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Cornell Cinema's spring semester movie selection includes a mix of traditional blockbusters and more eclectic choices.

January 27, 2020

From Silent Films to Cat Videos, Cornell Cinema to Present Wide Variety of Screenings in This Semester

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A one-stop shop for everything from popular blockbuster hits to silent films with live music accompaniments, Cornell Cinema has laid out a spring schedule filled with one-of-a-kind events — collaborating with professors, a capella groups and professional orchestras.

This semester will feature several popular Hollywood movies — such as Knives Out, Jojo Rabbit and Joker — but also some less conventional picks. The Cinema will feature Oscar-nominated short films from Jan. 31 to Feb. 4, and the Cat Video Fest — a feline-filled weekend that will feature videos submissions from the internet — on Feb. 22 and Feb. 23.     

“Films come about in a number of different ways,” said Mary Fessenden, director of Cornell Cinema.  Sometimes, faculty members will contact her with films that they would like to have shown because of a connection to a course they are teaching.

For example, students in Prof. Andrew Campana’s, Asian studies, class, ASIAN 2260: Japanese Pop Culture, can see the Japanese Anime: 3 Classics series at the Cinema, along with any others who are interested. Those captivated by true crime can see a series titled Thinking about History with the Manson Murders in conjunction with HIST 1850, a course of the same title taught by Prof. Claudia Verhoeven, history.

The Cornell Cinema Student Advisory Board also helps decide which blockbuster hits to showcase. In a survey sent to the Cinema’s listserv of about 5,000 people, the group gauged the popularity of recent films, leading to the inclusion of hits such as Jojo Rabbit and Parasite, Fessenden explained.

In addition to documentaries and movies, the Cinema also will collaborate with Cornell’s gospel a capella group Baraka Kwa Wimbo while presenting the recently restored documentary Say Amen Somebody.

“A restoration was done of this film, it hasn’t been available for a while, but it’s considered one of the best music documentaries ever made,” Fessenden said.

The Cornell Cinema also hosts silent films with live music accompaniments, which Fessendon said is “utterly unique.” Steamboat Bill, Jr. and The Wheels of Chance are two such silent films that will be presented this semester with live music on Feb. 15. Both films will be accompanied by Philip Carli, a film score composer and other musicians.

“I would sort of say that there’s a little bit of trepidation because silent films are not the normal films, and it’s a little hard to get back into,” said Head House Manager Michael McGinnis ’20. “Afterwards, I’m always very happy I [went], those are a lot of fun.”

Throughout the semester, the Cinema will show foreign films like the French film Varda by Agnès and the German film The Golem.

Viewers can also watch high quality 3D films at the Cinema, which are “actually much better than what you would find in a typical mall 3D screening, and we don’t charge anything extra,” Fessenden said.

Regarding the wide range of films being shown this semester, Fessenden said, “as far as the lineup this spring, I would say we’re offering, in a sense, the same wide range of films and special events that we typically do.”