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Northwestern Film in May

Block Cinema hosts sneak preview and special programs and events

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The screening of “The Radiant,” a new video on the 2011 partial meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan (May 3) and Chicago Portraits on Film (May 9), a free program of student made mini-documentaries about people and places in the Windy City, are among the special programs Block Cinema will host in May.

A sneak preview of Chris Galletta’s highly-praised “The Kings of Summer,” which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, and in-person visits by Turkish director Belmin Soylemez (May 1) and filmmakers Clayton Brown and Monica Long Ross (May 15), who will attend the screenings of their films, are also planned.

All films will be screened in the James B. Pick and Rosalyn M. Laudati Auditorium at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus.

Unless otherwise noted, general admission to Block Cinema 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


• The Passport to Global Cinema: Contemporary International Films” series continues to show some of the best new films from around the world. Selections include sneak previews of upcoming releases and films without U.S. distribution, providing an opportunity to see some of the most talked-about films from the international film festival circuit yet to be on DVD or at the multiplex. The film series is part of Northwestern’s Global Languages Initiative, which emphasizes the need for global fluency in the 21st century, celebrates linguistic diversity and promotes cultural literacy. The two May films are “Present Tense,” Belmin Soylemez’s video about a young divorcee in Turkey who wants to start a new life in the United States, and “Sharqiya,” Ami Livne’s debut film about a Bedouin family living in Israel.

• The “New Documentaries” series will feature a free May 15 screening of “The Believers” by local filmmakers Monica Ross and Northwestern faculty member Clayton Brown, about two scientists who announced their discovery of cold fusion in the late 1980s; and the May 31 screening of director Till Schauder’s “The Iran Job,” about African-American NBA point guard Kevin Sheppard, who spent a year playing under contract for the Iranian basketball league.


Passport to Global Cinema, “Present Tense,” 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 1, FREE WITH NORTHWESTERN WildCARD (Belmin Soylemez, 2012, Turkey, video, 110 minutes).

Mina is a young divorcee who longs to leave her unfulfilling life in Turkey and start anew in the U.S. In need of money and a visa, and unable to find something better, she bluffs her way into a fortune-telling job at a cafe and soon develops a following. Her insights into other people’s problems are more acute than into her own. Mina’s dreams are unfocused and her hopes of a better future are pinned to her vague and perhaps unrealistic goal. “Present Tense” is a quiet, restrained film that taps into feelings of uncertainty that crosses cultural boundaries. Director Belmin Soylemez will attend the screening.

Special Programs, “The Radiant,” 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 3, FREE (The Otolith Group, 2012, United Kingdom, video, 64 minutes). The British arts collective The Otolith Group has been making compelling and politically engaged work for more than a decade. Their newest video, “The Radiant,” focuses on the 2011 partial meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. It looks back at the last century’s promise of nuclear power as a clean and safe energy source while contemplating the impact of the disaster. “The Radiant” combines newly shot footage of landscapes and infrastructure, amateur footage of the tsunami that led to the meltdown, vintage promotional films and footage of the plant’s construction and interviews.

Special Programs, Chicago Portraits on Film, 7 p.m. Thursday, May 9, FREE. This free program of Northwestern student-made short documentary films about Chicago people and places was inspired by this year’s One Book One Northwestern selection, Alex Kotlowitz’s “Never a City So Real.” The film program includes recent documentary shorts as diverse and multifaceted as the Windy City itself. 

Special Event, WNUR and Block Cinema present: Sonic Celluloid, 8 p.m., Friday, May 10. Sonic Celluloid is a collaboration of WNUR, Northwestern's student-run, non-commercial radio station (89.3 FM) and Block Cinema. Now in its 10th year, “Sonic Celluloid” features live musicians performing their own original compositions or improvised scores to silent and experimental films of their choosing. Performers this year include Madalyn Merkey, Autumn Drones and Expo '70! Approximate running time is 2 hours. It will be loud! The event was organized by Northwestern students Lily Oberman, Gillian Levy, Kristian Ayala and Daniel Sloan of WNUR.

New Documentaries, “The Believers” 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 15, FREE (Clayton Brown and Monica Long Ross, 2012, United States, video, 83 minutes). This new documentary by local filmmakers Monica Ross and Northwestern faculty member Clayton Brown is an engrossing look at Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons, who announced their discovery of cold fusion in 1989. This seeming scientific breakthrough, which if true could lead to an unlimited energy source, was met with praise by cold fusion believers, criticism and disbelief from the established scientific community, and laudatory press coverage that turned negative when the claims could not be substantiated. Brown and Ross’ chronicle of the controversy and its aftermath in a a story of intrigue, conflict, heartbreak and wonder. The film won the Gold Hugo award for Best Documentary at the Chicago International Film Festival. Filmmakers Clayton Brown and Monica Long Ross will attend the screening.

Passport to Global Cinema,Sharqiya” 7 p.m. Friday, May 17, FREE WITH NORTHWESTERN WildCARD (Ami Livne, 2012, Israel, France and Germany, video, 85 minutes). Like many fringe members of Israeli society, the Bedouins lead an uncertain life. Ami Livne’s debut film “Sharqiya” dramatizes their existence through the story of Kamel, who lives with his brother and sister-in-law in a small “unrecognized” village and works a mundane job as a security guard. One day Kamel and his family receive notification that their home is to be demolished. Unable to convince the authorities otherwise, Kamel devises a desperate plan to save their humble lodgings.

L.A. Rebellion, “Compensation” 7 p.m. Thursday, May 23, Free, (Zeinabu irene Davis, 1999, United States, video, 90 minutes), in English with subtitles. “Director (and former Northwestern faculty member) Zeinabu irene Davis’ first feature depicts two Chicago love stories, one set at the dawn of the 20th century and the other in contemporary times, featuring a deaf woman and a hearing man. Played by the same actors (Michelle A. Banks and John Earl Jelks), both couples face the specter of death when the man is diagnosed with tuberculosis in the earlier story, and the woman with AIDS in the contemporary one. Inspired by a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar, who died of tuberculosis in 1906 at the age of 33, the film considers the ephemeral nature of love and life, while illustrating the challenges of race and racism over the course of a century.” Also screening will be an excerpt from Davis’ forthcoming documentary, “Spirits of Rebellion,” about the L.A. Rebellion filmmakers. Zeinabu irene Davis will attend. The “Compensaton” screening will be followed by:Dark Exodus” (Iverson White, 1985, United States, 16mm, 28 minutes. This short film focuses on an African-American family in the early part of the 20th century that sends its sons north in search of a better life. New 16mm print courtesy of UCLA Film & Television Archive.

Sneak Preview,The Kings of Summer” 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 29, FREE (Chris Galletta, 2013, United States, 35mm, 93 minutes). “The Kings of Summer is a coming-of-age comedy about three teenage friends -- Joe (Nick Robinson), Patrick (Gabriel Basso) and the eccentric and unpredictable Biaggio (Moises Arias) -- who, in the ultimate act of independence, decide to spend their summer building a house in the woods and living off the land. Free from their parents’ rules, their idyllic summer quickly becomes a test of friendship as each boy learns to appreciate the fact that family -- whether it is the one you’re born into or the one you create -- is something you can't run away from. The film premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews.

New Documentaries, “The Iran Job” 7 p.m. Friday, May 31, (Till Schauder, 2012, United States and Germany, video, 91 minutes). African-American point guard Kevin Sheppard had big dreams of being signed by the NBA. But as with many U.S. players, he ultimately found employment through contracts with various overseas teams. After playing in South America, Europe, China and Israel, he received an offer to play for the Iranian Super League. The film follows him over one extraordinary year, during the run up to the 2009 election and subsequent “Green Movement” protests. During this time he attempts to help his new team rise from the bottom of the league and forms unlikely friendships with a trio of young women who question their government and the role of women in Iranian society.


A long-term construction project on Northwestern’s south campus has closed vehicle access to the Block Museum and Arts Circle Drive. Free parking is available in the lot directly south of the museum. For directions and parking information, visit

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