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May 2011 Film Calendar

Block Cinema schedules advance screening of Sundance award winner and hosts ShortsFest

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May 2, 2011 | by Judy Moore
The Useful Lives Film Series celebrates all those who work with and dream about moving images -- film programmers, theater employees and cinephiles.

EVANSTON, Ill. --- An advance screening of filmmaker and alumna Maryam Keshavarz’s Sundance Film Festival award-winning debut feature, “Circumstance,” and three spring film series are among the May highlights at Northwestern University’s Block Cinema.

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, students from other schools with valid IDs, 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 the Block Cinema website at www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/block-cinema.

SPRING 2011 FILM EVENTS AND 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. This series will continue May 7 with “The Smallest Show on Earth,” a 1950s comedy about Britain’s worst movie theater; May 13 “A Useful Life,” a comedy about a down-on-his-luck film curator; and May 19 “Kings of the Road,” Wim Wenders’ story of a traveling cinema repairman in Cold War-era West Germany.

The continuing Art on Screen series features documentaries on important 20th century American and international art and artists. Block Cinema will present a May 21 free matinee screening of “Kiki Smith: Squatting the Palace,” a documentary about the artist’s 2005 installation during the Venice Biennale. It complements the Block Museum’s Main Gallery spring exhibit, “I Myself Have Seen It: Photography and Kiki Smith.”

Short films will take center stage this spring in ShortsFest. Block Cinema celebrates the short film, beginning May 5 with “Lunchfilm: Film Before Food,” part of an ongoing series of micro-budget films commissioned by Sundance programmer Mike Plante. ShortsFest also will spotlight films that made a splash on the festival circuit in the May 20 program “Pioneers: New Festival Shorts.” Lastly, on May 27 Block Cinema and the Film and Projection Society will present the annual NU Student Film Festival featuring short films produced and directed by Northwestern undergraduates.

MAY 2011 FILMS

ShortsFest, “Lunchfilm: Film Before Food,” 7 p.m. Thursday, May 5. Sundance short film programmerMike Plante got the idea for his “Lunchfilm” project after treating a filmmaker friend to a meal. Plante challenged the friend to make a film for the cost of lunch. Since then, he has commissioned 50 short films, each featuring its own micro-budget and whimsical production constraints. This program includes 13 films made for a total cost of $449.03. Directors include Azazel Jacobs, Braden King and the Zellner Brothers. Approximate running time is 85 minutes. For a complete list of films, visit www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/block-cinema/. Plante will attend the screening. Co-presented with Northwestern’s department of radio/television/film.

Useful Lives series, “The Smallest Show on Earth,” 2 p.m. Saturday, May 7 (Basil Dearden, 1957, United Kingdom, 35 mm, 80 minutes). A struggling writer and his wife inherit a decrepit movie theater that is home to three elderly and eccentric employees: a woman who has sold tickets and played piano since the silent era; the mercurial usher; and The Bijou Cinema’s alcoholic projectionist, played with uncommon restraint by Peter Sellers. Unable to sell the theater, the new owner tries rescuing it against improbable odds.

“Beginners,” 4:30 p.m. Friday, May 13 (Mike Mills, 2010, United States, 35 mm, 104 minutes). A young man (Ewan McGregor) meets an irreverent and unpredictable young woman (Melanie Laurent of “Inglourious Basterds”) only months after his father has passed away. This new love floods the young man with memories of his father (Christopher Plummer), who -- following 44 years of marriage -- came out of the closet at age 75 to live a full, energized and tumultuous gay life. Free advance preview. Writer and director Mills will attend the screening.

Useful Lives series, “A Useful Life,” 7 p.m. Friday, May 13 (Federico Veiroj, 2010, Uruguay and Spain, 35 mm, 67 minutes). A celebration of and an elegy to classic cinema and film culture, this black-and-white comedy revolves around the final days of a crumbling, near-broke Uruguayan movie house. Film programmer Jorge (played by real-life movie critic Jorge Jellinek) struggles to prepare a retrospective on Portuguese film director Manoel de Oliveira as the theater itself faces imminent closure. It will be preceded by “As Follows” (Federico Veiroj, 2004, Uruguay, 35 mm, 13 minutes). Set in the Jewish community of Montevideo, this short follows a young man as he deals with his upcoming bar mitzvah and a sexual rite of passage. “A Useful Life” is co-presented with the Global Film Initiative and is part of the Global Lens 2011 Film Series. For more information, visit www.globalfilm.org.

Useful Lives series, “Kings of the Road,” 7 p.m. Thursday, May 19 (Wim Wenders, 1976, West Germany, 35 mm, 175 minutes). One of the great films of New German Cinema and long-unavailable in the United States, Wenders’ “Kings of the Road” is a cross-cultural fusion of the American road movie and Cold War-era German art house cinema. Somewhere along Germany’s sparsely populated former West and East border, a lonely film projector repairman meets a suicidal linguist. With no particular destination in mind, the two men become traveling companions, exploring a Germany defined by division and conflict, Americanization versus national culture and a nostalgia for the past. This 35 mm print is made available courtesy of Axiom Films, United Kingdom. The screening is co-sponsored by Northwestern’s department of German.

ShortsFest, “Pioneers: New Festival Shorts,” 7 p.m. Friday, May 20. This program includes some of the best shorts featured at recent film festivals from South by Southwest to Sundance. These intense films compensate for brevity with tales of heightened experience. Jonathan Caouette’s “All Flowers in Time” examines childhood fears. In “Pioneer,” Will Oldham turns a bedtime story into a gripping narrative about the bond between fathers and sons. In “The Wind is Blowing on My Street” a young Iranian woman finds herself locked out of her apartment without her headscarf. “We’re Leaving” explores the recession’s impact on a husband, wife and their pet alligator. And the Oscar-winning “God of Love,” directed by Northwestern alumnus Luke Matheny, proves that even Brooklyn hipsters still believe in true love. Approximate running time is 90 minutes.

Art on Screen series, “Kiki Smith: Squatting the Palace,” 2 p.m. Saturday, May 21 (Vivien Bittencourt and Vincent Katz, 2006, United States, DigiBeta, 45 minutes). “Kiki Smith: Squatting the Palace” documents stages in the conception, creation and exhibition of Smith’s installation “Homespun Tales,” which opened in 2005 during the Venice Biennale. The filmmakers combine behind-the-scenes footage with interviews of Smith and her collaborators that provide an intimate portrait of an artist and her work. Admission is free.

“Circumstance,” 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 25 (Maryam Keshavarz, 2011, United States, France, Lebanon and Iran, 35 mm, 107 minutes). Rebellious teens Atafeh and Shireen navigate sex, love and repression in Tehran’s underground counterculture. When Atafeh’s troubled older brother Mehran, a recovering addict, joins Iran’s notorious morality police, the girls’ budding romance threatens to unravel their middle-class families. Mehran’s newfound sense of religious purpose and his growing obsession with “protecting” Shireen from his sister’s influence soon tempts him to use surveillance equipment to monitor his own family. First-time feature director and Northwestern graduate Keshavarz won the Audience Award for dramatic feature at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Special advance screening courtesy of Roadside Attractions. This screening is co-sponsored by Northwestern’s Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities and the department of radio/television/film. Writer and director Keshavarz will attend the screening. Admission is free.

The Annual NU Student Film Festival, 7 p.m. Friday, May 27. Join Block Cinema and the Film and Projection Society for a celebration of recent films by Northwestern students. A competitive showcase that brings together the best of Northwestern student achievements in filmmaking, the program features this year’s award winners. Visit www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/block-cinema in mid-May for a complete list of films. Approximate running time is 90 minutes. Admission is free.