Themes of protest and dissent unite a season of cinema

This winter the Block Museum presents two unique film series which stand at the intersection of artistry and politics. Block Cinema selections this season offer experimental and independent views of protest movements, unsanctioned narratives, and methods of celebrating the struggle for justice.  The historic videos and films on display document varied forms of protest and resistance and have themselves often become touchstones, inspiring further political action.


The series The Gay Left: Homosexuality in the Era of Late Socialism, considers the complex ways in which the ideologies of communism, socialism, and capitalism affect sexual minorities. Including work from both sides of the Iron Curtain, “The Gay Left” brings multiple perspectives and historical moments into conversation in order to fight against forgetting.  First in the series is the Yugoslavian cult classic WR : Mysteries of the Organism (1971)  which was banned for sixteen years in the country for “deriding the Socialist Federal Republic.”  In It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives (1971) director Rosa von Praunheim carefully dissects the landscape and codes of gay West Germany. It was after a screening of this film in 1971 that the first gay rights organization formed in West Berlin, heralding a new era of public visibility and political agitation among gays and lesbians.   Another Way (1982), the first mainstream Hungarian film to deal with lesbianism, gained a dedicated cult following among the GBLTQ youth during the cold war.  Finally Bruce LaBuce’s 2002 satirical and sexy The Rasberry Reich posits a political dystopia where residents are invited to liberate themselves from their heterosexuality and “join the homosexual intifada.”

“The films in the series ‘The Gay Left’ are very diverse. Some emphasize leftist themes more, while others focus on sexual nonconformity, notes series curator Thomas Love, a Phd Candidate in Northwestern’s Department of Art History. “But this diversity is a strength, I think, and one which makes the series more relevant in our current political situation, in which civil liberties are being attacked on several fronts simultaneously.”


In a second series this season the Block Museum presents Japanese Experimental Cinema – Between Protest and Performance, 1960-1975, a cinematic compliment to the Art Institute of Chicago’s contemporaneous exhibition, Provoke: Photography in Japan between Protest and Performance, 1960–1975. These three screenings provide an opportunity to explore the historical intersection of experimental filmmaking with documentary cinema traditions in a period of radical social and political change. During the screenings scholar and curator Hirasawa Gō, and director Masanori Oe, will be present for a discussion moderated by Patrick Noonan, Assistant Professor Department of Asian Languages and Cultures and series curator.

“These three programs offer a glimpse into how Japanese filmmakers working in the late 1960s linked experimentation with cinema – the materiality of film, multiple projection, and genre conventions – to the political upheavals of this moment.  Interventions in the aesthetics and the institution of cinema parallel, in many of these films, challenges to cultural conventions and social institutions of the period.” Noonan states.


Finally the Block Museum offers two free screening events related to urgently relevant dialogues on the national scale. Arthur Jafa and Kahlil Joseph’s 2014 documentary Dreams Are Colder Than Death, explores the question of what it means to be black in America in the 21st century through a series of interviews with individuals including visual artist Kara Walker, author Hortense Spillers, filmmaker Charles Burnett, and ex–Black Panther Kathleen Cleaver.  The film is presented by the Northwestern University Black Arts Initiative which will host a post screening conversation around race and identity. Finally, in conjunction with the exhibition “If You Remember, I’ll Remember,” the Block will present History and Memory (1991) a work by artist Rea Tajiri that highlights personal experiences of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Full list of Screenings

2/3/17 The Gay Left – WR: Mysteries of the Organism 7pm
2/9/17 If You Remember, I’ll Remember – History and Memory 7pm
2/10/17 The Gay Left – It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives 7pm
2/16/17 Japanese Experimental Cinema – Motoharu Jonouchi and Nihon University Film Club 7pm
2/17/17 Japanese Experimental Cinema – Structures and Cinema 5pm
2/17/17 Japanese Experimental Cinema –  Newsreel Documentaries of Masanori Oe 7pm
2/24/17 The Gay Left – Another Way [Egymásra Nézve] 7pm
2/28/17 Black Arts Initiative – Dreams Are Colder Than Death 5:30pm
3/2/17 The Gay Left – The Raspberry Reich 7pm


About Block Cinema

The Block Museum’s quarterly screening program embodies the spirit and vision of the museum by presenting films and special events that bridge disciplines while representing the diversity of voices at Northwestern and in the surrounding communities. The screening program is expansive and international in scope, and reflects a global perspective.  The Block Museum’s film program created synergies between the museum’s exhibition program, the campus, and the film community locally, nationally, and internationally.

Films are screened in the Block Museum’s Pick-Laudati Auditorium. See Directions and Parking for information on how to get to the Museum. Parking is free in the lot south of the Block after 4 p.m. weekdays and all day on weekend.  Tickets are available for purchase at the door. Unless otherwise noted films are $4.00 for Northwestern University faculty, staff and students with valid WildCARD; students from other schools with valid college/university ID; seniors 60 and older and $6.00 for the general public. Doors open thirty minutes prior to showtime. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please arrive early to purchase your tickets.

Image 1: Still of Head Games (1967), director Masanori Oe

Image 2. Still of It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives (1971), director Rosa von Praunheim

Image 3. Still of No Game (1967), director Masanori Oe

Image 4. Still of Dreams Are Colder than Death (2014), director Arthur Jafa


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