There's no shortage of options at multiplexes and arthouses, and some of the upcoming releases look mighty promising. I'm particularly eager to see The School of Rock (Oct.3), a collaboration between director Richard Linklater (Slacker, Waking Life), writer Mike White (Chuck and Buck, The Good Girl), and actor Jack Black. But there's a whole other universe of film-going options--besides the first-run theaters--in the form of the Triangle's various film societies. Because these are so-called "non-theatrical" releases, advertising for these films is restricted. Therefore, it's important to know they're there, and to seek them out accordingly.
In advance of next week's Fall Guide preview, here's a survey of some of this fall's special programming highlights. This isn't definitive, so be sure to check out the Web sites listed herein.
This Thursday, Sept. 11, those who wish to cinematically observe the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks can go to the N.C. State University campus at 7 p.m., to view In Memoriam: New York City 9/11/01. If you're in need of a pick-me-up afterward, the summer's biggest smash, Finding Nemo, will play at 9:30. Another September highlight at
Witherspoon is the multi-night run of Cedric Klapisch's L'Auberge Espagnole, a comedy about international grad students sharing an overcrowded apartment in Barcelona. This film begins on Sept. 18. Info about programming at N.C. State can be found at www.ncsu.edu/cinema.
On Sunday, Sept. 14, Cinema Inc., the Triangle's oldest film society, will kick off its 38th season with Tom Tykwer's Run, Lola, Run, the energetic and entertaining film that made a Euro-star out of Franka Potente. At press time, season subscriptions to Cinema Inc. were still available. After 38 years and allowing for inflation you still can't beat it with a stick: 12 movies for $20. For more information, visit www.cinema-inc.org.
On the Duke campus, the Screen Society is continuing its penchant for screening films that tackle some of the thorniest geopolitical debates in the world. Two films about Algeria will screen this month, including the three-hour Chronicle of the Years of Embers, the Mohamed Lakhdar-Hamina Palm d'Or winner from 1975. This film will be shown Sept. 22. For more info about the Screen Society, consult www.duke.edu/web/film/screensociety. A word of caution: The venues can vary!
On Saturday, Sept. 20, the Triangle's first Asian Film Festival will swing into gear with an all-day event at UNC law school. True to the non-traditional venue, the festival sponsor is the N.C. branch of the National Association of Asian-American Professionals (NAAAP). The festival will feature work by such Tar Heel filmmakers as Wes Kim and Khang Mai, as well as numerous works by Walter Boholst. For more info, check www.modelminority.com/naaap.
Also this month, Duke's two undergraduate film societies begin another year of eclectic programming. Quadflix , which specializes in recent mainstream hits, will screen The Pianist Sept. 13 and 14. Meanwhile, the programming highlights for the artier Freewater Presentations will include a second go-round for Alexander Sokurov's one-shot masterpiece Russian Ark and several Peter Sellers films, including Being There (Sept. 16) and Dr. Strangelove (Sept. 30). Information about Duke film programming is online at www.duke. edu/web/duu/freewaterpres.htm, but at press time it hadn't been updated.
In October, Freewater will screen several films about getting lost in the mists of the East. There's Seven Years in Tibet (Sept. 7), Martin Scorsese's Kundun (Sept. 21), Reincarnation of Khensur Rinpoche (Sept. 28), and, winding up on Nov. 4, The Saltmen of Tibet. A difference kind of getting lost will be seen on Oct. 23 and 24, with the screening of Lost in La Mancha. This would-be cult film never found its audience last summer, and now viewers will have another chance to see this chronicle of Terry Gilliam's disappearing movie set and other calamities.
Over at N.C. State's Witherspoon Theater , the College of Humanities and Arts and Sciences will continue a semester-long series devoted to the African-American youth experience, with a screening of Just Another Girl on the I.R.T., including an introduction by faculty member and occasional Indy contributor Maria Pramaggiore.
If there's any hole in the regular art-house programming in this area, it's the dearth of Asian films. However, Duke's Screen Society will help redress that problem with several recent flicks from the Pacific rim. Most felicitously, Oct. 5 will see the only local screening of an experimental video by the extra-hip Japanese auteur "Beat" Takeshi Kitano. Called Dolls, this film finds its inspiration in the traditional bunraku doll theater. (Let's hope none of these Barbies' eyes gets impaled by chopsticks.) Another programming coup this month at the Screen Society is a newly restored director's cut of Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Cercle Rouge (1970), complete with 40 minutes of the proverbial never-before-seen footage. The influence of Melville (Bob le Flambeur, Le Samorai) has been felt far and wide, particularly in Asia, and screening of Le Cercle Rouge is one of the most exciting cinephile events of the fall.
Halloween falls on a Friday this fall and there are some special frights in store all month long. Cinema Inc. has Murnau's 1922 Weimar classic, Nosferatu slated for Oct. 12 while Retrofantasma at the Carolina Theater will devote the first half of its Oct. 24 slot to an all-new sub-set series, the beautifully titled Escapism Film Festival. Walter Hill's 1979 actioner The Warriors will kick off the evening, before the second bill returns to horror territory with John Carpenter's 1988 frighter They Live! Then, on Halloween itself, Duke will screen a triple bill of Psycho, Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter and Exorcist.
The big film event this month is called simply the Happening . Slated for Nov. 14-16, it's sponsored by the Center for Documentary Studies and features a weekend of documentaries, workshops and conversations with the people who make them. Every year there's a guest of honor, and this year's visitor will be Hannah Weyer, maker of films about the immigrant experience. For more information, visit cds.aas.duke.edu/film/2003happening.
Once again scooping up underseen gems, Duke's Screen Society will be showing the Kurdish filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi's Marooned in Iraq on Nov. 12. (Those who've seen Ghobadi's last film, the stunning A Time for Drunken Horses will be ready to follow him anywhere.) In what's shaping up to be a political month, Cinema Inc. in Raleigh will be showing Point of Order, a documentary about the Joseph McCarthy-Joseph Welch smackdown in 1954. It's a great film, though it helps if you're rooting for Mr. "Have you no sense of decency" Welch, who is revealed to be a bit of a street fighter underneath the snooty Boston-Mandarin accent.
On Nov. 8 and 9, Freewater will be providing a refresher course on the Matrices 1 and 2, just in time for the third and final installment, Matrix Revolutions.
Most of the films series wind up in early December so the kiddies can take their finals. The rest of us, of course, will be hit with the year-end flood of Oscar bait. However, the screenings will go on at Cinema-Inc., which will be showing an early Ang Lee crowd-pleaser, Eat Drink Man Woman on Dec. 14.