Autumn 2017 Schedule

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Nelson Pereira dos Santos: Barren Lives

CINEMAtech continues March 31 with a landmark work of Brazilian cinema.

Widely cited as the film that helped launch Cinema Novo, Barren Lives stands as one of Pereira’s most celebrated films. Based on the novel by Graciliano Ramos, the film follows an itinerant family and their dog as they travel across the parched, pitiless landscape of the sertão in Northeast Brazil and eke out a meager living. Opting for a naked, unfiltered lens and the use of natural lighting, the director offers an unsparing portrait of grinding poverty through a series of striking formal maneuvers. Though set in 1941, two decades prior to the film’s production, Barren Lives resonated deeply with a contemporary situation in which little had changed for the region’s struggling agrarian workers. It is a work of considerable effect, achieved through limited means. —MoMA

Vidas secas (Barren Lives). 1963. Brazil. Directed by Nelson Pereira dos Santos. In Portuguese; English subtitles. 100 min.

March 31, 2017 at 7.00 p.m.
Library Auditorium
Montana Tech
1300 W Park St
Butte, MT 59701

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Haile Gerima: Bush Mama

CINEMAtech continues with a pioneering work that emerged from the LA Rebellion movement of the mid-1970s: Haile Gerima’s relentless and uncompromising BUSH MAMA (1979).

Dorothy is a woman who hears voices — nothing intelligible, just a headful of kaleidoscopic noise. These sounds both insulate and plague her as she wanders numbly through Haile Gerima’s “Bush Mama,” a film about ghetto life with a Los Angeles setting and a forcefulness that transcends its specific locale.

“Bush Mama” is fiery, furious, overflowing with rhetoric and slightly out of breath. The Ethiopian-born Mr. Gerima made the film as his thesis project at the University of California at Los Angeles, with a low budget and a lot of audacity. Its rough edges … and polemical urgency mark it as an especially passionate early effort. —New York Times

March 7, 2017 at 7.00 p.m.
Library Auditorium
Montana Tech
1300 W Park St
Butte, MT 59701

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Souleymane Cissé: Yeelen

CINEMAtech continues with a classic of African cinema, Souleymane Cissé’s mysterious and fantastical “Yeelen” (1987).

“[Yeelen] is a masterwork of metaphysical realism. Cissé presents a thirteenth-century legend seemingly from the perspective of its characters, for whom the supernatural realm, the domain of divine powers realized concretely on earth, is demonstrable, evident, and visible. His perspective, however, is political: the underlying subject of the story—concerning a shaman’s mortal pursuit of his son, who is endowed with similar powers—is the abuse of power and the price of resistance, however legitimate. The climactic scene offers a stunningly simple yet apocalyptic use of special effects that suggests that the magic of our own time is artistic and cinematic, and that the site of the colossal battles of our own time would be, in essence, cultural.” —Richard Brody

February 17, 2017 at 7.00 p.m.
Library Auditorium
Montana Tech
1300 W Park St
Butte, MT 59701

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Peter Watkins: Punishment Park

For CINEMAtech’s first screening of the Trump era, we present one of the most controversial films ever made.

“Disturbing and undeniably powerful.” —Santa Barbara Independent

“This exemplary piece of agit-prop cinema retains all of its crackling energy and ability to provoke.” —Premiere

“Peter Watkins is a remarkable director, whose visionary films need to be far better known: this stupendous, earth-scorching missive is one of his very finest.” —The Telegraph (UK)

“Fascinating, gut-wrenching and thought-provoking filmmaking.” —Time Out (London)

1970. THE WAR in Vietnam is escalating. President Nixon has decided on a secret bombing campaign of Cambodia. There is massive public protest in the United States and elsewhere. Nixon declares a state of national emergency, and – we presuppose in the film – activates the 1950 Internal Security Act (the McCarran Act), which authorizes Federal authorities, without reference to Congress, to detain persons judged to be “a risk to internal security”.

In a desert zone in southwestern California, not far from the tents where a civilian tribunal are passing sentence on Group 638, Group 637 (mostly university students) find themselves in the Bear Mountain National Punishment Park, and discover the rules of the ‘game’ they are forced to undergo as part of the alternative they have chosen in lieu of confinement in a penitentiary. Group 637 have been promised liberty if they evade pursuing law enforcement officers and reach the American flag posted 53 miles away across the mountains, within three days. Meanwhile, in the tribunal tent, Group 638 – assumed guilty before tried – endeavour in vain to argue their case for resisting the war in Vietnam. While they argue, amidst harassment by the members of the tribunal, the exhausted Group 637 – dehydrated by exposure to temperatures of 110 degrees Fahrenheit – have voted to split into three subgroups: those for a forced escape out of the Park, those who have given up, and those who are determined to reach the flag …

January 24, 2017 at 7.00 p.m.
Library Auditorium
Montana Tech
1300 W Park St
Butte, MT 59701

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Gillo Pontecorvo: The Battle of Algiers

The CINEMAtech film series continues with a 50th anniversary screening of one of the most important political films of all time.

Banned in France, 1965

The Battle of Algiers, by Gillo Pontecorvo, vividly re-creates a key year in the tumultuous Algerian struggle for independence from the occupying French in the 1950s. As violence escalates on both sides, children shoot soldiers at point-blank range, women plant bombs in cafés, and French soldiers resort to torture to break the will of the insurgents. Shot on the streets of Algiers in documentary style, the film is a case study in modern warfare, with its terrorist attacks and the brutal techniques used to combat them. Pontecorvo’s tour de force has astonishing relevance today. CRITERION

Golden Lion, Venice Film Festival

Nominated for three Academy Awards:
Best Screenplay
Best Director
Best Foreign Language Film

Ranked sixth in Empire magazine’s “The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema.”

Other awards:

The City of Venice Cinema Prize (1966)
The International Critics Award (1966)
The City of Imola Prize (1966)
The Italian Silver Ribbon Prize
The Ajace Prize of the Cinema d’Essai (1967)
The Italian Golden Asphodel (1966)
Diosa de Plata at the Acapulco Film Festival (1966)
The Golden Grolla (1966)
The Riccione Prize (1966)
Best Film of 1967 by Cuban critics
The United Churches of America Prize (1967)

Italy
1966
121 minutes
Black and White
1.85:1
French, Arabic

Kaneto Shindo: Kuroneko

“Hauntingly lovely.”
New York Times

“The classic tale of spectral revenge.”
Horror News

In this poetic and atmospheric horror fable, set in a village in war-torn medieval Japan, a malevolent spirit has been ripping out the throats of itinerant samurai. When a military hero is sent to dispatch the unseen force, he finds that he must struggle with his own personal demons as well. From Kaneto Shindo, director of the terror classic Onibaba, Kuroneko (Black Cat) is a spectacularly eerie twilight tale with a shocking feminist angle, evoked through ghostly special effects and exquisite cinematography. —CRITERION

October 25, 2016 at 7.00 p.m.
Library Auditorium
Montana Tech
1300 W Park St
Butte, MT 59701

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Selected Bibliography:

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dir. Kaneto Shindo
1968
99 minutes
Black and White
2.35:1
Japanese

Terence Davies: Distant Voices, Still Lives

“Stunning stylized. Fiercely emotional. A one of a kind film that speaks straight to the heart.”
The Boston Globe

“Davies is one of the most original stylists in the contemporary cinema.”
The New Yorker

“A musical kaleidoscope of memory.”
The New York Post

The British director Terence Davies conjures a crucial decade and a half—from the Second World War through the nineteen-fifties—in the life of the fictionalized Davies family, in a working-class neighborhood in Liverpool. A boy and two girls grow up under the wrathful despotism of a violent father (Pete Postlethwaite) and become part of an ever-tightening web of friends and extended family. With an unfailing eye for place, décor, costume, and gesture, the director glides his camera through tangles of memories to evoke joys and horrors with a similar sense of wonder. In effect, the movie is an autobiographical musical, with the singing of pop tunes and traditional songs in homes and bars standing in for unspeakable intimacies. Davies shows that, for all its brutality, constraint, and frustration, the pressurized little society offered him a schooling in sensibility, thanks to a cast of characters whose minor distinctions evoke a world of exquisite differences. The actors’ performances have a controlled yet passionate expressivity to match—especially in the case of the sisters (Angela Walsh and Lorraine Ashbourne) and their friends, the floridly sassy Micky (Debi Jones) and the grievously tyrannized Jingles (Marie Jelliman), whose glances and inflections suggest whole chapters of a novel. Released in 1988. [The New Yorker]

September 13, 2016 at 7.00 p.m.
Library Auditorium
Montana Tech
1300 W Park St
Butte, MT 59701

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Selected Bibliography:

DVSL

Distant Voices, Still Lives
Terence Davies
United Kingdon
1988
85 minutes
Color
1.85:1
English

Ousmane Sembène: Black Girl

“An astonishing movie—so ferocious, so haunting, and so unlike anything we’d ever seen.”
—Martin Scorsese

“The greatest of all African filmmakers.”
Film Comment

“A film rich with symbolism and complexities that are essentially reactions to, and analysis of, the cultural legacy of colonialism.”
Shadow & Act

The CINEMAtech Film Series concludes its Spring 2016 season with Ousmane Sembène’s Black Girl (La Noire de…) a landmark film of African cinema.

Working as a governess for a wealthy French family, a young Senegalese woman (Mbissine Therese Diop) accompanies her charges on a vacation to the French Riviera, where her white mistress (Anne-Marie Jelinek) suddenly expects her to do the work of a common maid. This racially charged drama from Senegalese writer-director is widely recognized as one of the seminal works of African cinema.

April 26, 2016 at 7.00 p.m.
Library Auditorium
Montana Tech
1300 W Park St
Butte, MT 59701

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Primary Reading:

Selected Bibliography:

Black Girl

Black Girl
Ousmane Sembène
Senegal
1966
65 minutes
Black and White
1.33:1
French