Congo in Harlem 2

State of Mind: Healing Trauma

Dir. Djo Munga, 2010, 52 min.

Is healing possible for individuals living in a country where over 5 million people have died? Director Djo Munga takes this question on by following Dr. Albert Pesso, a psychotherapist who has traveled to Congo to train health care practitioners in his trademarked method for healing trauma. Munga obsersves Pesso's ambitious efforts with patience and honesty, delicately revealing the deep and complex roots of the challenge at hand.



Discussion with psychologist Dr. Mark Bolden and other special guests.

Co-presented by Icarus Films

Congo in Harlem 2

Congo in Four Acts

Dirs. Kiripi Katembo Siku, Dieudo Hamadi, Patrick Ken Kalala, Davita Wa Lusala, 2010, 69 min.

Four short films made by Congolese filmmakers who set out to create an alternative to the snapshots of horror and desperation that have come to characterize their country.

 Ladies in Waiting

 Directed by Dieudo Hamadi & Divita Wa Lusala

An embattled hospital manager negotiates collateral with a group of new mothers being held at the hospital until they can pay their medical bills.

 Symphony Kinshasa

 Directed by Kiripi Katembo Siku

Siku takes a poetic, unflinching eye to the streets of Kinshasa, Congo's capitol. Stagnant puddles, heaps of trash, and bare electrical wires expose the city's imploding infrastructure and absence of public services.

 Zero Tolerance

 Directed by Dieudo Hamadi

A Congolese policewoman, who is head of the Sexual Violence Unit, questions two boys accused of attacking and raping a woman on her way home from the market. Her efforts to mediate between the young perpetrators and their victim reveal both the depth of the problem and the community's resolve to address it.

 After the Mine

 Directed by Kiripi Katembo Siku

Siku examines Kibushi, a polluted mining town where even the youngest children are enlisted to extract the nation's wealth. The devastating conditions have trapped those who are living there, and this film tells their stories.



Discussion with Joseph Mbangu (Congolese attorney and activist), Sylvie Muanga Mbanga (Congolese human rights lawyer and women's rights advocate).


Co-presented by Icarus Films


Congo in Harlem 2

Cultures of Resistance: Congo

Dir. Iara Lee, 2010, 4 min.

Short film about Friends of the Congo and their efforts to raise consciousness about the situation and to support Congolese institutions working for peace.

An Evening with Kanda Bongo Man

A sneak peek at a new documentary about popular soukous singer Kanda Bongo Man, along with a short selection of music videos and interviews. Kanda Bongo Man will be in attendance, along with Lubangi Muniania, founder of Tabilulu Productions, the record label that released Kanda's latest album, Non-Stop Feeling.


Discussion with Kanda Bongo Man and Lubangi Muniania (founder of Tabilulu Productions) & Congo Week Kick-Off Reception

Evening Co-Presented by Cultures of Resistance, Tabilulu Productions, and Friends of the Congo



Dir. Du Haibin, 2009, 116 min.

"This is an independent documentary at its most sophisticated." - Shelly Kraicer, Vancouver International Film Festival

Du Haibin's award-winning documentary of the earthquake that devastated China's Sichuan province in 2008 explores how victims, citizens and government respond to a national tragedy. The Great Sichuan Earthquake took place at 14:28 on May 12, 2008, causing 70,000 deaths and 375,000 casualties. Days later, Du Haibin visited Sichuan to capture the devastation as well as the recovery effort. Survivors were reduced to salvaging destroyed pig farms in the mountains, selling scrap metal for pennies, and pillaging homes. Seven months later, as the nation celebrated Chinese New Year, Du returned to see how life had changed in the stricken villages. Sidestepping the highly controlled media tours, Du found scenes not seen on official TV, exposing the gap between the Party's promises and the disaster victims' reality.


Using a poetic, elliptical narrative structure, Du Haibin delivers a vision of human devastation that is "fascinating, beautifully crafted" (Ronnie Scheib, Variety). Beyond describing the disaster and its consequences, the director also examines the prominence of media and consumerism in contemporary China: tourists buy DVDs of horrific post-earthquake footage, souvenir albums of corpses, and pose for photos at sites of the highest death tolls. Du depicts a world in chaos, both material and moral. "Without judgment but with a deep compassion for their subjects, the lmmakers of 1428 bring us a myriad of individual stories of absurdity, confusion and grief" (Cherise Fong, CNN).


Masterclass: Eric V. Tait, Jr.

The goal of the bi-monthly series Masterclass is to identify and survey exemplary careers in documentary production through an expansive lens. Eric V. Tait Jr’s career as journalist (print, network and independent television), documentary filmmaker, media watchdog and advocate for excellence in journalism and documentary film, comprises a robust contribution to the documentary tradition, through his own work and the paths he created for others to follow. Wearing the hat of organizer and media activist, Mr. Tait crafted the panels that follow his films himself, placing greater concern for how his work can be employed in examining current social issues and the media’s representation of them than receiving congratulations and praise for his 40 years in media. Mr. Tait says it best: “The goal is to use my 40th Anniversary Retrospective to take a good hard look at where we've been, what's been gained and/or lost, and what's now in store for all of us.”


“OUR WORLD-Fear & Frustration: Winter 1952”

Dir. Eric V. Tait, Jr., (1987) 58 min.

An unpopular war (Korea), xenophobia, Communist witch-hunts, restrictive and still racist Immigration Laws and Policies… a riveting one hour look at a time when fear ruled in the USA; a time that unfortunately now seems to be repeating itself…

Panel Discussion:


Attorneys and Journalist-Filmmakers discuss Xenophobia in the US today:  Islamophobia (e.g. the lower-Manhattan Mosque), the Patriot Act, racist immigration laws and policies, how it all affects Constitutional Rights and individual liberties, and the role of media in alerting the general public to possible dangers now, as it unfolds, NOT 35 years later.

PANELISTS: Attorneys Abdeen Jabara and Alison Berry; Educator Debbie Almontaser; Documentarian/Media Critics Danny Schechter and Eric V. Tait, Jr.; Michelle Materre (moderator).


Thursday, October 14th, 7:30 pm

Masterclass: Eric V. Tait, Jr.

“Across The River with Hedrick Smith”

Dir. Eric V. Tait, Jr. (1995) 57 min.

An uplifting look at the Anacostia section of Washington, DC and its modern struggle to break the yoke and legacy of the Slavery/Jim Crow system that Inner-City residents continually battle: from lack of economic opportunity and gentrification, to uncaring, discriminatory Policing and Criminal Justice practices.


Panel Discussion:


Activists, Elected Officials, and Journalist-Filmmakers discuss what’s changed for the Inner City Residents, especially Harlemites since the mid-1990s: Gentrification, the NYPDs Stop & Frisk Program, Empowerment Zones-- who’s really benefited in the past 15 years, and what’s in our future?  How’s the story being told?

PANELISTS: Attorney Bonita Zelman; City Council Member, 8th District, Melissa Mark-Viverito; Filmmaker Duana Butler, Pearl Barkley; author and activist Herb Boyd (moderator).


Friday, October 15th, 7:00 pm

Masterclass: Eric V. Tait, Jr.

“Then I’ll Be Free To Travel Home (Pt. 1)”

Dir. Eric V. Tait, Jr., 2000, 90 min.

The last film that the legendary Lena Horne worked on,

As Texas tries to propagate textbooks that re-write an even more exclusionary version of American History, and the Elmendorf Reformed Church, the oldest church in Harlem (est. 1660) battles to reclaim and restore it’s 330-year old Colonial African Burial Ground –another chapter of that untold American History-- we look at that history with a more in-depth and inclusive perspective.


Panel Discussion:


Educators, activists, elected officials and journalist-filmmakers discuss the state of public education, political power and education decisions, inclusive/non-inclusive American History (and the lack of mandated history/social studies curricula in NY State), Glen Beck and the Fox faux-news’ attempts at usurping the Civil Rights movement, and other related highly crucial issues…

PANELISTS: NY1 anchor Cheryl Wills (moderator); Dr. Alan Singer, Department of Curriculum and Teaching, Hofstra University, Rev Patricia Singletary, Pastor of East Harlem’s Elmendorf Church; educational consultant Gene Peterson; City Councilman Robert Jackson.


Reception to follow sponsored by Sugar Hill Ale

Congo in Harlem 2

Congo in Harlem 2 is the second annual series of Congo-related films and events at the Maysles Cinema in Harlem. This year’s program showcases a wide range of films by Congolese and international directors, representing the most important issues facing the Democratic Republic of Congo today. Most screenings will be followed by panel discussions, special events, performances, and receptions. Congo in Harlem 2 will provide audiences with more than the traditional movie-going experience -- it will offer opportunities celebrate Congolese culture, learn about the ongoing humanitarian crisis, engage in dialogue, and get involved.


Highlights of the program include:  October 8th and 9th, Monique Mbeka Phoba, a Belgian-based Congolese filmmaker, will present her films A Bewitched Life and Between the Cup and the Elections. On October 17th, we will kick off International Congo Week with a special tribute to legendary soukous singer Kanda Bongo Man, who will be attendance. To close out the series, there will be a special panel discussion focused on solutions to the child soldier problem, featuring Ishmael Beah (author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier) and Jimmie Briggs (author of Innocents Lost: When Child Soldiers Go to War). Please visit our website for the latest updates and schedule additions.


Congo in Harlem 2 is supported by VDAY, the Caipirinha Foundation, and other organizations. Ticket will be sold on the basis of suggested donation and the proceeds from each event will be contributed to NGOs and organizations working in Congo.


Series Partners: Friends of the Congo, Now AfriCAN, HEAL Africa, V-Day, Cultures of Resistance, Tabilulu Productions, New York African Film Festival, Congo Global Action, Museum for African Art, Yole!Africa, and First Run/Icarus.


Friday, October 8th, 7:30 pm

Congo in Harlem 2

A Bewitched Life

Dir. Monique Mbeka Phoba, 2004, 52 min.

Monique Mbeka Phoba, the director of the film, spent part of her childhood in Zaire (DR Congo), where witchcraft plays an integral role in people's lives. After moving to Belgium, she lost touch with this aspect of her culture, in part because her parents kept her away from it, even though they were believers themselves. Phoba emabarks on a journey back to her roots, guided by an 84-year old man accused of being a witch in his childhood. Through frank discussions between Phoba and those close to her, the film follows the rhythms of its maker's search to find the meaning of witchcraft in Congo.

After the movie:

Discussion with director Monique Phoba + opening night reception

reception sponsored by Sugar Hill Ale

Evening Co-Presented by The New York African Film Festival


Saturday, October 9th, 7:30 pm

Congo in Harlem 2

Between the Cup and the Election

Dir. Monique Mbeka Phoba and Guy Kabeya Muya, 2008, 56 min.

Inspired by the 2006 elections in Congo, a group of film students sets out to make a film. They track down members of the 1974 Leopards, Zaire's national soccer squad, the first team from sub-Saharan Africa to qualify for the World Cup. After a dismal first round performance -- the Leopards were outscored 14-0 in three games -- the players returned home in disgrace and drifted into obscurity. The team's captain, however, has fared better and is running for political office in Kinshasa. Deftly weaving past and present, Between the Cup and the Election offers a personal and endearing study of the intersection between sport and politics.

After the movie:

Discussion with director Monique Phoba + reception

Operation Small Axe

In memory of Oscar Grant (1986-2009)

Dir. Adimu Madyun, 2009, 71 min.

In true citizen journalistic style, Operation Small Axe takes the camera to the streets and gives a detailed account of the shooting of 23 year-old Oscar Grant by a member of the Oakland Police Department on New Years Day 2009. Grant’s shooting at the Fruitvale BART (subway) station was witnessed by dozens of train passengers and was captured on camera phone by a passerby. In the wake of Grant’s death and the release of the video that documented it and word of mouth, multitudes protested in neighborhoods and streets of the Bay Area--and in some cases, across the nation--demanding justice for Oscar Grant. In decrying the many instances of injustice experienced by black American communities on the part of law enforcement, the filmmakers draw parallels with the brutality of occupation in war-ravaged places like Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq. The film takes its title from the words of Bob Marley: “If you are a big tree, we are the small axe, sharpened to cut you down.” With footage of interviews and talks with community members, youth, and prominent California public figures, such as political activist and academic Angela Davis and former congresswoman and U.S. presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney.

After the movie:

Q&A with Prisoners of Conscience Committee Minister of Information JR

FREE LYNNE STEWART! Screening, Discussion, Call to Action

A portion of the proceeds go to Lynne Stewart’s defense fund.


Lynne Stewart - An American Story

Dir. Francis Van Den Heuvel (2009) 78 min.

Lynne Stewart has served tirelessly as a defense attorney for those who have had the greatest difficulty obtaining adequate representation - indigent and working class New Yorkers as well as controversial and sometimes unpopular figures who are up against powerful interests. In 2005, Lynne Stewart found herself in the position of defendant, at the center of the Bush administration’s attack on the American justice system in the wake of the September 11th attacks. Her case brought into question strongly held judicial traditions like habeas corpus and the right of a defendant to have adequate legal counsel. Her conviction (originally two years, re-sentenced to ten years) has far reaching implications for the legal rights and freedom of speech of all Americans. While the film provides a detailed account of her case, the discussion to follow will provide an update and call to action around her current situation. Stewart, in her early seventies with health concerns, was recently denied a request to be moved from a facility in Texas to one in Connecticut in order to be closer to friends and family. At a time when this remarkable woman ought to be surrounded by family and celebrated by all for her contributions to the movement for social justice, she is instead engaged in a struggle for her life.


After the Movie:

Discussion with Ralph Poynter (Retired Private Investigator, Lynne’s partner and soulmate), Brenna Stewart (Lawyer, Lynne and Ralph’s daughter) Ramsay Clarke (former US Attorney General), Colia Clark (Green Party Candidate for US Senate, NY Seat), Betty Davis (co-founder of New Abolitionist Movement), Lisa Davis (Take Back WBAI committee), and many other friends and supporters of Lynne Stewart.

Thomas Sankara: The Upright Man

Doc Watchers - Curated by Hellura Lyle

Dir. Robin Shuffield, 2006, 52 min

Sankara, a charismatic army captain, came to power in Burkina Faso, in 1983, in a popularly supported coup. He immediately launched the most ambitious program for social and economic change ever attempted on the African continent. To symbolize this rebirth, he even renamed his country from the French colonial Upper Volta to Burkina Faso, “Land of Upright Men.”  This film offers a detailed history of Sankara’s  revolutionary program for African self-reliance as a defiant alternative to the neo-liberal development strategies imposed on Africa by the West, both then and today.

Manhattan Short Film Festival - You Be The Judge!

The Maysles Cinema will be one of five venues in NYC and New Jersey screening the 10 finalists from the Manhattan Short Film Festival on Sunday 3rd October at 7pm. Already screened in 203 cities spanning 6 continents from Beijing, Sydney to London and in over one hundred cities in all 50 states of the USA, the winning short film will be announced that night at 10pm EST. So come on down and cast your vote.

Cheap beer sponsored by Stella Artois.


Faux Real: Truth-telling in Narrative Film Nothing But a Man

Dir. Michael Roemer, 1964, 92 min.

A landmark independent film, Nothing but a Man is the first dramatic story featuring a largely black cast created for an integrated audience (the work of black filmmakers such as Oscar Micheaux was intended for audiences who patronized black-only theaters). White filmmakers Michael Roemer and Robert M. Young traveled through the South in 1962 in search of ideas for a fiction feature set during the growing turbulence of the civil rights era. Their story, based in Alabama but shot in southern New Jersey, is only tangentially related to the movement toward equality. Duff, an itinerant black railroad laborer (Ivan Dixon), romances and marries Josie, a small-town preacher's daughter (Abbey Lincoln). Duff insists on being treated with respect, but his stance is personal rather than political. After he settles down in the town with Josie, he comes up against white bosses who want to make sure he knows his place and black men such as Josie's father who don't want to rock the boat for fear of losing what little advantage they have. Duff's relationship with his own father, Julius Harris, a broken-down drunk living in Birmingham, teaches him valuable lessons about dignity and self-worth. ~Tom Wiener, All Movie Guide

Harlem Homegrown: Films for Harlem, by Harlem or about Harlem

Hosted by Michael Henry Adams, Harlem Historian and co-curator of our annual Homo-Harlem film series.

The Polymath, or, the Life and Opinions of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman

Dir. Fred Barney Taylor, 2007, 75 min.

Throughout this sprawling portrait of prolific novelist, professor and literary critic, Samuel R. Delany, one can’t help but wonder how Delany found the time -- between grooming his prodigious beard, his amorous dalliances and being highly dyslexic -- to write over twenty works of fiction, eleven works of non-fiction, and two memoirs, finding his way into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Using a range of experimental techniques and borrowed footage from Delany’s home movies, Fred Barney Taylor document’s Delany’s life growing up in a prominent Harlem household, his coming of age in the East Village where he enthusiastically sampled the radical sexual, cultural, and artistic freedom of the early sixties, and his reception as a major figure in American literature.

After the Movie:

Conversation with Samuel Delany and filmmaker Fred Barney Taylor, with Michael Henry Adams, moderator.

Jock Docs: Football

Wednesday, September 29th, 7:30pm


June 17th, 1994

Dir. Brett Morgen, 51 minutes, 2010

So what’s the big deal about June 17th, 1994? Well, it was the day that Arnold Palmer played his last round ever at the U.S. Open, the day that the World Cup opened in Chicago, the day the Rangers celebrated winning the Stanley Cup, the day the Knicks played Game Five of the NBA finals against the Houston Rockets, the day Ken Griffey Jr. tied Babe Ruth for the most home runs hit before June 30th, and—oh yeah—the day O.J. Simpson was charged with double homicide and fled through the streets of Los Angeles in a white Bronco. The Simpson story dominated the day, though the major networks and ESPN covered everything else that was going on as well, while jumping back to L.A. for frequent updates. For June 17, 1994 Bret Morgen starts in the morning and rolls forward, showing how the various stories piled up on top of each other and even commented on each other.

Special Guest: ESPN Producer Mark Durand


Thursday, September 30th, 7:30pm

Beauty Knows No Pain

Dir. Eliott Erwitt (1971) 25 minutes.

In 1940, the Kilgore College Rangerettes became the first dancing drill team in the nation. They have been performing at half-time shows during college football games ever since. The first director of the program, Miss Gussie Nell Davis, oversaw the Rangerettes for forty years before retiring in 1979. In 1971 filmmakers caught Miss Davis overseeing the summer camp, where young girls work hard in the hopes of finding a coveted spot in this elite cheerleading group. Beauty Knows No Pain is a film about the young ladies who come from all over the country to compete in a two-week drill, knowing that not all of them will make the cut. Through the difficult but rewarding process, Miss Davis tries to imbue her charges with enthusiasm, energy, and a non-stop smile. The latter part of the film focuses on one member from North Dakota, who, in her second year, has embodied all of the spirit the Rangerettes represent. At the end of the two week camp, the girls gather to see who is in, who has been chosen as an alternate, and who will go home unfulfilled. The girls meet their triumph and disappointment with shrieks and tears.


NFL Films:


The Young, The Old and the Bold, where NFL Films examines the quarterback position with profiles of some of the greatest passers ever to play the game; and Lombardi, a profile of the legendary Green Bay Packers head coach with unprecedented access to the man and his team.



(1986, 45 minutes)

Anthropologists, theologians, philosophers, coaches and players offer a startling perspective as they analyze ancient myths and rituals and explain their influence on the game today. A study of men in groups, of ancient magic and modern superstition, of religion and passion, and of the rites of combat. It is the most provocative special ever made about pro football.


THE HUNTERS, 30 min.

THE HUNTERS provides detailed accounts on the lives and careers of a few of NFL’s legendary former players, among them, Dallas Cowboys fullback Walt Garrison and Oakland Raider Ben Davidson.


Curated by Laura Coxson

Wednesday, September 29th-Thursday, September 30th


Summer Pasture

Monday, September 27th-Tuesday, September 28th

Lynn True, Nelson Walker, and Tsering Perlo, 2010, 98 mins.

In recent years, growing pressures from the outside world have posed unprecedented challenges for Tibetan nomads. Rigid government policies, rangeland degradation, and the allure of modern life

have prompted many nomadic families to leave the pastures for permanent settlement in towns and cities. This film chronicles one summer with a young family amidst this period of great uncertainty. Locho, his wife Yama, and their infant daughter, nicknamed Jiatomah (“pale chubby girl”), spend the summer months in eastern Tibet's Zachukha grasslands, an area known as Wu-Zui or “5-Most,” the highest, coldest, poorest, largest, and most remote county in Sichuan Province, China.

After the Movie: Q & A with Lynn True and Nelson Walker

The Harlem International Film Festival

Thursday, September 23-Sunday, September 26


Thursday, September 23

6:00 - 10:00pm



Freeing Silvia Baraldini (USA) - 102 min

Portrait of a Filmmaker (USA) - 3 min




125 Franco’s Boulevard (Harlem) - 21 min

Just Be Frank (USA) - 15 min

The Lift (USA) - 5 min

The Vanishing City (USA) - 55 min    


Friday, September 24




Mama’s Boy/Mamanek (Czech Republic) - 23 min

Lunatics, Lovers & Actors (Harlem) - 80 min  

You Stole My Heart (USA) - 5 min    




Heaven Garden/Jardim Beleleu (Brazil) - 15 min

Road to Las Vegas (UK) - 90 min

Skylight (USA) - 5 min




Gartxot (Spain) - 19 min

Scientists Under Attack (Germany) - 88 min    




Does Sex Ruin Lives (USA) - 87 min

The Virgins (USA) - 11 min    (98)




Blood Done Signed My Name (USA) - 128 min  




The Things You Lose in the Ocean (USA) - 28min

The Toll  (Australia) - 90 min  


Saturday, September 25th



Everyday Black Man (USA) - 100 min   




Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam (Harlem) - 80 min




Baby Daddy Memoirs (USA) - 6 min

Hip Hop - A Tale From the Hood (Germany, Harlem) - 95 min


Sunday, September 26

12:00 - 6:00PM



Take Too Long (USA) - 18 min

Katrina Cop in the Superdome (USA) - 81 min    




I Remain (Harlem) - 46 min

If I Leap (USA) - 18 min

Jacob (Australia) - 12 min

Knock Off (UK) - 11 min    




Anchor Baby (Canada) - 94 min

The Clearing (Australia) - 18 min    

Kiarostami + Makhmalbaf

(Curated by Nesa Azimi)

Situated somewhere between documentary and fiction, both Abbas Kiarostami's CLOSE-UP and Mohsen Makhmalbaf's SALAAM CINEMA are works that lead us to question conventional notions of these genres, and not least, ask us to rethink the traditional relationship between artist and audience. Shown together, both films are cinematic tributes of sorts to the public, the audience that is traditionally--when it comes to narrative film anyway--excluded from the stuff of filmmaking.  In both films, the audience is at the very heart of the story; they are its primary subjects.

"A TRUE ARTIST is someone who is close to the people." -Hossein Sabzian from Close-Up, on trial for impersonating the great filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf.


Dir. Abbas Kiarostami, Iran, 1990, 100 min.

(Nama-ye nazdik). A newspaper article caught Abbas Kiarostami’s eye: an unemployed young film buff had wormed his way into the home and hearts of a well-to-do family by impersonating the well-known director Mohsen Makhmalbaf. From this story Kiarostami made an offbeat film about cinema, the swindle and the dream. He enters the story cinema verité–style, recreating events leading up to the impostor’s exposure and arrest, then following the actual court proceedings. In droll reenactments by obliging real-life protagonists, and in its pathetic hero, the film at times plays like Woody Allen’s Take the Money and Run (“Let him have his lunch!” the mother says to the arresting gendarmes). Certainly, Hossein Sabzian’s accusers attribute to him a craftiness he doesn't possess. His failing is a naiveté that is shared by many: Close-Up is a very moving and surprising film about anomie and the creative responses to it.—Judy Bloch

Fuzzystar 2

Curated by Dan Cooper

Fuzzystar, Harlem's punk art collaboration is happening again. We at The Organization hope you've had a great summer, we sure have, but now it's time to go BACK2SCHOOL. Start this year off right with experimental films, live theatre, live music, and cold beer. Featured musical guest: Stereoboro. It all goes down September 17th, party starts at 9.

Sponsored by Harlem’s own Sugar Hill Ale!


Kiarostami + Makhmalbaf

Two evenings dedicated to giants of Iranian new wave and experimental cinema.

(Wednesday, Sept. 15th + Wednesday Sept. 22nd) Curated by Nesa Azimi

Situated somewhere between documentary and fiction, both Abbas Kiarostami's CLOSE-UP and Mohsen Makhmalbaf's SALAAM CINEMA are works that lead us to question conventional notions of these genres, and not least, ask us to rethink the traditional relationship between artist and audience. Shown together, both films are cinematic tributes of sorts to the public, the audience that is traditionally--when it comes to narrative film anyway--excluded from the stuff of filmmaking.  In both films, the audience is at the very heart of the story; they are its primary subjects.

"A TRUE ARTIST is someone who is close to the people." -Hossein Sabzian from Close-Up, on trial for impersonating the great filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf.

Salaam Cinema

Dir. Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Iran, 1995, 70 min.

No one knows better than Makhmalbaf that Iranians are movie mad, so when he placed a casting call for one hundred actors for a new film, he expected a crowd; what he got was a crush, 5,000 people just this side of a hadj. After genially announcing, "You are both the subject and the actors in the film," he begins auditions. What unfolds is a parade of individuals who, for love of cinema, are by turns brash, crafty, shy, touchingly open, unwittingly hilarious. From would-be Paul Newmans to women who are intellectual rebels under their chadors, this is very much about "casting." Makhmalbaf plays the film director as judge, tease, and actor. A brilliant exposé of the film that is in the hearts of a people, and the people that are the heart of cinema, this is experimental filmmaking in every sense, yet what we feel most is the director's controlling hand-precisely the paradox Makhmalbaf is exploring.-Pacific Film Archive


Doc Watchers

Curated by Hellura Lyle


Geralyn Pezanoski,81 Minutes, 2009

When tens of thousands of pets were left behind as Hurricane Katrina bore down on New Orleans, custody battles arise between the pets’ original owners and their adoptive families that bring to light some of the same race and class issues that have permeated five years of discussion of Hurricane Katrina.In the clamor to get out of the city, many pet owners left their animals with food and water, fully intending to return in a few days. People without the means to leave the city on their own were forced onto buses and barred from bringing their pets. Mine follows some of the hundreds of volunteers who mobilized in the hours and days after the storm, entering the city and capturing as many stranded pets as they could find.