September 21 (Sunday) 7 pm
Directed by Roberto Rossellini
Italy, 1946, b/w, 115 min.
With Maria Michi, Gar Moore, Dale Edmonds
English and Italian with English subtitles
Rossellini’s follow-up to Rome, Open City is a compendium of six episodes that focus on a series of cross-cultural encounters during the Battle of Italy (1943–45)—all unified by the director’s neorealist strategies (location shooting, use of nonactors) and his search for signs of humanity in even the most brutal of circumstances. Among the film’s most poignant sequences are a story set at night on the coast of Sicily as an American G.I. and a local girl attempt to elude a group of German soldiers; a vignette in which a black G.I. on leave in Naples tries to recover his stolen boots, only to be shocked by the miserable conditions in which the homeless young thief and his compatriots live; and the concluding episode, set in the Po Valley, in which the partisans fight in a losing cause alongside Allied paratroopers.
September 28 (Sunday) 7 pm - Live Piano Accompaniment by Yakov Gubanov
Directed by Walther Ruttman
Germany, 1927, b/w, silent, 65 min.
Walther Ruttman’s impressionistic vision of Berlin stands as one of the great “city symphonies” of the silent era. A day-to-night portrait of the city that deploys kinetic editing and a graphic mode of cinematography to capture the dynamism of the modern urban environment, the film set a lasting precedent for the representation of city life in cinema. Although the events appear to take place during a single spring day, Ruttman spent eighteen months assembling footage to produce the final film. Whether classified as a work of nonfiction or the avant-garde, Ruttman’s poetic work remains a classic of cinema.
September 28 (Sunday) 8:30 pm
Directed by Luis Buñuel
Mexico, 1950, b/w, 88 min.
With Alfonso Mejia, Estela Inda, Miguel Inclán
Spanish with English subtitles
An unflinching and emotionally devastating vision of poverty and human depravation, Los Olvidados depicts the descent of a street urchin from petty delinquent to accomplice in murder under the unwanted tutelage of Jaibo, a member of his street gang recently released from detention. Made nearly twenty years after his early surreal masterpieces, Los Olvidados marked Buñuel’s return to filmmaking after an extended artistic exile. Using hard-edged, neorealist observational techniques supplemented by Hollywood closeups and soft focus, Buñuel’s film is a bold and courageous cinematic experiment, unique in the era for its strong social concerns.
October 14 (Tuesday) 7 pm - Live Piano Accompaniment by Yakov Gubanov
Directed by Dziga Vertov
USSR, 1929, b/w, silent, 80 min.
Truly an experimental documentary, Dziga Vertov’s masterpiece exemplifies the montage aesthetic of the Soviet avant-garde of the 1920s through its kinetic juxtaposition of shots and sped-up and slowed-down motion. Using his own concept of the "kino eye"—the cinema eye that illuminates the real world as not ordinarily seen—Vertov creates a city symphony depicting a day in the life of an urban metropolis.
November 2 (Sunday) 7 pm
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
US, 1994, color, 142 min.
With Tom Hanks, Robin Wright Penn, Gary Sinise
Hanks received his second Academy Award in as many years for his portrayal of the title character, a Southern man with a low I.Q. who stumbles, like an unwitting Zelig, through the major American events of the second half of the twentieth century (achieved through Zemeckis’s innovative use of computer-altered stock footage). His innocent experience is contrasted with that of his friend Jenny (Penn), who is all too conscious of her own struggle with the darker side of American life. Forrest’s obliviousness in the presence of “great men” is a sly critique of America’s mythic self-image; Jenny’s stoicism in the face of abuse, drug addiction, and AIDS provides a chilling counterpoint.
November 17 (Monday) 9 pm
Directed by Eric Rohmer
France, 2001, color, 125 min.
With Jean-Claude Dreyfus, Lucy Russell, Alain Libolt
French with English subtitles
Veteran French New Wave director Eric Rohmer explores new limits of formal experimentation through the use of digital video in this adaptation of Grace Elliott’s memoirs. Lucy Russell stars as the Scottish aristocrat who engages in a series of liaisons dangereuses amidst the rising tide of the French Revolution. Rohmer commissioned a series of perspective paintings based on eighteenth-century engravings and, from them, created vivid tableaux spaces in which his actors perform. The result is a virtual Paris which, despite its obvious artificiality, proves a telling reflection of the central character’s conflicted relationship to the world around her.