Fall 2019 Special Presentations include an evening of short works from the pioneering African director Paulin Soumanou Vieyra, presented in-person by Stéphane Vieyra, the director’s son. Another filmmaker, avant-garde specialist Larry Gottheim, will present an evening of his conceptually and formally inventive films. Plus: 35mm presentations of Sam Raimi’s original Evil Dead, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s mind-blowing Tropical Malady, and Akira Kurosawa’s legendary epic Seven Samurai; and two visiting archivists from George Eastman Museum will join us to reveal special treasures from their Motion Picture Department on October 18 and 19.
- Fri., Sep. 6 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
A delirious perversion of the old axiom "less is more," Raimi's tight, lightning-paced fever dream of a movie was made on a shoestring budget but overflows with style, operatic overacting and outrageously gory effects. The story follows five vacationing college kids (including Campbell in his first appearance as Ash) who go up to a remote cabin in the woods to spend the weekend. While investigating the cellar, they come upon The Book of the Dead, an ancient tome of incantations, and an explanatory tape. They play the tape, evil demons are unleashed, and one by one, the kids become possessed. Thankfully, said tome provides a pleasingly gory and entertaining solution to stop the onslaught and defeat the possessed: complete body dismemberment. This screening of a 35mm print made directly from the original camera negative is presented in conjunction with University Theatre’s production of Evil Dead The Musical, August 15-25 and September 12-29.
- Sat., Sep. 7 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
Long overshadowed by those he mentored, Paulin Soumanou Vieyra is one of the godfathers of African cinema. Born in Benin, Vieyra was the first black African to direct a film, Afrique-sur-Seine (1955), an inquisitive and yearning documentary about young Africans studying in Paris. After settling in Senegal, Vieyra taught and frequently collaborated with leading directors like Ousmane Sembène. Vieyra’s vocation as a historian of African cinema and culture motivated his own illuminating short documentaries.This special program presents four rarely seen films by Vieyra: Afrique-sur-Seine; Lamb (1964), a thrilling look at beachside Senegalese wrestling; Birago Diop (1981), about the famous poet; and L’envers Du Decor (1981), an essay film produced behind the scenes of Sembène’s Ceddo (1977). These screenings will be followed by a Q&A with Stéphane Vieyra, Paulin’s son. Support for this program has been provided by Cultural Services of the French embassy in the United States. Special thanks to Laurence Geannopulos. (ZZ)
- Fri., Sep. 13 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
Larry Gottheim has been a key figure in American experimental cinema for nearly five decades. Beginning with his long-take, “camera roll” titles of the early seventies, his films explore the most essential elements of film as a medium and an art form. Combining conceptual and formal sophistication, Gottheim’s work surveys the boundary between natural process and human agency, offering varied perceptions of deceptively simple subjects that concatenate into feasts of light, color, texture, movement, and sound. This program will include several of Gottheim’s essential works: Fog Line (1970, 11 min.), Doorway (1971, 8 min.), Harmonica (1971, 11 min.), Mnemosyne, Mother of Muses (1987, 18 min.), Sorry/Hear Us (1986, 8 min.), and, his most recently competed film, Knot/Not (2019, 22 min.). Larry Gottheim will appear in person for a post-screening discussion. (JS)
- Fri., Oct. 18 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
The lives and loves of three chorus girls are explored in this entertaining gem, adapted from the successful Broadway musical comedy by director Goulding (Grand Hotel). One of MGM’s finest comedies of the silent era, Sally, Irene and Mary has been out of circulation for decades, and will be screened in a newly restored print courtesy of George Eastman Museum. Prior to the screening, Eastman Museum Preservation Manager Anthony L’Abbate will discuss current preservation methods and why certain titles remain inaccessible. Live piano by David Drazin.
- Sat., Oct. 19 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
Perhaps the most sought-after lost film from Hollywood’s Pre-Code era, Warner Bros. 1933 production of Convention City was by many accounts one of the funniest and most outlandish comedies of its era. The film, set in Atlantic City and starring Adolphe Menjou, Joan Blondell, Dick Powell, and Mary Astor, was reportedly so racy that WB head Jack Warner ordered the negative and all prints destroyed, after the Breen office wouldn't allow even a censored version to be re-released. George Eastman Museum Archivist Nancy Kauffman will use still photos and archival documents in a presentation that will reconstruct the film's story and discuss the history behind its disappearance.
- Sat., Oct. 19 | 8:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
William, in prime form, is a tyrannical department store executive who finds his job complicated when he beds a young applicant (Young) before hiring her as a model. A perfect example of the freedom Hollywood studios had to approach taboo subject matter before the enforcement of the Production Code, this fast-paced Warner Bros. drama about sex and big business has earned it comparisons to The Apartment. Print courtesy Library of Congress.
- Fri., Nov. 22 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
Winner of the jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Tropical Malady established director Weerasethakul as one of the most adventurous filmmakers in the world. The more traditional first half shows the budding romance between a soldier on leave and a shy country boy. In the allegorical second part, the soldier travels through a dark forest, alternately stalking and being stalked by his lover in the form of a tiger spirit, and taking advice from a talking baboon. Leisurely paced and beautifully photographed, this is a film to savor.
- Sat., Dec. 7 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
A small village in medieval Japan is besieged by bandits and hires seven rogue samurai to defend it. Cinematic mythmaking at its finest, no true fan of movies should go without at least one viewing on the big screen. “Not only a great film in its own right but the source of a genre that flowed through the rest of the century.” (Roger Ebert).