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April 2011 Film Calendar

Block Cinema to host three-day public conference on film criticism April 21 to 23

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April 15, 2011 | by Judy Moore
EVANSTON, Ill. --- A three-day conference on film criticism, the Talking Pictures Festival and the film series “Useful Lives,” are among the highlights this April at Block Cinema.
 
Film screenings take place in the James B. Pick and Rosalyn M. Laudati Auditorium at Northwestern University’s 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 individuals aged 65 and older. Quarterly passes are $20. Tickets are available one hour before show time. For more information, call the Block Cinema Hotline at (847) 491-4000 or visit www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/block-cinema.

SPRING 2011 FILM EVENTS AND SERIES

CONFERENCE: ILLUMINATING THE SHADOWS: FILM CRITICISM IN FOCUS

Through panel discussions, film screenings and on-stage conversations with leading film critics, “Illuminating the Shadows,” a conference that will take place from April 21 to 23 at the Block Museum, will explore the current state of film criticism. A distinguished roster of participants from print, broadcast and online media from across the U.S. and from Chicago will examine changes in the field, how those changes are connected to still-relevant critics and practices of the past, and what trends and opportunities are on the horizon. Special support for this program is provided by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Rubens Family Foundation, and Northwestern University’s Office of the Provost and Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.

TALKING PICTURES FESTIVAL

Block Cinema continues its partnership with Evanston’s annual Talking Pictures Festival, taking place from April 14 to 17. Produced by the non-profit film arts organization Percolator Films, the 2011 festival will screen films in three venues on Northwestern’s Evanston campus, including the Block Museum. To view the full schedule, visit www.talkingpicturesfestival.org.

USEFUL LIVES SERIES

The Useful Lives Film Series celebrates all those who work with and dream about moving images -- film programmers, theater employees and cinephiles. Even in the age of the multiplex and Netflix, independent theaters and film archives (and the audiences who support them) remain vital cultural forces. Global in scope, the series looks at the lives and fantasies of film enthusiasts across five continents. The series will begin April 29 with “The Long Day Closes,” English auteur Terence Davies’ semi-autobiographical ode to Hollywood glamour.

APRIL 2011 FILMS

Talking Pictures Festival, “Old Cats,” 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 14 (Pedro Peirano and Sebastian Silva, 2010, Chile and United States, 35 mm, 99 minutes). In their follow-up to 2009 Sundance winner “The Maid,” co-directors Silva and Peirano take a cinematic scalpel to the nuclear family. The lives of an elderly couple living comfortably in a high-rise are disrupted by a malfunctioning elevator. Further trouble arrives in the form of a lesbian daughter, who drops in with her girlfriend to push a get-rich-quick scheme. Festival opening night tickets are $12. No discounts, Block Cinema passes or vouchers will be accepted.

Talking Pictures Festival, “Winter Vacation,” 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 15 (Li Hongqi, 2010, China, DigiBeta, 91 minutes). Poet-turned-filmmaker Li Hongqi’s comedy follows a group of slacker teens in China. As their school holiday draws to a close, their idleness is far from uneventful. Li’s able cast illustrates how the awkwardness, absurdity and hilarity of growing up transcend national and cultural boundaries. The film won the Golden Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival. Tickets are $10 for general admission; $8 for seniors; and $5 for Northwestern students with IDs. No Block Cinema passes or vouchers will be accepted.

Talking Pictures Festival, “Silent Souls,” 3:30 p.m. Sunday, April 17 (Aleksei Fedorchenko, 2010, Russia, 35 mm, 75 minutes). Set in Russia’s ethnic Merjan community, “Silent Souls” is a meditation on loss, love and culture. A recently widowed factory manager enlists the aid of his favorite employee to give his late wife a traditional funeral. As the men and corpse begin their long journey into the rural Merjan heartland, personal memory and national mythology collide. Director Fedorchenko’s elegiac drama won accolades from critics and audiences at the Venice and Toronto International Film festivals. Tickets are $10 for general admission; $8 for seniors; and $5 for Northwestern students with IDs. No Block Cinema passes or vouchers will be accepted.

Film Criticism in Focus, “Tabloid,” 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 21 (Errol Morris, 2010, United States, 35 mm, 87 minutes). “She was living in a movie long before she came to star in my film,” says director Errol Morris of his latest, formidably self-fabulizing subject and the elliptical center of ‘Tabloid.’ The woman, Joyce McKinney, is a former North Carolina beauty queen who, in 1977, kidnapped her Mormon missionary sweetheart, tied him up, tossed his magic underwear aside, and …end of story? Hardly: As the scandal hit the British tabloids McKinney became the fame machine Fate had in store for her all along. One of Morris’ tightest, most exuberant documentaries, ‘Tabloid’ finds Morris setting aside the fog of war and the horrors of Abu Ghraib for a different sort of combat -- the war for control of a narrative.” –- Michael Phillips. Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips selected and will introduce the film in this special advance screening, courtesy of IFC Films. Admission is free.

Film Criticism in Focus, Panel One, “Past Perfect -- Critical Histories, Seminal Touchstones and Rediscoveries,” 1 p.m. Friday, April 22. This panel will explore the history of film criticism, its influence and the importance of particular critics (such as Serge Daney and Manny Farber) as well as the critic’s role in bringing to light neglected contemporary and forgotten films. Panelists will include freelance and online film critic Fred Camper; New York Times columnist Dave Kehr; film critic Gabe Klinger; Self-Styled Siren film blogger Farran Smith Nehme; and film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum. Nick Davis, assistant professor of English and gender studies at Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, will moderate. Admission is free.

Film Criticism in Focus, “Sailor’s Luck,” 3 p.m. Friday, April 22 (Raoul Walsh, 1933, United States, 35 mm, 81 minutes). Walsh’s comedy follows the misadventures of an amorous young sailor who meets and tries to woo a young woman by entering a dance marathon. Made before the enforcement of the censorship codes, the film, with a brazen depiction of ethnic and gay stereotypes, according to New York Times columnist Dave Kehr, “is the pre-Codiest of pre-Code movies.” Kehr will introduce this new 35 mm print, courtesy of Fox Film Corporation. Admission is free.

Film Criticism in Focus, Panel Two, “Present Tense/Future Conditional -- The Changing Landscape of Criticism,” 5 p.m. Friday, April 22. Among the potential topics of this panel are changing models of and platforms for criticism; the tension between print and online criticism; the prevalence of amateur or citizen critics; the potential for global reach that the Internet provides; the role of technology in enriching criticism; and more. LA Weekly film editor Karina Longworth; Boston Globe film critic Wesley Morris; Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips; The Onion’s A.V. Club film editor Scott Tobias; and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, co-host of “Ebert Presents At The Movies,” are among the panelists. Scott Foundas, associate program director for New York’s Film Society of Lincoln Center, will moderate. Admission is free.

Film Criticism in Focus, “ATTENBERG,” 8 p.m. Friday, April 22 (Athina Rachel Tsangari, 2010, Greece, 35 mm, 95 minutes). “A playful middle-finger to humorless Eurodrama, ‘ATTENBERG’ is a frank and disarmingly funny contemplation on the strangeness of having a body (so much potential for pleasure; the inevitability of decay and death). Marina (Ariane Labed) is a 20-something virgin whose first affair (with “Dogtooth” director Yorgos Lanthimos) coincides with her young father/best friend’s dying days. Its title is a lost-in-translation scrambling of wildlife documentarian David Attenborough. ‘ATTENBERG’ incorporates tropes familiar from Lanthimos’ Oscar-nominated sensation -- sexual awakening, language play, awkward dancing – but ultimately eschews brutality for poignancy. Director Athina Rachel Tsangari is a major new talent.” – Karina Longworth. LA Weekly film editor Karina Longworth selected and will introduce this special advance screening, courtesy of The Match Factory. Admission is free.

Film Criticism in Focus, Panel Three, “Critical Voices: Style, Substance, and Scope -- The Art of Film Writing,” 1 p.m. Saturday, April 23. The panel will explore practical and general topics about film criticism and film writing more broadly. Topics may include determining the scope of one’s writing, the craft of effectively writing on film, starting out as a writer, and more. Panelists include Scott Foundas, associate program director for New York’s Film Society of Lincoln Center; Boston Globe film critic Wesley Morris; Self-Styled Siren blogger Farran Smith Nehme; film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum; and “Ebert Presents At The Movies” co-host Ignatiy Vishnevetsky. TimeOut Chicago senior editor Hank Sartin will moderate. Admission is free.

Film Criticism in Focus, “The Forgotten Space,” 3 p.m. Saturday, April 23 (Allan Sekula and Noel Burch, 2010, The Netherlands and Austria, DigiBeta, 113 minutes). How many of us know that over 90% of the world’s cargo travels by sea, in anonymous multicolored containers? I’m still learning things from this epic, multifaceted, and ambitious Markeresque essay film about work and concealment in the global economy. It combines the long-term research and analysis of Allan Sekula with the filmmaking experience of Noel Burch to examine the lives of workers in Belgian, Chinese, Dutch, and Pacific American ports – not to mention the alienated experiences of people who attend an art museum in Bilbao, among other related topics.” – Jonathan Rosenbaum. Film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum selected and will introduce the screening. Admission is free.

Film Criticism in Focus, “On-Stage Roundtable: Criticism in Chicago -- A Case Study,” 5:30 p.m. Saturday, April 23. Chicago has a rich and eclectic history of film criticism and a variety of outlets, including daily and weekly print publications, radio, television, online platforms and blogs. This informal discussion among critics will cover the city’s film culture and other issues. Participants include Chicago Reader film reviewer J.R. Jones; TimeOut Chicago film critic Ben Kenigsberg; freelance writer Ed M. Koziarski; WBEZ contributor and Nightingale Theatre director Christy LeMaster; Newcity film editor Ray Pride; Chicago Reader contributing film writer Ben Sachs; Newcity freelance reviewer Bill Stamets; and Chicago Reader and Movie City News freelance critic Andrea Gronvall. WBEZ radio host Alison Cuddy will moderate. Admission is free.

“Lunch Line,” 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 28 (Michael Graziano and Ernie Park, 2010, United States, DigiBeta, 64 minutes). “Lunch Line” looks at the National School Lunch Program with the goal of making a healthy, affordable school lunch. The documentary includes interviews with government officials, school food service experts, activists and young culinary school students who end up at the White House. Co-directors Graziano (a Northwestern alumnus) and Park will attend the screening, presented by the Northwestern University Center for Civic Engagement. Admission is free. Note the early start time.

Useful Lives Film Series, “The Long Day Closes,” 7 p.m. Friday, April 29 (Terence Davies, 1992, United Kingdom, 35 mm, 85 minutes). Terrence Davies’ poetic, autobiographical drama follows a young boy whose main respite from schoolyard bullies at his oppressive school is the neighborhood cinema, and musical evenings at home with his tight-knit family. Cinephiles should delight in Davies’ clever incorporation of film sound clips that juxtapose postwar Liverpudlian drabness against the Golden Age of Hollywood. The new 35 mm print is from Park Circus, UK.