In Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room, Geoff Dyer’s exhilarating meditation on Stalker, he asserts that great cinema exists in order to bring us to “a place—a state—of heightened alertness to everything.” Dyer, who introduces Tarkovsky’s film, is one of many writers fascinated by the power of film, just as filmmakers have long drawn on literature for inspiration and indeed often focus on writers as subjects.
In a nod to dystopian fiction today, the series opens with novel-to-film adaptation master Phil Kaufman presenting Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It ends with another adaptation, Memories of Underdevelopment, which uses documentary footage of revolutionary Cuba and fictive narrative to plumb consciousness itself. Between these bookends is a world tour of writers and publishing: Mishima, a phantasmagorical biopic of the Japanese author; a portrait of Juan Rulfo, the Mexican father of magic realism, by his son; and profiles of Jack Kahane, whose Olympia Press in Paris published books too racy for puritanical Brits and Americans, and Barney Rosset, founder of the legendary Grove Press. Actor Claude Jarman, Jr. will appear in person to discuss the still-relevant Faulkner adaptation Intruder in the Dust, set in Jim Crow America. Bring the family for a matinee of The Secret Garden, based on the beloved classic about an adventurous girl.
Founder and Executive Director, Bay Area Book Festival
Guest curated by Tom Luddy, cofounder and codirector of the Telluride Film Festival, in conjunction with Cherilyn Parsons. Luddy was co-producer of The Secret Garden and Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters; watch for his brief appearance in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Phil Kaufman (US, 1978)
Wednesday / 5.31.17
In Conversation: Phil Kaufman and David Thomson
David Thomson is author of The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies—and What They Have Done to Us; Have You Seen . . . ? A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films; and The New Biographical Dictionary of Film.
Paranoia abounds in this remake of the 1956 sci-fi horror film, where extraterrestrial “pod people” are breeding conformity in a culture immersed in the unconventional. Phil Kaufman updated Don Siegel’s classic, itself an adaptation of Jack Finney’s novel, to an age of fern encounters and ecology—San Francisco in the mid-seventies. But blasé enlightenment is no protection against mind control. Science fiction from decades past is perhaps all too relevant today. Cloning, emotion-free artificial “intelligence,” viral propagation—it’s all here.
Written by W. D. Richter, based on the novel The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney. Photographed by Michael Chapman. With Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Leonard Nimoy, Veronica Cartwright. (114 mins, Color, Digital, Permission Park Circus)
Andrei Tarkovsky (USSR, 1979) Digital Restoration
Thursday / 6.1.17
Introduction: Geoff Dyer
Geoff Dyer, writer in residence at the University of Southern California, is the author of four novels and nine works of nonfiction; his latest, The Street Philosophy of Garry Winogrand, will be published in 2018. Dyer’s Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room is an examination of Tarkovsky’s Stalker.
A sci-fi tale that unwinds in the environs of the soul takes the form of a nightmarish quest for nothing less than truth itself. In a plot employing the outlines of a novel by Soviet authors Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, who also wrote the screenplay, a writer and a scientist follow a shaven-headed “stalker” into forbidden territory, a dangerous wilderness known as the Zone. Tarkovsky forces—or perhaps allows—reality to yield abstract images of startling originality, and his vision of landscape bathed in eerie sepia hues is nothing less than mystical.
Written by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, adapted from their novel. Photographed by Aleksandr Knyazhinsky. With Aleksandr Kajdanovsky, Alisa Frejndlikh, Anatoli Solonitsyn, Nikolai Grinko. (163 mins, In Russian with English subtitles, Color, DCP, From Janus Films)
100 Years with Juan Rulfo
Juan Carlos Rulfo (Mexico, 2017)
Friday / 6.2.17
In Person: Juan Carlos Rulfo
(Cien años con Juan Rulfo). The writer Juan Rulfo is synonymous with Mexican literature. Yet after publishing his short story anthology El llano en llamas in 1953 and the emblematic Mexican novel Pedro Páramo in 1955, this brilliant observer of Mexican reality withdrew from writing, and little is known about his life. To mark the hundredth anniversary of Rulfo’s birth, his son, filmmaker Juan Carlos Rulfo, is rectifying this biographical lacuna with a multipart profile. We present two parts from the six-part series, which explores not only Rulfo’s writing but also his photography and relation to cinema, drawing on family memories and the voices of friends, colleagues, and critics.
Photographed by Eduardo Herrera, Juan Carlos Rulfo, Héctor Ortega. (104 mins (2 chapters of 52 mins each), In Spanish with English subtitles, Color/B&W, Digital, From La Media Luna Producciones)
The Secret Garden
Saturday / 6.3.17
Introduction: Caroline Paul
Caroline Paul is the author of four books, including Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology and the New York Times bestseller The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure.
Agnieszka Holland adapted Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved tale of an enterprising girl (Kate Maberly) who uncovers secrets at her uncle’s forbidding estate, including an abandoned garden and a neglected boy. Together the children make the garden bloom and transform the lives of all who live there. Janet Maslin wrote in the New York Times: “The Secret Garden is elegantly expressive, a discreet and lovely rendering of the children’s classic. . . . [I]t can be seen as celebrating nature as a force for freedom.” A perfect afternoon respite for families.
Written by Caroline Thompson, based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Photographed by Roger Deakins. With Kate Maberly, Maggie Smith, Heydon Prowse, Andrew Knott. (103 mins, Color, 35mm, From Warner Bros.)
Obscene: A Portrait of Barney Rosset and Grove Press
Neil Ortenberg, Daniel O’Connor (US, 2007)
Saturday / 6.3.17
Introduction: Robert Scheer
Robert Scheer, known for his fearless journalism, cofounded the online progressive news magazine Truthdig. While working at City Lights Books in the early 1960s he cowrote Cuba, an American Tragedy, published by Grove Press, one of many books he has penned.
Barney Rosset acquired the then fledgling Grove Press in 1951 and soon embarked on a career of publishing and political engagement on the barricades of free expression. The first American publisher of Samuel Beckett, Kenzaburo Oe, Tom Stoppard, Che Guevara, John Rechy, and Malcolm X, he went to the Supreme Court to break the obscenity ban on works of fiction such as Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Tropic of Cancer, and Naked Lunch. Changing the course of literary history didn’t come without a price.
(97 mins, B&W/Color, Digital, From Cinedigm Entertainment)
Preceded by A Very British Pornographer: The Jack Kahane Story (Jon Willers UK, 2016). Actor and antiquarian book dealer Neil Pearson travels to Paris to discover one of the least likely lights in twentieth-century literature, Jack Kahane, who published significant works of the avant-garde—including books by James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, Anaïs Nin, Lawrence Durrell, and Henry Miller—in Paris, in English. All were too racy to see print in Britain or the US. Kahane supported his literary idols by selling their opposite number: low-grade smut. (30 mins, Color, Digital, From the filmmaker)
Total running time: 127 mins
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
Paul Schrader (US, 1985) Director’s Cut
Saturday / 6.3.17
Introduction: Rachel Kushner
Rachel Kushner is the author of two novels, The Flamethrowers and Telex from Cuba, both of which were finalists for the National Book Award, as well as The Strange Case of Rachel K, a collection of short prose. Her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, and The Paris Review.
One of Japan’s most illustrious contemporary writers, Yukio Mishima promoted a controversial aesthetic that grew out of an obsession with beauty, art, and the Emperor. In 1970, he committed seppuku, achieving a fatal “harmony of pen and sword.” In Mishima, director Paul Schrader offers a rich and compelling profile of this literary giant. With his brother Leonard, Schrader has scripted an intricate narrative that weaves three visually distinct strands: Mishima’s last day, biographical flashbacks, and dramatizations from three novels (Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Kyoko’s House, and Runaway Horses). We present the director’s version with a previously deleted scene.
Written by Paul Schrader, Leonard Schrader. Photographed by John Bailey. With Ken Ogata, Kenji Sawada, Yasosuke Bando, Toshiyuki Nagashima. English narration read by Roy Scheider. (120 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles and English, Color/B&W, 35mm, From UCLA Film and Television Archive, permission Janus Films, Paul Schrader, Zoetrope)
Intruder in the Dust
Clarence Brown (US, 1949)
Sunday / 6.4.17
In Person: Claude Jarman, Jr.
Actor Claude Jarman, Jr. was discovered by MGM and cast in The Yearling; other roles include parts in Rio Grande and The Intruder. He was executive director of the San Francisco International Film Festival from 1968 to 1980.
Shot in Faulkner country—Oxford, Mississippi—this adaptation of his novel was one of the first films to break the Hollywood taboo on the subject of racism; today it shows how Faulkner is more relevant than ever. The story of a black man, Lucas, who incurs a town’s wrath by refusing to act like a “nigger,” and of Chick, a white boy who finds his own dignity in helping save Lucas from a lynch mob, is rescued from melodrama by the extraordinary performances of Juano Hernandez and Claude Jarman, Jr., and the use of much of Faulkner’s original dialogue.
Written by Ben Maddow, based on the novel by William Faulkner. Photographed by Robert Surtees. With Juano Hernandez, Claude Jarman, Jr., David Brian, Elizabeth Patterson, Will Geer. (89 mins, B&W, 35mm, From Warner Bros.)
Doug Nichol (US, 2016)
Sunday / 6.4.17
In Person: Doug Nichol, Steve Wasserman, Jeremy Mayer, Herbert Permillion III, and Ken Alexander
Steve Wasserman is publisher and executive director of Heyday Books. Jeremy Mayer is an artist who makes sculptures from disassembled typewriters. Herbert Permillion III is the owner of California Typewriter in Berkeley and Ken Alexander is a typewriter repairman at California Typewriter.
A portrait of artists, writers, and collectors who remain steadfastly loyal to the typewriter as tool and muse, and a meditation on the changing dynamic between humans and machines, the film takes its title from one of the country’s last typewriter repair shops, right here in Berkeley. Don DeLillo called the film “pure typewriter heaven. Interviews with Tom Hanks, Sam Shepard, David McCullough and others, all of them tending to hover at times over a manually operated keyboard. . . . ‘Such an emotional machine,’ someone says.”. . . The family that runs the shop is the heart and soul of the movie.”
Photographed by Nichol. (103 mins, Color, Digital, From the filmmaker)
Memories of Underdevelopment
Tomás Gutiérrez Alea (Cuba, 1968) Digital Restoration
Sunday / 6.4.17
Introduction: Joshua Jelly-Schapiro
Joshua Jelly-Schapiro is the author of Island People: The Caribbean and the World and the coeditor of Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas. He earned his PhD in geography at UC Berkeley and is currently a visiting scholar at the Institute for Public Knowledge at NYU.
(Memorias del Subdesarrollo). The Cuban cinema reached full maturity with this classic study of a bourgeois writer who stays in Cuba after the revolution, despite his alienation from the new society and the loss of all his friends to Miami. In the spring of 1973, Memories of Underdevelopment became the first feature-length film from post-revolutionary Cuba to be released in the United States, to high acclaim. Peter Schjeldahl in the New York Times called it “a profound, noble film . . . beautifully understated, sophisticated and cosmopolitan in style, fascinating in its subtlety and complexity.”
Written by Gutiérrez Alea, Edmundo Desnoes, based on the novel by Desnoes. Photographed by Ramon Suarez. With Sergio Corrieri, Daisy Granados, Eslinda Nunez, Beatriz Ponchova. (97 mins, In Spanish with English subtitles, B&W, DCP, From Janus Films)