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Block Cinema Screenings at Northwestern in March

New documentaries from Portugal and China are free for students with IDs

  • Block Cinema to screen 2015 Chicago International Film Festival’s top prizewinners
  • Portugal’s “Volta à Terra” focuses on an endangered community of subsistence farmers
  • “In the Underground” is a portrait of Chinese coal miners who toil in darkness

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Block Cinema’s Winter 2016 series of contemporary and classic film screenings will conclude in March with two new documentaries from Portugal and China – top prizewinners at the 2015 Chicago International Film Festival.

Both films quietly observe the lives of rural subsistence farmers (Joáo Pedro Plácido’s “Volta à Terra,” a Gold Hugo award winner) and coal miners (Song Zhantao’s “In the Underground”), received a Silver Hugo).

They also both present the dignity of their subjects and the different fragilities of their working lives.


Unless otherwise noted, general admission to Block Cinema is $6 for the general public or $4 for 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.

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.

For more information, call the Block Cinema Hotline at 847-491-4000 or visit the Block Cinema website. More information also is available on Northwestern’s new Arts Circle website


  • New Documentaries, “Volta à Terra,” 7 p.m. Thursday, March 3 (Joáo Pedro Plácido, 2014, Portugal, Digital Cinema Package/DCP, 78 minutes), FREE FOR STUDENTS. The film’s focus is an endangered community of subsistence farmers in a mountainous village of northern Portugal. The younger generation is leaving the village for cities and there is a lack of interest in what is seen as an antiquated pursuit. Caught between the evocation of the past and their uncertain future, the film follows the 49 inhabitants of this rural community through four seasons. Among them is António, a former emigrant who fulfilled his dream of returning home and who prepares the village festivities for the coming summer, and Daniel, a young shepherd who dreams of love at dusk. It won the Gold Hugo award for best documentary at the 2015 Chicago International Film Festival. The film will be introduced by graduate student João Pedro Queiroga, a candidate in the School of Communication’s MFA Documentary Media program.
  • New Documentaries, “In the Underground,” 7 p.m. Friday, March 4 (Song Zhantao, 2015, China, digital, 91 minutes), FREE FOR STUDENTS. An observational portrait of Chinese workers deep inside the subterranean darkness of a coal mine, “In the Underground” creates a space for the viewer to experience the workaday stresses of life both above and below the earth’s surface. Events seem to unfold naturally as the film’s immersive cinematography and score underscore the claustrophobic and dire working conditions inside the mine. Above ground, the miners struggle to balance family life and values with the very real economic demands that keep them returning to the coal mine. The film is a quiet, yet powerful look at the personal toll of industrialization on a small community. It won the Silver Hugo award for best documentary at the 2015 Chicago International Film Festival.

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