Skip to main content

January Films at Northwestern

Block Cinema to launch series on new documentaries and vintage films set in the Himalayas

  • ‘Lay of the Land’ series of contemporary documentaries has ties to new MFA program
  • ‘Framing the Himalayas’ series complements Block’s winter 2015 exhibit on Buddhist art
  • Frank Capra’s 1937 film ‘Lost Horizon’ brings fictional Himalayan valley to life

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Block Cinema’s Winter 2015 film schedule begins on Friday, Jan. 16, with an ongoing series of contemporary documentaries programmed in conjunction with the Northwestern University School of Communication’s new program, MFA in Documentary Media. Films in the “Lay of the Land: New Documentaries” series will include “The Overnighters,” “The Great Invisible” and “Bugarach.”

Also scheduled in early 2015 is a program of classic films from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s that are set in the Himalayas, including screenings of “Epic of Everest,” “Lost Horizon” and “Black Narcissus.” Films in the “Framing the Himalayas: Kashmir and Tibet on Screen” series relate to the Block Museum’s main gallery winter 2015 exhibition, “Collecting Paradise: Buddhist Art of Kashmir and Its Legacies,” which opens to the public on Jan. 13 and runs through April 19.

The “Collecting Paradise” exhibition features Buddhist objects, including manuscripts, paintings, and sculptures in ivory, metal and wood, dating from the 7th to 17th centuries. With 44 objects, the exhibition presents an original and innovative look at art from the region of Kashmir and the Western Himalayas, as well as how it has been “collected” over time.

The exhibition was curated by a leading scholar in the field, Robert Linrothe, associate professor of art history in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, with the support of Christian Luczanits, the David L. Snellgrove Senior Lecturer in Tibetan and Buddhist Art at The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.

“‘Collecting Paradise’ is the most ambitious exhibition in the Block’s history, and we are very grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts for recognizing its significance,” said Lisa Corrin, the Ellen Philips Katz Director of the Block Museum. “As part of our new global initiative, this exhibition brings together works of Asian art that are true masterpieces -- among the most important of their kind in the U.S.”

A companion exhibition, “Collecting Culture: Himalaya through the Lens,” Jan. 13 through April 12, in the Alsdorf Gallery, further examines the impact of centuries of collecting in the region. Co-curated by Kathleen Bickford Berzock, the Block’s associate director of curatorial affairs, and Robert Linrothe, “Collecting Culture” looks critically at U.S. and European engagement in the Himalayas beginning in the mid-19th century through lenses, including photography, cartography, natural science and ethnography. It reflects on the ways Westerners have perceived, defined and acquired the Himalayas, raising questions about what is gained and what is lost when objects are removed from their intended cultural context.

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

Visit the Block website in early January for a complete list of series descriptions and programs at:


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 60 and older. Quarterly passes are $20. Tickets are available one hour before show time. For more information, call the Block Cinema Hotline at (847) 491-4000 or visit the Block Cinema website at


• New Documentaries series, “The Overnighters” (Jesse Moss, 2014, United States, DCP, 102 minutes), 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 16. Moss’ Sundance Award-winning documentary captures a telling moment in the economic realities of America today. Lured by the prospect of steady work in the oil fields, thousands of unemployed migrants stream into the small town of Williston, North Dakota. Once there, they discover that the work is scant and affordable housing is even more rare. Pastor Jay Reinke opens his church to these men, providing overnight lodging and a supportive ear. But his congregation and the townsfolk begin to complain, and the town council threatens to shut things down. Moss’ powerful film is about disillusionment and despair, hope and charity, and the difficulties of living a life and living one’s word.

• New Documentaries series, “The Great Invisible” (Margaret Brown, 2014, United States, DCP, 92 minutes), 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 22. In April 2010, communities throughout the Gulf Coast of the United States were devastated by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, an offshore oil-drilling rig operated by BP. The blast killed 11 of the rig’s crewmembers and dumped hundreds of millions of gallons of oil in the ocean, shutting down the local fishing industry, polluting the fragile ecosystem and raising serious questions about the safety of continued offshore drilling. In “The Great Invisible,” award-winning documentarian Margaret Brown travels to small towns and major cities in Alabama, Louisiana and Texas to explore the fallout of the disaster on the people of the region, creating an intimate and emotional look at the many people still haunted by the explosion long after the story has faded from the front page. In person: Director Margaret Brown will attend the screening.

Framing the Himalayas series, “The Epic of Everest” (Captain John Noel, 1924, United Kingdom, DCP, 85 minutes), 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 23. One of a number of 1920s documentaries on exotic and remote peoples and places, “The Epic of Everest” had been unfairly overlooked until this recent restoration by the British Film Institute. The film is a fascinating account of an ill-fated attempt to climb the fabled mountain and a vibrant look at Tibetan villagers and nomads, but it’s the stunning photography of Everest and the Himalayas that steals the show. Captain Noel captures the beauty of the region, and its barren landscape and harsh conditions, which could be fatal at a moment’s notice.

New Documentaries, “Bugarach” (Ventura Durall, Salvador Sunyer and Sergi Cameron, 2014, Spain/Germany/France, DCP, 90 minutes), 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29. No one took much notice of Bugarach, a quiet, unassuming village in the south of France until word spread of the impending Mayan apocalypse in early 2012. Somehow, a rumor surfaced that when the apocalypse hits, Bugarach will be the only place on the planet to survive. The story gathered global attention, attracting the interests of international media, mystics and many others not quite ready for the end of the world. “Bugarach” playfully documents it all, including the town’s 197 residents, who are less concerned with the doomsday prophecy than with the massive influx of oddball outsiders that are overtaking their quiet rural community. 

Framing the Himalayas series, “Lost Horizon” (Frank Capra, 1937, United States, DCP, 132 minutes), 7 p.m. Friday. Jan. 30. Based on James Hilton’s best-selling novel, Capra’s “Lost Horizon” brings Hilton’s fictional Himalayan valley to life, creating one of the most vivid settings in film (no matter that it was all shot in California, not Tibet). A hijacking and plane crash brings a diverse group of survivors to Shangri-La, a mysterious and harmonious valley high in the mountains presided over by a High Lama. Ronald Colman stars as Robert Conway, the new British Foreign Secretary, who finds peace in this seeming paradise, and Jane Wyatt plays his love interest, Sondra, who was raised in Shangri-La.

Restored version courtesy of Sony Pictures Repertory.