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Adventures in Surrealism

September 17 (Monday) 7 pm
September 18 (Tuesday) 9:15 pm

Zero for Conduct (Zéro de conduite)

Directed by Jean Vigo 
France 1933, 35mm, b/w, 45 min.
With Jean Dasté, Louis Lefébvre, Gilbert Pruchon
French with English subtitles

Jean Vigo’s first fiction film, an anarchic, disorienting vision of life in a French boarding school, was banned for anti-French sentiment and reissued in 1945 after the liberation. Drawn from Vigo’s own childhood experiences, the film focuses on four schoolboys who, fed up by the petty restrictions imposed on them, organize a revolt. One of the great subversive works of the cinema, it is an eloquent parable of freedom versus authority.

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screens with Zero for Conduct (see above)

Duck Soup

Directed by Leo McCarey
US 1933, 35mm, b/w, 68 min.
With the Marx Brothers, Margaret Dumont, Louis Calhern

The most incisive of the Marx Brothers’ films, Duck Soup masks its trenchant satire on fascism and war in a cloak of hilarious sightgags, clever repartee, and song. Set in the tiny country of Freedonia (Land of the Spree and Home of the Knave), the film brings together Groucho as newly appointed president Rufus T. Firefly, Harpo and Chico as enemy spies, and Zeppo as a tenor. Patriotism, religion, diplomacy, courtroom justice, and general matters of state are irreverently spoofed in such memorably zany scenes as the Parliament’s song-and-dance rendition of “All God’s Chillun Got Guns,” a surreal response to Groucho’s call to arms, and the rightfully famous “mirror” sequence.

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October 1 (Monday) 7 pm
October 2 (Tuesday) 9 pm

Peter Ibbetson

Directed by Henry Hathaway
US 1935, 35mm, b/w, 85 min.
With Gary Cooper, Ann Harding, Ida Lupino

Allegedly “discovered” by French poet Paul Eluard after following a woman into a Paris cinema at which it was playing, this loose adaptation of George du Maurier’s novel was hailed by André Breton as “a triumph of Surrealist thought.” This tale of l’amour fou—the love that transcends all known obstacles—relates the story of sweethearts who are separated in childhood and then drawn together by destiny years later, even unto death. The film’s seamless transitions between the worlds of reality and dream and its unhesitating and exultant acceptance of the primacy of love are captured in beautiful cinematography by Charles Lang. 

October 8 (Monday) 7 pm
October 9 (Tuesday) 8:30 pm

Jean Painlevé Program

Jean Painlevé (1902–89) made over 200 films that defy conventional notions of genre. A friend of Jean Vigo and other Surrealists, Painlevé—whose motto was “Science is Fiction”—made films of simple visual lyricism marked by a literary wit and a humorous sensibility. The Vampire (1945) is an observational film about bats based on the story of Nosferatu, and the first science film with a jazz (Duke Ellington) soundtrack. The Sea Horse (1934) pairs striking underwater footage of the hermaphroditic animal with music by Darius Milhaud, while The Love Life of the Octopus (1965) employs a musique concrète score by Pierre Henri. Working with an innovative camera apparatus, Painlevé was able to capture life under the microscope and sea creatures in their underwater habitats. This ninety-minute selection of Painlevé’s films includes his 1926 seven-minute adaptation of Ivan Goll’s Mathusalem, featuring Antonin Artaud. 

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October 15 (Monday) 7 pm
October 16 (Tuesday) 9:15 pm


Directed by David Lynch
US 1976, 35mm, b/w, 89 min.
With Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Allen Joseph

“A dream of dark and troubling things” is the entire synopsis offered by David Lynch for his remarkable and wildly original first feature. The film relates the story of Henry, a hapless hero cursed with an unfortunate hairline, an innocence bordering on retardation, and a lonely life in a boxlike apartment he shares with his radiator. Things change quickly for Henry, however, when his girlfriend becomes pregnant (through means which neither of them can fathom). Best seen as a dark nightmare about sexuality, parenthood, and commitment in relationships, Eraserhead astounds through its expressionist sets and photography, its startling, sinister soundtrack, and its relentlessly imaginative fluency.

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January 9 (Tuesday) 8:45 pm

L'Etoile de Mer

Directed by Man Ray
France 1928, 16mm, b/w, silent, 15 min.
With Robert Desnos, Kiki of Montparnasse















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January 15 (Monday) 7 pm

The Seashell and the Clergyman (La Coquille et le clergyman)

Directed by Germaine Dulac
France 1926, 16mm, b/w, silent, 44 min.
With Alix Allin


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Live Piano Accompaniment Composed and Performed by Yakov Gubanov
October 22 (Monday) 7 pm
October 23 (Tuesday) 9 pm

Un Chien Andalou (Andalusian Dog)

Directed by Luis Buñuel
France 1929, 35mm, b/w, silent, 17 min.
With Pierre Batcheff, Simone Mareuil, Salvador Dalí

This trio of classic Surrealist films includes American expatriate artist Man Ray’s elliptical adaptation of a poem by Robert Desnos, feminist filmmaker and writer Germaine Dulac’s interpretation of a text by Antonin Artaud, and Luis Buñuel’s celebrated collaboration with painter Salvador Dalí.

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Ghosts Before Breakfast (Vormittagsspuk)

Directed by Hans Richter
Germany 1928, 16mm, b/w, silent, 6 min.
With Hans Richter, Paul Hindesmith, Darius Milhaud










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Directed by René Clair
France 1924, 16mm, b/w, silent, 22 min.
With Jean Borlin, Inge Fries, Francis Picabia


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Live Piano Accompaniment Composed and Performed by Yakov Gubanov
October 29 (Monday) 7 pm
October 30 (Tuesday) 9 pm

L'Âge D'or

Directed by Luis Buñuel
France 1930, 35mm, b/w, 63 min.
With Gaston Modot, Lya Lys, Max Ernst
French with English subtitles

Painter, theoretician, and Zurich dadaist Hans Richter’s surreal comedy featuring flying derby hats and self-firing pistols is paired here with two of surrealism’s most famous cinematic realizations: René Clair’s delightfully uncanny restaging of the chase-film genre with a runaway hearse and Buñuel’s ultimate take on religion and l’amour fou.

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