January 31, 2008

February Events Madness!

NYC film scene thaws out with deep list of fests, series, one-offs and other happenings

By S.T. VanAirsdale

"A racist lackey of the imperialist ruling circles": Faye Dunaway in Network, the headliner of Film Forum's forthcoming Sidney Lumet retrospective (Photo: Film Forum/MGM)

I remember sitting here a year ago wondering if or when the sporadic New York film calendar would ever break from its deep winter freeze. A few regular January fests and events did battle with studio dregs as Sundance sucked local programmers and indie exhibitors west; it felt like it might never end. Then, inevitably, came February. A figurative thaw, naturally, but quite literally overloaded with happenings that would keep us warm for months, let alone 28 days.

Except for that 29th day, the 2008 agenda proves to be not much different; it's time to get your planners out and make some hard decisions. Of course, this isn't everything, either, so stay tuned at The Reeler for more updates and calendar highlights as the month continues. And, for the umpteenth time, thank goodness you're a filmgoer in New York.

--The marathon gets underway in earnest at Anthology Film Archives, which launches its 10-day Olivier Assayas retrospective Feb. 1 with Late August, Early September and Irma Vep. Assayas will be on hand Saturday, Feb. 2 to introduce a screening of the latter film. The series overlaps with Anthology's second February retrospective, featuring the work of Charles Burnett (Feb. 8-14). Selections include Warming by the Devil's Fire (his impressionistic entry for the miniseries The Blues, screening with The Horse), Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property and the standards Killer of Sheep, My Brother's Wedding and To Sleep With Anger.

--MoMA offers its own formidable duo in the middle of the month, with its thorough, two-week-long Milos Forman retrospective (Feb. 14-28) running alongside the ever eclectic Documentary Fortnight (Feb. 13-March 3). Forman will be in attendance Feb. 14-15 to introduce Loves of a Blond, Taking Off and his multi-Oscar-winning One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, while the Fortnight will welcome directors Laura Dunn (The Unforeseen), Jeff Silva (Balkan Rhapsodies) and tribute recipient Joan Churchill (Soldier Girls, Punishment Park) among others for discussions of their work. Launching Feb. 2: Oscar's Docs: 1941-45 (through Feb. 10), a series celebrating Oscar-nominated documentaries from the World War II era.

--Less than a month after its exhaustive Otto Preminger retrospective, Film Forum one-ups itself Feb. 8 with Lumet, a three-week, 22-film retrospective anchored by a new print of Network and a visit from Sidney Lumet himself on Feb. 11. The favorites are all here -- Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, 12 Angry Men -- and a few nifty surprises including the super-rarely screened Prince of the City (Feb. 28) and One Third of a Nation, starring a 15-year-old Lumet in his only screen appearance as an actor.

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--The Film Society of Lincoln Center follows its massive Envisioning Russia series (through Feb. 14) with the latest edition of Film Comment Selects (Feb. 14-28). Highlights include a fest-opening one-two-three punch of work by George A. Romero (Diary of the Dead), Assayas (Boarding Gate) and Jacques Rivette (The Duchess of Langeais), with acclaimed follow-ups Joy Division, Inside and... Mandingo? Really? Oh, and Crispin Glover will also be on hand for a screening of the infamous 1992 cult comedy Rubin and Ed.

--FSLC also offers a few fine one-offs in February, including Carolyn Strachan's revived 1982 documentary Two Laws (Feb. 6), an Independents Night event featuring Su Friedrich's latest, From the Ground Up (Feb. 7), and sure-to-be-swamped Valentine's Day screening of Harold and Maude introduced by Jonathan Demme. NB: The latter is a Young Friends of Film event; $25 gets you into the screening and a reception with wine and hors d'oeuvres. You couldn't screw that date night up if you tried.

--BAM also offers a Valentine's Day dinner-and-a-movie event featuring His Girl Friday, while Crazy Love director Dan Klores drops in Feb. 20 for a sneak preview of his new civil-rights-and-basketball doc Black Magic. Two shorter series backload the end of the month: The Best of the African Diaspora Film Festival (Feb. 23-28) and a week-long tribute to IFC Films (Feb. 29-Mar. 5) offering new films by Ken Loach (It's a Free World), Gus Van Sant (Paranoid Park) and Christophe Honoré (Love Songs), with the latter director in attendance Mar. 2.

--As previewed here earlier in in January, Stranger Than Fiction keeps the docs coming at IFC Center with the terrific run of Sweet Dreams (Feb. 5), selections from Wholphin (Feb. 12), the Best of the Orphan Film Symposium (Feb. 19) and the 1990 Oscar-nominated For All Mankind (Feb. 26), combining lost Apollo mission footage with a soundtrack by Brian Eno. A hoot to be sure. All the screenings are followed by discussions with the principals and an informal reception over at the Minetta Tavern.

--What used to be one of fall's best festivals is moving to February for the first time in 2008: CineKink NYC, organizer Lisa Vandever's labor of lust (among other prurient impulses) runs from Feb. 26 to March 2. The opening-night line-up is a hometown affair, featuring work by New York directors Leah Meyerhoff (the burlesque-centric music video Team Queen), Richard Kimmel (the leather-clad Schwarzwald) and Steven Speliotis (the submission saga A Dog's Life). The perverse goings-on are split between Anthology and the Pioneer; keep an eye on CineKink's site for additional program details. If you just can't wait until the end of the month, Vandever and the Pioneer will resume their regular monthly screening series Feb. 12 with a heavy dose of Annie Sprinkle and friends. You've been warned.

--Finally, there are these Academy Awards thingies being distributed in Hollywood on Feb. 24; you East Coast completists can get a look at all 10 short film nominees Feb. 16 at the Directors Guild Theater ($5, call 1-888-778-7575 for information) or check out the documentary shorts by themselves at MoMA on Feb. 17. And if you're a procrastinator, the AMC Empire is hosting a marathon of Best Picture nominees on Feb. 23. $30 gets you 12 hours of viewing and all-you-can-eat popcorn. Surely nothing beats a Juno sandwich on Atonement/NCFOM bread.

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