Buffalo Film Seminars Announces Fall '09 Lineup

Release Date: August 25, 2009 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The fall lineup for the Buffalo Film Seminars ranges from a 1972 Russian science fiction movie that brings into question the nature of reality to a 1955 French heist film that includes a near-silent, half-hour scene portraying the burglary of a jewelry shop in such incredible detail that the movie was reportedly banned briefly by French authorities.

The films will be shown on Tuesdays, beginning Sept. 1, and hosted by University at Buffalo English professors Diane Christian and Bruce Jackson as part of a class they teach on cinema (English 438). Each screening will begin at 7 p.m., followed by a discussion about the film.

The sessions, which are open to the public, will be held in the Market Arcade Film and Arts Centre, 639 Main Street in downtown Buffalo. Students registered for the class are admitted free. Anyone else can participate by purchasing a ticket at the regular Market Arcade prices. Free parking will be available in the lighted and fenced M&T lot across Washington Street. The theater is a short walk from the Metro Rail's Theater station.

Christian, a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of English, College of Arts and Sciences, says that as usual, this fall's seminars will touch on all the major elements of cinema, including acting, cinematography, directing and writing. Each year, she and Jackson, a SUNY Distinguished Professor and Samuel P. Capen Professor of American Culture in the English department, try to include at least one film that is excellent but lesser-known. This year's lineup includes two such movies.

"We're doing an Iranian film, 'Close-up,' which is actually pretty modern, from 1990. It's a spectacular film," Christian says. "It's just really unusual and absolutely top-notch. We try to do not only wonderful films, but wonderful films that aren't very well-known, even to film buffs.… Another one we're doing that's not well-known at all is 'Werckmeister Harmonies,' which is a strange, mesmerizing film."

The complete seminar schedule, with film descriptions culled from information and reviews on Amazon, IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes and Wikipedia:

• Sept. 1: "Top Hat," 1935, directed by Mark Sandrich. A classic Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musical, this light-hearted romantic comedy features elegant dancing and a wacky story line, with a case of mistaken identity that threatens true love.

• Sept. 8: "High Sierra," 1941, directed by Raoul Walsh. This gangster film adapted from a novel features Humphrey Bogart as Roy Earle, a robber who goes on the run after a heist he masterminds goes sour. Bogart plays a sympathetic character -- a hardened criminal who nonetheless falls in love twice over the course of the film. The movie's extensive location shooting made it remarkable for its time.

• Sept. 15: "Black Narcissus," 1947, directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. In this psychological drama, nuns establishing a convent in the Himalayas end up battling their own demons as they struggle with the sexuality that their remote location and an attractive local British government agent awaken.

• Sept. 22: "Rififi," 1955, directed by Jules Dassin. This French crime thriller directed by Dassin after he was blacklisted from Hollywood tells the fictional story of an incredible jewelry shop burglary committed by a band of criminals including an aging gangster ready to pull one last heist. Considered Dassin's masterpiece, the film includes a scene portraying the crime in intricate detail, shot without dialogue or music.

• Sept. 29: "Akasen chitai/Street of Shame," 1956, directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. This Japanese film focuses on the lives and struggles of individual prostitutes working in Tokyo's red light district, touching upon their dreams, relationships and desires.

• Oct. 6: "Elmer Gantry," 1960, directed by Richard Brooks. A traveling salesman and lay preacher team up to sell religion in small-town America in this Academy Award-winning film. The couple's story takes a dark turn as the salesman's past comes back to haunt him, and ends in tragedy.

• Oct. 13: "Knife in the Water," 1962, directed by Roman Polanski. This intense drama wrought with sexual tension brought Polanski his first Academy Award nomination. The director's first feature-length film, it examines the dark side of human relationships, showcasing envy and deceit in a tale featuring only three characters: a couple out for a day of sailing and a young hitchhiker they pick up on their way out to the lake.

• Oct. 20: "Lolita," 1962, directed by Stanley Kubrick. Adapted from the Vladimir Nabokov novel of the same name, this Oscar-nominated film is part comedy, part drama. It tells the story of Humbert Humbert, a middle-aged professor who falls in love with and engages in a sexual relationship with his landlady's teenage daughter Dolores Haze, nicknamed "Lolita."

• Oct. 27: "Gertrud," 1964, directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer. Through flashbacks and conversations peppered with memories, this film, the last for Danish director Dreyer, explores the love life of a young woman who has a clear vision of how ideal love should look. This film was remarkable for its long takes.

• Nov. 3: "My Night at Maud's," 1969, directed by Eric Rohmer. The protagonist in this Oscar-nominated French film is a devout Catholic who falls in love with a stranger he sees at church. The same night, he meets and spends the night with a seductive acquaintance of an old friend he encounters by chance.

• Nov. 10: "Solaris," 1972, directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. This Russian film explores a crisis aboard a space station orbiting the planet Solaris. The psychologist Kris Kelvin, played by Donatas Banionis, arrives at the space station to find its crew members dead or deeply disturbed psychologically. He discovers that alien intelligence on the planet is capable of reading minds and making memories real, bringing into question the nature of reality.

• Nov. 17: "Night Moves," 1975, directed by Arthur Penn. This detective thriller follows a private detective as a case that begins with a missing girl spirals into a murder-mystery, rife with danger and depravity.

• Nov. 24: "Close-up," 1990, directed by Abbas Kiarostami. This Iranian film is a blend of fiction and documentary, focusing on the story of a man who cons a family into believing that he is a famous filmmaker and that the family will star in his next film. The people involved in the incident act as themselves.

• Dec. 1: "Werckmeister Harmonies," 2000, directed by Bela Tarr. A mysterious circus, including a giant whale and a mysterious prince, descend on a small Hungarian town, wreaking havoc on the town's existing order.

• Dec. 8: "Topsy-Turvy," 1999, directed by Mike Leigh. Recipient of the Academy Awards for best costume design and makeup, this film explores the creative process and conflict between a playwright and composer whose last comic opera was poorly received. Despite the setback, the duo decides to continue its partnership, paving the way for a resounding success.

For more information, go to the Buffalo Film Seminars Web site at http://csac.buffalo.edu/bfs.html.

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