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Block Cinema Screenings at Northwestern in February

Films are being screened in conjunction with Block Museum’s Charlotte Moorman exhibit

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February 1, 2016 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Block Cinema’s series of Winter 2016 screenings of contemporary and classic films continue in February. Five of the film programs are being screened in conjunction with the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Arts’ groundbreaking exhibition, “A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s’-1980s.” 

The Charlotte Moorman exhibition will be on view to the public in the Block Museum’s Main Gallery through July 17. 

Block is highlighting Moorman’s critical role in promoting and championing non-traditional media. The 15 Avant-Garde festivals she organized in New York between 1963 and 1980 featured countless works by her peers that would go on to be recognized as classics in the history of experimental cinema. 

Presented by Northwestern University’s Block Museum, the winter film offerings include a documentary on artist Paul Shartis, as well as short films by Shartis, Dick Higgins, Jack Smith and Aldo Tambellini. The final screening, Andy Warhol’s underground epic, “The Chelsea Girls,” captures the wild spirit and energy of downtown New York City in the mid-1960s. 

A new Kutluğ Ataman series, welcomes the internationally recognized filmmaker and contemporary artist to Northwestern University. Ataman will introduce and discuss two of his feature-length films – “Lola” + Bilidkid” and “Kuzu” (“The Lamb”) in late February. The series is being screened in collaboration with Northwestern’s Middle East and North African Studies Program and the Keyman Modern Turkish Studies Program.

Also among the array of winter screenings will be a Feb. 19 screening honoring American avant-garde filmmaker Saul Levine. It will be presented in collaboration with “Radiant Visions: Media Art From SAIC, 1965 - Now,” a month-long series of films and artist appearances celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Levine is scheduled to attend the screening. Visit siskelfilmcenter.org/radiantvisions for more information.

All of the following Block Cinema events will take place in the James B. Pick and Rosalyn M. Laudati Auditorium at the Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. 

BLOCK CINEMA FEBRUARY 2016 FILM SERIES

  • “Paul Sharits,” 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4 (François Miron, 2015, Canada, DCP, 85 minutes). François Miron’s feature-length documentary on experimental filmmaker Paul Sharits is a long-overdue examination of the profound and lasting impact of this legendary artist. Sharits was best known for his work with color and light and for his exploration of the filmstrip as a series of discrete images in his “flicker films” from the 1960s and 1970s Miron sketches the portrait of a tormented, deeply romantic artist, always courting disaster, but also cursed by an inherited mental condition. The reconstruction of a tragic career is animated with ample illustrations combined with home movies and other rarely seen archival materials. 
  • Films by Paul Sharits, 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5, FREE. “Word Movie” (Flux Film 29) (1966, United States, digital, 4 minutes); Episodic Generation” (1978, United States, 16mm single-screen version of four-screen installation piece, 30 minutes); “Razor Blades” (1965-68, United States, 16mm double projection, 25 minutes.) Artist Paul Sharits’ interest in language and semiotics is often overlooked in favor of his masterful explorations of human perception and the materiality of film. Known for his groundbreaking work with film flicker, specifically color flicker, Sharits’ cinematic visual and sonic abstractions were designed to impact the viewer on multiple registers -- intellectual, perceptual and visceral. This program brings together one of Sharits’ early Fluxus films, Episodic Generation” -- a meditation on reproduction and optical sound technology -- and his first, rarely seen double projection film Razor Blades.” “Episodic Generation” preserved by Anthology Film Archives, New York. 
  • The Aesthetics of Decay: Jack Smith and Dick Higgins’ New York, 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11: “Scotch Tape” (Jack Smith, 1959-62, United States, 16mm, 3 minutes); The Flaming City” (Dick Higgins, 1963, United States, 16mm, 121 minutes.) Jack Smith’s Scotch Tape” and Dick Higgins’ rarely seen 1963 epic The Flaming City” are experimental takes on the beauty and transformative potential of urban ruin and rubble. Both set in New York in the early 1960s, these playful and transgressive portraits of the city envision it as a metropolitan playground in which detritus and decay possess transformative potential. Higgins described The Flaming City” as “an anti-semantic love story about a marvelous part of New York City and the people who lived there as the city is destroyed.” Professor Hannah Higgins, University of Illinois at Chicago, will introduce the program.
  • Aldo Tambellini's Black Film Series, 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12  (Aldo Tambellini, 1965-68, United States, 16mm). Artist and filmmaker Aldo Tambellini’s films and pioneering video work have been undergoing a welcome rediscovery in the past few years. This hourlong program features his Black Film series, a group of films that riff on various formal, political and social associations evoked by the idea of “black” (abstraction, Vietnam, Robert Kennedy’s assassination, African-American teenage life, among others). Film curator Mark Webber describes the films as “a rapid-fire response to the beginning of the information age and a world in flux.” Screening in new 16mm prints are his first film, Black Is,” along with Black Trip 1,” “Black Trip 2,” “Black Plus X,” “Blackout,” “Moonblack and the video work (newly-preserved on film) Black TV.”
  • “The Chelsea Girls,” 12:30 p.m. (note early start time) Saturday, Feb. 13 (Andy Warhol, 1966, United States, 16mm double projection, approximately 210 minutes). One of Warhol’s most celebrated films, The Chelsea Girls,” is set in New York City’s famed Chelsea Hotel and features a host of Factory regulars and Warhol superstars, including Velvet Underground collaborator Nico, actress Mary Woronov and experimental filmmaker Marie Menken. The film comes roughly mid-point in Warhol’s brief filmmaking career. It functions both as a summation of the stylistic playfulness and formal investigations he’d been pursuing since 1963 and a mapping of the relatively more conventional (for Warhol) narrative focus his films would have through 1969. Print courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art.
  • Saul Levine: Textures of the Everyday, 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19. Beginning in the 1960s, filmmaker Saul Levine created a body of work that is by turns lyrical, poetic, autobiographical and political. He has worked primarily in Super-8mm, and his films constitute one of the most distinctive voices in American avant-garde film and capture the intimacy and delicacy of small-gauge filmmaking. Levine is best known for his gestural, improvisatory camerawork and for the sharp, incisive associations of his political films -- two very different kinds of radical approaches. The screening is presented in collaboration with “Radiant Visions: Media Art From SAIC, 1965 - Now,” a month-long series of films and artist appearances celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Visit siskelfilmcenter.org/radiantvisions for more information. In Person: Saul Levine.
  • “Greed,” 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20  (Erich von Stroheim, 1925, United States, 35mm, 140 minutes). The story of a couple whose relationship, ethics and life slowly disintegrate, “Greed” is Erich von Stroheim’s masterful and obsessive adaptation of Frank Norris’ 1899 novel “McTeague.” The film epitomizes von Stroheim’s specific brand of realism. It was shot at the specific locations mentioned in the novel and the wardrobe exactingly replicates the style of dress that the director personally witnessed when first immigrating to America. Filming desert scenes in Death Valley created tension and desperation amongst the cast and crew -- which is evident in the actors’ intense performances. “Greed” was originally conceived of as a nine-hour long “endurance film,” which MGM shortened for theatrical release. The missing seven hours of footage are often described as the “Holy Grail of Film.” The version screening at Block Cinema is the original theatrical release cut. Live musical accompaniment by silent film pianist David Drazin.
  • “Lola + Bilidikid,” 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, FREE. (Kutluğ Ataman, 1998, Germany, 35mm, 97 minutes). Providing a glimpse into the rarely seen world of Turkish drag queens and their macho lovers in Berlin in the late 1990s, Kutluğ Ataman’s award-winning Lola + Bilidikid” is a groundbreaking classic of new queer cinema. The film follows 17-year-old Murat as he struggles with the complex, and often contradictory, ramifications of coming to terms with his homosexuality. Seeking solace in his friendship with Lola, a transvestite who works at a nightclub, Murat embarks on a journey of self-discovery that exposes the social, sexual and cultural marginalization of young queer Turkish immigrants living in Germany.
  • “Kuzu” (“The Lamb”) 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26, FREE. (Kutluğ Ataman, 2014, Turkey/Germany, digital, 87 minutes). The atmospheric landscape of eastern Anatolia forms the backdrop for this moving and insightful story about a family preparing for the feast that will celebrate the circumcision of their 5-year-old son. As they struggle to try to get the money together for the traditional centerpiece of the feast, a roasted lamb, the varied motivations and responsibilities of each of the family members emerge. “Kuru” was awarded best film at the 51st International Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival and the CICAE Art Cinema Panorama best film award at the 64th International Berlin Film Festival. In Person: KutluğAtaman.

BLOCK CINEMA ADMISSION

Unless otherwise noted, general admission to Block Cinema is $6 for the general public or $4 for Northwestern faculty, staff and students, students from other schools with valid IDs and individuals 60 and older. Quarterly passes are $20. Tickets are available one hour before show time and space is limited.

All of the following Block Cinema events will take place in the James B. Pick and Rosalyn M. Laudati Auditorium at the Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, on Northwestern’s Evanston campus.

For more information, call the Block Cinema Hotline at 847-491-4000 or visit the Block Cinema website.

Topics: Arts and Events