the filmmaker’s own relationship with her famous mother Hélène Gordon-Lazareff (founder of Elle) and stepfather Pierre Lazareff, who adopted Michèle as his own.


PULLMAN PARADIS
dir. Michèle Rosier, 1995
99 mins. France.
In French with English subtitles.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 11 – 10PM
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 23 – 7:30 PM

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A cross-section of tourists, Parisians and daytrippers board a Pullman bus on a 48-hour journey to Normandy; along the way they all become friends (or enemies) and fall prey to a mass burglary. A multi-character dramedy in the vein of Robert Altman, PULLMAN PARADIS again affords Rosier an opportunity to expose the contradictions (and the comedy) of postwar French society, without casting her participants into facile molds of good and evil. The result is a warmly compassionate, drolly hilarious depiction of multiple anxieties (class, race, etc) crisscrossing at once – and a revealing ensemble portrait.

“Traveling is not just going places, but meeting people, remarks a character in Michèle Rosier’s refreshing human comedy. The actors (who hail from the stage) make up a troupe that revels in repartee — it may not be Musset, but Rosier, who made a movie on George Sand, has a sense for sharp dialogue and the subtle pacts that spring up between strangers. So a kind of spell is cast on these mere mortals, shaken from their moorings, who quit their banality and take off from the big bus into another space, outward bound.” – Janet Dupont, The New York Times