As the quiet and stifling North Carolina summer gives way to longer shadows and darkening leaves, the year-round residential film-lovers look to area campuses for fresh and diverse film offerings, often free of charge or nominally priced.
Townie cinephiles are hidden beneficiaries of the largesse of well-funded film faculties at local educational institutions. However, it takes a good deal of work to keep up with the offerings, as the campus programmers are usually forbidden by distributors to advertise their films. One way to keep up with movies being shown on campuses and at non-traditional venues is to subscribe to a listserv operated by Hank Okazaki, the indispensable programmer of Duke's Screen/Society (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org). And, of course, here at the Independent, we try to keep tabs on the fascinating and sometimes quite obscure films on view at local campuses.
This fall finds increased programming activity at all three of the Triangle's major universities. In the Witherspoon Student Center on the N.C. State campus, the energetic film studies faculty--which operates out of the English department--has laid plans for a two-semester program of representative films of the 1970s, screening on Thurdays. September is musical month, an appropriate choice since so many of the New Hollywood directors were, at heart, aesthetic reactionaries. This Thursday, Sept. 15, the series will continue with Nashville, Robert Altman's 1975 career topper. Later this month, we'll see Scorsese's New York, New York and Allan Arkush's Rock 'n' Roll High School, a movie that gets more essential now that the Ramones have been effectively canonized in recent years. For more info on the 1970s series, go to www.ncsu.edu/chass/film.
In addition to the program of 1970s films, N.C. State will continue its regular programming of more recent and mainstream fare, also at Witherspoon. In addition to the de rigueur Adam Sandler flick and other second-run hits, there will be encore presentations of two smart docs, Rize and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. Also scheduled is Visioning Tibet, an hour-long documentary about a San Francisco ophthalmologist's quest to cure the vision of a people who literally live too close to the sun. See www.ncsu.edu/cinema for a full schedule.
Over at Duke, the Screen/Society is increasingly looking like a full-time bazaar of world cinema, open for business every Sunday, Monday and Wednesday evening. A trio of films from neo-neo-realist and humanitarian Gianni Amelio will headline the sub-series called Italy: The Fourth Generation, while this year's French and Francophone series will feature two North African films. Six Latin American countries will be on display in Latin American Cinema, including such film backwaters as Colombia and Chile. Meanwhile, the Screen/Society's longstanding commitment to New East Asian Cinema will continue throughout the fall, with the sexually explicit Wayward Cloud, the very latest from Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-Liang (What Time Is It There?, Vive L'Amor), being one of the highlights of a diverse series.
Furthermore, in a welcome departure from the cultural divisions of the programming, there will also be several films devoted to the theme of, well, Cinematic Representations of Present and Future Developments in Bio-Technology. For short, they're calling it Genes and Screens, and two films in particular stand out in this gene pool. First, there's the must-see Robot Stories, Greg Pak's critically lauded but minimally distributed collection of stories about love, philosophy and robots. Then there's Journey of Man, Clive Maltby's documentary reconstruction of the human diaspora from a single African 60,000 years ago. A panel discussion among faculty members will follow this screening. Read more about Screen/Society offerings at www.duke.edu/web/film/screensociety.
Separately from the Screen/Society, the undergraduate-run Freewater Presentations has a screening schedule set for Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Along with a mixture of second-run films ranging from Revenge of the Sith to Gunner Palace, they'll also be showing prints of Vertigo and, in a nod to the 1960s heyday of campus film societies, Godard's Masculin-Feminin, his 1966 celebration of the "children of Marx and Coca-Cola." Freewater's schedule is at www.duke.edu/web/movies.
On the UNC campus, most of the Carolina Union offerings are of the second-run mainstream variety, though there are some oddities. For instance, the weekend of Sept. 16 and 17 will see the odd double bill of the would-be Queen Latifah franchise Beauty Shop with Zana Briskie and Ross Kauffman's Oscar-winning Born into Brothels. See carolinaunion.unc.edu/happening/movies.html for the schedule.
Meanwhile, the Triangle's funkiest underground programming is also happening on the UNC campus, courtesy of ScreenArts and the communications department. Programmer Niku Arbabi has several politically charged events on the docket, including the marvelously and, one hopes, prophetically titled Films for a New Democracy. Set to run on Sept. 22, the program features 12 short films about contemporary issues from New York to Iowa to Baghdad.
In October we'll see The Gadabout Traveling Film Festival, in which these van-travelling filmmakers show two dozen short films from all over the world. Lesbian directors will seize the bullhorn in November with a program called, simply, Dykes. Presented by Women In The Director's Chair, this evening of entertainment will present work from lesbian filmmakers infused with "introspection, emotion and humor." For more on ScreenArts offerings: www.unc.edu/screenarts.