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Block Cinema Screenings at Northwestern in June

Northwestern University Spring series includes contemporary and classic films and more

  • Audio compositions from the Indian subcontinent to be presented in darkened cinema venue
  • Block to screen Ridley Scott’s preferred version of his film ‘Blade Runner’
  • MFA Documentary Media Showcase presents thesis film by first graduating class
  • All early June Block Cinema screenings are free and open to the public

EVANSTON, Ill. --- A dark and image-free night of audio compositions reflecting on the soundscape of the Indian subcontinent; a screening of Ridley Scott’s classic science fiction film “Blade Runner”; and three consecutive evenings of short documentaries produced by the inaugural class of graduates in Northwestern University’s MFA in Documentary Media program are among the special June events that will conclude Block Cinema’s spring 2016 programming. 

Hosted by Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, all of the programs are free and open to the public.


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.


“LISTEN, my heart, to the whisper of the world…..,” 7 p.m. Thursday, June 2, FREE.  “LISTEN, my heart,..” is a collection of audio compositions reflecting on the soundscape of the Indian subcontinent. The works are presented in a darkened cinema hall as a 5.1 surround soundtrack with no projected images. Curators Alexis Bhagat and Laurent Rosati describe the experience as one in which the “cinema screen is a window for shared dreams. Our soundscape program begins high in the Himalayas, at the sacred shrine of Muktinath, with its one hundred springs of water. From Himalayan peaks, the water of the Yamuna flows to the plains.” Artists works will include Michael Northam’s “Mnemonic Debris: Aggregates,” Hildegard Westerkamp’s “Into the Labyrinth,” and Iain Armstrong’s “Annapurna Pastoral: One Hundred Springs.” The program will be preceded by a 6 p.m. reception in the Block Museum lobby. It is presented by the Center for Global Culture and Communication, School of Communication, department of Asian languages and cultures, Asian Studies Graduate Cluster, Screen Cultures Program and the department of radio-television-film. 

A&O Films Presents “Blade Runner,” 7 p.m. Friday, June 3, FREE (Ridley Scott, 1982/2007, United States, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Digital Cinema Package (DCP), 177 minutes). In the noirish Los Angeles of 2019, Detective Rick Deckard searches for dangerous renegade replicants (extremely detailed androids) who wish to prolong their life. Released in the post-“Star Wars” science fiction boom, in which studios were trying to replicate the franchise’s success, “Blade Runner” wasn’t immediately embraced by audiences or critics. In the 34 years since its release, the film has inspired other filmmakers and left an indelible mark on the science fiction film genre. Block Cinema will be screening “The Final Cut,” which is director Ridley Scott’s preferred version of the film, having supervised its 2007 construction.

MFA Documentary Media Showcase, Program 1: Seekers, 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 8, FREE. Northwestern University’s new MFA in Documentary Media Program will present its first annual thesis film showcase June 8-10. During the course of three nights, the inaugural class of 12 graduate students will screen four different selections of engaging short documentaries each evening. Each of the following three MFA programs will be preceded by a 6:30 p.m. reception that is open to the public.

Program 1, “Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow” (Jasmine Huff, 2016). This film provides director and filmmaker Jasmine Huff with a chance to learn about the legacy of her father, James Huff, an important African-American artist living with the effects of a massive stroke. In her quest to piece together her family's story, she employs a collage of filmed conversations, archival footage and animation. “Wise Medicine” (Deborah Libby, 2016). A short documentary exploring the modernization of indigenous healing practices, “Wise Medicine follows a small group of strangers seeking healing knowledge from Shipibo curanderos (indigenous shamans who have the gift of healing both physical and mental illnesses with medicinal plants or trees) at a plant medicine school in Peru. At the Amazonian jungle camp, the initiates are pushed to their limit as they experience firsthand the challenging plant medicine ceremonies they are being trained to facilitate. Meanwhile, in Chicago, a woman named Amara has returned from Peru to open a modern shamanic healing studio where she struggles to find balance during a major life transition. Deborah Libby’s film is a raw and evocative portrait of individuals who choose to look outside of their culture for more meaningful sources of healing when modern medicine fails to meet their needs. “1/80 of Zhang Tianyi” (Shuhan Fan, 2016). When Zhang Tianyi, a 25-year-old Mao Zedong fan, graduates with a law degree from Peking University, his job prospects are dim. He is one of 8 million young Chinese who compete for new jobs in Beijing every year. Rethinking his career choice, he opens a rice noodle restaurant inspired by street food from his native Hunan province. Within a year, he is a millionaire who owns multiple restaurants and has attracted more than half a million social media followers. Director Shuhan Fan uniquely captures the energy and density of modern China through the story of this young entrepreneur. “Emerald Ice” (Jesseca Simmons, 2016). Using only excerpts from her poetry, the docu-fantasy “Emerald Ice” takes the viewer on a journey of the imagination to explore contemporary American poet Diane Wakoski’s fearless meditation on intimacy and mortality. Starting from Wakoski’s kitchen table, director Jesseca Simmons’ cinematic curation drops the audience in the middle of a California orange grove that leads to momentary glimpses of the expansive worlds existing inside this beloved poet, in hopes to give more credence to our own multitudes. The two-hour program will include a 20-minute talk by the Northwestern student filmmakers.

MFA in Documentary Media Showcase, 7 p.m. Thursday, June 9, FREE. Program 2: Accented Cinema. The following student films will be followed by a conversation with the filmmakers and Professor Hamid Naficy, from Northwestern’s department of radio/television/film: “Abuelita Outside(Miasarah Lai, 2016). From the window of her apartment, Maria sings fragmented melodies to the East River. Filmmaker Miasarah Lai returns to the New York City’s Lower East Side to chronicle her grandmother's everyday experiences with Alzheimers and her caregivers. Forgotten histories are parceled out from the few objects of Maria’s past, exploring the memories embodied by her daily routine and playing the rhythms with which she communicates. Maria’s home served as the family’s backbone for 47 years, but rumors of the city selling these housing projects, now coveted real estate, threaten to get “Abuelita Outside.” “Fragments” (Carlos Cova, 2016). Emir Kamenica and his family were among the hundreds of thousands of refugees that fled Bosnia amid armed turmoil more than 20 years ago. Now living in Chicago, Emir revisits his memories, recounting the outbreak of the war and its profound effects on his family’s life. “Seeds” (Brittany Shyne, 2016). An ethnographic portrait of a centennial African-American farm that blends the visual richness of the South to illustrate what it means for generational farmers to have a place called “home.” Using lyrical black and white imagery, the film takes a pensive look at how times are changing, and where hands that have once toiled the soil are now consciously being replaced by industrial apparatuses. “Chosen People” (Qihui Wu, 2016). A subtle meditation on relations between history, memory and identity lensed through a leisurely tour of the inner landscape of a black church and intimate interaction with the churchgoers. The two-hour program will include a 20-minute talk by the Northwestern student filmmakers.

MFA Documentary Media Showcase, Program 3:  Intimate Strangers, 7 p.m. Friday, June 10, FREE. “Big Rapids” (Justin Reifert, 2016). A personal film addressing the abuse of prescription opioids (such as Vicodin and Oxycontin) through director Reifert's 34-year-old brother's struggle with addiction. When his brother is forced to move home with their parents, differing attitudes towards addiction and recovery ignite old tensions and threaten to divide the family. “Friends for Sale” (Rafie Drencheva, 2016). In today’s technology-driven world, you can buy everything online, even your friends. “Friends for Sale” follows filmmaker Drencheva on a personal journey through the growing practice of friendship rental, questioning who uses these services and why and what this says about human interaction in the digital age. “The Dismantled Heart” (Sara Reed, 2016). Reed’s essayistic short film is an experimental quest to battle a kaleidoscope of wounds brought about by the one event she spent her entire childhood running away from -- divorce. It is an offbeat and intimate portrayal of the aftermath of heartbreak. “Our Skin” (João Queiroga, 2016). A late night call takes an unexpected turn as two unlikely strangers gain the courage to be intimate with one another. Between gender, sexuality and post-traumatic stress disorder, their fleeting encounter unveils deeper truths about alienation and the human need to connect. The two-hour program will include a 20-minute talk by the Northwestern student filmmakers.

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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