Media Arts Preview: Looking Backward, Looking Forward

Melancholia Von Trier

Catch up on the histories of film and video this week with surveys of Italian Neo-Realism, Black cinema, silent movies, textural sleaziness and video art, plus a peek into the future via AFI Fest.

Thursday, November 3
The week-long AFI Fest kicks off tonight with J. Edgar, followed by a long list of terrific films, including Lars Von Trier's acclaimed Melancholia, Werner Herzog's Into the Abyss, and Kid With a Bike by filmmakers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, who will be in attendance. See the festival website for full details and tickets.

LACMA presents Luchino Visconti's great 1948 film La Terra Trema, a masterpiece of Italian neo-realism. The film screens at 7:30 p.m. in the Bing Theater.

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UmbertoDFriday, November 4
UCLA's month-long tribute to Italian Neo-Realist cinema continues tonight with Miracle in Milan and Umberto D, two films by the great director Vittorio De Sica. The first offers a playful story of fantasy and magic, while the other is a more wrenching account of a retired man struggling to make do. "Working with a non-professional cast, De Sica confronts our conscience with images stripped of artificiality and sentiment in perhaps the most perfect example of the neo-realist ideal." The double bill starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum; the series continues through November 16.

Author Sam Benjamin presents "A Brief History of Porn," using primary materials to track the underground evolution of adult films across the last half century. Somehow, he'll do this with non-explicit clips, with attention to "the textural sleaziness and accidental beauty that is 20th century adult film." The lecture starts at 7:00 p.m. at Human Resources in Chinatown.

Saturday, November 5
Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, will visit the USC campus tonight to discuss the conjunction of cinema, justice and global change in an open forum with Ted Braun, the writer-director of Darfur Now. Titled Moving the World: An Evening with Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the event also includes a panel discussion with Sid Sheinberg, former President and COO of Universal Pictures and currently Vice Chair of Human Rights Watch; Dr. Stephen D. Smith, USC Shoah Foundation Institute Executive Director; and USC alumnus Jedediah Jenkins, Director of Ideology for the documentary-based social action group Invisible Children. The talk - free and open to the public - begins at 5:00 p.m. in the Norris Cinema Theatre.

Killer of SheepUCLA's showcase LA Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema continues tonight with Charles Burnett's critically acclaimed 1977 film Killer of Sheep, which chronicles the life of a slaughterhouse worker. The film helped kickstart the American independent film movement, and is often celebrated as a stellar example of low budget filmmaking - the film was shot on a budget of less than $10,000, and went on to be declared a national treasure by the Library of Congress. Doug Cummings writes of the film, "It's both a time capsule and a timeless, humanist ode to urban existence." It screens at 7:30, along with Burnett's first student film, a 22-minute short titled Several Friends.

The Silent Society of Hollywood Heritage presents Women in Film: Leading Ladies of the Silent Era, a daylong series of screenings at the Hollywood Heritage Museum. The film include Sex at 2:30 p.m., Are Parents People? at 3:30 p.m., and Lilac Time at 7:30 p.m.

Edward Cella Art+Architecture presents a new project by media artist George Legrady in a show that opens today and continues through December 31. Titled Refraction, the project uses an innovative printing technique that creates a transition among multiple images as the spectator's point of view shifts. The project invites viewers to consider time, space, history and storytelling, and continues the artist's invariably fascinating investigations of photography, cinema and other media.

Machine Project BenefitMachine Project will host a benefit tonight, retooling the moribund image of the DMV such that it includes competitive sobriety tests, workshops on breaking into and hot-wiring cars, heavy metal polka, surrealistic eye charts and much, much more. The fun starts at 8:00 p.m.

John DorrWednesday, November 9
The Dawn of Desktop is one of several video screenings presented by the artist-run production company EZTV in conjunction with the Pacific Standard Time exhibition. This particular screening showcases clips from a video shot by EZTV founder John Dorr using a surveillance camera in 1979 about Dorothy Parker and her bisexual husband. The event will be hosted by actors Strawn Bovee, who played Parker, and who will offer insights regarding the video's production and EZTV from that era.

About the Author

Holly Willis teaches in USC's School of Cinematic Arts and writes about new media art.
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