Seven short films selected from the 2021 Sundance Film Festival—fiction, documentary, and animation—comprise this new program. Sundance is widely considered the premier American showcase for new short films. For almost 40 years, it has served as the launchpad for many now-prominent independent filmmakers—from Damien Chazelle to Dee Rees. Seven countries are represented in this year’s collection, including movies that won awards for writing and acting. For complete program details, visit www.sundance.org/festivals/short-film/.
A harried movie director retreats into his memories and fantasies.
Rob Lucas, who died in July 2020 at the age of 41, was a pillar of the Northeast Ohio movie community. An independent filmmaker whose short documentary Stella Walsh played at Cannes and around 40 other int’l film festivals, Rob also founded the Akron Independent Film Festival and co-established Akron’s Nightlight Cinema. Tonight we remember Rob with excerpts from American Stories, his 2006 comedy feature in which stranded musicians relate outrageous tales, and the complete Stella Walsh (2014), about an Olympic gold medal winning runner with an ambiguous gender identity. Local cinema luminaries Steve Felix and Mike Wendt will introduce the movies. DVD/DCP. Total running time approx. 100 min. Free admission courtesy of Martha and Bob Lucas, in memory of Rob.
Amarcord, which means “I Remember,” is a magnificent dream/memory piece in which Federico Fellini recalls his youth in the small Italian seaside town of Rimini during the 1930s Fascist era. This Oscar-winning movie overflows with colorful characters and funny, bawdy, melancholy vignettes. The movie’s cinematographer was the great Giuseppe Rotunno, who died in February, and Nino Rota (of course) composed the lilting music.
Three films into his seven-film Marlene Dietrich cycle, the great pictorialist moviemaker Josef von Sternberg (The Blue Angel, Morocco) paused to direct this potent, Pre-Code film version of Theodore Dreiser’s mammoth novel that also inspired George Stevens’ A Place in the Sun. The movie tells of a poor young man whose social-climbing ambitions force him to choose between his factory worker girlfriend and a rich young society woman. “Deserves to rank with Sternberg’s best work.” –Time Out Film Guide.
A low budget horror filmmaker gets in touch with an eccentric who is trying to film his consciousness during drug abuse.
Architect Walter Craig, seeking the possibility of some work at a country farmhouse, soon finds himself once again stuck in his recurring nightmare. Dreading the end of the dream that he knows is coming, he must first listen to all the assembled guests' own bizarre tales.
In this wry, deadpan, financial crisis comedy that evokes the scruffy, lo-fi indie films of 1980s NYC, a recently widowed mother and her fashion student daughter, both living in a depressed seaside town in the north of Spain, face eviction from their middle-class apartment. The two women blithely resort to scams, sex work, and sheer denial to maintain their privileged lifestyle, keeping the wolves at the door waiting. The first film by multidisciplinary artist Ulman is an off-kilter, funny-sad gem that stars the director and her real-life mother.
This widely heralded debut film by Nigerian twin brothers is set in Lagos, where two distantly connected strangers—a mechanic and a hairdresser—each pursue their dream of starting a new life in Europe. Vibrantly shot on 16mm film. “Critic’s Pick…The rare social realist drama that conveys critique without didacticism and empathy without pity.” –NY Times.
A spiritual journey into the highlands of Harar, immersed in the rituals of khat, a leaf Sufi Muslims chewed for centuries for religious meditations – and Ethiopia’s most lucrative cash crop today. A tapestry of intimate stories offers a window into the dreams of youth under a repressive regime.
A photographer and her girlfriend are roommates. She is stuck with small-change shooting jobs and dreams of success. When her roommate decides to get married and leave, she feels hurt and has to learn how to deal with living alone.
Here’s a new 4K restoration of a landmark indie film with two local connections: filmmaker Joan Micklin Silver and star Carol Kane are both former Clevelanders! Set on NYC’s Lower East Side at the end of the 19th century, the movie tells of a Russian Jewish immigrant couple whose marriage is strained by the idea of assimilation: he wants to, she doesn’t. Kane earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her performance, and the film itself—the feature debut of pioneering female filmmaker Silver—helped launch the modern era of American independent cinema. “A charming, wonderfully human film about the agonies, traumas, and embarrassments of becoming an American…Entrancing." –Kenneth Turan. Cleveland revival premiere.
IN BALANCHINE’S CLASSROOM takes us back to the glory years of Balanchine’s New York City Ballet through the remembrances of his former dancers and their quest to fulfill the vision of a genius. Opening the door to his studio, Balanchine’s private laboratory, they reveal new facets of the groundbreaking choreographer: taskmaster, mad scientist, and spiritual teacher. Today, as his former dancers teach a new generation, questions arise: what was the secret of his teaching? Can it be replicated? Filled with never before seen archival footage of Balanchine at work during rehearsals, classes, and in preparation for his most seminal works, along with interviews with many of his adored and adoring dancers and those who try to carry on his legacy today, this is Balanchine as you have never seen him, and a film for anyone who loves ballet and the creative process.
PGfor thematic elements and brief language
Two neighbors, a woman and a man, form a strong bond after both suspect extramarital activities of their spouses. However, they agree to keep their bond platonic so as not to commit similar wrongs.
Rfor strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language and brief sexual images.
Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Joker” stars Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix in the title role, alongside Oscar winner Robert De Niro, and is directed, produced and co-written by Oscar nominee Todd Phillips. “Joker” centers around the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone story not seen before on the big screen. Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, a man disregarded by society, is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale.
Visions, memories, and mysticism all help a 40-something woman to find the strength to leave her cheating husband.
One of the landmark films of the modern era, Fellini’s expansive survey of “the sweet life” focuses on a gossip columnist (Marcello Mastroianni) who is both attracted and repelled by the decadence and excesses of Rome’s fashionable but soulless jet-set. Contains many iconic sequences, including Anita Ekberg in the Trevi Fountain. With Anouk Aimée. Restored scope DCP!
Stunning in scope, visually magnificent, and filled with compelling performances, David Lean's epic masterpiece is one of the great achievements in cinematic history. Peter O'Toole stars as T.E. Lawrence, a British officer who is sent to Arabia in 1917, and becomes a heroic leader in the Arabic rebellion against the Turks. As he grows more integrated into Arab society, his loyalties become conflicted. Omar Sharif, Alec Guinness and Anthony Quinn co-star in this sweeping historical action-adventure classic.
The new surreal comedy from the director of Rubber and Deerskin tells of two goofballs who try to make money by domesticating and training a giant fly they find in the trunk of a stolen car. “Delightfully stupid and unusually sweet.” –Variety.
This shattering but rarely shown post-Watergate neo-noir from the director of Bonnie and Clyde was a flop when first released but has since grown in stature. Gene Hackman is superb as an L.A. private eye whose search for a runaway teenager (Melanie Griffith) leads him to the edge of an unfathomable moral abyss. With Jennifer Warren and James Woods. “A key film of the ‘70s…Essential viewing.” –Time Out Film Guide.
The magnificent Giulietta Masina (La Strada) plays an eternally optimistic Rome streetwalker with a heart of gold and a head of cotton candy in her husband’s Oscar-winning masterpiece, shown here in a newly restored, newly subtitled, uncut version. This buoyant, poignant classic inspired the musical Sweet Charity. 4K restoration!
American jazz musician Billy Tipton developed a reputable touring and recording career in the mid-twentieth century, along with his band The Billy Tipton Trio. After his death in the late 80s, it was revealed that Tipton was assigned female at birth, and his life was swiftly reframed as the story of an ambitious woman passing as a man in pursuit of a music career. The genre-defying documentary NO ORDINARY MAN seeks to correct that misrepresentation by collaborating with trans artists. As they collectively celebrate Tipton’s story as a musician living his life according to his own terms, they paint a portrait of a trans culture icon.
Shorn of over 40 minutes when first released in the U.S. (and banned outright for a number of years in Britain), this bloody, over-the-top exercise in Grand Guignol stars Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani as a married couple going through a traumatic break-up. Arguments and furniture-smashing soon give way to self-mutilation, killings, and sex with doppelgangers (and with a tentacled monster created by Oscar-winning F/X master Carlo Rambaldi of E.T. and Alien fame). Adjani won both the César Award and the Best Actress prize at Cannes for her hysterical performance. “Begins at a head-banging pitch and builds to a state of genuine derangement.” –NY Times.
Bosnia, July 1995. Aida is a translator for the UN in the small town of Srebrenica. When the Serbian army takes over the town, her family is among the thousands of citizens looking for shelter in the UN camp. As an insider to the negotiations Aida has access to crucial information that she needs to interpret. What is at the horizon for her family and people - rescue or death? Which move should she take?
Rfor aberrant behavior, bloody and grisly images, strong sexuality, nudity, language and drug use/partying
Everyone in Justine’s family is a vet. And a vegetarian. At 16, she’s a brilliant and promising student. When she starts at veterinary school, she enters a decadent, merciless, and dangerously seductive world. During the first week of hazing rituals, desperate to fit in whatever the cost, she strays from her family principles when she eats raw meat for the first time. Justine will soon face the terrible and unexpected consequences of her actions as her true self begins to emerge.
Rgraphic brutal violence and strong language.
A funeral director tells four strange tales of horror with an African American focus to three drug dealers he traps in his place of business.
A businessman accidentally kills The Metal Fetishist, who gets his revenge by slowly turning the man into a grotesque hybrid of flesh and rusty metal.
The most famous of all spaghetti Westerns is set during the Civil War. Three desperadoes—a bounty hunter (Lee Van Cleef), a bandito (Eli Wallach), and a mysterious Man with No Name (Clint Eastwood)—battle each other and the U.S. Army for a cache of buried Confederate gold. Ennio Morricone’s score is legendary. Restored, uncut version! In English. DCP. 180 min. Special admission $10; members, CIA & CSU I.D. holders, age 25 & under $8; no passes, twofers, or radio winners.
Fred Hampton, the leader of the Illinois Black Panther Party who was played by Oscar winner Daniel Kaluuya in the Cleveland-shot Judas and the Black Messiah, was killed in his Chicago apartment by police officers during a notorious predawn raid on 12/4/69. He was 21. This hard-hitting documentary is both a portrait of Hampton and his community activism as well as an investigation of his controversial death. It even contains revelatory footage of the unsecured crime scene shot shortly after the incident.
Though not as well-known as other Val Lewton-producer horror films of the 1940s like Cat People and I Walked with a Zombie, this tale of devil worshipers in Greenwich Village has been called Lewton’s “masterpiece” by the Time Out Film Guide. They describe the thriller as “a remarkably effective mix of menace and metaphysics—half noir, half Gothic.” With Kim Hunter.
Two short fantasies by Fellini. The first is his contribution to the 1962 portmanteau film Boccaccio ’70. Fellini’s first color movie, it’s a delightful comedy in which a prudish, self-appointed moral watchdog strenuously objects to a neighborhood billboard featuring busty La Dolce Vita star Anita Ekberg, who encourages people to “drink more milk.” Imagine this puritan’s surprise when the giant goddess comes to life! Toby Dammit, the maestro’s psychedelic segment from the 1968 French-Italian omnibus film Spirits of the Dead (showcasing three Edgar Allan Poe adaptations), is a screen translation of Poe’s Never Bet the Devil Your Head. Terence Stamp plays an alcoholic British movie star in Rome who is plagued by diabolical visions. Both 4K restorations!
Lillian Gish stars in one of the artistic pinnacles of the silent era, never before shown at the Cinematheque. She plays a delicate young woman from Virginia who travels West to live with relatives on the lonely Texas plains. There the relentless wind and dust, coupled with the crudeness and brutality of the locals, drive her to near madness. As the foremost filmmaker of the Swedish silent cinema, director Victor Sjöström was lured to Hollywood where he made a handful of movies, including this masterpiece. At age 78, he starred in Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 classic Wild Strawberries. Silent with music track. 35mm. 75 min. Special admission $13; members, CIA & CSU I.D. holders, and those age 25 & under $10. No passes or twofers. Shown as part of the inaugural National Silent Movie Day, dedicated to celebrating, preserving, and creating access to silent movies. For more info, visit www.nationalsilentmovieday.org.
An unexpected love triangle, a failed seduction trap and an encounter that results from a misunderstanding. WHEEL OF FORTUNE AND FANTASY explores three female-centred short stories thematically linked by coincidence, regret, and imagination.
Claire, a 50-year-old divorced teacher, creates a fake Facebook profile of a 24-year-old woman. She finds a photo of a pretty young brunette and uses it. She has created an entirely fictional character, but why?
The debut film of master Chinese director Jia Zhangke has never before been released in the U.S. Shot in 16mm with a non-professional cast, Jia’s movie traces the downward trajectory of a petty thief in a provincial small town as his country transitions to a free-market economy.