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Meet the Filmmaker: A Touch of Sin

In person: Jia Zhang-ke, director; Zhao Tao, actress Director of such groundbreaking films as Platform, The World, and Still Life, Jia Zhang-ke was named one of Foreign Policy magazine’s Leading Political Thinkers of 2013.  A “brilliant exploration of violence and corruption in contemporary China” (Jon Frosch, The Atlantic), A Touch of Sin was inspired by four shocking (and true) events that forced the world's fastest-growing economy into a period of self-examination. An angry miner, enraged by widespread corruption in his village, decides to take justice into his own hands. A rootless migrant discovers the infinite possibilities of owning a firearm. A young receptionist, who dates a married man and works at a local sauna, is pushed beyond her limits by an abusive client. And a young factory worker goes from one discouraging job to the next, only to face increasingly degrading circumstances. (Dir.: Jia Zhang-ke, China, 2013, 125 min. D-Cinema, Mandarin with English subtitles). Categories: Films. Co-sponsor: This program is copresented with the Confucius Institute at the University of Maryland and Randolph-Macon College. Venue: Freer Gallery. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free; walk-in. Saturday, April 26, 2014, 2:00 PM.

City Nights Open House

Experience the art of the modern city in its best light: at night! Enjoy a sneak preview of An American in London: Whistler and the Thames, the largest exhibition of works by the American master in a generation. Stroll through scenes of Tokyo as seen in Kiyochika: Master of the Night, mingle with curators, enjoy sketches performed by The British Players, don a dandy hat and moustache, and listen to popular music of the 19th century. Kick off the Cinema Nocturnes film series with the London-based film noir Night and the City. The Freer courtyard and Whistler’s Peacock Room are also open. The second City Nights Open House will be held on Friday, July 25. Categories: After Five. Films. Venue: Freer Gallery. Sackler Gallery. Event Location: Freer and Sackler. Cost: Free. Related Events: Screening of Night and the City, 8:30 pm. Friday, May 2, 2014, 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM.

Night and the City

Watch the trailer.  This classic film noir stars Richard Widmark as Harry Fabian, an American grifter who prowls the London night pulling small-time scams. A chance encounter with a famous retired wrestler inspires him to set himself up for a big payday as a professional wrestling promoter, but the gangster who controls the racket proves to be a more dangerous foe than Harry expected. Filmed on location, Night and the City features gorgeous chiaroscuro images of London at night. Director Jules Dassin was blacklisted during production for alleged communist activities, which may account for the film’s palpable cynicism towards authority and the rule of law. For this quality and its realistic portrayal of the underworld, Night and the City is now seen as a landmark of the noir genre. (Dir.: Jules Dassin, United Kingdom, 1950, 96 min. B&W, D-Cinema). Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free; walk-in. Related Events: City Nights Open House. Related Exhibition: Kiyochika: Master of the Night and An American in London: Whistler and the Thames. Friday, May 2, 2014, 8:30 PM.

Lost in Translation

Watch the trailer.  Few films have captured the dreamy, dislocated feeling of experiencing a foreign city for the first time as well as Sofia Coppola’s lightly comedic drama. Abandoned in a Tokyo hotel by her aloof photographer husband, Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) befriends Bob (Bill Murray), an American actor in town to shoot a whiskey commercial. A moving, but also very funny, relationship develops between these two lonely people as they wander the city, learning about each other and themselves. In this breakthrough film for Coppola (who won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay) and Murray (who was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe for his remarkably nuanced performance), the affection between director and star is palpable. LA Weekly’s Scott Foundas calls this film “fraught with a deep sadness and sense of yearning. Yet, it is also an enormously—at times, even uproariously—comedic film … because Coppola has set out to make a movie set to the rhythms of real (rather than reel) life.”… Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free; walk-in. Related Exhibition: Kiyochika: Master of the Night and An American in London: Whistler and the Thames. Sunday, May 4, 2014, 2:00 PM.

Friday Night

A transit strike has turned Paris into one big traffic jam. Laure, a young woman about to move in with her boyfriend, is stuck in the gridlock on her way to dinner with friends. After offering a ride to a handsome stranger, she embarks on an all-night adventure with him. This minimalist story allows Claire Denis—a master of subtle gestures and nuance—to imbue her film with the eerie atmosphere of the paralyzed city, as the pair goes from café to restaurant to hotel and details about each of them gradually emerge. As film critic David Sterritt notes, its appeal is “the way Denis unfolds the moment-by-moment events of the film, treating each tiny detail as a lovingly placed fragment of what gradually grows into an enticing mosaic of time, place, and personality. Friday Night is part tone poem, part love song, and all pure magic.” Intended for mature audiences. (Dir.: Claire Denis, France, 2002, 90 min. 35mm, French with English subtitles). Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free; walk-in. Related Exhibition: Kiyochika: Master of the Night and An American in London: Whistler and the Thames. Sunday, May 11, 2014, 1:00 PM.

Night and Day

A young couple, Jack and Julie, moves to Paris. While he drives a cab at night, she wanders the city, infatuated with its nocturnal wonders—until she meets and falls for Joseph, the daytime driver of Jack’s taxi. Soon Julie is a full-time lover, sleeping with Jack during the day and with Joseph at night, until this love triangle resolves in what film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum terms “the ultimate feminist solution.” Both Kiyochika and Whistler were influenced by the concept—popularized by French poet Charles Baudelaire—of the flâneur, the strolling connoisseur of city streets. In this ode to love and sex in the City of Light, director Chantal Akerman (best known for her 1975 masterpiece Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles) creates an updated version: the modern, liberated flâneuse. As Rosenbaum writes of this film, “The feeling of summer nights in Paris is so palpable that one can almost taste it, and this delicious taste may be the film’s loveliest achievement.” Intended for mature… Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free; walk-in. Related Exhibition: Kiyochika: Master of the Night and An American in London: Whistler and the Thames. Sunday, May 11, 2014, 3:00 PM.

Naked

Watch the trailer.  In “Mike Leigh’s masterpiece” (Jay Carr, Boston Globe), David Thewlis plays Johnny, a troubled, motor-mouthed rogue on the run from Manchester. He shows up unannounced at a friend’s London apartment, seduces and abandons her roommate, and roams the city in search of stimulation for his addled brain. Thewlis’ multi-award-winning performance is a high-wire act. His Johnny is both erudite and cruel, psychologically damaged yet capable of scathing wit and able to discourse at length on philosophy, theology, and the mysteries of the universe, In essence, he is a debased flâneur wandering among the lost souls of the post-Thatcher London night. Even in the notable ranks of Leigh's movie, TV and theater work—an oeuvre embracing high comedy, biting comment and shivering pathos—Naked is extraordinary. In the hands of Leigh and his magnificently gifted, gutsy cast, these days and nights on London's streets burn themselves on our minds” (Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune). Intended for… Categories: After Five. Films. Venue: Freer Gallery. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free; walk-in. Related Exhibition: Kiyochika: Master of the Night and An American in London: Whistler and the Thames. Friday, May 16, 2014, 7:00 PM.

Tea and a Movie: Rikyu

Pre-film tea tasting: 1 pm, Freer south corridor Film: 2:30 pm, Meyer Auditorium In person: Louise Cort, curator Before the film, DōMatcha provides a taste of the same variety of whisked green tea (matcha) that is prepared in Rikyu and made from the type of leaves once stored in the tea jar named Chigusa. Louise Cort, curator of Chigusa and the Art of Tea, introduces the film and its connections to the exhibition. Among the objects in Chigusa and the Art of Tea is a letter from the legendary tea master Sen no Rikyu (1522–1591). One of the most influential figures in traditional Japanese tea culture, he once participated in a tea gathering with Chigusa. This film by Hiroshi Teshigahara (Woman in the Dunes) focuses on Rikyu’s complex relationship with Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a warlord who rose from peasant roots to become Japan’s second “great unifier.” Hideyoshi employs Rikyu to instruct him in the art of tea. The more Rikyu becomes Hideyoshi’s friend and confidante, the more he is unwillingly embroiled… Categories: Culinary Arts. Films. Venue: Freer Gallery. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free; walk-in. Related Exhibition: Chigusa and the Art of Tea. Sunday, May 18, 2014, 1:00 PM.

Meet the Filmmaker: An Evening with Charles Lim Li Yong

A former professional sailor, Charles Lim Li Yong now is a filmmaker and multimedia artist. He has been exploring the transfiguration and loss of maritime resources of his native Singapore through his ongoing SEA STATES project, which includes photographs, digital prints, short films, and video art. At this event, Yong presents and discusses a selection of his short films. Categories: After Five. Films. Venue: Freer Gallery. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free; walk-in. Friday, May 30, 2014, 7:00 PM.

Two Men in Manhattan

Watch the trailer.  French actor-director Jean-Pierre Melville (The Samurai, Army of Shadows) was a devotee of all things American (he was known to drive around Paris in a big American convertible while sporting a cowboy hat), especially American films noir. With Two Men in Manhattan, he was able to make one of his own. He stars as Moreau, a reporter sent by a French press agency on a discreet mission to find the French delegate to the UN, a known womanizer who has gone missing in the New York night. Along with his photographer buddy Delmas, Moreau prowls his target’s likely haunts—a strip club, the dressing room of his actress-mistress, a brothel catering to the diplomatic community—hoping to keep the scandal quiet. Delmas, on the other hand, secretly plans to take compromising photos to sell to the gossip magazines. In addition to its riveting storyline and delicious noir atmosphere, this film is notable for its extraordinary nighttime street imagery. Shot on actual New York streets, often in parts of… Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free; walk-in. Related Exhibition: Kiyochika: Master of the Night and An American in London: Whistler and the Thames. Sunday, June 1, 2014, 1:00 PM.

The Day He Arrives

Watch the trailer. The cleverly constructed romantic comedies of prolific Korean director Hong Sang-soo (Woman is the Future of Man, In Another Country) operate on systems of themes and variations, and are suffused with both longing and humor. In The Day He Arrives, the nighttime streets of Seoul become conduits for nostalgia, painful reunions, and fortuitous chance encounters when a lapsed filmmaker returns from the countryside for a brief visit. On his first night, he gets drunk with some former students, and then stumbles off to a tearful reunion with his ex-lover Kyung-jin. The next night—and several nights thereafter—he goes drinking with a heartbroken friend at a restaurant owned by a woman who looks exactly like Kyung-jin (and is played by the same actress). Thus begins a series of repetitions and coincidences that coalesce into what New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis calls “an exploration, both playful and rueful, of desire, narrative and the idea beautifully expressed by Faulkner in … Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free; walk-in. Related Exhibition: Kiyochika: Master of the Night and An American in London: Whistler and the Thames. Sunday, June 1, 2014, 3:00 PM.

The Exiles

Introduced by Jesse Wente (Ojibwe), head of film programs, Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) Bell Lightbox, curator of First Peoples Cinema: 1500 Nations, One Tradition Watch the trailer.  Of all the cinematic depictions of Los Angeles at night, none is as distinctive as this long-unseen, recently restored 1961 independent film by Kent MacKenzie. It chronicles one night in the lives of young Native American men and women living in the Bunker Hill district of the city. Based entirely on interviews with the participants and their friends, the film follows a group of exiles—transplants from Southwest reservations—as they flirt, drink, party, fight, and dance. Its 2008 release (it as never before shown commercially) was presented with the support of Native American author Sherman Alexie and African American filmmaker Charles Burnett, and it was met with universal critical praise. Armond White of the New York Press calls it “a classic American story of aspiration and tragedy. It is beautiful and… Categories: After Five. Films. Venue: Freer Gallery. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free; walk-in. Related Exhibition: Kiyochika: Master of the Night and An American in London: Whistler and the Thames. Friday, June 6, 2014, 7:00 PM.

Asia After Dark: Bollywood and Beyond

Hosted by the Silk Road Society With beats by DJ Rekha #asiaafterdark Dance your way through the first Asia After Dark of 2014, featuring the sights and sounds of classic Bollywood, ancient India, and modern Indian American culture. At this event, held in conjunction with the exhibitions Perspectives: Rina Banerjee at the Sackler and Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation at the National Museum of Natural History, you'll discover a myriad of Indian narratives while following the Asia After Dark mantra: "Art, Drink, and Be Happy." After sundown, the Sackler Gallery transforms into a dance floor for Indian-inspired beats by world-renowned Bhangra pioneer DJ Rekha. Guests can enjoy Bollywood films and curator-led tours of Indian American artist Rina Banerjee's contemporary installation in its final weekend on view. Sip specialty cocktails, make fun photo booth memories, enjoy delicious Indian bites from food trucks, and expand your mind. Categories: After Five. Celebrations. Films. Gallery Talks & Tours. Performances. Co-sponsor: Presented in conjunction with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. Venue: Sackler Gallery. Event Location: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Cost: Free to Silk Road Society members $15 advance, $25 at the door (credit cards or cash) Upgrade for $10 to skip the lines at the door, enjoy a VIP-only bartender, and get an invite to an exclusive future Silk Road Society reception and curator meet-and-greet.  Must be 21 years old with valid photo ID to attend. Purchase Tickets: http://www.asia.si.edu/asiaafterdark. Related Exhibition: Perspectives: Rina Banerjee. Saturday, June 7, 2014, 8:00 PM – Sunday, June 8, 2014, 12:00 AM.

Special screening: Ram-Leela

Watch the trailer.  Continue the Asia After Dark: Bollywood and Beyond experience with this box-office smash. In this lush, visually stunning Bollywood rendering of Romeo and Juliet, charming vagabond Ram (Ranveer Singh) meets the passionate Leela (Deepika Padukone) during a village Holi celebration. It’s love at first sight for the pair, but their families have been sworn enemies for 500 years. Against a backdrop of violence and vengeance, Ram and Leela fight the world to live their own dreams. What will happen when they declare their love to the world? Will their families relent, or will Ram and Leela create their own destiny? Borrowing a page out of Baz Luhrmann’s book, director Sanjay Leela Bhansali (Guzaarish, Devdas) stages a dazzling light-and-sound show that captures the ecstasy of first love, the thrill of clandestine meetings, and the obsession of great rivalries with epic cinematic flair. (Dir.: Sanjay Leela Bhansali, India, 2013, 155 min. D-Cinema, Hindi with English subtitles). Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free; walk-in. Related Events: Asia After Dark: Bollywood and Beyond. Sunday, June 8, 2014, 2:00 PM.

In the Mood for Love

Watch the trailer.  Wong Kar-Wai’s period romance won numerous international awards for acting, directing, and cinematography. Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung star as neighbors who suspect their spouses of cheating and find themselves falling in love with one another. A sumptuous visual tour-de-force that revels in the atmosphere of early 1960s Hong Kong at night, this achingly romantic masterpiece is one of Wong’s most beloved films. It is “rapturously elegant and deeply sexy in a deliciously restrained way. One of the most romantic movies I have ever seen, right up there with Brief Encounter and Casablanca” (Jonathan Foreman, New York Post). (Dir.: Wong Kar-Wai, Hong Kong, 2001, 98 min. 35mm, Cantonese with English subtitles). Categories: After Five. Films. Venue: Freer Gallery. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free; walk-in. Related Exhibition: Kiyochika: Master of the Night and An American in London: Whistler and the Thames. Friday, June 13, 2014, 7:00 PM.

The Lodger

Watch the trailer.  Alfred Hitchcock himself called this thriller “the first true ‘Hitchcock’ movie.” Based on a novel inspired by the exploits of Jack the Ripper, it stars Ivor Novello as a mysterious stranger who takes a room in a London family’s house. His odd behavior soon leads him to be suspected of perpetrating an ongoing spree of gruesome murders. London’s famous nighttime fog plays a central role in this tale of terror. Taking inspiration from the stylized sets and richly contrasting light and shadow pioneered by the German expressionists (exemplified by such films as The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari and Nosferatu), Hitchcock fills The Lodger with gorgeously rendered night scenes infused with his trademark disturbing psychological atmosphere. This digitally restored version features a newly commissioned score by composer Nitin Sawhney, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. Film restoration by the BFI National Archive in association with ITV Studios Global Entertainment, Network Releasing,… Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free; walk-in. Related Exhibition: Kiyochika: Master of the Night and An American in London: Whistler and the Thames. Sunday, June 15, 2014, 1:00 PM.

Crossroads

Live musical accompaniment by Burnett Thompson Set in Edo-period Japan, this story of sexual obsession takes place in the decadent milieu of the Yoshiwara pleasure district. As pompous samurai mingle with cynical prostitutes, a young man makes the mistake of becoming smitten with a woman tied to several ruthless, powerful men, much to the chagrin of his tenderhearted sister. Like Teinosuke Kinugasa’s other innovative silent-era masterpiece A Page of Madness, Crossroads employs dazzling visual effects to portray its protagonist’s unraveling mind. Even more innovative is its overall visual scheme. To evoke the seedy atmosphere of Yoshiwara, Kinugasa filmed entirely at night, making this a uniquely nocturnal vision of the floating world’s heart of darkness. (Dir.: Teinosuke Kinugasa, Japan, 1928, 80 min. B&W, silent) Accompanist Burnett Thompson is a composer, pianist, and educator. Currently producer of the Piano at the White House and Hill Center concert series, he has performed his own scores for… Categories: Films. Performances. Venue: Freer Gallery. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free; walk-in. Related Exhibition: Kiyochika: Master of the Night and An American in London: Whistler and the Thames. Sunday, June 15, 2014, 3:30 PM.

Nairobi Half Life

Watch the trailer.  David “Tosh” Gitonga’s gripping drama was the first Kenyan film to be submitted for Academy Award contention. Joseph Wairimu stars as Mwas, a young man who leaves his village with the dream of pursuing an acting career in bustling Nairobi, only to find city life harsher than he imagined. When all of his money is stolen on his first day there, he becomes ensnared by a gang of thieves. An opportunity to star in a play means he must try to extricate himself from a life of crime. In addition to Wairimu’s charismatic performance (he won the award for Best Actor at the Durban International Film Festival), Gitonga’s film features a panoramic view of contemporary Nairobi—its rich, its poor, and everything in between. (Dir.: David “Tosh” Gitonga, Kenya, 2012, 96 min. D-Cinema, Swahili and Kikuyu with English subtitles). Categories: After Five. Films. Venue: Freer Gallery. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free; walk-in. Related Events: Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Friday, June 27, 2014, 7:00 PM.

Beijing Bicycle

Watch the trailer.  In this social drama by noted Sixth Generation filmmaker Wang Xiaoshuai, teenager Guei moves to Beijing from the countryside and finds work as a bicycle messenger. The bike he relies upon for his livelihood is stolen and winds up in the hands of Jian, a schoolboy who steals money to buy it secondhand so he can impress a girl. Wang uses their intersecting stories to dramatize emerging class divisions in China, creating a vivid portrait of a city in flux through a beautifully crafted tale of innocence lost. “Beijing Bicycle is at once somber and mysterious, comical and sad. It shows just how lonely a crowded city can be” (A.O. Scott, New York Times). (Dir.: Wang Xiaoshuai, China, 2001, 113 min. 35mm, Mandarin with English subtitles). Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free; walk-in. Related Events: Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Sunday, June 29, 2014, 2:00 PM.