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Northwestern Films in October

Block Cinema to screen premiere of new film about photographer Vivian Maier

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The Oct. 18 launch of Block Cinema’s fall season is the beneficiary of a new projection system at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art that will allow it to show innovative films shot digitally as well as older films restored using digital technology.

This October, Block Cinema will screen three films, including the Chicago-area premiere of a digitally restored documentary about Vietnam and a new documentary about a recently discovered Chicago-based amateur photographer.

“Far from Vietnam,” a digital restoration of an epic 1967 collaboration by Chris Marker, Jean-Luc Godard, Agnes Varda and others, is a potent anti-war film that will screen Oct. 25. “Vivian Maier” chronicles recently discovered amateur photographer Vivian Maier, who took nearly 150,000 photographs over five decades. It will be shown Oct. 26 at 2 p.m.

“The Act of Killing,” another new documentary, features several members of Indonesia’s notorious death squads. It will be screened Oct. 18.

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 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.


  • The New Documentaries series returns this quarter with a selection of compelling new films that spotlight important historical, contemporary and political issues. The series begins Oct. 18 with “The Act of Killing,” an unorthodox and much-discussed documentary about Indonesia’s notorious 1960s death squads. A Nov. 9 screening of Before You Know It,” about the lives of several LGBT elders, will screen as part of “Reeling: The Chicago LGBT International Film Festival.” The film’s director PJ Raval will attend the screening.

On Nov. 14, Block presents  “Let the Fire Burn,” a documentary exploring the controversial bombing of the radical African American group MOVE’s headquarters by Philadelphia police in 1985. The series concludes Nov. 22 with Sophie Fiennes’ “The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology,” in which philosopher Slavoj Zizek dissects everything from corporate coffee to Nazi aesthetics and incorporates dozens of classic Hollywood film clips to illustrate his theories.

  • In the recurring Revivals and Rediscoveries series, Block Cinema will screen American and international films -- from revered classics to more obscure works -- that deserve a second look. Screening Oct. 25 is the newly restored 1967 film “Far from Vietnam,” one of the most potent anti-war films of its era, made by the late Chris Marker and other film luminaries. On Nov. 15, Block will present one of the more bizarre and unforgettable examples of American independent cinema, Trent Harris’ “The Beaver Trilogy.” Sean Penn and Crispin Glover portray “Groovin' Gary,” a real-life Olivia Newton-John superfan.
  • In the ongoing Art on Screen series, Block Cinema presents new documentaries about art and artists. In a free 2 p.m. matinee on Oct. 26, Block will screen “Vivian Maier,” a portrait about the talented and enigmatic amateur photographer. Pamela Bannos, Distinguished Senior Lecturer in Northwestern’s department of art theory and practice (and a scholar of Maier) will introduce the film.


Screening in November and December are two recent contemporary independent films that focus on characters struggling to connect meaningfully with others. The first, “It Felt Like Love,” by new director Eliza Hittman, is a beautifully crafted coming-of-age story about a teenager’s awkward attempts to gain sexual experience. It will be shown Nov. 7. The other, Jem Cohen’s “Museum Hours,” about the unlikely friendship between a museum guard and a museum visitor, is a subtle, powerful celebration of the restorative power of art. It will be screened Dec. 6.


New Documentaries, “The Act of Killing,” 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, (Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn and Anonymous, 2013, Denmark, Norway and the United Kingdom, Digital Cinema Package/DCP, 115 minutes), Block Cinema. “The Act of Killing features several members of Indonesia’s notorious 1960’s death squads that murdered thousands of people. The film blurs the lines between documentary and fiction, and personal and cultural memory, finding its way to a profound portrait of human nature.

New Documentaries, “Far from Vietnam,” 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, (Jean-Luc Godard, Joris Ivens, William Klein, Claude Lelouch, Chris Marker, Alain Resnais and Agnes Varda, 1967, France, DCP, 115 minutes), Block Cinema. Showing in a new digital restoration, this celebrated but difficult documentary is one of the most potent anti-war films of the Vietnam era. A collaborative work, it draws upon the talents and visions of several legends of French filmmaking. Edited by Chris Marker, who initiated the project,  “Far from Vietnam” weaves together the un-credited contributions of each into a work that is critical of the U.S. and that, according to Marker’s narration, stands in “solidarity with the Vietnamese people in struggle against aggression.” Covering a variety of styles, the film is not only a critique of militarism and a social malaise that inhibits protest and questioning, but is also a shattering example of the power of film to affect, as another Vietnam War documentary suggests, “hearts and minds.”

Art on Screen, “Vivian Maier,” 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, FREE, (Jill Nicholls, 2013, United Kingdom, video, 70 minutes), Block Cinema. Made for the BBC, the film focuses on the mysterious, highly private amateur photographer who took nearly 150,000 photographs -- mostly documenting Chicagoans -- over a period of 50 years. Her talent might have remained in obscurity were it not for the discovery of thousands of negatives in an abandoned storage facility. The unexpected find brought to light an artist who many have compared to Diane Arbus and Robert Frank. The documentary also features Northwestern faculty member (and a scholar of Maier), Pamela Bannos, who will introduce the film. 


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 Block Museum online.

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