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June 26 - August 20, 2006 - SUMMER DOUBLE FEATURES

Eight Weeks of Film History: 1980-2006 (Saturdays and Sundays)

We are pleased to provide our annual respite from the summer heat with a season of double feature screenings. Our popular program culls selections from the HFA’s 10,000 plus film collection, rare prints from international archives, and notable rediscoveries and reissues from the past year, including Antonioni’s The Passenger and Bresson’s Mouchette. This year, we present a whirlwind tour of film history which is by no means comprehensive but designed to give an overview of some of the more compelling international cinemas, including rarely screened work from France, Russia, Poland, Brazil, and Australia. The films are organized chronologically allowing a fascinating if, somewhat arbitrary weekly journey from the origins of cinema to the present day.

Special thanks to Yale University, The Academy Film Archive, the George Eastman House, the National Film and Sound Archive (Australia), the Museum of Modern Art, The Library of Congress, Milestone Films, Strand Releasing, Gaumont, Janus Films, Kino International, Rialto Pictures, Swank Motion Pictures, Corinth Films, New Yorker Films, Universal Pictures, Warner Brothers Classics and Zeitgeist Films.


July 1 (Saturday) 7 pm
July 2 (Sunday) 8:45 pm

Landscapes in the Mist

Directed by Theo Angelopoulos
France/Greece/Italy 1988, color, 127 min.
With Tania Palaiologou, Eva Kotamanidou, Vangelis Kazan
Greek with English subtitles

Born to a single mother, Voula (Palaiologou) and her younger brother Alexandros (Michalis Zeke) make regular trips to the train station to watch the departure of the train to Germany, where their mother has told them their father resides. One night, they get on the train, but instead of connecting with the father they have never met, they are plunged into a nightmarish fairy tale of a journey across the Greek landscape, one that is at once a rich evocation of the confusions of pre-adolescence, a commentary on the surreal nature of modern existence, and a point of connection between themes and characters from Angelopoulos’s earlier films.

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July 1 (Saturday) 9:15 pm
July 2 (Sunday) 7 pm

The White Balloon

Directed by Jafar Panahi
Iran 1995, color, 85 min.
With Aida Mohammadkhani, Moshen Kafili, Fereshteh Sadr Orfani
Farsi with English subtitles

With characteristic affection for his subjects, Panahi uses his camera in the film’s opening shots to examine the inhabitants of a Tehran marketplace. The camera settles on a woman, whose seven-year-old daughter Razieh soon demands money to buy a new goldfish. The film then takes Razieh as its subject as she departs for the store, loses the money and her direction, and wanders the city streets. The fable-like aspects of the story are tempered by an underlying critique of Razieh’s greed and, by extension, of the selfishness of consumerism in general. From a script by Abbas Kiarostami, Panahi’s debut film shows why its director has become one of the most admired figures in world cinema today.

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July 8 (Saturday) 7 pm
July 9 (Sunday) 9 pm

Manhunter

Directed by Michael Mann
US 1986, color, 119 min.
With William L. Petersen, Tom Noonan, Joan Allen

Before Hopkins’ Hannibal, Peterson’s CSI, and Farina’s Law & Order, there was Mann’s Manhunter. Beyond its 1980s neon green titles and synth score, the film's incredible set of images recall the visual triumph of even the silent era.  In pursuit of a serial killer, Graham (Peterson) draws on extreme powers of empathy to enter not the killer’s mind, but his dreams. This threshold between reality and fantasy, between Graham and Dollarhyde (Noonan), coalesces for the film’s characters in sheets of glass, while it is made manifest for the audience on the screen, where Mann’s images rebound as carefully constructed symbols.

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July 8 (Saturday) 9:15 pm
July 9 (Sunday) 7 pm

Fireworks (Hana-bi)

Directed by Takeshi Kitano
Japan 1997, color, 103 min
With Takeshi Kitan, Kayoko Kishimoto, Ren Osugi
Japanese with English subtitles

One of the most commercially and critically successful filmmakers in contemporary Japanese cinema, Takeshi Kitano is known for an austere style that combines stillness, quiet, and emotional understatement with elliptical editing and sudden, brutal violence. In Fireworks (as in most of his films), Kitano acts as well, playing Nishi, a hard-boiled loner cop dealing with multiple recent tragedies, caring for his cancer-stricken wife, and indebted to the Japanese mafia. Named one of the decade’s top ten films by a 2000 Village Voice critics' poll, Fireworks is a striking blend of humor, pathos, and rage in which bloodshed shares screen time with its counterpoint, the surreal paintings (by Kitano) of Nishi’s paralyzed ex-partner.

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July 15 (Saturday) 7 pm
July 16 (Sunday) 9:15 pm

Sweetie

Directed by Jane Campion
Australia 1989, color, 100 min.
With Geneviève Lemon, Karen Colston

Jane Campion garnered international attention for her eccentric tale of a Sydney girl who must stand by while her overweight, messy, delusional sister Sweetie moves into the apartment she shares with her boyfriend. The quirky constellation of characters and situations that spin around the rival sisters include a vaguely mad father, hints of incest, New Age spiritualism, and an auto trip into a surrealist vision of the Australian West. Campion's first feature has often been compared to the work of David Lynch, but her themes owe far more to the influence of her favorite director, Luis Buñuel. For purists, Sweetie remains Campion's masterpiece.

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July 15 (Saturday) 9 pm
July 16 (Sunday) 7 pm

Three Lives and Only One Death (Trois vies & une seule mort)

Directed by Raoul Ruiz
France/Portugal 1996, color, 123 min.
With Marcello Mastroianni, Anna Galiena, Marisa Paredes
French with English subtitles

Ruiz’s characteristically discontinuous mode of storytelling is on full display as Marcello Mastroianni portrays four different men—characters who soon pop up in one another’s stories, surreally transfiguring and thus connecting one imaginary space with another. Endlessly inventive, the film offers one story in which Mastroianni’s apartment mysteriously expands in size, while tiny fairies eat his newspapers and drink his liquor while he sleeps—thus quickly devouring 20 years of his life. A political exile from Chile since 1973, Ruiz has continued the innovative filmmaking that put him at the forefront of Chilean cinema in the 60s; his subsequent peripatetic production (in France, Italy, Taiwan, the US, etc.) is paralleled in the multiplicities of identity found in Three Lives and Only One Death.

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July 22 (Saturday) 7 pm
July 23 (Sunday) 9:15 pm

Withnail and I

Directed by Bruce Robinson
UK 1987, color, 107 min.
With Richard E. Grant, Paul McGann, Richard Griffiths

Two out of work actors (Grant and McGann) escape from their squalid, dull London flat to the countryside in the hopes of finding some creative inspiration. But their dreams of an idyllic respite are quickly dashed thanks to constant rain, no food and a leering uncle (Griffiths) who arrives unannounced. Set at the end of the 1960s, this semi-autobiographical work from director Bruce Robinson drew on his own hazy experiences as an out-of-work thespian and gained cult status thanks in part to a boozy, dyspeptic performance from Grant.

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July 22 (Saturday) 9 pm
July 23 (Sunday) 7 pm

The Big Lebowski

Directed by Joel Coen
US 1998, color, 127 min.
With Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore

When Jeff Lebowksi aka “The Dude” (Bridges) is mistaken for a wealthy philanthropist, the unassuming, unemployed bowling enthusiast finds himself embroiled in a chain of events that he is only too happy to unravel, as long as he gets a new rug. The Coen brothers absurdist follow-up to Fargofailed to garner much critical acclaim or commercial success on its initial release. Since then, this stoner noir has become a cult sensation, and inspired bowling themed festivals across the United States peppered with healthy servings of White Russians.

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July 29 (Saturday) 7 pm
July 30 (Sunday) 9 pm

Yeleen (Brightness)

Directed by Souleymane Cissé 
Burkina Faso/France 1987, color, 105 min. 
With Issiaka Kane, Aoua Sangare, Niamanto Sanogo 
Bambara and French with English subtitles

One of Africa’s leading directors, Cissé gained critical attention for the burgeoning African film movement with his first fiction film, Cinq Jours d’une vie in 1972.  A decade and a half later, Yeleen was recognized as a masterpiece, hailed by Film Comment as “the best African film ever made.”  Set in an indeterminate period among the Bambara people of Mali (Cissé’s homeland), Yeelen focuses on a spiritual battle waged between a father and a son. Drawing his tale from oral traditions, Cissé fashioned an innovative narrative style that combines visual elegance with allegorical storytelling to explore the conflicts that emerge between the desire for change and the need to preserve tradition.  

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July 29 (Saturday) 9 pm
July 30 (Sunday) 7 pm

Lunar Eclipse (Yue shi)

Director Wang Quan’an
China 1999, color, 100 min.
With Yu Nan, Wu Chao, Hu Xiaoguang
Chinese with English subtitles

Told in a cinematic language rarely seen in Chinese films, Lunar Eclipse marked the debut of Wang Quanan, a 1991 graduate of the Beijing Film Academy and member of the “Urban Generation,” young directors working post-1989 "outside" China’s state-owned studio system—an unprecedented phenomenon in the history of cinema in the People’s Republic of China. A young newlywed has a chance encounter with an enigmatic minivan driver with a passion for photography in this elegant film about love, desire, and betrayal. Dai Jinghua, one of China’s leading film critics, has described Lunar Eclipse as one of the most uncompromising Chinese films ever made, and a landmark in Chinese cinema.

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August 5 (Saturday) 7 pm
August 6 (Sunday) 8:45 pm

Dogs in Space

Directed by Richard Lowenstein
Australia 1987, color, 103 min.
With Michael Hutchence, Saskia Post, Nique Needles

Set against the late 1970s punk scene in Melborune, Australia, Dogs in Space focuses on the day-to-day life of a band living in a communal house filled with an eclectic group of wanna-bes and hangers-on. Richard Lowenstein had previously worked as a director of music videos, which led to the casting of his close friend Michael Hutchence, lead singer of INXS, in the lead role. With a soundtrack fueled by Iggy Pop, Brian Eno and Gang of Four, Lowenstein’s account of an era he knew all too well (he briefly lived with the band on which his film is based) is evocative of the era without falling into the trappings of nostalgia.

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August 5 (Saturday) 9 pm
August 6 (Sunday) 7 pm

When the Cat’s Away

Directed by Cedric Klapisch
France 1996, color, 91 min.
With Garance Clavel, Zinedine Soualem, Renee Le Calm
French with English subtitles

A young Parisienne leaves her beloved cat with a neighbor while she tries to enjoy a brief holiday. When she returns to find her pet is missing, she searches her neighborhood, encountering a warm and colorful group of characters who make up this unique urban village. Cedric Klapisch draws on the narrative simplicity of new Iranian cinema to create a breezy portrait of contemporary French life in which the differences between his characters make these experiences all the more enriching.

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August 12 (Saturday) 7 pm
August 13 (Sunday) 9 pm

Querelle

Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
West Germany/France 1982, color, 108 min.
With Alexei Ananishnov, Irina Sokolova, Jeanne Moreau

Fassbinder’s theatrical origins and his understanding of the bitter power struggles complicating love and sexuality are vividly displayed in this cinematically charged (with hyperstylized sets, lighting, and performances) adaptation of Jean Genet’s infamous Querelle de Brest. A “fatal fantasy of a homoerotic world” (Gary Morris), Querelle tells the story of a French sailor (and drug-trafficker) whose visit to a brothel in the port of Brest leads to his entanglement in murder and increasingly intense explorations of his burgeoning homosexuality. Alternately called a masterpiece and a mess, this is Fassbinder’s final work—it premiered after his death—and perhaps his most extreme.

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August 12 (Saturday) 9 pm
August 13 (Sunday) 7 pm

Tropical Malady

Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Thailand/France/Germany/Italy 2004, color, 118 min.
With Banlop Lomnoi, Sakda Kaewbuadee
Thai with English subtitles

Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Tropical Malady is the latest film from the Thai New Wave’s visionary director Apichatpong Weerasethakul. A mystical love affair between a young soldier and a shy country boy is interrupted when the boy mysteriously disappears and the film’s narrative stops in its tracks. The second half of the film, nearly wordless, shifts to the jungle, and allegory, as the soldier pursues a mythical tiger who legend claims is his lost lover. Noted for its formal audaciousness and visual splendor, Tropical Malady’s love story transcends realism to an enigmatic contemplation of desire.

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August 19 (Saturday) 7 pm
August 20 (Sunday) 8:45 pm

Dante Quartet

Directed by Stan Brakhage
US 1987, silent, color, 7 min.

One of the most revered experimental filmmakers of the 20th century, Brakhage found painting on film was a potent means of exploring the “closed-eye” or “hypnagogic” vision that had always fascinated him. Six years in the making, The Dante Quartet is one of the dozens of hand-painted films that Brakhage completed in the last two decades of his life.

Downtown 81 (aka New York Beat)

Directed by Edo Bertoglio
US 1981/2000, color, 73 min.
With Jean Michel Basquiat, Eszter Balint, Deborah Harry

Basquiat was nineteen years old when he appeared in this portrait of New York’s downtown music and art scene, playing an aspiring artist wandering the city and trying to sell his paintings to pay back rent on an apartment from which he was evicted. After initial shooting was completed, the film was plagued by post-production problems and a portion of the footage was lost in Europe. After it was recovered in 1998, the filmmakers reedited the work in time for a successful premiere at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival. The postpunk soundtrack includes music by Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Tuxedomoon, DNA and Suicide.

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August 19 (Saturday) 8:30 pm
August 20 (Sunday) 7 pm

Gummo

Directed by Harmony Korine
US 1997, color, 88 min.
With Jacob Reynolds, Nick Sutton, Jacob Sewell

In his debut feature, Korine populates a dystopic heartland with amateur actors and shoots them in a gritty cinéma-vérité style that gives the work the feel of a documentary, although it is actually scripted and acted. Gummo is set in the real-life, deadbeat town of Xenia, Ohio, portrayed by Korine as a roach-infested, garbage-strewn hellhole, once ravaged by a tornado and now left with only its human wreckage intact. Devoid of a stated moral position and totally neutral in its depiction of the degradations inflicted on its subjects, Gummo chronicles the ways in which the local teens manage to inure themselves to violence, sexual perversion, and responsibility for their actions.

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