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May 2008 Film Calendar

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April 29, 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" and Louis Family Nature 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 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 pictures of nature ever filmed, including the BBC's high-definition (HD), 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 May.

MAY 2008 FILMS

Silence Series, "Tropical Malady," 8 p.m. Thursday, May 1 (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004, Thailand, 118 minutes, 35 mm). This internationally praised film by the young Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul doesn't sacrifice the emotional for the experimental. Split in two parts, "Tropical Malady" starts as the almost wordless love story between two men, Keng (Banlop Lomnoi) and Tong (Sakda Kaewbuadee), and morphs into a feverish folk story about a dangerous animal that lies waiting in the woods. Combining the sharp sounds of the jungle with the silence of the characters, Weerasethakul conjured up a deeply spiritual movie.

Nature Series, BBC's "Planet Earth," Episode 1: From "Pole to Pole" (Alastair Fothergill, 2007, United Kingdom, 58 minutes, DVD) and Episode 2: "Mountains" (Alastair Fothergill, 2007, United Kingdom, 58 minutes, DVD), 8 p.m. Friday, May 2. A breathtaking portrait of our world, the BBC's acclaimed "Planet Earth" series charts life in countless forms and in dozens of locations around the world. In these episodes, witness the most intimate and complete picture of polar bear life ever filmed and take a vertiginous journey through mountain ranges, starting with the birth of a mountain at one of the lowest places on Earth and ending at the summit of Everest. It is the first-ever film of a snow leopard hunting on the peaks of Pakistan and grizzlies building winter dens inside avalanche-prone slopes. Presented in HD (high-definition). Admission is free.

Reeltime Series, "Ten More Good Years," 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 7 (Michael Jacoby, 2008, United States, 71 minutes, DVD). Growing old and gray is complicated enough; what about growing old and gay? "Ten More Good Years" covers new ground by profiling lesbian and gay seniors in communities across the U.S. The documentary sensitively explores the special challenges they face and what all of us, straight and gay, need to know about each other. Co-presented with The Aging Well Conference. New York filmmaker Michael Jacoby will attend the screening.

Silence Series, "Elephant" and "Hukkle," 8 p.m. Thursday, May 8. "Elephant" (Alan Clarke, 1989, United Kingdom, 39 minutes, BetaSP). "Elephant" is a 1989 short film that depicts random acts of violence, all based on actual police reports that have taken place in Northern Ireland. The inexorable pace, the disorientating lack of context, the sheer number of violent acts and the growing realization that the audience is the only witness make this documentary-like film an unforgettable and powerful experience. "Hukkle" (György Pálfi, 2003, Hungary, 78 minutes, 35 mm). A snake slithers through the grass; a mole burrows into the ground; an old man hiccups. These sounds and others create the bizarre milieu of "Hukkle." The film shows a small, unassuming village and the seemingly mundane actions of its inhabitants, yet it gradually hints at a quiet murder plot beneath this uneventful surface. Striking in its detailed sound design, "Hukkle" imaginatively captures moments that would otherwise be missed.

Nature Series, Bill Mills, cinematographer, 7 p.m. Friday, May 9.
Six-time Emmy Award-winning wildlife/underwater/aerial cinematographer Bill Mills shares stories of shooting in the wild and presents personal footage. His work has frequently appeared on the BBC, National Geographic, A&E and ABC. Admission is free.

Nature Series, BBC's "Planet Earth," Episode 10: "Seasonal Forests" (Alastair Fothergill, 2007, United Kingdom, 58 minutes, DVD) and Episode 3: "Fresh Water" (Alastair Fothergill, 2007, United Kingdom, 58 minutes, DVD), 8 p.m. Friday, May 9.
Take a trip in the air over the edge of the Arctic to the Taiga forest where a third of all trees on Earth grow. Marvel at the largest living thing on the planet, ten times the size of a blue whale -- a giant sequoia in California. From helicopters, view spectacular waterfalls, journey inside the Grand Canyon and explore the wildlife in the world's deepest lake. Admission is free.

Special Event, Bicycle Double Feature, "The Bicycle Thief," 1 p.m. Saturday, May 10, (Vittorio De Sica, 1948, Italy, 93 minutes, 35 mm), and "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure," 3 p.m. Saturday, May 10, (Tim Burton, 1985, United States, 95 minutes, 16 mm). In support of the Northwestern University Library's exhibition "Life Turns on Two Wheels" and the events surrounding the exhibition, Block Cinema will present two films about the bond between a man and his bicycle. 1 p.m. Vittorio De Sica's Italian neo-realist masterpiece "The Bicycle Thief" is at once the simple story of Lamberto Maggiorani and an unflinching look at postwar Rome. Maggiorani, out of work for two years, finds a job putting up posters. The job requires a bicycle, and Maggiorani pawns the family linen to buy one, which is promptly stolen. 3 p.m. "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" is arguably the American adaptation of "The Bicycle Thief." "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" likewise looks through its plot at the surrounding landscape -- the landscape of 1980s America in all its gaudy absurdity. (And, you guessed it, someone stole Pee-Wee's beloved bicycle.) Where "The Bicycle Thief" is about a desperate reality and the bicycle as the transportation of the working poor, "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" is about materialistic fantasies and the bicycle as an object of desire. Yet both are about the bicycle as a means to see the world. Admission to both films is free.

Race Series, "Jump the Gun," 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 14 (Les Blair, 1997, South Africa and United Kingdom, 124 minutes, 35 mm). Set in mid-90's South Africa, "Jump the Gun" follows an ensemble of characters navigating the politics of an unstable post-apartheid Johannesburg. After leaving her husband, Gugu moves in with her aunt in a downtrodden black township. An accountant who promises she can sing with a band he manages soon seduces her. Meanwhile, a white oil rigger, Clint, returns to town and has trouble adjusting to a South Africa that's "getting pretty African." Writer and director Les Blair has collaborated with Mike Leigh and Ken Loach and shares their forthright, clear-headed, compassionate approach to social issues.

Silence Series, "Into Great Silence," 8 p.m. Thursday, May 15 (Philip Gröning, 2005, Germany, 169 minutes, 35 mm). Nestled deep in the French Alps, the Grande Chartreuse is considered one of the world's most ascetic monasteries. When German filmmaker Philip Gröning wrote to seek permission from the Carthusian order to make a documentary about them, they said they would get back to him. It was 16 years before he was invited to live in the monks' quarters. For six months Gröning filmed their daily prayers, tasks, rituals and rare outdoor excursions. The resulting film is a total immersion into the hush of monastic life.

Nature Series, BBC's "Planet Earth," Episode 4: "Caves" (Alastair Fothergill, 2007, United Kingdom, 58 minutes, DVD) and Episode 7: "Great Plains" (Alastair Fothergill, 2007, United Kingdom, 58 minutes, DVD), 8 p.m. Friday, May 16. Take a journey through some of the world's most astonishing caves. At a depth of 400 meters, the Cave of Swallows in Mexico is deep enough to engulf the Empire State Building. On the plains of Mongolia, only a handful of people have witnessed the shy Mongolian gazelle's annual migration -- it was never filmed before Planet Earth. And with the latest night vision equipment, witness a battle between 30 lions and a pack of elephants. Gary Gibula of the National Speleogical Society will talk about personal caving stories, caving techniques and cave preservation. Admission is free.

Race Series, "Black Girl," 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 21 (Ousmane Sembene, 1966, Senegal and France, 65 minutes, 35 mm).
Made six years after Senegal's independence from France, "Black Girl" was one of the first films about the meaning of the colonial past in a globalizing world. Diouana, a Senegalese woman, travels to France to work as a nanny for a French couple who had employed her in Dakar prior to Senegalese independence. The hope she places in the idea of France is shattered by the couple, who are nostalgic for the elevated status they held in Dakar as members of the colonial elite. Richard Iton, associate professor of African American Studies, Northwestern's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, will introduce the film and lead a discussion afterwards.

Special Event, "Sonic Celluloid," 8 p.m. Thursday, May 22. Sonic Celluloid is a collaboration of WNUR, Northwestern's non-commercial radio station, and Block Cinema. In its sixth year, Sonic Celluloid features musicians performing live musical accompaniment to silent and experimental films. Admission to Sonic Celluloid is $10.

Northwestern University Student Film Festival, 8 p.m. Friday, May 23. The Northwestern Student Film Festival is a competitive festival for the best of the past year of Northwestern student filmmaking. The program features the award winners. Admission is free.

Race Series, "Fear Eats the Soul," 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 28 (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1974, Germany, 93 minutes, 35 mm). "Fear Eats the Soul" is Fassbinder at his best. A short, tough tale and a reworking of Douglas Sirk's "All That Heaven Allows," the film reveals melodrama in the loneliness and banality of everyday life. "Fear Eats the Soul" turns on an elegantly constructed plot. Mira, a dowdy German housekeeper in her 60s, falls in love with Salem, a Berber guest worker about 20 years her junior. Alexander Weheliye, associate professor of English, Northwestern's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, will introduce the film and lead a discussion afterwards.

Special Event, "Mechina: A Preparation," 5 p.m. Thursday, May 29 (Maital Guttman, 2008, Israel, 48 minutes, DVD). The subject of this powerful documentary is rarely seen in the United States. In Israel, military service is mandatory for all teenagers after high school graduation. The film follows six Israeli teens three months before they don the uniform, as they transition from students to soldiers. Admission is free.

"Imitation of Life," 8 p.m. Thursday, May 29 (Douglas Sirk, 1959, United States, 125 minutes, 35 mm). Douglas Sirk's final film with Universal producer Ross Hunter, "Imitation of Life" is one of Hollywood's most studied depictions of race. The film initially follows the rise of actress Lora Meredith (Lana Turner), supported by her loyal maid, Annie (Juanita Moore). As Meredith's fortunes change, the focus shifts to Annie's light-skinned daughter Sara Jane (Susan Kohner), who hungers to be white. The film suggests that neither Lora nor Annie, black nor white, can entirely comprehend how they reinforce a system of prejudice and inequality. Jennifer Brody, associate professor of English, Northwestern's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, will introduce the film and lead a discussion afterwards.

Nature Series, BBC's "Planet Earth," Episode 9: "Shallow Seas" (Alastair Fothergill, 2007, United Kingdom, 58 minutes, DVD) and Episode 11: "Ocean Deep" (Alastair Fothergill, 2007, United Kingdom, 58 minutes, DVD), 8 p.m. Friday, May 30. Watch head-butting pygmy seahorses in the coral reefs of Indonesia, huge bull fur seals and king penguins in the Antarctic, and hunting packs of sea kraits. Descend into the deep ocean where octopuses fly with wings. Presented in HD (high-definition). Admission is free.

Nature Series, BBC's "Planet Earth," Episode 8: "Jungles," 2 p.m. Saturday, May 31 (Alastair Fothergill, 2007, United Kingdom, 58 minutes, DVD). Jungles cover only three percent of our planet but are home to more than half of the world's species. Listen to the changing sounds of the jungle throughout the day; explore the mutually beneficial relationship of carnivorous pitcher plants and red crab spiders; and spy on chimpanzees, one of the few jungle animals able to traverse both the forest floor and the canopy in search of food. Presented in HD (high-definition). Carole Labonne, professor of biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology, and Laura Panko, lecturer, Program in Biological Science, Northwestern's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, will talk on evolution and developmental biology with family art activities to follow. Admission is free.