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.
Plays Monday, May 1 at 7:00 PM.
In this documentary about labor tension in the coal-mining industry, director Barbara Kopple films a strike in rural Kentucky. After the coal miners at the Brookside Mine join a union, the owners refuse the labor contract. Once the miners start to strike, the owners of the mine respond by hiring scabs to fill the jobs of the regular employees. The strike, which lasts more than a year, frequently becomes violent, with guns produced on both sides, and one miner is even killed in a conflict.
Plays Monday, May 8 at 7:00 PM.
U-M Maverick & Maker John Sayles wrote, directed, and edited this sci-fi exploration of the immigrant experience of assimilation, which follows a mute alien and escaped slave, “Brother,” when he crash-lands in the middle of Harlem.
Plays Monday, May 15 at 7:00 PM.
When Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham-Carter) and chaperone Charlotte Bartlett (Maggie Smith) find themselves in Florence with rooms without views, fellow guests Mr Emerson (Denholm Elliot) and son George (Julian Sands) step in to remedy the situation. Director James Ivory, producer Ismail Merchant, and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s longtime collaboration as Merchant Ivory Productions came to represent a certain kind of British period piece that dominated Art House screens in the ‘80s and ‘9
Plays Monday, May 22 at 7:00 PM.
This American independent adventure drama follows two friends, Mike (River Phoenix) and Scott (Keanu Reeves), as they embark on a journey of personal discovery that takes them from Portland to Idaho and finally on to Italy. Loosely based on Shakespeare’s Henry IV Parts 1 & 2 and Henry V.
Plays Monday, May 29 at 7:00 PM.
Certain that the anonymous threats he’s been receiving are the work of David Kahane (Vincent D’Onofrio), producer Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins) tries to fix things over cocktails. Instead, Griffin ends up murdering the screenwriter and courting the dead man’s girlfriend (Greta Scacchi). As police investigate, Griffin concentrates on a prestigious film that might reinvigorate his career. But he soon learns that David’s demise hasn’t been forgotten by everyone in Hollywood.