The Lobster: Q&A with Screenwriter/Director Yorgos Lanthimos and Actress Rachel Weisz
By Ron Gordner, DC Film Society Member
The Lobster (Ireland/United Kingdom/Greece/France/Netherlands, 2015) was the winner of the Jury Prize at the 2015 Cannes film Festival. As in his earlier films Dogtooth, and ALPS, Yorgos Lanthimos connects with bizarre human and societal rules and behavior but at the same time captures the pathos of pain and love. Guests go to a secluded hotel to find partners or soulmates. If they fail to couple within 45 days, they are turned into the animal of their choice. Some of the hapless visitors include David (Colin Farrell) whose wife left him, and other characters portrayed by actors John C. Reilly, Ben Wishaw, Lea Seydoux, and Rachel Weisz. This Q&A took place at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2015.
TIFF Moderator: Yorgos, this is your first venture into an English language film. What was your approach and genesis of the film?
Yorgos Lanthimos: I wrote all my films collaborating with Efthymis Fillippou and this time we wanted to do something about relationships (audience laughter). We donít want to recreate reality but to structure a world or system where you can observe human behavior in extreme situations. So this is showing the pressure that Society has on people to be couples, discrimination, etc.
TIFF Moderator: This seems like your most romantic film. Rachel can you tell us how you entered his world or how you reacted to the script?
Yorgos Lanthimos: First tell them you agree it is a romantic film.
Rachel Weisz: Yes I think it is extremely romantic with a capital R. A love that is unattainable or hard to get there. Itís a universe where it's hard for these two people to meet and stay together. I had no preparation or research to enter his universe. I was a huge fan after seeing Dogtooth. So my preparation was just jumping into it. He is demanding and you need to find this special tone and I really surrendered to his universe.
Audience Question: You included more things from the real world. Can you reference that?
Yorgos Lanthimos: It is close to the real world but really a parallel universe with different dress codes etc. Itís not totally futuristic. Itís made up of the world we know except the rules.
Audience Question: Which animal would you choose?
Yorgos Lanthimos: I think Rachel would like to be a pony.
Rachel Weisz: Yes a pony, as I remember being a 13 year old girl in England.
Yorgos Lanthimos: Iíd like to be an eagle and soar and fly.
Audience Question: Was there one characteristic that couples had to have to succeed?
Yorgos Lanthimos: Well yes, it is an exaggeration of what we do in the real world I hope to find a mate.
Audience Question: Why does Society have a punishment to become an animal?
Yorgos Lanthimos: Instead of being totally negative, we wanted the losers to find something they could still be useful in being, so we chose that they could become an animal of their choice. We tried to follow the leadership of this parallel world and what to do with failure. Becoming an animal seems better than killing them or going to a prison. Although the hotel at times seems like a prison where the inhabitants must do what Society wants.
Audience Question: I found the film chilling in the abject passivity of the characters to go along with the rules given to them. As being in the middle of an election here in Canada, it did have some parallels for me, and going from one prison to another, was there some political or societal things you want to say in the film or critique?
Yorgos Lanthimos: I donít know if I can restate that correctly, we have elections in Greece also. Yes we are asking are we blindly following society or questioning things. Also the main character rebels but joins another system, that in the beginning seems different but later the irony is it also creates another similar situation.
The Lobster opens soon in the DC area.
The Man Who Knew Infinity: Q&A with Screenwriter/Director Matthew Brown, Co-Writer Robert Kanigal and Actors Jeremy Irons, Devika Bhise and Dev Patel
By Ron Gordner, DC Film Society Member
The Man Who Knew Infinity (United Kingdom, 2015) was shown in September 2015 at the Toronto International Film Festival as a World Premiere Gala Presentation. It is co-written by the author of the book by Robert Kanigal and is the biopic story of Srinivasa Ramanujan Iyengar, an Indian mathematician humbly educated in poor Madras in 1913 working as a shipping clerk. He revolutionized mathematics with his contributions to number theory, continued fractions and infinity series. His notebooks and letters led to his later invitation to come to Cambridge University and his friendship with British professor and mathematician G.H. Hardy against the racism of the time. Ramanujan also wanted to be published but had to provide proofs that his theories worked or were plausible.
Actors Dev Patel, Devika Bhise, Jeremy Irons and director Matthew Brown
TIFF Moderator: Can you talk a bit about the genesis of the project, the story and making the film?
Matthew Brown: It was a very long journey to get here, but I have been in such awe of the original story and the real friendship of these two men we had to tell it on film.
Audience Question: Can you address the themes also of not only science and mathematics but the faith of the men also?
Matthew Brown: I canít really address the pure mathematics which Robert has tried to educate me about. I was, as mentioned, blown away by the friendship of these two men. I saw them not only as scientists but as artists. I didnít want to dwell on Hardyís atheism or faith but there is something about the nature of mathematics and infinity that you canít escape discussing faith and God. Being a very religious person and strict vegetarian took a toll on his life and how he was treated in England.
Robert Kanigal: Well, how can you write a biography of this pioneer without discussing the mathematics? It would be like writing a biography of Beethoven but never dealing with his music. You have to step into that world and bring some semblance of it to the viewer.
Audience Question: For the actors, how was it to try and portray these characters and the passion of the story of the man who was forgotten for some time?
Jeremy Irons: For me the main reason to do the film was the story and Mattís passion to do the film. When you find passion in a project in our business it should be embraced and run with. So, that we were able to understand a little bit about pure mathematics was wonderful and in the field he was legendary.
Dev Patel: When Matt approached me, he had the script for over 10 years and we worked over a year and with Jeremy to create this onscreen friendship. We were willing to go to war for Matt because he just had so much passion for the subject and to do the project. On paper itís a period film about mathematics, which could be quite dull but he raised it to something wonderful. (applause)
Audience Question: Are Dev and Jeremy really friends as manifested on the film?
Jeremy Irons: Yes weíve become great friends; but then yesterday he showed up dressed horribly. I feel I have another son that I really need to take shopping (laughter).
Audience Question: Do you have access to the original letters written between the two mathematicians?
Robert Kanigal: Yes we had originals and we also had them reproduced painstakingly by hand to use in the film. The math in the letters and drawing were exactly as originally written. Cambridge University does not have the original notebooks, they are in the library at the University of Madras in India. If you do go to the Wren Library in Cambridge there are Ramanujan Iyengar archives there for over 50 years.
Audience Question: Is it true that Bertrand Russell was also at Cambridge at that time?
Matthew Brown: Yes, in fact it was a big scandal at the time since he was against the war. We wanted to include him but not make that the main focus of the film but he was an early anti-war activist.
Audience Question: For the actors, what preparation or research did you do before making the film?
Devika Bhise: I read the book (laughter), which was wonderful. You can also find articles online and Robert also had met my character, the wife, before she died. He informed me what she was like when she was younger.
Dev Patel: Mine was quite the opposite. There is no footage of him or of his voice, so there is no mimicry involved in my portrayal. There were pictures. You saw some of the real Ramanujan at the end of the movie. Iím a fidgety type of fellow as you can tell, but he had this quite kind of grace.
I tried to harness that and I tend to do underdog stories (laughter because of Slumdog Millionaire) and he is somewhat the epiphany of that in many ways. Itís a wonderful script or blueprint of what he was and follow that. He looked very different obviously, what did you say yesterday Jeremy?
Jeremy Irons: He was more of a dumpling and youíre an egg roll (laughter). I of course read Robertís book which had scads about Hardy I could use. I also read The Mathematicianís Apology, which is an extraordinary book for the layman to read. It gives you some summaries of his mathematical theories and it gives you shivers channeling the passion he had for his subject. I also looked at his photographs and imagined what he was like.
Matthew Brown: Also we were lucky to be able to film at Trinity College at Cambridge which provided a wonderful background. For someone like me, who dropped out of school at 16, it was an overwhelming experience. Also working with Jeremy, you have to respect the dude.
Audience Question: What really were his contributions to math and science?
Robert Kanigal: He contributed to many important theories such as string theory, black holes, quantum physics, gravity, etc. I donít have much time left to talk but suffice to say I have spent much of my life thinking about it.
The Man Who Knew Infinity will open soon in the DC area.
The Meddler: Q&A With Director/Writer Lorene Scafario
By Annette Graham, DC Film Society Member
A preview screening of The Meddler (Lorene Scafario, 2015) was shown at Landmark's E Street Cinema on April 24. Afterwards writer/director Lorene Scafario took questions from the audience. Michael Kyrioglou, Film Society Director, was moderator. The film stars Susan Sarandon as a new widow who directs her energies onto her daughter, played by Rose Byrne.
Michael Kyrioglou: Are you based in New York or California?
Lorene Scafario: In Los Angeles, very close to my mother (everyone laughs).
Michael Kyrioglou: Where did the story come from?
Lorene Scafario: My mom! (everyone laughs). She was from New Jersey and moved to Los Angeles after my dad passed away to be closer to me and we are very very close. She got an iPhone and started calling me on it and texting a lot. She loves emojis now. I thought what she did was very brave and impressive, selling the house she had lived in for a very long time and moving far away and starting over like that. We are both grieving very differently. I thought she was grieving very beautifully and optimistically and I was not. It was really hard but it's because we're very close. And I wanted to change what a meddler means, to show it comes from a really good place, certainly some of it comes from loneliness and circumstances. She's got a lot of love to give and doesn't really know what to do with it. She certainly does a lot with it. A lot of it's based on truth.
Michael Kyrioglou: Did you feel any hesitation about putting the story out there?
Lorene Scafario: I thought at first she would solve crimes. I wanted to write about her but didn't know what she would be doing exactly and how personal it was going to get. Then it just got really really personal and then I thought I had to be as honest and I could be, certainly about how annoying she could be sometimes but also how mean I could be and how unappreciative I could be and how great she is and how generous she is. My mom did offer to pay for a friend's wedding. The friend didn't let her go through with it but she tried. So many of the thngs are real. Except for the love interest which isn't real yet. But I had to give her some wish fulfillment.
Michael Kyrioglou: The writing is beautiful. Almost every interaction seemed to be going somewhere but then went in a different direction.
Lorene Scafario: I didn't want to write about a disfunctional family. That wasn't the family I grew up with. You fight and make up. I just wasn't interested in those kinds of stories. I wanted to talk about what it was like to go through something hard with the people you care about, especially when you do it in different ways.
Audience Question: Did the scene where she walked on a closed set location ever happen?
Lorene Scafario: No, that didn't happen, although any street corner in LA might be filming something. I expect this could happen to someone. It was one of my favorite things to film ever. I don't know why that cracked me up.
Michael Kyrioglou: It was nice that it stayed positive.
Audience Question: Did you have Susan Sarandon in mind for your mom?
Lorene Scafario: Not while writing it. It was just my mom, or some version of my mother but eventually when it came to casting it she was the first person I thought of. I just didn't imagine that we could get her. This was a hard movie to get made. Nobody wanted to make it. They wanted the daughter character to be bigger or as big as the mother character to help the financing, but I wasn't interested in telling that story; it went against the point of it actually. One night I was very frustrated after years of trying to do this and sent the script cold to Susan Sarandon's agent. Fortunately her agent has a mother kind of like this and she could relate. She sent it to Susan who liked it and I met her and she's the most beautiful person I've ever seen in real life. Once she came on board it was easier to get people like J.K. Simmons and Rose Byrne. They all wanted to work with Susan.
Michael Kyrioglou: How do you find the landscape of working in Hollywood. Is it about big names to get financing?
Lorene Scafario: All that stuff. Age, sex, money talks. It was really tough to get made. I made a film before which didn't do that well at the box office. So it took awhile to get back here and try to get a movie like this made. They don't even make these kinds of movies anymore no matter who's in them and who's behind them. They just don't really like human stories anymore or original ideas. It's all very hard. When I first started showing this to people, my then-agent thought maybe I was giving them a diary entry, like I was asking for millions of dollars to get closure. It worked, (laughter) but that wasn't the point.
Audience Question: What was the most meaningful or impactful for you that came out in the film?
Lorene Scafario: I'm still dealing with all of it. Grief is weird. There's no one way of dealing with it. It's all strange now. All this personal stuff. When we were making it it was all very professional. We were all just there to make a movie and now we are showing it to people. My mom and I are having a lot of fun though. We're experiencing this in totally different ways, the same way we experience everything For me it's work and it's stressful and she's just having the time of her life. This is her favorite movie.
Michael Kyrioglou: Did she advise you on the script?
Lorene Scafario: I read it to her. I read all my scripts to her. For this one, I read her some things early on. I think she did appreciate that I was calling myself out for some stuff like when Lori says "You can sleep over and take me to the airport in the morning." She just lost it, she was laughing so hard. At least I'm being honest.
Audience Question: How involved were you in the music for the film?
Lorene Scafario: I'm a fan of Beyonce. That's really the song my mom played on a loop in the car. I wrote Beyonce a letter and told her the story about what the song meant to my mom. She suggested putting a quote from it on my father's headstone and I laughed really hard. "I don't think he wants that." Songs like that, Sinatra, Dolly Parton were written into the script. The egg eating scene. That was one I had something in my mind before we shot it and then I watched Susan eat an egg and then I had another song in my head. I certainly chose all the music.
Michael Kyrioglou: When did you film?
Lorene Scafario: It was about a year ago. It was fast and dirty and nobody was comfortable. Susan was a super trooper.
Michael Kyrioglou: Was Rose working on the X Men at the same time?
Lorene Scafario: We had to get permission to release her for a little while. There were so many things that had to fall into place. That's the magical part of it. You wait years and years to make something and then everyone says "tomorrow" and then you have to hurry up. At least for this so many props were easy to get at my mom's house and Susan's wearing all her tops from Chico (everyone laughs). We shot Lori's house in my old house where I wrote the script. I didn't live there anymore so it was hard to get but we figured that out. Driving my dad's old car; my dad's picture. He played himself. There's a lot of personal stuff in there.
Audience Question: Did you have Rose Byrne in mind for yourself?
Lorene Scafario: I pictured her at some point but people said we wouldn't be able to get her because she's in amazingly large movies. But I think she just was excited to play Susan's daughter.
Michael Kyrioglou: The two of them working so well together and Rose is really funny and so is Susan Sarandon.
Michael Kyrioglou: Where did the chicken idea come from?
Lorene Scafario: My mom does not want to date and we have to picture someone who will get through. So, who's the guy who is non-threatening and sweet but also really cool, has swagger, still a man. All these on-set cops you see all ride Harleys, all really tan, all have mustaches. It was around a time when someone who had chickens was bringing me eggs. I just combined a bunch of different people. I cut together some footage of chickens to that song to see if it was as funny as I thought it was. And it was. So I thought I have to keep that.
The Meddler opens soon in the DC area.
Men and Chicken: Q&A with Screenwriter/Director Anders Thomas Jensen and Actors Soren Malling, Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Nicols Bro
By Ron Gordner, DC Film Society Member
Men and Chicken (Denmark, 2015) is an odd comedy that breaks many boundaries about families and eugenics. Brothers Gabriel (David Dencik) and Elias (Mads Mikkelsen) set out for a small strange island to reunite with their long lost father and to find they have two other brothers. The movie is a bit like The Island of Doctor Moreau, with constant laughs and surprises dealing with animals and relatives but still has an inner story of family and compassion. This Q&A took place at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2015.
Audience Question: Please talk about the wild costumes, and great production design of the film.
Anders Thomas Jensen: I was good at getting the designer I had on other films.
Soren Malling: It was fun but also somewhat scary at the same time. When I showed my costume and makeup my wife thought I had a penis on my face. We had these weird and aggressive masks that we tested several times to find ones we could work with. We needed to be able to act and not be totally retarded.
Audience Question: Where did you find the house and extraordinary set?
Anders Thomas Jensen: Itís a place called Hatstadt about an hour from Berlin. It used to be a mental institution after World War I. It was in former East Germany and the Russians occupied it until about 1990. When Russians leave they take everything, even the pump was going. There were all these abandoned buildings outside Berlin to use.
Nikolaj Lie Kaas: It isnít really one house. It was really like three houses and it was easy to get lost. It is a popular place where people commit suicide we were told.
Audience Question: What was the most bizarre improvisation you had to do on the set?
Anders Thomas Jensen: Actually it was very scripted, so there wasnít as much improvisation as you would think on the set.
Audience Question: What was the toughest scene to shoot?
Anders Thomas Jensen: They were all tough to do. What is relatable to a normal audience and human emotion we tried to maintain when possible. The final scene with the battle was very hard.
Nicols Bro: It was actually very hard to stick to the script which sounded very strange, so if you altered it much, you could only make it worse.
Soren Malling: It was hard doing the battle scene near the end with all the brothers. It wasnít real wood, but the rubber parts were painful also. Both I and Mads had to go to the hospital to be treated after the scene. Thank you Thomas very much, I had to pay for it myself.
Nikolaj Lie Kaas: Yeah, it was difficult when sometimes you would come in for a day or two to shoot to find or refind that odd tone the movie needed. So we did have many takes on some scenes.
Audience Question: Iím a fan of Mr. Jensenís films and writing, anything else you are working on now?
Anders Thomas Jensen: At the moment, no, I donít have anything in the pipeline. I mainly work as a scriptwriter, but I hope it wonít be 10 years again before I direct a film.
Audience Question: Where did the idea for this film come from?
Anders Thomas Jensen: I have four kids and thatís where it comes from. I sat down and watched my kids. The scene with the plates is from them. What if I left my kids on an island, what would happen?
Audience Question: How old will your children be when you let them see the whole film?
Anders Thomas Jensen: It will be a couple of years, but my daughter does the voice over at the beginning.
Audience Question: Has this been released yet in Denmark and what was its reception?
Anders Thomas Jensen: It came out and got better reviews than Adamís Apples. Right now it is still the number one box office Danish film in Denmark and I think for the year.
Audience Question: Does it have American distribution?
Anders Thomas Jensen: Yes, in Canada and the U.S.
Audience Question: What were the chicken tricks?
Anders Thomas Jensen: The men walking like the chickens, itís not as clear mimicking them as a mouse.
Audience Question: Did you base the animals on your castís normal appearances?
Anders Thomas Jensen: A little bit, actually the Joseph character was a rabbit at one point.
Audience Question: I loved your use of music especially at the beginning and end of the film. What was the instrument used?
Anders Thomas Jensen: It was really a saw. We tried many sounds but it worked the best and few films use a saw.
Men and Chicken opens May 6 in the DC metro area.
Sunset Song: Q&A with Director Terence Davies and Actors Agyness Deyn and Kevin Guthrie
By Ron Gordner, DC Film Society Member
Sunset Song (United Kingdom/Luxembourg, 2015) is based on the much-loved 1932 Scottish novel of the same name by Lewis Grassic Gibbon. The film screened in September 2015 at the Toronto International Film Festival. This is the story of a farming family in Northeast Scotland with Peter Mullan playing the father and Agyness Deyn playing the headstrong daughter Chris. Beautiful cinematography by Michael McDonough helps accentuate her story of survival in society and the land, as an intelligent young woman of the time but gladly at times tied to the land she loves and the men she loves.
Producer Roy Boulter, actors Kevin Guthrie and Agyness Deyn, writer/director Terence Davies and producer Sol Papadopoulos in Toronto
TIFF Moderator: Terence what drew you to this story and film?
Terence Davies: Iíve always loved the novel and its humanity with the hard life they lead. But she also forgives all her suffering and releases herself from her past to move forward. So there are times that people must feel they can carry on and be human.
Audience Question: What is the direct adaptation process from the novel?
Terence Davies: Well itís a long book and at times a quite difficult read. One of the first sequences I wrote was about the church and the music. I think I wrote the closing sequence second. Itís taken 18 years to write so I may not remember every bit. If I see it visually I can see what the soundtrack should be etc.
Audience Question: Has it played in Scotland yet and what was the reaction?
Terence Davies: No, this is the World Premiere at TIFF. It hasnít yet been released in Scotland or England. It is the premiere novel that most school children in Scotland have read for decades. So I am somewhat nervous. Reading a novel and making a film are very different.
TIFF Moderator: What was it like for the actors to do this film?
Kevin Guthrie: I read the book in school and even studied the part of Ewen before so I hope we have captured it well.
Agyness Deyn: I remember meeting Terence three years ago. Reading the book is one thing, but reading his script made me weep. He captured the land so beautifully and the characters. When Terence offered me the part, I reread the book and it gave me more of her thoughts and memories.
Audience Question: Are you from Scotland?
Agyness Deyn: No, Iím from Manchester in England. I guess Iím the enemy (laughter).
Audience Question: What was the biggest challenge to adapt to this style and role?
Agyness Deyn: The hardest thing is to want to please this wonderful man Terence and try to duplicate what has been in his head for 18 years. Even the long days and shooting were a joy so it seemed it had a fight to get the film done.
Kevin Guthrie: Yeah, God bless that. I mean 18 years to get it made. I thought the environment was perfectly created for us to act in. Incredible sets in Scotland and New Zealand were used. We just opened up as actors with that great potential. There was great trust between Agyness, Terence and myself to create the happy and the many darker moments as seen. It was one big Sunset Song family that was very supportive.
Audience Question: I felt it is a major anti-war film, can you comment on that aspect?
Terence Davies: I really see the war as a great interruption of life. She must find forgiveness and even given a lousy set of cards I have to play it on.
TIFF Moderator: How did you construct and boil down the many scenes and environment, nature and art of the film to be just two hours?
Terence Davies: Once the script was written and we got the go ahead to shoot, Andy Harris the designer said, "Have you heard of the Danish painter Hammershoi?" I said no, and we looked at his remarkable paintings that always have wonderful lightings and blues and natural hues. His pictures with women turned in profiles are like Vermeerís in their stillness and beauty. Iím not sure why he is not better known. He really is a Northern Vermeer. The look at the windows and lighting is remarkable.
Audience Question: Who was the film dedicated to?
Terence Davies: Chris Collins, a grand supporter of this film who unfortunately died before we finished the film.
TIFF Moderator: Can you talk briefly about your casting process and finding Agyness and Kevin?
Terence Davies: I started casting one Monday morning and she was already there. She was a model they said, but I said it doesnít matter. She was just right. So was Kevin and others. Unfortunately you also see a lot of actors that arenít just right for the roles and you have to tell them that which is very painful at times. Iím casting another film now, and I had two ladies almost having a nervous breakdown. I think living in Hollywood would be difficult. I do try to give every actor at least 30 minutes in their audition to try and capture the essence of the part and to be fair. Auditions are a long and hot experience and I wouldnít be an actor myself for anything.
Sunset Song should open mid to late May in the DC metro area.
Calendar of Events
American Film Institute Silver Theater
"Dalton Trumbo: Radical Writer" (April 29-July 7) is a series of films written by Trumbo (one of the "Hollywood Ten") and inspired by the recent film "Trumbo." Titles in May include The Boss (1956); The Brothers Rico, Gun Grazy, A Guy Named Joe, Kitty Foyle, The Prowler and Sparticus. More in June and July.
"Dylan in the Movies" (May 14-June 22) celebrates Bob Dylan's 75th birthday this month. Titles in May include Don't Look Back (1967), Festival! (1967), I'm Not There, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, and The Other Side of the Mirror. Concludes in June.
Gregory Peck would be 100 this year and the "Gregory Peck Centennial" (April 30-July 3) looks at some of his films from his long and distinguished career. Titles in May are 12 O'Clock High, The Big Country, Duel in the Sun, The Guns of Navarone, The Paradine Case, Pork Chop Hill, Roman Holiday and Spellbound. More in June and July.
The "Korean Film Festival DC" (May 19-June 15) takes place at the AFI, Cinema Arts Theater and The National Museum of American History. It begins in May with Gangnam Blues; more in June. See the Freer below for more films in May at other locations.
This year marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death and the AFI, along with the Freer, National Gallery of Art and the Folger Shakespeare Library are taking part. The AFI presents "hakespeare Cinema, Part III" (May 8-July 7). Films in May are Forbidden Planet, Haider, Hamlet (2015), Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Maqbool, Omkara and Twelfth Night (1996).
The "DC Labor Filmfest" (April 29-May 25) shows films about work, workers and the issues affecting their lives. Films include The 33, Seven Chinese Brothers, 99 Homes, Concussion, The Intern, Joe Hill, Redes, Sherpa, Suffragette and The Working Class Goes to Heaven.
"Wagner on Screen" (May 20-July 6) presents a series of films that incorporate Richard Wagner's music in memorable ways. Titles in May are Apocalypse Now, Magic Fire, Melancholia and Sing Faster: The Stagehands Ring Cycle. More in June and July.
Special engagements in May include Beats Rhymes and Life, Django, Freaky Friday (1976), Made in USA, A Married Woman (1964), and Theory of Obscurity.
The 48 Hour Film Project, now in its 15th year, is a competition for do-it-yourself filmmakers who are given a genre, a prop, a character and a line of dialogue and 48 hours to produce a completed short film containing all these elements. The films are shown May 6 and 7.
Freer Gallery of Art
The Freer is closed for renovations. Films will be shown at varying locations.
"The Bard in Bollywood: Vishal Bhardwaj's Shakespeare Trilogy" is shown at the AFI as part of the Shakespeare festival. On May 8 at 3:30pm is Maqbool (2003); on May 15 at 1:30pm is Omkara (2006) and on May 21 at 1:30pm is Haider (2014).
The Korean Film Festival DC 2016 takes place at the AFI, Cinema Arts Theater and the National Museum of American History. Titles in May are Gangnam Blues (Yoo Ha, 2015) on May 19 at 7:15pm (AFI) and May 26 at 7:00pm (Cinema Arts); Right Now, Wrong Then (Hong Sang-Soo, 2015) on May 22 at 1:00pm (National Museum of American History); and My Love, Don't Cross That River (Jin Mo-Young, 2014) on May 22 at 3:30pm (National Museum of American History). More in June.
National Gallery of Art
Special events at the Gallery in May include Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress and the Tangerine (Marion Cajori and Amei Wallach, 2008) on May 1 at 4:00pm. On May 7 at 2:30pm is Paris Belongs to Us (Jacques Rivette, 1961). On May 21 at 2:30pm is the Washington premiere of Rackstraw Downes: A Painter (Rima Yamazaki, 2014) with curator Harry Cooper is discussion. On May 29 at 2:00pm is James McNeill Whistler (Karen Thomas, 2014) with the filmmaker in person.
Two Cine-Concerts are in May: on May 14 at 1:00pm is Die Nibelungen (Parts I and II) (Fritz Lang, 1924) with organ accompaniment by Dennis James. On May 22 at 4:30pm is Kannapolis: A Moving Portrait (1936) with Jenny Scheinman, Robbie Fulks and Robbie Gjersoe providing music accompaniment.
"The Vision of Ousmane Sembene" (May 8-June 6) starts with the documentary Sembene! (Samba Gadjigo and Jason Silverman, 2015) on May 8 at 4:00pm and Xala (Ousmane Sembene, 1975) on May 15 at 4:00pm.
National Museum of the American Indian
May 13-16 at noon is the documentary The Navigators: Pathfinders of the Pacific (Sam Low and Boyd Estus, 1983), about explorers in the Polynesian Islands.
On May 27 at 7:00pm is Visions in the Dark: The Life of Pinky Thompson (Ty Sanga, 2014), a documentary about Pinky Thompson, a WWII veteran and president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society.
National Museum of Women in the Arts
On May 15 at noon, 1:45pm and 3:30pm are three screenings of Wadjda (Haifaa al-Mansour, 2013), about a Saudi Arabian girl who dreams of owning a bicycle. Presented in conjunction with the exhibition "She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World."
Washington Jewish Community Center
On May 17 at 7:30pm is The Kind Words (Shemi Zarhin, 2015), nominated for 12 Israeli Academy Awards.
On May 24 at 7:30pm is Ben Ali Libi, Magician (Dirk Jan Roeleven, 2015), a documentary about the search for the main character in a poem by Willem Wilmink.
On May 31 at 7:30pm is the documentary Presenting Princess Shaw (Ido Haar, 2015), which was in last month's Filmfest DC.
On May 3 at 2:00pm-5:00pm and 7:30pm-9:00pm is a film and discussion "Lessons from Chernobyl and Fukushima - The Risks of Normalizing Radiation," marking the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear explosion in Ukraine and the fifth year since the Fukushima event. Two short films are shown at 7:30pm: Alone in the Zone about a farmer who returned to live in the radioactive Fukushima zone and Champion in Chernobyl about tennis player Maria Sharapova's return to her native Belarus. See the website for the other non-film presentations.
On May 6 at 7:00pm is the documentary After Hitler followed by a discussion with Colonel Walter M. Hudson, a military and Cold War historian and Stephen Harding, editor of Military History magazine.
On May 4 at 7:00pm is the award-winning film Mustang (Deniz Gamze Erguven, 2015) shown with the documentary Sandtown Project (Francescu Artily, 2016).
The Japan Information and Culture Center
On May 18 at 6:30pm is The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (Mami Sunada, 2013), a documentary about the inner workings of Studio Ghibli.
The Textile Museum at GWU
On May 26 at noon is the documentary The Desert of Forbidden Art (Amanda Pope and Tchavdar Georgievf, 2011), about how banned Soviet art was stashed in the Uzbekistan desert and rescued by Igor Savitsky.
On May 9 at 7:00pm is the documentary Lincoln's Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural. Filmmaker Ken Kebow and author Ronald C. White, Jr. will discuss the film and answer audience questions.
On May 19 at 2:00pm is "Favorite Films of the National Archives Motion Picture Lab." Preservation specialists Criss Kovac, Audrey Amidon, and Heidi Holmstrom share Federal government films they love, from the historically significant to the delightfully misguided.
Landmark's Bethesda Row Cinema
"Movie Rewind" is a classic film series held on Wednesdays. On May 4 at 7:00pm and 9:30pm is This is Spinal Tap (Rob Reiner); on May 11 at 4:00pm and 7:30pm is The Wiz (Sidney Lumet); and on May 18 at 7:00pm and 9:30pm is Jackie Brown (Quentin Tarantino).
The Iranian film Atomic Heart (Ali Ahmadzadeh) is shown May 1 at 5:00pm and 7:30pm.
Interamerican Development Bank
On May 2 at 6:00pm is the documentary Catching the Sun (Shalini Kantayya), about workers and entrepreneurs on the forefront of the clean energy movement. A panel with clean energy entrepreneur Marco Krapels, will precede the screening and Q&A with the Director Shalini Kantayya after the film.
On May 4 at 8:00pm is Born to Be Blue (Robert Budreau, 2015), starring Ethan Hawke as Chet Baker, shown as part of the "Programmer's Choice" series.
On May 18 at 8:00pm is The Great Game (Nicolas Panser, 2015), starring Andrť Dussollier for this month's "French Cinematheque" film.
The "Reel Israel" film for May is Song of the Siren (Eytan Fox, 1994) on May 25 at 8:00pm.
Italian Cultural Institute
On May 5 at 7:00pm is LíOrologio di Monaco (Mauro Caputo, 2014), based on the short story collection written by writer, playwright and film director, Giorgio Pressburger.
Library of Congress
The Mary Pickford Theater at the Library of Congress will start a new series of films showcasing the Library's collection and including newly preserved films. On May 19 at 7:00pm is The World Changes (Mervyn Le Roy, 1933) starring Paul Muni as a young Dakota farm boy who becomes a meat-packing baron in Chicago. Based on Sheridan Gibney's novel "America Kneels." Preceded by the short comedy I Scream (Ray McCarey, 1934).
Anacostia Community Museum
On May 17 at 11:00am is The Black Power Mixtape 1967-75 (2001), a documentary with archival news footage about the Black Panther movement. Discussion follows.
On May 21 at 11:30am is April 1968: Through Chinatown's Eyes, about the civil disturbances in Chinatown following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. A panel discussion follows the film.
On May 26 at 11:00am is Freedom Summer (2011), a PBS documentary about the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer.
As part of "Ireland 100," the Kennedy Center shows documentary films on May 28 at 4:00pm. The documentaries were made during President Kennedy's trip to Ireland and feature commentary by Dr. Harvey O'Brien, member of the Irish Film Institute Board of Directors and author of "The Real Ireland: The Evolution of Ireland in Documentary Film."
Embassy of Austria
On May 4 at 8:00pm is the music documentary Concerto-A Beethoven Journey (Phil Grabsky). Pianist Leif Ove Andsnes embarks on a ten year journey to perform and record the five Beethoven Concertos, taking him to 108 cities in 27 countries.
The "Seeing Red Film Series" began in April and ends in May. On May 8 at 4:00pm is Body and Soul (Robert Rossen, 1947) starring John Garfield; on May 15 at 4:00pm is Crossfire (Edward Dmytryk, 1947) and on May 22 at 4:00pm is Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Don Siegel, 1956). New Yorker staff writer Margaret Talbot and movie critic Nell Minow host the series.
On May 27 starting at 8:00pm is a "Bike-In Movie Marathon," a series of bike-themed movies for National Bike Month. Films are shown outside and include Bicycle Thieves, Veer, On Time and Racing Toward Red Hook.
On May 3 at 7:00pm is Love Thy Nature (Sylvie Rokab, 2014), an awarding documentary about the connection with nature. Discussion follows the film.
Reel Affirmations XTra
On May 13 at 7:00pm and 9:15pm is All About E (Louise Wadley, 2015), a comedy from Australia.
Busboys and Poets
On May 12 at 6:30pm is the documentary The Armor of Light (Abigail Disney, 2014). At the 14th and V location.
On May 15 at 5:00pm is Fly By Light (Ellie Walton), a documentary about teenagers who participate in a peace program. At the Brookland location.
On May 17 at 6:30pm is Making a Killing: Guns, Greed and the NRA, at the Brookland location.
On May 11 and 18 at 7:30pm are two different programs of films that didn't make the submission cut; audience members will decide which to be saved and included into the September festival.