This spring, Cinetopia Film Festival and Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater will celebrate the glory days of Art House cinemas with a new film series: CINEMA REVOLUTION: INDEPENDENT FILMS THAT DEFINED A GENRE. The eleven film series captures the spirit of cinematic revolution—a revolution that disrupted the Hollywood Studio system, created contemporary foreign film culture and brought to light visionary American directors and new generations of cinematic voices.
The series kicks off on Monday, March 27 at 7:00 PM with Jean-Luc Godard’s French New Wave classic BREATHLESS. The series continues every Monday through May 29 with a journey through the major eras of independent cinema, from the Mid-Century Art House of Godard and Fellini through the box office successes of the “Indiewood” era of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Several of the films highlighted have a strong University of Michigan connection—the archives of Orson Welles, John Sayles, Robert Altman, and Ira Deutchman have all been donated to U-M’s Screen Arts Mavericks & Makers archive at the Hatcher Library.
The series can be categorized into three eras:
CINEMA REVOLUTION: THE MID-CENTURY ART HOUSE
The Art House is the independent counterweight to the mainstream movie machine. Art Houses sprang to life in post-war America, giving space to new cinema voices from, for example, France (Jean-Luc Godard’s BREATHLESS), Italy (Federico Fellini’s SATYRICON) and American’s cinema underground (Robert Downey Sr.’s PUTNEY SWOPE).
CAMPUS CINEMA GLORY DAZE
Youthful Baby Boomers reveled in the campus cinema movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Campus film societies and clubs provided an entry point for conversations about injustice and revolution, while introducing a new audience to some of the most iconic filmmakers of all time: Hollywood mavericks from years past (Orson Welles’s CITIZEN KANE); the French New Wave filmmakers who worshipped them (Francois Truffaut’s DAY FOR NIGHT); American Independent film icons (John Cassavetes’s A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE); and a female filmmaker who won an Oscar for a politically charged documentary (Barbara Kopple’s HARLAN COUNTY, USA).
INDIEWOOD – ART HOUSE FILMS FIND A GROOVE
Our series concludes with shining examples of the golden era of Art House cinema. “Indiewood” was the moniker for this age—a period of award recognition and box office success that demonstrated the Art House had found a “groove” in the final decades of the 20th Century. The selections here represent the wide variety of films that have made their home in Art Houses: Fresh and funny takes on serious topics, like race and otherness (John Sayles’ film THE BROTHER FROM THE OTHER PLANET); iconic British period pieces which became monster hits (Merchant Ivory’s A ROOM WITH A VIEW, featuring an all-star cast including Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Julian Sands, Daniel Day-Lewis and Helena Bonham Carter); and small, literary dramas featuring career-making turns by young actors (Gus Van Sant’s MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO, which is loosely based on Shakespeare’s “Henry” plays and stars River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves). The series concludes with THE PLAYER, Robert Altman’s brilliant satirical comedy on the tottering Hollywood studio system.
Cinema Revolution is presented by Cinetopia Film Festival with support from Michigan Medicine and the Knight Foundation.