Welcome to the new year! I think we all can agree that 2017 long overstayed its welcome, and 2018 could not have come any sooner. Aren’t we all happy to be back on campus? Yes, it comes with its inevitable stressors, but it is a relief to get back to the plush seats of the Goldsmith Family Theater. We don’t want to speak for you but we’ll bet you’re pretty pleased about that too, after all this week’s calendar is a knockout!
Obviously, the Film Series actually got going last week with an eclectic set of global cinematic offerings but sadly we at Cinefiles HQ were too busy flying across the Atlantic and gearing up for the new semester to give you fair warning. We hope you caught the glorious “Y Tu Mama Tambien” on 35mm from Mexican superstar Alfonso Cuaron on Wednesday, followed by a lovingly selected contemporary youth-themed and Asian shorts-themed series, all handpicked by our very own Genyu Zhang ’20 and Wilson Lai ’19. We may have teared up a little bit…
On Friday, many of you finally got your wish, with the indelible “Shrek 2” (a party for the ages) hitting the screen. And finally, on Saturday Billy Wilder delivered as he always does with charm, wit, and timeless glamour in the form of Marlene Dietrich. Tremendously entertaining and a splendidly written comedy, “Witness For the Prosecution” topped off our docket this first week back.
This week continues the glory with several unmissable events including not one but TWO director appearances and the start of our annual Ring Family Israeli Film Festival. Additionally, the week ends with the groundbreaking documentary “Man With A Movie Camera” featuring live accompaniment from Ben Model.
We’re pleased as punch to have you back with us and ready as ever to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!
2017. USA. Dir. Lana Wilson ’05. With Ittetsu Nemoto. Documentary. 97 min.
Wednesday, Jan. 31. 8 p.m. Free.
Want a gentle nudge towards transcendence? Wes alumna Lana Wilson’s got you. The documentary explores the life of Buddhist monk Ittetsu Nemoto and the suicide prevention work that dominates his life. Rarely will you see a documentary filmmaker with this level of access who handles the immense responsibility with such grace and generosity. The result is a real testament to the true power of personal connections and the potential for cinema to document pure intimacy. The film gives an unflinching view into suicide and people’s descent into total hopelessness, but Wilson treats this sensitive subject with compassion and grace. He also employs subtle but enduring criticism aimed at devoting one’s life to saving others and raises the question of what kind of sacrifice such a pursuit demands. “The Departure” is a very cleverly and carefully crafted film that speaks eloquently about loss, gratitude, and empathy, attachment and responsibility. We’d hasten to call any film a “spiritual journey” but this one comes close.
2017. Israel/Germany. Dir: Ofir Raul-Grazier. With Tim Kalkhof, Sarah Adler. 105 min.
Thursday, February 1. 8 p.m. Free.
The eleventh annual Ring Family Israeli Film Festival kicks off with “The Cakemaker,” directed by Ofir Raul-Glazer, who will also speak at the series. A German pastry baker, who learns of the death of his lover, travels to Jerusalem where his lover has formed his own family. Entering the lives of his lover’s newly widowed wife, he begins to work at her café using a forged identity which only complicates her life further. Intending to hide his true intentions, the young baker carries a burden of heavy secrets which have the capacity to destroy his own. In Jerusalem, which appears heartwarming as well gloomy under Glazer’s lenses, characters learn to deal with their love and loss. The screening will be a followed by a Q&A with Director Lana Wilson.
“The Florida Project”
2017. USA. Dir. Sean Baker. With Brooklynn Prince, Willem Dafoe. 111 min.
Friday, February 2. 8 p.m. $5.
This saturated summer story of childhood adventure is what widescreen was made for! Sean Baker’s latest venture takes place on the outskirts of Orlando’s Walt Disney World and follows the escapades of one six-year-old girl as she and her friends investigate the surrounding kingdom. Brooklynn Prince plays the child at the center of a whirlpool. Her character, Moonee, lives in colorfully painted motels with her young and resourceful mother Halley. The bond between these two is magnetic and their story screams with sadness, love, and reckless abandon. One could think of the visual style in “The Florida Project” as a whimsical mix of Eimbcke and Demy but with Baker’s signature stamp. We at Cinefiles HQ love some planimetric shots and cotton candy colors shot in 35mm. This film scorches and sweetens the soul. Don’t miss a chance to see this beauty on the big screen.
“Man with A Movie Camera”
1929. USSR. Dir: Dziga Vertov. Documentary. 68 min.
Saturday, February 3. 8 p.m. Free.
A firm proponent of Kino-Eye movement, Dziga Vertov successfully demonstrates this with “Man with A Movie Camera.” Released in 1929, it is a stunning work of art that modern viewers would marvel at for its extravagant display of cinematic devices—most of which have remained popularly accepted to the present. Despite the flashy use of technology, the film stays focused on the touching details and scenes of urban daily life in the 1920s, without veering into melodramatic plot points. Devoted to “the creation of an authentically international absolute language of cinema,” Vertov offered his most representative work of all time and turned it into a classic for cinephiles and academic devotees. Live Accompaniment will be performed by Ben Model.
Correction: This article has been updated to indicate that Beatrix Herriott O’Gorman ’19 coauthored the piece.