January 6 (Saturday) 7 pm
Artist Julian Schnabel's second feature film is an ambitious portrait of Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas, who spent his last years in exile in New York in the 1980s. Like Schnabel's stylish reflection on painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, Before Night Falls attempts to capture not only the arc of an artistic career but the extreme personal costs of a life lived outside the mainstream. As an artist, an intellectual, and a homosexual, Arenas was subject to persecution and censorship, which forced him to smuggle the manuscripts of his short stories, poems, and novels out of Cuba to be published abroad. In bringing Arenas's life to the screen, Schnabel was guided by the writer's own powerful autobiographical manifesto, published posthumously. The resulting film has already earned major prizes at the Venice Film Festival, honoring both the production and an extraordinary performance by Spanish actor Javier Bardem.
February 1 (Thursday) 7 pm
Liv Ullmann is something of a rarity in modern cinema: a celebrated actress who has achieved equal success in recent years for her work behind the camera (Sofie, Kristin Lavransdatter). Faithless is the latest of her many collaborations with director Ingmar Bergman. She performed in nine of Bergman's greatest films and now directs a Bergman screenplay for the second time. A sensation at last year's Cannes Film Festival, Faithless is a story of passion and infidelity based on a real event from Bergman's past. Lyrical and enigmatic, the film begins with a writer (Josephson), also named Bergman, who summons his muse in the form of a memory. Marianne (Endre) appears to the writer as he sits down to craft a script above a love affair of long ago. As they discuss ideas for the story, she is transformed into the main character of the film he is now writing. Filled with references to Bergman's films and life, Faithless is a timeless meditation on relationships between women, men, art, and love.