Church of Film

May 27, 2015


Presenting the birth of processed screen color! An entire program of early two-strip Technicolor, with the eerie, grand, beautiful color palette of green and red tones! Early color was a cumbersome and expensive process that studios and audiences alike were wary of (color gave them headaches long before 3D). The first part of our program will explore surviving shorts, like DEVIL'S CABARET, and scenes from some of the silents and early talkies that boldly wandered into uncharted territory, like BLACK PIRATE, THE VIKING, DOCTOR X and PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. Part two will bookend the era with two 50 minute features, the first all Technicolor feature, THE TOLL OF THE SEA starring Anna May Wong, and the last of the two-strip features, LEGONG: DANCE OF THE VIRGINS, a haunting love story shot in Bali with an entirely Balinese cast!

May 20, 2015


Avast ye, a buried treasure! Following his arthouse classic Celine & Julie Go Boating, Jacques Rivette - the most radical director and critic, and the most obscured of the French New Wave - conceived a cycle of fantasy films, structured around feminist theory and Celtic myths about the dueling goddesses of the Sun and Moon. The project collapsed after two films, along with its director, and both films were abandoned to the tomb of cinematic history. But no more! We will present the second of these films, NOROÎT, a radical reinvention and experiment to test the very boundaries and structures of the medium! An icy, postmodern retelling of Thomas Middleton's Revengers Tragedy, NOROÎT follows the schemes of the ghostly revenger Morag (Geraldine Chaplin) as she seeks to undermine her nemesis, the pirate queen Giulia (Bernadette Lafont) in an austere castle in Brittany. NOROÎT is perhaps Rivette's most visually entrancing film, but also his most theoretically difficult. We will discuss Rivette, his designs, and his place in feminist film criticism. Oh, we will also pre-screen some Rivettian shorts, like PARIS S'EN VA and more!

May 13, 2015


A survey of one of the giants of cinema, Luis Buñuel, from his early surrealist silents to his exile in Mexico! Part One will feature rare shorts like Eugene Deslaw's MONTPARNASSE, with a winking cameo from Luis, his grim blending of moralism and the surreal in the faux-documentary LAS HURDES, and a very special treat beyond that! Part Two will present his most celebrated Mexican feature, LOS OLVIDADOS. A relentlessly dark and cynical view of poverty in Mexico City, as young children form into brutal, predatory gangs and terrorize the city -- and each other. The film caused an outrage and was pulled immediately from Mexican theaters, but became an international cause célèbre when poet Octavio Paz enlisted the help of European Surrealists like Andre Breton, Marc Chagall, and Jean Cocteau to get the film entered into Cannes. A rare and legendary piece of cinema!

May 6, 2015


In celebration of the thawing relationship between Cuba and US, we present two Cuban voices: Santiago Álvarez and Tomás Gutiérrez Alea! Part One features the radical, energetic experimental documentary work of Santiago Alvarez, one of the greatest pioneers in the medium! Featuring a rhythmic, discordant blizzard of stills, footage, newsreels, and pop music, Alvarez's defiant documentary shorts were witty, psychedelic, revolutionary collage works that inspired many across the globe! We will include, among others, his most famous works: NOW!, LBJ, and 79 SPRINGS! Part Two presents Cuba's best known feature film, voted the greatest Latin American film of all time: Tomás Gutiérrez Alea's MEMORIES OF UNDERDEVELOPMENT (1968). A complex and provocative look at the life of a wealthy bourgeois Cuban man following the revolution and the Bay of Pigs. As war seems imminent, as his family and friends flee to the United States, Sergio resigns himself to living in Revolutionary Havana and retreating into bewilderment and introspection. One of the most profound looks at revolutionary change and human adaptation!

April 29, 2015


A visionary and a standout even amongst the taboo-challenging directors of the Japanese New Wave, Toshio Matsumoto established himself as a consummate stylist, a pioneer of video art and the experimental short, and the director of a few of the era's most exceptional features. Part One of the program explores Matsumoto's mind-blowing, psychedelic and spacey short and video work. Part Two presents his grim study study of the inescapable nature of evil and the darkness that dwells within man, his controversial anti-Samurai epic DEMONS. Drowning in shadows, a handful of characters try to claw their way out a world of deception, robbery, and murder, all done in the name of so-called honor. But the horror and tragedy compounds, interfuses, and then spirals out of control into a metaphysical cataclysm. Banned in many countries for several reasons (eep!).

April 20, 2015


At the Hollywood Theatre! Starring Grande Otelo as Macunaima, "a hero with no character," Joaquim Pedro de Andrade's surreal farce is one of the monumental classics of the Brazilian Cinema Novo. Macunaima is born a feckless, whiny, and wily in the jungle. A magical transformation turns him into a handsome white man, but does nothing to change his lazy disposition. It does, however, change the way people see him and that makes more than enough difference. An extraordinarily colorful, madcap and surreal social satire that follows Macunaima and his cohorts as they make their way through modern day Brazil, with its revolutionary violence, its sexual liberty, and its mad cannibal (literally…) industrialists! Based on Mario de Andrade's modernist classic novel from 1928.

April 15, 2015


A showcase of the radical talent that emerged from Communist Hungary's renegade Béla Balázs Studios! Part One will feature short work by Gabor Body, Zoltan Huszarik and other avant-garde giants that emerged from the studio in the 70s. Part Two will present an Italian feature, PRIVATE LIVES PUBLIC VIRTUES, by one of the founders of the studio, Miklos Jancso (The Red & the White, The Round-Up). This film opened in the 1976 Cannes Film Festival and was booed into oblivion, with few stopping to question whether or not Jancso's mad, orgiastic and conspiratorial retelling of the Mayerling Affair was anything more than a nudity-obsessed provocation and a wild, spinning orgy involving an hermaphrodite (?) among, well, just about everything else. Today, perhaps, we can judge anew the merits of this liberating commentary on the hazy mixture of free love, drugs, and revolutionary politics that had engulfed Jancso's generation. Probably not safe for younger audiences... and maybe not safe for anyone.

April 8, 2015

The Films of Germaine Dulac

France's avant-garde Feminist pioneer, one of the first women to direct films, Queen of les bohèmes: Germaine Dulac! Obscured in cinema history, Dulac was a fixture of Paris's radical, liberated avant-garde scene, rubbing elbows with the likes of Artaud and making Surrealist films that broke ground even before Bunuel & Dali. Founder of a feminist journal, a theorist, a thinker, and a critic, she forged new ground in every territory. Part One features a selection of Dulac's Pure Cinema shorts, including DISQUE 957, THEMES & VARIATIONS, and one her crowning achievements, THE SMILING MADAME BEUDET. Part Two features her more legendary piece, THE SEASHELL & THE CLERGYMAN, a collaboration with writer Antonin Artaud that caused a riot in Paris and prefigures Un Chien Andalou in its striking, strange, at times beautiful at time grotesque imagery. Our program ends with her art-deco drunken dream, INVITATION TO A VOYAGE. Bon voyage!

April 1, 2015


The genesis of Yugoslavian art film, the cynical birth of the legendary Black Wave! Part One features short experimental work by some of the movements major movers. Part Two presents AND LOVE HAS VANISHED, the flagship feature of the movement and clarion call that scandalized the film industry. Into Love? Then this is the film for you! But you must be into all aspects of Love and, and sadly one of those aspects is the Love's dissolution (boo hoo sniff sniff). Directed by Aleksandar Petrovic, the main architect and theorist of the Black Wave, who masterfully succeeds in depicting the entire journey of this favorite yet fickle emotion. And the falling in Love part is so drop dead gorgeous and sensual and dreamy that you will be lulled into the deepest denial that anything could break this spell, but, but… Petrovic's film defined the moody and grim voice, the urban cacophony and alienation, the lyricism and sharp social commentary that forged a new era in Yugoslavian cinema. Nominated for the Palme D'Or, and not to be missed!

March 25, 2015


The flamboyant dandy of German New Cinema, Werner Schroeter's hyper-stylized, operatic cinema defies categorization. Part One presents two of Schroeter's early avant-garde shorts: AGGRESSION and MARIA CALLAS PORTRAIT. Part Two features one his most strange and intoxicating features, WILLOW SPRINGS. Shot on a shoestring budget in the middle of the Californian desert, Schroeter's American foray follows in a dreamlike trance the murderous North Star Cult, a small commune who have retreated from society to a string of abandoned buildings along the highway. There they lure men in, and sacrifice them. With entrancing desert photographing, and a blend of old pop and blues mixing indiscriminately with opera records, WILLOW SPRINGS is the most haunting, bizarre, and at times the most comical of Schroeter's oeuvre!