Todd Haynes’s Carol premieres today at the 53rd New York Film Festival, so what better time to announce details for Todd Haynes: The Other Side of Dreams. The series, which will take place November 18-29, is a comprehensive survey of Haynes’s deeply influential body of work, supplemented by a selection of his own influences: each title is paired with a film—chosen by the director himself—that informed it in some way. The series also features a two-film sidebar celebrating 20 years of Killer Films, the legendary production company co-founded by longtime Haynes producer Christine Vachon.

Haynes’s films are at once subversive and sleek. They feature glamorous movie stars, unfold in immaculate domestic spaces, and unfurl with seductive, pleasurable rhythms, yet raise provocative questions about politics, psychology, and pop culture. Haynes, who studied semiotics at Brown, gained notoriety early in his career with a Barbie-doll deconstruction of the life of Karen Carpenter (Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story). His debut feature, the New Queer Cinema milestone Poison, came under fire from the American Family Association sight unseen. A bold iconoclast, he is also a canny updater of directors like Max Ophüls, John M. Stahl, and Douglas Sirk. But his films—more than theoretical treatises or referential grab bags—are richly textured, emotionally astute, and grounded in specific, tumultuous moments in American history.

Since Haynes’s 1995 breakthrough, Safe, an ominous illness drama anchored by an extraordinary Julianne Moore, this most unpredictable of major American filmmakers has made two fractured, inside-out studies of iconic rock stars (Velvet Goldmine deals with the knotty legacy of David Bowie; Im Not There, with that of Bob Dylan) and two magisterial updates of the Hollywood melodrama centered on women who defy rigid social orders (Far from Heaven and the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce). His latest, Carol, an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s pioneering lesbian-themed romance novel The Price of Salt, is one of his boldest films, and “arguably his most perfect achievement” (Time Out New York).

Haynes’s film pairings include Far from Heaven with Max Ophüls’s stylish suburban melodrama The Reckless Moment; Im Not There with Eat the Document, D.A. Pennebaker and Bob Dylan’s never-released chronicle of his 1966 tour; Safe with Douglas Sirk’s magnum opus Imitation of Life; Poison with Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s bleak moral fable Fox and His Friends; and more. Film Society also presents a double bill of Kimberly Peirce’s Boys Dont Cry and Mary Harron’s I Shot Andy Warhol to commemorate two decades of Killer Films.

Todd Haynes: The Other Side of Dreams is programmed by Dennis Lim. Tickets will go on sale Thursday, November 5. Special thanks to Jeff Rosen; Mary Engel; Christine Vachon, Pamela Koffler, and Logan Steinhardt, Killer Films; Chad Martinez, HBO; Jennifer Stott, The Weinstein Company; and Tanya Smith.


Carol (2015)


An Evening with Todd Haynes + A Place in the Sun

Join us for a special double-feature event with screenings of Carol and Lovers and Lollipops, plus an extended conversation with Todd Haynes.


Todd Haynes, USA, 2015, DCP, 118m
Haynes’s adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s early novel stars Cate Blanchett as the titular Carol, a wealthy suburban wife and mother, and Rooney Mara as an aspiring photographer. They meet by chance, fall in love almost at first sight, and defy the closet of the early 1950s to be together. Working with his longtime cinematographer Ed Lachman and shooting on the Super-16 film he favors for its echoes of the movie history of 20th-century America, Haynes charts subtle shifts of power and desire in images that are alternately luminous and oppressive. Blanchett and Mara are both splendid; the erotic connection between their characters is palpable from beginning to end, as much in its repression as in eagerly claimed moments of expressive freedom. Originally published under a pseudonym, Carol is Highsmith’s most affirmative work; Haynes has more than done justice to the multilayered emotions evoked by the original. A Weinstein Company release. An NYFF53 selection.

Screening with:

Lovers and Lollipops
Morris Engel & Ruth Orkin, USA, 1956, 35mm, 82m
Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin followed up their paradigm-shifting debut feature Little Fugitive with another film about a young child discovering and challenging the habits of adults. As was true for the directors’ earlier film, the plot of Lovers and Lollipopsa 7-year-old girl goes to escalating lengths to disrupt her widowed mother’s burgeoning romance with a sympathetic old friend—registers less than its constant stream of precisely observed, improbably sustained moments: a visit to the Museum of Modern Art; a bedtime reading that escalates into a mini-confrontation; a trip to the Bronx Zoo. An underappreciated landmark of American independent filmmaking, Lovers and Lollipops is a fleet-footed, stylish document of an older New York, and a crucial period reference for Haynes’s sumptuous new film, Carol.
Wednesday, November 18, 6:30pm (Q&A with Todd Haynes)

A Place in the Sun
George Stevens, USA, 1951, DCP, 122m
George Stevens took the plot for one of his biggest runaway successes—it won six Oscars in 1952—from Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy: a poor, ambitious young man (Montgomery Clift) becomes disastrously involved with two women (Shelly Winters and Elizabeth Taylor) while trying to ingratiate himself with his wealthy uncle. Clift, then at the peak of his powers, transforms George from a sleazy social climber into something close to a tragic hero. But it’s Winters’s performance as the doomed young Alice, a factory worker from whom George drifts away in favor of a wealthy socialite, that becomes the film’s emotional center. She’s the prototype for many of Haynes’s heroines: stifled, alert, possessed of strong desires, and ultimately destroyed by the shallow movements of the society in which she’s stuck.
Wednesday, November 18, 4:00pm


Dottie Gets Spanked

Dottie Gets Spanked (1993)

Todd Haynes: Rarities + Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

A one-night-only event featuring a rare screening of Dottie Gets Spanked, a conversation with Todd Haynes, and a special surprise.

Dottie Gets Spanked
Todd Haynes, USA, 1993, 16mm, 30m
Haynes once again reflected on the dark side of a supposedly wholesome pop-culture phenomenon in this rueful period short—originally shown on PBS—about a suburban 6-year-old boy marked as a pariah for his obsession with a sitcom star. The dream that occurs to him after he sees his idol in a degrading, sexualized position is one of Haynes’s great hysterical outbursts—especially since it comes midway through one of his quieter, sadder, and more somber films.

Screening with:

A Special (and secret) Surprise Film
Saturday, November 21, 7:00pm (Q&A with Todd Haynes)*
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
Russ Meyer, USA, 1970, 35mm, 109m
Russ Meyer and Roger Ebert’s manic, hysterical assault on American celebrity culture has risen to the status of a modern classic, but in its time it was a true oddity: an X-rated, tonally berserk black comedy commissioned when a major studio decided to fund a parody of one of its own films. In this sequel to Mark Robson’s much saner Valley of the Dolls, three young women form a rock band, travel cross country, and—as their star rises—descend into a frenzy of drug use, violence, and love affairs of every kind under the influence of a gender-ambiguous Svengali. With its deadpan, taboo-bending humor and its interest in bodily breakdown, BVD (as it’s known to its many fans) is a clear antecedent to Haynes’s three films about the perils and ecstasies of fame.
Saturday, November 21, 9:30pm (Introduction by Todd Haynes)*
Sunday, November 22, 9:00pm
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street

Far From Heaven (2002). Photo: Killer Films / The Kobal Collection.

Far from Heaven (2002). Photo: Killer Films/The Kobal Collection.

Far from Heaven + The Reckless Moment

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, cross 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.
Friday, November 27, 2:00pm
Sunday, November 29, 6:30pm

The Reckless Moment
Max Ophüls, USA, 1949, 35mm, 82m
The Hollywood director from whom Haynes’s Far from Heaven takes its most explicit cues is Douglas Sirk, but it’s a movie arguably just as close in spirit to the exquisite, turbulent, gaspingly moving melodramas that Max Ophüls, having fled Germany, made in the U.S. in the years immediately after World War II. The last of these, The Reckless Moment, is one of the filmmaker’s overlooked masterpieces: a suburban nightmare in which a California housewife (Joan Bennett) finds herself entangled with a shadowy Irish blackmailer (James Mason) after her daughter commits a scandalous crime. Sexual and romantic transgressions, acts of passion and restraint, sinister nuclear families with everything to hide: The Reckless Moment occupies strikingly Haynesian territory, rendered with the exacting eye of a master cinematic stylist.
Friday, November 27, 4:30pm
Sunday, November 29, 4:30pm

I'm Not There (2007). Photo: The Kobal Collection / Weinstein Co.

I’m Not There (2007). Photo: The Kobal Collection/Weinstein Co.

Im Not There and Assassins: A Film Concerning Rimbaud + Eat the Document

Im Not There
Todd Haynes, USA/Germany/Canada, 2007, 35mm, 135m
How do you film the life of an artist as protean, elusive, egomaniacal, imaginative, surprising, and heavily mythologized as Bob Dylan? Haynes’s playful, gutsy biopic, in which six actors take turns embodying one of America’s most legendary musicians, considers that question and swallows it whole. In Im Not There, Dylan emerges in the form of, variously, an 11-year-old African-American folk singer who claims to be Woody Guthrie reincarnated, a famous musician prone to conversions and acts of dramatic abandonment, an actor hired to play that musician in a biopic within the film, and the first of the two heroes of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid—a film for which Dylan did the soundtrack. It was in Haynes’s movie that Heath Ledger gave one of his best performances, but the star of the show is Cate Blanchett, who turns Dylan’s rock-star persona into a heroic, electrifying showcase for her own remarkable gifts. An NYFF45 Selection.
Friday, November 27, 6:30pm*
Sunday, November 29, 9:00pm
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street

Eat the Document
D.A. Pennebaker/Bob Dylan, USA, 1966, digital projection, 54m
Bob Dylan directed one of cinema’s strangest poetic reveries (Renaldo and Clara), contributed to many of the best film soundtracks of the past half-century, and figured centrally in two of the great rock ’n’ roll documentaries (Dont Look Back and No Direction Home), but his ultimate cinematic testament is this blissful, digressive chronicle of his 1966 UK tour with The Hawks (soon to be The Band) immediately following his debilitating motorcycle accident. Dylan presided over the shoot and edited the footage, mostly provided by Dont Look Back’s mastermind D.A. Pennebaker, into a rapid-fire, associative blur of rehearsals, performances, and hangout sessions—including a jaw-dropping piano duet between Dylan and Johnny Cash. A central source text for Im Not There, the never-released Eat This Document is as close as any movie comes to being a key to all Dylan mythologies—not least because it’s so rarely screened.

Screening with:

Assassins: A Film Concerning Rimbaud
Todd Haynes, USA, 1985, 16mm, 43m
Haynes’s choice to conflate Bob Dylan with Arthur Rimbaud in one of the six segments of Im Not There wasn’t his first engagement with the great French poet. In this tongue-in-cheek, giddily fun short, made while Haynes was still a precocious undergraduate at Brown, Rimbaud comes off as a snotty Parisian vagabond equally informed by the birth of punk and the riots of May ’68. He enters the film quoting Genet, and as it goes on, Assassins emerges as a kind of catalog of the figures—literary, musical, and cinematic—who would inform Haynes’s sensibility for decades to come.
Friday, November 27, 9:15pm*
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street

Mildred Pierce (2011). Photo: HBO / The Kobal Collection.

Mildred Pierce (2011). Photo: HBO/The Kobal Collection.

Mildred Pierce + Klute

Mildred Pierce
Todd Haynes, USA, 2011, DCP, 336m
Kate Winslet won a Golden Globe for her performance as the title heroine of what Hilton Als called Haynes’s “rivetingly authoritative, erotic, and painstakingly faithful” HBO miniseries, an adaptation of one of the crime writer James M. Cain’s most sympathetic, psychologically rich novels. In this vision of Depression-era America, a young woman divorces her out-of-work husband, opens a successful handful of restaurants, remarries one of her customers (Guy Pearce), and drives herself to the brink of ruin trying to win the respect of her haughty, socially ambitious daughter (Evan Rachel Wood). Michael Curtiz’s original adaptation of Mildred Pierce has become a camp classic; Haynes’s, in contrast, is a dignified, luminous study of a woman under constant economic and emotional pressure.
Thursday, November 26, 1:00pm

Alan J. Pakula, USA, 1971, 35mm, 114m
Jane Fonda at the height of her fame, in the role that won her an Oscar; Donald Sutherland in one of his first major starring performances; the brilliant cinematographer Gordon Willis preparing to shoot The Godfather the following year: the prodigious director Alan J. Pakula (All the Presidents Men) assembled a remarkable team of collaborators for this seamy underworld thriller about a small-town Pennsylvania PI (Sutherland) drawn into the web of intrigue and murder surrounding a glamorous New York call girl (Fonda). Bree, the hardened, thoroughly professional prostitute at the center of Klute, could be a kind of model for many of Haynes’s heroines (particularly the title character in Mildred Pierce), and the movie’s visions of a now-bygone New York prefigure the even older Manhattan cityscapes that fill Carol.
Thursday, November 26, 7:30pm
Saturday, November 28, 4:00pm


Poison (1991)

Poison + Decodings and Fox and His Friends

Todd Haynes, USA, 1991, 16mm, 85m
None of Haynes’s films have been so instantly, visibly influential as his groundbreaking feature debut: an intercut trio of explicitly gay-themed stories shot in a grab bag of styles, loosely inspired by the writings of Jean Genet, and saturated with the furious, death-haunted, theory-mad atmosphere of early-’90s LGBTQ culture. A true-crime short in which a Long Island boy takes revenge on his domineering father; a sci-fi nightmare filmed in what Haynes called “dank, cheesy” black and white; a prison love story that unfolds in blazing color: Poison almost single-handedly launched what came to be called the New Queer Cinema—but only after having weathered the pornography charges it came under by right-wing watchdog groups sight unseen. The film was full of sound and fury, but it signified much more.

Screening with:

Michael Wallin, USA, 1988, 16mm, 15m
Manohla Dargis called this found-footage short from the veteran San Francisco experimental filmmaker Michael Wallin “a profoundly moving, allegorical search for identity from the documents of collective memory.” The narrator of Decodings spends the film scrutinizing and narrating a vast spread of film clips drawn from moving images made in ’40s and ’50s America—a period Haynes has spent his career ambitiously working to map, unearth, and re-create.
Wednesday, November 25, 7:00pm*
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street

Fox and His Friends / Faustrecht der Freiheit
Rainer Werner Fassbinder, West Germany, 1975, 35mm, 123m
Rainer Werner Fassbinder himself starred in this bleak moral fable, the 20th film he’d directed in the span of six years. Fox is a déclassé, leather-clad carnival entertainer who becomes a prime target for predatory suitors after he wins the lottery, and his Sade-esque journey from lumpenprole afterthought to exploited and discarded piece of meat becomes one of the great tragedies of European cinema. Haynes and Fassbinder share much more than a love for Douglas Sirk, and it was in the desperate, operatic movies the great German director made during the second half of his brief career that Haynes found one of his most important filmmaking models—a lesson, to use Manny Farber’s words, in “pushing melodrama to its absurd limits to show how its clichéd attitudes and emotions discolor normal situations.” An NYFF13 Selection.
Wednesday, November 25, 4:30pm & 9:15pm*
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street

Immitation of Life

Immitation of Life (1959)

Safe + Imitation of Life

Todd Haynes, USA, 1995, 35mm, 119m
Haynes shot his second feature in 1994, but he set it at the height of the AIDS epidemic seven years earlier. The unnamed disease at the center of this indelible, shuddering movie—widely considered one of Haynes’s masterpieces—has taken on new, unexpected meanings since the film’s release, and yet much of what makes Safe revelatory to watch is the uncanny precision of its setting, look, and tone. Carol (Julianne Moore), whose mysterious breakdown from perfect housewife to cloistered invalid drives the movie’s plot, couldn’t live anywhere but suburban L.A. in the late ’80s—a landscape Haynes captures in a strange, piercing, hyperreal light. Jonathan Rosenbaum called Safe “the most provocative American art film of the year” in 1995. It’s hard to imagine any movie topping it were it released now.
Friday, November 20, 6:30pm (Q&A with Todd Haynes)
Tuesday, November 24, 4:00pm

Imitation of Life
Douglas Sirk, USA, 1959, DCP, 125m
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 performance from Mahalia Jackson and the gale-force emotional annihilation of Sirk’s most devastating climax.
Friday, November 20, 4:00pm & 9:30pm (Introduction by Todd Haynes at 9:30pm showing)

Velvet Goldmine (1998). Photo: Zenith/Killer Films / The Kobal Collection / Mountain, Peter.

Velvet Goldmine (1998). Photo: Zenith/Killer Films/The Kobal Collection/Peter Mountain.

Velvet Goldmine + Performance

Velvet Goldmine
Todd Haynes, UK/USA, 1998, 35mm, 124m
The birth of Oscar Wilde; the staged death of a flamboyant rock star modeled closely after David Bowie; the delirious inebriation of London at the height of the glam era: Haynes’s second discourse on celebrity culture (after Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story) was as sprawling and multi-tracked as Safe had been clinically restrained. Much of Velvet Goldmine, the story of a journalist who tries to reconstruct the sordid life story of the failed glam rock star he’d idolized as a young man, was shot in London, and the move gave Haynes a chance to abandon the cloister-like suburbs of his earlier films for a much more colorful, Dionysian milieu. Working with a stellar cast (Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Eddie Izzard, Toni Collette, Ewan McGregor, Christian Bale) and a staggering roster of musicians, including members of Radiohead, Sonic Youth, Roxy Music, and The Stooges, Haynes crafted one of the most thrilling music movies of the 1990s. An NYFF36 Selection.
Saturday, November 28, 6:30pm
Sunday, November 29, 2:00pm

Nicolas Roeg & Donald Cammell, UK, 1970, 35mm, 105m
The manic, disjunctive editing rhythms that distinguish this devilish late-’60s psychological drama shocked viewers in 1970 nearly as much as did the film’s subject: the strange, tense cohabitation of a London gangster (James Fox) with a self-medicating pop star (Mick Jagger) and his two steady female companions (Anita Pallenberg and Michele Breton). The montage is Nicolas Roeg’s, as were most of the movie’s delirious visual touches, but Performance—one of cinema’s seminal cult classics—was above all the brainchild of Donald Cammell, a major figure in the London underground scene. With its fractured narrative logic and polymorphous sexual dynamics, the film would become a key reference point for glam movies as early as Roeg’s own The Man Who Fell to Earth and as late as Haynes’s Velvet Goldmine.
Saturday, November 28, 1:30pm & 9:00pm

I Shot Andy Warhol. The Kobal Collection / Playhouse/Samuel Goldwyn.

I Shot Andy Warhol. Photo: The Kobal Collection/Playhouse/Samuel Goldwyn.

20 Years of Killer Films

Killer Films, which Haynes’s fearless producer Christine Vachon founded in the mid-’90s, has been getting risky, forward-thinking films made for two decades. Since helping launch the New Queer Cinema—she produced Poison and Tom Kalin’s Swoon, another landmark film in the movement, before she had a company to her name—and joining forces with Pamela Koffler and Katie Roumel, Vachon has taken on a remarkable roster of movies: Boys Dont Cry, One Hour Photo, Kids, Happiness, Postcards from America, Go Fish. This special screening of two of the company’s most epochal films celebrates their ongoing efforts to clear the stage for voices marginalized, forgotten, or unheard.

Boys Dont Cry
Kimberly Peirce, USA, 1999, 35mm, 118m
Kimberly Peirce’s wrenching re-creation of the events leading up to a widely publicized hate crime—the rape and murder of a Nebraska trans man by two ex-convicts who had discovered his birth-assigned sex—was one of Killer Films’ major critical and popular successes. One of the main plot threads in Boys Dont Cry is a compassionate romance between Brandon Teena (Hilary Swank) and a young woman (Chloë Sevigny) associated with his eventual murderers, and the film’s sensitive balance of tenderness and cruelty surely helped give it much of its unprecedented crossover appeal. The heart and soul of the movie, however, is Swank’s towering, fearless performance, which earned her the first of her two Academy Awards.
Sunday, November 22, 3:00pm (Q&A with special guests to be announced)

I Shot Andy Warhol
Mary Harron, UK/USA, 1996, 35mm, 103m
Mary Harron has made movies about power-crazed murderers (American Psycho) and iconic sex symbols (The Notorious Bettie Page), but her 1996 debut took in both subjects at once. In June 1968, Valerie Solanas shot America’s most famous artist. Harron’s film follows the entry of this fascinating woman into Warhol’s rarified inner circle: Paul Morrissey, Viva, Gerard Malanga, and Candy Darling (a remarkable Stephen Dorff). Lili Taylor is magnetic as Solanas, an unhinged, paranoid figure who also happened to be a major, influential voice in the history of radical feminism. I Shot Andy Warhol thrives on that tension; as the years pass, it has emerged as one of the great, enduring independent films of the 1990s boom that Killer Films did much to usher in.
Sunday, November 22, 6:00pm (Q&A with special guests to be announced)