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October Films: China’s Golden Age, Hollywood’s Poverty Row, Frantz Fanon, and more


“A Golden Age of Chinese Cinema, 1947–52”:
Marking UC Berkeley’s acquisition of the largest, most comprehensive Chinese film studies collection in North America, the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive is showing seven features from Chinese cinema’s “Second Golden Age” (1947-1952), including the original version of the wistful classic Spring in a Small Town and a Korean War-era propaganda satire, Window to America, with Chinese actors in whiteface. The screenings coincide with an academic conference, “Shadow History: Archive and Intermediality in Chinese Cinema.” At BAMPFA, September 30-October 21.

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Metaphors on Vision Book Launch: Taking up an entire issue of Film Culture magazine in 1963, Stan Brakhage’s illuminating manifesto-cum-journal—one of the great documents of American cinema—has been republished in a facsimile edition along with Brakhage’s initial editorial deletions and notes by the critic P. Adams Sitney, who edited the original. To mark the event, all thirty-one of Brakhage’s “Songs,” made in the mid-1960s on 8mm film, will be screened in their original format. At Anthology Film Archives, October 3 – October 12.

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The Florida Project: Sean Baker’s latest walk on the wild side, in which a rambunctious six-year-old child and her scarcely more mature mother balance on the edge of destruction, living hand-to-mouth in a dead-end motel on the outskirts of Disney World. Featuring a surprisingly warm performance by Willem Dafoe as the motel manager, the movie is the most poignant expression yet of Baker’s downbeat humanism. At Angelika Film Center, opening October 5.

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“Black Skin, White Masks: Cinema Inspired by Frantz Fanon”: Marking the fiftieth anniversary of the American publication of Fanon’s 1952 book, one of the key political texts of the late Sixties, this series includes a variety of features, shorts, and documentaries. Among them are such crucial anti-colonialist films as Ousmane Sembène’s Black Girl and Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers (both 1966); two film-essays, Isaac Julien’s Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask (1995) and Göran Olsson’s Concerning Violence (2014); and a pair of insufficiently known psychodramas, Chameleon Street (1989) by and with Wendell B. Harris Jr. and Pierre Chenal’s 1951 version of Native Son, starring Richard Wright himself as Bigger Thomas. At BAMcinematek, October 18-26.

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“Strange Illusions: Poverty Row Classics Preserved by UCLA”: Ultra-low-budget B movies were the independent cinema of Golden Age Hollywood. A dozen vintage genre pictures are being shown, among them the superb Bela Lugosi vehicle White Zombie (1932) and three movies directed by the Prince of Poverty Row, Edgar G. Ulmer: the venereal-disease scare-film Damaged Lives (1932); Ulmer’s version of Hamlet in a mental hospital, Strange Illusion (1945); and his blatantly anti-capitalist Citizen Kane knock-off, Ruthless (1948), co-written by blacklistee Alvah Bessie. At the Museum of Modern Art, October 19–​28.

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“From Vault to Screen: Czech National Film Archive”: All newly restored, these five late silent films and early talkies attest to the originality of Czech cinema. There are a pair of movies by Gustav Machatý, From Saturday to Sunday (1931) and his once notorious Ecstasy (1932), with the young Hedy Lamarr, as well as a feature called On the Sunny Side (1933), partially written by Roman Jakobson, and as an added bonus, the founding work of the Czech New Wave, Miloš Forman’s Black Peter (1963). At the National Gallery (Washington DC), October 21–29.

 

Category: Film