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May/June 2015 Films at Northwestern

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Block Cinema’s continuing spring 2015 film series will screen three early shorts co-directed by and starring iconic American actor, vaudevillian, filmmaker and stunt performer Buster Keaton (1895-1966).

Presented by Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Keaton’s shorts -- “Neighbors,” “The ‘High Sign’” and “Cops” -- will be screened May 29. The program will conclude Block Cinema’s “Buster on the Run” series highlighting the actor’s wide range of comedic and dramatic on-screen roles. The Keaton shorts will be screened to live musical accompaniment by digital organist Jay Warren.

Other highlights will include a free May 22 screening of Chicago-based animator, performance artist and experimental filmmaker Chris Sullivan’s “Consuming Spirits” (2012), a handmade independent feature animation that will be followed by a Q&A session with Sullivan.

The 11th annual “Rare Baseball Films” program June 5, once again organized by Ohio State University’s Dave Filipi, Wexner Center for the Arts director of film/video, will feature archival videos of Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Jackie, Brooks and Frank Robinson.

All of the following Block Cinema events will take place in the James B. Pick and Rosalyn M. Laudati Auditorium at the Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, on Northwestern’s Evanston campus.


•  “Buster on the Run,” through May 29, is a small selection of Buster Keaton films that feature an assortment of “Busters” on the screen. There is the wealthy Keaton of “The Navigator,” fleeing from a marriage proposal gone wrong; the middle-class Keaton running off to college to try and impress a girl; and the working-class Keaton dashing away from both the anarchist gangs and the cops in a selection of shorts.

• Special Programs, through June 5, features an eclectic assortment of one-night screenings, including visits from Chicago-based experimental filmmaker Chris Sullivan and a free screening of Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining”; and two annual programs: Sonic Celluloid and Rare Baseball Films.

• Art on Screen, through May 7, Block Cinema’s ongoing series of films about art continues with a recent documentary about the renovated Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

•  “The Last Supper: Race, Class and Justice on the Screen,” May 1-June 4, complements the Block Museum’s May 9 through Aug. 9 “The Last Supper: 600 Plates Illustrating Final Meals of U.S. Death Row Inmates,” an exhibition by contemporary artist Julie Green, who has painted images of the last meal request of death row inmates onto second-hand ceramic plates. The companion film series asks similar questions about the ambiguity of guilt, the finality of death and the role race and class play in the judicial system. The series includes documentaries on the death penalty in America and fictional films that offer different historical and cultural perspectives on the issue of capital punishment and the complexities of justice in societies struggling with inequality. It also examines how social media shapes the national discussion about race, law and the limits of police power.

Visit the Block website for a complete list of series descriptions and spring 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 and space is limited. For more information, call the Block Cinema Hotline at 847-491-4000 or visit the Block Cinema website at


• The Last Supper: Race, Class and Justice on Screen series, Caché” (“Hidden”), 7 p.m. Friday, May 1. (Michael Haneke, 2005, France, Austria, Germany, Italy and United States, 35mm, 117 minutes.) The rash of videos of African-American men dying in police custody has given “Caché,” a quiet thriller set in France, new cross-cultural relevance. What does it mean to witness tragedy? What responsibility comes with it? Director Michael Haneke subtly ties those questions into France’s complex and suppressed history of violence against Algerians. Well-to-do Georges Laurent (Daniel Auteuil) finds a series of videotapes of the outside of his home in Paris. Quietly ominous, perhaps, the videos break no laws, and a nerve-wracked Laurent sets out to investigate them himself. They lead him back to his childhood, to a boy named Majid whose parents worked for his family, and to the disturbing and terrible ways history disappears and guilt resurfaces.

• Art on Screen series, “The New Rijksmuseum,” 7 p.m. Thursday, May 7 (Oeke Hoogendijk, 2008/2013, Netherlands, DCP, 132 minutes.) A national museum usually tells a coherent story: an intertwining history of a nation’s art practices and its economic and political power. Director Oeke Hoogendijk captured the fascinating fractures and breaks that occur in such a façade when the renovation of a national museum is fought over for 10 years. Cracks of all kinds appear: painting conservators and curators peer at cracks in a masterpiece by Rembrandt; the museum’s director quits; the stereotype of the bicycle-loving Dutch asserts itself as activists for bicycle lanes force changes to the architects’ plans; and the building itself is gutted and ripped apart before the camera. The coherent story of the old Rijksmuseum shatters before your eyes. Each little piece sings a tiny, captivating vignette about art, history and the Netherlands, as everyone from curators to construction workers scamper to build the new one. Northwestern University’s Claudia Swan, associate professor art history, will make a brief introduction.

• Special Programs series, Sonic Celluloid, 8 p.m. Friday, May 8. Sonic Celluloid is a collaboration between WNUR, Northwestern University’s student-run, non-commercial radio station (89.3 FM), and Block Cinema. Now in its 13th year, Sonic Celluloid is a special event that features musicians performing live with their own original compositions or improvised scores to silent and experimental films of their choosing. This year's bands include Eartheater, M. Sage and Nicholas Szcepanik.

• Special Programs series, A&O Films Presents: “The Shining,” 7 p.m. Thursday, May 14, FREE (Stanley Kubrick, 1980, United States, 35mm, 144 minutes). Jack Torrance is hired to take care of the Overlook Hotel during a winter offseason. His family in tow, they travel to the isolated hotel. Jack begins to unravel as the hotel’s morbid past returns. Kubrick famously departs from the literary source and relies on mood to overwhelm viewers with a sense of dread. “The Shining” stands amongst a distinguished group of auteur driven horror films. One of Kubrick’s most often referenced masterpieces, spawning parodies and even an entire film of fan-theories; “The Shining” has made an indelible imprint on popular culture.

• “The Last Supper: Race, Class and Justice on the Screen,” series, The Thin Blue Line,” 7 p.m. Friday, May 15 (Errol Morris, 1988, United States, BluRay, 103 minutes.) Randall Dale Adams lived through a nightmare. In 1976, someone shot and killed Dallas police officer Robert Wood. In 1977, a Texas court convicted Adams of the crime and sentenced him to death. The Supreme Court took up his case, and in March 1985, Errol Morris arrived in Texas to work on a documentary about psychiatrist known as Dr. Death for his damning testimony. Adams’ case fascinated Morris, who at the time held down a day job as a private detective. Applying those investigative skills, Morris crafted “The Thin Blue Line.” The movie stirred an outcry about the case and launched Morris’s career. In 1989, the Texas justice system released Adams from prison. Adams died in quiet obscurity in 2010, The New York Times reporting his death some eight months after it had occurred.

• “The Last Supper: Race, Class and Justice on the Screen” series, “The People vs. Paul Crump,” 7 p.m. Thursday, May 21 (William Friedkin, 1962, United States, 16mm, 60 minutes.) Before making his splash in Hollywood, 26-year-old Chicago-born director William Friedkin made a short documentary about Paul Crump (at that point the youngest death row inmate in Illinois history) to be shown on television the night of his execution. The film depicted the alleged torture by the police that Crump endured. “The People vs. Paul Crump” was not publicly screened, but Friedkin expeditiously showed it to the Illinois governor who commuted Crump’s sentence. The documentary’s use of reenactment anticipates Errol Morris’s famous use in the similarly themed “The Thin Blue Line” (screening May 15). Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.

Special Programs series, “Consuming Spirits” by Chris Sullivan, 7 p.m. Friday, May 22, FREE (Chris Sullivan, 2012, United States, 16mm, 136 minutes). Northwestern University’s department of art theory and practice will host Chicago-based animator, performance artist and experimental filmmaker Chris Sullivan for a screening of his 2012 film, “Consuming Spirits.” The handmade independent feature animation was shot frame-by-frame on 16mm film using paper cutouts, models and tracing paper cell animation. The film chronicles the lives of three characters that live in a rust belt town called Magguson and work at its local newspaper The Daily Suggester. They are: Gentian Violet 42, Victor Blue 38 and Earl Gray 64, who first appear to be acquaintances. But as the film unfolds, we find they have a long diabolical history revolving around social service intervention, foster care, romance and hatred. Each character has family secrets to hide and family secrets to discover. An auto accident one dark and alcohol-filled night causes a crack in the memory vault of these intimate strangers. By film’s end all parties walk from the woods, both healed and wounded.  Visit Q&A with filmmaker Chris Sullivan will follow the screening.

• “The Last Supper: Race, Class and Justice on the Screen” series, “When You CAN’T Shake It Off,” 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 27, FREE. A cell phone camera captures the death of Eric Garner. White men toting assault rifles film confrontations with police officers over their right to openly carry firearms. A video of a cop lip-synching to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” goes viral. This wide-ranging conversation looks at the role and use of social media in creating a national conversation about race, law and the limits of police power. How does civil resistance operate in the Internet era? And how do citizen videos expand our definition of the moving image? Special attention will be paid to performances of resistance (such as “I Am Trayvon” and “Hands Up”), responses to the highly predicable and anticipated arrival of racial violence. Will Schmenner, Block Cinema Interim Curator, will lead a conversation with Harvey Young, Northwestern University associate professor of theatre.

• “The Last Supper: Race, Class and Justice on the Screen” series, “Un condamné à mort s'est échappé (“A Man Escaped”), 7 p.m. Thursday, May 28 (Robert Bresson, 1956, France, 35mm, 99 minutes). Bresson loosely adapted this thriller from the memoirs of André Devigny, a French resistance fighter held in a German prison during World War II. One of the masterpieces of this unrivaled director, Bresson strikingly mixes the tedium of jail with the nail-biting suspense of the preparations for escape. At every turn, this darkly Catholic film wonders aloud whether the dumb luck also needed to attain freedom comes by chance or by the grace of God. This is perhaps the only film about death row that throws away all questions of guilt and asks, what does it mean to be saved from certain death?

• “The Last Supper: Race, Class and Justice on the Screen” series, “The Passion of Joan of Arc,” 7 p.m. Thursday, June 4 (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1928, France, 35mm, 82 minutes). On trial for heresy, Joan of Arc’s captors use interrogation, torture and death threats to force her to sign a confession. Dreyer’s 1928 restaging of the trial of Joan of Arc is famous for its exquisite cinematography, specifically its use of close-ups. It is a testament to the beauty and power of the human face. “The Passion of Joan of Arc,” like other films in this series, portrays the suffering and helplessness of victims abused by power. The film itself suffered from cuts by the government and the Archbishop of France. Dreyer’s original version was only available in a truncated form until the 1980s when a complete print was discovered. Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive. Live musical accompaniment by David Drazin.

• Buster Keaton series, “Early Keaton Shorts,” 7 p.m. Friday, May 29, “Neighbors” (Buster Keaton and Edward F. Cline, 1920, United States, 35mm, 18 minutes); “The High Sign” (Buster Keaton and Edward F. Cline, 1921, United States, 35mm, 21 minutes); and “Cops” (Buster Keaton and Edward F. Cline, 1922, United States, 35mm, 18 minutes). Keaton began his directorial career making two-reel shorts. He filled them to the rafters with chases and gags. These three early shorts find him caught between the devil and the deep blue sea as he pings back and forth between his angry father and his enraged, potential father-in-law in “Neighbors” and runs from anarchist gangs and the police in both “The High Sign” and “Cops.” Paradoxically both a star and a working-class performer, Keaton’s shorts portray a blue-collar world that puts little trust in liberal reformers, revolutionaries, captains of industry or middle-class managersThe screenings will be introduced by Will Schmenner, the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art’s interim film curator. The Keaton shorts will be screened to live musical accompaniment by digital organist Jay Warren. For more, visit: - 3.

• Special Programs, “Rare Baseball Films,” 7 p.m. Friday, June 5. Organized by Dave Filipi, Wexner Center for the Arts Director of Film/Video, Block Cinema’s popular Rare Baseball Films program returns for its 11th year. Before televisions became domestic fixtures, these newsreels allowed fans to watch players from around the country in action -- and now they let viewers relive some of the best moments in the history of the game. Come out and see such greats as Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Jackie, Brooks and Frank Robinson; and baseball played by Little Leaguers, on donkeys, in canoes and more! Special thanks to the UCLA Film & Television Archive for its assistance with this program. Thanks also to Paul Gordon, Library and Archives Canada; the Dawson City Museum and Historical Society Collection; and Bill Morrison. The video screening runs approximately 120 minutes. Dave Filipi, director of film/video at the Wexner Center for the Arts, The Ohio State University, will make the introduction.


The Block Museum’s galleries are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday, and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The Block is closed on Monday.

For more information, visit

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