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Northwestern Film in February

Block Cinema to screen foreign films, documentaries, and more

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January 31, 2013 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Block Cinema’s February film offerings include foreign and American films, including a new documentary by Michael Wadleigh and Bob Smeaton that celebrates what would have been Jimi Hendrix’s 70th birthday and complements the Block Museum’s current main gallery exhibition, “Terry Adkins Recital.”

These and other films will be screened in the James B. Pick and Rosalyn M. Laudati Auditorium at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus.

PASSPORT TO GLOBAL CINEMA: CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL FILMS

The Passport film series continues to show some of the best new films from around the world. With selections ranging from sneak previews of upcoming releases to films without U.S. distribution, the series provides an opportunity to see some of the most talked-about films from the international film festival circuit that are yet to be on DVD or at the multiplex. This yearlong film series is part of the Global Languages Initiative at Northwestern University, which emphasizes the need for global fluency in the 21st century, celebrates linguistic diversity and promotes cultural literacy.

REVIVALS AND REDISCOVERIES

This winter Block Cinema will screen new films about youth from South Africa (Feb. 8, “Lucky”) and Argentina (March 1, “Clandestine Childhood”), and an Iraqi road movie set in Iranian Kurdistan (Feb. 22, “About 111 Girls”). They are co-presented with Northwestern’s Global Languages Initiative, with special support from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).

Unless otherwise noted, general admission to Block Cinema 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 showtime. 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.

NEW DOCUMENTARIES

Block Cinema’s focus on contemporary documentaries continues with a selection of new films that shed light on topics both entertaining and important. In addition to the Jimi Hendrix documentary, also screening is the new Dutch documentary, “Meet the Fokkens,” a candid portrait of 69-year-old twin sisters who worked as prostitutes in Amsterdam’s Red Light District for nearly 50 years.

CHICAGO SHORT DOCUMENTARIES

This free program of classic short documentaries about Chicago people and places was inspired by this year’s One Book One Northwestern selection. Alex Kotlowitz’s “Never a City So Real” profiles some of the author’s favorite Chicago neighborhoods and citizens. This corresponding film program includes a film shot on the Northwestern campus in the mid-1960s and early films from Tom Palazzolo, Kartemquin Films and the Chicago Film Archives. Topics cover racism, gentrification, an early gay pride parade, and more. 

CONSTRUCTION 

A long-term construction project on Northwestern’s south campus has closed vehicle access to the Block Museum and Arts Circle Drive. Free parking is available in the lot directly south of the museum. For directions and parking information, visit www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/visit/directions-and-parking/index.html.

FEBRUARY 2013 BLOCK CINEMA FILM SCREENINGS

Revivals and Rediscoveries, “Wild Girl,” 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1 (Raoul Walsh, 1932, United States, 35mm, 80 minutes). This exceptionally rare pre-Code western-romance-comedy starring Joan Bennett, Charles Farrell, Ralph Bellamy and Eugene Pallette, is directed by the always-brash Raoul Walsh. Filmed on location amid the majestic California redwoods, the film features a young (and blonde) Joan Bennett as the titular “wild girl” -- a nature loving free-spirit who is wooed by many but who falls for an out-of-town stranger (Farrell). A major highlight of this past year’s Cinema Ritrovato film festival in Italy, and MoMA’s film preservation series, “Wild Girl” shuttles between romance, adventure, raucous comedy and titillation (a skinny-dipping Bennett). From the opening credit sequence -- one of the most memorable of the period -- it’s more rowdy fun than one should be allowed in a single sitting. Preserved by the Museum of Modern Art with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Celeste Bartos Film Preservation Fund.

Revivals and Rediscoveries, “Native Son,” 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2(Pierre Chenal, 1951, Argentina, 35mm, 90 minutes) “Native Son” is a curious and remarkable adaptation of Richard Wright’s acclaimed 1940 novel about a young African-American man who commits a horrific crime. Worried that Hollywood would soften the book’s stark look at poverty and its depiction of the crimes of Bigger Thomas, Wright chose to have it independently produced in Argentina. What the film lacks in technical polish and star power (Wright himself plays Bigger), it makes up for in retaining the grit and raw anger of the novel.

New Documentaries, “Meet the Fokkens,” 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7 (Rob Schroder and Gabrielle Provaas, 2011, The Netherlands, video, 80 minutes). For nearly 50 years, identical twins Louise and Martine Fokkens worked as prostitutes in Amsterdam’s Red Light District, and pioneered change in their oft-maligned profession. After battling corrupt cops and overbearing pimps, they even established their own brothel and a union for sex workers. Now, with one sister in retirement and the other struggling daily to cope with the physical and psychological demands of her job, the 69-year-old sisters find themselves facing a different kind of battle. “Meet the Fokkens” offers a candid portrait of these outspoken sexagenarians with equal parts tenderness and humor.

Passport to Global Cinema, “Lucky,” 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8
(Avie Luthra, 2011, South Africa, video, 100 minutes).Adapting his own 2006 short film (a prize winner at over 40 festivals around the world), Avie Luthra tells the story of 10-year-old Lucky, who, after his mother’s death, leaves his village to seek out his uncle. Neglected by his only relative, he is reluctantly taken in by Padma, an elderly Indian woman, who sets aside her deep-rooted fear of Africans in hope of claiming government support for orphans. Though neither speak the other’s language, the two forge an unlikely bond and face a hostile world filled with unexpected difficulties.

Revivals and Rediscoveries, “History is Made at Night,” 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9 (Frank Borzage, 1937, United States, 35mm, 97 minutes). Hailed as the great romantic of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Frank Borzage outdid himself with this masterpiece. Charles Boyer and Jean Arthur star as would-be lovers, but Arthur is married to an intolerable shipping magnate (Colin Clive) and the pair’s budding romance is cut short after a single night on the town. The film culminates on an ocean liner (in a scene referencing the Titanic), where external forces again threaten their happiness. Borzage’s cinema is one of pure emotion, achingly realized through his mastery of lighting, framing and camera movement. “It is melodrama, certainly, but melodrama played with so much conviction and exquisite sensitivity that all the viewer's defenses are destroyed,” said film critic Dave Kehr. The 35mm preservation print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive.

Revivals and Rediscoveries, “Hud,” 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, FREE (Martin Ritt, 1963, United States, 35mm, 112 minutes). Director Martin Ritt’s explosive family drama stars Paul Newman as Hud Bannon, an arrogant and embittered man with little regard for society or the feelings of others. Dodging responsibility at every corner, Hud locks horns with his principled father, Homer (Melvyn Douglas), a cattle rancher, and finds himself an unlikely role model for his impressionable young nephew, Lonnie. Northwestern alumna Patricia Neal netted a Best Actress Oscar for her nuanced portrayal of Alma Brown, the sharp-tongued caretaker of three generations of Bannon men. The film has been restored by the Academy Film Archive. Patricia Neal’s daughters, Lucy and Ophelia Dahl will attend the screening. Co-Presented with the Northwestern University Library.

Revivals and Rediscoveries, “China Express” (aka “Goluboi Ekspress”) 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16 (Ilya Trauberg, 1929, USSR, 16mm, 90 minutes). One of the great, if little known, filmmakers from the rich era of Soviet silent cinema, Ilya Trauberg brings a documentarian’s eye and a visual dynamism inspired by Sergei Eisenstein (with whom he worked on “October”) to his first fiction film. “China Express“ is a riveting tale of Chinese workers who commandeer the train they are traveling on a train that also carries an English general and members of China’s elite. An influence on Josef von Sternberg’s “Shanghai Express,” Trauberg capitalizes on the potent symbolism of trains for revolutionary movement while creating a rousing action film. David Drazin will provide live musical accompaniment.

Chicago Short Documentaries, “Never a City So Reel: Chicago Portraits on Film,” 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, FREE
(various directors, 1965 to 2012, United States, 16mm and video, approx. 70 minutes. Funded by the Northwestern University Film Society, this program of classic short documentaries about Chicago people and places was inspired by this year’s One Book One Northwestern selection, Alex Kotlowitz’s “Never a City So Real,” which features portraits of some of the author’s favorite Chicago neighborhoods and citizens. This corresponding film program includes a film shot on the Northwestern campus in the mid-1950s and early films from Tom Palazzolo, Kartemquin Films and the Chicago Film Archives, with topics covering racism, gentrification, an early gay pride parade, and more. The program concludes with a new documentary (“Paraiso”) which focuses on window washers who brace extreme heights to keep our city’s skyline sparking. Program lineup: • “Cause Without a Rebel” (1965) Directed by Peter Kuttner, 16mm, 9 minutes.
 • “Now We Live on Clifton” (1974) 16mm, 24 minutes. This film tracks the gentrification of the once-diverse West Lincoln Park neighborhood through the eyes of 10-year-old Pam Taylor and her 12-year-old brother Scott. Print courtesy of Chicago Film Archives and Kartemquin Films. • “Jerry’s Deli” (1974) Directed by Tom Palazzolo, new 16mm print, 10 minutes.
 Tom Palazzo’s iconic short is a snapshot of one of Chicago’s most beloved eateries, as well as an uproariously funny portrait of the deli’s eccentric owner.• “Gay For a Day” (1976) Directed by Tom Palazzolo, 16mm, 11 min.
 “Gay For a Day” is a lively depiction of an early gay pride parade in Chicago. Weaving through bustling crowds and capturing numerous interviews, director Palazzolo pieces together a story of resilience and celebration.•“Paraiso” (2012) Directed by Nadav Kurtz, video, 10 minutes. “Paraiso” focuses on three Mexican immigrants who risk their lives daily washing the windows of Chicago skyscrapers. Director Nadav Kurtz juxtaposes breathtaking views of the city’s skyline and intimate interviews with the film’s subjects. The total program runs approximately 70 minutes. IN PERSON: “Cause Without a Rebel” director Peter Kuttner and, "Jerry's Deli" and "Gay For a Day" director Tom Palazzolo will attend the screening.

“Passport to Global Cinema, “About 111 Girls,” 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22
(Nahid Ghobadi and Bijan Zamanpira, 2012, Iraq and Iran, video, 79 minutes).From Iraq, and produced by acclaimed director Bahman Ghobadi, this Middle Eastern spin on the road movie proves the remarkable flexibility of that time-honored genre. In Iranian Kurdistan, a group of 111 young Kurdish women have threatened to commit suicide in protest against social circumstances and governmental policies that have left them without husbands. Rushing through the remote countryside to try to stop them, a government official, his assistant, and a young boy serving as guide, find themselves confronted by an unfamiliar culture, and the beauty of their surroundings. Ghobadi and Zamanpira strike a balance between the serious social issues. The film will beintroduced by Northwestern University Professor Hamid Naficy. 

Revivals and Rediscoveries, “Ornette: Made in America,” 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23 (Shirley Clarke, 1985, United States, 35mm, 87 minutes).A pioneer of American independent cinema in the 1960s, Shirley Clarke began as an experimental filmmaker in the 1950s and later explored the possibilities of video in the 1970s. All of these interests combine in her final film, “Ornette: Made in America,” about jazz icon Ornette Coleman. The film has a loose, improvisatory feel that mirrors the free jazz style that Coleman is best known for. Clarke weaves together contemporary and vintage performance footage, interviews, dramatic recreations of Coleman as a young boy and expressive video and animation effects into an impressionistic look at one of the geniuses of American music. Print courtesy of Milestone Films. Restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive.

New Documentaries, “Hendrix 70: Live at Woodstock,” 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, FREE (Michael Wadleigh and Bob Smeaton, 2012, United States, video, 99 minutes.)To complement the Block Museum’s winter exhibition, “Terry Adkins Recital,” Block Cinema presents this new documentary honoring what would have been Jimi Hendrix’s 70th birthday. It expands on concert footage previously shown in “Woodstock” by showcasing, for the first time, the nearly complete set by Hendrix and his newly formed band. The performance is highlighted by blistering jams, soulful blues, and Hendrix’s iconic rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The film captures the performance that helped solidify Hendrix’s legendary status.