The Criterion Channel’s February 2021 Lineup

On the Channel

Jan 28, 2021

The Criterion Channel’s February 2021 Lineup

The Criterion Channel’s February 2021 Lineup

On the Channel

Jan 28, 2021

We’re thrilled to be celebrating Black History Month on the Criterion Channel with a lineup that salutes African American filmmaking pioneers like Gordon Parks and Madeline Anderson, spotlights the brilliant career of actor and activist Ruby Dee, presents newly restored works by William Greaves and Bill Duke, and offers introductions to contemporary Black directors like Mahamat-Saleh Haroun and Akosua Adoma Owusu.

That’s just the beginning—we’ve also got Marlene Dietrich, Lana Turner, a new installment of Adventures in Moviegoing with Wyatt Cenac, and much more—check out the full calendar below!

If you haven’t signed up yet, head to CriterionChannel.com and get a 14-day free trial.

* indicates programming available March 1
** indicates programming available only in the U.S.

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 1

Celebration

Filmed over the course of three years, this startlingly candid account of fashion colossus Yves Saint Laurent’s final show was immediately suppressed following its premiere at the 2007 Berlin Film Festival by the legendary designer’s business (and on-and-off romantic) partner Pierre Bergé. When it finally reemerged in 2015, what the world saw was a remarkably sensitive, revealing, and bracingly unvarnished portrait of Saint Laurent as he attempts to maintain control over his vast empire in the face of physical and mental decline. An acknowledged influence on Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread, the opulent, immersive Celebration is a priceless addition to our understanding of the man, the myth, la marque that is Yves Saint Laurent.

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (Jim Jarmusch, 1999)

Criterion Collection Edition #1057

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 2

The Killing Floor
Streaming premiere

Originally broadcast on PBS’s American Playhouse in 1984, the stirring first feature from actor and filmmaker Bill Duke explores the little-known story of an African American migrant’s struggle to build an interracial union in the Chicago Stockyards. Based on actual characters and events, The Killing Floor follows the journey of  Frank Custer (Damien Leake), a young Black sharecropper from Mississippi who, in the aftermath of World War I, travels to Chicago for a job on the “killing floor” of a meatpacking plant and the promise of greater racial equality in the industrial North. There, he must navigate the seething ethnic and class conflicts—stoked by management and culminating in the Chicago race riot of 1919—as he attempts to unite his fellow workers in a fight for fair treatment.

Short + Feature: The Right Touch
The Touch Retouched and The Touch

Ingmar Bergman’s most infamous film gets a playful, gender-swapped update courtesy of exuberant experimentalist Marie Losier.

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 3

Three by Madeline Anderson

Recognized as the first Black woman to direct a televised documentary film, Madeline Anderson brings viewers to the front lines of the civil rights movement in these essential records of struggle and determination. Capturing a pivotal labor strike led by Black female hospital employees (I Am Somebody), early desegregation efforts by Martin Luther King Jr. (Integration Report 1), and a rare interview with Malcolm X’s widow, Dr. Betty Shabazz (A Tribute to Malcolm X), Anderson’s documentaries are a testament to the courage of the workers and activists at the heart of her films as well as to her own bravery, tenacity, and skill.

Featuring: Integration Report 1 (1960), A Tribute to Malcolm X (1967), I Am Somebody (1970)

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4

Directed by Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks was a true Renaissance man. The first African American to direct a major Hollywood feature—the moving coming-of-age saga The Learning Tree—he was also a writer, composer, and brilliant photographer who created some of the most iconic images of his time, using his camera to expose poverty, struggle, and systemic racism in America. This tribute to Parks’s cinematic genius—including his chronicle of the life of legendary folk singer Lead Belly, his rendition of the Solomon Northup story (later the basis for Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave), and his gorgeous autobiographical essay film Moments Without Proper Names—reveals a sensitive artist who brought passion and personal insight to his groundbreaking portrayals of the Black American experience across history.

Featuring: The Learning Tree (1969), Leadbelly (1976), Solomon Northup’s Odyssey (1984), Moments Without Proper Names (1987)

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5

Double Feature: Come On Pilgrim
A Canterbury Tale and The Ornithologist

Two tales of pilgrimages—one a gentle bucolic lullaby, the other a delirious fusion of religious imagery and surreal eroticism—find transcendence in the modern world.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6

Saturday Matinee: The Last Unicorn

Mia Farrow, Christopher Lee, and Jeff Bridges lend their voice talents to this imaginative cult favorite fantasy from legendary animation company Rankin/Bass.

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 7

Marlene Dietrich & Josef von Sternberg

Tasked by studio executives with finding the next great screen siren, visionary Hollywood director Josef von Sternberg joined forces with rising German actor Marlene Dietrich, kicking off what would become one of the most legendary partnerships in cinema history. Over the course of the seven sumptuously stylized films they made together in the 1930s, the pair refined their shared fantasy of pleasure, beauty, and excess. Dietrich’s coolly transgressive mystique was a perfect match for the provocative roles von Sternberg cast her in—including a sultry chanteuse, a cunning spy, and the hedonistic Catherine the Great—and the filmmaker captured her allure with chiaroscuro lighting and opulent design, conjuring fever-dream visions of exotic settings from Morocco to Shanghai. Suffused with frank sexuality and worldly irony, these deliriously entertaining masterpieces are landmarks of cinematic artifice.

Featuring: The Blue Angel (1930), Morocco (1930), Dishonored (1931), Shanghai Express (1932), Blonde Venus (1932), The Scarlet Empress (1934), The Devil Is a Woman (1935)

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 8

Three Starring Lana Turner

A star whose name alone conjures the glamorous allure of dream-factory fantasy, Lana Turner was born one hundred years ago this February—but her legend began fifteen years later, when she was famously discovered at a Hollywood soda fountain, a fabled bit of Tinseltown lore that fueled the hopes of a thousand wannabe starlets. Though she began her career as a teenage ingenue, Turner blossomed into a vivid dramatic presence in classics like the sultry noir The Postman Always Rings Twice and Vincente Minnelli’s twisted Hollywood self-portrait The Bad and the Beautiful. That her on-screen image was often in sensational dialogue with her much-publicized, scandal-ridden personal life has only fueled the enduring fascination with Turner’s myth.

Featuring: The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), A Life of Her Own (1950), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 9

Short + Feature: Fellini of the Spirits
The Rabbit Hunters and

Guy Maddin communes with the spirit of Federico Fellini in a pair of ghostly cinematic dreamscapes.

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10

Stories We Tell

Acclaimed actor and filmmaker Sarah Polley delves into the mysteries of her own family and identity—and uncovers a shocking secret—in this riveting, fearlessly personal autobiographical hybrid work. Interweaving interviews with family members and friends with Super 8 home movies, Polley crafts a slippery, multilayered investigation into family lore and the elusive nature of truth that continues to be a touchstone in the evolution of first-person documentary filmmaking.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 11

Starring Ruby Dee

Actor and activist Ruby Dee defied the prejudices and racist barriers of her time to forge a decades-long career at the forefront of both the civil rights movement and the evolving, increasingly nuanced representation of Black Americans on-screen. Emerging from Harlem’s American Negro Theater alongside fellow greats like Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte, Dee frequently combined her art and activism in studio films and passion projects alike, including Take a Giant Step, one of the first Hollywood movies to tackle systemic racism, and Uptight, a blistering portrait of the Black Power movement made in response to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Featuring: The Tall Target (1951), Edge of the City (1957)*, St. Louis Blues (1958), Take a Giant Step (1959), The Balcony (1963), Uptight (1968), Buck and the Preacher (1972)

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 12

Double Feature: Cool Killers
Le samouraï and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

The hitman thriller gets a shot of modernist—and postmodernist—cool in a pair of stylish crime dramas built around solitary, zen assassins.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 13

Saturday Matinee: A Story of Children and Film

Filmmaker and critic Mark Cousins celebrates the wonder and complexity of childhood as seen in 53 films from 25 countries.

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 14

Lovers on the Run

Spice up your Valentine’s Day with a dash of danger. With its exhilarating blend of crime, romance, and fatalistic desire, the couple-on-the-lam premise has proven an irresistible lure to generations of filmmakers across genres and movements, from film noir (They Live by Night) to New Hollywood (Badlands) to the French New Wave (Pierrot le fou) to Blaxploitation (Thomasine & Bushrod) and beyond. Sexy, thrilling, and transgressive, these tales of amorous outlaws continue to seduce because they offer the ultimate romantic fantasy: a vision of lovers united against the world, living—and dying—according to their own rules.

Featuring: You Only Live Once (1937), They Live by Night (1948), Gun Crazy (1950)*, Where Danger Lives (1950), Tomorrow Is Another Day (1951), Pierrot le fou (1965), The Honeymoon Killers (1970), Badlands (1973), Thomasine and Bushrod (1974), One False Move (1992), The Living End (1992), Deep Crimson (1996), Sun Don’t Shine (2012), Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013)

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 15

Park Lanes
Exclusive streaming premiere

Kevin Jerome Everson’s monument of durational cinema immerses viewers in the inner workings of a factory that produces bowling-alley equipment—a full eight-hour workday experienced in real time. Entrancing, meditative, and totally enveloping, Park Lanes unfolds according to the rhythms and rituals of the workers whose shifts it patiently documents, their quotidian tasks taking on a profound significance. The result is one of the most perceptive films ever made about labor and one of modern cinema’s most singular achievements.

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16

Three Short Films by Ramin Bahrani

Contemporary American cinema’s foremost neorealist, Ramin Bahrani gave aching but lyrical expression to the experiences of outsiders and immigrants living on the margins of the American Dream in his acclaimed breakthrough features Man Push Cart and Chop Shop. This selection of shorts by Bahrani—including the wrenching family tragedy Blood Kin and the poignant ecological love story Plastic Bag (narrated by Werner Herzog)—display the unwavering humanism and eye for images of everyday poetry that have made Bahrani such a vital cinematic voice.

Featuring: Plastic Bag (2009), Lift You Up (2014), Blood Kin (2018)

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 17

Short Films by Akosua Adoma Owusu
Featuring a new introduction by the filmmaker

Playful, funny, and brilliantly subversive, the films of Akosua Adoma Owusu use her identity as a Ghanaian American as a jumping-off point to explore the nuances of race, sexuality, and nationality in both the United States and Africa. Blurring the boundaries of experimental, narrative, and documentary filmmaking, her stylistically freewheeling shorts—including award-winning works like Me broni ba, Drexciya, Kwaku Ananse, and Reluctantly Queer—address racism, postcolonialism, and white supremacy. The results are bold, often startling statements that open up what Owusu calls a “third cinematic space” between her Ghanaian and American consciousnesses: a realm where she is free to play, explore, and challenge what it means to exist at the intersection of multiple identities.

Featuring: Ajube Kete (2005), Tea 4 Two (2006), Intermittent Delight (2007), Boyant (2008), Me broni ba (2009), Drexciya (2010), Split Ends, I Feel Wonderful (2012), Kwaku Ananse (2013), Bus Nut (2015), Reluctantly Queer (2016), Mahogany Too (2018), On Monday of Last Week (2018), Pelourinho: They Don’t Really Care About Us (2019)

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18

Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project: After the Curfew

A landmark of postcolonial Indonesian cinema gives electrifying voice to the anguish of a nation fighting for its soul.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 19

Double Feature: Oh My Godfrey!
Watermelon Man and Cotton Comes to Harlem

Comedy great Godfrey Cambridge stars in a pair of groundbreaking 1970 releases from pioneering Black filmmakers Melvin Van Peebles and Ossie Davis.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 20

Journey to the Beginning of Time

Wondrous stop-motion brings prehistoric landscapes and creatures to life in this awe-inspiring mix of natural history and science fiction.

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 21

Wyatt Cenac’s Adventures in Moviegoing

A former writer and correspondent for The Daily Show, the star of Barry Jenkins’s Medicine for Melancholy, and the producer and host of the HBO series Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas, comedian and actor Wyatt Cenac is also a passionate cinephile who, unsurprisingly, has strong insights into what makes for good screen comedy. In this edition of Adventures in Moviegoing, Cenac sits down with film scholar Michael B. Gillespie to discuss his selection of favorites, which include button-pushing racial satires from Spike Lee and Robert Downey Sr., graceful cinematic charades by Jacques Tati, and trailblazing works by Ousmane Sembène and Horace Ové.

Features: All Night Long (1962), Playtime (1967), Putney Swope (1969), Trafic (1971), Pressure (1976), Mur Murs (1981), Bamboozled (2000), In the Mood for Love (2000)

Shorts: Borom sarret (1963)

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 22

Nationtime
Exclusive streaming premiere

Best known for his avant-garde meta-documentary Symbiopsychotaxiplasm, William Greaves was also the director of over one hundred documentary films, the majority focused on African American history, politics, and culture. Nationtime is a report on the National Black Political Convention held in Gary, Indiana, in 1972, a historic event that gathered Black voices from across the political spectrum, among them Jesse Jackson, Dick Gregory, Coretta Scott King, Dr. Betty Shabazz, Richard Hatcher, Amiri Baraka, Charles Diggs, Isaac Hayes, Richard Roundtree, and H. Carl McCall. Narrated by Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte, the film was considered too militant for television broadcast at the time and has since circulated only in an edited fifty-eight-minute version. This new restoration from IndieCollect returns an essential cultural document to its original eighty-minute length and visual quality.

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 23

Black Fire
Featuring a new introduction by the filmmakers

Made as part of an ongoing collaboration between experimental filmmaker Kevin Jerome Everson, historian Claudrena N. Harold, and the students and alumni of the University of Virginia, these unclassifiable, poetic short films explore the ways in which Black students have transformed the university—politically, socially, culturally, and intellectually—from the 1960s through the present. Creatively employing reenactment, interviews, music, and performance, Everson and Harold pay tribute to the unsung trailblazers who paved the way for greater equality on the UVA campus while bringing the university’s history of racial and social struggle into dialogue with the present.

Featuring: Sugarcoated Arsenic (2014), We Demand (2016), Fastest Man in the State (2017), How Can I Ever Be Late (2017), Black Bus Stop (2019)

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 24

Directed by Nina Menkes
Featuring a new introduction by the filmmaker

One of American independent cinema’s most sui generis voices, Nina Menkes doesn’t so much direct films as, in her own words, “conjure” them. Imbued with a trancelike power, her cinematic spells combine surrealist imagery that has been compared to David Lynch’s with the hypnotic formal rigor of Chantal Akerman to create a wholly original film language, through which she explores themes of alienation, violence, sexuality, and the search for a nonpatriarchal spirituality. Featuring the recently restored 1990s landmark Queen of Diamonds—a glimmering hallucination set on the margins of Las Vegas—these selections from Menkes’s potent body of work reveal an uncompromising artist who gives radical form to the raw materials of her unconscious.

Features: Queen of Diamonds (1991), Phantom Love (2007), Dissolution (2010)

Shorts: The Great Sadness of Zohara (1983)

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25

Directed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
Featuring a new introduction by the filmmaker

Though they speak quietly, the films of Mahamat-Saleh Haroun register with devastating emotional force. The acclaimed auteur has lived in France since 1982, but most of his films are set in his native Chad, a country whose turbulent history of civil war provides the backdrop to deeply empathetic human dramas like Daratt and the Cannes Jury Prize–winning A Screaming Man. Stylistically restrained but loaded with complex moral and political themes, Haroun’s films confront questions of individual, familial, and national responsibility with unerring compassion and profound personal insight.

Featuring: Abouna (2002), Daratt (2006), A Screaming Man (2010), Grigris (2013), A Season in France (2017)

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 26

Double Feature: The Holy Trintignant
The Conformist and Z

Coolly enigmatic French screen icon Jean-Louis Trintignant is embroiled in intrigue in a pair of politically charged masterpieces.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 27

Saturday Matinee: The Ghost Goes West

An Old World ghost gets a taste of New World values in this sly supernatural satire from one of cinema’s great fantasists, René Clair.

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 28

Directed by Guy Maddin
Featuring a new conversation between Maddin and critic Robert Enright

The language of cinema’s past lives on in the films of Guy Maddin, the renegade surrealist of Winnipeg, Manitoba, whose sixty-fifth birthday we’re celebrating with this tour through his singular filmography. Meticulously recreating the aesthetics of silent and expressionist cinema in order to stage delirious visions of his own dreams, fantasies, and obsessions, Maddin’s films are by turns hallucinatory, warped, unsettling, and hilarious. This selection of the wildly prolific auteur’s numerous shorts and features—including the demented Alpine melodrama Careful, the autobiographical docu-fantasia My Winnipeg, and the epic “lost film” phantasmagoria The Forbidden Room—is a testament to cinema’s uncanny power to make manifest our deepest and darkest inner worlds.

Features: Archangel (1990)**, Careful (1992)**, Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary (2002)**, Cowards Bend the Knee (2003)**, The Saddest Music in the World (2003), My Winnipeg (2007), The Forbidden Room (2015)

Shorts: My Dad Is 100 Years Old (2005), Glorious (2008), Spanky: To the Pier and Back (2008), How to Take a Bath (2009), Night Mayor (2009), Sinclair (2010), Louis Riel for Dinner (2012), Only Dream Things (2012), The Hall Runner (2014), Lines of the Hand (2015), The Green Fog (2017), Accidence (2018), The Rabbit Hunters (2020), Stump the Guesser (2020)

Plus: Now Playing in 30 Years of The Film Foundation

In November, we kicked off our thirtieth-anniversary celebration for film-preservation powerhouse The Film Foundation, founded by Martin Scorsese in 1990. This month, the lineup welcomes three restored gems: Frank Borzage’s swooning Ernest Hemingway adaptation A Farewell to Arms, Robert Downey Sr.’s riotous satire Putney Swope, and Nina Menkes’s Las Vegas–set dream vision Queen of Diamonds.

Featuring: A Farewell to Arms (1932), Putney Swope (1969), Queen of Diamonds (1991)

You have no items in your shopping cart