Published August 23, 2021
While UB is returning to mostly in-person classes for the fall semester, that’s not happening for the Buffalo Film Seminars, as the popular series will continue with online screenings and Zoom discussions this semester.
Before the pandemic, the series, hosted by UB faculty members Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian, had taken place in the Dipson Amherst Theatre, across Main Street from the UB South Campus. And while the theater is now fully open to the public, the move came too late for the film series. At least for the fall.
The problem, Jackson says, was university logistics. “When we had to pick a location for UB registration several months ago, theaters were not yet fully open and we didn’t know if they would be in the fall,” he recalls. If the series had been scheduled for the theater and capacity remained an issue, there likely only would have been space for students registered for the English department’s “Great Directors” class. And making a late change to the theater if capacity had increased would have caused scheduling conflicts for some students.
And furthermore, “we’d significantly increased the class size for the streaming version because we didn’t have to save seats for everyone else,” Jackson says.
But, he notes encouragingly, “spring is coming!”
The weekly discussions for the 43rd edition of the series will take place via Zoom at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays from Aug. 31 through Nov. 30.
Goldenrod handouts for the coming week’s film will be posted to the series’ website on the Saturday before each Tuesday discussion. Those notices will include links to Vimeo introductions to the film by Jackson and Christian, and to the Tuesday Zoom discussions.
All the films are available on Criterion and/or Amazon Prime — indicated by P and C after the title in the list below. Some of the Amazon Prime films are free with membership; some require a small additional fee.
Seven of the films — the listings are in bold — are available free to anyone with a UB email address via the UB Library’s Kanopy or Swank portals. To access them, go to https://library.buffalo.edu/findmaterials/databases/, enter Kanopy or Swank, then enter the title of the film. They are all available now.
Criterion and Prime both permit one-month trial memberships. Individuals with UB email accounts can watch the films on Sept. 7, 14 and 21 on Criterion; the films on Nov. 9, 16, 23 and 30 on Prime; and the rest through the UB Library.
The fall 2021 schedule, with descriptions culled from the IMDb online movie database and other sources:
Aug. 31: “Pandora’s Box,” 1929, directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst, C (Kanopy). The semester usually begins with a classic film from the pre-sound era, and the series opener this semester is no exception. This silent film chronicles the rise and inevitable fall of an amoral but naive young woman, played by Louise Brooks, “whose insouciant eroticism inspires lust and violence in those around her,” according to IMDb.
Sept. 7: “The Grand Illusion,” 1937, directed by Jean Renoir, P C. During World War I, two French soldiers are captured and taken to a German prisoner-of-war camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are eventually sent to a seemingly inescapable fortress.
Sept. 14: “Odd Man Out,” 1947, directed by Carol Reed, P C. A wounded Irish nationalist leader attempts to evade police following a failed robbery in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Sept. 21: “The Burmese Harp,” 1956, directed by Kon Ichikawa, C. In the closing days of World War II, a conscience-driven Japanese soldier who fails to get his countrymen to surrender adopts the lifestyle of a Buddhist monk.
Sept. 28: “The Music Room,” 1958, directed by Satyajit Ray, C (Kanopy). The film depicts the end days of a decadent zamindar (landlord) in Bengal and his efforts to uphold his family prestige, even when faced with economic adversity.
Oct. 5: “Andrey Rublyov” 1966, directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, C (Kanopy). The life, times and afflictions of the 15th-century Russian iconographer St. Andrei Rublev.
Oct. 12: “Barry Lyndon,” 1975, directed by Stanley Kubrick, P (Swank). An Irish rogue wins the heart of a rich widow and assumes her dead husband’s aristocratic position in 18th-century England.
Oct. 19: “Chinatown,” 1974, directed by Roman Polanski, P C (Swank). A private detective hired to expose an adulterer finds himself caught up in a web of deceit, corruption and murder.
Oct. 26: “The Mission,” 1986, directed by Roland Joffé, P (Swank). Eighteenth-century Spanish Jesuits try to protect a remote South American tribe in danger of falling under the rule of pro-slavery Portugal.
Nov. 2: “Charlie Wilson’s War,” 2007, directed by Mike Nichols, P (Swank). A drama based on Texas congressman Charlie Wilson’s covert dealings in Afghanistan, where his efforts to assist rebels in their war with the Soviets have some unforeseen and long-reaching effects.
Nov. 9: “A Separation,” 2011, directed by Asghar Farhadi, P. A married couple is faced with a difficult decision: improve the life of their child by moving to another country, or stay in Iran and look after a deteriorating parent who has Alzheimer’s disease.
Nov. 16: “The Assassin,” 2015, directed by Hsiao-Hsien Hou, P. A female assassin receives a dangerous mission to kill a political leader in eighth-century China.
Nov. 23: “Nomadland,” 2020, directed by Chloé Zhao, P. After losing everything in the Great Recession, a woman in her 60s embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.
Nov. 30: “The Princess Bride,” 1987, directed by Rob Reiner, P. While home sick in bed, a young boy’s grandfather reads him the story of a farm boy-turned-pirate who encounters numerous obstacles, enemies and allies in his quest to be reunited with his true love.