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Northwestern University May Film Calendar

Block Cinema hosts May 4 panel discussion and continues to screen films that celebrate Paris

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Screenings of Block Cinema’s film series celebrating Paris -- the City of Light -- continue in May with films directed in the 1960s and 1970s by Jean Eustache and Agnes Varda and a 2008 work by Claire Denis.   

“Paris Belongs to Us: The City of Light in Film” toasts a city which has sparked the imagination of filmmakers for more than a century and illuminates the varied faces of the City of Light. Many of the films are unavailable on DVD. Since cinema’s earliest days, Paris has served as an iconic backdrop, vibrant social milieu and gritty locale for every kind of film and story possible. For more details, visit

The film series is made possible by generous support of the Institut Francais, The Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York and Chicago’s Consulat general de France.

Block Cinema’s “Art on Screen” series will feature a May 11 screening of Josef Astor’s 2011 documentary, “Lost Bohemia,” a portrait of eclectic artists and performers who live and work in rent-controlled studios above New York’s Carnegie Hall.

Special events will include the May 4 panel discussion -- “Critics and Scholars” -- a sequel to last year’s widely publicized conference on film criticism, “Illuminating the Shadows: Film Criticism in Focus.” The panel will be followed by a free screening of James Toback’s 1983 film, “Exposed,” which was selected and will be introduced by guest panelist and Australian-based film professor and critic Adrian Martin. 

On May 18, WNUR, Northwestern’s student-run, non-commercial radio station, and Block Cinema will co-present the 9th annual “Sonic Celluloid,” an evening of silent and experimental films accompanied by live music.

The Annual Northwestern University Student Film Festival -- an admission-free celebration of recent films by students -- will take place the night of May 25.

Films are screened in the James B. Pick and Rosalyn M. Laudati Auditorium at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston campus. Free parking is available in the lot directly south of the museum. 

Unless otherwise noted, general admission to Block Cinema screenings is $6 for the general public or $4 for Block Museum members, Northwestern faculty, staff and students, students from other schools with valid IDs, and individuals aged 65 and older. Quarterly passes are $20. Tickets are available one hour before showtime. For more information, call the Block Cinema Hotline at (847) 491-4000 or visit the Block Cinema website at


Illuminating the Shadows: Film Criticism in Focus, “Critics and Scholars,” 6 p.m. Friday, May 4, Block Cinema. This year’s panel will delve into the relationship between film criticism and academic film studies. Panelists will include Adrian Martin, professor of film at Monash University, Australia; and Girish Shambu, blogger and associate professor of management at Canisius College, Buffalo, N.Y.; and Elena Gorfinkel, assistant professor of art history and film studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The discussion will be moderated by film blogger and Northwestern professor Nick Davis. The 6 p.m. panel will be followed by a free film screening at 8 p.m. of “Exposed,” a 1983 film directed by James Toback, selected and introduced by Adrian Martin. Admission is free. 

Illuminating the Shadows: Film Criticism in Focus, “Exposed,” 8 p.m. Friday, May 4, Block Cinema (James Toback, 1983, United States, 35 mm, 95 minutes). “Although some audiences howled with derisive laughter on its initial film festival screenings, “Exposed” is a flamboyant and unusual movie. Writer-director James Toback mixes and matches his genres -- florid romance, existential art film, paranoid thriller -- as he puts Nastassja Kinski in the anguished leading role he usually reserves for his male heroes…" — excerpted from a program note by Adrian Martin. 

Arts on Screen, “Lost Bohemia,” 7 p.m. Friday, May 11, Block Cinema (Joseph Astor, 2011, United States, video, 73 minutes). “Lost Bohemia” is a moving portrait of an eclectic group of artists who live and work in beautiful rent-controlled studios above Carnegie Hall­, historic studios that have housed artists (including Isadora Duncan and Marlon Brando) for more than a century. When the tenants -- some of whom have been there for more than 50 years -- begin receiving eviction notices, they learn of a plan to demolish the historic interiors and turn them into generic office spaces. Josef “Birdman” Astor, a tenant, provides an intimate first-person account of the residents and their struggle to save their homes and their unique artistic community. 

Special Event, Sonic Celluloid, 8 p.m. Friday, May 18, Block Cinema. “Sonic Celluloid” is a collaboration of WNUR, Northwestern's student-run, non-commercial radio station (89.3 FM), and Block Cinema. Now in its 9th year, this experimental film and music event features musicians performing live with original compositions or improvised scores to silent and experimental films. It will be loud! Check the Block Cinema website in early May for the complete lineup of music and movies. Approximate running time is 2 hours. 

Paris in Film, “The Mother and the Whore” (“La maman et le putain”), 1 p.m. Saturday, May 19, Block Cinema (Jean Eustache, 1973, France, 35 mm, 217 minutes). One of the milestone films of the 1970s, Eustache’s nearly four-hour masterpiece chronicles the lives of three 20-something Parisians: unemployed would-be intellectual Alexandre (Jean-Pierre Leaud), his live-in girlfriend Marie, and Veronika, a beautiful Polish nurse Alexandre picks up in a cafe. The impossibility of this love triangle leads to jealousy and moments of raw emotion and uncertainty. Exhilarating to watch, this singular film captures the ennui felt by many young Parisians after the political upheavals of May 1968. Archival 35 mm print courtesy of the Institut Francais. 

Paris in Film, “Cleo from 5 to 7” (“Cleo de 5 a 7”), 7 p.m. Thursday, May 24, Block Cinema (Agnes Varda, 1962, France, 35 mm, 89 minutes). A pioneering work of feminist cinema, “Cleo from 5 to 7” follows pop singer Cleo (Corinne Marchand) through the streets, neighborhoods and parks of Paris as she awaits a meeting with her doctor to hear the results of a biopsy. Varda, part of a loose group of Parisian Left Bank filmmakers (that included Alain Resnais, Chris Marker and Jacques Demy) infused her film with existential questioning as Cleo ponders her place in the world while waiting for her medical test results. “Cleo” is a refreshing antidote to the male-centric depiction of female characters seen in many contemporaneous New Wave films. Archival 35 mm print courtesy of the Institut Francais. 

Special Event, 8th Annual NU Student Film Festival, 7 p.m. Friday, May 25, Block Cinema. Join the annual celebration of recent films by Northwestern students from all disciplines. The festival is a competitive showcase that brings together the year’s best Northwestern student achievements in filmmaking. Check the Block Cinema website in mid-May for a complete list of films. Approximate running time is 90 minutes. Admission is free. 

Paris in Film: “35 Shots of Rum,” 7 p.m. Thursday, May 31, Block Cinema (Claire Denis, 2008, France and Germany, 35 mm, 100 minutes). This critically acclaimed film tells the story of Lionel, a widowed father and Paris metro driver, and his daughter Josephine, a university student devoted to her father. Tensions arise when Lionel pushes Josephine towards a life of her own. Alex Descas and Mati Diop’s subtly powerful performances and Agnes Godard’s lush, moody cinematography give the film an emotional shading that is warm and bittersweet. Inspired by Yasujiro Ozu’s “Late Spring,” Denis’ homage is a remarkable film about family, friendship and love.

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