The Florida Project: Q&A with Director Sean Baker and Actresses Bria Vinaite and Brooklynn Prince
By Annette Graham, DC Film Society Member
The Navy Memorial Museum's huge theater played host to a preview screening of The Florida Project (Sean Baker, 2017). The two main actresses Bria Vinaite and Brooklynn Prince who played the mother and daughter were present along with Sean Baker to answer audience questions.
The Florida Project tracks precocious six year old Moonee as she courts mischief and adventure while living in the shadows of Disney World with her mother, always on the brink of homelessness. This Q&A has been edited and condensed.
Moderator: The film is bright and cheerful even though the subject matter is dark, seen through the eyes of a child. Why were you so interested in having that juxtaposition?
Sean Baker: Regarding the brightness and humor--humor is in all of our lives; we use humor to get by. I see films that are so weighted down in melodrama and there's not one moment of levity. I don't believe them. There's no truth in them. We wanted to show that no matter what difficult circumstance that a child might be in, they are still a child. There are universal traits of children--the humor, the heart, resiliance, innocence. I was influenced by the Little Rascals from 70-80 years ago. But i think they were very much ahead of their time. It was set in the Depression most of the characters in the Little Rascals were living in poverty But it was focused on the humorous adventures of children and allowed us to connect with them. One of our goals with this film is to have the audience, hopefully, connect with the characters through laughter and having fun with Moonee so they can embrace Moonee and when they go home at night think about the real Moonees out there. This is an important issue that should have a light shined upon it.
Moderator: A commonality with all your films is that you always manage to find compelling actors who feel so real. Can you take us through the process of how you found them?
Bria Vinaite: Sean found me on Instagram. He sent me a message one day asking if I was interested in hearing about a film opportunity. I was taken aback because I didn't think it would be anything like this. So I at first thought it was a joke. But once I got to know Sean and hear the story I really connected with the project and wanted to be a part it. I'm just very happy that without having any acting experience, he trusted me enough to give me such a special role.
Brooklynn Prince: My mom got a call for me to audition. I've been acting since I was two. My mom wasn't freaked out about it. We went to the audition and I auditioned for hours which I loved, just meeting all the kids. I met Christopher and Valeria there and Aiden. We became best friends. I auditioned for about two hours and Sean was just incredible to work with and Bria. We had workshops and hung out.
Sean Baker: I'm just so proud of these two. I have to give a lot of credit to my acting coach on the film Samantha Quan who worked closely with the children. I always like to mix it up with casting but it can put first-timers in a position where it can be very intimidating. But I could rely on these two because of their skill and both of them were holding their own with Willem Dafoe. I'm so proud of the entire cast.
Audience Question: I didn't see any single shot that explicity showed men entering their rooms. Was it always intended to be this way?
Sean Baker: It was intended to be this way. We were playing with the balance of how much a little child is absorbing, how much they are aware of the surroundings. There were other scenes that we scripted that we eventually took out that had to do more with the procedural aspects of the DCF [Department of Children and Families] at the end, perhaps more scenes that had to do with adults in the front office of the Magic Castle. But when we started to edit we realized that all that stuff that was exposition and heavily focused on adults wasn't necessary. So we started taking that stuff out and putting stuff back in that we thought audiences might think was extraneous, like them dancing on the bed. It doesn't move the story forward in any way shape or form. But was it does is allow you to be living their lives with them, so you feel like you've spent the summer. Even in those moments that don't have to do anything with exposition I think are more about character and ultimately more important than the story.
Audience Question: What can you tell us about the locations and what about the final scene which is differently shot?
Sean Baker: Orlando gave us those wonderful locations and that wonderful palette and that eye candy. [Route] 192 has that. Chris Bergoch and I wrote the screenplay together. His mother lives there, he's obsessed with Disney. He's the one who brought me this topic. Even before we even started writing our treatment, he was taking photos and sending them to me. And then when we went down there part of writing our initial treatment was finding these wonderful locations, saying they're going to pass by here, this is the motel they're going to live at. There's a plethora of wonderful eye candy there. The location scouting came early on in the process when normally I guess it's right before production. This is part of the way we wrote the film. About the end, we shot it with an iphone, returning to my guerilla tactics if you've seen some of my other films. As to what it means, it's really up to the audience and how you want to interpret what is happening at the end. And my co-screenwriter actually has a slightly different interpretation than I do. So it's up to you.
Audience Question: What did you like about working on this project?
Brooklynn Prince: It was great working on the film. Everyone was family and it was such a treat for me to get this. If I didn't I wouldn't have this wonderful movie mom, or working with Sean Baker or I wouldn't have have this big opoortunity to almost get nominated to go to the Oscars (audience claps). And I got to work with Hannah.
Sean Baker: She helped me with research, reaching out to DCF officers. We worked nightly on rewrites of the script.
Audience Question: How do you approach writing something like this that is more anti-narrative?
Sean Baker: My co-screenwriter Chris comes from a very structured discipline. He likes the three-act structure, he likes the arcs. I come from a place where I could watch a [Andrei] Tarkovsky 10 minute tracking shot. So we meet in the middle. I think it's about blurring the lines. I'm tired of too much exposition in films. I would like audiences to be able to bring a little to it. We did have a full screenplay. We re-write in production and I re-write in post-[production]. I'm the editor so I get to change structure and change order of things. It really comes down to pacing in the end. So I don't know exactly how we going about doing this but it's a response to what we don't see a lot of in US cinema.
Audience Question: Was each scene fully scripted or did the actors have room to improvise?
Sean Baker: We had a full screenplay but I always encourage improvision, I love it, it helps me as editor. It gives me a lot of alternate takes in post-. But I usually cast with people who can bring me a little bit of themselves. I'm always blessed with actors who have the gift of improvision and more importantly comic improvisation which is genius in my eyes. It depends on the scene. Some scenes are very scripted where they knew every single line and we stuck to it. And other scenes are very improvised. I'll name one. The scene in which you [Brooklynn] are eating at the end. There were about 10 scripted lines you got through then we had about another 10 minutes of the 35mm mag we were just burning as she riffed.
Brooklynn Prince: I had to give a couple of lines while we were eating. I've never been in such a big buffet before. I was full. My one line I had a mouthful of food and I didn't want to spit it out. So I tried to talk with my mouth closed. But it didn't work.
Sean Baker: The pregnant line in that scene, that's her.
Bria Vinaite: There were some situations when I would go to Sean and say I think Halley would word this differently. And he let me make those changes which I really liked. But I feel like I was pretty scripted.
Sean Baker: The scene where you are interacting with Willem over the counter. We shot probably five takes of it scripted and then you just did a loose one. And we stuck with the loose one, because it was more free, you were just improvising back and forth.
Audience Question: How difficult was it to shoot the scene with the DCF?
Bria Vinaite: It was definitely very emotional because by the time we shot that I felt I had a strong connection with Brook and I genuinely loved and cared for her so much. And that scene felt so real and I said to myself, "What if this really was my kid?" I could defintely understand where Halley was coming from and her anger. She tried so hard. I really respected the fact that she never complained or told Moonee anything bad was going on. It made it very emotional for me.
Brooklynn Prince: It was very hard for me because I felt it was real and me and Bria had such a great connection. It was real. Saying goodbye to Christopher made me think it was so real and I wouldn't get to see anyone again. It was very hard to me. Sean would be behind the camera and I wanted him to rescue me.
Audience Question: What do you all hope the audience will take away from this film?
Brooklynn Prince: I want everybody to take away the struggle the mom and kids and family is going through. I want them to help out. Some people don't even notice that this is happening. I want people to take away the struggle they go through but they're kids like us.
Bria Vinaite: I hope that what people take away from this film would just be less judgmental, because you never know what someone is going through and you never know how hard they're really trying to figure things out. I just hope that people are thankful for their lives because I think this movie made me realize that some of the things I stress out about aren't really important and you have to take into consideration what other people are going through before you worry about the silly things that might make you upset in your life.
Sean Baker: I didn't know about the issue of the hidden homeless. I've lived in New York and Los Angeles and have seen homeless people on the street. I did not know hidden homeless was even a term until my co-screenwriter brought this to my attention. It is nationwide, It isn't just Orlando and Kissimmee. It's happening in Boston, Chicago, there are major problems. We worked directly with some of the agencies along Route 192, specifically the Community Hope Center. When speaking to them, I asked them, "When this film comes out, what would you like me to say?" I'm a dramatist, I'm bringing this to the screen. I don't have the answers, we are posing questions with this. But as somebody who works and actually provides social services to the chronic homeless in your area, what information do you want me to get out there? She said that education and awareness is really the first step to helping remove the stigma of homelessness. Putting a human face on it which is what we tried to do by trying to humanize the characters of Halley and Moonee. That is the first step. And we don't have to focus on Kissimmee and Orlando. They'll get plenty of attention from this film. Look in your own community; it might exist right under your nose. You can visit the National Alliance to End Homelessness and hopefully this film inspires audience to think about the real Moonees and real Halleys out there and what they can do to help in their own community.
Audience Question: This film is humanistic, character driven and low budget. What kind of steps are needed in America film industry to allow these kind of stories to receive more mainstream studio funding?
Sean Baker: This is something that we deal with on a daily basis. We try to figure out the life of our industry, how long are we going to be around? As long as audiences are interested in seeing this. It's a little discouraging when only super hero films seem to make box office. It's up to the entire industry and audiences to support films like this. It's the only way they will continue to live. I wish I had a more optimistic answer for you but I'm dedicated to cinema and some of my peers are. We are not moving into television; we're not working for the studios. We believe in this type of cinema. It barely pays rent but it's my lifelong dream, it's my art and I want to support it and I know a lot of my peers around me do. If audiences continue to have interest in these types of stories and these types of alternate forms of entertainment on the big screen, that's wonderful. Thank you.
The Florida Project is scheduled to open in DC on October 13.
Trophy: Q&A with Film Directors Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau, and film Subject Chris Moore
By Annette Graham, DC Film Society Member
An advance screening of Trophy (Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau, 2017) was shown September 6 at Landmark's E Street Cinema. The two co-directors, film subject/anti-poaching agent from Zimbabwe Chris Moore, and Sue Lieberman, Vice President of International Policy at Wildlife Conservation Society were present to discuss the film. The discussion was moderated by Alex Dehgan, CEO and co-founder of Conservation X Labs.
Endangered African species like elephants, rhinos and lions march closer to extinction each year. Their devastating decline is fueled in part by a global desire to consume these majestic animals. Trophy investigates the powerhouse industries of big-game hunting, breeding and wildlife conservation. The film grapples with the consequences of imposing economic value on animals. What are the implications of treating animals as commodities? Do breeding, farming and hunting offer some of the few remaining options to conserve our endangered animals? This Q&A has been edited and condensed.
Alex Dehgan: That was an incredible, emotionally charged, beautifully shot film and beautifully put together. Cecil the Lion was so emotionally charged for us and for the international community. Trophy hunting and trade itself has been emotionally charged. But is it worth that investment? Because when we look at what is taking out lions around the world, it is not going to be the 220 lions that we lose every year to hunting. It's going to be factors like the bush meat trade, loss of habitat, and endangered species, poaching of bones. But is this the right thing to focus on?
Shaul Schwarz: I think it partially is because it gets more air in the room than other issues. Poaching and encroachment are bigger threats at large, but I think we need everything we can and to work together to get to a place where we can really affect this. And we tried to show it here. Hunting has some pluses and minuses and we leave it to you the viewer to take home what you want, but in terms of focus, it does take more attention than other issues that are bigger but I wouldn't brush it aside. Chris is from the area, he never knew who Cecil was, so it's a little bit taken out of proportion when we sit here.
Chris Moore: To be honest, I'd never heard of Cecil. There are a lot of big lions around and Cecil was another big lion. We worry a lot more about poaching than we do about the trophy hunting which is very closely monitored. American Fish and Wildlife has done a lot to put the hunting industry under pressure to insure that their numbers are correct. At the moment I'm doing a predator survey in the Zambezi Valley. So the pressure from Fish and Wilflife, maybe not so welcome by the hunting community, but for conservation is a good thing.
Alex Dehgan: Chris, you have put yourself in dangerous situations, dangerous for you and your colleagues. But it seems like the Red Queen hypothesis: We run as fast as possible only to stay in the same place. And you stated the irony that you are protecting animals only to see them killed. How do you deal with that?
Chris Moore: I think you just have to look at the numbers and be realistic about it. Dangerous, yes, sometimes. At one stage I felt like we had our fingers in a dike and we are never going to stop it. We officially lost two elephants in the last four years. And they were shooting probably about one elephant every second day when I first arrived. It's not me, it's the young community members; education and social outreach work has far more implications than running around trying to arrest people--certainly in my experience.
Sue Lieberman: Thank you for a difficult but provocative film which raises critical issues. In a sense it's important to differentiate between issues of trophy hunting and issues of commercialization, which is what some of the issues of the rhino horn trade in South Africa bring up. It isn't the question should we be looking at trophy hunting. For me, it's should we be looking at conservation. If we are looking at conservation of species and habitats and benefits for local communities, what are the threats to the species and what works? In some countries, if you look at the individual animal, obviously it doesn't benefit the individual animal that is killed. We can relate to that; there are some difficult scenes. But what is the future for the species? I would rather see a habitat where there might be some trophy hunting even if it's something I would never do and don't think is particularly wonderful. But it's more wonderful than cow grazing and agriculture, or building a shopping mall. So I think we need to look at a conservation picture and look at what are the threats. How can we maintain species in intact populations in their ecosystems and what are the solutions? The greatest threat is conflict with people. Conflict with pastoralists, livestock and revenge killings. Yes there is poaching and bone trade, more for other big cats than lions and it's a growing problem. But the threats from agriculture and livestock grazing are far greater to lions than trophy hunting. For me, the response to the film is "What works where?" My personal and organizational views are very different on trophy hunting in general than commercialization of rhino horn.
Shaul Schwarz: I agree. Early on, I hated hunting guys; it's not my cup of tea, you'll never catch me doing this. People have asked me if I think it's psychotic to enjoy it; I think it is. But it's not really interesting. Does it work? Where does it work? We need to take away the emotion and think when it comes to the model in general of "If it pays, it stays." Conservatives have lately called global warming a hoax; liberals don't call this a hoax. The South African model is a fact. You can be uncomfortable with this; you can decide that you'd rather see rhinos go extinct than run around without a horn. But understand what you're choosing. What we wanted to do is create a serious dialogue about this, that is not led by emotion, but led more by facts.
Sue Lieberman: But an important thing to understand is that if a particular model works in one country, that doesn't mean it works everywhere. There are countries that utilize trophy hunting or sport hunting as an effective conservation tool with science and enforcement, and there are countries that use it and are incredibly corrupt and it's not benefitting anyone except the industry.
Shaul Schwarz: The problem is that emotion takes over and we have two sides that scream at each other and think it's a black and white issue and that doesn't get us very far.
Alex Dehgan: One thing that wasn't mention in the film is the demand side. Think about the fact that the rhino horn costs more than gold, heroin or cocaine. What does that play in to for conservation efforts? If there's always demand and the demand is outstripping the supply then is there something that gives us hope? Chris, you pointed out that at least on elephants you've been able to protect them.
Shaul Schwarz: You can't farm elephants. The fact that the rhino has the world's most expensive animal commodity is what kills it. And John and I agree that is what could save it. You mentioned drugs. I've dug deep into the war on drugs and people say just go to war and fight them, just kill the poachers. I understand why it's emotionally hard. I don't know why we want to supply rhino horn from dead rhinos when we can supply from live. I think that to pretend it's going away is nonsense. Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again expecting different results. That's what we are doing with the rhino. I know people will disagree at the end of the day. I didn't make this film to make you think that way or another. We have an opinion, we want you to have a dialogue. We are going to try to involve much different dialogue in this movie. I'm very conflicted about a lot of hunting; people who are against it have no solution, rhino is going to go away. Pretending that pushing it into being a black market is going to work is nonsense. It's exactly like saying the drug war is going to work.
Sue Lieberman: I respectfully disagree with you. I think that's based on an assumption that demand in Asia is increasing, that there's no way that you will ever affect Chinese or Vietnamese people's use. Rhino horn sales and use are illegal in China and Vietnam and there are a lot of efforts there to crack down. I agree that general awareness and demand reduction isn't going to do anything, but enforcing the law will. Back in the 1990s everyone said the rhino horn demand in Yemen was the threat. There wasn't the medicine market. There was nothing in Vietnam, that's all new. They said, "You'll never affect it; you have to legalize it." What happened? Probably no one knows that there was a market [for rhino horn] in Yemen for the handles of the daggers. Yemen cracked down. There was a lot of international pressure. They passed a law and enforced it. You don't see it now; it's not a problem in Yemen. I believe that with effective enforcement it will happen in Asia. I believe it is happening in China. I disagree that China doesn't know how to enforce.
Christina Clusiau: But is there enough time? Will China enforce the law to a certain point before these items are gone?
Sue Lieberman: I think if you commercialize and allow those rhino horns to be sold, the only rhinos left will be the southern white rhinos in South Africa and you can say goodbye to any rhinos in India or Nepal. Those aren't rhinos that you can farm. You have to look at this from a global perspective across both continents not just the narrow focus on rhinos on game ranches in South Africa. If you allow commercialization, you are telling countries like China and Vietnam that are trying to enforce, never mind, give in. The experiment that was run on ivory, let's legalize some of the ivory trade, it'll suppress the price. The result was the opposite.
Audience Question: Why can't we farm rhinos in Nepal and India as you can in South Africa?
Sue Lieberman: Hypothetically you can. But you don't have the land available and you don't have private ownership of wildlife like you do in South Africa. There's a unique land tenure system in South Africa.
Shaul Schwarz: It's doable, it's just a legal issue. You can farm them in Texas.
Audience Question: I think it's a hopeless proposition to think that laws and controls are going to alter the Asians' obsession with these traditions. It would take another 1,000 years.
Sue Lieberman: Let me give an example. Rhino horns as a cure for cancer is five years old, That's not an ancient deep tradition. Some of the organized crime groups involved with this created the mythology around that to increase the price. And rhino horns are not used as an aphrodisiac, it's just a fever reducer in true traditional Chinese medicine. In Vietnam they banned firecrackers. People were using them all the time for New Year's blowing off their hands, killing their children; they were using firecrackers all the time. Government banned it and and everyone said you can't change behavior, this is an ancient tradition, on New Year's we blow up firecrackers. Government cracked down and enforced it and it's working. It hasn't affected demand because if they changed the law they would all buy firecrackers tomorrow. This can work if there's true enforcement.
Alex Dehgan: There's a company called Pembient which makes synthetic rhino horn and part of their goal is to collapse the price for the poaching market. What are your thoughts about that?
Shaul Schwarz: I think we need to be a lot more creative. If the Asian market will bite on that, I'm a huge fan. I don't think there's one right or wrong. I think we have to stop being emotional and we have to stop pretending. So my opinion is that if it helps, God bless. I want to see rhinos. South Africa has proved something. Rhino is a shit magnet. If you have a rhino, you have bad guys with guns, coming to your farm, shooting your rhino and your daughter too. If they make money out of rhinos, everyone would want to have one, because they can make a lot of money.
Alex Dehgan: Chris?
Chris Moore: I wish we could do it for elephants; just the natural growth process of ivory doesn't work as quickly. I don't have the depth of knowledge of international trade, etc. We have to try different things. Maybe in the process we might lose something that humanity will regret.
Alex Dehgan: Some of these practices are not long-held practices and in fact the shift from health to wealth is more ostentatious. One of the interesting things [Pembient] did is test the market. They tested consumer demand and found that the medicinal uses for the horn were much less than the carving market and that is what they started producing--synthetic rhino horn.
Alex Dehgan: Are we at the end of wild? There are very few places that are wild. Our national parks are fragments. Is there still wild? Is there still ability to protect the wild? Or is everything managed? Maybe the only future is rhinos on plantations.
Shaul Schwarz: It's not the only future. It's a way to keep rhinos in the world.
Chris Moore: There's definitely wild, huge wild. There are different ways to do it, not just law enforcement. The film doesn't show it but 85-95% of my work was law enforcement when we first started. And now it's maybe 20%. It's more social work, teaching values, sustainability, agricultural practices. I find that in some ways more effective than law enforcement and transfer of this natural resource wealth, you have to deal with this on a multi-level, you can't be narrow minded about your approach to such things.
Christina Clusiau: I think there is more wild, but the idea of what is wild is changing. When you look at the idea of preservation of the wild "leave the wild wild" is a very utopian ideology because of human interaction. There is loss of habitat, there is human encroachment, there's poaching, there's wars, our use of animals. We use animals in every way, shoes, food, hunting. That idea of wild is shifting. It's important to think that maybe it is not as bad. If you fence an area it's not necessarily as bad because you're not only keeping the wild out you are keeping the humans out Perhaps we can conserve some of these large areas. It can be large or small.
Sue Lieberman: I think there's still wild. There is still wilderness. There are still large tracts of our planet that are what we call ecologically intact. Some of those most intact places on earth are those places where indigenous communities are dependent on natural resources. These areas are not areas completely devoid of people. It's incumbent upon us to protect the wilderness; the last places on earth that are truly intact ecologically whether they are on the land or in the ocean. They do exist. There are areas that are deeply, seriously impacted negatively by our species including most of this country except maybe Alaska. So we need to recognize this. And those areas have different conservation solutions. So I think we need to protect what we call the last of the wild.
Audience Question: Chris, on the enforcement side, what sort of penalties do poachers receive?
Chris Moore: In Zimbabwe, it's based on the value of the animal. A small gazelle may attract a penalty of a short jail sentence or a $300-400 dollar fine. What we aim for is the serious elephant poaching (they've killed all the rhino where I come from). We try to pick up their illegal firearm, evidence of where the elephant was poached and if we can tie the weapon, the ivory and the dead elephant we are now managing to attract a prison sentance of 18-20 years. The Zimbabwe government has really cracked down on illegal poaching. Yes, there's corruption. We are now getting the right sentences. We weren't in the beginning; it has taken a lot of work. Most of my work is talking with people. Talking with people seems to go a long way and gets progress.
Alex Dehgan: This movie definitely pushes people to talk and think. It's a a highly provocative movie. This a topic the conservation community, the countries and people are contending with every day.
Trophy opened September 29 at the AFI Silver Theater.
Calendar of Events
American Film Institute Silver Theater
The 28th annual AFI Latin American Film Festival continues through October 4.
Two 70mm Soviet films from the 1960s are shown October 1 and 2. On October 1 at 5:45pm and October 2 at 7:30pm is the WWII drama The Story of the Flaming Years (Yuliya Solntseva, 1961) which won the Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival (the first win for a female director) and on October 1 at 7:45pm is The Enchanted Desna (Yuliya Solntseva, 1964).
"Noir City DC" (October 14-26) is a yearly program of noir classics, new discoveries and rarities. The series is curated from the flagship edition of the festival held in San Francisco many of which had a heist theme. Eddie Muller from the Film Noir Foundation and noir scholar Foster Hirsch will introduce selected shows. Titles for this year include Violent Saturday, Kansas City Confidential, Criss Cross, Armored Car Robbery, The Asphalt Jungle, The Killing, The Steel Trap, White Heat, Rififi, Robbery, Out of the Past, Point Blank, Sexy Beast, Touchez pas au grisbi, Classe tous risques, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, The Sicilian Clan, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Charley Varrick, Any Number Can Win, Once a Thief, Ivy and Born to Be Bad.
Special Engagements in October include Gaslight, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Shock Corridor.
"Silent Cinema Showcase" (October 27-November 26) starts off with Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau, 1922) for Halloween, with music accompaniment by Andrew Simpson. More in November. A series pass is available.
"Unsung Hero: Don Murray" looks at three films Bus Stop, A Hatful of Rain and The Hoodlum Priest plus a documentary Don Murray: Unsung Hero Don Murray and film director Don Malcolm be present for Q&A after the documentary on October 12 at 7:30pm and Don Murray will be present for discussion after A Hatful of Rain on October 13 at 7:15pm along with film historian Foster Hirsh.
Val Lewton films for Halloween include Cat People, I Walked With a Zombie, The Seventh Victim, The Curse of the Cat People, The Ghost Ship, Isle of the Dead, The Body Snatcher and Bedlam. Some are double featuers.
The Joan Fontaine Centennial begins in October with a double feature of Ivy (1947) and Born to Be Bad (1950), both part of the Noir series. More in November.
"The Spooky Movie Festival" (October 5-8) includes 68 Kill, Better Watch Out, The Endless, Game of Death, The Ghoul, House, Killing Ground, Lake Bodom, Red Christmas, Replace and others. A series pass is available.
Freer Gallery of Art
The Freer celebrates its re-opening on October 14. On October 21 at 7:00pm is Dragonfly Eyes (Xu Bing, 2017), composed entirely of actual surveillance and dashboard camera footage.
On October 29 at 1:00pm is Kedi (Ceyda Torun, 2016), a documentary about the cats of Istanbul. On October 29 at 3:30pm is Neko Atsume House (Masotoshi Kurakata, 2017), about a writer suffering from writer's block who finds inspiration in a group of stray cats.
National Gallery of Art
Special events in October include Havarie (2016) with director Philip Scheffner in person on October 8 at 4:00pm. On October 14 at noon is Falling Leaves (1992) with Amy Halpern present for discussion. On October 15 at 4:00pm is the Washington premiere of Capitaine Thomas Sankara (Christophe Cupelin, 2013) about Burkina Faso's president during the 1980s, introduced by Sally Shafto.
The Flaherty Seminar (October 1-7) is a program of six films from the 2016 and 2017 seminar. On October 1 at 4:00pm is The Human Surge (Eduardo Williams, 2016) preceded by La Libertad (Laura Huertas Millan, 2016). On October 7 at 1:30pm is Death and Devil (Peter Nestler, 2009) preceded by Compositions (Peter Nestler, 1963). On October 7 at 3:30pm is Fish Tail (Joaquim Pinto and Nuno Leonel, 2015) preceded by Katatsumori (Naomi Kawase, 1994).
"Revolutionary Rising: Soviet Film Vanguard" (October 13-November 12) is a series of some of the most important Soviet films from the 1920s. On October 13 at 2:30pm is The Fall of the Romanov Dynasty (Esfir Shub, 1927); on October 14 at 4:00pm is a Cine-Concert Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929) with accompaniment by the Alloy Orchestra. On October 21 at 4:30pm is a Cine-Concert Mother (Vsevolod Pudovkin, 1926) with piano accompaniment by Andrew Simpson and an introduction by Peter Rollberg. More in November. Also see the AFI for more films.
"From Vault to Screen: Czech National Film Archives" (October 21-29) is a program of five early sound films and one from the 1960s. On October October 21 at 1:30pm is On the Sunny Side (Vladislav Vancura, 1933) followed by Such Is Life (Carl Junghans, 1929). On October 22 at 4:00pm is Ecstasy (Gustav Machaty, 1932) starring Hedy Lamarr. On October 28 at 2:30pm is Tonka of the Gallows (Karl Anton, 1930). On October 28 at 4:30pm is Black Peter (Milos Forman, 1963) with an introduction by Michal Bregant). On October 29 at 4:30pm is From Saturday to Sunday (Gustav Machaty, 1931) introduced by Michael Bregant.
National Museum of African Art
On October 21 at 1:30pm is Moolaadé (Ousmane Sembene, 2003) from Senegal, part of the "Africa in Reel Time" film series. A discussion follows.
Museum of American History
On October 1-15 at 11:00am and 2:00pm is a program of classic Warner Bros. cartoons from the 1940s and 1950s. The cartoons continue October 16-19 at 2:00pm only.
On October 16 at 6:30pm is Hilleman: A Perilous Quest to Save the World's Children, a documentary about Dr. Maurice Hilleman's life, achievements and motivations. A panel discussion follows the film.
National Museum of African American History and Culture
On October 6 at 7:00pm is a screening and discussion of the Harlem Globetrotters. NMAAHC Sports Curator, Damion Thomas, and former teammembers will participate in a discussion after the film.
On October 7 at 7:00pm is a screening and discussion of Marshall (Reginald Hudlin, 2017), based on attorney Thurgood Marshall's early court cases for the NAACP in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The filmmaker and screenwriter Wil Haygood will participate in a discussion after the film.
On October 21 at 10:00am and lasting all day is "Home Movie Day 2017." This year's feature is "American on the Move." Bring your home movies on 8mm, Super 8, 16mm, VHS, Hi-8, or Mini-DV formats, particularly those documenting vacations, road trips and travel.
Smithsonian American Art Museum
On October 28 at 3:00pm is Painters Painting (Emile de Antonio, 1973) featuring Helen Frankenthaler, Hans Hofmann, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol and others.
National Museum of Women in the Arts
On October 2 at 6:30pm is the program "Cultural Capital: Women of Film," with a screening of Maria (and Everybody Else) (Nely Reguera, 2016), a coming of age film.
Washington Jewish Community Center
On October 16 at 7:30pm is a program to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Rosenwald Fund. Filmmaker Aviva Kempner will show clips from her documentary Rosenwald (2015) with a panel discussion featuring Aviva Kempner, author Stephanie Deutsch; Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat; civil rights lawyer Leslie Harris; daughter of Dr. Charles Drew, Charlene Drew Jarvis; author Gary Krist; activist poet Ethelbert Miller; Chicago Tribune Columnist Clarence Page; Rabbi David Saperstein; and Julius Rosenwald’s great grandson, David Stern.
On October 17 at 7:30pm is Wishmakers (Cheryl Halpern, 2016), a short documentary about an adult special needs community in Israel. The residents produce wine and help grant wishes for children with life threatening illnesses. A panel discussion follows the film with filmmaker Cheryl Halpern, producer Elena Neuman Lefkowitz and Stacey Herman, JCC Director of Inclusion and Disability Programming.
On October 24 at 7:30pm is Bye Bye Germany (Sam Garbarski, 2017) starring Moritz Bleibtreu as a smooth talking businessman trying to leave for America with his Jewish friends after the war.
The series of films about Martin Luther continues on October 5 at 6:30pm with Parts 4-6 of The Luther Code (Wilfried Hauke and Alexandra Hardorf, 2016) with episodes Dream of Justice (19th century), Power and Responsibility (20th century) and Belief in the Future (21st century).
On October 26 at 6:30pm is a program of two films from the GDR: the short film Copyright by Luther (Lew Hohmann, 1983); and the feature film Bear Ye One Another's Burden (Lothar Warneke, 1988), introduced by Anne Schenderlein from the German Historical Institute.
The Shakespeare Theater
Classic films are shown October 18-22. Titles include The Goonies, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Hocus Pocus, Labyrinth, Ghostbusters, Poltergeist, The Shining, Singin' in the Rain, Center Stage and Waiting for Guffman.
National Air and Space Museum
"Hollywood Goes to War: World War I on the Big Screen" is a series of WWI films commemorating the entry to the US in 1917. Films are shown in both locations and the series ends in November. On October 20 at 7:00pm is The Blue Max (John Guillermin, 1966) starring George Peppard and James Mason and with pre-CGI, real flying sequences.
The series "Dance, Sing, Play" continues in October with Eight Women (Francois Ozon, 2002) on October 10 at 7:00pm and Love Songs (Christophe Honoré, 2007) on October 24 at 7:00pm.
On October 11 at 7:00pm is Joseph the Rebel (Caroline Glorion, 2011), about Joseph Wresinski, a parish priest who founded ATD Fourth World to fight poverty.
The Japan Information and Culture Center
On October 18 at 6:30pm is Throne of Blood (Akira Kurosawra, 1957), an adaptation of the "Macbeth" story set in feudal Japan and starring Toshiro Mifune and Isuzu Yamada.
On October 27 at 6:30pm is the anime film Galaxy Express 999 (Rintaro, 1979). Halloween costumes are encouraged.
The Textile Museum at GWU
On October 30 at noon is a film and discussion "The Campaigns of Mary Hundley" (2015) about a teacher at DC's Dunbar High School from 1921-1955 and her campaign to save the historic Dunbar High School building in the 1970s. Marvin T. Jones of the Chowan Discovery Group will lead the discussion.
On October 17 at 7:00pm filmmaker Ken Burns and Lynn Novick will show clips from and discuss their PBS documentary series "The Vietnam War. Cokie Roberts will moderate the discussion.
Two films starring Tom Hanks, winner of the 2017 National Archives Foundation Records of Achievement Award, are shown in October. On October 20 at 2:00pm is Apollo 13 (Ron Howard, 1995) and on October 20 at 7:00pm is Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994).
"Cinema Arts Bethesda" is a monthly Sunday morning film discussion series. On October 15 at 10:00am is the award-winning Harmonia (Ori Sivan, 2016), a modern telling of the Abraham/Sarah/Hagar story. Breakfast is at 9:30am, the film is at 10:00am and discussion follows, moderated by Adam Spector, host of the DC Film Society's Cinema Lounge and author of the column "Adam's Rib." A season pass is available.
National Museum of Natural History
"Recovering Voices Ethnographic Film Series" is a series of documentaries mostly from the 1960s and 1970s. Discussion follows each program. On October 6 at 2:30pm is Dead Birds (Robert Gardner, 1963) from Papua New Guinea, an exploration of the Dani people of West New Guinea. On October 13 at 2:30pm is The Feast (Timothy Asch and Napoleon Chignon, 1970)and The Ax Fight (Timothy Asch and Napoleon Chignon, 1975) about the Yanomamo people in south Venezuela. On October 20 at 2:30pm is Cochengo Miranda (Jorge Preloran, 1974), about an itinerant singer and ranch hand living on the Pampas of Central Argentina. On October 27 at 2:30pm is N!ia: The Story of a !Kung Woman (John Marshall, 1980), photographed over 27 years, about a Jul'hoan woman and her life in the Kalahari Desert of Mamibia.
On October 23 at 6:30pm is the documentary Chasing Coral (Jeff Orlowsky). After the film Jeff Orlowsky, film subject Zack Rago and other coral reef experts will discuss the film.
On October 11 at 8:00pm is Schmitke (Stepan Altrichter, 2014) this month's "Czech Lions" film. Screenwriter Tomas Koncinsky will be present for Q&A after the film.
On October 18 at 8:00pm is the biopic Dalida (Lisa Azuelos, 2016), about the Egyptian-born Italian/French music icon, for this month's "French Cinematheque" film.
On October 25 at 8:00pm is Our Father (Meni Yaesh, 2016), an award-winning thriller as this month's "Reel Israel" film.
On October 7 at 10:00am is the animated Shrek (Andrew Adamson, 2001).
Italian Cultural Institute
On October 4 at 6:00pm is a double feature: the documentary One, none, Pirandello about the Nobel Prize laureate shown with Six Characters in Search of an Author (Giorgio de Lullo).
On October 16 at 6:00pm is a lecture "Italian Literary Canon and Cinema," an exploration of history through movies based on literary classics by Edoardo Ripari, author of works about Italian literary culture from the Renaissance to the 20th century.
On October 17 at 7:30pm is a lecture "Italian Is a Language Spoken by Dubbers" by Caterina D'Amico who will show by Italian cinema changed and shaped the Italian language. Movies discussed will include those by Vittorio De Sica, Mario Mattoli and Lina Wertmuller. In 1930, when the first Italian sound film was released, cinema became one of the primary means for spreading the Italian language through a country where the overwhelming majority of inhabitants spoke ancient, highly structured dialects.
On October 18 is The Desert of the Tartars (Valerio Zurlini, 1976), based on the 1938 novel by Dino Buzzati and starring Jacques Perrin, Jean-Luis Trintignant and Max von Sydow. Location: The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden's Ring Auditorium.
As part of the "Kids Euro Festival" is a screening of Once I'll Be a Child (Edoardo Palma) on October 24 at 6:00pm.
New York University Abramson Family Auditorium
On October 2 at 6:30pm is Martirio, a documentary about indigenous people in southern Brazil. Co-director Tatiana Almeida will do a Q&A after the film. (Location: 1307 L Street NW).
Library of Congress
On October 9 at 1:00pm is the docudrama Benito Juarez: La Derrota de un Imperio (Carlos Bolado) and following the screening is a discussion of the film and Juarez's legacy.
The Mary Pickford Theater
at the Library of Congress starts a new series of films showcasing the Library's collection and including newly preserved films. On October 5 at 7:00pm is The Man Who Haunted Himself (Basil Dearden, 1970) based on the story by Anthony Armstrong and starring Roger Moore (his favorite role).
On October 19 at 6:30pm is a double feature: The Dark Eyes of London (Walter Summers, 1939) with Bela Lugosi, shown with The Ape (William Nigh, 1940) starring Boris Karloff.
Anacostia Community Museum
On October 13 at 2:00pm is The Story of Latin Boogaloo (2016), a documentary about the Afro-Cuban/R&B/jazz/rock music from East Harlem and South Bronx. Discussion follows the film.
On October 18 at 11:00am is Washington in the 80s, a documentary with discussion.
On October 19 at 6:00pm is an Environmental Film Festival Screening of Aletsch: At Glaciers' End (2016), a short documentary about the Aletsch Glacier in the Alps.
"Capital Classics" at Landmark's West End Cinema
Classic films are shown at the West End Cinema on Wednesdays at 1:30pm, 4:30pm and 7:30pm. On October 4 is Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941); October 11 is To Kill a Mocking Bird (Robert Mulligan, 1963); on October 18 is Singin' in the Rain (Stanley Donen, 1952) and on October 25 is The Philadelphia Story (George Cukor, 1940).
Atlas Performing Arts Silent Film Series
On October 29 at 4:00pm is a double feature The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene, 1919) shown with The Devil's Assistant (Harry A. Pollard, 1917). Andrew Simpson accompanies the two silent films.
"Davis & Crawford: A Fabulous Rivalry" is a series of four films starring Bette Davis or Joan Crawford. On October 8 at 4:00pm is Jezebel (William Wyler, 1938) starring Bette Davis and on October 22 at 4:00pm is A Woman's Face (George Cukor, 1941) starring Joan Crawford. Join New Yorker writer Margaret Talbot and movie critic Nell Minow as they explore Bette and Joan's rivalry and some of their best performances. Two more films in November.
On October 10 at 7:00pm is The True Cost (Andrew Morgan, 2015), a documentary about clothing and its human and environmental impact on the earth.
Embassy of Argentina
On October 5 at 6:30pm is Arreo, a documentary about gauchos with filmmaker Néstor “Tato” Moreno present for Q&A.
Angelika Film Center Mosaic
"Hitchcocktober" (films by Alfred Hitchcock) returns to Mosaic again with North by Northwest (1959) on October 5 at 7:00pm; Notorious (1946) on October 12 at 7:00pm; Vertigo (1958) on October 19 at 7:00pm; Rebecca (1940) on October 26 at 7:00pm and Psycho (1960) on October 31 at 7:00pm.
"Hitchcocktober" (films by Alfred Hitchcock) returns to Angelika Popup again with North by Northwest (1959) on October 5 at 7:00pm; Notorious (1946) on October 12 at 7:00pm; Vertigo (1958) on October 19 at 7:00pm; Rebecca (1940) on October 26 at 7:00pm and Psycho (1960) on October 31 at 7:00pm.
Busboys and Poets
On October 4 at 7:30pm is Garden of Eden with writer/co-director Robin Willliams and DP/co-director Imani Dennison present for discussion. At the 14th and V location. On October 22 at 7:00pm is the documentary Chasing Trane (John Scheinfeld, 2016) about saxophonist John Coltrane, at the 14th and V location.
On October 5 at 6:00pm is the documentary This Is Palestine, followed by a discussion. At the 5th and K location. On October 30 at 6:30pm is the documentary Check It at the 5th and K location.
On October 4 at 6:00pm is More Than a Word, about the Washington football team's use of the word "Redskins." At the Takoma location. On October 17 at 6:00pm is the documentary From the Land of Gandhi (Prakash Wadhwa), about high-skilled immigrants from India. At the Takoma location.
George Mason University
On October 19 at 7:30pm GMU Visiting Filmmakers Series presents "Road Through War with Louie Palu," a screening and discussion of the documentary Road Through War (2015) about the frontline in Ukraine. Louie Palu will be present to discuss the film. Free and open to the public.
On October 24 at 4:30pm is the re-scheduled GMU Visiting Filmmakers Series: Cameraperson, with Kirsten Johnson present to discuss her documentary Cameraperson (2015).
On October 26 at 3:00pm GMU Visiting Filmmakers presents a masterclass with Kara Herold. "In my talk, I will discuss some examples of this attention to personal narratives in my work. I will also show excerpts from my past films and from my current narrative feature film, 39½, which is now in post-production." Free and open to the public.
The Phillips Collection
On October 12 at 6:00pm is the biopic Renoir (Gilles Bourdos, 2012), covering the last years of Pierre-Auguste Renoir's life at Cagnes-sur-Mer and Catherine Hessling, the last of Renoir's models and an actress in Jean Renoir's films.