The Community of Cinema – March 1 Film Events at SMU

Film screening room 3rd floor Hamon
New film screening room on Hamon Arts Library’s third floor waiting for attendees to arrive on March 1

Cinema is a natural community-forming medium, and next week, when the lights dim in Hamon Library’s new third-floor film screening room on March 1st, attendees will be treated to a unique and authentic cinematic experience, complete with the whirring sound of a 16mm film projector. The new room and projector are an extension of the G. William Jones Film & Video Collection, providing a space for screenings and film programing.

Hamon Arts Library, in partnership with the World Languages & Literature Department’s 7th Annual International Film Festival invite you to the following premier events on March 1, 2022.

3-4 pm: Film Vault Tour

Curators in the G. William Jones Film & Video Collection will conduct tours of the film vault, highlighting the 16mm and 35mm films in the collection, as well as the Gene Autry Films, WFAA, KRLD, and KERA collections of newsfilm.  Register here.

LOCATION: Meet in Hamon Arts Library lobby, first floor, for start of tour. 

4 – 4:45 pm:  International Film Festival Roundtable

Attend the International Film Festival Roundtable with the following panelists:

SMU Student panelists (directing/producing team of the upcoming SMU Summer Feature): Piper Hadley, Grace Maddox, Anna Butcher, and Kaytlyn Bunting.

Bart Weiss. Associate Professor of Film, University of Texas at Arlington. Award-winning filmmaker and director/founder of the Dallas VideoFest. VIRTUAL.

Alessandro Carrera, Ph.D., Director of Italian Studies and Graduate Director of World Cultures & Literatures at the University of Houston University of Houston. Author of Fellini’s Eternal Rome: Paganism and Christianity in the Films of Federico Fellini (Bloomsbury, 2019). VIRTUAL.

LOCATION: Hawn Conference Room, accessible from the Hamon Library lobby.  Refreshments provided.

5 pm: Screening of Fellini’s La Strada on 16mm

Celebrate the Grand Launch of the Hamon Library’s new 16mm screening room with a viewing of Fellini’s 1954 epic film, La Strada.

LOCATION: 3rd floor of the Hamon Arts Library.


The new screening room puts into practice Objective 4, Goal 4 of SMU Libraries’ Strategic Plan: “Design an intellectually stimulating campus environment through programming that builds community and expands discourse.”

Fall ’21 and spring ’22 screenings for Ghosts of Lost Futures

Curator and artist, Mike Morris, and his collaborators on the experimental videos, Ghosts of Lost Futures, have been busy with additional screenings of this program of works. Ghosts premiered at the Dallas Museum of Art in the Horchow Auditorium on May 22 with ten works by ten experimental video artists commissioned to re-interpret film footage from the WFAA Newsfilm archive. The footage from the Hamon’s G. William Jones Video and Film Archive was selected from 1970 to recognize the year of the archive’s establishment. Due to COVID, the first screening was postponed over one year later.

Since this screening at the DMA, Ghosts was in the line-up of screenings for the Experimental Response Cinema, sponsored by the Austin Film Society, on November 8. Organized by the artist and program participant, Liz Rhodda, Mike Morris attended virtually to answer questions from a large audience.

Flyers for Archive Fever
Promotional collage assembled by Craig Baldwin for Archive Fever program, San Francisco’s Other Cinema

On November 20, selected works from Ghosts screened with other video works at San Francisco’s Other Cinema’s annual Archive Fever program. Selected films were:

Curt Heiner – The Stars of Texas Shine Tonight

Lisa McCarty – Undelivered Remarks

Zak Loyd – Deep River / Ocean of Storms 

Angelo Madsen Minax – Stay with me, the world is a devastating place

Marwa Benhalim – The Void Remembers

This spring, the video works will be featured at another experimental film festival, Experiments in Cinema, in Albuquerque. The dates for this screening have yet to be slated. Please check the EIC website for screening updates. The selections of videos will include:

Curt Heiner – The Stars of Texas Shine Tonight

Lisa MCarty – Undelivered Remarks 

Tramaine Townsend – FRAMES.-DALLUS 

Zak Loyd – Deep River / Ocean of Storms 

Angelo Madsen Minax – Stay with me, the world is a devastating place

Liz Rodda – Amid Flowers, Crowns, and Tears 

Marwa Benhalim – The Void Remembers 

Blog post: Mike Morris, curator and artist; and Beverly Mitchell, Assistant Director, Hamon Arts Library

Report from the Red Carpet – The Velvet Underground at the Cannes Film Festival

Grand Theatre Lumiere red carpetAfter a thorough bout of negotiations, the previously lost film footage of the Velvet Underground performing at a Vietnam War protest at Dallas’ White Rock Lake in 1969 has made it into The Velvet Underground, a documentary directed by Todd Haynes. The documentary, mirroring the name of the band itself, contains this special footage that was initially discovered and digitized by the G. William Jones Film and Video Archive Team right here at SMU.

Canne Film Festival logo on chairs

The Velvet Underground premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in the South of France this past July at the Grand Théâtre Lumière, the festival’s largest and most prestigious theatre. The event was attended by many, including director Todd Haynes, singer/model Jane Birkin, actress Helen Mirren, and me, a recently graduated SMU film student. The documentary was well received by audiences and ended up being the favorite Emily Cook and friendof many out of the entire festival’s lineup of films. The clips from White Rock Lake appear towards the middle of the film and are very “blink and you might miss it.” As I was a student intern at the G. William Jones Archive, I was delighted when I recognized the clips from White Rock Lake. It was amazing to see a special piece of SMU abroad, especially in such a personal way.

CannesFor all of those in the SMU community who want to see our contribution to this incredible documentary, The Velvet Underground will make its American debut October 15, 2021 on Apple TV+.

 

 

 


Blog post: Emily Cook (standing on right), SMU film student graduate (2021) and G. William Jones Film & Video intern

Film Screening at the DMA: Ghosts of Lost Futures on May 22

Ghosts of Lost Futures video stillIs a spectre haunting the archive? Do the films collected there proclaim a history that is no longer or a future that is not yet here? Is there something to reclaim in the bits of visual history that have been rescued in the archive? Have you felt the horizon closing before your eyes, the promise of the future you’ve been waiting for becoming a perpetual, timeless present? Cultural theorist Mark Fisher describes a tendency in contemporary culture he refers to as “hauntological” that refuses to give up on a lost future that no longer seems possible. “This refusal gives the melancholia a political dimension, because it amounts to a failure to accommodate to the closed horizons of capitalist realism.”

In partnership with the Dallas Museum of Art, the G. William Jones Film and Video Collection and the SMU Libraries will present Ghosts of Lost Futures, a screening of new, commissioned videos from 10 artists using footage held in the WFAA News Film archive. The screening will be held in person at the DMA’s Horchow Auditorium on Saturday May 22nd at 3pm. This screening is Free, but for safety, it will have limited capacity and requires RSVP via the DMA’s website here: https://dma.org/programs/event/film-screening-ghosts-lost-futures

This program, Ghosts of Lost Futures, features new video works by 10 artists commissioned by the G. William Jones Film and Video Collection. Each artist was given access to the same cache of footage from the WFAA Newsfilm Collection shot in Dallas in 1970, the year of the archive’s founding. The program was intended to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the archive, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns, the program was not completed until the spring of 2021. The artists were given complete freedom in how they reinterpreted the footage and its historical context. The resulting works are profound meditations on mourning, melancholy, disaster, and various reinterpretations of the events of 2020 and 2021 through images of Dallas’s past.

Artists in this program:

Amber Bemak (Dallas, TX)
Marwa Benhalim (Cairo, Egypt)
Melanie Clemmons (Dallas, TX)
Curt Heiner (Denver, CO)
Zak Loyd (Dallas, TX)
Lisa Mccarty (Dallas, TX)
Sean Miller (Dallas, TX)
Angelo Madsen Minax (Brooklyn, NY / Burlington, VT)
Liz Rodda (Austin, TX)
Tramaine Townsend (Dallas, TX)

Program curated by Michael A. Morris

Commissioned by the SMU Libraries and the G. William Jones Film and Video Collection
SMU Libraries Staff Advisors: Jeremy Spracklen, Scott Martin, Jolene De Verges, Beverly Mitchell

In 1970 the G. William Jones Film and Video Collection was founded at Southern Methodist University and was then known as the Southwest Film/Video Archives. Currently part of the SMU Libraries, it is home to many important collections of films and videos from the region, including the WFAA Newsfilm Collection.

Film review: Parasite

While watching Tom and Jerry (or Beavis and Butthead, or Ren and Stimpy), I sometimes wondered if the animated mayhem turned truly physical, if the anvils dropped from upper floors landed with the effect those anvils would have on the unfortunates below in reality, what would be the shift in tone in the cartoon?  What if the tone had been originally slapstick, but then turned real?  How would I as the viewer react to the change?  How would I receive and process this shift, this altered tone?

In Parasite, directed by Bong Joon-hoo, I have at least a partial answer.  The film examines two, and then three families. The first and principal focus is on the quartet of father, Kim Ki-taek, mother, Chung-sook, son, Ki-woo and daughter, Ki-jeong.  They live in a dank basement apartment, searching for a free wireless signal in the apartment, cursing the neighbor who adopted a password and crowing when a signal from a coffee shop is located by Ki-jeong while crouched next to the toilet.  They fold, badly, cardboard boxes for a local pizzeria to support themselves, but receive a windfall when a school chum of Ki-woo offers him a reference as an English tutor for the daughter of a wealthy couple.  With a forged diploma, Ki-woo secures his position, and the rest of his family soon secures employment at this same household. His sister, Ki-jeong, spouting art therapy language learned through Google, lands the position of art therapist for the couple’s son, while father, Kim, becomes the family chauffer and mother, Chung-sook, the maid. Each displaces the prior occupant of that position through stealthy dirty tricks and expert lying.  All four conceal their family relationship (not to mention their fraudulent credentials) from the wealthy Parks, who seems blissfully unaware (“they are not nice despite being rich, they are nice because they are rich”) that something seems not quite square about their new assistants.

The third family is that of recently discharged maid, Moon-gwang, who returns to the home while the Parks are away to reveal that her husband Geun-sae, has been living in a secret bunker, unknown to the Parks, under the Parks’ palatial home.  The bunker was constructed years before, to allow the owner “to hide from the North Koreans, or his creditors,” and Geun-sae has hidden there, fleeing loan sharks seeking funds due from his failed bakery.  Father Kim Ki-taek has his own failed bakery in his past, and his own reasons for concealment, and each character knows his or her own relative comfort and security rests unfirmly on a series of lies, and the desperate evasions made to conceal those lies.

The slapstick begins as the violent but at first harmless struggles of the two families to wrest control from and force the eviction of the other from the Parks’ home before the parks return from a picnic.  The families race up and down from the home into the bunker, seizing household items as makeshift weapons in the increasingly brutal struggle to remain.

To this point the film has whizzed by, surfing on a froth of sharp dialogue in a comedy of manners.  The remainder of the film likewise whizzes by, but while clever dialogue continues, the circumstances and fate of both families, and then later the Parks, becomes gradually grimmer and darker.  There was no one moment when I was certain that the comedy had shifted to horror, or that the slapstick would not return, but the last of the film works like a film by Luis Buñuel, from a script by Goya.

The film is expertly done, with actions echoing earlier events without drawing attention to the parallels, and characters stripped second by second to their hard interior core.  No one is good, no one is blameless, including the less than affable Parks, and darkness descends into the most innocent and banal family gatherings.  At the end the fate of each character is fixed and inescapable, all lies and illusions are dissipated, and something like, but just like, a cruel justice comes to each family.

In describing the film, I would be remiss if I did not note the themes of class, both the thoughtlessness and self-assured barbarity of the wealthy and the self-abasing cunning of the poor, throughout the film.  Each facet of this interrelationship is carefully and coldly examined, with no quarter given to any party.  Indeed, the primary theme of Parasite is the cold dance of class acted out on the bodies and souls of the trapped participants.

As a fervent admirer of Bong Joon-hoo’s Snowpiercer, I found this work clearer in purpose and more focused in its course than the earlier film, which did tend to linger too long on doomy exposition by Ed Harris and Tilda Swinton.  This is a nasty piece of work, in all the best meanings of that phrase, and a near-flawless film by one of the world’s strongest working directors.  I was left wanting more, and looking forward to the next film, which I hope will demonstrate the ever-deepening artistry of Bong Joon-hoo.


Review: Courtesy of George de Verges.

Image:  Director, Bong June Ho and actor, Song Kang Ho on the set of Parasite; US distributor, Boon.