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April 2008 Film Calendar

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April 8, 2008 | by Judy Moore
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Block Cinema, a collaboration of the Northwestern University School of Communication and the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, screens classic and contemporary films. Block Cinema is dedicated to providing the Northwestern campus, the North Shore and the Chicago area with a quality venue for repertory cinema.

All films are screened in the James B. Pick and Rosalyn M. Laudati Auditorium at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston campus. Free parking is available in the lot directly south of the museum.

Unless otherwise noted, general admission to Block Cinema screenings is $6 for the general public or $4 for Block Museum members, students with IDs and senior citizens. Films in the "Reeltime" series are free. Special events are $10. Season passes are $20. Tickets are available 30 minutes before show time. For more information, call the Block Cinema Hotline at (847) 491-4000 or go to the Block Cinema Web site at http://www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/block-cinema/.

This spring, Block Cinema is screening more than 40 films. The Catherine Breillat Series will feature films directed by French filmmaker and novelist Catherine Breillat, who is known for both her books and her films on themes of sexuality, gender conflict and sibling rivalry.

The Silence in Films series will feature films that lack sound and/or dialogue, making the audience focus on non-verbal communication between characters, the depth and scope of the image, and peripheral sounds that take on greater meaning and leave a powerful and lasting impression on viewers.

The Louis Family Nature Series allows viewers to witness the most intimate and complete picture of nature ever filmed, including the high-definition BBC's 11-part landmark television series "Planet Earth," which takes viewers inside our spectacular natural world in a way television never has before. "Planet Earth" is narrated by nature television icon Sir David Attenborough and shot by a team of 30 cinematographers. Block Cinema's spring nature series will feature underwater and aerial wildlife cinematographers, a person who explores caves as a hobby, and Northwestern scientists as special guests.

Films in the "Difficult Dialogues: Race in Our Global World," sponsored by the Center for Global Culture and Communication at Northwestern, will address important and challenging international issues, such as race in a multicultural world, with the aid of a number of Northwestern scholars.

The following is a listing of Block Cinema films that will be screened in April.

APRIL 2008 FILMS

Breillat Series, "Romance," 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 2 (Catherine Breillat, 1999, France, 99 minutes, 35 mm). Marie, a young schoolteacher, is in love with her boyfriend, but the almost complete lack of sexual intimacy in the relationship leads her to search for fulfillment through increasingly risky situations. With this film, which includes highly graphic sexual scenes, Breillat takes her probing of women's sexual identity to its most explicit point.

Silence Series, "Vidas Secas," 8 p.m. Thursday, April 3 (Nelson Pereira dos Santos, 1963, Brazil, 100 minutes, 35 mm).
A crucial film in Brazil's Cinema Novo, a movement that sought to create a distinctly Brazilian film grammar, "Vidas Secas" follows a family of migrant workers through the barren Northeast region of the country. This compassionate film even embraces the animals in it. The film has very little dialogue, and the camera expresses what the inarticulate characters cannot.

Special Event, Writing for the Screen and Stage: An Interdisciplinary Panel, 3:30 p.m. Friday, April 4, Free. A panel comprised of Northwestern alumni and friends across the writing spectrum will include: Laverne McKinnon, president of Television Production, 50 Cannon Production and former head of drama development for CBS; Barbara Dreyfus, literary and talent representative, United Talent Agency; Tanya Palmer, director of New Play Development at Chicago's Goodman Theatre; Wendy Goldberg, artistic director of the Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference, and others.

Silence Series, "Paradise Drift" and "Divine Intervention," 8 p.m. Friday, April 4. "Paradise Drift" (Martin Hansen, 2006, Netherlands, 13 minutes, BetaSP). Martin Hansen's short film, shot entirely with night vision technology, follows a group of villagers who leave their homes unexpectedly and begin a trek up a nearby mountain in the dead of night. Some unknown spectacle is taking place beyond the ridge, and the viewer becomes the witness. "Divine Intervention," (Elia Suleiman, 2002, Palestine, 92 minutes, 35 mm). This story of love and its obstacles takes the Al-Ram checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem as a direct parallel. Two lovers meet there secretly, and, without acknowledging the barrier before them, silently observe the armed Israeli solders. Nominated for the Golden Palm at Cannes in 2002, Suleiman's film traverses the ground between a realist portrayal of the Palestinian neighborhood and a surrealist commentary on living in a liminal space with the perpetual threat of violence. Told through vignettes in which neighbors mutter darkly about each other and criminals give directions to tourists, this remarkable, strange and often very funny film captures hints of beauty in a surprising place.

Breillat Series, "Sex is Comedy," 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 9 (Catherine Breillat, 2002, France, 92 minutes, 35 mm). A self-referential, meta-fictional study, Breillat made "Sex is Comedy" after the excruciating experience of filming a seven-minute sex scene in a single take for her previous film, "Fat Girl." She recast many of the actors from the original film and had the crew members stand on set and play themselves. Anne Parillaud, channeling Breillat, is mesmerizing as the sexualized, strutting, arrogant director who is half poet/philosopher, half petulant child. Upset with the performances she is getting, Parillaud climbs into bed herself to rehearse with the leading man. A fascinating look inside the mind of a director.

Silence Series, "3-Iron," 8 p.m. Thursday, April 10 (Ki-Duk Kim, 2004, South Korea, 90 minutes, 35 mm). Shot in only 16 days, "3-Iron" documents the life of Sun-hwa, a young silent drifter who breaks into empty homes and apartments and lives on what he finds there. His fate changes when he breaks into a luxurious suburban house and finds the delicate Tae-suk, who also prefers to remain silent. Bound by a mysterious, non-verbal understanding, he helps her escape her abusive husband. The sound editing is sharp and vivid, underscoring the peculiarity of their silence and the outrageously romantic proposition that director Ki-Duk Kim, who also wrote the film, devises: What is love if it is entirely without words?

Race Series, "Shadows," 7 p.m. Friday, April 11 (John Cassavetes, 1959, United States, 81 minutes, 35 mm). Cassavetes' debut American film, shot with a handheld camera, follows a family of black Manhattan hipsters, jazz musician brothers Benny (Ben Carruthers) and Hugh (Hugh Hurd), and their light-skinned sister, Lelia (Lelia Goldani). Lelia is in a relationship with a white man, Tony (Anthony Ray), which ends when he discovers she is black. The improvised dialogue and ellipses of the film are evocative not only of jazz music (Charles Mingus composed part of the soundtrack), but of the fluidity of Lelia's racial identity. Cassavetes originally finished "Shadows" two years earlier, but re-shot half of the film after a negative response. The first version was unseen for 45 years until it was discovered, long forgotten, in a junk dealer's attic in 2003. Block Cinema is showing the more widely circulated second version, but in any iteration, "Shadows" is a landmark of American independent film, and it has even been called the birth of it.

Race Series, "The Wedding Banquet," 9 p.m. Friday, April 11 (Ang Lee, 1993, Taiwan and United States, 106 minutes, 35 mm).
This smart social comedy was Ang Lee's second collaboration with writer and producer James Schamus, co-founder of the independent production company Good Machine. A young, gay Taiwanese immigrant living in New York agrees to marry a Chinese woman so that she can obtain a Green Card that would allow her to live and work in the United States. He lands himself in trouble with his parents, when, unaware of their son's sexuality, they decide to fly in from Taiwan for the wedding. "The Wedding Banquet" offers an insightful look at the interplay between race, culture and gender.

Breillat Series, "Fat Girl," 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 16 (Catherine Breillat, 2001, France, 86 minutes, 35 mm).
The centerpiece of Block Cinema's Breillat film series, "Fat Girl" is one of the great movies about virginity. Two teenage sisters -- the overweight Anais (Anais Reboux) and the beautiful Elena (Roxanne Mesquiada) spend a summer holiday at a bleak seaside town. When the romantic and naïve Elena meets Italian law student Fernando (Libero di Reienzo), the younger, but more mature Anais can only watch as her sister's innocence is lost. A typically provocative Breillat film, "Fat Girl" takes an unflinching look at female adolescent sexual awakening. The translation for the film's French title, "A Ma Soeur!" ("For My Sister"), hints at its perverse finale, which confirms Breillat's mastery of gothic horror.

Silence Series, "Gerry," 8 p.m. Thursday, April 17 (Gus Van Sant, 2002, United States, 103 minutes, 35 mm).
The first film in Gus Van Sant's death trilogy, "Gerry" follows two men -- both named Gerry -- as they meander through a vast wasteland looking for "the thing." Midway through their search they become hopelessly lost, give up on "the thing," and try to return to civilization. The film's minimalist style and inventive use of color and sound, track the psychological decline of the men as their ordeal worsens. "Gerry's" disturbing climax depicts the ultimate progression into madness and anaesthesia.

Race Series, "Lone Star," 8 p.m. Friday, April 18 (John Sayles, 1996, United States, 135 minutes, 35 mm). Rio County, Texas -- a border town with a military base and a deep Latino history -- is suffering from more than its share of racial tensions and skeletons. Director John Sayles presents the town through the eyes of sheriff Sam Deeds (Chris Cooper), a fair-minded man with a firm belief in progress. When the bones of former sheriff Charlie Wade (Kris Kristofferson) are discovered in the desert, the old rumor that Sam's father had killed the famously corrupt and violent Wade begins to tug at Sam and slowly unravel his perception of Rio County's past and his own present. Sharon Holland, associate professor of African American studies, American studies and gender studies at Northwestern's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, will introduce the film and lead a discussion following the screening.

Race Series, "The Birth of a Nation," 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 23 (D.W. Griffith, 1915, United States, 189 minutes, 35 mm). Unsettling and profoundly racist, "The Birth of a Nation" is nevertheless a pivotal part of American history. D. W. Griffith's epic spans from the Antebellum South to the Reconstruction, in which the film's glorified Klan rises to reestablish the South. "The Birth of a Nation" was an important rallying point for the just-founded NAACP, which organized an education campaign to combat the film's portrayal of African-Americans. Associate Professor Jacqueline Stewart, associate professor of radio, television and film, School of Communication, will introduce the film and lead a discussion afterwards.

Silence Series, "Last Days," 8 p.m. Thursday, April 24 (Gus Van Sant, 2005, United States, 97 minutes, 35 mm).
The final chapter in Gus Van Sant's death trilogy, "Last Days" drifts through the haze of the final moments (possibly weeks or days or only hours) of a Kurt Cobain-like rock star. Set in and around a hidden sprawling stone mansion in the countryside, a young musician named Blake (Michael Pitt) isolates himself from the outside world, evading phone calls and a procession of bizarre visitors, including a Yellow Pages salesman, two Mormon brothers and a detective played by Ricky Jay. Blake wanders and rarely speaks, his guitar his only solace during his final hours.

Race Series, "The Searchers," 8 p.m. Friday, April 25 (John Ford, 1956, United States, 119 minutes, 35 mm). There is an interpretation of this American classic that suggests that director John Ford bent the Western to address more than just race relations between white settlers and American Indians. The civil rights movement was beginning in earnest in America -- Brown v. Board of Education was decided in 1954, and the Montgomery Bus Boycott began in 1955. Amid this tumult, Ford made a movie about a Confederate Civil War veteran, Ethan Edwards (John Wayne), who returns to his brother's Texas ranch in search of the America he'd fought for. A Comanche raid shatters those hopes and launches him on a five-year quest for revenge and for his kidnapped niece (Natalie Wood), who may have become, in Ethan's eyes, too Comanche to live.

Race Series, "Rabbit-Proof Fence," 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 30 (Phillip Noyce, 2002, Australia, 94 minutes, 35 mm). In the early 1900s, white Australia panicked over what it called an "unwanted third race" of half-Aborigine children. These "half-caste" children were forcibly removed from their families and placed in special detention centers across the continent. The film tells the story of three girls -- Molly, Daisy and Gracie -- who have been torn from their families by the government. Part of the so-called "stolen generation," the girls escape from their state compound and begin a 1,500 mile walk back to their mothers. The unforgiving terrain of the Australian Outback becomes the backdrop for a movie about this national shame and the determination of children who just want to go home.
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