The New York Film Festival’s ocean of announcements continues apace, with the last few days informing us of special events, multiple retrospectives, new films by Errol Morris and Steve James, a documentary about a musical that many people have talked about for more than a year, and Terence Davies‘ A Quiet Passion on behalf of Film Comment.
Provided below is the full selection of recent unveilings, synopses included. There are a number of treasures to be found herein — Bresson! Renoir! Jarmusch and Iggy Pop! so much Henry Hathaway! — so I’ll let you get to looking over the selection for yourself.
A Brief Journey Through French Cinema
My Journey Through French Cinema
Directed by Bertrand Tavernier
France, 2016, 190m
Bertrand Tavernier is truly one of the grand old men of the movies. His experience is vast, his knowledge is voluminous, his love is inexhaustible, and his perspective is matched only by that of Martin Scorsese. This magnificent epic history has been a lifetime in the making. Tavernier knows his native cinema inside and out, from the giants like Renoir, Godard, and Melville (for whom he worked as an assistant) to now overlooked and forgotten figures like Edmund T. Gréville and Guy Gilles, and his observations and reminiscences are never less than penetrating and always deeply personal. A Cohen Media Group release
Angels of Sin / Les anges du péché
Directed by Robert Bresson
France, 1943, 96m, French with English subtitles
Robert Bresson’s first feature, made during the occupation, was this melodrama about a nun (Renée Faure) from a wealthy background who zeroes in on the distressed condition of a poor young female prisoner (Jany Holt) who has been sent to the convent for rehabilitation. Les anges du péché, co-written by Bresson with the French dramatist Jean Giraudoux and the Dominican priest and author Raymond Léopold Bruckberger, is an emotionally overpowering experience. If we don’t quite recognize the Bresson we would come to know, this is also a formidable debut from a filmmaker who, in David Bordwell’s words, had “proven his virtuosity” and, in the process, created what Jacques Becker recognized as “a whole new style.”
Antoine and Antoinette / Antoine et Antoinette
Directed by Jacques Becker
France, 1947, 84m, French with English subtitles
This postwar comedy about a young Parisian couple (Roger Pigaut and Claire Mafféi) who buy and lose a winning lottery ticket sings with the energies of working-class life.Antoine et Antoinette is temperamentally close to the great American pre-Code films of the early 30s, but it is made with a verve and grace that could only originate with one individual sensibility. To quote Godard on the occasion of Jacques Becker’s death at the age of 53: “There are several good ways of making French films. Italian style, like Renoir. Viennese, like Ophuls. New Yorker, like Melville. But only Becker was and is as French as France.” A Rialto Pictures release.
Deadlier Than the Male / Voici le temps des assassins
Directed by Julien Duvivier
France, 1956, 113m, French with English subtitles
Julien Duvivier’s final collaboration with Jean Gabin is the gut-wrenching and ultimately tragic story of a Parisian restaurant owner who one day finds a young woman (Danièle Delorme) claiming to be the daughter of his ex-wife on his doorstep. Deadlier Than the Male, whose original French title is a quote from Rimbaud’s “Illuminations,” is, like all the best Duvivier films, beautifully crafted and visualized (Truffaut reckoned that it was hisvery best), with excellent location shooting in Les Halles. And in the words of Delorme, who passed away last year at the age of 89, the film “immortalized our youth and a certain type of moviemaking.” A Pathé release.
Les enfants terribles
Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville
France, 1950, 106m, French with English subtitles
Jacques Rivette claimed that on the night he happened upon the set of this adaptation of Jean Cocteau’s 1929 novel about the alternate world created by an orphaned brother and sister, director Jean-Pierre Melville was nowhere in sight and Cocteau himself was directing the crew. The tension between director and writer was ongoing, but it was also productive, because the final film—in Manny Farber’s words, a “macabre melodrama about incestuous adolescence” that “rates top honors in every film department”—is an unlikely, incongruous mesh of their two vastly different sensibilities. To quote Truffaut, “The best novel of Jean Cocteau became the best film of Jean-Pierre Melville.” With Édouard Dermit and Nicole Stéphane. A Janus Films release.
Directed by Jean Renoir
France, 1938, 132m, French with English subtitles
Jean Renoir’s 1938 film about the beginnings of the French Revolution, made with the support of France’s most powerful labor union, is, in François Truffaut’s words, a “neorealist fresco” that continually shuttles between characters throughout the social spectrum: peasants living in the mountains, emigrés from Coblenz, Louis XVI (Renoir’s brother Pierre) and his courtiers. A glorious and, today, lesser-known film from one of the cinema’s greatest directors, whose goal, according to André Bazin, “is to go beyond the historical images to uncover the mundane human reality.” With Louis Jouvet and Renoir regulars Gaston Modot, Nadia Sibirskaïa, and Julien Carette. Print courtesy of French Cultural Services. A Rialto Pictures release.
Safe Conduct / Laissez-passer
Directed by Bertrand Tavernier
France/Germany/Spain, 2002, 170m, French with English subtitles
Bertrand Tavernier’s vigorous and varied portrait of Occupation-era filmmaking in France achieves a Breugelesque richness of perspective—this is a story told by a director deeply in love with his subject. Tavernier’s hero is ace assistant director Jean-Devaivre (Jacques Gamblin), who helps directors like Maurice Tourneur (Philippe Morier-Genoud) bring their most difficult visual ideas to life, negotiates his way through the German hierarchy at Continental Films, and works for the Resistance. With Denis Podalydès in the role of screenwriter (and future Tavernier collaborator) Jean Aurenche, Dardenne regular Olivier Gourmet as producer Roger Richebé, and Laurent Schilling as the screenwriter Charles Spaak.
23 Paces to Baker Street
Directed by Henry Hathaway
USA, 1956, 103m
In this ingenious, light yet genuinely suspenseful mystery, Van Johnson plays a blind American playwright living in London who sits down for a drink in his neighborhood pub one night and overhears a casual plan to commit murder. A beautifully mounted London travelogue in color and Scope, 23 Paces to Baker Street is among the best of the numerous British-set American studio pictures of the era, featuring a succession of expertly mounted set-pieces (the best of which are set in a bustling department store and an abandoned building). With Cecil Parker and Vera Miles as Johnson’s partners in detection. A 20th Century-Fox release.
The Dark Corner
Directed by Henry Hathaway
USA, 1946, 99m
This 1946 melodrama, about a Manhattan P.I. (Mark Stevens) whose adoring secretary (Lucille Ball, who clashed with Hathaway on the set) helps to clear him of a false murder accusation, is the essence of what has come to be known as film noir, from Joseph MacDonald’s stark, shadowy images to the title itself. Made in the wake of Laura’s massive success, the film also stars Clifton Webb as the posh owner of a Manhattan art gallery and features the same clash between the upper crust and the hard-boiled. With William Bendix as the menacing hood on Stevens’ tail. A 20th Century-Fox release.
Down to the Sea in Ships
Directed by Henry Hathaway
USA, 1949, 120m
This lovely film, about a sea captain (Lionel Barrymore) who sets out on a final whaling voyage from New Bedford in 1878 with his grandson (Dean Stockwell) and his young successor (Richard Widmark), is a perfect blend of Hathaway’s special artistry and Fox’s meticulous period craftsmanship. Hathaway and Barrymore had their difficulties on set (assistant director Richard Talmadge doubled for Barrymore in many of his more demanding scenes), but the actor gives a deeply moving performance in his final starring role. Hathaway achieved many technical wonders throughout his career, and the sequence in which the ship runs through a field of icebergs in dense fog is one of his most remarkable. A 20th Century Fox release.
Directed by Henry Hathaway
USA, 1951, 92m
An exciting low-budget film shot on the streets of lower Manhattan, Fourteen Hours is based on the true story of William Warde, who jumped to his death in 1938 after a policeman had spent hours trying to talk him down from a 17th floor ledge at the old Gotham Hotel (now the Peninsula). Richard Basehart (whose wife Stephanie died during production) gives a brilliant performance as the suicidal young man, Paul Douglas is the cop, and the film is packed with formidable character performances (from the likes of Agnes Moorehead, Howard Da Silva, and newcomer Grace Kelly) and vividly cast faces in the crowd below, including those of Ossie Davis, Joyce Van Patten, Brian Keith, and John Cassavetes. A 20th Century-Fox release.
Garden of Evil
Directed by Henry Hathaway
USA/Mexico, 1951, 103m
Gary Cooper, Richard Widmark, and Cameron Mitchell are a trio of gold hunters approached by a desperate woman (Susan Hayward) with a generous offer to find her husband (Hugh Marlowe), who is trapped in their gold mine in an area deep in unforgiving Mexican hill country, known as the “Garden of Evil.” Hathaway’s westerns are all on the tough side, and this film, shot on location in Tepotzotlán, Guanajuato, and in jungles near Acapulco and Parícutin, is one of the toughest. Tavernier considersGarden of Evil one of the finest westerns ever made. With a score by Bernard Herrmann. A 20th Century-Fox release.
Kiss of Death
Directed by Henry Hathaway
USA, 1947, 98m
Hathaway was one of the first Hollywood filmmakers to make a practice of shooting on location—his environments are always integral to the life of the story. This 1947 film, about a jewel thief (Victor Mature) targeted by the mob when he cooperates with the DA, was shot all over New York, from the criminal courts building on Centre Street to the Bronx, and became one of the most influential of the postwar docudramas. Hathaway wanted a local hood named Harry the Hat to play the psychopathic killer Tommy Udo, but he was forced to work with a newcomer named Richard Widmark. They clashed in the beginning, and then cooperated on a truly terrifying character creation. A 20thCentury-Fox release.
Directed by Henry Hathaway
USA, 1953, 98m
This 1953 suspense melodrama about matching crimes of passion, produced and co-written by Billy Wilder’s former partner Charles Brackett and shot in vibrant Technicolor, is set in the very particular world of honeymoon cottages on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Joseph Cotten is the brooding, damaged Korean war vet, and his young wife is played by Marilyn Monroe. “Zanuck was convinced Marilyn Monroe was a passing phenomenon,” said Hathaway of his lead actress, in the role that truly made her a star. “She didn’t know she was as good as she was.” A 20th Century-Fox release.
North to Alaska
Directed by Henry Hathaway
USA, 1960, 122m
Production on this big, boisterous entertainment package was hampered by wayward screenwriters, John Wayne going over schedule on The Alamo, a writers’ strike, and the replacement of original director Richard Fleischer with Hathaway. But the finished film, about a gold prospector (Wayne) who goes to Seattle to retrieve his partner’s fiancée and comes back to Nome with a good time saloon girl (Capucine), is so buoyant, funny, and perfectly keyed to its glorious natural settings that it all feels seamless. With Ernie Kovacs, Stewart Granger in one of his best performances as the partner, and, in the role that brought him the Harvard Lampoon’s coveted “Uncrossed Heart” award for Least Promising Actor, Fabian. A 20th Century-Fox release.
Directed by Henry Hathaway
USA, 1951, 89m
This tightly structured nail-biter, about the siege of a desert relay station by a group of escaped convicts, launched a long-running TV show with Clint Eastwood and set a template for the western suspense film for years to come, from High Noon through 3:10 to Yuma all the way up to last year’s The Hateful Eight. Tyrone Power is the boss’s son who is learning the ropes, Susan Hayward is the woman traveling with her niece, Hugh Marlowe is the leader of the gang, and his fellow convicts are played by Jack Elam, George Tobias, and the brilliant Dean Jagger. A 20th Century-Fox release.
The Shepherd of the Hills
Directed by Henry Hathaway
USA, 1941, 98m
This beautifully crafted Technicolor film, about two warring families in the Ozarks and the benign stranger who suddenly appears in their midst, crosses paths with John Ford (Hathaway’s friend) in its casting (John Wayne and Harry Carey are the stars, and Ward Bond and John Qualen play supporting roles), its rural setting, and its careful attention to community and the passage of time. Yet the film, the third adaptation of Harold Bell Wright’s once-renowned novel, has a very different kind of energy and a rich sense of the uncanny. Shepherd, which Hathaway was instructed to cut down for length, was his last film for Paramount. A Paramount Pictures release.
Spawn of the North
Directed by Henry Hathaway
USA, 1938, 110m
George Raft, Henry Fonda, and Dorothy Lamour star in this boisterous action film about rival fishing crews fighting for dominance of the Alaskan seas, with support from John Barrymore, Akim Tamiroff, and a wondrous mix of technical wizardry and stunning second-unit work (and some lovely Frank Loesser tunes as a bonus). If the story has something of the flavor of a Hawks film, that’s because the screenplay is co-written by Jules Furthman, but Hathaway looks at the friendships and rivalries and romantic entanglements of his characters from his own special angle: his maritime community is wild, loose, and free, no matter the consequences. A Paramount Pictures release.
Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened
Directed by Lonny Price
USA, DCP, 95m
In 1981, Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince embarked on Merrily We Roll Along, a musical based on the 1934 George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart comedy told in reverse: the characters begin as disillusioned adults and end as starry-eyed adolescents. Though the original, much-ballyhooed production, which featured a cast of teenage unknowns, was panned by the critics and closed after just 16 performances, Merrily We Roll Along would go on to attain musical theater legend status. This alternately heartbreaking and euphoric film by original cast member Lonny Price features never-before seen footage of Prince and Sondheim at work on the show and revisits many of Price’s fellow actors, all of them united by this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Stephen Sondheim, Lonny Price, and other special guests to appear in person!
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Directed by Ang Lee
USA, 2016, DCP, 110m
Ang Lee’s stunning adaptation of Ben Fountain’s novel is the story of an Iraq war hero (newcomer Joe Alwyn) who comes home with his fellow members of Bravo Company for a victory tour. This culminates in a halftime show at a Thanksgiving Day football game—a high-intensity media extravaganza summoning memories of the trauma of losing his beloved sergeant in a firefight. Lee’s brave, heartbreaking film goes right to the heart of a great division that haunts this country: between the ideal image of things as they should be and the ongoing reality of things as they are. Billy Lynn is also a step forward in the art of cinema, made with a cinematographic process years ahead of its time. With a brilliant supporting cast, including Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, with Vin Diesel and Steve Martin. A TriStar Pictures release.
Directed by Jim Jarmusch
USA, 2016, DCP, 108m
“Music is life and life is not a business,” said Iggy Pop when he and his surviving bandmates from The Stooges were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. Jim Jarmusch’s cinematic offering to the punk gods of Ann Arbor traces the always raucous and frequently calamitous history of the Stooges from inception to the present. With the help of animator James Kerr, plus glimpses of Lucille Ball and a shirtless Yul Brynner amidst a bonanza of archival performance footage, photos, and interviews, Gimme Danger has the feeling of a night at Max’s Kansas City. An Amazon Studios and Magnolia Pictures release. Iggy Pop and Jim Jarmusch to appear in person!
Directed by Alex Horwitz
USA, 2016, DCP, 84m
Lin-Manuel Miranda takes us inside the making of his groundbreaking American musicalHamilton, winner of eleven Tonys, as well as the Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Awards. We follow Miranda, his collaborators, and key members of the original cast on their exploration of the history that inspired the show, visiting locations from Valley Forge to the West Wing. We also track the show’s journey, from the moment Miranda thrilled the Obamas at the White House in 2009 to the first year of its blockbuster run on Broadway. A PBS Great Performances documentary. Special guests to appear in person!
Film Comment Events:
Film Comment Presents:
A Quiet Passion
Directed by Terence Davies
U.K./Belgium, 2016, DCP, 125m
Swiftly following his glorious Sunset Song, the great British director Terence Davies turns his attention to 19th-century American poet Emily Dickinson and ends up with perhaps an even greater triumph. A revelatory Cynthia Nixon embodies Dickinson with a titanic intelligence always threatening to burst forth from behind a polite facade, while Davies creates a formally audacious rendering of her life, from teenage skepticism to lonely death, using her poems (and a touch of Charles Ives) as soundtrack accompaniment. Both sides of Davies’s enormous talent—his witty, Wildean sense of humor and his frightening vision of life’s grim realities—are on full display in this consuming depiction of a creative inner world. Terence Davies and Cynthia Nixon to appear in person!
Film Comment Live: Living Cinema
For its September-October 2016 edition, Film Comment, the most important and renowned critical film magazine in the U.S. for more than 50 years, will come out of the gate with an issue devoted to the vitality of movies today, as well as an elaborate special section on films featured in the 54th New York Film Festival. For this panel a selection of the magazine’s editors, new contributors, and longtime writers will join to discuss issues raised and questions asked in its pages.
Film Comment Live: Filmmakers Chat
In this special roundtable discussion, a selection of different directors from around the world whose films are screening in this year’s New York Film Festival talk together in a discussion moderated by Film Comment editor Nicolas Rapold. It’s the rare chance to see some of today’s most important filmmakers in dialogue with each other, talking about their experiences watching and creating movies.
“An Evening with . . .” Benefits:
The New York Film Festival tradition known as “An Evening with” is a limited-seating event that includes an intimate dinner and conversation between an important star of the film world and NYFF Director Kent Jones. Past honorees include Pedro Almodóvar, Cate Blanchett, Ralph Fiennes, Nicole Kidman, Kate Winslet, and more. We’re pleased to announce that this year we are offering two of these special nights, featuring two of the brightest young actors working today.
An Evening with Adam Driver
With his mainstream breakout in last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Adam Driver has become a bona fide megastar. But those who have been following him for years, both in his Emmy-nominated role in the HBO series Girls, and in such past NYFF films asFrances Ha and Inside Llewyn Davis, have already been smitten with his artistic style. This year, festival audiences can see his wonderful leading performance in Jim Jarmusch’s exquisite Paterson, as a poetry-writing New Jersey bus driver.
Sunday, October 2
An Evening with Kristen Stewart
For the past few years, Kristen Stewart has been quietly amassing an impressive body of work, starring in enigmatic roles in complex films, including the NYFF52 selectionClouds of Sils Maria, directed by Olivier Assayas, for which she became the first American actor to win the French César award. This year feels like a culmination of this extraordinary phase of her career: she starred in five movies in 2016, the best of which are featured at NYFF: Assayas’s Personal Shopper, in which she appears in nearly every shot; Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women; and Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.All three films speak to an actor constantly willing to challenge herself and her fans.
Wednesday, October 5
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Directed by Steve James
USA, 2016, DCP, 88m
In English, Mandarin, and Cantonese with English subtitles
Quick: what was the only bank that was actually prosecuted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis? The astonishing but correct answer is Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, founded in 1984 by Thomas Sung, which specializes in small loans to members of the Chinese-American community. The latest film from Steve James (Hoop Dreams, Life Itself) is a vivid chronicle of the legal battle mounted by Sung and his formidable daughters when the Manhattan DA’s office charged the bank with systemic fraud, larceny, and conspiracy. Abacus is a moving portrait of a family, a community, and a way of life; it is also a cautionary tale.
Thursday, Oct 6, 8:45pm (WRT)
Thursday, Oct 7, 6:15pm (BWA)
The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography
Directed by Errol Morris
USA, 2016, DCP, 76m
Errol Morris’s surprising new film is simplicity itself: a visit to the Cambridge, Massachusetts studio of his friend, the 20×24 Polaroid portrait photographer Elsa Dorfman, who specifies on her website that she likes her subjects “to wear clothes (and to bring toys, skis, books, tennis racquets, musical instruments, and particularly pets…).” As this charming, articulate, and calmly uncompromising woman takes us through her fifty-plus years of remarkable but fragile images of paying customers, commissioned subjects, family, and close friends (including the poet Allen Ginsberg), the sense of time passing grows more and more acute. This is a masterful film.
Sunday, Oct 9, 6pm (WRT)
Monday, Oct 10, 9:15pm (BWA)
Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds
Directed by Alexis Bloom & Fisher Stevens
USA, 2016, DCP, 96m
Carrie Fisher and her mom Debbie Reynolds are now the best of friends (they live steps away from each other in their Beverly Hills compound) and the very definition of Hollywood royalty. But unlike today’s newly minted celebrities, they are both open books. After six decades of screen and stage stardom; a couple of disastrous marriages and assorted financial ups and downs for Reynolds; and, for Fisher, well-publicized drug addiction, bipolar disorder, and deity status (see: Star Wars), neither has anything left to hide. Bright Lights is an affectionate, often hilarious, and unexpectedly moving valentine to the mother-daughter act to end all mother-daughter acts. An HBO Documentary Films release.
Monday, Oct 10, 6pm (ATH)
Tuesday, Oct 11, 9:15pm (BWA)
The Cinema Travellers
Directed by Shirley Abraham & Amit Madheshiya
India, 2016, DCP, 96m
In Hindi and Marathi with English subtitles
Mohammed and Bapu are itinerant film showmen who travel through the Western Indian state of Maharashtra and show 35mm film prints on makeshift screens at village fairs. All the while, they struggle with both the growing possibility of obsolescence and the increasing fragility of their enormous rusty, clanking projectors, kept in barely working order by a repairman named Prakash (who has a beautiful invention: an “oil bath” projector). This colorful, five-years-in-the-making documentary is a real Last Picture Show, but its melancholy is leavened with joy and delight, and the wonder of still images coming to life at 24 frames per second. US Premiere
Wednesday, Oct 12, 9pm (FBT)
Thursday, Oct 13, 6:30pm (HGT)
Dawson City: Frozen Time
Directed by Bill Morrison
USA, 2016, DCP, 120m
North American Premiere
Bill Morrison’s new film is a history in still and moving images charting the transformation of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, a fishing camp at the confluence of the Yukon and Klondike Rivers, into the epicenter of the Yukon gold rush at the turn of the last century. It is also a history of the 35mm film prints that were shipped to Dawson between the 1910s and 1920s, then hidden away and forgotten for 50 years until they were unearthed in the initial stages of a construction project, images from which are a key element in Morrison’s cinematic mosaic. Like all of Morrison’s work, Dawson City is a haunting experience that takes place in suspended, nonlinear time.
Sunday, Oct 2, 12pm (BWA)
Tuesday, Oct 4, 9pm (FBT)
Hissen Habré, A Chadian Tragedy
Directed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
France/Chad, 2016, DCP, 82m
In French, Chadian and Arabic with English subtitles
Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s quiet, stately documentary begins with a personal sketch of the tragic history of his Central African home country, starting in the mid-1970s with the emergence of a romantic revolutionary figure named Hissen Habré, who seized power in 1982 and established a regime that became renowned throughout the world for its human rights abuses. From there, Haroun follows Clément Abaïfouta, a survivor of the regime who introduces us to resilient men and women whose memories and experiences are beyond horror. Two weeks after this film premiered at Cannes, Hissen Habré became the first world leader convicted of crimes against humanity by a court outside of his own country.
Tuesday, Oct 4, 6pm (WRT)
Wednesday, Oct 5, 9pm (FBT)
I Am Not Your Negro
Directed by Raoul Peck
USA/France/Belgium/Switzerland, 2016, DCP, 93m
Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck has taken the 30 completed pages of James Baldwin’s final, unfinished manuscript, Remember This House, in which the author went about the painful task of remembering his three fallen friends Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, and crafted an elegantly precise and bracing film essay. Peck’s film, about the unholy agglomeration of myths, institutionalized practices both legal and illegal, and displaced white terror that have long perpetuated the tragic state of race in America, is anchored by the presence of Baldwin himself in images and words, read beautifully by Samuel L. Jackson in hushed, burning tones.
Saturday, Oct 1, 4:15pm (WRT)
Sunday, Oct 2, 9pm (FBT)
I Called Him Morgan
Directed by Kasper Collin
Sweden, 2016, DCP, 89m
On the night of February 19, 1972, Helen Morgan walked into the East Village bar Slug’s Saloon with a gun in her handbag. She came to see her common-law husband, the great jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan, whom she had nursed through heroin addiction. They fought, he literally threw her out; then she walked back in and shot him, handed over her gun and waited for the police to arrive. Many years later, Helen was interviewed about her life with the brilliant but erratic musician, and the tapes of that interview are the backbone of this beautifully crafted and deeply affecting film from Kasper Collin (My Name Is Albert Ayler).
Sunday, Oct 2, 6pm (WRT)
Monday, Oct 3, 8:45pm (FBT)
Karl Marx City
Directed by Petra Epperlein & Michael Tucker
USA/Germany, 2016, DCP, 89m
In English and German with English subtitles
Having completed their series of Iraq War–era films (starting with Gunner Palace in 2004 and concluding with 2009’s How to Fold a Flag), the filmmaking team of Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker turn their attention to the former East Germany of Epperlein’s childhood, and specifically to the possibility that her father might have been one of the many thousands of citizens recruited as informers by the Stasi. Tucker and Epperlein make some bold stylistic choices (such as shooting in crystalline black and white), all of which pay off: the strange state of living under constant surveillance is both recalled and embodied in this uniquely powerful film.
Friday, Oct 14, 8:30pm (WRT)
Saturday, Oct 15, 12:30pm (FBT)
Patria O Muerte: Cuba, Fatherland or Death
Directed by Olatz López Garmendia
Cuba/USA, 2016, DCP, 57m
In English and Spanish with English subtitles
Olatz López Garmendia’s film is a sharp, vivid portrait of Cuba as it is right now, on the verge of change, seen through the eyes of a diverse group of brave individuals. On the one hand, we experience the corroded beauty of a landscape largely free of the commercially driven zoning and building that has befouled so much of the western world; on the other, we see the crumbling infrastructure, falling buildings, and desperate circumstances of a nation that’s been economically stalled by a longtime United States embargo and stubborn and repressive dictatorship. Most of all, Patria O Muerte: Cuba, Fatherland or Death is about people struggling to live freely. An HBO Documentary Films release.
Wednesday, Oct 12, 9:15pm (BWA)
Thursday, Oct 13, 6:45pm (FBT)
Directed by Shimon Dotan
France/Canada/Israel, 2016, DCP, 110m
Shimon Dotan’s film takes a good, hard look at the world of the Israeli settlers on the West Bank: the way they live, the worldview that many of them share, and, most crucially, the relaxed attitude of the Israeli government toward their presence since the first settlements in the aftermath of the Six-Day War. Dotan lays out the facts with extraordinary care and lucidity, and allows us to see the progression of actions and reactions that led to the current volatile situation, one small step at a time. Perhaps the greatest astonishment of this generally astonishing film is the casual zealotry and racism, and the apparently untroubled certainty, of many of the settlers themselves.
Thursday, Oct 6, 6pm (WRT)
Friday, Oct 7, 9pm (HGT)
Two Trains Runnin’
Directed by Sam Pollard
USA, 2016, DCP, 80m
In the “Freedom Summer” of 1964, hundreds of young people—including James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner—were drawn to the deep South to take part in the Civil Rights movement. At the same moment, two groups of young men (including guitarist John Fahey and Dick Waterman, the great champion of the Blues) made the same trip in search of Blues legends Skip James and Son House. That these two quests coincidentally ended in the volatile state of Mississippi, whose governor famously referred to integration as “genocide,” is the starting point for Sam Pollard’s inventive, musically and historically rich film.
Thursday, Oct 13, 8:45pm (WRT)
Friday, Oct 14, 9:30pm (FBT)
Directed by Aaron Brookner
USA, 2016, DCP, 96m
While Aaron Brookner was working on the restoration of Burroughs: The Movie, his uncle Howard Brookner’s 1983 documentary about William S. Burroughs, he discovered an archive that Howard left uncatalogued. It encompassed unused footage, and much more: film and video diaries capturing the downtown New York, post-Beat mosaic of writers, filmmakers, performers, and artists in the 1970s and 1980s and the devastation of that community by AIDS, which took Howard’s life in 1989. A work of love and scholarship, Uncle Howard weaves contemporary interviews with this rediscovered footage: of the legendary “Nova Convention”; Robert Wilson rehearsing the aborted L.A. production of The Civil Wars; a twentysomething Jim Jarmusch, Howard’s NYU classmate, recording sound on Burroughs; and Howard’s lyrical video self-portrait, made near the end of his life. New York Premiere
Sunday, Oct 9, 5:30pm (BWA)
Monday, Oct 10, 9pm (FBT)
Wendy Whelan: Restless Creature
Directed by Linda Saffire & Adam Schlesinger
USA, 2016, DCP, 90m
In 1984, Wendy Whelan joined the New York City Ballet as an apprentice; by 1991, she had been promoted to Principal Dancer. She quickly became a revered and beloved figure throughout the dance world. Wrote Roslyn Sulcas, “her sinewy physicality, her kinetic clarity, and her dramatic, otherworldly intensity have created a quite distinct and unusual identity.” Linda Saffire and Adam Schlesinger’s film follows this extraordinary artist throughout a passage of life that all dancers must face, when she must confront the limitations of her own body and adapt to a different relationship with the art form she loves so madly.
Sunday, Oct 9, 3:30pm (WRT)
Monday, Oct 10, 6:15pm (BWA)
Directed by Mohamed Siam
Egypt/USA/France, 2016, DCP, 60m
A remarkable, one-of-a-kind film from Egypt, Whose Country? has a point of view that grows in complexity as it proceeds, alongside the shifting fortunes and affiliations of the Cairo policeman who is the film’s subject and guide. By his side, we witness the fall of Mubarak, the rise and fall of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, and the rise of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The level of craft in this film is extraordinary, and so is the close attentiveness that the director pays to his difficult task: illuminating the compromised lives of the protagonist and his friends and the convulsive nation they call home.
Saturday, Oct 1, 9:30pm (WRT)
Sunday, Oct 2, 6:45pm (FBT)