Spotlight Cinema

Wednesdays at 7 pm • September 17; October 1, 15, 22, and 29; November 5, 12, and 19

Stills from top to bottom: Only Lovers Left Alive, We Are the Best, Venus in Fur, Jealousy (La Jalouise), Eastern Boys, The Strange Little Cat, Force Majeure, and Zero Motivation.                                                                     .

This fall, MMoCA’s Spotlight Cinema will feature Madison premieres of eight critically acclaimed and award-winning documentary and narrative feature films. The series, which is curated by Mike King and Tom Yoshikami, screens on selected Wednesday evenings through the fall; see schedule below. Admission is free for MMoCA members and $7 per screening for the general public. Ticket sales begin at 6:30 pm in the museum’s lobby; films screen at 7:00 pm in the lecture hall.

Spotlight Cinema is a program of MMoCA's education department. The series is generously funded by maiahaus; Venture Investors, LLC; and an anonymous donor; with media sponsorship from Footlights and Yelp Madison.


2014 Schedule

Check back soon to see the 2015 Schedule

September 17 · 7 pm
Only Lovers Left Alive
2013, USA, 123 min., HD
Dir.: Jim Jarmusch
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt, Jeffrey Wright

The series kicks off Wednesday, September 17 with Only Lovers Left AliveJim Jarmusch’s take on the vampire genre is just as poetic and engrossing as you might hope and imagine. The celebrated director of Stranger than Paradise, Down By Law, Dead Man, and Ghost Dog, among others, sets this epic love story against the romantic desolation of Detroit and Tangier, wherein centuries-old lovers Adam and Eve (played by Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton), reunite only to have their debauched idyll disrupted by Eve’s uncontrollable younger sister (Mia Wasikowska). Jarmusch’s trademark wry humor is on full display in what Todd McCarty calls, “The filmmaker’s best work in years… physically and musically, the film is lovely.” 

See the trailer.

October 1 · 7 pm
We Are the Best!
2014, Sweden, 102 min., HD
Dir.: Lukas Moodysson
Cast: Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin, Liv LeMoyne

Bullied at school and ignored at home, three teenage girls decide to form a punk band, despite not having any instruments and being told that punk is dead. Set in early ’80s Stockholm, Director Lukas Moodysson’s (Show Me Love, Together) sweet but never cloying celebration of DIY culture and youthful rebellion will make you want to yell right along with the girls as they perform their lone song, “Hate the Sport.” “We Are the Best! is the rare film about childhood friendship that seems to take place inside the world of children, not filtered through an adult scrim of nostalgia” (Dana Stevens, Slate). 

See the trailer.

October 15 · 7 pm
Venus in Fur
2013, France, 96 min., HD
Dir.: Roman Polanski
Cast: Emmanuelle Seigner, Mathieu Amalric

This mischievous, minimalist comedy from master auteur Roman Polanski (Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby) is a twisty, head-spinning delight.  At the end of a day of fruitless auditions for his new play, a theater director is bewitched by Vanda, a mysterious actress who knows every line.  The two embark on a feverish, all-night collaboration that blurs the boundaries between theater and reality.  With only two actors and a single set, Polanski crafts a nimble, self-reflexive duologue that you’ll continue untangling long after the credits roll.

See the trailer.

October 22 · 7 pm
Jealousy (La Jalouise)
2013, France, 77 min., HD
Dir.: Philippe Garrel
Cast: Louis Garrel, Anna Mouglalis, Rebecca Convenant, Olga Milshtein

One of the major French filmmakers of the post-New Wave, Philippe Garrel has been making intimate and personal films for nearly fifty years. Jealousy, his most recent film, may also be his most accessible. Shot in lustrous, widescreen black and white by the great Willy Kurant (Godard’s Masculin Feminin), the film opens with a man (played by Garrel’s son) leaving his wife and daughter and, in a series of brief conversations, observed gestures, chance encounters and impulsive acts, tells the story of the relationships that flounder and thrive in the wake of this decision. “Mr. Garrel’s method goes beyond realism to achieve a kind of psychological intimacy that is rare and, in its low-key, meandering way, tremendously exciting” (The New York Times). Voted best undistributed film of 2013 in Film Comment’s year-end poll.

See the trailer.

October 29 · 7 pm
Eastern Boys
2013, France, 128 min., HD
Dir.: Robin Campillo
Cast: Olivier Rabourdin, Kirill Emelyanov, Danil Vorobyev, Edea Dareque

Rare is the thriller that takes its audience in truly unexpected directions. But the latest film from Robin Campillo (writer and editor of The Class and Time Out) is an erotically charged and mesmerizing nail-biter that does just that. The film begins with a pickup: Daniel, a discreet man in his early fifties, eyes Marek, a boyishly handsome Ukrainian, at the Gare du Nord train station in Paris, and they agree Marek will come to Daniel’s apartment the next day. But when a different boy, clearly underage, shows up instead, Daniel barely has time to make sense of the situation before an entire gang arrives and upends his world. By turns a frightening home invasion drama, a profound love story, and a tense thriller, Eastern Boys also deftly tackles European immigration. “Fascinating. Sleek, shape-shifting and intermittently stunning” (Variety).

See the trailer.

November 5 · 7 pm
The Strange Little Cat
2013, Germany, 72 min., HD
Dir.: Ramon Zürcher
Cast: Jenny Schily, Anjorka Strechel, Mia Kasalo, Luk Pfaff

Although the plot of Ramon Zürcher’s debut feature is incredibly simple - a middle-class extended family gather for dinner at their Berlin flat - the film is anything but. To watch The Strange Little Cat is to experience something of a puzzle: every sound, gesture, and movement seem to be somehow connected. But how? Zürcher describes his film as “a horror film without any horror,” but it’s also unequivocally an art film that is playful, engrossing, and ultimately very funny. The New York Times’ description of the film as “Radically disorienting [and] disarmingly odd” highlights its singularity in today’s film landscape. But if you’re looking for cinematic comparisons, try Indiewire’s take, in which they hail it as, “Tati meets Bresson. A masterwork from a filmmaker still at school. The most ‘alive’ piece of cinema I‘ve seen in years.” 

See the trailer.

November 12 · 7 pm
Force Majeure
2014, Sweden/Denmark/Norway, 118 min., HD
Dir.: Ruben Östlund
Cast: Brady Corbey, Jakob Granqvist, Kristofer Hivju, Lisa Loven Kongsli

This incisive and witty morality play was among the best-reviewed films at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Jury Prize.  Ensconced in a plush resort in the French Alps, a family’s ski trip is ruptured by an avalanche, the aftermath sending a seemingly perfect couple into a traumatized tailspin. Penetrating, provocative, and caustically funny, Force Majeure is a surefire conversation-starter.

See the trailer.

November 19 · 7 pm
Zero Motivation
2014, Israel, 100 min., HD
Dir.: Talya Lavie
Cast: Dana Ivgy, Nelly Tagar, Shani Klein, Heli Twito 

Girls meets Catch-22, this absurdist war comedy won the Best Narrative Feature Award at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.  Far from the front lines, a listless, paper-pushing squadron of young, female Israeli soldiers mismanages the army’s human resources department with almost military dedication, spending all their time on anything but their actual jobs: mostly sex, pranks, and video games.  Zero Motivation simultaneously satirizes office bureaucracy while celebrating the friendships that can only blossom from shared ennui and a common enemy: the boss. Presented as a special sneak preview prior to the film’s theatrical run. 

See the trailer.