Church of Film

February 24th, 2016

FUNERAL PARADE OF ROSES

ART THEATRE GUILD 4/4: In the hidden dens of Tokyo's homosexual clubs, drag queen Eddie vies for the heart of club-owner Gonda. Darting between documentary and fiction, FUNERAL PARADE OF ROSES follows Eddie through the parties, drugs, and romantic entanglements, and at last into a distorted recreation of the Oedipal myth. One of the first films to seriously explore transgender culture and homosexuality, Toshio Matsumoto's masterpiece is a breathless and revolutionary work of cinema, and reportedly inspired Stanley Kubrick's Clockwork Orange!

February 17th, 2016

HEROIC PURGATORY

ART THEATRE GUILD 3/4: An engineer's wife brings a lost teenager home. When a man posing as her father arrives to retrieve her, the engineer begins to remember his past as a revolutionary in the 1950s. What ensues is a vast, intricate puzzle in dream logic, darting between past, present, and future, fantasy and reality, sexuality and politics, as Japan's younger generations struggle in a radical stasis, unable to escape the incessant repetitions of past betrayals and failures. HEROIC PURGATORY was conceived as Kuji Yoshida's follow-up to his legendary EROS + MASSACRE, part of a series of films exploring sexuality and radical politics.

February 10th, 2016

THROW AWAY YOUR BOOKS, RALLY IN THE STREETS

ART THEATRE GUILD 2/4: The first feature by Japanese New Wave hero and renaissance man, Shûji Terayama (Pastoral: to Die in the Country), THROW AWAY YOUR BOOKS, RALLY IN THE STREETS is an explosive and manic psychedelic exploration of the director and poet's own troubled upbringing, and also of a nation wrestling with a haunting past and the promise of a revolutionary future. Told in feverish metaphorical vignettes, and accompanied by an raucous soundtrack by the Tokyo Kid Brothers, it's a film the tests the boundaries of film's poetic possibilities.

February 3rd, 2016

THIS TRANSIENT LIFE

ART THEATRE GUILD 1/4: Masao, a restless youth, would rather be disowned by his family than follow his father into business. He takes up a passion for Buddhism, and longs to apprentice for a nearby sculptor. But his radical perversions of Buddhism lead him down a trail of nihilism, incest, death, and mayhem to all that meet him. Akio Jissoji's THIS TRANSIENT LIFE was the first and most successful entry in a trilogy of erotically charged, immaculately designed, and highly controversial films exploring the furthest extremities of Buddhist philosophies.

January 27th, 2016

VIKTOR UND VIKTORIA

LATE WEIMAR 4/4: Struggling actress Susanne runs into washed-up ham actor Viktor and strikes up a friendship. When she stumbles upon Viktor's secret—that he moonlights as a female impersonator at a club to feed himself—the two of them concoct a wild plan. What if Susanne takes his place, and the act is a woman impersonating a man who is impersonating a woman? All goes well until "Viktoria" falls in love. Often cited as the pinnacle of Weimar musical comedy, and often adapted and imitated, German auteur Reinhold Schünzel's VIKTOR UND VIKTORIA is an hilarious exploration of gender identity and role-playing in an era of experimentation and looming crisis. A rarely seen classi, at the CLINTON STREET THEATER!

January 20th, 2016

I BY DAY, YOU BY NIGHT

LATE WEIMAR 3/4: Hans, a relief waiter in an upscale Berlin night club, rents a room by night. Grete, a manicurist, rents the same room by day. Though they have never met in person, the two have forged a lasting enmity toward each other. They also unwittingly strike up a romance without realizing that they share a room. I BY DAY, YOU BY NIGHT is one of the Weimar era's most artfully crafted musical comedies, winking and taunting the conservative order about to sweep over Germany. Its also a salty satire on the unrealistic and frothy musical genre in the wake of the hardships of the working class in the 30s. Starring Willy Fritsch!

January 13th, 2016

THE CONGRESS DANCES

LATE WEIMAR 2/4: Vienna, 1815. Napoleon, vanquished for the moment, awaits his fate on the island of Elba while Europe's Old Guard meets in Vienna to carve up the continent for themselves. But there are other intrigues abounding–those of the heart. And when a glove saleswoman (Lilian Harvey) finds herself enraptured by the Russian Czar Alexander (Willi Fritsch), the fate of nations may be forever changed. A cherished masterwork of elegant humor and sexual intrigue, and the pinnacle of the star pairing of Fritsch and Harvey, THE CONGRESS DANCES is a treasure of Weimar operetta and comedy!

January 6th, 2016

MASKERADE

LATE WEIMAR 1/4: The famous artist Heideneck attracts an interesting commission: the nude drawing of a well-known society woman. When the drawing finds its way into the newspapers, Heideneck evades a scandal by giving the press the random name of an unknown girl. However, when the girl sharing that name appears in Heideneck's life, the affair becomes complicated, and then tragic. The second directorial effort of Vienna songman, actor and auteur Willi Forst, MASKERADE is inarguably his masterpiece: the elegant and melancholic perfection of the Old Vienna film and German melodrama.

December 30th, 2015

MAVKA: SONG OF THE FOREST

WINTER TALES 4/4: Mavka, a water nymph, falls hopelessly in love with Lukash, a country youth. But happiness is brief when their love disturbs the balance between the world of mortals and that of divinities. MAVKA is a poetic tragedy directed by the brilliant Yuri Ilyenko (The Eve of Ivan Kupala), and based on the poetry of Ukrainian writer and feminist pioneer Lesya Ukrainka. A late masterpiece of the Ukrainian Poetic Cinema movement that began with Sergei Paradjanov's Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (a collaboration with Ilyenko), every shot in MAVKA is so beautifully composed that it could be framed and hung in a museum!

December 16th, 2015

THE FEATHER FAIRY

WINTER TALES 3/4: Mother Winter saves a young boy from her cousin, Death, and raises him as her immortal child. However, consumed by curiosity and desiring love, the young boy renounces his immortality to become human again! Banned from filmmaking for a decade, Juraj Jakubisko's reputationz grew as film fanatics whispered about a legendary "Slovakian Fellini." Jakubisko proudly endorsed the mantle with a glorious return to form and film, THE FEATHER FAIRY—even casting Fellini's wife, Giullieta Massina (La Strada, Juliet of the Spirits) in the title role! A wondrous, delirious adaptation of the Brother's Grimm tale Mother Hulda, Jakubisko's camera drifts from earth to heaven and spins its way into beautiful carnivalesque folk montages in a joyous celebration of what it means to be human! At the Clinton Street Theater!

December 9th, 2015

THE SNOW QUEEN

WINTER TALES 2/4: Based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, THE SNOW QUEEN is a surreal and sinister film focusing on the young girl Kerttu’s journey to rescue her brother Kai from the evil Snow Queen. Kerttu travels through beautiful and hostile lands, meeting various strange and threatening characters on the way – befriended and helped by some, waylaid and trapped by others. A rarely seen landmark of Finnish cinema, and a wintry fantasy epic!

December 2nd, 2015

THE SNOW WOMAN

WINTER TALES 1/4: A master sculptor and his apprentice, Yosaku, seek out a mystical tree for carving a statue commissioned by a local temple—but this angers the ghostly witch of the woods, who takes her revenge on the master but spares the student. Not long after, the beautiful Yuki appears in the village and falls in love with Yosaku. But through marriage and children, poverty and hardship, both Yuki and Yosaku both must keep a dreadful secret… THE SNOW WOMAN is a somber and elegant kaidan, a traditional Japanese ghost story, about love, sacrifice, and compassion, shot with painterly compositions by Kurasawa and Mizoguchi understudy Tokuzo Tanaka, and featuring a haunting score by Akira Ifukube.

November 18th, 2015

HARD TO BE A GOD

STRUGATSKY BROTHERS SCI-FI 3/3: Earth, in the future, sends Rumata as a spy to a distant planet, to observe and document a civilization stuck in something resembling the Middle Ages. Rumata's job is to develop a report on experimental history, but never to intervene in the affairs of the people or alter their development. But can any man, particularly one armed with the technological advances of millennia, stay neutral in a cruel and violent world? An indelicate balance of winking postmodern meta-narrative and Sci-fi Sword-and-Sorcery peplum (think Conan or Beastmaster), German New Cinema veteran Peter Fleischmann's take on one of the Strugatsky brother's most famous novels alternates between philosophical depth and wacked-out genre play. Featuring Werner Herzog in a cameo role, just to make things even crazier! At the Clinton Street Theater!

November 11th, 2015

THE UGLY SWANS

STRUGATSKY BROTHERS SCI-FI 2/3: Director Konstantin Lopushansky's worked as assistant director on the most famous Strugatsky adaptation of all, Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker. Since then he has devoted a career to matching his teacher's work with meditative Sci-fi pictures that comment darkly on the collapse of the USSR and the emerging Russian Federation. In 2006, he offered his own vision of the Strugatsky brothers with THE UGLY SWANS, a haunting parable of humanity's struggle to adapt to alien visitors who may be morally and intellectually superior to them. When the children of a small village welcome the new visitors as teachers and mentors, rejecting their parents, will international powers intervene? And at what cost? Set in a flooded, crumbling town where the rain never ceases, THE UGLY SWANS is a brooding and atmospheric ode to Tarkovsky.

November 4th, 2015

DEAD MOUNTAINEER'S HOTEL

STRUGATSKY BROTHERS SCI-FI 1/3: Police Inspector Glebsky answers an anonymous distress call from a remote mountain hotel, but finds the place untroubled when he arrives. However when an avalanche snows him in, he gets to know the hotel's strange guests a little better, and something—or many things—are not quite right... are they terrorists? Robots? Aliens?! This stylish glam-inflected, spaced-out, sci-fi neo-noir is a weird and wild mystery yarn based on a novel by famed Soviet sci-fi writers Boris and Arkady Strugatsky, and features an amazing ambient space-rock soundtrack by Estonian synth pioneer Sven Grunberg!

October 28th, 2015

Nikolai Gogol's VIY—SPIRIT OF EVIL

GOTHIC LITERATURE IN FILM 4/4: VIY—SPIRIT OF EVIL, legend holds, was the first horror film ever made in the Soviet Union, and for a long time the only one. Based on Nikolai Gogol's Ukrainian folk tale, VIY recounts the story of a debauched novice priest who one dark and spooky night encounters an old witch, whom he mortally wounds. But when the witch inhabits the body of a young and beautiful noblewoman, she dies with a curse on her lips: the priest must spend three nights alone in the church praying for her. And every night is filled with fresh horrors and crazy demons! A brilliant interplay of special effects and folk motifs, VIY is a beautiful tribute to the insurgent national cinemas emerging in the USSR during the 60s, and also just plain creepy fun! At the Clinton Street Theater!

October 21st, 2015

M.R. JAMES & SHERIDAN LAFANU—Two Gothic Ghost Tales

GOTHIC LITERATURE IN FILM 3/4: Two Gothic ghost chillers, adapted from the genre giants Sheridan LaFanu and M.R. James! In LaFanu's SCHALCKEN THE PAINTER, we revisit the paintings of real life Dutch master Godfried Schalcken—in a brilliant docudrama, we explore the haunting figures cloaked in shadows in his mysterious paintings, and the dreadful story behind one of them ("Young Girl with a Candle"), involving a deal with a demon and the sacrifice of a young woman. Director Leslie Megahey's moody piece was stylized after the influence of Polish director Walerian Borowiczyk and bears a kinship to the contemporary experimental narratives of Peter Greenaway and Raoul Ruiz. Also included will be a stylish adaptation of M.R. James's LOST HEARTS, another tale of demons, the black arts, and the sacrifice of youth. It's a dark and spooky night, don't miss it!

October 14th, 2015

POE POE POE POE.

GOTHIC LITERATURE IN FILM 2/4: As in Edgar Allen Poe, the master of gothic horror, and a favorite for all arthouse directors of every generation for the striking imagery in his magnificent short stories and poems. Our ode to Poe will feature first and foremost French pioneer Jean Epstein's masterpiece, THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER, a bewildering piece of film poetry co-scripted by his young associate director and student, Luis Bunuel. Also included will be Austrian director Kurt Steinwedner's THE RAVEN, a grim expressionist adaptation of the famous poem shot in postwar conditions, and French New Wave critic Alexandre Astruc's horrifying THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM, the only true adaptation of Poe's mind-bending story described in different pitches of the darkness. And there will be more!

October 7th, 2015

M.G. Lewis's THE MONK

GOTHIC LITERATURE IN FILM 1/4: A saintly monk (Franco Nero) falls into a trap of carnal sin, and covering his hypocrisies while satisfying the needs of his flesh leads him further down a path of sexual deviancy, violence, and into the Black Arts! Around him looms the threat of the Inquisition, and the guilt over his own crimes and his pact with the Devil. A pet project of Luis Bunuel's, who had long wanted to adapt M.G. "Monk" Lewis's famous gothic novel and finally drew up the screenplay, but was forced to abandon the project due to censorship concerns. But behold, it came to fruition anyway! Bunuel shuffled his screenplay over to French and Italian producers, who assembled a cast of crew of Bunuelites to make the film a reality. Features cinematography by the brilliant Sacha Vierny and a score by Pierre Piccioni.

September 30th, 2015

JULIETTE OR THE KEY OF DREAMS

FRENCH FILM FANTASTIQUE 4/4: Are we happier with or without our memories? Marcel Carne's (Children of Paradise) 1951 opus, JULIETTE OR THE KEY OF DREAMS, asks why love can haunt us so long after hope has left us. Michel finds himself imprisoned for embezzlement after sneaking some money for a trip with his new love, Juliette. But as night falls, the prison doors open for him, leading him to a sun-dappled countryside and a remote village whose inhabitants carry on their lives without memories. There Michel must find Juliette again, and save her from the clutches of the savage Bluebeard. A dreamy, often melancholic film that drifts from sad realities to fairy tale reverie, Carne's film was misunderstood at the time—today we may appreciate it as a timeless poem about the tragedy of love and the prison of our own memory.

September 23rd, 2015

LA MAIN DU DIABLE or CARNIVAL OF SINNERS

FRENCH FILM FANTASTIQUE 3/4: Roland, an impoverished Parisian painter who has more luck with women than skill with a brush, unwittingly enters into a Faustian bargain when he purchases a mysterious box containing a human hand for the price of a nickel. Soon everything he dared dream of comes easily his way: fame for his painting, the woman he loves, incredible wealth. But like any deal with the Devil, he has gotten more than he bargained for… in a desperate bid to save his soul, he finds himself in Monte Carlo during Carnival, confronting the phantoms of every soul who has possessed his magical hand throughout the ages, until he finds the original owner. Together they must confront the Devil. Made in Occupied France, CARNIVAL OF SINNERS, or La Main du Diable, was a late masterstroke of expressionist horror by legendary maestro of the supernatural and fantastique, Maurice Tourneur! At the Clinton Street Theater!

September 9th, 2015

DAINAH LA METISSE

FRENCH FILM FANTASTIQUE 2/4: A shorts and featurettes program of love, death, and the sea! Our headline film, DAINAH LA METISSE, is an early masterpiece by French master Jean Gremillon. A strange, stylized and alluring film, DAINAH is a jazzy, nightmarish poem about racial tension and sublimated colonial guilt, set amidst the strange parties and magic-laced maskarades on an ocean liner. Also included will be Dmitri Kirsanoff's haunting experimental narrative, MENILMONTANT, and Jean Epstein's beautiful THE TEMPEST.

September 2nd, 2015

LA NUIT FANTASTIQUE

FRENCH FILM FANTASTIQUE 1/4: The girl of his dreams, literally! Denis, a philosophy student working as a night porter to pay his way through, develops a narcoleptic proclivity. Nodding off one night, he finds himself in a strange and lucid dream, in which he meets Irene, a beautiful and elusive woman who haunts his recurring dreams. Can he save her from the Byzantine kidnapping plots, in dream logic, and win her heart? A Surrealist comedy made in Occupied France, LA NUIT FANTASTIQUE was a box office smash for a France wary of the waking world, and a return to form for avant-garde pioneer Marcel L'Herbier!

August 26, 2015

INVASION

60s LATIN AMERICAN CINEMA 4/4: AT THE CLINTON STREET THEATER! OUR 2nd YEAR ANNIVERSARY AND 100th SCREENING! Presenting Hugo Santiago's INVASION, the lost masterpiece of Argentinian cinema and a film writer Jorge Luis Borges considered one of the crowning achievements of his life! In the fictional city of Aquila, a mysterious group of heroes work night and day to thwart the never-ending attempts of unnamed invaders from breaching the city's gates, from land, sea, air and from within. A chic paranoic thriller following agents with sword and cloth discipline and Samurai-like honor as they make a deadly and doomed effort to protect their modern-day Troy. INVASION was banned and seemingly destroyed after the 1976 coup, but was miraculously and painstakingly restored with the help of brilliant cinematographer Ricardo Aronovich! The final installment in our series on 60s Latin American Cinema, do not miss! After party at Dots across the street!

August 19, 2015

BLACK GOD WHITE DEVIL

60s LATIN AMERICAN CINEMA 3/4: In the 1940s, deep into the outback of Brazil, ranch hand Manuel murders his boss after a wage dispute. From there he is tossed into a mad world of cult leaders, revolutionaries and bandits, as he shifts allegiances from one outlaw to the next, seeking redemption and justice, but finding himself mired deeper into criminality and an unending sequence of massacre. Close on his trail is the famous mercenary assassin, Antonio Das Mortes. Blending mysticism, pop culture, western genre, and gritty realism, BLACK GOD WHITE DEVIL established the 25 year old director Glauber Rocha as not only a leader of the Cinema Novo, but as one of the greatest influences on the radicalization of cinema in the 60s. An enormous influence on Godard, Jodoroswky, Jancso and many more, this is a rarely screened watershed piece of film art!

August 12, 2015

THE DEATH OF A BUREAUCRAT

60s LATIN AMERICAN CINEMA 2/4: "A dream of coffins and nuns in a satirical Cuban attack on bureaucracy," pithily explained Amos Vogel. A young man needs a document buried with his father, but finds that he must cut through the red tape by exhuming the body himself. So begins his maddening and absurd descent into bureaucratic Hell, as he seeks permit after permit in increasingly bizarre offices to rebury the body. DEATH OF A BUREAUCRAT was the second masterpiece offered up by Tomas Gutierrez Alea for Castro's growing film industry, after his groundbreaking Memories of Underdevelopment. In a shift of tone and style, Alea moulded a darkly funny and kafkaesque black comedy drawing on influences as wide as Ingmar Bergman, Buster Keaton, and Orson Welles. Construed often as a critique of socialism's organizational pitfalls, it is actually a poem of sympathy for anyone who has found themselves punted through departments and offices in search of simple answers.

August 5, 2015

Kukuli & Other Tales

60s LATIN AMERICAN CINEMA 1/4: Two mini featurettes, and a handful of shorts to showcase Latin American cinema throughout the ages! First, Gabriela Semper's hauntingly beautiful Columbian folk tale, THE HEIGHTS OF CUMANDAY (1965), in which a muleteer is lured by a ghost to the top of a mountain, to learn an important lesson. Then Peru's first feature film, KUKULI (1961), which follows the titular maiden as she dies at the hands of the mythical bear spirit Ukuku, and then is reborn as a white llama. Both films are sumptuous medleys of folk art and elemental forces, drawing exquisitely from the framing technique and montage of Soviet cinema. The two films will also be lovingly peppered with other short work from all around Latin America!

July 29, 2015

Celebration in the Botanical Garden

CZECH NEW WAVE 4/4: Filmed in the Summer of '68, Slovakian director Elo Havetta's CELEBRATION IN THE BOTANICAL GARDEN is an unrestrained, uncomplicated expression of joy, freedom and the need for miracles. A mosaic of stories and episodes set in a small village flutter about, merge and collide until a stranger comes to town and touches everything with a bit of anarchy and magic. And then it's party time! A banquet of folk art, colors, comedy and magic, it's a visually saturated ode to the enchanting spell of cinema and, well, just a fun piece of Summer Saturnalia!

July 22, 2015

Joseph Kilian & Other Shorts

CZECHOSLOVAK NEW WAVE 3/4: Our painstakingly researched shorts program from the New Wave, headlined by Pavel Juráček's uber-classic, Amos Vogel-endorsed Joseph Kilian - a Kafkaesque parable about a boy and his cat. Also featuring rare and classic short works by Jan Nemec (Oratorio for Prague), Juraj Herz (The Junk Shop), Juraj Jakubisko (Drummer For the Red Cross), and other luminaries of the Prague Spring! If you like our shorts programs, get your fix in on this night!

July 13, 2015

BIRDS, ORPHANS & FOOLS

CZECHOSLOVAK NEW WAVE 2/4: At the HOLLYWOOD THEATRE. "Only a fool can be a free man!” Juraj Jakubisko, often called the Slovakian Fellini, made this colorful madcap classic as Soviet tanks were rolling into Prague. Three youths, orphaned by political violence, take refuge in a bombed out church and vow to live a life of heedless, unrestrained joy. But amidst the drunken revelry and surreal antics, an undercurrent of violence emerges, until reality at last rears its head and the spell is broken. All good things must come to an end! Banned without condition by Soviet authorities immediately upon release, BIRDS ORPHANS & FOOLS was finally released in 1989 after the Velvet Revolution, and hailed as a masterpiece of the Czechoslovakian New Wave.

July 8, 2015

CASE FOR A ROOKIE HANGMAN

CZECHOSLOVAK NEW WAVE 1/4: Enfant terrible Pavel Juráček's departing blow to Soviet censors is a feverish, dreamy, comic blend of Lewis Carroll, Franz Kafka, & Jonathan Swift. The hallucinogenic swirl of influences is transported to a crumbling vision of the late 20th century, as Lemuel Gulliver, following a dead hare in clothing, finds himself a foreigner in the mysterious land of Balnibari, and climbs his way to the floating kingdom of Laputin. It was banned forever upon release. So was Juráček. Whoops!