Coming Attractions in Film: May 2012

After catching your breath from a heavy dose of April film festivals, you may think you need a rest! While this month’s Boston area offerings may look tidy in number, they are sprawling in scope. April provided a look at what’s coming and current, but May is steeped in history and alternative cinema.

By Tim Jackson.

A scene from Sergei Eisenstein's film STRIKE — part of the HFA Eisenstein series scheduled for this month.

The 28th annual Boston LGBT Film Festival . At various venues in the Boston area, May 3–13.

This is the twentieth year of this remarkable festival. Gay, gender, and transgender films have recently gone mainstream in films such as Albert Nobbs and the remarkable French film Tomboy. The festival represents cultures from around the globe and stories that reach well beyond the LGBT community. This is a sprawling, wonderfully organized 10-day festival with panels and appearances all over town. Download the PDF flyer at their website.

Piccadilly. At Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline, MA, May 7.

If you haven’t been to one of the Sounds of the Silents series screenings, you have another chance. Berklee College professor Sheldon Mirowitz and his students from the Department of Film Scoring bring original compositions and a full, live orchestra to the big screen at the Coolidge to accompany Piccadilly, which has been called ”one of the true greats of British silent film.” It features Charles Laughton’s first film role. Ray Milland is an extra. (C’mon kids—that’s Ray Milland of Lost Weekend, Dial M for Murder, and The Thing with Two Heads!) The combination of the area’s greatest movie house and the multiple writing efforts of one of the country’s premier music schools provides a rare treat for lucky Bostonians.

¡Qué Viva Eisenstein. At Harvard Film Archives, Cambridge, MA, May 11 through June 3.

Sergei Eisenstein is one of the great theorists of film history whose work is requisite viewing for any student of film and recommended for those who love the art form. His theories may confuse, but his films continue to amaze.The HFA provides an opportunity to see eight of his masterworks as they ought to be experienced—on the big screen. Included are rarely seen films plus the astounding Alexander Nevsky, Ivan the Terrible (Parts I and II), and, of course, Battleship Potemkin with its iconic, often parodied Odessa Steps sequence. [Arts Fuse Editor’s Note: I would highly recommend 1925’s Strike; Eisenstein’s first full-length film is filled with youthful, invigorating bursts of montage a-go-go.]

Festival Focus 2012. At the Bright Family Screening Room, Paramount Center, 559 Washington St. Boston, MA, May 11–25.

Boston has a new venue to see new films (as well as revivals). Emerson College and ArtsEmerson are presenting the Second Annual Festival Focus Series Fridays and Saturdays throughout the month. It will screen four highly praised, international films from the recent festival circuit: Policeman (Israel), Oslo August 31st (Norway), Neighboring Sounds (Brazil), and Nana (France). Three are Boston premiers. This a wonderful chance—right at your doorstep—to see what stories the rest of the world is telling. See web link for details.

Irma Brown, W.J.Solha and Gustavo Jahn in NEIGHBORING SOUNDS

The Story of Film: An Odyssey. At The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, May 16–27.

The MFA presents this 15-part documentary in eight separate screenings for a total of 900 minutes of film history from director and narrator Mark Cousins, a film critic from Northern Ireland. This is not a dry historical document. Cousins says innovation in cinema lies in ideas: “[To understand] the DNA of the medium, how it grows, you have to look at the innovations.” Some critics have called this the greatest film history ever made. His approach is broad and encompassing. The series looks at America and well beyond to the film cultures of Asia, sub-Sahara Africa, and the Middle East. It begins at film’s birth and moves into a speculative future: “There’s no excuse to keep the old movie map in our heads; the new one is more exciting.”

We’ll Show You Our Shorts. At Joseph B. Martin Conference Center in Cambridge, MA, May 16.

The Boston Jewish Film Festival presents a special night of short films with filmmaker Neil Ira Needleman (A Trip to Prague) in person. The admission to this eclectic selection of extraordinary short films helps fund one of Boston’s most robust film festivals.

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