Conscientious Projections Presents HANNAH ARENDTIn late January, Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism sold out on Amazon. Unfolding over 576 pages, the book chronicles the rise of ant-Semitism in 1800s Europe and analyzes the imperialist empires of the early 20th century, drawing connections across various authoritarian states. Given the size, subject matter, and academic approach, such a surge in sales initially appears unlikely, but is in fact explicable amid growing concerns that President Trump is pushing the United States in the direction of totalitarianism. But perhaps Arendt’s most lasting contribution to popular culture is the phrase “banality of evil,” coined in her book about the trial of SS-officer Adolf Eichmann. It wasn’t sociopathy or fanaticism, Arendt argued, that led Eichmann to commit crimes against humanity; rather, it was professional obligation and the desire to belong and identify with a group – a wholly normal kind of conformity and stupidity. Margarethe von Trotta’s biopic, Hannah Arendt, focuses on Arendt’s coverage of the trial in 1961, where she was initially surprised to find Eichmann to be mediocre and unremarkable, not evil. Samantha Hill, a postdoctoral fellow at Bard College’s Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities and Associate Faculty at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, will join us for a discussion of totalitarianism and this “banality of evil.”
Spotlight on Syria
This March marks six years since the start of the Syrian Civil War, which has killed as many as half a million people and displaced nearly 11 million more (a number equal to half the country’s population). The war has also sent shockwaves into neighboring countries, most notably Iraq, and still shows few promising signs of deescalation.
We mark the occasion with the screening of two documentaries that help shine a light on the displacement of Syrians. Following overwhelming demand in January, on March 15 we will screen AFTER SPRING, which follows two refugee families residing in Zaatari refugee camp deciding whether to resettle once again or remain in the camp, which aid workers fight to keep running. Directors Ellen Martinez and Steph Ching will be present for a Q&A after the screening.Additionally, our partnership with MUBI will continue with our joint presentation of FIRE AT SEA, Gianfranco Rosi’s Oscar-nominated documentary and winner of the Golden Bear at last year’s Berlin Film Festival, on March 23. Shot on the island of Lampedusa, the first refuge for those fleeing Syria by sea, the film contrasts the daily lives of a young boy who resides on the island and a doctor who treats arriving migrants. The understated contrasts reveals how close each of us can be to tragedy without noticing, calling into question our peculiar relationship to a massive humanitarian crisis while simultaneously reveling in the potential of the next generation and commending the heroism of those involved.
Kirsten Johnson’s work as a cinematographer on films including Citizenfour, The Invisible War, Darfur Now, The Oath, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, No Woman No Cry, has taken her around the world, introduced her to new cultures, and given her first-hand glimpses at genocide and war. Cameraperson, made up of unused footage she shot for these films and others, as well as footage of her and her family. Rotating among several stories, the fragments nevertheless cohere into a breathtaking memoir that also challenges our understanding of the relationships between documentaries and reality. One of 2016’s essential films, and a tear-jerking affirmation of the beauty of life itself.
Videology Essentials – MEEK’S CUTOFF
The cinema of Kelly Reichardt is languid and reserved. The quietude – conflict suppressed largely to characters’ internal states, rarely bubbling above the surface, and even then, never resulting in violence or raised voices – makes it easy to miss how radical they are, and Meek’s Cutoff is indeed one of the most radical American films of the post-classical era. Devoid of expansive gunfights and the frontier drama of yesteryear’s westerns, Meek’s Cutoff instead turns its eye to the virtues of femininity so often suppressed by the trappings of the western genre.Reichardt’s film fully embodies the perspective of its women, who watch the men make decisions in long-shot, their conversation just audible on the soundtrack. Her use of the now-antiquated 1.33:1 aspect ratio mimics their sight, cut-off by their bonnets as well as their neglected position in society, while also recalling and revising classical westerns. As the camera gazes at the empty landscape, the colonial undertakings of the protagonists become increasingly explicit, building up to a remarkable understated ending.
MEMORIES OF UNDERDEVELOPMENTWidely regarded as the best Cuban film of all time yet only occasionally screened in the U.S., we present a new restoration of Memories of Underdevelopment! Its protagonist, Sergio (Sergio Correri) is depicted in the opening scenes as happy to see off his wife and parents and friends; they are fleeing Cuba in the wake of the Bay of Pigs invasion for America. He is skeptical of the ability of the Revolution to make a real change in Cuban society, observing that it is only the latest passion for an ever-changing society.
Have A Drink On MeSaturday, March 11, FANTASTIC MR. FOX! Round these parts, we don’t take kindly to cider poachers…so luckily, a bottle of Bean’s Alcoholic Cider is included in your ticket! And the next week, drink along with THELMA & LOUISE, an exhilarating, full-throttle adventure hailed as one of the most iconic road movies of all time! Each ticket includes a shot of Wild Turkey, a Coke back, and a Wild Turkey mini bottle. See the film that got both actresses Oscar nominations for Best Actress. Back by popular demand: Friday, March 24: FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS + booze. “We were sitting in the Pogo Lounge of the Beverly Heights Hotel, in the patio section of course, drinking Singapore Slings with mescal on the side…” Thursday, March 30: IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE with a Singapore Sling! Friday, March 31: WITHNAIL & I drink-along (details TBA)!
Brooklyn Horror Film Festival
On March 4, Videology launches a new partnership with the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival highlighting the latest and greatest in cult horror films. The first entry: THE DEVIL’S CANDY.
The weekend’s of March 17-18 and 24-25, celebrate Quentin Tarantino’s exploitation homage epic Kill Bill by watching it with two of its primary influences! Toshiya Fujita’s Lady Snowblood is perhaps the single biggest influence on the films, with Tarantino purportedly making cast & crew watch during break. Besides sharing similar plots and protagonists, Vol. 1‘s climactic showdown at the masked party is lifted directly from the earlier film, and its use of stills and illustrations also finds form in the Japanese anime segments of Tarantino’s benefit. Francois Truffaut’s The Bride Wore Black also has detectable similarities, despite Quentin Tarantino insists he has not seen it. Most notable are the remarkably similar scenes in which the brides cross out names of victims in their notebook.
PLUS: MARIE ANTOINETTE with pastries for La Durée, DOG DAY AFTERNOON, EVE’S BAYOU, BRING IT ON, and an advance screening of AFTER THE STORM, and a screening of a PLANET EARTH episode with a live score!