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May 2010 Film Calendar

Block Cinema to screen films about human relationships with animals, Haiti and more

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April 29, 2010 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Block Cinema is screening films in four new series this spring -- Tales of Man and Beast, Haiti on Screen, Contemporary International Cinema and Revivals and Rediscoveries.

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, Northwestern faculty, staff and students, and senior citizens aged 65 and older. 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 visit the Block Cinema Web site at www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/block-cinema.

Spring Film Series

The Tales of Man and Beast series features five films that explore the complicated relationship between humans and animals. May screenings include "Umberto D." (May 13), a film about an elderly man bracing himself for separation from his beloved dog, and "Au hasard Balthazar" (May 27), the emotional story of a donkey and the young girl who raised him from birth.

Prompted by the recent Haitian earthquake and dearth of knowledge about Haiti, the Haiti on Screen series presents provocative and enlightening works produced by, for or about Haitians prior to the recent tragedy. All screenings in this series are free and open to the public. The series, organized by the department of French and Italian, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, will conclude with "Of Men and Gods," "Poto Mitan" and "The Agronomist" (May 1).

The ongoing Contemporary International Cinema series showcases some of the best new films from around the world. With selections ranging from sneak previews to films without U.S. distribution, moviegoers can see some of the most talked-about films on the international film festival circuit. May's programming will feature the Chicago premiere screening of "Vision" (May 20), which chronicles the life of Hildegard von Bingen, a 12th century nun.

Block Cinema's new ongoing series, Revivals and Rediscoveries, features rare classic American and international films worthy of a second look. The series begins in May with "Cobra Woman" (May 14), a campy 1940s Technicolor South Seas melodrama about twin sisters battling for control of a volcano-riddled island.

Reeltime films are free and are jointly sponsored by Northwestern's Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art and the Evanston Arts Council, in partnership with Reeltime co-directors Kathy Berger and Ines Sommer.

MAY 2010 FILMS

Haiti on Screen series, "Of Men and Gods," 12:30 p.m. Saturday, May 1 (Laurence Magloire and Anne Lescot, 2002, France and Haiti, video, 52 minutes.) "Of Men And Gods" examines the daily existence of several Haitian men who are openly gay. Prevalent, yet still taboo, homosexuality and gay culture are allowed to flourish within the context of Haiti's Vodou religion. As "children of the gods," the men find an explanation for homosexuality as well as divine protection. They also find an outlet for theatrical expression through performances in which they embody the gods. The film will be followed by a screening of "Poto Mitan" (Renee Bergan and Mark Schuller, 2009, United States and Haiti, video, 50 minutes). Told through the compelling lives of five Haitian women workers and narrated by Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat, "Poto Mitan" gives the global economy a human face. Each woman's personal story explains neoliberal globalization, how it is gendered, and how it impacts Haiti. By dealing with inhumane working and living conditions, violence, poverty, lack of education and inadequate health care these courageous women demonstrate that despite monumental obstacles in a poor country like Haiti, collective action makes change possible. In "The Agronomist," 2:30 p.m. (Jonathan Demme, 2003, United States/Haiti, color, 90 minutes) Academy Award-winning director Demme revisits Haiti's turbulent political history, a subject he last examined in the 1988 television documentary, "Haiti Dreams of Democracy." This time, Demme narrows his focus to one particular dreamer: the late broadcast journalist and human rights activist Jean Dominique, whose tireless campaign for democracy and human dignity outlasted a succession of repressive regimes. Admission to all three films is free.

Tales of Man and Beast series, "Umberto D.," 8 p.m. Thursday, May 13 (Vittorio De Sica, 1952, Italy, 35 mm, 89 minutes)
. In De Sica's neorealist classic, pensioner Umberto D. Ferrari struggles to hold on to his apartment and his dignity in a postwar Italy eager to forget its financially troubled past. After his landlady raises the rent, Umberto must prepare himself for being separated from his beloved dog, Flike. De Sica's heart-wrenching tale explores the painful realities of class and financial hardship, and stands as one of cinema's most soulful examinations of the bond between man and pet.

Revivals and Rediscoveries series, "Cobra Woman," 7 p.m. Friday, May 14 (Robert Siodmak, 1944, United States, 35 mm, 71 minutes). Robert Siodmak's camp classic features Universal's "Queen of Technicolor" Maria Montez in dual roles as Tollea and her evil twin Naja, the high-priestess of a snake cult that practices human sacrifice on a remote tropical island. This over-the-top escapist fantasy also stars Jon Hall, Sabu, Lon Chaney Jr. and a chimp named Coco. Firmly planted in the "so bad it's great" category, "Cobra Woman" is worth viewing simply for the raunchy "dance of the snakes."

Contemporary International Cinema series, "Vision," 7 p.m. Thursday, May 20 (Margarethe von Trotta, 2009, Germany, 35 mm, 110 minutes)
. Margarethe Von Trotta, Germany's foremost feminist filmmaker, chronicles the life of Hildegard von Bingen, a 12th century nun who struggled with the divine gift of vision -- defying the conventions of her age and her church to write books, compose music, found and run her own convents and speak out publicly against corruption in the clergy. Following the screening, Northwestern Professor Barbara Newman will lead a discussion of the film. This event coincides with the exhibit "The Once and Future Saint: Two Lives of Hildegard of Bingen," April 26¬ to Aug. 27, at the Northwestern University Library. This screening, co-presented with Northwestern University Library, will be the Chicago premiere of "Vision." Admission is free.

WNUR & Block Cinema present "Sonic Celluloid," 8 p.m. Friday, May 21, Block Cinema
. "Sonic Celluloid" is a collaboration of WNUR, Northwestern's student-run, non-commercial radio station (89.3 FM), and Block Cinema. Now in its eighth year, "Sonic Celluloid" is an experimental film and music event that features musicians performing live musical accompaniment to silent and experimental film. Musicians compose or improvise original scores to accompany short films of their choosing. It will be loud.

Tales of Man and Beast series, "Au hasard Balthazar," 7 p.m. Thursday, May 27 (Robert Bresson, 1966, France, 35 mm, 95 minutes)
. Robert Bresson's minimalist masterpiece depicts the donkey -- traditionally the joke of the equine family -- not as a mere sideshow or symbol, but as a steadfast, even noble character. The titular Balthazar, raised from birth by a shy, gentle girl named Marie, is left to an uncertain fate when his caretaker delivers him into the hands of a new owner. Like Marie herself, Balthazar is ultimately exploited and abused at the hands of a succession of cruel men. The director's cinematic parable on suffering and saintliness brings morality down to earth -- and gives the ass a quiet grace and spiritual significance.


The Film and Projection Society presents The Northwestern University Student Film Festival, 7 p.m. Friday, May 28
. Block Cinema will host the sixth annual celebration of recent films by Northwestern students from all disciplines. The Northwestern University Student Film Festival is a competitive showcase that brings together the best of Northwestern student achievements in filmmaking from the past year. The May 28 screening will feature the competition award winners. Admission is free.

Nathalie Rayter, a junior in the School of Education and Social Policy, contributed to this story.