Thursdays at 7 pm • October 10, 17, and 24; November 7; December 5
Stills from top to bottom: American Promise, Our Children (À perdre la raison), Museum Hours, Let the Fire Burn, and Bastards (Les salauds).
This fall, MMoCA’s Spotlight Cinema will feature Madison premieres of five critically acclaimed and award-winning documentary and feature films. The series, which is curated by Mike King and Tom Yoshikami, screens on selected Thursday 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.
Spotlight Cinema is a program of MMoCA’s education department. The series is generously funded by maiahaus and Venture Investors, LLC.
October 10 · 7 pm
2013, USA, 140 min., HD
Dirs.: Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson
The series kicks off Thursday, October 10 with American Promise. Filmmakers Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson turned the camera on themselves and began documenting their five-year-old son, Idris, and his best friend, Seun, as they started kindergarten at the prestigious Dalton School. Their cameras followed both families for another twelve years as the paths of the two boys diverged—one continued private school while the other pursued a different route through the public education system.
American Promise is an epic and ground-breaking documentary charged with the hope that every child can reach his or her full potential and contribute to a better future for our country. It calls into question commonly held assumptions about educational access and what factors influence academic performance. Stephenson and Brewster deliver a rare, intimate, and emotional portrait of black middle-class family life, humanizing the unique journey of African-American boys as they face the real-life hurdles society poses for young men of color, inside and outside the classroom. (Description from the Sundance Film Festival)
October 17 · 7 pm
Our Children (À perdre la raison)
2012, Belgium/France, 111 min., HD
Dir.: Joachim Lafosse
Cast: Émilie Dequenne, Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup
Thirteen years after her indelible performance in Rosetta, Émilie Dequenne was again awarded Best Actress the Cannes Film Festival for Our Children. She stars as Murielle, whose marriage to Moroccan-born Mounir is put under duress when they move in with Andre, his wealthy adoptive father. Andre’s surface generosity soon proves suffocating, and his closeness with Mounir makes Murielle a pawn in her own family. Based on a harrowing true story, this powerful psychodrama recalls A Woman Under the Influence by way of Gaslight. “Nothing short of revelatory… you’ll be convinced [Dequenne] may be the best European actor of her generation” – Time Out New York.
October 24 · 7 pm
2012, Austria/USA, 107 min., HD
Dir.: Jem Cohen
Cast: Mary Margaret O’Hara, Bobby Sommer, Ela Piplits
This thoroughly modern film from independent cinema icon Jem Cohen unfolds largely amongst the 16th century masterworks hanging in the hushed galleries of Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum. Anne, a Canadian in town to visit her hospitalized cousin, forges an unlikely bond with Johann, a wryly philosophical museum guard. Drawing on his actor’s biographies and freely incorporating documentary interludes, Cohen treats his characters with the reverence usually reserved for the Rembrandts displayed around them, crafting a deeply human, serene and soulful portrait of cross-cultural friendship. “Quietly amazing, sneakily sublime… this movie is rigorously and intensely lifelike, which is to say that it’s also a strange and moving work of art” – A.O. Scott – New York Times. “Rapturous. A film of such intelligence and originality that ‘radical’ seems the only accurate word” – Village Voice.
November 7 · 7 pm
Let the Fire Burn
2013, USA, 95 min, HD
Dir.: Jason Osder
In the astonishingly gripping Let the Fire Burn, first time documentarian Jason Osder crafts a found-footage film that unfurls with the tension of a great thriller. On May 13, 1985, a longtime feud between the city of Philadelphia and the radical black liberation group MOVE came to a deadly climax. By order of local authorities, police dropped military-grade explosives onto a MOVE-occupied row house. TV cameras captured the inferno that quickly escalated and ultimately resulted in the tragic deaths of 11 people (including five children) and the destruction of 61 homes. It was only later discovered that authorities decided to “...let the fire burn.” Using only archival news coverage and interviews, Osder brings to life a tumultuous and largely forgotten clash between government and citizens in modern American history.
December 5 · 7 pm
Bastards (Les salauds)
2013, France, 100 min., HD
Dir.: Claire Denis
Cast: Vincent Lindon, Chiara Mastroianni, Julie Bataille, Michel Subor
Mysterious and enveloping, the latest cinematic puzzle box from French master Claire Denis (Beau Travail, White Material) follows one family’s unraveling at the hand of a wealthy businessman. Loosely inspired by William Faulkner’s Sanctuary and Akira Kurosawa’s The Bad Sleep Well, this labyrinthine descent into the darkest realms of capitalism, crime, and family is impossible to shake off. Shooting digitally for the first time, Denis beautifully brings her signature atmospheric, elliptical style into a new age. “The rarest of cinematic objects – a completely contemporary, disturbingly relevant film noir” – Amy Taubin, Sight and Sound. Official Selection, 2013 Cannes, New York Film Festivals.