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Decades of Radical Change

Flo and Ken Jacobs in 1968

With Cannes wrapped, the summer well and truly begins. Tribeca will open on Wednesday, and the staff at IndieWire has already put seventeen films on its schedule. On Thursday, the BFI Film on Film Festival will open in London with a nitrate print of Michael Curtiz’s Mildred Pierce (1945). “There’s an element of danger to these screenings,” BFI National Archive head curator Robin Baker tells Lillian Crawford at Little White Lies. This is, after all, “cinema as live event.” Nitrate, which hasn’t been publicly projected in the UK for over a decade, is a highly flammable film stock, and Baker assures Crawford that he and his team have been “working for months and months to make sure that we are nitrate ready.”

The George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York, has been presenting its Nitrate Picture Show for seven years—without incident, by the way. This year’s edition, featuring films by Georges Méliès, Josef von Sternberg, René Clair, King Vidor, Fritz Lang, and Max Ophuls, opened yesterday and runs through the weekend.

Archival Assembly #2, starting Thursday in Berlin, is a series of screenings at the Arsenal and Sinema Transtopia; an exhibition at silent green, How to know what’s really happening; and a symposium that takes its title from a new book, Accidental Archivism: Shaping Cinema’s Futures with Remnants of the Past. There will also be an homage to Petna Ndaliko Katondolo, the Congolese filmmaker, activist, and founder and artistic director of the Yole! Africa cultural center in Goma and the Congo International Film Festival.

Il Cinema Ritrovato, Cineteca di Bologna’s festival of restorations and discoveries, now has a full preview of the program for this year’s edition running from June 24 through July 2. Meantime, Karlovy Vary (June 30 through July 8) has rolled out its competition lineups and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival (July 12 through 16) has set its schedule.

This weeks highlights include a few more goings on:

  • Curated by Andrew Lampert, Ken Jacobs: Up the Illusion is an exhibition on view through November 26 at 80WSE in New York that extends to the gallery’s website. In the new Artforum, Amy Taubin writes that in the earliest work here, Orchard Street (1955/2014), “Jacobs’s fascination with the ordinary movement of faces and bodies as performance and his attraction to portraiture is evident, as is his dedication to making the third dimension—the marriage of space and time—the defining condition of filmed moving images.” Tomorrow, New York’s Roxy Cinema will host a tribute to Jack Smith presented by Jacobs—whose moving-image archive has just been acquired by MoMA—and J. Hoberman.

  • Queer 90s: Cinema from a Decade of Radical Change opens on Tuesday and runs through June 29 at the Barbican in London. “I love the New Queer Cinema but those films tend to be very North American-centric, whereas there were so many interesting things happening in other parts of the world,” curator Alex Davidson tells Ryan Gilbey in the Guardian. The series spans the globe and includes Dakan (1997), a love story Mohamed Camara shot in Guinea, where homosexuality was and remains illegal. “You can be sure that your career is over,” Senegalese filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambéty (Touki Bouki) told Camara, “but in a hundred years, people will still talk about you.”

  • In Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022), Prince Namor gives two Wakandan women a conch, “one in a cowry chain of references by which Coogler whispers questions on the place and role of culture and politics that have long animated the African diaspora,” writes Grégory Pierrot in the Evergreen Review. “For all that it sits squarely in Disney and Marvel’s global takeover, Wakanda Forever also allows glimpses into parallel histories and worlds—if you listen closely.” Drawing on the music of Sun Ra and a short story by Henry Dumas, Pierrot tracks the return of the afro-horn.

  • Kelly Reichardt’s Showing Up, starring Michelle Williams as a struggling artist, “depicts how capitalism’s hierarchies poison even minor, everyday interactions between people who more or less mean well,” writes Alex Kong for the Nation. “The fate of the dazed exiles and discarded castoffs who stumble through Reichardt’s films, whether they inhabit the past or the present, is to be shipwrecked on the shoals of an inhospitable historical moment, when the environments in which they might have flourished either no longer exist or have yet to come into being.”

  • The new Senses of Cinema opens with a dossier on cinema and piracy and includes interviews with Dustin Guy Defa, whose Adults, starring Michael Cera, Hannah Gross, and Sophia Lillis, has a new trailer; Alexandre O. Philippe, whose new documentary, Lynch/Oz, opens today in New York; Zhang Lu, whose The Shadowless Tower picked up five awards in Beijing in April; and the winners of the top awards in the Berlinale’s Encounters competition, Bas Devos (Here) and Tatiana Huezo (The Echo). Along with festival reports and book reviews, there’s also a new addition to the Great Actors section, Humphrey Bogart, “arguably the first true anti-hero of the cinema.”

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