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September 17 – November 13, 2017

Cinema of Resistance

At a time when so many feel called to resist the White House’s attacks on numerous fronts, we at the HFA feel compelled to do our part. Cinema has always been a method of examining the world as it is, with the possibility of raising understanding, inspiring change, and imagining other possibilities. Cinema of Resistance is a monthly series of films that embraces these alternate possibilities, animated by the spirit of protest and designed to call out oppression and demand justice. These screenings will be designed to spark discussion, beginning in our theater directly after the screening.

El mar la mar is presented in partnership with the Film Study Center, Harvard.

Joshua Bonnetta and J.P. Sniadecki in Person
Sunday September 17 at 7pm

El mar la mar

Directed by Joshua Bonnetta and J.P. Sniadecki
US 2017, DCP, color, 94 min.
English and Spanish with English subtitles

Shot over several years in the Sonoran Desert near the US/Mexico border, Joshua Bonnetta and J.P. Sniadecki’s intensely complex and transcendent El mar la mar weaves together oral histories of desert border stories with hand-processed, grainy 16mm images of the flora, fauna and those who trespass the mysterious terrain, riddled with items its travelers have left behind. A sonically rich soundtrack adds another, sometimes eerie, dimension; the call of birds and other nocturnal noises invisibly populate the austere landscape. Over a black screen, people speak of their intense, mythic experiences in the desert: A man tells of a fifteen-foot-tall monster said to haunt the region, while a border patrolman spins a similarly bizarre tale of man versus beast. The majority of El mar la mar occurs in darkness—often with only traces of light outlining the figures moving in the night—leaving exposed the sharp edges of a fatally inscribed line. Emerging from the ethos of Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab, Sniadecki’s attentive documentary approach conspires supernaturally with Bonnetta’s meditations on the materiality of film. Their stunning collaboration is a mystical, folktale-like atmosphere dense with the remains of desire, memories and ghosts. DCP courtesy filmmakers.

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Live Musical Accompaniment
Monday October 9 at 7pm

Storm Over Asia, aka The Heir of Genghis Khan (Potomok Chingis-khana)

Directed by Vsevolod Pudovkin. With Valerie Inkizhinov, A.P. Chistiakov, A. Dedintzyev
USSR 1928, 35mm, b/w, silent, 120 min. Russian intertitles with English subtitles

After The End of St. Petersburg, Storm Over Asia is the third and final part of Pudovkin’s loose “Bolshevik trilogy,” the films on which his reputation as one of the leading Soviet filmmakers rests. The character of the film’s Russian title, the “heir of Genghis Khan,” is a Mongolian fur trapper and trader who rises from obscurity to claim the status of a hero of the Revolution due to his resistance to British troops occupying Mongolia during the Russian civil war that followed. Like Dziga Vertov’s A Sixth Part of the World,Pudovkin’s Storm Over Asia is a celebration of the Soviet Union as a multicultural nation. If the political thrust of Vertov’s film is a critique of capitalism, Pudovkin’s target is colonialism. And if much of Mother plays like a melodrama, Storm Over Asia remains an exemplary anti-colonial adventure film.

This screening is also part of Cinema That Shook the World.

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Monday November 13 at 7pm

Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets (Sho o suteyo machi e deyou)

Directed by Shuji Terayama. With Hideaki Sasaki, Masahiro Saito, Yukiko Kobayashi
Japan 1971, 35mm, color & b/w, 137 min. Japanese with English subtitles

Combining raw discomfort and unexpected beauty, Terayama’s first feature follows socioeconomically marginalized Eimei, who rages against conservative, “efficient,” and unjust systems that bar him from following his dreams. The subsequent rallies read as documents of an anarchist moment in Japanese history—seen through poetically placed colored gels and jaunty camera angles with graffitied literary references littering the streets. Meanwhile, if Eimei’s prospects seem bleak, those for women are worse. Terayama closes in on the catastrophic gulf between male projections of female experience and women’s actual experience through sexualized and violent images—which may or may not operate by the same logic they critique.

Opening with darkness and a whirring that could be either a camera or a projector, the film inserts us between its production and its consumption. Eimei confronts us in this darkness: “What the hell are you doing?” Later, he asks for the studio lights to be switched on. Images of the cast without costume scroll instead of credits. Challenging audience passivity through such reflexivity, Terayama relates the film to its book and theatrical versions, and his concurrent experiments in expanded cinema. Throw Away Your Books ends with Eimei bidding farewell to film—“Sayonara eiga!”—but Terayama’s images stay with us.

This screening is also part of Shuji Terayama, Emporer of the Underground.

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