Some cinema inspires without special effects, beautiful people and Hollywood endings. The ReelAbilities NY Disabilities Film Festival, which is presented annually in 15 U.S cities, features award-winning movies about people with disabilities, post-screening discussions and exhibits. On March 7th, ReelAbilities will start a three-day run in Greater New York City. The Central Queens Y will show Stand Clear of the Closing Doors, which tells the story of an autistic Rockaway Beach teen who rides the subway alone; Gabrielle (below), which is about a singer in a group home for developmentally disabled adults and her inseparable boyfriend; and Do You Believe in Love? (above), a Hebrew-language flick about Tova, who is paralyzed by muscular dystrophy, but works finding love matches for people with disabilities. The Forest Hills venue will also display Pearls Project Photography Exhibit through March 11th. Meanwhile over in Astoria, the Museum of the Moving Image will show Gabrielle and Stand Clear of the Closing Doors as well as Cinemability, a documentary on cinema’s effect on the evolving conception of disability; Little World, a Catalan movie about a wheelchair user who travels from Spain to New Zeland; and Run & Jump, which depicts a family’s struggles after the father suffers a stroke.
Details: *New York Disability Film Festival, movies and an exhibit atCentral Queens Y, 67–09 108th Street, Forest Hills, and movies at Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria, March 7th through March 9th, times vary, click here for schedule.
*Movies will also show in Brooklyn; Manhattan; Staten Island; the Bronx; Garden City, Great Neck and Huntington, Long Island; and Mamaroneck and Pleasantville, Westchester. Click here for full list of films.
Who needs Hollywood when there’s Mumblecore? Only a little over a decade old, this movement of DIY filmmaking is known for its micro-budgets, improvisation, naturalistic conversations in real places, single characters in their 20s and 30s and minimal soundtracks. Some movies are in black and white. This Saturday and Sunday, the Museum of the Moving Image will celebrate this genre with a six-film retrospective on one of its major figures, Joe Swanberg (above, left), who will be present for all screenings.
Details: Mumblecore, Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria, 0n March 1st, the films are Hannah Takes the Stairs, 2 pm; Nights and Weekends, 4:30 pm; and Silver Bullets, 7 pm; on March 2nd, the films are Art History, 2 pm; Uncle Kent, 4:30 pm; and All the Light in the Sky, 7 pm, free with admission.
There will be movies from around the world — and around the corner. On March 4th, the fourth annual Queens World Film Festival will kick off a six-day moving image rampage of everything from feature films to shorts. Attendees can check out a dazzling selection of foreign flicks from such exotic ports of call as Belgium, Iran, India, Spain, Kosovo, Switzerland and Vietnam and enjoy the work of 18 borough-based auteurs. Like-minded films will be blocked together and will roll at Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image, The Secret Theatre and Nesva Hotel in Long Island City and PS 69 in Jackson Heights. The fun starts with an opening night party featuring the world premiere of the director’s cut of the of 2014 Academy Award-nominated documentary The Act of Killing. Directed by English-born Joshua Oppenheimer, the movie portrays his country’s national guilt potentially exhumed by a love of movies.
It’s time to meet the muppets! Tomorrow, author Craig Shemin will discuss his new book, The Muppets Character Encyclopedia (2014, DK Publishing), and lead an afternoon of video clips, trivia, impressions and general mania at the Museum of the Moving Image. Among the featured contests will be “Man or Muppet,” during which attendees will guess if an unusual name belongs to a real person or a Muppet character, and “Piggy, Babs, or Both,” in which contestants try to determine if certain biographical facts pertain to Miss Piggy, Barbra Streisand, or both. A book signing will follow.
Details: The Muppets Character Encyclopedia, Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria, February 22nd, 1 pm, free with admission ($12 adults/$9 seniors and students with ID/$6 children ages three through 12).
Photo: Cover of Official Muppet Character Encyclopedia (2013, DK Books)
It’s time for the Muppets to meet the Makers. The New York City public school system will be on vacation next week, but parents don’t need to worry about finding fun, educational and enriching activities during the down time… if they stay in Queens. On February 17th, the New York Hall of Science will kick off Engineering Week with a day of activities and tables run by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Each following day will cover a different engineering concept—from nano to mechanical, accompanied by activities and challenges to put those ideas into practice. The Tuesday focus will be on chemical engineering with a Make Polymer Slime activity. Wednesday will be for nanoengineering, Thursday will go to mechanical engineering with a chance to build rockets, and Friday will feature biology with Zoob inventor Michael Joaquin Grey. Meanwhile over in Astoria, the Museum of the Moving Image will screen 1970s episodes of The Muppet Show. Carol Burnett, Steve Martin and Rita Moreno join Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie and the Swedish Chef during this series, which will show three episodes a day for the week.
Details: Engineering Week, New York Hall of Science, 47-01 111th Street, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, February 17 through February 21st, times vary, $11 for adults/$8 for children 17 and under.
Details: The Muppet Show, Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria, February 17th through February 21st, daily at 1 pm, free with admission ($12 adults / $9 seniors and students / $6 children 3–12 / free for Museum members).
There are games. There are long-running, high-tech, state-of-the-art games. And then there’s IndieCade East! On Friday, the Museum of the Moving Image will kick off a three-day extravaganza featuring all kinds of video pursuits and the independent creators who make them. Attendees will enjoy talks, panels, workshops, exhibits and games curated from IndieCade’s designers, thinkers and players. Keynote speakers will be Bennet Foddy and Auriea Harvey, designers who are featured in the Indie Essentials exhibit currently on display at the museum. Included in the fun will be the highly popular IndieCade Show and Tell, an eSports tournament and a new spin on IndieCade’s Night Games event. Throughout the weekend, the museum will also present The Game-Making Game, a workshop for children ages 8 and older (materials fee applies).
Details: IndieCade East, Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria, February 14th (10:30 am to 6:30 pm), February 15th (10:30 am to 7 pm and 7 pm to 10 pm) and February 16th (10:30 am to 6:30 pm). On February 14th, passes are $45 ($35 discounted). On February 15th passes (including access to Night Games) are $55 ($45 discounted). On February 16th passes are $45 ($35 discounted). Admission for children (ages 3–12) is $10 per day.
It’s Black History Month, and the Museum of the Moving Image is looking at the “peculiar institution” of slavery as depicted in film and television. This Saturday, the venerable Astoria venue hosts a 7.5-hour symposium entitled “Massa’ Gaze: Screenings and Critical Discussions of the Depictions of Slavery in Film and Television.” At 1 pm, the event kicks off with a screening of Solomon Northup’s Odyssey, an adaptation of a memoir by a man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. At 3:15 pm, Black Filmmaker Foundation President Warrington Hudlin moderates a panel discussion — “Which Story, What Story, and Whose Story is Being Told?” — with critics and historians opining on the recent depictions of slavery in such works as 12 Years a Slave and Django Unchained. At 5 pm, Hudlin, who is also a museum trustee, hosts “Who Gets to Tell the Story? Why and Why Not?,” during which prominent African-American filmmakers chat about their challenges in telling historically significant stories. Then at 6:30 pm, the museum screens Burn!, a film about a professional mercenary (Marlon Brando) who instigates a slave revolt on a Caribbean island in order to improve the British sugar trade. Years later he returns to deal with the same rebels because they have seized too much power, threatening British sugar interests.
Details: Massa’ Gaze: Screenings and Critical Discussions of the Depictions of Slavery in Film and Television, Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria, February 1st, 1 pm to 8:30 pm, $15/$12 for students/$9 for museum members/free for Silver Screen members.
It’s time to dance in the aisles! The Museum of the Moving Image is ready to screen 14 classical movies that are known for their singing and dancing extravaganzas. From January 24th to February 28th, the Musicals: See It Big! series will jump from spectacle to spectacle as well as Austria to Harlem to Paris and Liza Minnelli to Michael Jackson to Gene Kelly. Here is the schedule:
January 24th, All That Jazz, 7 pm. Bob Fosse’s partly autobiographical, partly fantastical musical depicts a boozy, pill-addled choreographer negotiating a love life and a career.
January 25th, The Sound of Music, 2 pm. Julie Andrews (above) is a novice nun whose life changes when she starts caring for the bratty children of a military captain on the heels of World War II.
January 26th, Love Me Tonight, 3:30 pm. Maurice Chevalier is a jovial tailor who tries to collect on a bill from a count, but falls in love with a princess.
January 26th, Gigi, 6 pm. A young girl comes of age in wealthy turn-of-the-century Paris. This movie won nine Oscars, including Best Picture, Director, Costume Design, Song and Score.
January 31st, A Star Is Born, 7 pm. Judy Garland is a movie star on the rise while her husband is an alcoholic actor on his way down the ladder of success.
February 2nd, Meet Me in St. Louis, 2 pm. In this bittersweet turn-of-the-century musical, a family contends with life, love and an impending move from St. Louis to New York City.
February 2nd, Gold Diggers of 1933, 4:30 pm. With eye-popping choreography, this film tells the story of four aspiring actresses trying to make it during the Great Depression.
February 2nd, Pennies from Heaven, 7 pm. Steve Martin is a sheet-music salesman during the Great Depression. For him and the schoolteacher he loves (Bernadette Peters), music is an escape from reality.
February 7th, The Wiz (above), 7 pm. A Harlem school teacher is transported to the Land of Oz. A Motown co-production, this musical features songs by Luther Vandross and Ashford & Simpson, and a cast headed by Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.
February 21st, Cabaret, 7 pm. A vivacious but damaged American singer sells her soul in a seedy nightclub, while a devilish emcee observes in this shattering musical set in Berlin on the eve of Hitler’s rise to power.
February 22nd, An American in Paris, 4 pm. Gene Kelly is a painter struggling to make ends meet in the City of Light.
February 22nd, The Pajama Game, 7 pm. Can management (John Raitt) and labor (Doris Day) co-exist at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory in Cedar Rapids, Iowa? This musical about unionization attempts to answer this question with choreography by a young Bob Fosse.
February 23rd, Show Boat, 6 pm. This saga follows the lives of the performers and workers on The Cotton Blossom, a Mississippi River showboat, over 40 years. Paul Robeson’s “Ol’ Man River” is the most famous of this film’s many musical numbers.
February 28th, New York, New York, 7 pm. Martin Scorsese directs — and Robert De Niro and Liza Minnelli star — in this ode to classic MGM musicals and 1940s jazz.
Details: Musicals: See It Big!, Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria, January 24 to February 28th, times vary, free with admission ($12 for adults/$9 for those over 65 and students with ID/$6 for children ages 3-12/Free for children under 3 and members).
Tonight, the Museum of the Moving Image opens its third annual First Look series, which showcases new and inventive cinema. Sixteen films from 10 countries will screen over this weekend and the following one. The launch movie is the U.S. premiere of director Alexandre Rockwell’s Little Feet (7 pm), which stars his two children as siblings whose widowed father dresses in an animal suit for a living and collapses drunk at night. They go on an adventure to find a mate for a pet goldfish. Rockwell and his children, Lana and Nico, will attend the screening. The rest of the series will proceed as follows:
January 11th: Rohmer in Paris (2 pm) is an ode to the Nouvelle Vague master Eric Rohmer and his beloved Paris. The Inner Jungle (4:15 pm, above) expresses the combination of terror and amazement surrounding romance and pregnancy. Vic + Flo Saw a Bear (7 pm) is set in director Denis Côté’s native northern Québéc. It follows a pair of lesbian lovers and ex-cellmates after their release from prison.
January 12th: Visitors (2 pm) consists of 74 black-and-white shots, taking viewers to the moon and back, while examining the human species and a gorilla from the Bronx Zoo. In the remote Chilean mountains in 1974, three goat-herding sisters survive after the death of a fourth sister in The Quispe Girls (5 pm). Chilean documentarian Marcela Said’s debut feature The Summer of Flying Fish (8 pm) is a coming-of-age story in the expansive terrains of southern Chile near Patagonia, where a bright-eyed teenager vacations with her family in their lake house, meets new friends, and finds her first love.
January 17th: The documentary Wavemakers (7 pm) delves into the history and legacy of the Ondes Martenot, an electronic instrument with a haunting, ethereal sound. Director Caroline Martel will be present and Jean Laurendeau will play the Ondes Martenot after the screening.
January 18th: Escaping after years in jail, a man finds his way home on the outskirts of a Cairo that has been turned upside down by the protests of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 in Rags and Tatters(1:30 pm). He finds that everything about life as he knew it has irrevocably changed. In Ape (4 pm), the phrase “struggling comedian” has never been more fitting than to describe the fictional Grand Rapids standup comic and part-time arsonist Trevor Newandyke. DirectorJoel Potrykus will attend.
January 19: In To the Wolf(2 pm, below), poverty and rain seem to be the constants in the grim lives of two goatherding families struggling to survive in the Greek mountains during a period of national crisis. The second movie (4 pm) is a documentary on Bernard Natan, a pioneer of French cinema who died in Auschwitz, and is known as an early director of silent soft-core porn movies. Co-director Paul Duane will attend. Fast-paced, pun-and-gag-filled and refreshingly silly, The Rendez-Vous of Déjà Vu (6:30 pm) is a romantic burlesque about a lovelorn museum guard who falls for a woman—a friend of a friend—and tries to win her heart during a beach vacation. Director Antonin Peretjatko will attend.
Details: First Look 2014, Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria, January 10th to January 19th, times vary, tickets are $10 each ($6 for museum members/free for Silver Screen members) with the exception of those for Visitors which are $20 ($12 museum members/free for Silver Screen members). An All Festival Pass is available for $40 ($24 museum members). Complimentary industry and press passes are available.
“Inventive,” “invigorating” and “fresh” are the theme words for this year’s Curators’ Choice series at the Museum of the Moving Image. Starting this Friday, the Astoria venue will screen six films — touching on everything from martial arts to chess to deep-sea fishing – over three days. Consider the following:
The Grandmaster (above) follows Bruce Lee’s mentor, Ip Man, through major moments in Chinese history, from the end of the Sino-Japanese War to British rule over Hong Kong (January 3rd, 7 pm).
Viola shows how performers and their roles unravel as young actresses rehearse an all-female production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Argentine director Matías Piñeiro will participate in a live video call after the screening (January 4th, 2 pm).
In Museum Hours a guard befriends an enigmatic visitor, and Vienna’s Kunst Historisches Museum becomes a mysterious crossroads which sparks explorations of their lives, the city and art. Director Jem Cohen, who specializes in observational portraits of urban landscapes, will discuss the film in person after the showing. (January 4th, 3:30 pm).
Computer Chess is shot in a black-and-white camera to emphasize the grungy atmosphere of a seedy motel where a group of chess software programmers meet for a weekend tournament. Director Andrew Bujalski, considered to be the “Godfather of the Mumblecore (low-budget productions with amateur actors and naturalistic dialog),” will participate in a live video call after the movie (January 5th, 2 pm).
Thanks to the use of countless cameras, Leviathan, which is set aboard a fishing vessel as it navigates the treacherous waves off New England, depicts the harsh world of the fishermen in haunting detail. (January 5th, 5 pm).
A Touch of Sin (below) uses vignettes to dramatize injustice in contemporary China. Based on true stories, one scene shows a mineworker blow up at the apathy of his local politicians and go on a killing spree. A migrant worker turns to murder and theft due to insurmountable money troubles in another. (January 5th, 7 pm).
Details: 2013 Curators’ Choice, Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria, January 3rd, The Grandmaster, 7 pm; January 4th, Viola, 2 pm, Museum Hours, 3:30 pm; January 5th, Computer Chess, 2 pm, Leviathan, 5 pm and A Touch of Sin, 7 pm, free with admission on a first-come, first served basis except for The Grandmaster, which costs $12.