The lack of female directors in the film industry isn’t exactly a new phenomenon, but with the rise of movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp in the past year, this gender gap has been highlighted now more than ever– just take Natalie Portman’s presentation of the Best Director award at this year’s Golden Globes as an example. Nitehawk Cinema and Metrograph, two local movie theaters, are also recognizing this disparity with a series of film screenings focusing exclusively on female directors.
Dirty Little Billy
Thursday March 9, 9:30 pm at Nitehawk: $16
Legends and lore of the Old West have been distorted so horrendously for modern entertainment purposes that what most people know about Billy the Kid they’ve learned from The Wild Wild West (arguably Will Smith’s greatest cinematic/symphonic achievement ever) and a National Geographic Channel reenactment where the infamous, down-n’dirty, sharp-shootin’ gunslinger is portrayed by a male-frickin’-model.
Harlan County, U.S.A.
Friday February 17 through Wednesday February 22 at The Metrograph: $15
Lately we’e seen some pretty intense and protracted protest movements fighting it out against the seemingly impossible-to-topple Powers That Be, and in some cases actually succeeding in their effort (or lasting much longer than anyone could have guessed).
Flashback to 1974, Southeastern Kentucky: a group of coalminers and their families organized against the Eastover Coal Company– one of those Coal Country corporate machines that own whole towns and everything in it. If you want to hear more about what it was like to be a director embedded in such a massive strike, be sure to go tonight at 7 pm for a special Q+A with the filmmaker Barbara Kopple. Because this film takes place in Appalachia, it would be absolutely criminal to proceed without a banjo, so the night includes a live performance by Appalachian musician Jack Morris, whose father David Morris was featured in the film’s soundtrack.
Thursday September 8, 7:45 pm at Metrograph: $15
This one’s been held over at the Metrograph again and it looks like this is finally, actually, literally the last time you can catch Spa Night within the stylish confines of the Lower East Side’s newest art house theater and perhaps the only ciné in the whole wide city with a concession stand that looks like it was designed by a serial killer. You’ll find that Spa Night is replete with that very same understated but stylish weirdness. It’s a quiet, crawling film fraught by teeth-gritting tension so overwhelming you get the feeling everything’s about to come crashing down if you breathe too loudly.
Wild Combination: a Portrait of Arthur Russell
Thursday August 18, 9:30 pm at the Metrograph:$15
It seems like the perfect moment to revisit this 2008 documentary about Arthur Russell, the eccentric experimental musician whose disco dance records are seeing a serious resurgence more than 20 years after his death– what with a sampled homage to Russell’s “Answers Me” on Kanye’s new one, Life of Pablo, and Eric Copeland’s “self-described Arthur Russell-influenced album” Black Bubblegum.
Wild Combination: a Portrait of Arthur Russell reflects on the late musician’s wide ranging talent as a classically-trained cellist, steeped in traditional Indian music, who had a knack for meditative dance tracks and even a bit of rock music under his belt from his time in a power pop group called the Necessaries.
Tonight, a new documentary about the life and death of a legendary Lower East Side arcade, Chinatown Fair, will be screened at The Metrograph, kicking off The Lost Arcade‘s first theatrical run. We first told you about the film– the passion project of Kurt Vincent (director) and Irene Chin (producer) who raised money through a Kickstarter campaign– when it premiered at the NYC DOC festival last fall. To celebrate the theatrical arrival of The Lost Arcade, we’ve got exclusives from the filmmakers: a clip from the doc (see above) and shots taken inside the otherworldly Chinatown Fair by photographer Chris Bernabeo.
The Lower East Side’s new cinephile paradise is joining the city’s summer tradition of (mostly free) outdoor film screenings. Next Tuesday, Metrograph will be showing The Wizard of Oz (the classic one, not that J-Franks nonsense) in Seward Park, at Essex Street. As Metrograph knows, half the pleasure of going to the cinema is to gorge yourself on snacks, so there will be complimentary popcorn for movie-goers to munch on while they watch Dorothy follow the yellow brick road.
Tuesday, June 21 (7 pm) and Sunday June 26 (7:30 pm) at Spectacle Theater: $5
For six months, documentary filmmaker Wang Bing embedded himself in a tiny rural village, Xiyangtang, in China’s Yunnan province, following the lives of three sisters all under the age of 10, orphaned, and living under crushing poverty. Their mother has died and their father, who occasionally pops into their lives, but never long enough to see if they’re even meeting their basic nutritional needs, has gone to the city to work. The family represents some of the major problems for China’s rural residents– an extreme lack of resources that is leveled unevenly by women, and therefore children as well, when men leave to find work in urban areas (China is one of the few places in the world where the suicide rate for women surpasses that of men, and many of the suicides are related to death by fertilizer poisoning).
I Am An Animal
Wednesday June 8 at Union Docs: $10
We knew that the last event held by the No Filter Screening Series– which spotlighted the polarizing and always irreverent Reverend Al Sharpton at his most bombastic, big-bellied, 1980s self in Big Al– would be a tough act to follow. But one of the few figures who could hold even a birthday candle to Sharpton’s fiery diction and billowing mane would have to be Ingrid Newkirk. As the founder of PETA, she might just be one of the most controversial activists of our time.
Best in Show
Friday, May 27, 7:30 pm at Fort Greene Park: FREE
To promote the impending opening of the first NYC Alamo Drafthouse in Downtown Brooklyn, the boozy Austin-based cinema (and direct competitor of our beloved Nitehawk, we might add) is hosting three free screenings at Fort Greene Park starting this week. They’re all family-friendly, for sure (which means you’ll have to get your R-rated full-frontal and cigarette-smoking kicks elsewhere), but actually only two of the screenings are worth going to– that is, if you have a dignified hair left on your body. You’re guaranteed to literally never get laid again if you go see the third screening, Finding Nemo– but if you’re willing to take that risk anyway, it’s happening Friday, June 10, 7:30 pm to 10:30 pm, and I wish you the best of luck.
Rooftop Films Premiere
Wednesday May 18 through August 2016
The summer al-fresco screening series turns 20 years old this season, which officially makes Rooftop Films a millennial– meaning they’re addicted to their phones, underemployed, over-entitled, and why don’t they just grow up already and chain themselves to a cubicle desk and support the only real man in this race Donald Trump? Did that sound curmudgeonly enough to come from the desk of David Brooks or something? I figure the only way to drive the olds out of a universally beloved series such as Rooftop Films is to convince them either that it will somehow induce diabetic reactions and/or edema or that, like Snapchat, it’s something that only Millennials would understand.
Couldn’t get enough of Los Sures, the time capsule documentary of life in Puerto Rican Williamsburg back in 1984? You weren’t alone. The film, originally slated to run a week at Metrograph, the Lower East Side’s new arthouse film mecca, grossed $25,000 its first week and was extended for a second week. Playing mostly full houses, it eventually netted a holy-moly $60,000.