Emotion Pictures: International Melodrama, a historical survey of the genre that boldly endeavors to put emotion on screen in its purest form, is coming to Film Society of Lincoln Center, December 13, 2017 – January 7, 2018.

When audiences think about movie melodramas, the first names that come to mind are titans of Hollywood’s golden age, directors (Douglas Sirk, Nicholas Ray, Vincente Minnelli, George Cukor) and stars (Lillian Gish, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis) alike. But the melodrama is by no means a distinctly American or mid-century genre, having laid its roots during the silent era (in the work of D. W. Griffith, Erich von Stroheim, F. W. Murnau) before flowering in Japan (Kenji Mizoguchi, Mikio Naruse), Italy (Pier Paolo Pasolini, Federico Fellini), England (David Lean), and elsewhere. Indeed, the careers of many key filmmakers of modern cinema have been predicated on radical reinterpretations of the form, as in the work of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Pedro Almodóvar, Todd Haynes, Leos Carax, Lars von Trier, Wong Kar Wai, and Guy Maddin. Works by all of those mentioned above are featured in this expansive 62-film series.

FSLC will screen works from the genre’s earliest stages (five diverse silent films, all with live piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin) through Technicolor weepies and on to its subversive latter-day incarnations, with most of the series screening on 35mm. Emotion Pictures places a significant focus on melodrama’s international reach, featuring masterworks from Asia (Kim Ki-young’s The Housemaid, Fei Mu’s Spring in a Small Town, Stanley Kwan’s Rouge, Ritwik Ghatak’s The Cloud-Capped Star, Lee Chang-dong’s Secret Sunshine), Africa (Youssef Chahine’s Cairo Station), Latin America (Arturo Ripstein’s The Castle of Purity, Roberto Gavaldón’s The Kneeling Goddess, Hugo del Carril’s Beyond Oblivion), and many more.

To complement the features in the series, a selection of exquisite short films have been thematically paired with key selections: animator Stacey Steers’s handmade collage films Edge of Alchemy and Night Hunter, which feature repurposed footage of Janet Gaynor and Lillian Gish, screen with Murnau’s Sunrise and Victor Sjöström’s The Wind, respectively; Sirk’s Imitation of Life is preceded by artist Ming Wong’s subversive re-staging Life of Imitation, and his In Love for the Mood shows prior to Wong Kar Wai’s swoon-worthy In the Mood for Love; Mark Rappaport’s video essay examination of a favorite Hollywood prop, The Vanity Tables of Douglas Sirk, is presented with Sirk’s heartbreaking All That Heaven Allows; shorts by George Kuchar and Guy Maddin precede their feature-length films; and more.

Organized by Florence Almozini, Dennis Lim, and Tyler Wilson.

Tickets are now on sale. Save with special holiday pricing: tickets just $7 for Film Society members, students, and seniors (62+); and $10 for the general public. Become a member today!

Academy Film Archive; China Film Archive; Cineteca di Bologna; Filmoteca UNAM; Instituto Mexicano de Cinematografía (IMCINE); Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales (Argentina); Istituto Luce Cinecittà; Japan Foundation; Library of Congress; The Museum of Modern Art; National Audiovisual Institute (Finland); UCLA Film & Television Archive; Richard Suchenski, Center for Moving Image Art at Bard College; Mark Rappaport; Stacey Steers; Ming Wong.

All screenings held at the Walter Reade Theater (165 W. 65th) unless otherwise noted

The Age of Innocence
Martin Scorsese, USA, 1993, 139m
Adapting Edith Wharton’s 1925 novel about a secret passion within the enclosed social universe of 19th-century New York struck many as an odd departure for Martin Scorsese. Upon release in 1993, The Age of Innocence was greeted with equal amounts of admiration and puzzlement, but today it feels like one of Scorsese’s greatest achievements—as visually expressive as it is emotionally fine-tuned. A magnificent lament for missed chances and lost time, the stunning movie features an extraordinary cast led by Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Winona Ryder.
Sunday, December 24, 4:00pm
Friday, December 29, 1:30pm

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul / Angst essen Seele auf
Rainer Werner Fassbinder, West Germany, 1974, 35mm, 93m
German and Arabic with English subtitles
Produced at the peak of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s creative powers, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul reworks the narrative and thematic framework of Douglas Sirk’s classic 1955 melodrama All That Heaven Allows (also the inspiration for Todd Haynes’s Far from Heaven) in telling the improbable love story of Ali (El Hedi ben Salem), a thirtysomething Moroccan immigrant working as a mechanic, and Emmi (Fassbinder muse Brigitte Mira), a German widow who is old enough to be his mother. The motley pair get married and quickly encounter prejudice and discrimination from neighbors, friends, and family. This wry and tender romance-cum-social-commentary has endured as one of its director’s most accomplished and popular films.
Friday, December 22, 6:45pm
Thursday, December 28, 4:00pm

All About My Mother / Todo sobre mi madre
Pedro Almodóvar, 1999, Spain/France, 35mm, 101m
Spanish and Catalan with English subtitles
Among the most perfect creations in the Almodóvar canon, All About My Mother conjures a rich, kaleidoscopic universe of unforgettable women. Brimming with references to classic melodramas, including All About Eve, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Cassavetes’ Opening Night, it follows the sojourn of nurse Manuela (Cecilia Roth) who, following the tragic death of her teenage son, travels from Madrid to Barcelona, where she joins a community of dispossessed women, including a troubled actress (Marisa Paredes), an outspoken prostitute (Antonia San Juan), and a pregnant, HIV-positive nun (Penélope Cruz). Dedicated in part “to all women who act… to all the people who want to be mothers,” this freewheeling fantasia is a generous, openhearted tribute to female friendship and resilience.
Saturday, December 23, 9:00pm
Friday, January 5, 1:30pm

All That Heaven Allows
Douglas Sirk, USA, 1955, 35mm, 89m
Both a heartbreaking melodrama and a sharp indictment of hypocrisy in 1950s America, this epitome of layered Hollywood filmmaking follows the blossoming love between upper-middle-class suburban widow Cary (Jane Wyman) and her handsome, considerably younger gardener, Ron (Rock Hudson). Their romance, greeted with scorn by her selfish children and outright disgust by her snooty friends, reveals the class-based prejudices of small-town life. Sirk and renowned cinematographer Russell Metty bring a richly ambiguous emotional tenor to each shot with calibrated colors and meticulous compositions that suggest the confinement of Cary’s life and the impossibility of escaping it. In its aesthetic and narrative richness, All That Heaven Allows has proven an endlessly durable model for artists of any medium who wish to address the manifold taboos of bourgeois society.

Preceded by:
The Vanity Tables of Douglas Sirk
Mark Rappaport, USA, 2014, 11m
Mark Rappaport probes the burdensome nature of beauty and bodily control through one of classical Hollywood’s most essential props: the vanity table. Employing clips from landmark films like All That Heaven Allows, the filmmaker delves into how Douglas Sirk used this pejoratively named piece of furniture.
Wednesday, December 13, 6:30pm
Monday, January 1, 7:00pm

The Housemaid


Back Street
Robert Stevenson, USA, 1941, 35mm, 89m
The second (of three) Universal adaptations of Fannie Hurst’s turn-of-the-19th-century-set novel stars Margaret Sullavan and Charles Boyer (possessors of two of the best voices in classic Hollywood: she with her musical rasp, he with his luxuriantly accented baritone) as adulterous lovers whose brief encounter stretches into a decades-long affair, with her forever living in the shadows as the “other woman.” One of the few films made under the Production Code to deal sympathetically with marital infidelity, this elegant tearjerker overflows with dreamily romantic moments: the couple lounging under a cloud-filled sky, a chance meeting on a snow-shrouded New York sidewalk, and the quietly devastating liebestod of the climax.
Wednesday, December 13, 4:30pm
Tuesday, December 19, 4:00pm

Beyond Oblivion / Más allá del olvido
Hugo del Carril, Argentina, 1956, 35mm, 93m
Spanish with English subtitles
Two years before Vertigo, this fascinating, archly Gothic Argentine drama mined near-identical themes of erotic obsession and necrophilic desire via the story of a wealthy man (director Hugo del Carril) who, shattered by the death of his wife (Laura Hidalgo), retreats to Paris where he meets her exact look-alike in the form of a prostitute (Hidalgo, again) and proceeds to make her over in the dead woman’s image. Based on the classic Symbolist novel Bruges-la-Morte by Georges Rodenbach and directed by tango-singer-turned-actor-turned-filmmaker del Carril in heaving, Sturm und Drang style, Beyond Oblivion has been heralded as nothing less than “the greatest Argentine film” by the country’s legendary critic Ángel Faretta. 35mm print courtesy of Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales (Argentina).
Friday, December 29, 6:30pm
Sunday, January 7, 1:30pm

Bigger Than Life
Nicholas Ray, USA, 1956, 95m
Nicholas Ray’s blazing domestic horror show is a terrifying vision of the all-American family under siege from within. In a towering performance, James Mason plays a mild-mannered schoolteacher running himself ragged to provide for his family’s self-described “dull” suburban lifestyle. After he’s diagnosed with a rare, debilitating disease, he’s prescribed the new “miracle” drug cortisone. Lo and behold, it takes away his pain… but transforms him into a rampaging, manic-depressive monster (on his students: “We’re breeding a race of moral midgets”; on the Bible: “God was wrong”). Full of masterful, psychologically charged widescreen compositions, the film goes even farther than Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause in its savage deconstruction of Eisenhower-era masculinity.
Thursday, December 21, 4:30pm
Sunday, December 24, 9:15pm

Breaking the Waves
Lars von Trier, Denmark, 1996, 35mm, 159m
Lars von Trier established his reputation as one of the most exciting—and provocative—filmmakers on the planet with this megaton meditation on faith, sexuality, and redemption. In a revelatory, Oscar-nominated performance, Emily Watson plays Bess, a troubled, zealously religious young woman living in the Scottish Highlands for whom sex with strangers becomes a twisted path to spiritual salvation after an accident paralyzes her oil-rig-worker husband (Stellan Skarsgård). Beneath the eyebrow-raising conceit is a profound humanist heart that yields, in the stunning climax, a moment of cinematic grace evoking none other than von Trier’s filmmaking idol, Carl Theodor Dreyer.
Sunday, January 7, 6:15pm

The Bridges of Madison County
Clint Eastwood, USA, 1995, 35mm, 135m
“I was acting like another woman, yet I was more myself than ever before…” During one summer in 1960s Madison County, Iowa, a married-with-children Italian-American housewife (Meryl Streep) finds fleeting romance with a rugged, passing-through-town National Geographic photographer (Clint Eastwood). It’s only four days, but it’s enough to fuel an infatuation that stretches even beyond their deaths. The rare literary adaptation to surpass its source material, this stirring, pro-adultery drama is elevated by the finely shaded performances and by Eastwood’s masterful direction, which turns a montage of a blinking car taillight, a rearview mirror, and a passenger side door handle into a heart-stopping, will-they-won’t-they emotional crescendo.
Friday, December 22, 1:30pm

Far From Heaven


Brief Encounter
David Lean, UK, 1945, 35mm, 86m
What begins as a chance meeting in a railway-station tearoom becomes a cherished weekly tradition for saucer-eyed Celia Johnson’s prim-and-proper suburban housewife and Trevor Howard’s charming-but-married doctor as they share furtive lunches, trips to the cinema, and an afternoon of rowboating. It all seems so innocent until… Set to the swelling strains of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, David Lean’s Noël Coward adaptation is nothing less than one of the most achingly romantic films ever made. It’s also a piercing dissection of the psychology of an extramarital affair that lays bare the human heat lurking beneath stiff-upper-lip British reserve.
Monday, December 25, 4:15pm
Tuesday, January 2, 4:30pm

Brokeback Mountain
Ang Lee, USA/Canada, 2005, 35mm, 134m
Built on an auspicious literary foundation—Pulitzer Prize–winner Annie Proulx’s short story adapted into a Western-styled screenplay by Pulitzer Prize–winner Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana—Brokeback Mountain follows two hired hands (Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger) whose summer tending sheep in isolated Wyoming foothills sparks a physical relationship that pervades the rest of their lives. Lee’s provocative examination of sexuality created a monumental challenge to social norms and became his most talked-about and decorated film, winning Venice’s Golden Lion, four Golden Globes, and three Oscars, including Director, Adapted Screenplay, and Original Score.
Saturday, December 30, 8:15pm

Cairo Station / Bab el hadid
Youssef Chahine, Egypt, 1958, 35mm, 77m
Arabic with English subtitles
The longtime leading light of Egyptian cinema, Youssef Chahine established his international reputation with this bombshell psychosexual shocker. The director stars as Qinawi, a simpleton newspaper hawker whose obsession with a sultry cold-drink seller (Hind Rostom, the “Marilyn Monroe of Arabia”) leads to tragedy of operatic proportions on the streets of Cairo. Blending elements of neorealism (a grim, grubby evocation of working-class life and socioeconomic struggle) with deep-dish noir-melodrama (lust, jealousy, madness, and murder), Cairo Station represented something startlingly new in Arab cinema: here was raw, populist poetry splashed across the screen with blood-and-guts savagery.
Wednesday, December 27, 4:00pm
Friday, December 29, 8:30pm

Guy Maddin, Canada, 1992, 35mm, 100m
In the mythic mountain village of Tolzbad—where even the slightest disturbance can trigger a deadly avalanche—residents are brought up to be as careful, quiet, and unobtrusive as possible. But in this world of strict repression, a Freudian pileup of incestuous desires, sibling rivalries, and patricidal plots threatens to bury them all… Drawing as much on the aesthetics of German silent Expressionism as on the avant-garde camp provocations of Kenneth Anger and Jack Smith, neo-primitivist visionary Guy Maddin crafts a hallucinatory parable of pent-up passions run amok that unspools like a demented cautionary tale from a lost civilization.

Preceded by:
The Heart of the World
Guy Maddin, Canada, 2000, 35mm, 6m
Averaging two shots per second, Maddin’s frenetic love letter to Soviet agitprop and German Expressionism depicts a race to save the world as two brothers compete for the love of a scientist studying the earth’s core.
Friday, December 22, 4:15pm
Thursday, December 28, 8:15pm

All That Heaven Allows


The Castle of Purity / El castillo de la pureza
Arturo Ripstein, Mexico, 1973, 35mm, 110m
Spanish with English subtitles
The reigning provocateur of Mexican cinema, Arturo Ripstein, first attracted an international audience with his breakout third feature—a claustrophobic, wet, and wickedly depraved deconstruction of the family unit. Based on a “true story” from the 1950s, which was also later the inspiration for Yorgos Lanthimos’s Dogtooth, The Castle of Purity is set mostly in the confined spaces of one house, where a violent and overprotective rat poison salesman (Buñuel regular Claudio Brook) has imprisoned his wife and children for eighteen years and is descending into madness. The Castle of Purity takes the patriarchal melodrama to its literal and bizarre extremes, blending the hysterics of masculinity-in-crisis dramas with startling violence and Buñuelian black humor.
Friday, December 22, 8:45pm
Friday, January 5, 4:00pm

Chains / Catene
Raffaello Matarazzo, Italy, 1949, 35mm, 94m
Italian with English subtitles
Those titular ties would be the circumstances that bind a persecuted wife and mother (Yvonne Sanson, in a role Joan Crawford would have relished had Hollywood tried its hand at a remake) who is cast out of her family when she is wrongly accused of having an affair with a criminal. Though dismissed in its day by critics who favored neorealism’s grit over gloss, melodrama maestro Raffaello Matarazzo’s deliciously overwrought, two-ton tearjerker is radical in its own subversive way, embedding within its soap-opera suds a Sirkian critique of bourgeois morality and the societal forces that shackle women. 35mm print courtesy of Istituto Luce Cinecittà.
Friday, December 15, 6:45pm
Sunday, December 24, 2:00pm

Christopher Strong
Dorothy Arzner, USA, 1933, 35mm, 78m
“Death is nothing. But I didn’t want to die before I’d known love…” In a role tailor-made for her, a young Katharine Hepburn stars as Cynthia Darrington, a thrill-chasing aviatrix who has never had time for a man—until she meets distinguished statesman Christopher Strong (Colin Clive). Trouble is, he’s a feet-on-the-ground family man and she just wants to fly… Scripted by Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Zoe Akins and directed by Dorothy Arzner—the lone female auteur to gain a foothold in 1930s Hollywood—this fascinating pre-Code romance injects a strong dose of proto-feminism into its fatalistic proceedings. Bonus: Hepburn looking like some sort of extraterrestrial superheroine in an outré, metallic moth costume.
Monday, December 18, 4:15pm
Wednesday, January 3, 8:45pm

The Cloud-Capped Star / Meghe Dhaka Tara
Ritwik Ghatak, India, 1960, 126m
Bengali with English subtitles
This soul-shattering classic of Indian cinema is a pathos bomb hurled directly at that most sacred of institutions: the family unit. Nita (Supriya Choudhury) is the relentlessly self-sacrificing daughter of refugees living in Calcutta who single-handedly props up her ungrateful family—and winds up paying the price for their selfishness. Iconoclastic auteur Ritwik Ghatak’s cosmic tragedy achieves overwhelming emotional force through searing imagery that at times approaches horror, joltingly expressionistic sound design, and an extraordinary central performance by Choudhury, who transmits a transcendent expression of suffering both spiritual and physical to rival that of Renée Falconetti’s Joan of Arc. Courtesy of Cineteca di Bologna.
Thursday, December 28, 1:30pm
Friday, January 5, 8:30pm

The Cobweb
Vincente Minnelli, USA, 1955, 35mm, 134m
Grand Hotel in a psychiatric hospital, with MGM lavishing its legendary gloss on Vincente Minnelli’s star-studded melodrama. Adapted from the novel by playwright William Gibson (The Miracle Worker), The Cobweb details a deluxe clinic whose disturbed patients are no match for its dysfunctional staff. Richard Widmark plays Dr. McIver, the dedicated psychiatrist tasked with putting out the fires of the philandering Dr. Devanal (Charles Boyer). When the former’s wife (Gloria Grahame) orders new drapes for the library—a typically Minnellian focus on set design—everyone from the administrator (Lillian Gish) to an artist-patient (John Kerr, in a role meant for James Dean) is thrown into turmoil. Lauren Bacall affectingly co-stars as Dr. McIver’s widowed colleague and possible love interest, an oasis of sanity in this colorful and eccentric CinemaScope soap.
Friday, December 15, 8:45pm
Sunday, December 31, 6:00pm

Brokeback Mountain


The Cranes Are Flying / Letyat zhuravli
Mikhail Kalatozov, USSR, 1957, 35mm, 95m
Russian with English subtitles
Something like the Gone with the Wind of Soviet Russia—a sensation both at home and abroad that pointed the way toward a post-Stalin thaw in filmic expression—this shattering tale of wartime resilience from I Am Cuba director Mikhail Kalatozov follows the saga of Veronika (the radiant Tatiana Samoilova) who endures heartache and uncertainty when her lover is lost on the front lines of World War II. Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival, the movie is a marvel of dazzling black-and-white cinematography, mixing passages of exhilarating handheld camerawork with striking deep-focus compositions worthy of Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Sunday, December 17, 4:00pm
Saturday, December 30, 3:30pm

The Devil’s Cleavage
George Kuchar, USA, 1973, 16mm, 107m
This hilariously debased scuzz opera from DIY renegade George Kuchar is a deliriously overheated homage to/send-up of Golden Age histrionics. The head-spinningly convoluted plot follows a hard-boiled, Joan Crawford–esque nurse (Ainslie Pryor, displaying a scowl for the ages) who, with her trusty jar of fake vomit, flees her grubby husband and hits the road, where she crosses paths with a parade of clothes-rippingly horny weirdos, including a moony motel clerk (Curt McDowell). With its barrage of deliciously overripe dialogue (“At least stalks of corn have ears and aren’t deaf to the desperations of the damned!”), The Devil’s Cleavage plays like a 1940s Otto Preminger film writ in filth and sleaze.

Preceded by:
Hold Me While I’m Naked
George Kuchar, USA, 1966, 16mm, 17m
A stone-cold classic of underground cinema about a filmmaker who finds himself in a crisis when his lead actress quits, Hold Me While I’m Naked is a candy-colored treatise on the humor and pathos of sexual hunger.
Thursday, January 4, 6:00pm*
*Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, Francesca Beale Theater, 144 W 65 Street

Far from Heaven
Todd Haynes, USA, 2002, 35mm, 108m
On the release of this wrenching suburban melodrama, Stanley Kauffmann wondered in the pages of The New Republic “why an imitation [Douglas] Sirk was needed” to begin with—but when the “imitation” in question is as penetrating, visually alive, and cued to the political atmosphere of the present as Far from Heaven, that question hardly needs asking. In rethinking Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows, Haynes expanded the earlier film’s definition of romantic transgression: the forbidden loves at the center of Haynes’s movie, which charts the painful fall of a suburban couple (Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid) from the heights of social grace, crossing racial and sexual lines as well as those of class. But he also conjured up an extinct cinematic genre with eerie exactitude, and used its methods to shed a painful, unflattering light on his own time.
Wednesday, December 13, 8:45pm
Sunday, December 31, 8:45pm

Floating Clouds / Ukigumo
Mikio Naruse, Japan, 1955, 35mm, 123m
Japanese with English subtitles
If there was ever a face made for melodrama it was that of Hideko Takamine, whose heart-shaped visage and forever-sad eyes could convey a world of emotion in a glance. In one the finest of her many magisterial collaborations with the great Mikio Naruse, she plays Yukiko, a young woman who weathers changing fortunes and a futile, years-long affair with the caddish Tomioka (Masayuki Mori) in postwar Japan. Alas, “Short is the life of flowers, infinite their sorrows…” Employing a dreamlike flashback structure to haunting effect, this obsessive masterpiece is exquisitely heartbreaking in its depiction of the enduring pain of love. 35mm print courtesy of the Japan Foundation.
Saturday, December 23, 4:00pm
Tuesday, January 2, 8:30pm

The Age of Innocence


George Cukor, USA, 1944, 35mm, 114m
A young opera singer haunted by the memory of her aunt’s murder marries a handsome pianist and settles down in her relative’s long-abandoned, overstuffed London mansion, where footsteps echo in the attic, gaslights dim, and secrets come to light… George Cukor’s celebrated noir-melodrama is a deeply ambiguous study of psychological abuse, anchored by a terrific cast (Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, and an 18-year-old Angela Lansbury in her first film role) and suffused with a sense of creeping dread. At its famous last-act reversal of power, Gaslight transforms from a masterful woman-in-trouble melodrama into something much more haunting: a reflection on the origins of emotional violence, marked by a rare degree of sympathy for the abuser as well as the abused.
Monday, December 25, 8:15pm
Wednesday, January 3, 4:15pm

The Goddess / Shen nu
Wu Yonggang, China, 1934, 73m
Chinese intertitles with English subtitles
In her greatest role, Chinese silent-cinema icon Ruan Lingyu plays a prostitute who sacrifices everything to give her young son a better life, but finds herself beaten down by society at every turn. Startlingly frank and ahead of its time in its compassionate depiction of sex work, this devastating “fallen woman” drama achieves transcendent pathos through the stunning artistry of Ruan Lingyu. Her suicide one year after the film’s release at the age of 24 would deprive the world of one of its greatest silent actresses, but her magnetic, astonishingly naturalistic presence—recalling the modernity of Louise Brooks crossed with the grit of Barbara Stanwyck—is here forever immortalized. Digital restoration courtesy of the China Film Archive. The screening will be accompanied by a live piano performance by Donald Sosin.
Thursday, December 21, 8:30pm

Hard, Fast and Beautiful
Ida Lupino, USA, 1951, 16mm, 78m
The daring, perpetually underrated films of actress-turned-director Ida Lupino stand as taboo-busting dissections of 1950s America. This bitter anti–family values smackdown stars Claire Trevor as a tough-as-nails stage—er, make that court—mother who will stop at nothing to mold her tennis-prodigy daughter (Sally Forrest) into a national champion, and in the process winds up creating a monster. As poisonous a parent-child portrait as Mildred Pierce, the film is distinguished by Lupino’s sensitivity to the conundrum faced by her antiheroines, complex women who are stifled by a society that forces them to choose between personal happiness and their ambition. 16mm print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive.
Thursday, January 4, 2:00pm & 8:45pm*
*Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, Francesca Beale Theater, 144 W 65 Street

The Housemaid / Hanyo
Kim Ki-young, South Korea, 1960, 35mm, 108m
Korean with English subtitles
One of the unquestionable masterpieces of Korean cinema, The Housemaid tells the story of Dong-sik, a married music teacher living in a working-class area. One of his students arranges for another young woman to work as the housemaid for Dong-sik and his family; meanwhile, the student expresses her own physical desires for Dong-sik, who rebuffs her. But the whole episode is witnessed by the housemaid, who launches her own, ultimately more successful effort to seduce Dong-sik. The housemaid becomes pregnant, and thus a bizarre ménage à trois is formed between Dong-sik, his wife, and their increasingly assertive housemaid. The Housemaid is an emotional roller coaster; characters’ stated desires so often contradict their actions that roles and positions are constantly in flux. Restored in 2008 by the Korean Film Archive (KOFA) and the World Cinema Foundation at HFR-Digital Film laboratory. Additional funding provided by Armani, Cartier, Qatar Airways and Qatar Museum Authority.
Sunday, December 17, 6:00pm
Wednesday, January 3, 6:30pm

Imitation of Life
Douglas Sirk, USA, 1959, 35mm, 125m
Douglas Sirk’s final Hollywood film—and perhaps his crowning achievement—is one of the all-time great weepies and a damning critique of racial and class division in America. It’s the dual story of Lora Meredith (Lana Turner), an aspiring actress, and Annie Johnson (Juanita Moore), the African-American single mother she hires as her live-in maid. As Lora’s career ascends, Annie is pushed aside by her light-skinned daughter, Sarah Jane (Susan Kohner), who chooses to pass as white. Throughout, Sirk brilliantly manipulates the story’s artifice, emphasizing the obliviousness of the white characters to their privilege and imbuing the Annie–Sarah Jane relationship with a wrenching pathos. It all crescendos with a soul-shaking musical performance from Mahalia Jackson and the gale-force emotional annihilation of Sirk’s most devastating climax.

Preceded by:
Life of Imitation
Ming Wong, Singapore, 2009, 5m
Performance and multimedia artist Ming Wong intricately restages a key scene from Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life, featuring three male actors from Singapore’s main ethnic groups (Chinese, Malay, and Indian) who take turns playing the black mother and her light-skinned daughter.
Sunday, December 17, 1:30pm
Sunday, December 31, 3:30pm

The Long Day Closes


In the Mood for Love / Faa yeung nin wa
Wong Kar Wai, Hong Kong/China, 2000, 35mm, 98m
Cantonese, Shanghainese, French, and Spanish with English subtitles
Wong Kar Wai’s swoon-inducing instant classic made Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung the star-crossed dream team of the early 2000s art house. They play next-door neighbors driven by loneliness into a platonic romance amid the alleyways and noodle shops of 1960s Hong Kong, only to discover that their own spouses are carrying on an affair. The breathless, will-they-won’t-they tension is pushed to intoxicating heights by the luscious mise-en-scène: Christopher Doyle’s caressing cinematography; the sensuous use of slo-mo; the red- and green-saturated, patterned print-galore period art direction (that wallpaper!); and the haunting, endlessly repeating strains of Nat King Cole. “Quizás, quizás, quizás…”

Preceded by:
In Love for the Mood
Ming Wong, Singapore, 2009, 5m
A Caucasian actress (Kluane Saunders) replaces Cheung and Leung and attempts to deliver her lines in Cantonese by repeating after Wong’s offscreen voice.
Saturday, December 16, 6:00pm

Lino Brocka, Philippines, 1976, 95m
Filipino cinema’s watershed work—and the first to screen at the Cannes Film Festival—is a wildly perverse mother-daughter saga, a revenge tragedy of ancient Greek proportions, and a gut-punching look at life on the margins of Manila. Insiang (Hilda Koronel) is the meek, put-upon daughter of the slums who endures abuse from everyone in her orbit: her insensitive boyfriend (Rez Cortez); her bitter, harpy mother (Mona Lisa); and her mother’s sleazy younger lover (Ruel Vernal). But after she’s raped, Insiang’s timidity hardens into a steely resolve to get even. With shades of Fassbinder, director Lino Brocka concocts an explosive study of social injustice and a woman fighting back.
Wednesday, December 27, 2:00pm
Tuesday, January 2, 6:30pm

The Kneeling Goddess / La diosa arrodillada
Roberto Gavaldón, Mexico, 1947, 107m
Spanish with English subtitles
This feverishly perverse saga of amor loco from unsung Mexican melodrama specialist Roberto Gavaldón unfolds in a dream space halfway between the obsessive necro-noir of Laura and the trance-state surrealism of Last Year at Marienbad. The iconic María Félix plays a sultry artist’s model who spurns the advances of a married aristocrat (Arturo de Córdova)—that is, until she suspects he has murdered his wife for her, leading her to suddenly develop the hots for him. Drenched in moody noir atmospherics, the film is packed with enough outré flourishes—mirror shots galore, a cigarette lighter filled with cyanide, the titular marble statue as a totem of erotic fixation—to satisfy a card-carrying Dadaist. Courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM.
Friday, December 29, 4:15pm
Friday, January 5, 6:15pm

Letter from an Unknown Woman
Max Ophüls, USA, 1948, 35mm, 87m
“By the time you read this letter, I may be dead…” So begins the heartrending missive from Joan Fontaine’s “unknown woman” to Louis Jourdan’s dissolute pianist, its contents—flowing forth in flashbacks—a soul-baring record of a lifetime of unrequited love, brief encounters, and romantic regret. Frame for frame one of the most gorgeous movies ever made, Max Ophüls’s sublime tear-wringer represents a pinnacle of studio-era craftsmanship, from the exquisite evocation of turn-of-the-century Vienna to the indelible score to the expressively gliding camerawork, which summons wellsprings of emotion with every pan, swoop, and dolly. 35mm restored print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Restoration funding provided by The Film Foundation.
Saturday, December 16, 2:00pm
Tuesday, December 26, 8:00pm

The Life of Oharu / Saikaku ichidai onna
Kenji Mizoguchi, Japan, 1952, 35mm, 136m
Japanese with English subtitles
Among the most sublimely devastating of master director Kenji Mizoguchi’s celebrated portraits of fallen women, The Life of Oharu stars the infinitely touching Kinuyo Tanaka as a once-proud concubine whose tragic fate is governed by the callous whims of men and the cruel jealousies of women as she slides into a life of prostitution in Edo-era Japan. Sensitive as always to the rigid social structures that subjugate his heroines, Mizoguchi offers a distinctly Japanese alternative to the operatic Sturm und Drang of Western weepies; this is finely wrought, small-gesture melodrama, in which the subtlest movement or camera angle is calibrated for maximum heartbreak effect.
Monday, December 18, 1:30pm
Saturday, January 6, 3:45pm

All About My Mother


Charlie Chaplin, USA, 1952, 35mm, 137m
In his last American film, Charlie Chaplin synthesized a lifetime’s worth of memories, experiences, and wisdom into a miraculously moving, bittersweet summation of his art and worldview. In a story set amid the London music halls of his youth, Chaplin plays Calvero, the rummy, washed-up clown whose final gift to the world is to give a suicidal ballerina (Claire Bloom) a new lease on life. At once heart-burstingly life-affirming, and serenely accepting of aging and death, Limelight stands as a soul-baring magnum opus from one of the 20th century’s greatest artists. Bonus: Chaplin performing on screen alongside Buster Keaton for the first and last time.
Monday, December 25, 1:30pm
Monday, January 1, 1:30pm

The Long Day Closes
Terence Davies, UK, 1992, 35mm, 85m
One of the greatest films of the 1990s, Terence Davies’s sublime memory piece is at once a dreamily poignant evocation of childhood’s end, a richly textured musical of everyday life, and a singular fusion of narrative and avant-garde storytelling. Set amid a lovingly re-created 1950s Liverpool, the film is a free-flowing fountain of impressions both wondrous (the cinema, holiday celebrations, mother) and painful (school, bullies, loneliness) that together form a portrait of a young gay boy (Leigh McCormack) coming of age as an outsider. Through it all, Davies wrings glowing, Dream Factory nostalgia from a collage-like soundtrack that drifts from Nat King Cole to snatches of MGM musicals to, in one of the film’s most magical moments, Debbie Reynolds warbling “Tammy.”
Monday, December 25, 6:15pm
Tuesday, December 26, 4:00pm

Magnificent Obsession
Douglas Sirk, USA, 1954, 35mm, 108m
Everything came together in the first of Douglas Sirk’s extraordinary Technicolor melodramas: the advent of widescreen filmmaking, a star-making performance from Rock Hudson, and a story so far-fetched that it was practically begging for Sirk’s Brechtian approach. Hudson plays a devil-may-care playboy who inadvertently widows and then blinds the local doctor’s wife (Jane Wyman), before giving up his reckless ways to become a surgeon in hopes that he might cure her. Through his command of color, composition, and mise-en-scène, Sirk transforms his most outré premise into a luminous, metaphysical exploration of fate and spirituality.

Preceded by:
Home Stories
Matthias Müller, West Germany, 1991, 6m
Filmed entirely off a television set, Müller’s collage of 1950s and ’60s Hollywood melodramas transforms various domestic spaces into scenarios of fear and paranoia.
Sunday, December 24, 6:45pm
Monday, January 1, 9:15pm

Make Way for Tomorrow
Leo McCarey, USA, 1937, 35mm, 91m
You’re going to need tissues for this one… The most heart-piercingly human tale of the 1930s (and the inspiration for Ozu’s Tokyo Story) follows the trials of an elderly, resolutely old-fashioned couple (Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi) who, after they lose their home, are forced to live separately with their oh-so-busy adult children. Sensitively directed by the ever-empathetic Leo McCarey as part of a remarkable mid-’30s run that included The Awful Truth and Ruggles of Red Gap, Make Way for Tomorrow is all the more poignant for the stoic restraint with which it treats its themes of aging and the gulf between parents and children.
Tuesday, December 26, 2:00pm
Thursday, January 4, 4:00pm*
*Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, Francesca Beale Theater, 144 W 65 Street

Mamma Roma
Pier Paolo Pasolini, Italy, 1962, 35mm, 110m
Italian with English subtitles
In one of her defining roles, Anna Magnani plays a coarse ex-streetwalker who tries to start a new, better life in Rome for the sake of her teenage son (Ettore Garofolo)—but struggles to keep him from falling into a life of crime. Pasolini’s shattering working-class tragedy treats earthily realistic subject matter with a cool formal classicism, replete with baroque music and visual references to Renaissance religious paintings (including a haunting re-creation of Andrea Mantegna’s Lamentation of Christ). The result is a subversive mix of the sacred and the profane that pushed neorealism in bold new directions.
Saturday, December 23, 6:30pm
Saturday, January 6, 8:45pm

The Wind


Mildred Pierce
Michael Curtiz, USA, 1945, 111m
The mother of all mother-daughter melodramas and the apotheosis of Joan Crawford: she capped a career playing hard-nosed working girls with her ferocious, Oscar-winning turn as the titular tiger mom who bootstraps her way up from put-upon housewife to wealthy restaurateur all to win the love of her monstrously bratty little girl Veda (Ann Blyth). But what could drive her to murder? Etched in striking noir chiaroscuro, this slashing James M. Cain adaptation remains one of the most incisive and cynical films ever made about class in America. New 4K restoration
Sunday, December 17, 8:30pm
Sunday, January 7, 9:15pm

Now, Voyager
Irving Rapper, 1942, USA, 35mm, 117m
“Don’t let’s ask for the moon. We have the stars…” In one of her definitive roles, Bette Davis plays the dowdy spinster aunt of a moneyed Boston family who withers under the thumb of her horrid harridan mother. That all changes when she meets Claude Rains’s kindly psychiatrist, who sets her on a path of self-determination: cue glamorous makeover, a South American cruise, and a life-changing dalliance with a charming fellow traveler (Paul Henreid), who happens to be married but is always ready with a cigarette. This glorious excursion into wish-fulfillment fantasy represents a peak of high-gloss soap thanks to plush cinematography, a throbbing Max Steiner score, and the incomparable Davis, who sells it all with tremulous, saucer-eyed intensity.
Friday, December 15, 1:30pm
Sunday, December 31, 1:00pm

Only Yesterday
John M. Stahl, USA, 1933, 35mm, 105m
The extraordinary 1930s soap operas of John M. Stahl marry a sincere belief in the power of melodrama with an almost Ozu-like stylistic purity. Based on the same Stefan Zweig novel that would later yield Max Ophüls’s Letter from an Unknown Woman, this startlingly pre-Code study of masochistic desire stars Margaret Sullavan (in her film debut) as the “one who does not forget,” a woman whose one-night stand with a callow World War I soldier (John Boles) leaves her with a son and a lifetime of unrequited romantic yearning. In contrast to the florid gestures of Ophüls’s vision, Stahl achieves overwhelming heartbreak through elegant restraint.
Wednesday, December 13, 2:00pm
Saturday, December 30,  1:00pm

Orphans of the Storm
D.W. Griffith, USA, 1921, 35mm, 150m
English intertitles
D.W. Griffith’s wildly entertaining, pop-historical epic stars Lillian and Dorothy Gish as orphaned sisters swept up in the eye of the French Revolution as they suffer first at the hands of the decadent aristocracy and then face the Reign of Terror. The culmination of a dazzling run of groundbreaking smash hits that included Intolerance and Broken Blossoms, Griffith’s last great triumph has it all: blind innocents terrorized by hand-rubbingly evil villainesses; a memorably menacing Robespierre clashing with a heroic Danton; orgiastic, cast-of-hundreds bacchanals; a sprinkling of then-relevant anti-Bolshevist sentiment; and, to top it all off, a nail-biting, race-to-the-guillotine climax. Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art with support from The Lillian Gish Trust for Film Preservation. The screening will be accompanied with a live piano performance by Donald Sosin and include an intermission.
Wednesday, December 20, 6:30pm

Pola X
Leos Carax, France, 1999, 35mm, 134m
French with English subtitles
Ex–enfant terrible Leos Carax takes the ingredients of melodrama—family secrets, persecuted innocents, forbidden love, betrayal—and scrambles them into an audacious postmodern opera of artistic angst. Pierre (Guillaume Depardieu) is a leisure-class, “voice of his generation” writer who gets sucked into a through-the-looking-glass rabbit hole of underclass grime and incest when he encounters an Eastern European war refugee (Yekaterina Golubeva) claiming to be his long-lost sister. Like the novel that inspired it—Herman Melville’s controversial Pierre; or, The Ambiguities—this enigmatic, unrestrained film maudit was met with divisive skepticism upon its release, but today looks more and more like an essential work of blazingly personal vision.
Saturday, December 30, 5:30pm
Sunday, January 7, 3:30pm

Brief Encounter


Rebel Without a Cause
Nicholas Ray, USA, 1955, 35mm, 111m
Released just one month after James Dean’s death, Rebel Without a Cause captured the magnetic on-screen presence of the young actor and the feverish anxiety of an entire generation. Coming together at a police station, conflicted teenage outcasts Jim Stark (Dean), Judy (Natalie Wood), and Plato (Sal Mineo) face down their nagging parents and live up to the challenge of the local hotshots by playing chicken at a seaside cliff. Ray’s memorable look at nonconformity remains the standard for youth angst on film: a biting critique of middle-class institutions highlighted by great performances, Ernest Haller’s low-key lighting, and Leonard Rosenman’s groundbreaking score.
Thursday, December 21, 2:00pm
Tuesday, January 2, 2:00pm

Rouge / Yan zhi kou
Stanley Kwan, Hong Kong, 1987, 93m
Cantonese with English subtitles
In the tradition of Douglas Sirk and Vincente Minnelli, Hong Kong auteur Stanley Kwan creates expressively stylized emotion spectacles etched in sumptuous mise-en-scène. In this entrancingly strange and sensual ghost story, 1930s courtesan Fleur (HK icon Anita Mui) dies of an opium overdose in a suicide pact with her forbidden lover (Leslie Cheung). She goes to hell, but he doesn’t join her there as expected. Fifty years later she returns to Earth in search of him… This outré premise is played by Kwan with supreme sincerity, yielding a majestically melancholy memory piece and a rich, provocative exploration of the link between love, sex, and death.
Saturday, December 16, 4:00pm

Secret Sunshine / Miryang
Lee Chang-dong, South Korea, 2007, 35mm, 142m
Korean with English subtitles
Lee Chang-dong’s stunning saga of grief and catharsis is built around a fearless central performance from Jeon Do-yeon (Best Actress, Cannes Film Festival)—one of the most wrenching and mesmerizing tour de forces since Gena Rowlands in A Woman Under the Influence. She plays socially awkward piano teacher who, with her young son, relocates from Seoul to her late husband’s hometown of Milyang for a fresh start. But another unthinkable tragedy soon sends her into an emotional tailspin and a desperate quest for reconciliation. While it plumbs universal questions of faith and forgiveness, Secret Sunshine is never less than personal in its portrait of a woman picking up the pieces of her life.
Wednesday, December 27, 8:15pm

Some Came Running
Vincente Minnelli, USA, 1958, 35mm, 137m
Five years after his triumphant turn in From Here to Eternity, Frank Sinatra appears in another James Jones screen adaptation: the 1,200-page chronicle of postwar disillusionment and small-town hypocrisy Some Came Running. Shrewdly directed by Vincente Minnelli, the film features one of Sinatra’s most textured portrayals, as Dave Hirsh, an embittered ex-GI who returns to his Midwestern hometown to write the next chapter of his life. He’s torn between the “respectable” influences of his social-climbing brother (Arthur Kennedy) and schoolteacher love interest (Martha Hyer), and the decadence embodied by gambler Dean Martin (brilliant in his first pairing with Sinatra) and floozy Shirley MacLaine (in her breakout role). Sinatra suggested changing the book’s finale to favor MacLaine, predicting the final twist would win her an Oscar nomination; it did, in addition to nods for Kennedy, Hyer, and the Sammy Cahn/Jimmy Van Heusen song “To Love and Be Loved.”
Friday, December 15, 4:00pm
Monday, January 1, 4:15pm

The Song of the Scarlet Flower / Laulu tulipunaisesta kukasta
Teuvo Tulio, Finland, 1938, 115m
The hot-blooded spectacles of Finnish iconoclast Teuvo Tulio marry a searing, expressionist visual language with a sincere belief in the transcendent power of melodrama. His earliest surviving work follows a rake’s progress as cocky, love-’em-and-leave-’em lumberjack Olavi (Kaarlo Oksanen) wanders the countryside conquering logjams and the local maidens alike—until his reckless ways come back to haunt him. Interspersing lovely, bucolic interludes with moments of startling emotional intensity, this scalding indictment of male chauvinism is extraordinary in the way it cuts its caddish antihero down to size while standing up for its wronged women. Courtesy of the National Audiovisual Institute, Finland.
Saturday, December 23, 2:00pm
Thursday, December 28, 6:00pm

Spring in a Small Town / Xiao cheng zhi chun
Fei Mu, China, 1948, 98m
Mandarin with English subtitles
The oft-cited crowning achievement of classic Chinese cinema is a mesmerizing portrait of female desire and subjectivity that ranks alongside Brief Encounter and the works of Mikio Naruse. Married to a depressed, chronically ill man, housewife Yuwen (Wei Wei) is quietly suffocating in a provincial village when an old flame unexpectedly walks back into her life. So begins a wrenching internal struggle between marital fidelity and erotic yearning that plays out with supreme restraint on screen, but which boils over in its heroine’s impassioned voiceovers. Employing an expressively ascetic style—languorous long takes; minimalist sound design; exquisitely understated, almost trancelike performances—director Fei Mu conjures an ethereal state of muted frisson. Digital restoration courtesy of the China Film Archive.
Wednesday, December 27, 6:00pm

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul


Stella Dallas
King Vidor, USA, 1937, 35mm, 106m
In Stella Dallas, Barbara Stanwyck created one of the most indelible heroines of Hollywood’s Golden Age: a rough-around-the-edges millworker’s daughter who, even after she schemes her way up a peg on the social ladder, can’t quite shake her working-class ways as she does whatever it takes to give her daughter (Anne Shirley) a better life. This is 100-proof melodrama in its purest, most undistilled form, ruthlessly wringing pathos from its nerve-touching themes of class, motherhood, and self-sacrifice. Through it all, Stanwyck is a miracle, pouring every ounce of Brooklyn brass and just-below-the-surface vulnerability she’s got into the endearingly crude Stella, before going in for the kill with the titanic heartbreak of the impossible-to-forget ending. 35mm print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.
Wednesday, January 3, 2:00pm
Saturday, January 6, 1:30pm

La Strada
Federico Fellini, Italy, 1954, 35mm, 108m
Italian with English subtitles
Fellini’s vision of the world as a whirling, bittersweet carnival begins with this tragicomic fable, which features the indelible pairing of two icons of world cinema. Anthony Quinn is the brutish traveling-circus strongman Zampanò, who takes as his performing partner Giulietta Masina’s sensitive, dreamy Gelsomina, a delicate spirit gradually crushed by his cruelty. Breaking once and for all with neorealism, Fellini offers up a stream of memorably poetic moments, from an Easter Parade filmed in swooping eagle-eye angles to the shattering, seaside-set finale. Most haunting of all though is Masina’s soulful, Pierrot-like countenance, which somehow registers all shades of human sweetness and pathos.
Wednesday, December 20, 4:00pm
Saturday, January 6, 6:30pm

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
F.W. Murnau, USA, 1927, 35mm, 94m
F.W. Murnau’s luminous silent masterwork is a virtuosic display of visual storytelling and a testament to an artistry that was all but lost with the onset of the talkie era. Part bucolic idyll, part dynamic city symphony, the film charts the folly and redemption of a country farmer (George O’Brien) torn between his loving wife (Janet Gaynor) and the temptations of a big-city vamp (Margaret Livingston). Given almost complete creative freedom by Fox, Murnau exults in the pure expressive power of the image—never more touchingly than when he envisions the married couple’s rhapsodic romantic fantasy amid a traffic jam. Bonus: that adorable, drunken piglet! 35mm print preserved by The Museum of Modern Art. The screening will be accompanied with a live piano performance by Donald Sosin.

Preceded by:
Edge of Alchemy
Stacey Steers, USA, 2017, 19m
In Stacey Steers’s handmade film, assembled from over 6,000 collages, the actors Mary Pickford and Janet Gaynor are appropriated from their early silent features and cast into a surreal epic.
Tuesday, December 19, 6:00pm

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg / Les parapluies de Cherbourg
Jacques Demy, France, 1964, 91m
English and French with English subtitles
Amid a candy-colored, soundstage seaside village, radiantly beautiful young lovers Geneviève (Catherine Deneuve in a star-is-born performance) and Guy (Nino Castelnuovo) look forward to a lifetime of happiness together. Then she gets pregnant, he is shipped off to fight in Algeria, and the months gradually turn into years… As pretty as a box of macarons and sung entirely to the lilting, light-as-meringue melodies of Michel Legrand, Jacques Demy’s enchanting cine-opera is both a triumph of art direction—think MGM’s Freed Unit gone pastel mad—and an ineffably tender and touching fable about the ways in which youthful idealism must reckon with the realities of life.
Saturday, December 16, 8:30pm
Tuesday, December 26, 6:00pm

The Wind
Victor Sjöström, USA, 1928, 35mm, 80m
English intertitles
Victor Sjöström’s psycho-erotic tour de force features Lillian Gish in her final—and greatest—silent performance. She is the delicate Letty, who travels from Virginia to the West to start a new life—but soon finds herself going mad in a desert wasteland of leering men, hostile women, and a ferocious wind that never stops howling… Shot on location in the Mojave Desert, this torrid masterwork is a harrowing, almost mythic dramatization of the ways in which both man and nature destroy. The climactic sandstorm ranks among the most astonishing sequences in all of silent cinema, an expressionistic rampage that spirals into full-on horror. The screening will be accompanied by a live piano performance by Donald Sosin.

Preceded by:
Night Hunter
Stacey Steers, USA, 2011, 16m
In this handmade film composed of more than 4,000 collages, actress Lillian Gish is seamlessly appropriated from silent-era cinema and plunged into a new and haunting role.
Tuesday, December 19, 8:30pm

Within Our Gates
Oscar Micheaux, USA, 1920, 35mm, 78m
Silent with English intertitles
One of Oscar Micheaux’s earliest surviving films is this remarkable work of fractured narratives featuring numerous subplots, unexpected twists, and flashbacks that become virtual films within the film. After her engagement is broken off, Sylvia Landry (Evelyn Preer) leaves Boston for the Deep South to work as a teacher at a school for impoverished black youths. Learning that the institution is on the brink of bankruptcy, Sylvia dedicates herself to saving the school. The film’s most famous sequence involves an extended flashback in which an eligible black doctor interested in Sylvia’s hand learns why she’s reluctant to marry: Micheaux transports us to the past and to the South, where he re-creates a terrifying scene of lynching—at a moment in which such atrocities were sadly commonplace in America. 35mm print preserved by the Library of Congress. The screening will be accompanied by a live piano performance by Donald Sosin.
Thursday, December 21, 6:30pm

Tickets are now available.