june/july/august 1998

VISITING ARTIST
Thieves Like Us (1974)
Thursday, June 11 at 7:30 p.m.

The Film Center welcomes screenwriter and director Joan Tewkesbury (Old Boyfriends, Picket Fences, Northern Exposure) as she presents a rare public screening of Thieves Like Us, the first of her two masterful collaborations with director Robert Altman (the other being Nashville). A beautifully rendered period piece set in 1930s Mississippi, Thieves Like Us follows the exploits of a young criminal (Keith Carradine) who escapes from prison with two older and hardened cons and all begin a bank robbing spree that puts the law on their tail and their faces on the front pages of newspapers. Altman and Tewkesbury shape dialogue that reverberates with the ebb and flow of the times. Carradine’s love interest is Keechie, played by Altman protégé Shelley Duvall, who joins the threesome in their efforts, only their skills do not match their ambitions and penance has to be paid. With Tom Skerritt and Louise Fletcher. (123 mins.) 35mm print courtesy of Sandcastle 5 Productions. Joan Tewkesbury is in Portland collaborating with James Canfield and the Oregon Ballet Theatre as part of its American Choreographers Showcase, directing her own work, Dance Card. For more information, call the Oregon Ballet Theatre at 2-BALLET. 
 

The Wonderful World of Mark Lewis — PORTLAND PREMIERE
VISITING ARTIST
Rat (1998) and 
Cane Toads: An Unnatural History (Australia, 1987) 
Friday, June 12 at 7:30 p.m.

For more than a decade, Mark Lewis has displayed a knack for uncovering the comic and quizzical relationships that exist between people and creatures great and small. The Film Center welcomes Lewis as he premieres his newest work, Rat, a film that focuses its attention to the metropolis of New York and the tensions that exist between people and these irascible rodents. In what may be the first film to include "actual rat dramatic recreations," Lewis goes from borough to borough, interviewing citizens and members of the Bureau of Pest Control about their strange encounters with this long-tailed creature with attitude.(57 mins.) Followed by Mark Lewis’ landmark account of the introduction of the Cane Toad to Australia, a documentary to croak about. In 1935, Australia brought the Cane Toad from Hawaii in an attempt to obliterate the beetles destroying sugar cane crops; instead, the toads multiplied and threatened the ecology of the continent. Charting the animal’s geographical progression, its obsessive sexual habits and the love/hate relationship that exists between people and the little beasts, Cane Toads plays like a cross between a Monty Python skit and a National Geographic special. (46 mins.)
 

The Wonderful World of Mark Lewis — PORTLAND PREMIERE
VISITING ARTIST
Rat (1998) and
The Wonderful World of Dogs (Australia, 1989)
Saturday, June 13 at 7:30 p.m.

After Mark Lewis premieres Rat (see 12 Friday for description), there is nothing left but to go to the dogs—The Wonderful World of Dogs. Playfully examining how some dogs just want to be like people and some people want to be like their dogs, this funny exploration of man’s best friend is told from both sides of the leash and introduces a compendium of real characters, canine and human, who chart the mutual affections between man and beast. (60 mins.)
 

The Hands of Rodin
Camille Claudel (France 1989) 
Sunday, June 14 at 7 p.m.

The inexplicable ties between life, art and madness are dramatically explored in Bruno Nuytten’s (La Belle Noiseuse) provocative look into the life and times of Camille Claudel (1864-1943), a sculptor whose genius was overshadowed by her tumultuous relationship with Auguste Rodin and the notoriety of her brother, writer Paul Claudel. Isabelle Adjani delivers a tour de force performance as the sensuous, independent woman prone to alcoholism and depression whose passionate 15-year affair with Rodin (Gerard Depardieu) was fueled by a complex master-pupil relationship and intense artistic rivalry. This tragic tale of the difficulty of reconciling work and love is a richly woven psychological biography which probes the subterranean levels of the creative process, the raw physicality of artistic expression and a period of history in which women artists were kept invisible. (174 mins.) Presented in conjunction with the Portland Art Museum's exhibition, The Hands of Rodin: A Tribute B. Gerald Cantor, on view June 2 through September 20.
 

PORTLAND PREMIERE 
Habit (1997) 
Thursday, June 18 at 7 & 9:15 p.m.
Friday & Saturday, June 19 & 20 at 8:30 & 11 p.m.
Sunday, June 21 at 7 p.m.

Winner of the 1997 Independent Spirit "Someone to Watch Award," writer/director/editor/actor Larry Fessenden has fashioned a first-rate erotic thriller with the primal scariness of a classic horror film. Shot on the streets of Greenwich Village by Frank DeMarco (Theremin: An Electric Odyssey) with a cast of off-Broadway actors and performance artists, Habit follows the hard-drinking and world-weary Sam (Fessenden) who has just broken up with his girlfriend when he meets the mysterious Anna at a friend’s Halloween party. In his stupor, his passions run high. Awakening on the street after this amorous night, he is left with a bloody lip, the first in a series of clues about his new lover’s true calling. In this allegorical tale that toys with both its lead character and its audience regarding the nature of vampires, Fessenden creates a sad and menacing world, heightened by paranoia and alcoholic hallucinations. "Of all the recent vampire movies (Interview with the Vampire, The Addiction, Nadja), this is the only one to suggest that the powerful symbolism of vampirism could create results even in the absence of causes. You could be killed by vampires even if they do not exist."—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times (112 mins.)
 

SILVER SCREEN CLUB PREVIEW — MEMBERS ONLY
Beyond Silence (Germany, 1997) 
Wednesday, June 24 at 7:30 p.m.

One of this year’s nominees for Best Foreign Language Film, "Beyond Silence is the story of Lara, the young daughter of deaf parents. Since her earliest childhood, she has been the bridge between her parents and the outside world. One day Lara is given a clarinet by her Aunt Clarissa, an attractive woman full of a zest for life. This opens her mind to the wondrous world of music—and begins her slow process of leaving family life and childhood behind. In this supremely lyrical film, Lara’s hands and her role as the communicator for the family become a cage, holding her at home, keeping her in childhood. Ironically, it is also her hands, sliding over the keys of her clarinet, that set her free, become a representation of expression that is all her own. As a metaphor for the struggle that all children must face in growing up, Caroline Link’s debut feature is perfect." —Palm Springs International Film Festival  (109 mins.) Admission is limited to Silver Screen Club members and their guests. Print courtesy of Miramax Films. Beyond Silence opens at an ACT III Theatre on June 26th.
 

PORTLAND PREMIERE — VISITING ARTIST
The Gigabyte Trilogy (1998)
Thursday, June 25 at 8 p.m.

Imagine the Barnum & Bailey Traveling Circus run by Antoine Artaud, Salvador Dali and Charles Beaudelaire and you have the makings of the one-man show that is the indefatigable Karl Krogstad (The Black & Decker Hedgetrimmer Murders, Idiot Savant, Surrealism). The Film Center welcomes back this Seattle independent filmmaker as he premieres The Gigabyte Trilogy, a tour de force that redefines the meaning of autobiography. As Karl himself states, "My Trilogy is a collage because it is the story of my life, a patchwork with many puzzle pieces. My life, like yours, has phases and recurring themes. I’ll show you mine. Mine rhymes with wine. And as our lives are a battlefield, you’ll have to see a little carnage. First to fruition is Critical Path, Then, my own State of Grace, and finally my current Peace of Mind. It has all germinated. Much like curds and whey, you should consume it quickly or it will turn sour. It’s called The Gigabyte Trilogy because is offers so much information it simply bursts within the confines of time any film allows." Enough said, let the show begin.
 

PORTLAND PREMIERE
Father Roy: Inside the School of Assassins (1998) 
Friday, June 26 & Saturday, June 27 at 7:30 p.m.

Former Portlander Robert Richter’s crusading documentaries on the ravages wrought by ill-conceived geo-politics range from Hungry for Profit and Export Only: Pesticides and Pills to Do Not Enter—The Visa War Against Ideas and Vietnam: An American Journey.  In his newest expose, Father Roy: Inside the School of Assassins, Richter has significantly updated his Academy Award short documentary, School of Assassins (1994) to explore the life and work of human rights activist Father Roy Bourgeois. A Vietnam veteran whose early missionary experience in Vietnam led him to the seminary, Father Roy has fought, since 1983, to close down the international military training facility School of the Americas (SOA) at Fort Benning, Georgia. Weaving Roy’s courageous battle to stop the unconscionable training of assassination squads with Pentagon propaganda videos, Richter reveals both the abuses committed by the SOA, particularly in Latin American countries, and one man’s impassioned protest against political bankruptcy. Narrated by Susan Sarandon. (60 mins.)
Preceded by Debra Chasnoff’s Academy Award-winning Deadly Deception: General Electric, Nuclear Weapons and the Environment (1991), which probes the dangerous path of commerce without regard the planet we all share. (30 mins.)
 

22nd Annual Young People’s Film & Video Festival
Saturday, June 27 at 2 p.m.

Join us for this free public awards program and screening of works by young people in grades K-12 living in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. Produced by the Film Center’s statewide Filmmakers-in-the-Schools outreach program, the Young People’s Festival honors artistic merit, technical achievement, originality and conviction in investigation of subject matter. The program also includes presentation of the annual Service to Young Filmmakers Award. Our thanks to this year’s Festival jurors for their enthusiastic review of the entries. This year’s Festival is supported by the Oregon Arts Commission, Teknifilm Labs, Inc. and the National Endowment for the Arts. Free admission.
 

PORTLAND PREMIERE
Father Roy: Inside the School of Assassins (1998)
Saturday, June 27 at 7:30 p.m.
Repeat of 26 Friday program.

 

Sundays in the Park with George Gershwin
A Damsel in Distress (1937) 
Sunday, June 28 at 7 p.m.

George Stevens directed Fred Astaire’s first starring role without partner Ginger Rogers in this daft P. J. Wodehouse tale about an American dancer who falls in love with a titled Englishwoman (Joan Fontaine). The George and Ira Gershwin score includes "Nice Work If You Can Get It"  performed first as a madrigal and then as a drum solo by Astaire, and "A Foggy Day." Burns and Allen keep step with Fred in "Put Me to the Test" and the "Stiff Upper Lip" fun house number which won an Oscar for choreographer Hermes Pan. (101 mins.) Preceded by an excerpt from the December 21, 1929 issue of Hearst Metronome News in which Gershwin and comedians Clark & McCullough rehearse the title song and "Mademoiselle from New Rochelle" for the Broadway show Strike Up the Band. (4 mins.) Print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archives.
 

JULY

Out of the Ordinary: 25 Years / 25 Films
The World of Tomorrow (1984)
Thursday, July 2 & Friday, July 3 at 7 p.m.

In 1939, as the world seemed poised for a new era, progress was the answer and technology spoke the truth. The thrust for these new feelings was epitomized at the New York World’s Fair of the same year. Co-directors Tom Johnson and Lance Bird went back to the dreams of their youth to bring us The World of Tomorrow, one of the most pointed and poignant found footage films. Piecing together home movies, newsreels, industrial and promotional films, cartoons and other vintage works to study the Art Deco extravaganza that was the World’s Fair, they have created, along with writer John Crowley and narrator Jason Robards, a fictional first-person reflection that is as funny as it is intelligent. This is a look back at the future at its best. (78 mins.)

DOUBLE FEATURE

The Brooklyn Bridge (l98l)
at 8:30 p.m.

Before Ken Burns (The Civil War, Baseball) began making epic documentaries and became the flagship of public broadcasting, he crafted more than a handful of astute and compelling documentaries in the American grain. One of those was The Brooklyn Bridge, one of the world’s most celebrated landmarks and one of New York’s most compelling achievements. Perhaps no other public project parallels the artistic and technical achievement of the Brooklyn Bridge. Through the ingenious use of archival material and the voices of Paul Roebling, Julie Harris, Arthur Miller and Kurt Vonnegut, the bridge and the drama of its courageous builders are explored. It remains an epic tale of perseverance and innovation against all odds. (58 mins.)
 

Sundays in the Park with George Gershwin
Delicious (1931)
Sunday, July 5 at 7 p.m.

The most popular romantic couple in the first years of talking pictures was Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell who carry this Manhattan-set romance with George and Ira Gershwin songs.  Historically, Delicious is less memorable for its songs than for the introduction of George Gershwin’s "Second Rhapsody," intended to be a sequel to his history-making "Rhapsody in Blue."  Even though it was eventually edited down to a few minutes it contributed greatly to the development of incidental scoring in early film, and went on to become more appreciated in its full concert-hall form. As for this Fox pastiche, a rich-New-Yorker-woos-poor-
Irish-immigrant romance, the cast is the thing, including smaller roles by Virginia Cherrill and Mischa Auer. (106 mins.)
 

SILVER SCREEN CLUB PREVIEW —  MEMBERS ONLY
Smoke Signals (1998)
Wednesday, July 8 at 7:30 p.m.

"Chris Eyre’s Smoke Signals is a superbly told, deeply moving portrait of coming to terms with one’s father. His direction of novelist/screenwriter Sherman Alexie’s tale of a young man’s journey to retrieve his estranged father’s body for burial is full of the kind of truth, spirit, and insight that only a remarkably original and genuine voice can offer. The chronicle of athletic and charming Victor Joseph from the Salmon Indian Reservation really begins when he learns of his father’s premature and sudden death. With no money, he accepts the offer of his quirky and garrulous childhood buddy, Thomas-Builds-the-Fire, to pay for the trip, but only if he goes along. Their ensuing odyssey becomes an exploration of social and personal being, but this is not a typical account laced with angst and despair. Eyre and Alexie have fused their cultural legacy with a cinematic vision that is fresh, honest and deeply cynical of the trite images and ideas about what it is to be Indian in America."—Geoffrey Gilmore, 1998 Sundance Film Festival (104 mins.) Admission is limited to Silver Screen Club members and their guests. Print courtesy of Miramax Films. Smoke Signals opens at an ACT III Theatre on July 10th.
 

Out of the Ordinary: 25 Years / 25 Films
Gracious Curves (Finland, 1997) and
Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter (1996)
Thursday, July 9 at 7:30 p.m.

Gracious Curves and Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter each articulate in original and profound ways the meaning of family, femininity and the passage of time, stirring both the heart and the mind. At age 46, a point at which she can review her mother’s life, feel herself grow older and witness the growth of her daughter, Finnish director Kiti Luostarinen philosophizes in Gracious Curves about what it means to live in a female body and what it is like to develop from a girl to a woman—to bloom, to age and eventually to die. With sufficient self-irony and a great sense of humor, she interviews fifty women from age 4 to 90, drawing from their experiences and feelings as they develop from girl to grandmother their attitudes about the sacrifices demanded in the name of youth and beauty. As she demonstrates with a multitude of rounding tummies, "Oldness liberates you of false belief." (52 mins.) Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, Deborah Hoffman’s Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter is a poignant, yet humorous look at the trials, frustrations and contradictions of being the daughter of a mother with Alzheimer’s disease. Hoffman’s candid, first-person chronicle of a mother’s collapsible memory and a daughter’s response asks who we are when those we love no longer know us. Combining personal monologues with home video, photos and even phone messages, the filmmaker traces the disquieting changes that re-define this mother-daughter bond. (44 mins.) Print of Gracious Curves courtesy of The Finnish Film Foundation.
 

Out of the Ordinary: 25 Years / 25 Films
Come and See (Russia, 1985)
Friday, July 10 & Saturday, July 11 at 7:30 p.m.

Among the most powerful anti-war films ever made, , Friday, July 10 & Saturday, July 11 Elem Klimov’s award-winning Come and See has left audiences shaken throughout the world. Set in occupied Byelorussia in 1943, it follows a teenage boy as he staggers through a hellish landscape of death and destruction to witness the fiery mass execution of the inhabitants of a small village, one of 620 so destroyed by the Nazis during the war. The camerawork, direction of crowd scenes, and the performance of the young boy, who deteriorates into a middle-aged wreck as a result of the atrocities he sees, provides a spectacular, and necessarily controversial, run of raw emotion. "A startlingly bold vision of the becoming-legendary past, executed with a fervor and stamina to which most directors could not even aspire."—Ted Mahar, The Oregonian (142 mins.)
 

Sundays in the Park with George Gershwin
Manhattan (1979)
Sunday, July 12 at 7 p.m.

Woody Allen’s cinematic love song to New York is both a bittersweet romance and an urbane comedy set to the music of George Gershwin. Allen’s witty script, Gordon Willis’ black and white cinematography and the captivating Gershwin score combine to capture the joy and angst of life in the Big Apple. Autobiographical in nature and universal in appeal, Manhattan follows Allen as he seeks the perfect relationship—maybe it's in the guise of a 17-year-old high school student (Mariel Hemingway)? But as we’ve learned, life isn’t easy on or off screen for Allen, and in the film he must fend off an ex-wife (Meryl Streep) and the affections of a neurotic intellectual (Diane Keaton). (96 mins.)
 

Out of the Ordinary: 25 Years / 25 Films 
The Dark Side of the Heart (Argentina, 1992) 
Thursday, July 16 at 7:30 p.m. 
Friday, July 17 at 7 & 9 p.m.

Capturing the idiosyncrasies and contradictions revolving around love, sex and sanity, Eliseo Subiela, a favorite of the Portland International Film Festival, has created an inspiring body of work ranging from Man Facing Southeast to his most recent Wake Up Love.  In The Dark Side of the Heart, a surreal parable about idealism quixotically trying to survive in a pragmatic environment, he follows the exploits of Oliverio, a somewhat narcissistic poet fruitlessly searching for the woman of his dreams. While he surrounds himself with other struggling artists and decries artistic compromise, he is not adverse to taking the occasional advertising job to make ends meet. His fate undergoes a change when he meets Ana, a prostitute in a Montevideo cabaret. At last he has met a woman who can "fly" and "enlighten" the dark side of his heart." Their tumultuous relationship forms the backbone of this visually ravishing and richly metaphoric journey through the corridors of human obsession and sexuality. Equally life-enhancing and humorous, Oliverio’s precarious journey is a consistently surprising and revealing treatise on machismo and the battle of the sexes. (126 mins.)
 

Out of the Ordinary: 25 Years / 25 Films 
The Interrogation (Poland, 1982/1990)
Saturday, July 18 at 7 & 9:15 p.m.

In one of the most riveting performances committed to celluloid, Krystyna Janda plays Tonia, an apolitical cabaret singer who is secreted away by security officers to find herself a political prisoner at the hands of 1950s Stalinist totalitarianism. Under relentless grilling and subsequent torture by the police, Tonia undergoes five harrowing years as an innocent victim of one country’s Kafkaesque abuse of power. Directed by Ryszard Bugajski during the short-lived Solidarity movement of 1980 to 1981, the film was immediately banned for being "anti-socialistic" and didn’t reach audiences until 1990. Janda, who won the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival, flawlessly plays the role of this simple woman who is both hardened and strengthened by adversity and ultimately emerges a heroic figure. (118 mins.)
 

Sundays in the Park with George Gershwin 
Girl Crazy (1942)
Sunday, July 19 at 7 p.m.

More than a decade after its Broadway run, the still young MGM Freed Unit put this tuneful comedy on screen (the early-30s version was without the songs!). Gershwin fans can hear no fewer than a dozen George & Ira songs, with a Roger Edens song thrown in for extra measure. Some of the Gershwins’ most irrepressible songs include "Bidin’ My Time," "Embraceable You," "Fascinating Rhythm," "But Not For Me," and an "I Got Rhythm" production number directed by Busby Berkeley. Many of the songs get unique treatment by Judy Garland and the perpetual-motion-machine Mickey Rooney. Not enough? How about the Tommy Dorsey band as well? (97 mins.)
 

Out of the Ordinary: 25 Years / 25 Films 
A Short Film About Love (Poland, 1988)
Thursday, July 23 & Friday, July 24 at 7 p.m.

Krzystof Kieslowski’s monumental work, The Decalogue, providing modern parables based on the Ten Commandments, is possessed by an austere and unerring vision of the human condition. Two of those works find the director of Red, White and Blue at the top of his form. A Short Film About Love is a beautifully conceived and brilliantly executed examination of the strange relationship between a repressed voyeur, 19-year-old Tomik, and his quarry, a sexually aggressive older woman. Tomik spends his spare time scanning windows with his high power telescope and, as in Hitchcock’s Rear Window, begins to spy on a beautiful woman from afar. Watching her lovers come and go he becomes infatuated and sets about to find ways to come in contact with her anonymously.  At last he confesses, and she, bitter about men’s love, lures him into an abortive sexual encounter that will change their lives forever. (89 mins.)

DOUBLE FEATURE

A Short Film About Killing (Poland, 1988)
at 8:45 p.m.

Kieslowski’s A Short Film About Killing is a visceral and deeply felt examination of man’s instinct to kill.  The protagonist is a teenage boy who commits a horrifying, devastating murder, only to find himself in the equally murderous hands of the criminal justice system. At once a searing drama, a psychological suspense story, and hard hitting statement on capital punishment, this intense, deeply disturbing work has inspired anguished debate wherever it has been shown. "If Hitchcock had filmed Dostoyevsky, this would be the result."—Variety. Special Jury Prize, Cannes and the winner of the first European Film Award. (84 mins.)
 

Out of the Ordinary: 25 Years / 25 Films 
Picture of Light (Canada, 1996)
Saturday, July 25 at 7 & 9 p.m.

In Churchill, Manitoba, on the fringe of inhabitable Arctic land, Peter Mettler went in search of the Aurora Borealis (the lights with no bodies) or Northern Lights. It became an existential-turned-transcendent odyssey as the filmmaker approached his subject matter from a number of angles. Attempts to record and catalogue the Lights are tempered with meditations on the role and ability of photographic media to convey the Light’s appearance. Mettler contemplates the relationship between science and nature and of man’s attempt to capture nature’s images. Drawing widely from different sources to describe the lights, from scientific explanations to native interpretations of the Lights as visions, prophecies and spirits, the director’s investigations are tempered with an absurdist’s wit as he probes what could be the earth’s most special effect. Yet in the end it’s Mettler’s images of breathtaking wonder and mystery that capture the imagination. (93 mins.)
 

Sundays in the Park with George Gershwin 
Shall We Dance (1937)
Sunday, July 26 at 7 p.m.

Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire’s vehicles at RKO were arguably the most elegant romantic moments of the 1930s, and Shall We Dance, the peak of that series, commissioned songs from the elegant George and Ira Gershwin. The light comedy is supported by immortal dancing and the art deco production design of Van Nest Polglase, along with such songs as "They Can’t Take That Away From Me," "They All Laughed," and "Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off."  Even supporting players Edward Everett Horton, Eric Blore, and Harriet Hoctor do their part to make Shall We Dance an icon of Hollywood perfection. (108 mins.)
 

WORLD PREMIERE
VISITING ARTIST
Rumi: Poet of the Heart (1998)
Thursday, July 30 at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.
WITH LIVE PERSIAN MUSIC

Come whoever you are! Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving. This is not a caravan of despair. It doesn’t matter if you’ve broken your vow a thousand times, still and yet, again, come!—Rumi.

Truth, beauty, the nature of the human spirit—these were the ideas that beckoned poet Jelalu’l-Din Rumi, the 13th century Persian Sufi mystic. Haydn Reiss’ (William Stafford and Robert Bly: A Literary Friendship) new work celebrates the life and literary accomplishments of the author whose poems have spanned the centuries and speak eloquently to contemporary audiences. Featuring interviews and readings with many of Rumi’s modern translators and scholars, including Coleman Barks, Robert Bly, Huston Smith, Deepak Chopra and Michael Mead, Reiss also draws upon the classic music of the oud with virtuoso performances by Hamza El Din and Jai Uttal. All together they fashion a lively and inspired look at one of the world’s most inspiring poets. Narrated by Debra Winger. (85 mins.) Director Haydn Reiss in person.
 

FROM STAGE & SCREEN — LIVE — IN PERFORMANCE 
The Front Page
Friday, July 31 at 8 p.m.

In this homogenized age of exploitive news channels and newspapers, with and without helicopters, it’s a pleasure to present a staged reading of the classic Ben Hecht-Charles MacArthur play about newspapermen and the newsroom. It’s even more of a pleasure to be able to feature a bevy of Portland’s most talented actors as they maneuver through this fast-paced, quip-filled drama set in Depression-era Chicago. Featuring Don Alder, Dave Bodin, Alana Byington, Grant Byinton, Gerogia Cacy, Ken Colburn, Duffy Epstein, Linda Hayden, Eric Hull, Tom Lasswell, Sarah Lucht, Douglas Mace, Steven Clark Pachosa, Ted Roisum and Ted Schulz, witty repartee surrounds the drama of  star reporter Hildy Johnson whose wife wants him to flee the world of tabloid journalism just as a big story is about to explode. Presented in cooperation with Cygnet Productions, a literary cabaret founded in 1992 whose critically acclaimed productions range from the political to the absurd. Special admission: $10 (includes admission to the screening of  the 1931 film version of The Front Page, Wednesday, August 5. See below for details).
 
 

AUGUST

 

Out of the Ordinary: 25 Years / 25 Films 
The Kindergarten (Russia, 1984).
Saturday, August 1 at 7:30 p.m.

A largely autobiographical memoir directed by the prize-winning poet Yevengy Yevtushenko (who also co-wrote I am Cuba), The Kindergarten recalls his boyhood years during World War II. The story is set in 1941, during Moscow’s evacuation, and is told as a picaresque adventure about a little boy who is sent to live in the relative safety of his grandmother’s Siberian home. On his long and often interrupted train ride through the Urals, he meets a variety of strange characters: black marketeers; a female bandit; guests at a Siberian village wedding; and a number of passengers and villagers; each of whom reveals the vagaries and tragedies of war. The narrative assumes a poetic, experimental form of story telling befitting a poet who recalls a nation at war through the eyes of a child. (141 mins.)
 

Sundays in the Park with George Gershwin 
An American in Paris (1951)
Sunday, August 2 at 7 p.m.

With an arsenal of talent never equaled before or since, plus new technical advances such as Technicolor and advanced sound recording, the most musically proficient team at the most musically proficient studio in film history put all their talent, money and dedication into this celebration of the music of the late George Gershwin. An American in Paris remains one of the most lush, exuberant, romantic and enveloping musical entertainments of all. Within a Vincente Minnelli-directed story of romance and fun in Paris (all filmed in the MGM sound stages and back lots) are 14 George & Ira Gershwin songs, a Gershwin-DeSylva song, two large George Gershwin orchestral pieces, and several Gershwin songs in the incidental music. The cast list is nearly endless, topped by Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron and Oscar Levant (the last a friend and tireless champion and performer of Gershwin’s music). An American in Paris is filled with unforgettable numbers and indelible reminders of what made the Hollywood studio style so unique. (115 mins.)
 

From Stage and Screen
The Front Page (1931).
Wednesday, August 5 at 7 p.m.

Following the Film Center’s staged reading of The Front Page on July 31, tonight we present the Howard Hughes-produced, Lewis Milestone-directed version of this incomparable newspaper comedy-drama starring Pat O’Brien as Hildy Johnson, Mary Brian as his wife Peggy, Adolphe Menjou as sly editor Walter Burns and a supporting cast of character actors that include Edward Everett Horton, George E. Stone and Frank McHugh. Free admission for those attending The Front Page stage reading on July 31. (101 mins.)
 

Out of the Ordinary: 25 Years / 25 Films
Interpretation of Dreams (USSR, 1991) and
Let There Be Light (1945-46)
Thursday, August 6 at 7:30 p.m.

Andrei Zagdansky’s Interpretation of Dreams is a daring cinematic work that puts the Soviet Union on the couch to be analyzed by Sigmund Freud. Weaving images from the Russian and Soviet past with excerpts from Freud and his case studies (his ideas were banned in the Soviet Union from 1917 through to the glasnost era), Zagdansky has produced a powerful and evocative view of a nation’s subconscious as revealed through its cinema. This poetic work, with its profoundly original construction of found footage and sound effects, takes the viewer on an incomparable, dreamlike excursion. (50 mins.) While Zagdanksy bravely looked at the psyche of a country, John Huston earlier had examined the psyche of his countrymen in such direct and unflinching terms that his film, Let There Be Light, was withheld from public view by the U.S. Government for more than 35 years. The third of three films Huston made as a Lieutenant for the Army during World War II, the others being Report from the Aleutians and The Battle of San Pietro, Let There Be Light looks at the plight of returning soldiers who reached the breaking point and were treated at a psychiatric hospital on Long Island. Narrated by Walter Huston, the film remains a staggering document on the unspoken cruelties of war. (45 mins.)
 

Out of the Ordinary: 25 Years / 25 Films 
The Simple Minded Murderer (Sweden, 1981)
Friday, August 7 at 7 & 9 p.m.

First of all, forget the title, think more in terms of Kasper Hauser intersecting with a Wagner opera. Secondly, here’s a chance to see one of the stars of Breaking the Waves and Good Will Hunting, the accomplished actor Stellan Skarsgard, in one of his formative roles. In a remote part of the Swedish countryside, a youth is left alone when his mother dies. Sven (Skarsgard) is regarded as an idiot: he has a speech defect and the unnerving intensity of someone possessed by visions he cannot share or understand. He goes to live with Hoglund, the most powerful man in the region. Living in the cow shed among the animals, dreaming his visions of choirs of angels, Sven is beaten by his master and humiliated by his companions until he eventually becomes what the title suggests. Hans Alfredson’s powerful rural parable is filled with a sense of primitive, spiritual energy as it moves between its rural landscape and the rich colors of bold operatic sequences which define the inner landscape of Sven, a man-child whose victimization leads to tragedy. (105 mins.)
 

PORTLAND PREMIERES
VISITING ARTISTS
Fugitive Images: An Evening with Chel White and Rick Phillips & Joel Baird
Saturday, August 8 at 7:30 p.m.

Standouts in the Northwest independent film scene, Portlander Chel White, who has invigorated such genres as animation and music videos, and Missoula, Montana’s Rick Phillips and Joel Baird, whose collaborations deconstruct just about everything constructed—from God to pornography—share an evening of their provocative works. White screens his latest film, Dirt (1998), an expressionistic look at one man’s obsession; the award-winning trilogy, Cottonmouth, Texas (1996), an innovative non-music music video featuring spoken-word artist Jeffrey Liles; two surrealistic photocopy collage animations, Choreography for Copy Machine (Photocopy Cha Cha) (1991) and Machine Song (1987); and the absurdist vision of Metal Dogs of India (1985), a wondrous piece of direct-animation. Phillips and Baird, who work under the moniker of the Occupational Illustration Corporation, introduce The Voice of God (1997), a quirky and manic mantra; Ten Dollar Pornograph (1997), a dead-pan and subversive look at an old 8mm skin flick; Damn that Rhonda (Stripteaser) (1996), a few rare moments from a moment of reflection; The Long Way Home (1996), a story out of Carver country that is un-Carveresque; and a selection of other works which define their unusual and charming oeuvre. All of this and a few surprises to boot. Support your local filmmakers. (90 mins.)
 

Sundays in the Park with George Gershwin
Ziegfeld Follies (1946)
Sunday, August 9 at 7 p.m.

One of the most spectacular musical productions in MGM’s colorful history, Ziegfeld Follies is the ultimate revue, far bigger and more lavish than could ever be done on the theater stage it emulates. Director Vincente Minnelli is the only consistent force in this all-star parade of numbers which range from dated to magnificent. Towards the latter end of the spectrum are "The Babbit and the Bromide" by George and Ira Gershwin, danced by Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. The exhaustive collection of comedy sketches, and various styles of musical numbers feature the likes of Judy Garland, Jimmy Durante, Fannie Brice, Lena Horne, Red Skelton, and a host of MGM stars. Saturated in Technicolor. (110 mins.)
 

Out of the Ordinary: 25 Years / 25 Films 
Where is Memory? (Canada, 1995)
Thursday, August 13 at 7:30 p.m.

Forging new relationships between personal and collective history, fact and fiction, memory and denial, Chris Gallagher has constructed a boldly original and affecting meditation on the nature of complicity and the Third Reich. As if in a dream, a sleepwalker, subtly played by Peter Loeffler, journeys through the past, uncovering a suitcase filled with Nazi memorabilia—photos, documents, maps, war footage and cameras. Through these objects, he moves back and forth in time, wrestling his own and a collective conscience. Will seeing through the lens of Eva Braun's movie camera awake in him memories of the Holocaust? Will speaking with former SS officers or the imagined granddaughter of Hitler help him distill from the horrors a new humanity? Masterful use of archival footage matched with contemporary footage of Europe, a haunting score by composer Dennis Burke and Gallagher’s inspired mix of realities make for a thoughtfully framed and poetic odyssey that charts new cinematic territory in the genre of personal cinema. (97 mins.)
 

Out of the Ordinary: 25 Years / 25 Films
Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam (1987)
Friday, August 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Though cinematic depictions of the Vietnam War now abound, one of the most affecting remains Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam, a history of the Vietnam War told from the intimate perspective of actual letters written home by G.l.’s. Using newsreel footage, "home movies" shot by the soldiers themselves and backed by the best rock music of the period, Bill Couturie’s compelling documentary offers a vivid picture of the war from the point of view of a nineteen-year-old—the average age of a combat soldier in Vietnam. The letters are read by some of today’s leading actors (Tom Berenger, Ellen Burstyn, Willem Dafoe, Robert de Niro, Michael J. Fox, Elizabeth McGovern, Martin Sheen, Kathleen Turner and Robin Williams among them) and the soundtrack features the music of Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix and a host of others. The result is a chronological portrait of the war that ends at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and a work that taps an emotional chord of extraordinary power. (86 mins.)
 

Out of the Ordinary: 25 Years / 25 Films
The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey
(New Zealand, 1988)
Saturday, August 15 at 7 & 9 p.m.
Sunday, August 16 at 7 p.m.

Vincent Ward’s (Vigil, What Dreams May Come) magnificent tale of time travel begins in in Cumbria in 1348, the year of the Black Death. Nine-year-old Griffin, anxiously awaiting the return of his older brother Conner, is haunted by dreams of a quest to a celestial city. When his brother returns with tales of impending doom, Griffin recounts a dream which reveals a means of salvation for their community. The two brothers set out on a journey that takes them to a city of the late 1980’s. Ward has created a  visually arresting and at times humorous tale of adventure and sacrifice, faith and vision, while drawing provocative historic parallels between aspects of the l4th and 20th centuries. (93 mins.)
 

PORTLAND PREMIERE
VISITING ARTIST
Ballad of Fire (1998)
Thursday, August 20 at 7:30 p.m.

Los Angeles is home to extreme events—earthquakes, riots, celebrity murders—and all the news seems to emanate in wide screen cinerama. So it is intriguing to come across a small and vital work from L.A. that speaks of community and compassion, of knitting a cloth of many colors. James Knight has done just that in Ballad of Fire, a first-person account of his neighborhood coming under attack by a pyromaniac—an immigrant who claimed to be a hero of the Lithuanian underground. Through interviews with neighbors and his own account of the months of terror that took place within a half-block radius, Knight weaves a tale of rising emotions and conflicting stories, of secrets held and shared, of the indifference of the L.A.P.D., of the metaphorical power of fire and the saving grace of humor. As Buddha suggests, "The world is in flames ...are you laughing?" The Film Center welcomes James Knight and his potent storytelling abilities to our neighborhood. (57 mins.) Plus selected shorts.
 

Out of the Ordinary: 25 Years / 25 Films 
Vincent: The Life and Death of Vincent Van Gogh (Australia, 1988) and
Jim Dine: Self-Portrait on the Walls (1995)
Friday, August 21 & Saturday, August 22 at 7:30 p.m.

Vincent Van Gogh died on July 29, 1890 at the age of 37, unknown and a pauper, having sold only one of approximately 1800 works he produced in less than a decade. Despite a fluctuating physical and mental condition, his work has become one of the most powerful influences on the direction of modern art. Director Paul Cox’s (Lonely Hearts, Lust and Revenge) script is based on the more than 750 letters the artist wrote to his brother Theo from 1872 until his death, beautifully read by John Hurt. Through Van Gogh’s own words, the film explores the Europe he ventured out into, the sites in France and Holland of his inspiration, the colors and seasons he experienced, and the actual paintings that resulted. Not quite documentary, not quite fiction, Vincent is a personal impression—one artist exploring the mind and work of another. (99 mins.) Preceded by Jim Dine: A Self-Portrait on the Walls, a captivating look at the creative process. Nancy Dine documents six intense days as Jim Dine produces a series of large scale charcoal drawings directly on the wall of the Ludwigsburg Gallery in Germany, a process informed by the candor and energy of the artist himself. (30 mins.)
 

Out of the Ordinary: 25 Years / 25 Films
The Films of Bruce Conner (1958-1996)
Sunday, August 23 at 7 p.m.

For more than 40 years, California filmmaker Bruce Conner has drawn upon such sources as educational and training films, television commercials and other discarded and forgotten images to create a unique body of work that examines American society with a rare wit and clarity of vision. Equally at home as a sculptor, painter and collagist, he brings a unique sensibility to the cycles, rhythms, imagery and sounds of his work. Tonight we canvas his exceptional career as the master of the found-footage film as we screen A Movie (1958), Cosmic Ray (1961), Report (1965), Five Times Marilyn (1973), 5:10 to Dreamland (1976), Valse Triste (1978) Mongoloid (1978), Television Assassination (1996) and Looking for Mushrooms (1996). (80 mins.)

 

Out of the Ordinary: 25 Years / 25 Films
Tongues Untied (1990)
Thursday, August 27 at 7 p.m.

Weathering the culture wars as the religious right attacked the National Endowment for the Arts earlier this decade, filmmaker Marlon Riggs (1957-1994) (Ethnic Notions, Color Adjustment) emerged with grace and intelligence from this maelstrom. In his controversial Tongues Untied, he broke the silence which enveloped the lives of black gay men. "This brave and exhilarating work is no plaintive whisper, but a roar in the face of adversity. It is a loquacious attempt to break free of the homophobia and racism that mute the possibilities for human fulfillment. Riggs has abandoned traditional media forms for a poetic pastiche that has the emotional uplift of the blues and the gut-wrenching impact of reportage."—Steven Seid, Pacific Film Archive.
 

Out of the Ordinary: 25 Years / 25 Films
The Match that Started My Fire (1991),
A Spy in theHouse that Ruth Built (1989)
and Swallow (1995)
Friday, August 28 and Saturday, August 29 at 7:30 p.m.

Three provocative and individualistic works, linked by their powerful perspectives on female identity, personal history and society’s representation of women, frame this evening of experimental film and video. Cathy Cook’s The Match That Started My Fire, inspired by the void of 1950s and 60s sex education films dealing with female sexuality and pleasure, juxtaposes candid stories of women’s sexual discoveries with evocative and expressionistic images that redefine women’s sexual awakenings. Vanalyne Green’s A Spy in the House That Ruth Built blends art, essay and autobiography as Green turns one’s notion of our national pastime inside out as she reinterprets baseball’s symbolism from its womb-like landscape to its rituals and cycles. What develops is a seductive and charming piece that knows what "going from first base to home" is all about. Elizabeth Subrin’s bold experimental narrative, Swallow, chronicles one girl’s anorexia and the shifting symptoms that mask depression. Based on accounts of girlhood anorexia, Subrin mixes found and original footage to explore the ways the personal and public merge in the discourse on the female body and the passages that comprise the feminist movement from the 70s onward. (85 mins.)
 
 

SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

VISITING ARTISTS

The Film Center is pleased to host a number of visiting artists this summer. Joan Tewkesbury, who has worked in film and television as both writer and director, screens Thieves Like Us for which she wrote the screenplay for director Robert Altman. Australian Mark Lewis, the director of one-of-a-kind documentaries exploring man’s relationship to other animals, premieres Rat, a brilliant look at that battle between man and rodent to take over ownership of New York City, along with his now classic works, Cane Toads: An Unnatural History and The Wonderful World of Dogs. Northwest filmmakers share their latest works too. Seattle filmmaker Karl Krogstad premieres his quasi-autobiographical new work, The Gigabyte Trilogy. Portlander Chel White screens an evening of his mesmerizing shorts spanning such genres as animation and music videos as he shares the bill with Montana filmmakers Rick Phillips and Joel Baird, whose own shorts, though defying easy categorization, bring a quirky vitality to the medium. Haydn Reiss comes from San Francisco to premiere Rumi: Poet of the Heart, a look at the life and work of the 13th century Sufi poet whose writings transcend time. And James Knight arrives from Los Angeles to share his work of personal cinema, The Ballad of Fire, a fascinating look at a man and a community galvanized by a series of unsolved fires. The Film Center’s visiting artists programs are supported, in part, by Wieden & Kennedy.
 

SUNDAYS IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE GERSHWIN

The scant decade the life of George Gershwin and sound movies overlapped turned out to be the golden age of the American popular song, and Gershwin was unsurpassed as songwriter.  His stamp on movies and musicals and those interpolating his music and songs remains indelible.  If he had lived as long as one of his early influences, Irving Berlin, he would still be alive today, his centenary year, and would have added several more decades of genius to American music.

Depression notwithstanding, the 1930s was a climax of American popular music, thanks to newly perfected radio, new electronic recording and playback for phonographs, the infusion of jazz, a pool of performers and music lovers among the millions of European immigrants, the rise of dance halls, the invention of the jukebox, and (not least) the golden age of the Hollywood studio.  Movie audiences were insatiable for the best in an ever-widening spectrum of music, which Gershwin was richly capable of supplying.

Son of Russian immigrants, George was a piano player and song plugger on Tin Pan Alley when singer Al Jolson made Gershwin’s song "Swanee" a sudden smash hit on Broadway. During the 1920s Gershwin conquered the stage revue, the stage musical, the sheet music industry, the New York cocktail party scene, and even the concert hall. Although he worked with a number of lyricists, his older brother Ira wrote the words to many of George’s best songs.  After the sound breakthrough, Hollywood was eager to bid for the Gershwin & Gershwin team’s services.

This Gershwin sampling represents his own lifetime and since.  Included is Delicious (his first score written directly for the screen), a rarely-seen confection from the first wave of the movie musical genre. The quintessential Astaire-Rogers Shall We Dance dates from the last year of his life, 1937, and is one of his best original movie scores.

From the early ’40s is Girl Crazy, one of the brightest Garland-Rooney vehicles; the color richness and improved recording of Ziegfeld Follies (a cornucopia of lavish production numbers of Gershwin’s and others’ music) and the legendary An American in Paris, a true homage to Gershwin. Finally, the abundant Gershwin music in Woody Allen’s Manhattan is less Hollywood and a more authentic tribute to the great composer's own urban milieu. This series co-sponsored by KBPS-FM.

OUT OF THE ORDINARY: 25 YEARS/25 FILMS

As the Film Center celebrates its 25th anniversary season, we are pleased to look back over the years and cull from the many illustrious works that have been screened here—films and videos which stretch the boundaries of the medium, are possessed by an original and compelling vision, and illuminate the human condition in profound ways.

By no means definitive, Out of the Ordinary: 25 Years/25 Films primarily showcases works by independent media artists who share the spirit of the Film Center’s mission. Given another focus, the films of such luminaries as Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa, Orson Welles and numerous others would be enthusiastically screened. But this is an opportunity to celebrate and champion another breed of works, ones that cross over and often blend genres, from the experimental to the narrative, from the personal to the public.

Some of the filmmakers have taken the discards of others and fashioned them into works of singular achievement—among them you’ll find filmmakers Cathy Cook, Bruce Conner, Bill Couturie, Tom Johnson, Lance Bird and Elizabeth Subrin.

Others have mined the largest of issues and given voice to the most universal of themes—war, totalitarianism, biblical and social doctrines—among them you’ll find the works of Ryszard Bugajski, John Huston, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Elem Klimov, Yevengy Yestushenko and Andrei Zagdansky.

Others have given shape, form and meaning, not to mention good humor, to the most intimate of human endeavors—family, love and sex—the significant among them include Hans Alfredson, Deborah Hoffman, Vanalyne Green, Kiti Luostarinen, Marlon Riggs and Eliseo Subiela.

Others have given us resplendent moments of visionary images and ideas—Nancy Dine, Peter Mettler, Vincent Ward and Paul Cox exemplify this special fraternity.

While many of the names may not be familiar, we think their works will etch in your memory, no longer to remain unknown galaxies among themselves. Enjoy and partake.


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