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MMoCA Reveals Rooftop Cinema Summer Film Slate
MMoCA Reveals Rooftop Cinema
Summer Film Slate
Fridays in June • 9:30-10:45 pm
MADISON, WI— This June, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA) returns film to the Rooftop Sculpture Garden for the 12th season of Rooftop Cinema. With many in the country ringing alarm bells over a variety of issues, this year’s Rooftop Cinema presents a series of films and videos that explore the theme of dystopian futures. This season, the program will pivot from showcasing avant-garde short films and videos to highlighting five provocative programs (which include three feature films) of lesser-known gems of foreign and American independent cinema.
In addition to the seating provided at Rooftop Cinema, visitors can make themselves comfortable by bring a blanket or camp chair, to enjoy an evening of films and videos under the stars. The season begins on June 2 with René Laloux’s visually innovative and deeply political animated feature Fantastic Planet (1973), and continues every Friday night in June. On June 9 MMoCA presents Kamikaze ‘89 (1982), which stars legendary German director Ranier Werner Fassbinder in a madcap romp through cyber-punk Berlin. On June 16, three works will be screened from Leslie Thornton’s bizarre and wonderful Peggy and Fred cycle (1985-89), which follows two children as they journey through a post-apocalyptic landscape to create their own world. Lizzie Borden’s “radical feminist wonder” about competing feminist radio stations broadcasting in a post-capitalist New York, Born in Flames (1983), follows on June 23. The series will conclude on June 30 with two films. First, Chris Marker’s seminal short La Jetée (1962), a haunting yet deeply romantic tale of a survivor forced underground after World War III, all told in gorgeous still images and voiceover. This will be followed by 663114 (2011) addressing the impact on cycles of life following man-made catastrophes.
Films begin at sundown, approximately 9:30 pm. Camp chairs and blankets are welcome. Rooftop Cinema is free for MMoCA members/$7 for non-members; admission begins at the lobby reception desk one hour before screen time. Screenings relocate to the lecture hall if rain is predicted.
Rooftop Cinema is a program of MMoCA’s education department and is curated by Tom Yoshikami, longtime MMoCA guest film curator and Museum Educator for College and Public Programs at the Tang Teaching Museum. Technical support is provided by Tanner Engbretsen. Rooftop Cinema is generously funded by maiahaus and Venture Investors, LLC.
June 2: Fantastic Planet (René Laloux, France, 1973, digital, 72 min.)
June 9: Kamikaze ‘89 (Wolf Gremm, Germany, 1982, digital, 106 min.)
June 16: Peggy and Fred Times Three(Leslie Thornton, US, 1985-1989, digital, 53 min.)
June 23: Born in Flames (Lizzie Borden, 1983, US, digital, 80 min.)
June 30: La Jetée (Chris Marker, 1962, France, digital, 29 min.) and
663114 (Isamu Hirabayashi, 2011, Japan, digital, 8 min.)
René Laloux, France, 1973, digital, 72 min.
In French with English subtitles.
Nothing else has ever looked or felt like director René Laloux’s animated marvel Fantastic Planet, a politically minded and visually inventive work of science fiction. The film is set on a distant planet called Ygam, where enslaved humans (Oms) are the playthings of giant blue native inhabitants (Draags). After Terr, kept as a pet since infancy, escapes from his gigantic child captor, he is swept up by a band of radical fellow Oms who are resisting the Draags’ oppression and violence. With its eerie, coolly surreal cutout animation by Roland Topor; brilliant psychedelic jazz score by Alain Goraguer; and wondrous creatures and landscapes, this Cannes-awarded 1973 counterculture classic is a perennially compelling statement against conformity and violence.
Wolf Gremm, Germany, 1982, digital, 106 min.
In German with English subtitles.
A madcap romp through the West Berlin cyber-punk scene, Kamikaze ‘89 imagines a totalitarian society ruled by a corporation called The Combine, which controls the media and suppresses all murmurs of dissent or unhappiness. Legendary German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s final acting role casts him as an alcoholic police lieutenant—clad in a leopard-skin suit, no less—who is tasked with foiling a bomb threat. Adapted by Wolf Gremm and Robert Katz from Per Wahlöö’s 1964 dystopian novel “Murder on the 31st Floor,” Kamikaze ‘89 features legendary spaghetti Western icon Franco Nero, and Fassbinder muse Brigitte Mira. “Kamikaze ’89 plays like the art-damaged, New German Cinema answer to Hollywood’s paranoid thrillers of the 70s” (BAMcinématek).
Peggy and Fred Times Three
Thornton's magnum opus, this ongoing and open-ended serial follows its two improvisatory protagonists, children “raised by technology,” through a surreal landscape where pop culture and history, science and science fiction blur. “Highly idiosyncratic and deeply creepy, this series as a whole—which includes passages in both film and video, sometimes shown concurrently—represents the most exciting recent work in the American avant-garde, a saga that raises questions about everything while making everything seem very strange” (Jonathan Rosenbaum).
Peggy and Fred in Hell: The Prologue
Leslie Thornton, US, 1985, digital, 20 min.
Peggy and Fred in Hell is one of the strangest cinematic artifacts of the last 20 years, revealing the abuses of history and innocence in the face of catastrophe, as it chronicles two small children journeying through a post-apocalyptic landscape to create their own world. Breaking genre restrictions, Thornton uses improvisation, planted quotes, archival footage and formless timeframes to confront the viewer's preconceptions of cause and effect.
"At its most distinctive, as in the endless and eternal Peggy and Fred in Hell cycle, Thornton’s work wanders past the medium’s limits and finds the medium’s origins” (Wexner Center).
Peggy and Fred and Pete
Leslie Thornton, US, 1988, digital, 22 min.
Peggy and Fred meet up with Peter the Penguin, to once again make their way through the fragmentary remains of 20th Century American culture. They fashion a tumultuous, arbitrary world that teeters dangerously on the edge of nonsense and oblivion. The makings are familiar: technologies, accoutrements, and stories of our culture, leveled against an endless and disorderly horizon. As a commentary on the state of cultural messages and meaning, Thornton’s work outlines a “poetics of dystopia” that has all the ambient charm of a bomb shelter, preserving random cultural elements for future generations.
Peggy and Fred in Kansas
Leslie Thornton, US, 1989, digital, 11 min.
Peggy and Fred, sole inhabitants of post-apocalyptic Earth, weather a prairie twister and scavenge for sense and sustenance amid the ruined devices of a ghosted culture. The improvised and playful dialogue of the children provides a key to understanding the tape; their distracted sense of make-believe floats between realities, between acting their parts and doing what they want—patching together identities that, like fidgeting children, refuse to stand still.
Born in Flames
Lizzie Borden, 1983, US, digital, 80 min.
Set in a post-capitalist dystopian New York - ten years after the Second American Revolution—Lizzie Borden’s comic fantasy made on a shoestring budget over several years early ‘80s has been hailed as a ”A radical feminist wonder” (Variety). When Adelaide Norris, the black radical founder of the Woman’s Army, is mysteriously killed, a diverse coalition of women—across all lines of race, class, and sexual preference - emerges to blow the System apart.
Chris Marker, 1962, France, digital, 29 min.
In French and German with English subtitles.
One of the most influential and radical science-fiction films ever made, Chris Marker’s La Jetée is at once a post-apocalyptic tale of a survivor who is forced underground and becomes mixed up in a time-travel experiment, and a deeply romantic meditation on time and memory. Told entirely through hundreds of still images, La Jetée is a thrilling and unforgettable story of being trapped in memory and history. The film served as inspiration to Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys (1995).
Isamu Hirabayashi, 2011, Japan, digital, 8 min.
Cycles of animal life are timeless . . . until they are not. In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and other man-made catastrophes like it, how many countless untold stories pass by unheeded?
Hours at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art are Tuesday–Thursday (noon–5 pm); Friday (noon–8 pm); Saturday (10 am–8 pm); and Sunday (noon–5 pm). The museum is closed on Mondays.
Admission to exhibitions at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art is free of charge. Housed in a soaring, Cesar Pelli-designed building on State Street, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art offers exhibitions and education programs that engage people in modern and contemporary art. The four galleries offer changing exhibitions that feature established and emerging artists. The Rooftop Sculpture Garden provides an urban oasis with an incredible view. The award-winning Museum Store offers contemporary American craft and fine jewelry, while Fresco, the museum’s rooftop restaurant, features local, seasonal ingredients in fine American cuisine.
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