Church of Film

May 27th, 2015


Presenting the birth of processed screen color! An entire program of early two-strip Technicolor, with the eerie, grand, beautiful color palette of green and red tones! Early color was a cumbersome and expensive process that studios and audiences alike were wary of (color gave them headaches long before 3D). The first part of our program will explore surviving shorts, like DEVIL'S CABARET, and scenes from some of the silents and early talkies that boldly wandered into uncharted territory, like BLACK PIRATE, THE VIKING, DOCTOR X and PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. Part two will bookend the era with two 50 minute features, the first all Technicolor feature, THE TOLL OF THE SEA starring Anna May Wong, and the last of the two-strip features, LEGONG: DANCE OF THE VIRGINS, a haunting love story shot in Bali with an entirely Balinese cast!

MAY 23rd, 2015


Avast ye, a buried treasure! Following his arthouse classic Celine & Julie Go Boating, Jacques Rivette - the most radical director and critic, and the most obscured of the French New Wave - conceived a cycle of fantasy films, structured around feminist theory and Celtic myths about the dueling goddesses of the Sun and Moon. The project collapsed after two films, along with its director, and both films were abandoned to the tomb of cinematic history. But no more! We will present the second of these films, NOROÎT, a radical reinvention and experiment to test the very boundaries and structures of the medium! An icy, postmodern retelling of Thomas Middleton's Revengers Tragedy, NOROÎT follows the schemes of the ghostly revenger Morag (Geraldine Chaplin) as she seeks to undermine her nemesis, the pirate queen Giulia (Bernadette Lafont) in an austere castle in Brittany. NOROÎT is perhaps Rivette's most visually entrancing film, but also his most theoretically difficult. We will discuss Rivette, his designs, and his place in feminist film criticism. Oh, we will also pre-screen some Rivettian shorts, like PARIS S'EN VA and more!

MAY 13th, 2015

THE YOUNG AND THE DAMNED Early Films of Luis Buñuel

A survey of one of the giants of cinema, Luis Buñuel, from his early surrealist silents to his exile in Mexico! Part One will feature rare shorts like Eugene Deslaw's MONTPARNASSE, with a winking cameo from Luis, his grim blending of moralism and the surreal in the faux-documentary LAS HURDES, and a very special treat beyond that! Part Two will present his most celebrated Mexican feature, LOS OLVIDADOS. A relentlessly dark and cynical view of poverty in Mexico City, as young children form into brutal, predatory gangs and terrorize the city -- and each other. The film caused an outrage and was pulled immediately from Mexican theaters, but became an international cause célèbre when poet Octavio Paz enlisted the help of European Surrealists like Andre Breton, Marc Chagall, and Jean Cocteau to get the film entered into Cannes. A rare and legendary piece of cinema! At the North Star Ballroom.

May 6th, 2015

CUBA LIBRE! Films From the Revolution

In celebration of the thawing relationship between Cuba and US, we present two Cuban voices: Santiago Álvarez and Tomás Gutiérrez Alea! Part One features the radical, energetic experimental documentary work of Santiago Alvarez, one of the greatest pioneers in the medium! Featuring a rhythmic, discordant blizzard of stills, footage, newsreels, and pop music, Alvarez's defiant documentary shorts were witty, psychedelic, revolutionary collage works that inspired many across the globe! We will include, among others, his most famous works: NOW!, LBJ, and 79 SPRINGS! Part Two presents Cuba's best known feature film, voted the greatest Latin American film of all time: Tomás Gutiérrez Alea's MEMORIES OF UNDERDEVELOPMENT (1968). A complex and provocative look at the life of a wealthy bourgeois Cuban man following the revolution and the Bay of Pigs. As war seems imminent, as his family and friends flee to the United States, Sergio resigns himself to living in Revolutionary Havana and retreating into bewilderment and introspection. One of the most profound looks at revolutionary change and human adaptation! At the North Star Ballroom.

April 29th, 2015

DEMONS The Films of Toshio Matsumoto

A visionary and a standout even amongst the taboo-challenging directors of the Japanese New Wave, Toshio Matsumoto established himself as a consummate stylist, a pioneer of video art and the experimental short, and the director of a few of the era's most exceptional features. Part One of the program explores Matsumoto's mind-blowing, psychedelic and spacey short and video work. Part Two presents his grim study study of the inescapable nature of evil and the darkness that dwells within man, his controversial anti-Samurai epic DEMONS. Drowning in shadows, a handful of characters try to claw their way out a world of deception, robbery, and murder, all done in the name of so-called honor. But the horror and tragedy compounds, interfuses, and then spirals out of control into a metaphysical cataclysm. Banned in many countries for several reasons (eep!).

April 20th, 2015


Starring Grande Otelo as Macunaima, "a hero with no character," Joaquim Pedro de Andrade's surreal farce is one of the monumental classics of the Brazilian Cinema Novo. Macunaima is born feckless, whiny, and wily in the jungle. A magical transformation turns him into a handsome white man, but does nothing to change his lazy disposition. It does, however, change the way people see him and that makes more than enough difference. An extraordinarily colorful, madcap and surreal social satire that follows Macunaima and his cohorts as they make their way through modern day Brazil, with its revolutionary violence, its sexual liberty, and its mad cannibal (literally…) industrialists! Based on Mario de Andrade's modernist classic novel from 1928.

April 15th, 2015


A showcase of the radical talent that emerged from Communist Hungary's renegade Béla Balázs Studios! Part One will feature short work by Gabor Body, Zoltan Huszarik and other avant-garde giants that emerged from the studio in the 70s. Part Two will present an Italian feature, PRIVATE LIVES PUBLIC VIRTUES, by one of the founders of the studio, Miklos Jancso (The Red & the White, The Round-Up). This film opened in the 1976 Cannes Film Festival and was booed into oblivion, with few stopping to question whether or not Jancso's mad, orgiastic and conspiratorial retelling of the Mayerling Affair was anything more than a nudity-obsessed provocation and a wild, spinning orgy involving an hermaphrodite (?) among, well, just about everything else. Today, perhaps, we can judge anew the merits of this liberating commentary on the hazy mixture of free love, drugs, and revolutionary politics that had engulfed Jancso's generation. Probably not safe for younger audiences... and maybe not safe for anyone.

APRIL 8th, 2015


France's avant-garde Feminist pioneer, one of the first women to direct films, Queen of les bohèmes: Germaine Dulac! Obscured in cinema history, Dulac was a fixture of Paris's radical, liberated avant-garde scene, rubbing elbows with the likes of Artaud and making Surrealist films that broke ground even before Bunuel & Dali. Founder of a feminist journal, a theorist, a thinker, and a critic, she forged new ground in every territory. Part One features a selection of Dulac's Pure Cinema shorts, including DISQUE 957, THEMES & VARIATIONS, and one her crowning achievements, THE SMILING MADAME BEUDET. Part Two features her more legendary piece, THE SEASHELL & THE CLERGYMAN, a collaboration with writer Antonin Artaud that caused a riot in Paris and prefigures Un Chien Andalou in its striking, strange, at times beatiful at time grotesque imagery. Our program ends with her art-deco drunken dream, INVITATION TO A VOYAGE. Bon voyage! At the North Star Ballroom.

APRIL 1st, 2015


The genesis of Yugoslavian art film, the cynical birth of the legendary Black Wave! Part One features short experimental work by some of the movements major movers. Part Two presents AND LOVE HAS VANISHED, the flagship feature of the movement and clarion call that scandalized the film industry. Into Love? Then this is the film for you! But you must be into all aspects of Love and, and sadly one of those aspects is the Love's dissolution (boo hoo sniff sniff). Directed by Aleksandar Petrovic, the main architect and theorist of the Black Wave, who masterfully succeeds in depicting the entire journey of this favorite yet fickle emotion. And the falling in Love part is so drop dead gorgeous and sensual and dreamy that you will be lulled into the deepest denial that anything could break this spell, but, but… Petrovic's film defined the moody and grim voice, the urban cacophony and alienation, the lyricism and sharp social commentary that forged a new era in Yugoslavian cinema. Nominated for the Palme D'Or, and not to be missed!

March 25th, 2015


The dandy of German New Cinema, Werner Schroeter's hyper-stylized, operatic cinema defies categorization. Part One presents two of Schroeter's early avant-garde shorts: AGGRESSION and MARIA CALLAS PORTRAIT. Part Two features one his most strange and intoxicating features, WILLOW SPRINGS. Shot on a shoestring budget in the middle of the Californian desert, Schroeter's American foray follows in a dreamlike trance the murderous North Star Cult, a small commune who have retreated from society to a string of abandoned buildings along the highway. There they lure men in, and sacrifice them. With entrancing desert photographing, and a blend of old pop and blues mixing indiscriminately with opera records, WILLOW SPRINGS is the most haunting, bizarre, and at times the most comical of Schroeter's oeuvre!

March 16th, 2015


A dreamy blend of Russian fairy-tale and Pushkin's "Queen of Spades," THE SCARLET FLOWER is a unique and enchanting telling of the traditional Beauty in the Beast tale. Featuring phantasmagorical photography, beautiful baroque set design, and a haunting folk soundtrack, it stands apart from other film adaptations of the material, even as it occasionally evokes Jean Cocteau and the Czech New Wave. At The Hollywood Theatre!

March 11th, 2015


Part One will feature two shorts, SILENT SNOW DEADLY SNOW (1966), adapted from Conrad Aiken's story, and Jack Clayton's Oscar-winning THE BESPOKE COAT (1956), based on Gogol. Part Two: Made during the celebrated heyday of English social-realist cinema, influenced by Italian Neorealism and the French New Wave, THE PUMPKIN EATER is a brilliantly crafted treatment of angst among the sophisticated metropolitan bourgeoisie. Directed by Jack Clayton (The Innocents, Room at the Top), scripted by Harold Pinter, based on Penelope Mortimer's novel about love, sex, marriage, infidelity, reproduction and parenthood, and all the good and evil inherent in each. Anne Bancroft as the well-kept wife with the unkempt psyche gives the most subtle and sensitive performance of her career, (won best actress at Cannes for it), with Peter Finch as the philandering husband and James Mason as (always) a wonderfully sinister creep. It’s a remarkably honest film, mesmerizing to watch and damn hard to shake off afterward.

March 4th, 2015


KABAM! POW! PLOP! WHIIIZ! A night of ultra-pop, Swinging Paris madness! Your emcee for the evening is French composer, chanteur, and provocateur extraordinaire, Serge Gainsbourg! Part One will whisk your through Serge's music videos, brimming with bizarre video art collages and comic book camp. The centerpiece will be his 28 minute HISTOIRE DE MELODY NELSON video, with Jane Birkin! Part Two presents ANNA (1967), a full-length modern fairy-tale musical busting at the seams with Jacques Demy-style fantasy and color, and starring Anna Karina. Also featuring Marianne Faithfull and Serge himself, who wrote, starred, and composed the entire film! Bonnies bring your Clydes, Clydes your Bonnies! At the North Star Ballroom.

February 26th, 2015

PASTORAL - TO DIE IN THE COUNTRY at the Hollywood Theatre

A deeply personal work by prodigious avant-garde writer and director Shuji Terayama, PASTORAL: TO DIE IN THE COUNTRY is a beautiful, hallucinogenic attempt to recapture his own childhood. But in the midst of his tale of a young boy grappling with his nascent sexuality and struggling with an overprotective mother, the filmmaker attempts to seize control of his own narrative and creation. Can cinema reorder our memories and reinvent our past? An exploration of the powers of film and a Fellini-esque circus of images and poetic reverie, it is one of the most profound and arresting artistic accomplishments of the Japanese New Wave!

February 11th, 2015


Celebrating the cinematic world of Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges! Besides being one of the 20th century's most prodigious and innovative writers, Borges was also a deeply committed cinephile (in spite of being almost entirely blind!). Part One features shorts based on Borges's life and stories, including SPIDERWEB (1975), THE WAIT (1983), and BORGES '75 (1975). Part Two presents Hugo Santiago's INVASION, the lost masterpiece of Argentinian cinema and a film Borges considered one of the crowning achievements of his life. In the fictional city of Aquila, a mysterious group of heroes work night and day to thwart the never-ending attempts of unnamed invaders from breaching the city's gates, from land, sea, air and from within! A chic paranoic thriller following agents with sword and cloth discipline and Samurai-like honor as they make a deadly and doomed effort to protect their modern-day Troy. INVASION was banned and seemingly destroyed after the 1976 coup, but was miraculously and painstakingly restored with the help of brilliant cinematographer Ricardo Aronovich! At the North Star Ballroom

February 4th, 2015

Duvidha - Films by MANI KAUL

Inspired largely by the films of Bresson and Tarkovsky that trickled into India, a small group of filmmakers briefly staged an ambitious attempt to bring arthouse to the land of Bollywood. Leading the charge was the brilliant Mani Kaul, whose works blended poetry, music, Hindu mysticism and theory. This program celebrates the noble and short-lived Indian New Wave! Part One explores Kaul's beautiful, sensual and erotic short film work and documentary with the Nomad Puppeteer (1974), Before My Eyes (1987), and the Cloud Door (1994). Part Two presents Kaul's most celebrated feature, DUVIDHA (1973), an elegant story of a ghost who falls in love with a young bride, and takes the form of her husband while he travels on business. What happens when the woman learns to love the dead more than the living? At the North Star Ballroom.

January 28th, 2015


A beam of light shoots through the darkness and fog, dogs are baying in the distance, a lone figure walks slowly toward freedom. Or another prison. It is the cinema of Georges Franju! An outcast in the era of the French New Wave, Franju defied both the new order and the old guard. His cinema was delicate, understated in its surreality, passionate in its longing. This program celebrates French cinema's dark horse and his myth. Part One explores the subtle, moody and brilliant shorts that established Franju's name, Hotel Des Invalides (1952), Les Poussières (1954) and La Premier Nuit (1958). Part Two is his rarely seen THERESE DESQUEYROUX, his fourth collaboration with composer Maurice Jarre (a breathtaking series of films that included Eyes Without a Face and Judex). Therese explores the dark story of a woman who would give anything to obtain her freewill in a world ruled by the customs of men and money, even destroy herself... even as she doubts the value of what she struggles for. Therese Desqueyroux both challenged fashionable existentialism in its portrayal of a woman trapped, and redeemed it by showing her suffering for the goal of self-determination. An atmospheric and powerful lost masterpiece of cinema! At the North Star Ballroom

January 19th, 2015

Son of the White Mare at the Hollywood Theatre

Marcell Jankovic's second animated feature is psychedelic bath, a swirling trip of Hungarian folklore, Sigmund Freud, and anxieties, dreams and fears about industry and technology. The White Mare's sons may be the only ones who can close the lid on Pandora's Box once it's been opened under the dragon tree, at the gates of Hell...! A kaleidoscopic monument to Hungarian animation that may short-circuit brains, so be sure to check them at the door!

January 14th, 2015


Madness from the Canadian Archives! Once upon a time, The National Film Board of Canada issued the mandate for filmmakers to "interpret Canada for Canadians," and funded a vast number of documentary and experimental filmmakers to meet the challenge. For many of them, in the midst of a wildly experimental climate, that mandate was worded vaguely enough to interpret very unconventional visions and perceptions of their native land... such as they might have been under the influence of the, err, 60s (wink, wink). Part One of our program features a slew of experimental shorts, by boy genius Arthur Lipsett, Norman McLaren, Ishu Patel and Joyce Wieland! Part Two features Quebecois filmmaker Jean Beaudin's hallucinogenic masterwork, VERTIGE (1969), a bizarre pseudo documentary that imitates an acid trip as it explores the drugged-out hippie club scene in Montreal. We'll follow it with Arthur Lipsett's N-ZONE (1970), one of his brilliant collage mash-ups that is a dizzying, out-of-body whirl through Canadian media and pop culture!

January 7th, 2015

BERLIN UNDERGROUND: German Punk & Fashion

Presenting Berlin in the late 70s and early 80s, through a glass darkly -- several glasses of whiskey. The first part of our program features BERLIN NOW (1985), a rare document of the punk underground, featuring inset video pieces with Matador, Blixa Bargeld, Einsturzende Neubauten, and a half dozen other bands from Germany's punk/post punk scene! Part Two will be TICKET OF NO RETURN (1979), by feminist art, fashion and film genius Ulrike Ottinger, who constructed a carnivalesque madcap of lesbianism, feminine rebellion, couture and alcoholism on a wild bar-hop through the seedy underbelly of the fractured German capital. A woman only described as "She" (played by model Tabea Blumenschein) leaves her life of luxury and privilege in La Rotunda, and purchases a one-way ticket to Berlin to pursue her life's goal: a drinking binge to end them all. Merry-making and self-destruction at its finest and best-dressed! Featuring Eddie Constantine, Magdalena Montezuma, a young Nina Hagen, and the a who's who of the German avant-garde -- it's a towering achievement of renegade film art! At the North Star Ballroom.

December 15th, 2014


Based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, THE SNOW QUEEN is a surreal and sinister film focusing mainly on the young girl Kerttu’s journey to rescue her brother Kai from the evil Snow Queen. Kerttu travels through beautiful and hostile lands, meeting various strange and threatening characters on the way – befriended and helped by some, waylaid and trapped by others. A rarely seen landmark of Finnish cinema, and a wintry fantasy epic!

December 10th, 2014


December 3rd, 2014


November 24th, 2014


Adapted from the folk tales of Nikolai Gogol, in which a young man, Piotr, makes a deal with the satanic demon Basavriuk in order to achieve the wealth he will need to marry his beloved. THE EVE OF IVAN KUPALA is one of Soviet cinema’s greatest secrets; a film abounding in images of extraordinary strangeness and intoxicating potency. Director Yuri Ilyenko had already established himself at the head of Russia’s avant-garde by photographing Sergei Parajanov’s classic Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors. But this rarely seen masterpiece, with its bewildering and fantastical episodes, is a piece of arthouse legend!

November 19th, 2014


A collection of rare Belgian and Dutch Surrealist experimental shorts, followed by a feature by Harry Kumel.

November 12, 2014


November 5th, 2014


Mavka, a water nymph, falls hopelessly in love with Lukash, a country youth. But their happiness is brief when their love disturbs the relationship between the world of mortals and that of divinities. MAVKA is a poetic tragedy directed by the brilliant Yuri Illyenko (The Eve of Ivan Kupala), and based on the works of Ukranian writer and feminist pioneer Lesya Ukrainka. A late masterpiece of the Ukranian poetic cinema movement that began with Sergei Paradjanov's Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (a collaboration with Illyenko), every shot in MAVKA is so beautifully composed that it could be framed and hung in a museum!

October 30, 2014


October 23rd, 2014


Often described as the ‘last’ film of the Czech New Wave, Juraj Herz’s delirious tale of terror is a fantastical and surreal phantasmagoria of dark desires and splintered minds. Morgiana, based on a short story by Aleksandr Grin, (the ‘Russian Poe’), is the story of two sisters, Klára and Viktoria who live a life of decadent excess stranded somewhere between the mid-19th and early 20th century. Klára is blonde and beautiful, whilst Viktoria is ugly, sadistic, bursting with hate and jealousy – and hatches a terrible revenge by slowly poisoning her more popular sister. As the poison takes hold, Klára begins to lose grip on her sanity… Part fairy-tale, part Gothic horror, Morgiana is a full-blown hallucinatory experience from the director of The Cremator.

October 22, 2014


Mexican producer and long-time Jodorowsky collaborator Juan Lopez Moctezuma (Alucarda) borrowed the cast and crew of El Topo to craft his first feature, THE MANSION OF MADNESS. Loosely based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe, Moctezuma's film is a strange and surreal spectacle that owes much to his relationship to the avant-garde Panic Theater and European cult art cinema. When a journalist seeks the secluded castle-asylum of the radical Dr. Tarr to investigate his methods of curing madness, he insteads finds the asylum may be run by the patients... Misunderstood as a run of the mill B exploitation-horror film at the time of its release, MANSION OF MADNESS never found the right audience or achieved the cult status it deserved, unlike its Midnight Movie contemporaries. But that doesn't mean we can't appreciate is baroque-psychedelic madness now! PRESCREEN: ARTHOUSE POE! Three artsy classic Poe shorts!

October 15th, 2014


Czechoslovakian New Wave hero Juraj Herz brings his brand of super fun surrealistic imagery into the horror genre with THE CREMATOR. Karl Kopfrkingl works at a crematorium in Prague, in the 30’s, during German occupation. Because of his beliefs in Tibetan religion, he believes he is not just cremating the dead, but liberating the souls of the departed. A Nazi convinces Karl he has German blood in him and that his wife and children are Jewish. so he nuts up and goes on a rampage to kill his family (but, er, Dali Lama inspired rampage?). He wants to save the world by turning it into one big crematorium in this disturbing (yet comical) story inspired by Nazi atrocities (not comical). This cult classic of black comedy horror was banned after it’s premier for 20 years — cuz if it ain’t been banned, we ain’t showin' it! PRESCREEN: Yugoslavian Horror Shorts: Masque of the Red Death & The Ward!

October 8, 2014


October 1, 2014


September 24th, 2014


Jacqueline, has gone missing. As she searches for clues to her disappearance, she finds herself closer and closer to a shadowy group, the Palladists—followers of an ancient Satanic cult. Producer Val Lewton's chilling film is one of the most enigmatic riddles of 1940s Hollywood -- a film that broke so many taboos that studio heads didn't know what to think: Satanism, Lesbianism, suicide... and yet it is not shock cinema, but rather a somber and majestic cinematic poem about a woman's descent into self-destruction, and the solace that some may find in death. PRESCREEN: Shorts of Maya Deren

September 17th, 2014


September 10th, 2014


Produced toward the end of WW2, in the twilight of Nazi Germany, OPFERGANG (aka THE GREAT SACRIFICE) was a solemn melodrama intended as a piece of escapism for a war-weary and gloomy public as it acknowledged inevitable defeat. Set in the German countryside, it's the story of Albrecht, a nobleman who, although married, falls helplessly in love for his neighbor, an adventurous and free-spirited Swede named Äls. But his feverish passion is troubled by a sad truth - that Äls is terminally ill. A masterpiece of ill-fated love and death, heavy with ponderous Nietzschean undertones, OPFERGANG is a haunted film of rare and exceptional beauty. An incredible piece of film art and film history, it is very seldom seen! PRESCREEN: Experimental animation in the Weimar era! Rare shorts by Walter Ruttmann, Lotte Reniger, and Oscar Fischinger!

September 3rd, 2014


August 27th, 2014


The world of late Chilean director Raoul Ruiz was an unstable and shifting mixture of dreams, conspiracies, games, coincidences and symbols. Perhaps his most widely regarded film, THE HYPOTHESIS OF THE STOLEN PAINTING is a re-imagining of Pierre Klossowski's novel The Baphomet, and develops the complex and intertangled story of six 19th century paintings. As the viewer wanders through elaborate tableaux-vivants of the paintings and notices fascinating idiosyncrasies and errors, a strange and horrible historical conspiracy coded into the works begins to emerge -- and perhaps the truth lies hidden in an unknown, stolen seventh painting that serves as the missing link! As a primer for Ruiz's amazing puzzle, this screening will be preceded by one of Ruiz's best short films from the period, DOG'S DIALOGUE. It's gonna be fun, frightening, dreamy, and mind-pretzling, so don't miss it! PRESCREEN: We'll open an hour early at 8pm for a prescreen of Ruiz's shorts, ZIG-ZAG and VOYAGE OF A HAND!

August 20th, 2014