Crafted with the same curatorial acuity we bring to our repertory series, the Premiere Showcase presents exciting new documentaries and feature films by contemporary directors that would otherwise have no theatrical venue in the area. Fall 2021 selections include Swedish satirist Roy Andersson’s final film, About Endlessness; A new work of claustrophobic horror, acclaimed at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival, We Need to Do Something; Michel Franco’s prize-winning and shattering depiction of a Mexican military coup, New Order; Cane Fire, a look at how indigenous Hawaiians struggle to find themselves represented in movies filmed on location in the islands, presented through the Asian American Media Showcase; and the dark fantasy-comedy A Dim Valley, from UW Madison PhD Brandon Colvin.
- Fri., Sep. 3 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
In what he has stated will be his final film, director Andersson concludes a quartet of darkly satirical features, each composed with a number of vignettes that reveal the foibles and limitations of the human race. Using a locked-down camera and deep focus long takes, Andersson delivers a number of random episodes, some poignant, some gag-driven. He also follows a few recurring characters, such as a priest suffering a crisis of faith, an older man who feels slighted by an old classmate, and a couple who embrace each other as they float amongst clouds. All of the brief episodes are filmed entirely on brilliantly detailed sets at Andersson’s private studio. Preceded by Rikke Gregersen’s satirical short The Affected (Norway, 2020, 13 min.)
- Sat., Sep. 11 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
Seeking shelter from a vicious storm, a dysfunctional Middle-American family of four find themselves trapped in their generously-sized bathroom by a large fallen tree. While alcoholic father Robert (Healy) rages against the situation as hours turn into days, his wife Diane (Shaw) tries to comfort their young son and teenage daughter (McCormick), who just might have something to do with the evil forces that begin to descend on the house...and maybe the entire outside world! Tense and effectively staged by director O’Grady in one claustrophobic location, We Need to Do Something is an innovative piece of suspense and horror adapted from the novel by Max Booth III.
- Fri., Sep. 17 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
One of most intense, shocking, and controversial films in recent memory, New Order depicts a mass uprising against Mexico’s 1%. Beginning with a ruthless assault on an elite wedding, the action expands across Mexico City, relentlessly ratcheting up the tension as society rapidly collapses. Executed with sweeping, large-canvas cinematic flair, this highly disturbing provocation won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2020 Venice Film Festival. “A brilliantly unflinching look at a society built on extreme disparities that reads more like an omen… utterly unshakable” (The Film Stage). Presented with the support of UW Madison’s Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies (LACIS) Program. (MK)
- Sun., Sep. 19 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
In this adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, Tony winner Ben Platt reprises his role as Evan Hansen, an anxious, isolated high schooler aching for understanding and belonging amid the chaos and cruelty of the social-media age. Featuring music and lyrics by the songwriting team of Benj Pasek & Justin Paul (La La Land, The Greatest Showman), Dear Evan Hansen is one of this year's most-anticipated movies. Join us at the Cinematheque for this free, pre-release screening courtesy of Universal Pictures. Dear Evan Hansen opens in theaters on September 24.
- Sat., Oct. 16 | 4:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
The exotic beauty of Kaua’i has been captured in countless Hollywood productions and made the Hawaiian island a premiere site for tourism, but these industries exact a heavy toll on the Indigenous and working-class residents who have always been hired to serve as mere “extras” while their own stories go untold. Anthony Banua-Simon’s documentary Cane Fire brings together archival footage and conversations with family members and activists to provide a closer look at the island’s histories of conflict and its people’s continued struggles for sovereignty (LKL). Co-presented with the support of UW Madison’s Asian American Media Showcase.
- Sat., Oct. 23 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
Mystical, sexy, and funny, this dreamlike indie casts you under its spell. Deep in the Appalachian wilderness, a pair of ecology grad students are collecting flora and fauna samples and getting high—anything to avoid spending more time in the cramped cabin with their grouchy, hard-drinking advisor. Out in the forest, they encounter a trio of nymph-like backpackers looking to “fulfill their purpose” who lure the men into a trance-like state of magical awakening and desire, with a pansexual charge between seemingly every character. The sextet’s enigmatic bond is deepened over a late night that encompasses teary tarot readings and half-assed Scrabble games. Drawing inspiration from Twin Peaks and Hayao Miyazaki, UW PhD Brandon Colvin’s third feature cultivates a surreal, sylvan atmosphere that still makes room for perfectly timed gags.(MK)