BOSTON, MA (January 21, 2016)—On Thursday, January 28, Emerson College’s Visual and Media Arts (VMA) Department kicks off the Spring season of its Bright Lights film series. Highlights include Tangerine, a drama about a girl trying to get to the bottom of a scandal about her pimp boyfriend, with guest actress Mya Taylor; Rebel, the story of Loreta Velazquez—one of the Civil War’s most gripping forgotten narratives, with guest director and VMA faculty member Maria Agui Carter; The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (part of Emerson’s annual It’s All True documentary showcase), with special guest director Stanley Nelson; animated film Cheatin’, a story about a couple who meets in a bumper car collision, with guest Oscar-nominated animator Bill Plympton (Your Face); and Forbidden Room, a mystery that follows a submarine crew as they voyage into the origins of their darkest fears, with guest director Guy Maddin.
All screenings start at 7:00 pm and take place at the Paramount Center’s Bright Family Screening Room, located at 559 Washington Street, Boston. Seating is first come, first served. There is no advance registration. For more information about screenings and updates on special guests, visit the Bright Lights Series website, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @BrightLightFilm. Watch a trailer from the Bright Lights spring line-up.
Bright Lights Spring Line-Up:
Thursday, January 28: The Final Girls Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson, narrative (horror/comedy), 91 minutes, USA, 2015. Max, recently orphaned, goes to see a screening of a B-horror movie that her mother made 20 years earlier. When Max and her friends find themselves in the world of the film itself, they must apply their knowledge of horror tropes to survive. Discussion with director and alumnus Todd Strauss-Schulson to follow. EC, COM
Tuesday, February 2: American Beatboxer Directed by Manauvaskar Kublall, documentary, 88 minutes, USA, 2013. Contestants of all races from all over the United States competed. Now it’s down to the eight finalists! This documentary honors the evolution of beatboxing juxtaposed against the final day of competition to crown the first American beatboxing champion. This film documents one of the most neglected genres of hip-hop culture and places it in its rightful place in hip-hop history as well as an American art form. Discussion led by producer Rich McKeown and beatboxer Gene Shinozaki to follow. POC
Thursday, February 4: Truth Directed by James Vanderbilt, narrative (drama), 125 minutes, USA, 2015. Truth is a newsroom drama detailing the 2004 CBS 60 Minutes report investigating then-President George W. Bush’s military service, and the subsequent firestorm of criticism that cost anchor Dan Rather and producer Mary Mapes their careers. Discussion led by faculty to follow. F, SJ
Tuesday, February 9: The Wolfpack Co-sponsored by the UMass Boston Film Series. Directed by Crystal Moselle, documentary, 90 minutes, USA, 2015. The Wolfpack is a coming-of-age story following the six Angulo brothers who have spent their entire lives locked away from society in an apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. All they know of the outside world is gleaned from the films they watch obsessively and re-create meticulously, using elaborate homemade props and costumes. For years, this has served as a productive way to stave off loneliness—but when one of the brothers escapes, everything changes. Discussion with members of the Angulo family to follow. W, POC
Thursday, February 11: The Diary of a Teenage Girl Directed by Marielle Heller, narrative (drama), 102 minutes, USA, 2014. Like most teenage girls, Minnie Goetze is longing for love, acceptance, and a sense of purpose in the world. Minnie begins a complex love affair with her mother's boyfriend, “the handsomest man in the world,” Monroe. What follows is a sharp, funny, and provocative account of one girl's sexual and artistic awakening, without judgment. Discussion with producer Anne Carey to follow. F, W
Tuesday, February 16: Drunk, Stoned, Brilliant Dead Directed by Douglas Tirola, documentary, 98 minutes, USA, 2015. Drunk, Stoned, Brilliant Dead tells the story of three Harvard graduates who created the National Lampoon. Featuring rare and never-before-seen footage, this movie chronicles the National Lampoon from its subversive and electrifying beginnings, to rebirth as an unlikely Hollywood heavyweight, and beyond. Told through fresh, candid interviews with its key staff and illustrated with hundreds of outrageous images from the magazine itself, the film gives fans of the Lampoon a unique inside look at what made the magazine tick. Discussion led by faculty to follow. COM
Thursday, February 18: 5-25-77 Directed by Patrick Read Johnson, narrative (drama), 118 minutes, USA, 2015. Alienated, sci-fi obsessed teen filmmaker Pat Johnson must overcome his fear of leaving behind everything he knows and loves to chase his dream. Despite a head full of film knowledge and an imagination exploding with impossible cinematic dreams, Pat is doubtful that anyone from his hometown of Wadsworth, Illinois (pop. 750) could ever make a mark in Hollywood. As he approaches high school graduation, he grows more and more resigned to a life of factory work. Disheartened by her son’s dejection, Pat’s mom cold calls the editor of American Cinematographer magazine in a desperate attempt to open a door of career possibilities. Discussion with director Patrick Read Johnson to follow. This screening is sponsored by Boston Creative Pro User Group.
Tuesday, February 23: Auf Das Leben (To Life!) Directed by Uwe Janson, narrative (drama), 90 minutes, Germany, 2014. Auf Das Leben, which translates into English as “to life!” and into Hebrew as “L'Chaim!”, the celebrated Jewish toast, is the unashamedly Harold and Maude-like story of two very unlikely individuals: the aging cabaret singer Ruth and the seriously ill young Jonas, who, despite their great age difference and their entirely opposite lifetime experiences, form an intense bond and give each other a reason and purpose to live. Discussion with writer and VMA faculty Stephen Glantz to follow. F, EC
Thursday, February 25: The Look of Silence Co-sponsored by the Independent Film Festival of Boston. Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer, documentary, 103 minutes, Denmark/Finland/Indonesia/Norway/UK, 2014. Through Oppenheimer’s footage of perpetrators of the 1965 Indonesian genocide, a family of survivors discovers how their son was murdered, as well as the identities of the killers. The documentary focuses on the youngest son, an optometrist named Adi, who decides to break the suffocating spell of submission and terror by doing something unimaginable in a society where the murderers remain in power: he confronts the men who killed his brother and, while testing their eyesight, asks them to accept responsibility for their actions. This unprecedented film initiates and bears witness to the collapse of fifty years of silence. Discussion led by faculty to follow. POC, SJ
Tuesday, March 1: The Amazing Nina Simone Directed by Jeff L. Lieberman, documentary, 110 minutes, USA, 2015. Nina Simone was both loved and feared throughout the 1960s for her outspoken vision of Black Freedom. Today, Nina is more popular eleven years after her death than ever before. President Barack Obama listed “Sinnerman” in his top 5 favorite songs, and whether re-mixed, re-sampled or in its pure form, Nina’s music continues to empower people around the world with its unrelenting appeal for justice. The Amazing Nina Simone reveals the real Nina Simone through more than 50 intimate and exclusive interviews with those who best knew the artistry and intentions of one of America’s true musical geniuses. Discussion with director Jeff Lieberman to follow. POC, SJ
Tuesday, March 15: Room Co-sponsored by the Independent Film Festival of Boston. Directed by Lenny Abrahamson, narrative (drama), 117 minutes, Canada/Ireland, 2015. ,Room tells the extraordinary story of Jack, a spirited 5-year-old who is looked after by his loving and devoted Ma. Like any good mother, Ma dedicates herself to keeping Jack happy and safe, nurturing him with warmth and love and doing typical things like playing games and telling stories. Their life, however, is anything but typical: they are trapped—confined to a windowless, 10-by-10-foot space, which Ma has euphemistically named “Room.” But as Jack’s curiosity about their situation grows, and Ma’s resilience reaches its breaking point, they enact a risky plan to escape, ultimately bringing them face to face with what may turn out to be the scariest thing yet: the real world. Discussion led by faculty to follow. F
Thursday, March 17: Tangerine Co-sponsored by EBONI, EAGLE, and the Office of Student Life. Directed by Sean S. Baker, narrative (comedy/drama), 88 minutes, USA, 2015. It’s Christmas Eve in Tinseltown and Sin-Dee is back on the block. Upon hearing that her pimp boyfriend hasn’t been faithful during the 28 days she was locked up, the sex worker and her best friend, Alexandra, embark on a mission to get to the bottom of the scandalous rumor. Their rip-roaring odyssey leads them through various subcultures of Los Angeles. Discussion with actress Mya Taylor to follow. POC, F, LGBT, COM
Tuesday, March 22: Rebel Directed by Maria Agui Carter, documentary, 75 minutes, USA, 2013. Rebel is the story of a woman, a myth, and the politics of national memory. Shrouded in mystery and long the subject of debate, the amazing story of Loreta Velazquez is one of the Civil War’s most gripping forgotten narratives. While the U.S. military may have recently lifted the ban on women in combat, Loreta Janeta Velazquez, a Cuban immigrant from New Orleans, was fighting in battle 150 years ago—one of an estimated 1,000 women who secretly served as soldiers during the American Civil War. Who was she? Why did she fight? And what made her so dangerous that she has been virtually erased from history? Discussion with director and VMA producer-in-residence Maria Agui Carter to follow. W, SJ, POC, EC
Thursday, March 24: An Open Secret Directed by Amy J. Berg, documentary, 99 minutes, USA, 2015. An Open Secret is about five child actors whose lives were turned upside down by multiple predators and convicted sex offenders. The film looks at the lives of these children betrayed and abandoned by a system that essentially funnels them toward sexual predators without any oversight or regard for their safety. It documents not only these young people’s experiences, but also how some have emerged stronger for their speaking out. It begs the question of why children working in entertainment aren’t afforded the same protections they are afforded at school and argues for more effective treatment and stronger penalties for child sex offenders. Panel discussion including producer Matt Valentinas to follow. W, SJ
Tuesday, March 29: Cheatin’ Directed by Bill Plympton, narrative (animation), 76 minutes, USA, 2013. In a fateful bumper car collision, Jake and Ella meet and become the most loving couple in the long history of romance. But when a scheming “other” woman drives a wedge of jealousy into their perfect courtship, insecurity and hatred spell out an untimely fate. With only the help of a disgraced magician and his forbidden “soul machine,” Ella takes the form of Jake’s numerous lovers, desperately fighting through the malfunction and deceit as they try to reclaim their destiny. Discussion with director Bill Plympton to follow. COM
Thursday, March 31: Forbidden Room Directed by Guy Maddin, co-directed by Evan Johnson, narrative (drama, comedy, mystery), 130 minutes, USA, 2015.A never-before-seen woodsman mysteriously appears aboard a submarine that’s been trapped deep underwater for months with an unstable cargo. As the terrified crew members make their way through the corridors of the doomed vessel, they find themselves on a voyage into the origins of their darkest fears as they wend their way toward progressive ideas on life and love. Discussion with director Guy Maddin to follow. COM
Tuesday, April 5: Carol Screening as part of the Boston LGBT Film Festival. Directed by Todd Haynes, narrative (drama), 118 minutes, USA, 2015. In an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's seminal novel The Price of Salt, Carol follows two women from very different backgrounds who find themselves in an unexpected love affair in 1950s New York. As conventional norms of the time challenge their undeniable attraction, an honest story emerges to reveal the resilience of the heart in the face of change. A young woman in her 20s, Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) is a clerk working in a Manhattan department store and dreaming of a more fulfilling life when she meets Carol (Cate Blanchett), an alluring woman trapped in a loveless, convenient marriage. As an immediate connection sparks between them, the innocence of their first encounter dims and their connection deepens. F, LGBT
Thursday, April 7: The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution Co-sponsored by the Independent Film Festival of Boston. Part of Emerson’s annual It’s All True documentary showcase Directed by Stanley Nelson, documentary, 115 minutes, USA, 2015. Change was coming to America and the fault lines could no longer be ignored—cities were burning, Vietnam was exploding, and disputes raged over equality and civil rights. A new revolutionary culture was emerging and it sought to drastically transform the system. The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense would, for a short time, put itself at the vanguard of that change. Master documentarian Stanley Nelson goes straight to the source, weaving rare archival footage with the voices of the people who were there: police, FBI informants, journalists, white supporters and detractors, Black Panthers who remained loyal to the party, and those who left it. Featuring Kathleen Cleaver, Elaine Brown, Emory Douglas, Jamal Joseph, and many others, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution is an essential history and a vibrant chronicle of this pivotal movement that birthed a new revolutionary culture in America. Discussion with director Stanley Nelson to follow. POC, SJ
Bright Lights Series Film Ratings:
F: Feminist (Bath Film Festival rating)
W: Directed by a woman
POC: Directed by or featuring a person of color
SJ: Social justice film
LGBT: Queer themed
EC: Emerson College community
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About Emerson College
Based in Boston, Massachusetts, opposite the historic Boston Common and in the heart of the city’s Theatre District, Emerson College educates individuals who will solve problems and change the world through engaged leadership in communication and the arts, a mission informed by liberal learning. The College has approximately 3,780 undergraduates and 670 graduate students from across the United States and 50 countries. Supported by state-of-the-art facilities and a renowned faculty, students participate in more than 90 student organizations and performance groups. Emerson is known for its experiential learning programs in Los Angeles, Washington, DC, the Netherlands, London, China, and the Czech Republic. The College has an active network of 32,000 alumni who hold leadership positions in communication and the arts. For more information, visit emerson.edu.
Carole McFall, 617-824-8415, firstname.lastname@example.org