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September/October 2010 Film Calendar

Block Cinema to screen films about artists, architects and more

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September 21, 2010 | by Judy Moore
"The Mystery of Picasso," a glimpse into the artist’s creative process will be shown October 15.
EVANSTON, Ill. --- This fall, Block Cinema will present five different film series and host special film events. The series are titled The American Architect in Focus, Milestone Films: 20th Anniversary, Art on Screen, Miguel Gomes 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 website at www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/block-cinema.

FALL 2010 FILM SERIES

Block Cinema and the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust will present The American Architect in Focus, a film series that focuses on America’s architectural heritage and the groundbreaking visionaries who defined it. These fiercely independent individuals include Chicago-based architects Wright, Louis Sullivan and Mies van der Rohe. The series will kick off with “Louis Sullivan: The Struggle for American Architecture” (Oct. 28), a new documentary that celebrates the work of one of the nation’s most original architects.
   
In October, the Milestone Films series will be screened in commemoration of the renowned New York-based distributor’s 20th anniversary. Since 1990, Dennis Doros and Amy Heller, co-founders of Milestone Films, have brought the best of classic, independent and international film and video to audiences worldwide, often collaborating with film archives on long-awaited restorations. The series will feature “The Exiles” (Oct. 7), a time capsule of life in 1950s Los Angeles; “Rocco and His Brothers” (Oct. 8), about a fractured family fleeing poverty in Italy; “Killer of Sheep” (Oct. 14), a portrait of a black working-class family in the 1970s; “The Mystery of Picasso” (Oct. 15), a glimpse into the artist’s creative process; and “The Trial” (Oct. 21), Orson Welles’ adaptation of Kafka’s novel by the same name.

The Art on Screen series includes several documentaries focusing on important American and international art and artists of the 20th century. The series will begin with “Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child” (Sept. 24), a new and much-lauded portrait of Basquiat. There also will be a screening of “Golub: Late Works are the Catastrophes” (Sept. 30), a fascinating look at artist Golub’s process and politics. Its presentation is in conjunction with the Block Museum’s fall 2010 main gallery exhibition “Leon Golub: Live & Die Like a Lion?” (open to the public from Sept. 24 through Dec. 12).

In November, Block Cinema will screen films in its Miguel Gomes series, featuring the Portuguese director’s works. Gomes is an exciting new voice in international cinema whose work is touring the United States for the first time this year.

The Revivals and Rediscoveries series, features rare classic American and international films worthy of a second look. This fall’s offerings begin with the landmark documentary “Demon Lover Diary” (Oct. 29), Joel DeMott’s portrait of Don and Jerry, two Midwestern factory workers who set out to fulfill their lifelong dream of making a low-budget horror film.

Upcoming special events include “Multiple SIDosis: The Genius of Sid Laverents” (Oct. 1), a celebration of the world’s greatest “amateur filmmaker” and a screening and discussion of video works by Iranian-born artist, photographer and filmmaker Shirin Neshat (Oct. 16). Neshat’s video and sound installation “Rapture” will be on view to the public in the Block Museum’s Alsdorf Gallery from Sept. 24 through Dec. 12. 

SEPTEMBER 2010 FILMS

Art on Screen series, “Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child,” 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24 (Tamra Davis, 2010, United States, video, 93 minutes). An intimate, previously unreleased 1985 interview with graffitist-turned-painter Jean-Michel Basquiat provides the primer for this portrait of one of contemporary art’s most revered talents. Recollections from the artist’s friends, patrons and admirers add shade and texture to Basquiat’s own reflections on the ambition, work ethic and self-promotion that briefly made him the brightest star of Manhattan’s cultural elite. Where other biographers might choose to dwell on Basquiat’s self-destructive tendencies, director Tamra Davis instead celebrates those moments when his passion and creativity burned brightest.

Art on Screen series, “Golub: Late Works are the Catastrophes,” 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30 (Jerry Blumenthal and Gordon Quinn, 2004, United States, video, 80 minutes). Filmed between the Iran-Contra scandal and the early stages of the Iraq War, “Late Works are the Catastrophes” marks the completion of a decades-long endeavor to chronicle the life and works of artist/activist Leon Golub (1922–2004). Known for his violent, politically charged subject matter and unconventional techniques (including scraping layers of paint from the canvas with a meat cleaver), Golub immortalized images of cruelty and oppression from the news and other dark aspects of the human condition. Director Gordon Quinn will be present at the screening. Admission is free.

OCTOBER 2010 FILMS

“Multiple SIDosis: The Genius of Sid Laverents,” 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1. In his century on earth Sid Laverents was a one-man band, a rocket scientist and history’s greatest amateur filmmaker. Combining innovative engineering and low comedy, Laverents created a body of bizarre, brilliant work. In this screening co-presented by Roctober magazine, Roctober editor Jake Austen will introduce four of the filmmaker’s short films, show excerpts from his other works, and screen historical shorts mirroring the frequent themes of vaudeville and one-man band performance. The screenings will be followed by a performance by The Lonesome Organist, a one-man band. The screening will feature “Multiple SIDosis (1970, 35 mm, 9 minutes); “It Sudses and Sudses and Sudses” (1963, 16 mm, 9 minutes); “The One Man Band” (1964, 16 mm, 10 minutes); and “Stop Cloning Around” (1980, 16 mm, 15 minutes). Prints courtesy of and preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Program length is approximately 100 minutes.
 
Milestone Films 20th Anniversary series, “The Exiles,” 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7 (Kent Mackenzie, 1961, United States, 35 mm, 72 minutes). After studying film at the University of Southern California during the late 1950s, director Mackenzie recruited friends to shoot this unusual time capsule of life in Los Angeles’s long-gone Bunker Hill neighborhood. The cast members essentially portray themselves and include Native Americans who have left the reservations in search of the American dream in the city. Framing this cinematic snapshot are troubled couple Yvonne and Homer, who are expecting their first child. While lonely Yvonne dreams of prosperity and family stability, Homer escapes the drudgery of his daytime responsibilities with a wild night of drinking, flirting and fighting.

Milestone Films 20th Anniversary series, “Rocco and His Brothers” (“Rocco e i suoi fratelli”), 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8 (Luchino Visconti, 1960, Italy and France, 35 mm, 180 minutes). Lauded during its initial release as a return to socio-political form for the famously left-wing Visconti, “Rocco and His Brothers” depicts the corruption and disintegration of the Parondi family. After fleeing Italy’s impoverished, rural south for the promise of a fresh start in Milan, Rocco (Alain Delon) struggles to keep his fractious family out of trouble while falling for a prostitute, Nadia, his disturbed brother’s ex-girlfriend. In Italian with English subtitles.

Milestone Films 20th Anniversary series, “Killer of Sheep,” 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14 (Charles Burnett, 1977, United States, 35 mm, 83 minutes). Made as his thesis film at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) in the 1970s, Charles Burnett’s feature debut is a powerful portrait of a black working-class family and community in South Los Angeles. “Killer of Sheep” is full of stark, indelible images, bracing realism and wry humor. The film was largely unavailable until UCLA restored it and Milestone Films released it officially in 2007.
 
Milestone Films 20th Anniversary series, “The Mystery of Picasso” (“Le mystere Picasso”), 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15 (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1956, France, 35 mm, 78 minutes). Though best known as a Gallic rival to Hitchcock, director Henri-Georges Clouzot proved himself an incredibly capable documentarian as well as a master of suspense with this glimpse into the artist’s process. Over the course of the film, Picasso creates nearly two-dozen original works literally before the viewer’s eyes. Clouzot films the master at work from behind a sheet of translucent material, which also serves as the canvas. These innovative works were destroyed with the subject’s consent, allowing them to exist only in the eternal time and space of cinema. In French with English subtitles. The film will be preceded by a screening of the short “The Bride Stripped Bare” (Tom Palazzolo, 1967, United States, 16 mm, 12 minutes). A masterful meditation on the unveiling of the “Chicago Picasso” in Daley Plaza by Chicago filmmaker Tom Palazzolo.

Shirin Neshat: Films and Discussion, 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16. In conjunction with the Block Museum’s “Shirin Neshat: Rapture” exhibition in the Alsdorf Gallery from Sept. 24 to Dec. 12, Block Cinema will present an afternoon of Shirin Neshat’s best work, including “Turbulent” and “Fervor,” and an overview of the artist. Hamid Dabashi, Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, will introduce and discuss Neshat’s work. For a full list of works to be screened, visit www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu. Program length will be approximately two hours. Admission is free.

Milestone Films 20th Anniversary series, “The Trial,” 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21 (Orson Welles, 1962, France, West Germany and Italy, 35 mm, 118 minutes). One of the more daunting novels to adapt for cinema, Kafka’s “The Trial,” is masterfully executed. Anthony Perkins stars as Josef K., a man caught up in a bureaucratic nightmare for an offense he can’t discern. His wanderings through the city streets and room after cavernous room provide him with a series of strange encounters with inscrutable characters, including writer, director and actor Orson Welles, Jeanne Moreau and Romy Schneider.

The American Architect in Focus series, “Louis Sullivan: The Struggle for American Architecture,” 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28 (Mark Richard Smith, 2010, United States, video, 97 minutes). Though a pioneering genius whose work bridged the 19th and 20th centuries, architect Louis Sullivan (often lauded as the creator of the skyscraper) has never been explored in depth on film. Director Mark Richard Smith rectifies this omission with grand, sweeping shots of Sullivan’s surviving buildings that showcase the master’s bold exteriors and intricate interiors in exquisite detail. Sullivan’s iconoclastic style would influence an entire generation of architects, including his former chief draftsman, Frank Lloyd Wright. Director Mark Richard Smith will be present at the screening.

Revivals and Rediscoveries series, “Demon Lover Diary,” 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29 (Joel DeMott, 1980, United States, 16 mm, 90 minutes). Don and Jerry, factory workers who grew up on comic books and B-movies, attempt to fulfill a lifelong dream: they’re producing their own low-budget horror movie. Jeff and his girlfriend Joel, lovers and cinema-verite filmmakers, travel to Michigan to help that dream come true. Two weeks after production starts, Jeff and Joel find themselves fleeing Michigan with bullets ricocheting off their car and their lives and film in jeopardy.