Focusing on the theme of “Dislocations,” the 22nd annual Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival, presented by the interdepartmental program in film studies, opens Feb. 4 and continues through April 29.
The series’ entertaining and provocative selection includes documentaries, shorts and narrative features from India, China, South Korea, Israel, Italy, Latvia and the U.S. It also features two silent films with live musical accompaniment, including the New England premiere of a 1913 film starring legendary Caribbean-American musical theater performer and recording artist Bert Williams. The festival hosts filmmakers, producers, archivists and musicians who will be present for discussion. All films are accompanied by critical introductions by scholars and filmmakers and all events are free and open to the public.
Unless otherwise noted, all screenings are held in the Flavin Family Auditorium, 137 Isenberg School of Management at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.
The festival opens Feb. 4 with a screening of “‘Some Kind of Funny Porto Rican?’: A Cape Verdean American Story,” a documentary chronicling a community of immigrants in Providence faced with displacement by gentrification. Filmmaker Claire Andrade-Watkins will be present for a question-and-answer session.
On Monday, Feb. 9, the festival will host a special lecture by internationally renowned Indian film scholar Ranjani Mazumdar from Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, who will speak on “The Geography of Colour in 1960s Bombay Cinema.” The talk is co-sponsored by the department of communication and will be held in the N301 Integrative Learning Center. The talk will be followed on Feb. 11 by a screening of “Liar’s Dice,” India’s official submission to the Academy Awards this year, about a woman and her young child leaving their village to find her husband in the crowded city of Delhi. On Feb. 18, the festival will screen the Chinese/Hong Kong film “Still Life” about loss and love in the shadow of the construction of China’s Three Gorges Dam. This screening will be followed by commentary from visiting artist Yun-fei Ji, in collaboration with the University Museum of Contemporary Art.
In observance of Black History Month and during the 100th anniversary year of the release of D.W. Griffith's incendiary “The Birth of a Nation,” the festival will be screening the New England premiere of 1913’s Bert Williams’ “Lime Kiln Club Field Day Project,” the earliest known surviving black-cast feature film. A comedy of three young men vying for the same woman's affection, this film was never released, its footage lost for a century. Discovered in the Museum of Modern Art archives, this restoration of rushes and multiple takes will be introduced by New York’s MOMA’s curator Ron Magliozzi and will be screened with live piano accompaniment.
On March 4, two documentaries about labor, history, and displacement will be screened on a twin bill: Italy’s “Triangle” parallels the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire with the knitwear factory building collapse in Barletta, Italy, 100 years later and Israel’s “Voices from the Booth” explores the usually ignored lives of immigrant security guard workers.
On March 11, the festival will screen, in the special location of Bowker Auditorium, Lon Chaney’s 1925 version of “The Phantom of the Opera” with live accompaniment by the Berklee College of Music Silent Film Orchestra students performing and conducting their own, original score for this classic silent film.
Alumnus Greg Reitman returns to campus on March 25 to show and discuss his ambitious, personal documentary on humanity’s self-destructive cycles of waste, war and violence, “Rooted in Peace.”
Filmmaker Signe Baumane will be present April 1 to screen and answer questions about “Rocks in My Pockets,” her animated feature film, based on a true story, which explores a family history of depression and mental illness with humor, history and imaginative visuals. On April 8, the South Korean film “Futureless Things” chronicles 24 hours in the intertwined lives of young clerks at a convenience store, a comedy of students, North Korean defectors, and social outcasts in consumerist South Korea.
In conjunction with the Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival, on April 15 the festival will screen the absurdist Israeli comedy “Self Made.” On April 22, experimental director Kevin Jerome Everson, whose work has been featured in the Whitney Biennial multiple times, will be present to discuss his films on the lives of working class African-Americans and to screen “The Island of St. Matthews,” a film combining documentary and poetic modes, honoring loss amid the devastation of a river flood that destroyed homes and heirlooms.
The festival closes at Smith College’s Weinstein Auditorium at 5 p.m. for a 30th anniversary celebration of the groundbreaking independent film “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” starring William Hurt, Raul Julia and Sonia Braga. Telling a complex story of an unlikely relationship in a Latin American prison between two cellmates with very different ideas about life, the film presents a captivating portrait of intrigue, sex, political dissidence and obsessive love of movies under oppressive, inhumane conditions. The film’s producer, David Weisman, will be present for discussion. The event is co-sponsored by the film studies program at Smith College.
Major festival sponsors include the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, UMass Arts Council Arts in a Series, and New England Public Radio. Additional support comes from the University Museum of Contemporary Art, Fine Arts Center, department of history and its Feinberg Family Distinguished Lecture Series, department of communication, department of music and dance; Smith College film studies program, and the Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival.