November 14, 2002

Behind the Screens of Cornell Cinema

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In an age where one can purchase re-prints, re-issues, and re-interpretations of practically any film one may wish to see, Cornell Cinema has managed to survive while many other college film programs have failed. And though the Cinema is no longer selling out the Statler auditorium on the weekends (yep, 30 years ago there was even less to do in Ithaca than there is today), they’ve managed to build a reputation that’s earned nods in publications like Variety, Entertainment Weekly, and the Village Voice.

“We’re one of the largest and most diverse film exhibition programs in the country,” says Mary Fessenden, Director of Cornell Cinema.

“And, even though I think you’d find really stellar film programs on campuses throughout the country, they’re really, in a way, more specialized than we are and aren’t showing the entire range of cinema from the classic and experimental to the second run Hollywood and even the priemier Hollywood [films] that aren’t getting picked up by another theater here in town.”

Indeed, the Cinema screens over 400 different films and videos a year (most in 35mm), but don’t head to the cinema expecting a miniature Hoyts 10 screen. Indeed, the atmosphere as well as the programming of Cornell Cinema is unlike that of any cinema company you’re bound to find in Ithaca and, indeed, the country. As far as content goes, Cornell Cinema offers a wide variety of films randing from the edgiest, sexiest, freakiest, and most artistically engaging films to family flicks and classics that are done far more justice on the big screens of Cornell Cinema than on Turner Classics or the Disney Channel. Who wants to see Casablanca with a TCM logo in the corner or Spiderman on your piddly computer monitor anyway?

But what makes Cornell Cinema a truly unique and exciting organization is the ever-changing schedule of special events they host each semester. Whether it’s a live musical performance to a silent film, or a question and answer session with a guest filmmaker after a screening, Conrell Cinema is a great resource for students and the community alike. Go for the entertainment. Go for the education. Most of all, go because it’s here and you’ll never have the chance to get that nice student discount again.

Midnight Madness:

The Midnight Madness series at Cornell Cinema brings select films to the large screen of Uris Auditorium for midnight screenings. There are three shows left for this semester, including Vin Diesel’s super-spy action flick XXX; Christopher Nolan’s mezmerizing neo-noir mystery Memento; and last but not least, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Last seen at Cornell Cinema two years ago, this interactive classic is the perfect fit for a midnight screening. Come as you are or, if you prefer, in drag. Let’s do the timewarp again!

November 15 12 a.m. Uris — XXX

November 22 12 a.m. Uris — Memento

December 6 12 a.m. Uris — The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Shirin Neshat and Shoja Azari:

Working in conjunction with the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art and the Visual Culture Colloquium, Conrell Cinema presents visual artist Shirin Neshat and her collaborator and filmmaker Shoja Azari.

Neshat, an acclaimed photographer who has branched out into multi-media and video intallations will give a talk at the on November 21 at 5:15 p.m. at Johnson Museum as part of the Visual Culture Colloquium. That same eveining at 7:15 p.m. in Willard Straight Theatre, Azari will present his feature film debut entitled K.

Based on Kafka’s “The Married Couple,” “In the Penal Colony,” and “A Fratricide,” K traces the fates of three characters who work their way in and out of the narratives of each story. “Although each story provides its own historical time frame,” writes Azare, “put together K gives us a sense of timeless history, and insight into man’s entangelment with the question of judgment and fate.”

On Friday, November 22 at 7:15 p.m. in the Willard Straight Theatre, both Nashat and Azari will attend a screening of eight short films the two have collaboratively created since 1998. Prices for the screenings are $6 general admission, $5 for students and seniors, and $4 dollars for graduate students.

Cinema Off-Center:

This is Conrell Cinema’s showcase for experimental film and video productions. Many of these films feature guest artists and filmmakers who are present for the screenings and more than willing to discuss their work with the audience. Perhaps one of the most important and interesting aspects of Cornell Cinema, Cinema Off-Center brings the audience and the artists face to face with one another.

Upcoming intallations of the series include: An Evening with Experimental Videomaker Leighton Pierce. Cornell Cinema will screen several of Pierce’s recent works and after the show, Pierce himself will be available for comment. Dirges and Sturgeons with guest curator Astria Suparak. Featuring new work from the US and Europe, this program is composed of works that critique high technology production a la the use of lo-fidelity equipment.

Filmmaker Amie Siegel will be in attendance for a screening of Stories that Refuse to be Told, a collection of three films that includes Siegel’s film The Sleepers.

November 20 7:30 p.m. SCPA — An Evening with Experimental Videomaker Leighton Pierce.

December 3 7:15 p.m., WSH — Dirges and Sutrgeons with guest curator Astria Suparak.

December 5 7:15 p.m., WSH — Stories that Refuse to be Told.

The Previews

As you probably know, many times the most exciting thing about going to the movies are the previews. That said, here’s a sneak peek at what Cornell Cinema’s got cooking for next semester.

In February, Cornell Cinema will show highlights from the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival.

From March to May, Cornell Cinema will run a series of newly printed Akira Kurosawa films. Classics like Seven Samurai (’54), Throne of Blood (’57), and Red Beard (’65) will be included.

The Godfrey Reggio Trilogy: Koyaanisqatsi (’83), Powaqqatsi (’88), and Naqoyqatsi (’02) will be screened. This three-part documentary has been described as a free-association look at how humanity has fallen out of harmony with the natural world.

Cornell Cinema also has a hefty list of new and exciting documentaries lined up fo next semester including:

Daughter from Danang (’02)

Stevie (’02)

The Pinochet Case (’01)

Biggie and Tupac (’02)


Bowling for Columbine (’02)

Archived article by Nate Brown