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Block Cinema Screenings At Northwestern In May

Northwestern University Spring series includes contemporary and classic films and more

  • Sonic Celluloid program a blend of live music and experimental films, May 6
  • Block Cinema to welcome Chicago-based artist and filmmaker Deborah Stratman, May 12
  • Director Howard Weinberg to attend May 13 screening of his work-in-progress
  • May 26-27 programs will highlight the importance of New York’s Anthology Film Archives

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art continues its homage to Charlotte Moorman -- a musician, performance artist and advocate of the avant-garde -- with several Block Cinema programs that will help the public discover why Moorman was called the “Joan of Arc of New Music” and the “Topless Cellist.” 

These four screenings -- all part of the spring series “A Feast of Astonishments” -- relate to the Block Museum’s “A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s-1980s” exhibition, on view in the Main Gallery through July 17, 2016. 

They will include in-person appearances by Chicago-based artist and filmmaker Deborah Stratman on May 12; director Howard Weinberg on May 13; and archivist John Klacsmann on May 26 and May 27.

The new Contemporary Migrations: Destination Europe series, through May 11, features multiple languages and uses both narrative and quasi-documentary styles, to bring to the fore questions about migrants, refugees and our responsibilities as we learn about the underlying persecution, torture and violence that prompted their journeys to Europe. 

May events also will include a May 19 screening of “Shirin,” which features more than 100 of Iran’s leading actresses along with France’s Juliette Binoche. The 2008 film is Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami’s “powerful and mesmerizing contemplation on truth and illusion.”


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 Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, on Northwestern’s Evanston campus.


  • Block Cinema: Sonic Celluloid, 8 p.m. Friday, May 6, Block Museum of Art. Sonic Celluloid is a collaboration of WNUR, Northwestern University’s student-run, non-commercial radio station (89.3 FM), and Block Cinema. Now in its 14th 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 performers include Zs, Wesley Levers and Northwestern University artist-in-residence Walter Jesse Kitundu. 
  • Block Cinema: Contemporary Migrations series, “Welcome” (Philippe Lioret, 2009, France, 35mm, 110 minutes) 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, FREE. Seventeen-year-old Bilal is a Kurdish refugee determined to reunite with his girlfriend who has emigrated to England. His trek across the Middle East and Europe comes to a halt in Calais, France, where he is stopped both by the authorities and by the English Channel. At a loss -- he can’t swim and has no other means across -- Bilal meets Simon, a local swimming coach who is having difficulties of his own. The two bond and their friendship becomes pivotal for the challenges each of them faces.
  • Block Cinema: A Feast of Astonishments series, “The Illinois Parables,” (Deborah Stratman, 2016, United States, 16mm, 60 minutes) 7 p.m. Thursday, May 12. “The Illinois Parables” is an experimental documentary comprised of regional vignettes about faith, force, technology and exodus. Eleven parables relay histories of settlement, removal, technological breakthrough, violence, messianism (the belief in a savior or redeemer) and resistance, all occurring somewhere in the state of Illinois. The state is a convenient structural ruse, allowing its histories to become allegories that explore how we are shaped by conviction and ideology. The film utilizes reenactment, archival footage, observational shooting, inter-titles and voiceover to tell its stories and is an extension of previous works in which the director questioned foundational American tenants. In person: Director Deborah Stratman 
  • Block Cinema: A Feast of Astonishments series, Nam June Paik & TV LAB: License to Create” (Howard Weinberg, 2016 /work-in-progress, United States, digital file, 95 minutes) 7 p.m. Friday, May 13. Long before the Internet revolution, there was the video revolution. Artists, including Nam June Paik, Bill Viola, William Wegman, and the pioneering collective TVTV (Top Value Television), pushed the boundaries and possibilities of television at the TV LAB, a division of Channel 13 / WNET that broadcast experimental work from 1972-1984. Initially supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts, the TV LAB brought together creative artists from all disciplines to innovate and embrace the revolutionary potential of television. Weinberg’s documentary offers a fascinating look at a rare moment in time when the confluence of traditional media and experimental practice led to a range of groundbreaking work. In person: Director Howard Weinberg
  • Face, Body and Image in Cinema Conference screening, “Shirin” (Abbas Kiarostami, 2008, Iran, digital, 92 minutes), 6 p.m. Thursday, May 19, FREE. Many of Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami’s films have long explored the slippery divide between fiction and reality, documentary and narrative, and “Shirin” is one of his most compelling and subtle works in this vein. On screen, we see more than 100 of Iran’s leading actresses (along with French actress Juliette Binoche), filmed in isolation or small groups and apparently engrossed in watching a film based on a famous medieval Persian poem. All is not what it seems, though: the women are not watching a film, their responses are directed by an off-camera Kiarostami. The film was purportedly shot in his living room, and the film soundtrack we hear is fake, constructed by Kiarostami afterwards. “Shirin” is a quietly powerful and mesmerizing contemplation on truth and illusion. The film will be introduced by Northwestern Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor in Communication, Hamid NaficyThis screening is taking place in conjunction with the Face, Body and Image in Cinema conference, held from May 19 to May 20 and hosted by the Center for Global Culture and Communication (CGCC) at Northwestern University.
  • Block Cinema: A Feast of Astonishments series, “METAMEDIA: Film Journals and Diaries of Jud Yalkut,” “Us Down By the Riverside” (1966, United States, 16mm, 3 minutes), “METAMEDIA” (1966-71 United States, 16mm, 50 minutes), “John Cage Mushroom Hunting In Stony Point” (1972-73, United States, 16mm, 8 minutes), 7 p.m. Thursday, May 26. Block Cinema welcomes archivist John Klacsmann from New York’s Anthology Film Archives for the first of two shows highlighting the importance of this legendary organization. This program focuses on intermedia artist and video pioneer Jud Yalkut, whose work fused interests in music, poetry, abstraction, the medium specificity and textural qualities of video, and the electronic manipulation of images and sound. In addition to being a pivotal force in the avant-garde scene of the 1960s and ‘70s, Yalkut was a frequent participant in Charlotte Moorman’s avant-garde festivals. “METAMEDIA” and “John Cage…” were both preserved by Anthology Film Archives with support from the National Film Preservation Foundation. In person: Film archivist John Klacsmann
  • Block Cinema: A Feast of Astonishments series, “Highlights from Charlotte Moorman's Avant Garde Festivals” (Various directors, 1943-69, United States, 16mm and 35mm, approximately 70 minutes), 7 p.m. Friday, May 27. In this second program of works from Anthology Film Archives, archivist John Klacsmann presents a rich and eclectic selection of works featured in Charlotte Moorman’s avant-garde festivals. The program includes films by legendary experimental makers Robert Breer, Hollis Frampton and Nam June Paik (in collaboration with Jud Yalkut), along with rarely screened works by Francis Lee, David Brooks, Piero Heliczer, Amy Greenfield and Storm DeHirsch. In person: Film archivist John Klacsmann

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.

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