A new season of the Bright Lights Film Series begins next week, opening with an award-winning film and discussion with alumni directors, Daniels, and featuring a new rating for films dealing with disability.
The Bright Lights series is sponsored by the Department of Visual and Media Arts, and looks to bring engaging film to the Emerson and greater Boston communities, as well as foster dialogues between media makers, academics, and fans. All screenings are free and open to the public; many feature guest appearances by filmmakers and faculty.
The 2016-2017 season opens Tuesday, September 13, with Swiss Army Man, directed by alumni Daniel Scheinert ’09 and Daniel Kwan ’10 (working as Daniels) and winner of the Directing Award at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. The film follows Hank (Paul Dano), a lonely, bored man who escapes a deserted island with the help of a bloated, flatulent corpse (Daniel Radcliffe), only to find himself lost on the mainland with his new companion. The directors will be available after the screening via Skype to talk with the audience.
Bright Lights will show a number of films by or about Emerson alumni.
Legendary sitcom creator and former Emerson student Norman Lear is the subject of a new documentary, Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You, which will be shown Tuesday, October 11, followed by a talk with the film’s editor, JD Marlow ’08 and VMA Associate Professor Miranda Banks.
Director Ben Brewer ’10 will discuss his movie, The Trust, about two police officers who follow the money after finding an unusually high bail receipt, after a Thursday, September 22 screening. Filmmaker Matthew Hashiguchi MFA ’11 will talk about his documentary, Good Luck Soup, on Tuesday, October 18, in conjunction with the Boston Asian American Film Festival. The film explores his family members’ struggle with their Japanese American identities.
Three more Bright Lights docs with Emerson connections are Best and Most Beautiful Things (Thursday, November 3), directed by Garrett Zevgetis MA ’05; Do Not Resist (Tuesday, December 6), directed by Craig Atkinson MA ’08; and The Dying of the Light (Thursday, December 8), directed by VMA Scholar-in-Residence Peter Flynn. All three directors will discuss their films after the screenings.
Do Not Resist is about the militarization of police forces in the United States, and The Dying of the Light is about the near-extinction of film projection as digital has become de facto.
Best and Most Beautiful Things, produced by Kevin Bright ’76, for whom the Bright Family Screening Room is named, follows a young blind woman who chases love and freedom in a provocative fringe community. It is one of two films this season to carry Bright Lights’ new “D” rating for films depicting issues of disability.
Each film in the Bright Lights series is rated for a variety of attributes, many of which give voice to traditionally underrepresented groups in film and/or the culture at large. The ratings include: Feminist (F), Directed by women (W), Directed by or featuring people of color (POC), Emerson College community (EC), Comedy (COM), Dealing with disability issues (D), International cinema (I), Dealing with LGBTQ issues (LGBTQ), and social justice cinema (SJ).
The other D-rated film is Touched with Fire (Tuesday, November 29), starring Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby as poets with bipolar disorder whose art is fueled by their emotional extremes. It will be followed by a panel discussion led by VMA Senior Distinguished Director-in-Residence Reggie Life.
Other films that will be followed by discussions with the filmmakers include Rosa Chumbe, about a hard-living police officer forced to spend time with her grandson after her daughter runs out (September 29; featuring director Jonathan Relayze and actress Liliana Trujillo via Skype); Where to Invade Next, Michael Moore’s documentary about what the United States can learn from the rest of the world (October 6; featuring producers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal); The Occupation of the American Mind, a doc about the relationship between the U.S. government, the Israeli government, and the pro-Israel lobby (October 25); Trapped, a doc about restrictive abortion laws in the United States (November 1; featuring director Dawn Porter via Skype); and Real Boy, a documentary about a transgender teen on his journey to find his voice (November 8; featuring director Shaleece Haas and subject Bennett Wallace).
All Bright Lights films are shown at 7:00 pm in the Bright Family Screening Room at the Paramount Center. For a complete schedule and description of films, visit the Bright Lights website.