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May 3 - 6, 2003

ARTS FIRST

In conjunction with Harvard’s annual Arts First festival, the HFA is pleased to present a series of compelling films by Harvard alumni. This year’s program includes a retrospective of works by the festival’s 2003 Arts Medal recipient, Harvard graduate Mira Nair; a tribute to the late Harvard-trained filmmaker Nish Saran; and two exciting new works from recent alumni Andrew Bujalski and Jane Gray.


May 2 - 4

Salaam Cambridge! Mira Nair in Retrospect

For this survey of major works by Harvard graduate and Arts Medal recipient Mira Nair, see the program listings for Salaam Cambridge! Mira Nair in Retrospect.

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May 3 (Saturday) 7 pm - Director Andrew Bujalski in Person

Funny Ha-Ha

Directed by Andrew Bujalski
US 2002, 16mm, color, 90 min.
With Kate Dollenmayer, Christian Rudder

Filmed in and around the streets of Allston-Brighton and featuring a cast and crew of Harvard grads, Andrew Bujalski’s debut feature provides an insightful look at contemporary relationships that fall outside the sugary optimism of Hollywood romance. Marnie is a 23-year-old office temp struggling to maintain her dignity and sense of humor amidst mundane tasks at work, for which she is clearly overqualified, and several ill-advised romantic situations. Among her potential suitors are an ex-flame who can’t seem to let go, her best friend’s boyfriend, and a co-worker who always manages to say the wrong thing. Bujalski moves his cadre of characters beyond the guarded wisecracking of so many young indies and pushes them toward a more vulnerable, and sometimes painful, truthfulness.

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May 5 (Monday) 7 pm - Director Jane Gray in Person

Playing House

Directed by Jane Gray
US 2003, video, color, 75 min.

Playing House is a compelling and often humorous vérité documentary that presents a portrait of five seventh- and eighth-grade girls during their first year at boarding school. The film takes place primarily in the dormitory the girls share, Webster House, where we watch their everyday lives unfold as they make friends and enemies, have their first dates, sleep with stuffed animals, sing along with Britney Spears, and negotiate social interactions that can at times be brutal. Through a series of intimate vignettes, Playing House follows the girls from September, when their parents kiss and hug them good-bye, to June, when their good-byes to each other are surprisingly teary given the rocky year they’ve shared.

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May 6 (Tuesday) 7 pm

Nish Saran: A Tribute

The Harvard Film Archive presents a heartfelt tribute to Harvard graduate and VES concentrator Nish Saran with screenings of his videos Summer in My Veins and Fifty Fifty. In 2002, Saran passed away after suffering injuries in an automobile accident in New Delhi. This special evening provides an opportunity for friends and family to come together and remember this gifted young artist.

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May 6 (Tuesday) 7 pm

Summer in My Veins

Directed by Nish Saran
US 1999, video, color, 41 min.

While traveling across america with his family visiting from India, Nish Saran struggles to come out to them as a gay man. Adding to his stress are the impending results of an HIV test, made all the more complicated by an unsafe encounter he has had with an HIV-positive man. Saran explores the unusual dynamics of secrecy and revelation, love and cruelty that mark this very close family. Every achingly personal moment—including coming out to his mother and getting his test results—is caught on tape. What results is a work that pushes personal documentary to its limits, where the very life of the maker is at stake in the outcome of the piece.

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May 6 (Tuesday) 7 pm

Fifty Fifty

Directed by Nish Saran
US 1998, video, color, 33 min.

In this loving portrait of the filmmaker’s mother, Minna, Saran chronicles the days surrounding her fiftieth birthday party. Amidst these festivities, Minna undergoes a biopsy on her breast. Saran intimately chronicles his mother’s conflicted feelings about both growing older and facing her own mortality while her extended family offers their own unique brand of support.

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Harvard Film Archive • Carpenter Center • 24 Quincy Street • Cambridge MA 02138 • 617-495-4700