Summer vacation is nearly over. Kids will soon be in school. Adults, and maybe some really smart kids, will go to the BAMPFA to see movies that don’t show up at your local multiplex.
From late August well into November, the Berkeley Art Museum’s movie theater will screen seven new film series, along with continuing ones.
Here are the ne ones that really have me interested:
Looking Back at the British New Wave, September 21–November 30
Yes, you can watch edgy, low-budget European films from the 60s without subtitles. The films include Look Back in Anger, The Entertainer, If . . .
(which was very powerful in 1970, but may be too close to the bone in 21st century America), and Blow-Up; you can read my article on this one.
Jacques Tati: Comedy as Choreography, October 25–November 30, 2019
This French actor/auteur is the closest we’ve had to a silent comic since Chaplin reluctantly talked. He only made five feature films, and this series covers all of them. In four of them he played the rumpled, rarely-speaking Monsieur Hulot, a gentle, decent man tangled in a world of absurd human behavior. As a director, he could make architecture funny.
Out of the Vault: Native American Reelism, September 12–November 14
The second A in BAMPFA stands for Archive, and this three-program series presents films from the BAMPFA vaults. These three programs present multiple films by or about American Original People, all with a panel discussion. I’ve seen one film on the list, and it’s worth catching: The Silent Enemy, a late silent set before the European invasion.
No Regrets: A Celebration of Marlon Riggs, September 19–November 25
I must confess, I have never seen a film by Marlon Riggs, but I know I should. Black and gay, and thus doubly out of the mainstream, he made documentaries about the edges of American society. His best-known works are Black Is . . . Black Ain’t and Tongues Untied. The series also includes Cheryl Dunye’s The Watermelon Woman.
Some other series coming up:
- In Focus: Abbas Kiarostami, August 28–September 25. An extension of the current series Abbas Kiarostami: Life as Art, this time on Wednesday afternoons with lectures.
- War and Peace, September 1–27. The Soviet Union’s epic made a big hit at the BAMPFA (and the Castro) early in the summer. Over the course of next month, you’ll have multiple chances to see all four parts. Read my report.
- Zheng Junli: From Shanghai’s Golden Age to the Cultural Revolution, October 3–November 16. Zheng Junli went from movie star to top director to victim of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. The Archive will screen some of his films.
- Surrealist tendencies, November 6–10. Three programs of weird cinema.
- Berkeley Film Foundation: Celebrating Ten Years of Local Filmmaking, September 12–October 27. This non-profit foundation helps local filmmakers create non-commercial, often political films. This series will include outdoor screenings of This Ain’t No Mouse Music! and Inequality for All.