Coriolanus: Press Conference with Director/Actor Ralph Fiennes and Actor Brian Cox
By Ron Gordner, DC Film Society Member
The following press conference was held at the 2011 London Film Festival in October 2011. Present were John Logan (Screenwriter), Ralph Fiennes (Director/Actor), Brian Cox (Actor), and Hilary Oliver (Critic/Moderator).
At the BFI Press Conference. (left to right): Brian Cox, John Logan, Ralph Fiennes, Hilary Oliver.
Hilary Oliver: Ralph, I’d like to start with you, because I know you have this fascination for Coriolanus. What is your interest in this flawed hero and what makes it so captivating that you wanted to tell this story again?
Ralph Fiennes: Well, I guess I became obsessed with Coriolanus when I played it on stage about 10 or 11 years ago. It’s a very provocative piece with a confrontational tone to it. I like that Shakespeare is confronting the audience and questioning loyalty and all the political intrigue in Coriolanus and you have this man with this almost obscene idea of integrity. I think it questions the audience about where its loyalties should lie and I think it continues to be relevant, especially with political and economic uncertainty and uprisings around the world.
Hilary Oliver: John and Brian can you tell us how you became involved in the project; John as screenwriter and Brian as an actor?
John Logan: One of the reasons I am a writer today is because of Shakespeare and I have been obsessed with him since I was 8 years old and saw Olivier’s Hamlet. I have always wanted to be a screenwriter, wanting to someday adapt Shakespeare. Coriolanus was always one I wanted to do because the character is so thorny, murky, opaque and multidimensional. When you are thinking about close-ups and an actor’s eye, I am looking for the darkest most compelling character I can find, and I always thought Coriolanus was a very modern and cinematic play. So when Ralph asked me if I was interested in doing it, I committed the ultimate sin and said yes within 5 minutes of being in the room.
Brian Cox: It was about two Christmases ago when Ralph got in touch with me and said he was doing this film and I immediately thought of togas and stuff and thought, hmm I’ve done those kind of films, but he had a new and completely different take on it. I read John’s script and it was an amazing adaptation and it was to be set in Belgrade which has its own worldliness and culture. I thought the role of Menenius was even more interesting in this film version than on stage.
Question: The delivery of the dialog is given in a very contemporary fashion. Was that the intention from the beginning or did that come organically? Also could you comment on the actors using their own dialects?
Ralph Fiennes: No, no, that is intentionally deliberate. It is dialog written for the theatre, but I must say some of the best deliveries I have heard were by actors like Michael Bryant at the National who had a much more simplistic delivery making it sound like it was his natural language. So we wanted it to be naturalistic and simplistic generally, however there are scenes where it is explosive and heightened. Scenes with Brian, the tribunes and Jimmy Nesbitt, like having a cup of coffee should have a natural and real rhythm. It seems naturalistic but the actor has very specific language to use and to make accessible. We didn’t want it going into always something very pronounced, keep it simplistic. In the matter of dialects, yes we wanted it to seem natural, so an actor like Gerry Butler should be comfortable in using the language. I didn’t want to mess with who they are to pronounce the words. Also the characters came from different worlds and dialects just like today.
Question: The language of the words is very precise. This is needed on the stage but why is it needed in cinema? Was the ending song, a Greek song about a dead brother, a conscious choice?
Ralph Fiennes: Your first question segues into the previous question of the use of more natural language rather than preciseness for accessibility, otherwise you may not understand it. You are dealing with phrasing and sentence structures that must be delivered like speeches but the skill of the actor is to make it sound natural and be accessible. If you blur it and drop consonants everywhere, then the audience won’t get it or understand it. At the end I thought it should be a lament for the pity of the waste of what has been witnessed. I asked a friend, Lisa Zane, who is an American of Greek descent what would be good and she suggested the song simply sung by a woman lamenting.
Brian Cox: We come from a background where Shakespeare’s words are like mother’s milk. They have their advantages and disadvantages and we didn’t want to create too much prose. In rehearsal Ralph and particularly Vanessa had an extraordinarily syntactic way of dealing with the language. I think it should be done like that simplistically, as Ralph mentioned was done by Michael Bryant. I think we can many times overdress Shakespeare. John’s adaptation also was able to distill and get to the essence of Shakespeare. It has great language and I think too many films today suffer from not having good enough language in them.
John Logan: I want to say that when Ralph and I were developing the script, we were very careful to maintain the language and its luxuriousness. As mentioned in many modern films, the language or dialog is not the most treasured component of the movie. We fought battles with each other and with Shakespeare’s text to try to preserve as much poetry as we possibly could. We still wanted the grand speech in the film, because that is Shakespeare.
Ralph Fiennes: We locked horns amicably, but we both love the original text and wanted to preserve the meaning. We found that for every ten lines there were two strong lines that needed to be maintained for the strength of the play. Although I feel the text is very dense at times, and impenetrable in places, so I think it helps to cull some of the more difficult bits. I think it can really release moments and speech by taking stuff away.
Question: For Mr. Fiennes, if you were going to do this film again, what would you add or cut away, or change?
Ralph Fiennes: If I was going to do the film again, I would just have much more shooting time. Simple as that, I wouldn’t change the setting, I would just like more time. I may revisit some scenes that we took out of the film, because of time pressures, that I may put back in, where the film may have suffered for their being removed because I was not satisfied with them. We shot the film in 8 (5 day) weeks. We were racing sometimes to finish. Some scenes took an hour that would normally take a whole morning to set up and shoot.
Question: Ralph is both the director and the main actor in the film. How is it possible to manage both positions at the same time? Also you have played this role in the theatre before, what is the different experience of playing the role in the theatre and in a film?
Ralph Fiennes: I have to admit I was a bit mad to want to act and direct it, but that’s the way it came out. No one else was clamoring to direct it. Yes it was hard, but if you have a great team around you a great deal of preparation must happen. Whether you are in front of the camera or behind, it still requires finding the location, scenes, and shots to do. I had an amazing team that saved my ass and got me back when I seemed to be going off track. It was that wonderful collaborative spirit of my cinematographer Barry Ackroyd, editor Nicolas Gaster, and others sitting here to help make the film. I also had a wonderful lady, Joan Washington there giving me feedback on the film and my acting performance. She also monitored the speech and dialog throughout the film. We employed quite a few Serbian actors speaking Shakespeare in the film also, so she was the central figure giving me feedback. Also Susanna Lenton was a wonderful script supervisor. So having a great support system makes it possible. Also many actors now have become directors, so it is not new at all. In the 19th century you had many actor/managers in the theatre who acted and directed their companies. And performance in the theatre is for a very big space, so it is very different with a film where the camera can come into a face without projection of microphones and recordings. An intimacy at moments is possible on film that may not be possible in the theatre.
Ralph Fiennes at the press conference
Question: Mr. Fiennes as this was your first directorial role, did you storyboard the scenes or innovatively do them on the set and did you talk to your famous family member who is a director, and was it fun?
Ralph Fiennes: Yes, we storyboarded most of the film. Barry Ackroyd also used what was happening, especially in the battle scenes to capture other innovative footage that is raw and being created in front of you. I wasn’t sure which family member you were referring to, I have two sisters who both direct and they came to early screenings and I asked their advice at times. And was it fun, well it was nervy and adrenalized at first but yes it was more exhilarating than what I would call “fun.”
Question: Do you and John plan to work together again?
Ralph and John: Yes we would love to.
John Logan: We do plan to but I can’t talk about that yet. I can tell you that my ambition is that I would love to do Antony and Cleopatra with Ralph.
Question: Ralph, I have heard that you may plan to do The Invisible Woman; do you plan to play Dickens yourself?
Ralph Fiennes: Well it is under discussion, but just at the moment, we are trying to cast the main part.
Question: I was wondering about the use of a newsreader instead of a messenger, and if that was because John Snow was your first choice?
John Logan: What was one of our jobs was to find modern metaphors for the things, so swords didn’t have to be swords and messengers didn’t have to be messengers. The currency deals so much with the media and his presentation to the public and media. Whether he is appearing in the Senate or on TV it is very public and we wanted all the characters to have that access to the media. We had a discussion about whether we needed a messenger, or what would happen in the modern world if you turned on the TV after a revolution.
Question: Twitter has been used in Libya and Syria, so do you see twitter perhaps being used in Shakespeare in the future?
John Logan: We were saving that for Antony and Cleopatra but ok.
Brian Cox: I was in Manchester and saw John Snow at a political function and congratulated him on his verse in the film. John said well after 32 times with Ralph I was bound to get it right eventually.
Hilary Oliver: Brian, Menenius is an interesting character; did you and other cast members see other parallels with what’s going on politically in the world with protests today or see parts of Coriolanus in contemporary politicians at all?
Brian Cox: I think characters like Menenius have been with us throughout dramatic literature. Walsinghams, and others are there although we don’t think about everyday with their public and private personas. Menenius has a better role here than in Shakespeare because he gets a proper end.
Question: The theatre requires a long rehearsal process, was that true of the film also?
Ralph Fiennes: No, and it wasn’t possible. You had a variety of people coming in at different windows of time to shoot their scenes, so there wasn’t time for many rehearsals. So the second of our two rest days were given over to rehearsal and prep. Sometimes we would rehearse at the end of a shooting day, just grabbing it when you can. I would have loved more rehearsal time, but it just wasn’t possible.
Question: How did you get Vanessa Redgrave onboard? What was it like shooting in Belgrade?
Ralph Fiennes: Vanessa was my very first dream choice to play Volumnia. I have always been a fan and admirer of her, she always moves me. Two years ago when John delivered the first draft, she was the first phone call I ever made. I did know her, so it was a personal call. She said yes, and was extremely gracious and patient until the film was made. She must have thought it would never be made. When she came to Belgrade for shooting and rehearsal I remember thinking I knew all her lines and mine, but when she rehearsed with us, it was just extraordinary the way she can inhabit a text like that. She finds many layers of performance. Shooting in Belgrade was fantastic, we had access to the city and the parliament. We used a real Senate chamber that we could have never replicated or afforded to build. We also had the support of their police force and anti-terrorist forces who played many of the soldiers. All the doors and streets were opened for us.
Question: Was the reason for shooting in Belgrade related to the history of Yugoslavia? How was the film received at the Belgrade Film Festival?
Ralph Fiennes: We needed to film in a country with a film infrastructure but with costs that we could afford. I went on early location scouts to Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, and Bosnia. The city of Belgrade felt right to me as the Rome of the story. We were shown the Parliament and other locations, and just the way the city works is great. The traffic in Bucharest is terrible. We also met a production company in Belgrade that was gung ho and supportive and passionate to do it called WIP- Work in Progress. I knew about the history and this is not really a Balkan story. You can read that into it if you want. Recent wars in Iraq, Chechnya, or even Colombia all create the modern context for the story. We took the film to the Belgrade Film Festival and showed it in a large 4,000 seat center and all the people sat listening and it was well received.
Brian Cox: Belgrade just seemed perfect. You can’t help but be informed by the history of the city and area. The history is very confusing and you realize people were thrown off balconies, etc. and their portraits are in the Senate. So lives have been lived in a very Romanesque way. The Serbian actors were wonderful also because there is a long history of theatre in Belgrade. Distinguished actors in their own right were playing very small roles. It was easy to soak up the atmosphere, including the old Communism and plebian life seen in little cafeterias, etc.
John Logan: Yes, Serbia was brilliant. Being Irish I also see a similar atmosphere like Northern Ireland and the constant push or pressure between politics and the man.
Question: For Ralph and Brian, you always hear that actors are afraid that each job will be their last. Is this true of even very renowned and gifted actors as yourselves? Also how do you maintain excitement in the job?
Brian Cox: No, the fear never goes away. You never have that security. You always think you will be discovered. I think what keeps you going is the work. You are only as good as your next job. It’s still the work to come, still improving and getting better, learning the craft. Ralph is a hellava director and Coriolanus was a great experience.
Ralph Fiennes: I agree with Brian; the anxiety is always there. You want to do more and get better. Every part has a new challenge, bringing alive a new character is exciting and who you work with is a huge factor. There are still many actors and directors I am longing to work with. I hope that excitement never goes away.
Question: When you began working on the adaptation were there other adaptations of this or other Shakespeare plays that you found particularly inspiring?
John Logan: I can say for myself that the most influential were Olivier’s Hamlet and Ken Branaugh’s Hamlet. I think Branaugh’s Hamlet is the best adaptation until Coriolanus for me.
Ralph Fiennes: I think the modern Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet because he created a very modern world that we the audience recognized very quickly but still kept the Shakespeare dialog. Another film I love but was not trying to emulate was Peter Brook’s King Lear with Paul Scofield which has a wonderful stark austerity.
Brian Cox: Smoktunovsky’s role as Hamlet is the greatest version I know. I have met him and he said he had a miserable time playing it for director Kozintsev but I remember seeing it when I was 17 and I never knew Shakespeare could be like that. Also Brooks' Lear and Orson Wells' Chimes at Midnight are also amazing.
Coriolanus is expected to open in the DC area in late January.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Q&A with Actor Gary Oldman and Director Tomas Alfredson
By Annette Graham, DC Film Society Member
A screening of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was held on November 21 at AFI Silver Theater where it was featured as the Closing Night film of the European Union Film Showcase. Actor Gary Oldman and director Tomas Alfredson discussed the film and took questions from the audience; AFI's programmer Todd Hitchcock moderated.
The film is based on the books by John le Carré which were written in the 1970s. There was a TV miniseries of seven episodes starring Alec Guinness and directed by John Irvin in 1979.
Todd Hitchcock: Congratulations on a fantastic piece of work and thank you so much for coming to DC to share it with us. As an actor, what did you find appealing in the role of George Smiley and what did you see as a challenge? What did you hope to do with the role?
Gary Oldman: I was very aware of the material and also the fact that in the original series it was a huge success for Alec Guinness and he was the face of Smiley for many years. That was initially was a very big dragon to slay. Just from reading the book I felt that there was a bit of a sadist to George. He knows the sort of ugly world he lives in. He can be rather cruel and he can be hard when he needs to be. I thought that the Guinness portrayal, and I'm a fan of Alec Guinness, I felt that he was a little huddled. He was nearly 70 when he played the role and I thought there was that to be explored. You are mining the same material. There are places that Guinness and I will meet, because the books and scenes are often the same and we're saying the same dialogue. But there were other shades to Smiley. So that was the challenge initally, the dragon I had to slay. There was this towering performance and for many it was a definitive portrayal. I would project what people will say, "who the hell does he think he is." But thankfully I walked through that fire and he [Tomas Alfredson] had great faith in me.
Todd Hitchcock: Tomas, how do you go from making an incredibly inventive vampire movie in Sweden with an adolescent vampire girl and a loner adolescent boy and their friendship, moving from that to tackling John le Carré spy material in the UK. I know he's played a vampire before [Dracula, Francis Ford Coppola, 1992] (audience laughs), maybe that was something you were drawing on that for the role.
Tomas Alfredson: It's hard to explain why you accept to start working on a project. When you open a script, or as in this case open a book, it's a very emotional thing. You get a lot of images inside your head and perhaps you react physically--crying, or laughing, or your heart starts beating. For me that is the impulse I need to accept a project. The film you mentioned [Let the Right One In] was not a vampire film for me, it was about a young kid. And this is not an espionage film for me, it's about soldiers of the cold war, very impersonal and emotional relationships.
Question: We are now historically removed from the cold war, whereas the miniseries was made in the middle of it. With that 20/20 hindsight, do you have a different judgement on the character of George Smiley?
Gary Oldman: George is morally subtle. He is of the old school, what we would call the 39/45-ers. So he went through the war and he believes absolutely what he is doing is for king and country. There is really no narcissism involved or self-aggrandizement at all. He absolutely believes. It's the last vestiges of the empire and he truly believes what he's doing is the right thing. The main themes of the film are love lost, friendship, loyalty and betrayal. Men have died becauses of it. It's the ultimate betrayal for George. He might even put it above infidelity.
Todd Hitchcock: The film has already opened in the UK and it's been a tremendous success. Do you think that even though it's a 70s set, cold war period piece, that there was contemporary resonance for UK audiences?
Gary Oldman: Has a great deal changed? The faces have changed, the enemy has changed. When I was a teenager growing up in the cold war, it was a time for me when the chemicals in my body were rearranging themselves, it was all hormones, girls and David Bowie. But occasionally we were reminded of this threat--were these missiles pointed at us? You felt very vulnerable because we were that much closer and Europe was very much a target. If there's any parallel perhaps one could look at this movie and look at Iran and what is happening there. When I watch the news now, I get very much the same sensation as I did when I was 15 watching the news. The world is a mess; it always has been.
Question: In your discussions with le Carré was there any kind of reference to the spy scandal? [Burgess/Mclean/Philby]
Tomas Alfredson: I think Bill Haydon is a mixture of those characters or real persons you referred to. The homosexuality that we have added is not in the book. Peter Guillam is gay. We asked le Carré if it would be the right thing to do and he thought it was brilliant because it was a very gay world, the SIS [Secret Intelligence Service], in those days. At the same time it was forbidden because they would be exposed to blackmailing. But I thought that was a very interesting thing to show here, what kind of sacrifices these people did which as we see in the film is very heartbreaking.
Question: What is your personal favorite role you have done in your long career?
Gary Oldman: I would have to say Oswald [JFK, Oliver Stone, 1991] Lowering his voice: 'He didn't do it.' (audience laughs) That was a great, exceptional experience because there was very little of Oswald on the page and I was asked to become a kind of investigator, a detective. Oliver Stone gave me some money and some airline tickets and said, "Just go off and find out who this guy was." So that is my personal favorite. Probably True Romance [Tony Scott, 1993]. I've jokingly said that I've waited 30 years to play this part. I'm often asked to portray characters who physicalize their emotions; they're intense and very kinetic. So it was a real joy to be able to have an internal life and not have to express it in a physical way. And plus we had incredible source material. Tomas reduced things. Obviously, we had to remove a lot from the book. There are things that are not in the film that are in the book and things that are in the film that are not in the book. He would reduce a scene to maybe a composition--just an image and two lines. It's wonderful to ask an actor to play a scene and you say, I can do it with two lines and a look and I can get the scene across. So you may have two lines in the scene, you may have a couple of words, but you always felt that there was this wonderful source material that was supporting you. That was your life; that was your subtext that you would bring to the scene. The whole experience of this movie--this part, this director, this incredible cast of actors--it felt very rare. Something came together.
Question: Mr. Oldman spoke previously about using Alec Guinness as a point of reference for your portrayal. For Mr. Alfredson: how did the mini series influence your portrayal of Tinker, Tailor. Also is there the possibility of a sequel?
Gary Oldman: I would just like to say I remembered the series but I didn't use it as a template or revisit it specifically because I didn't want to do an impersonation. But I just remember it as a big ghost that cast a shadow and I was terrified.
Tomas Alfredson: I used it when I started working with the screenwriters. It was very useful to just get the story into my head and get some faces on all those characters and places. It was very useful for that. It's an autonomous piece of work, done in seven hours, a totally different thing than telling this in two hours. At some point, you have to make a decision. This is mine now, I own this for this period of time and I'm going to do it my way. I have to leave that behind me and do my thing. I haven't seen it since then. And yes, we have discussed a sequel but we have to release this first. There might be one film made from two books, or maybe two films out of two books.
Todd Hitchcock: The compression you managed to achieve is really impressive. Things are moved to back story, things you get in a brief moment. It keeps you on your toes as a viewer to pick up on the detail that's going on.
Tomas Alfredson: I think the scene they wrote with Smiley, Guillam and Mendel sitting in the car with the bee--that is cinema--it tells so much about that character in twenty seconds; that is proof of their craft.
Gary Oldman: George is a study in the economy of energy. If any of you have cats, if you ever watch a cat jump from the floor to counter, it never uses more energy than it needs. It never wears itself out; it just uses enough to get from there to there and George is a little like that. Particularly in that scene, he lowers the window to let the bee out, but he only lowers it enough.
Question: Although the film is exceptionally quiet, it is also exceptionally nerve-wracking. When you are constructing film like this, how do you film that much intensity without breaking the steady beat that you established?
Tomas Alfredson: Many years ago I made a TV series in Sweden and I had this enormous scene I had to do; it was twelve pages or so. It contained so much information that was crucial for the series. We couldn't cut it down and we couldn't divide it into several scenes. We had to do it that way. We shot it and it was a nightmare to shoot because it was so long and it ended up being fourteen minutes. I struggled weeks in editing. You lost it after three or four minutes. You didn't hear what the characters were saying because there was too much information. After two or three weeks in editing, the answer was to actually add a couple minutes of silence in it; then you heard what they were saying. You need time, not only to digest the information; you need time to chew it and swallow it. There are a lot things happening here in this film, but in a very quiet way, a very calm way. I believe in creating a dialogue with the audience rather than having a monologue with just images and scenes that don't let the audience in at all. I want to have a dialogue where the audience is actually active and think for themselves and consider the audience as grownups. We fought a lot to get rid of stuff here, to create those silences.
Question: Seeing Kathy Burke is a reminder of Nil By Mouth (Gary Oldman, 1997). Have you ever had the urge to step behind the camera again?
Gary Oldman: It was good to see Kathy again on the screen. She is all but retired and has been directing theater. Perhaps it was because the scenes were with me that she felt comfortable to step back in. Yes, I plan to do something. I've been bringing up two boys in the last ten years and they have kept me busy. Maybe a couple years down the line. I'm working on a few things and hope to get behind the camera again.
Question: Did you think about the amount of silence that was going to be in the film before you started working on it?
Tomas Alfredson: Silence is very useful to activate the audience. I could ask you a question and if you don't answer, that is also an answer. You would start thinking, what is the answer, what is he thinking now, is he upset, did he hear, what is it? If you surround lines or actions with silence, you activate the audience.
Question: There are many shots of you up close. Did you get a lot of direction--"think of this, I want your face to do this?"
Gary Oldman: The shoot was ten or eleven weeks. After the first week or so, Tomas and I would work telepathically. (audience laughs). Some days we would come in and we'd sit and run a scene, and he would say "good, let's shoot." And we would do two takes and he would say, "terrific, great cut, moving on." I did my homework, broke down the script and scenes. You do that on every movie but you don't often work with such good material. I remember one occasion when we did a scene and we cut and Tomas said to me, "It's okay but it needs to be a little bit more um um..." And I said, "I know what you mean." And I did the scene and he cut and I said, "Is that it?" And he said, "Yeah." But I didn't know what that really means. The hardest thing about this is when you have to talk about the movie, when you are promoting it. (audience laughs) You have to suddenly analyze stuff that you do intuitively. We didn't talk like this when we were doing the movie. It was unspoken sometimes. There were days when we discussed a scene, many days--you do something and it's a sensation. Acting is not an intellectual process, it's a sensation. You have to be objective, analyze it, break it down, what you were doing. Do people really want to know how you take the rabbit out of the hat? The other day someone asked me, "What were you thinking at the end when you come into the boardroom and sit down at the end of the film?" We have discussed that Smiley is there to tidy up, it's temporary. There are probably needles on that chair. He's not comfortable sitting in that chair but he is absolutely prepared to do it to restore order. So we discuss that. Then you have the technical side of it. I have to come into the room, I have to enter the frame at the right point, the camera is tracking in, I'm looking at people who are coming into the boardroom who are not there, who are not coming in, so I'm actually looking at no one. And I have to be aware that at a certain point that camera is over the table, and I turn my head. And someone said, "What were you thinking of in that sceen?" I was thinking about the camera and the people that weren't there. But you have just seen two hours of the movie. I'm thinking that and you're reading in. It's not my baggage, it's your baggage.
Question: The choice of song in the final scene is fascinating. How did you select that song?
Tomas Alfredson: Originally I tried to find small situations and moments where we could have a little glimpse of George's inner life. For instance, we did a scene where he is listening to music in his home. I thought he can't be listening to opera; we've seen that thousands of times. I think that George is a romantic and what would be the total opposite of the life he lives, and the grey dull England and I thought that Julio Iglesias is everything but that. I listened to hundreds of tracks with him and found a few nice ones. We did the scene, but it didn't get into the film because it became a little too strange. But on the way I found a very rare live recording with him on a vinyl record. I wanted to have that effect when you open the window and fresh air comes in. For some reason this song creates that feeling. It's not supposed to be creating a happy ending feeling but that there is fresh air coming into those last four minutes. It starts at the Christmas party. We actually used it there in the playback. So the actors, Colin and Mark, heard the song and so they were pretty much acting together with that music.
Todd Hitchcock: Thank you for being here.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is now playing in the DC area.
Calendar of Events
American Film Institute Silver Theater
The AFI shows mostly first-run movies in January, but there is one special event "King: A Filmed Record Montgomery to Memphis" on January 16 at 10:00am and 1:00pm. A compilation of documentary footage, produced by Sidney Lumet and Joseph L. Mankiewicz.
The January "Opera in Cinema" event is Cendrillon on January 16 at 10:00am.
Freer Gallery of Art
Iranian films are featured at the Freer in January and February. On January 6 at 7:00pm and January 8 at 2:00pm is This is Not a Film (Mojtaba Mirtahmasb and Jafar Panahi, 2010) and on January 13 at 7:00pm and January 15 at 2:00pm is Circumstance (Maryam Keshavarz, 2011). Abbas Kiarostami's earthquake trilogy includes Where is the Friend's Home? (1987) on January 27 at 7:00pm, And Life Goes On (1992) on January 29 at 1:00pm and Through the Olive Trees (1994) on Januaryh 29 at 3:00pm. More in February.
As part of "Global Lens 2012," Turkish director Tolga Karacelik will appear at the Freer on January 14 at 2:00pm with the film Toll Booth (2010).
National Gallery of Art
"Maurice Tourneur 1930s" is a two-part series: on January 7 at 12:30pm is Justine de Marseille (1935) and Accusee, Levez-vous! (1930) on January 15 at 4:30pm.
Richard Koszarski, author of "Fort Lee, the Film Town" discusses two films in the series "Paris to Fort Lee: French Filmmakers and the American Industry." On January 14 at 2:30pm is a centennial screening of a restored print of Robin Hood (Etienne Arnaud and Herbert Blache, 1912) and on January 14 at 4:00pm is Alias Jimmy Valentine (Maurice Tourneur, 1915) with Andrew Simpson accompanying on piano.
Experimental filmmaker David Gatten will discuss his films on January 21 at 2:30pm "Secret History of the Dividing Line," on January 21 at 4:30pm, and on January 22 at 4:30pm "Silent Mountains, Singing Oceans, and Slivers of Time."
Other film events in January include "Optical Poetry: Oskar Fischinger Classics" on January 7 at 3:00pm and January 7 at 4:45pm with an introduction by Cindy Keefer. On January 8 at 4:30pm is the rescheduled Waiting for Godot (Alan Schneider, 1961) shown with the short film Film (Alan Schneider, 1965). Two restored films by Elia Kazan are shown on January 28 at 2:30pm Man on a Tightrope (1953) and Wild River (1950). A restored copy of French Cancan (Jean Renoir, 1954) is on January 29 at 5:00pm.
National Portrait Gallery
On January 17 at 7:00pm is The Loving Story (Nancy Buirski, 2011), a documentary about Mildred and Richard P. Loving, an interracial couple in the 1950s when interracial marriage was against the law. A panel discussion with the film's director and legal scholars follows the film.
Smithsonian American Art Museum
On January 18 at 8:30pm is The Seven Year Itch (Billy Wilder, 1955) starring Marilyn Monroe.
The series "An Homage to Christoph Schlingensief" concludes in January with Egomania-Island Without Hope (1986) starring Tilda Swinton on January 3 at 6:30pm; and Menu Total (1985) on January 9 at 6:30pm.
Film Neu, a series of new films from Germany, Austria and Switzerland is now celebrating its 20th year. Films are shown at Landmark's E Street Cinema January 20-26. The opening night film is Westwind (Robert Thalheim, 2011) with actor Franz Dinder attending. Other titles are Bastard, Black Brown White, Cracks in the Shell, Dreileben Trilogy, If Not Us Who, Joschka and Mr. Fischer, Men in the City II, Curse of the Alps, Sleeping Sickness, Stopped on Track. See the website for the schedule.
National Geographic Society
The Banff Mountain Film Festival Series begins January 31 at 7:00pm and continues through February 4.
The Japan Information and Culture Center
On January 18 at 6:30pm is Shall We Dance (Masayuki Suo, 1996) and on January 27 at 6:30pm is an anime film Steamboy (Katsuhiro Otomo, 2004).
Arlington Arts and Artisphere
Battle for Brooklyn (2010) is a feature length documentary about a neighborhood battling private developers and is on the Oscar shortlist. The filmmakers, Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley and the film's central activist Dan Goldstein will be present for Q&A after each screening on January 13 at 8:00pm, January 14 at 5:00pm and 8:00pm and January 15 at 6:00pm. A short film The Tragedy of Urban Renewal (Jim Epstein) will precede the feature.
On January 21 at 8:00pm is Light of Mine (Brett Eichelberger, 2011), about an aspiring photographer who is losing his sight. The filmmaker will participate in a Q&A after the screening.
Interamerican Development Bank
On January 19 at 6:30pm is Gigante (Adrian Biniaz, 2009) from Uruguay and winner of awards.
This month's "Greek Panorama" film is Matching Jack (Nadia Tass, 2010) on January 4 at 8:00pm. This film won the prize for Best Director and Best Film at the Milan Film Festival. The January "Czech Lions" film is Grand Hotel (David Ondricek, 2006) on January 11 at 8:00pm. The "French Cinematheque" film for January is My Piece of the Pie (Cédric Klapisch, 2011) on January 18 at 8:00pm. This month's "Reel Israel DC" film is Salsa Tel Aviv (Yohanan Weller, 2011) on January 25 at 8:00pm.
Anacostia Community Museum
On January 22 at 2:00pm is Mr. Dial Has Something to Say (2007), a documentary about painter Thornton Dial.
Embassy of Austria
In cooperation with the Kurdistan Regional Government, the Austrian Embassy hosts four Kurdish productions. On January 11 at 6:30pm is Kickoff (Shawkat Amin Korky, 2009). On January 18 at 7:30pm are two short films Bekas (Karzan Kader) and Bawke (Hisham Zaman). On January 23 at 7:30pm is Winterland (Hisham Zaman, 2007), set in Norway. Refer to the website for registration information.
University of Maryland, Hoff Theater
On December 2 at 5:00pm is Tideland (Terry Gilliam, 2005).
Busboys and Poets
On January 10 at 6:00pm is Sounds of Oud, with the film director at a Q&A session.
On January 30 at 7:00pm is Slavery by Another Name, a documentary about forced labor following the Emancipation Proclamation. See the website for ticket information.
The Phillips Collection
On January 7 at 2:00pm is Christopher Wheeldon's Swan Lake (2009). On January 19 at 6:00pm is Lust for Life (Vincente Minnelli, 1956), starring Anthony Quinn and Kirk Douglas. On January 26 at 6:00pm is Herb and Dorothy (Megumi Sasaki, 2008), a documentary about the art of collection of Herb and Dorothy Vogel.