On Tuesday, February 5th, Emerson College’s Visual and Media Arts (VMA) Department kicks off the spring line-up for its Bright Lights Film Series, with more than half the films made by women for the third year in a row. All screenings, which are free and open to the public, feature post-film discussions with special guest filmmakers, faculty, and alumni, including: Director Crystal Moselle, (Skate Kitchen); Producer/Actor Rafael Casal, (Blindspotting); Director Fatema Ahmad, (The Feeling Of Being Watched); and Director David Abel, (Lobster War).
The series remains committed to crafting a diverse program including filmmakers of color, queer cinema, and films dealing with disability, and identifies those films with a special Bright Lights Series’ rating system. Ratings include W (made by women), F (feminist films), POC (produced by/featuring people of color), SJ (dealing with social justice themes), I (international), LGBT, D (by/featuring people with disabilities), and EC (made by a member of the Emerson community).
All screenings begin at 7:00 pm and take place in the Bright Family Screening Room, located at the Paramount Center, 559 Washington Street. Seating is first come, first served, and there is no advance registration required.
Bright Lights Series, Spring 2019:
Tuesday, February 5th
Co-presented with the Boston Underground Film Festival and Wicked Queer
Directed by Luca Guadagnino, thriller, 152 minutes, Italy and USA, French, English and German w/ English subtitles, 2018.
Young American dancer Susie Bannion arrives in 1970s Berlin to audition for the world-renowned Helena Markos Dance Co. When she vaults to the role of lead dancer, the woman she replaces breaks down and accuses the company's female directors of witchcraft. Meanwhile, an inquisitive psychotherapist and a member of the troupe uncover dark and sinister secrets as they probe the depths of the studio's hidden underground chambers. Discussion led by VMA professor Shaun Clarke to follow. F, LGBTQ, I
Thursday, February 7th
Co-presented with the Globe Docs Film Festival and the Emerson College School of Communication
Directed by David Abel, documentary, 74 minutes, USA, 2018.
Documents a climate-fueled conflict between the United States and Canada over waters that both countries have claimed since the end of the Revolutionary War. The disputed 277 square miles of sea, known as the Gray Zone, were traditionally fished by US lobstermen. But as the Gulf of Maine has warmed faster than nearly any other body of water on the planet, the area’s previously modest lobster population has surged. As a result, Canadians have begun to assert their sovereignty, warring with the Americans to claim the bounty. Discussion with director David Abel and producer Andy Laub (‘09) and moderated by Raul Reis, Dean of the School of Communication at Emerson to follow. SJ
Tuesday, February 12th
Three Identical Strangers
Co-presented with the Independent Film Festival of Boston and the Boston Jewish Film Festival
Directed by Tim Wardle, documentary, 97 minutes, USA, 2018.
Three strangers are reunited by astonishing coincidence after being born identical triplets, separated at birth, and adopted by three different families. Their jaw-dropping, feel-good story instantly becomes a global sensation complete with fame and celebrity, however, the fairy-tale reunion sets in motion a series of events that unearth an unimaginable secret –– a secret with radical repercussions for us all. Discussion led by molecular biologist and associate professor Amy Vashlishan Murray to follow.
Thursday, February 14th
Co-presented with the Boston Jewish Film Festival
Directed by Lisa D'Apolito, documentary, 86 minutes, USA, 2018.
In her own words, comedienne Gilda Radner reflects on her life and career. Weaving together her recently discovered audiotapes, interviews with friends (Chevy Chase, Lorne Michaels, Laraine Newman, Paul Shaffer and Martin Short), rare home movies and diaries read by modern-day comedians inspired by Gilda (Bill Hader, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph and Cecily Strong), LOVE, GILDA opens up a unique window into the honest and whimsical world of a beloved performer whose greatest role was sharing her story. Discussion led by assistant professor Maria Corrigan to follow. W
Tuesday, February 19th
Co-presented with the Independent Film Festival of Boston and the Boston Latino International film festival
Directed by Crystal Moselle, drama, 107 minutes, USA, 2018.
Camille, an introverted teenage skateboarder (newcomer Rachelle Vinberg) from Long Island, meets and befriends an all-girl, New York City-based skateboarding crew called Skate Kitchen. She falls in with the in-crowd, has a falling-out with her mother, and falls for a mysterious skateboarder guy (Jaden Smith), but a relationship with him proves to be trickier to navigate than a kickflip. Skate Kitchen precisely captures the experience of women in male-dominated spaces and tells a story of a girl who learns the importance of camaraderie and self-discovery. Discussion with director Crystal Moselle to follow. F, POC, W
Thursday, February 21st
Co-presented with ArtsEmerson, The Boston Latino Film Festival and the Independent Film Festival of Boston
Directed by Carlos López Estrada, drama, 96 minutes, USA, 2018.
Collin must make it through his final three days of probation for a chance at a new beginning in his Oakland, Calif., neighborhood. His bond with his volatile best friend soon gets tested when Collin sees a police officer shoot a suspect in the back during a chase through the streets. Things soon come to a head when the buddies attend a party at the upscale home of a young and wealthy tech entrepreneur. Discussion with writer, producer and lead actor Rafael Casal to follow. POC, SJ
Tuesday, February 26th
Let the Corpses Tan
Co-presented with the Boston Underground Film Festival
Directed by Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani, thriller, 92 minutes, France/ Belgium, French with English subtitles, 2017.
During a beautiful Mediterranean summer, Rhino and his gang steal a cache of of gold. They believe they've found the perfect hideout: a remote and abandoned hamlet that has been taken over by a woman who is searching for inspiration. Unfortunately, surprise guests and two cops compromise their plan, and the heavenly place where wild happenings and orgies used to take place turns into a gruesome battlefield. Discussion led by assistant professor Ougie Pak to follow. W, F, I
Thursday, February 28th
You Were Never Really Here
Co-presented with the ReelAbilities Film Festival and the Boston Women’s Film Festival
Directed by Lynne Ramsey, thriller, 89 minutes, USA, 2018.
A traumatized veteran, unafraid of violence, tracks down missing girls for a living. When a job spins out of control, Joe's nightmares overtake him as a conspiracy is uncovered leading to what may be his death trip or his awakening. Discussion led by assistant professor Julia Halperin to follow. W, D
The Bright will be closed the week of March 4th-8th for spring break.
Tuesday, March 12th
Co-presented with GlobeDocs and Wicked Queer
Directed by Scott Gormley, documentary, 71 minutes, USA, 2018.
Enter any dance studio in the United States and the classes will be brimming with little bunheads dreaming of crossing the stage at Lincoln Center. But you will be hard pressed to find a single boy among them. In Danseur we will explore why in a country that strives for gender equality, where young women are encouraged to cross the gender barrier and participate in male-dominated fields, especially by their parents, does this disparity exist? Why is it more socially acceptable for parents (fathers in particular) to encourage their sons to participate in all other physical pursuits (ie: sports, fitness) but not the ballet? A recent survey revealed that nearly 95% of male ballet dancers stated that they faced physical or verbal attacks because of dance.
Preceded by Movement in Structure directed by Shaun Clarke, documentary, 4 minutes, USA, 2018.
A short dance film featuring John Lam (Boston Ballet) performing a solo dance piece in a unique and historic Boston landmark.
Discussion with director Shaun Clarke and dancer Jon Lam to follow. LGBTQ, POC
Thursday, March 14th
Co-presented with the Boston Underground Film Festival and the Independent Film Festival of Boston and the ReelAbilities Film Festival
Directed by Josephine Decker, drama, 94 minutes, USA, 2018.
Madeline has become an integral part of a prestigious physical theater troupe. When the workshop's ambitious director pushes the teenager to weave her rich interior world and troubled history with her mother into their collective art, the lines between performance and reality begin to blur. The resulting battle between imagination and appropriation rips out of the rehearsal space and goes through all three women's lives. Discussion led by faculty to follow. POC, W, F, D
Tuesday, March 19th
All About Nina
Co-presented with the Boston Women’s Film Festival, the Boston Latino International Film Festival and the Boston Jewish Film Festival
Directed by Eva Vives, drama, 100 minutes, USA, 2018.
Nina Geld's passion and talent have made her a rising star in the comedy scene, but she's an emotional mess offstage. When a new professional opportunity coincides with a romantic one, she is forced to confront her own deeply troubled past. Discussion with comedic consultant Jamie Loftus (‘13) and director Eva Vives to follow. W, F, EC
Thursday, March 21st
I Am Not a Witch
Co-presented with Boston Women’s Film Festival, the Independent Film Festival of Boston and the Roxbury International Film Festival
Directed by Rungano Nyoni, drama, 93 minutes, Zambia, English and Nyanja with English subtitles, 2018.
Following a banal incident in her local village, 8-year old girl Shula is accused of witchcraft. After a short trial she is found guilty, taken into state custody and exiled to a witch camp. At the camp she takes part in an initiation ceremony where she is shown the rules surrounding her new life as a witch. Like the other residents, Shula is tied to a ribbon which is attached to a coil that perches on a large truck. She is told that should she ever cut the ribbon, she'll be cursed and transformed into a goat. Discussion led by assistant professor Rae Shaw to follow. W, F, POC, I
Tuesday, March 26th
Co-presented with the Independent Film Festival of Boston
Directed by Christopher Dillon Quinn, documentary, 95 minutes, USA, 2018.
How much do you know about the food that’s on your plate? Based on the bestselling book by Jonathan Safran Foer and narrated by co-producer Natalie Portman, Eating Animals is an urgent, eye-opening look at the environmental, economic, and public health consequences of factory farming. Spotlighting farmers who have pushed backed against industrial agriculture with more humane practices, Eating Animals offers attainable, commonsense solutions to a growing crisis while making the case that ethical farming is not only an animal rights issue but one that affects every aspect of our lives. Discussion with director Christopher Dillon Quinn to follow. SJ
Thursday, March 28th
Co-presented as part of the ReelAbilities Film Festival with the Boston Asian American Film Festival
Directed by Chloé Zhao, drama, 104 minutes, USA, 2017.
Based on his a true story, The Rider stars breakout Brady Jandreau as a once rising star of the rodeo circuit warned that his competition days are over after a tragic riding accident. Back home, Brady finds himself wondering what he has to live for when he can no longer do what gives him a sense of purpose: to ride and compete. In an attempt to regain control of his fate, Brady undertakes a search for new identity and tries to redefine his idea of what it means to be a man in the heartland of America. Discussion led by executive in residence, Nancy Allen to follow. W, F, POC, D
Tuesday, April 2nd
Co-presented as part of the Wicked Queer Film Festival
Directed by Craig William Macneill, drama, 105 minutes, USA, 2018.
In 1892 Lizzie Borden lives a quiet life in Massachusetts under the strict rules established by her father. Lizzie finds a kindred spirit in the live-in maid, Bridget, and friendship soon blossoms into a secret romance. But tension mounts in the Borden household, leading to a violent breaking point. Discussion led by assistant professor Sarah Zaidan to follow. F, LGBTQ
Thursday, April 4th
We the Animals
Co-presented as part of the Wicked Queer Film Festival with the Independent Film Festival of Boston, the Boston Latino Film Festival
Directed by Jeremiah Zagar, drama, 94 minutes, USA, 2018.
Manny, Joel, and Jonah tear their way through childhood. Their mother and father have a volatile relationship that makes and unmakes the family many times over, often leaving the boys fending for themselves. As their parents rip at one another, Manny and Joel harden and grow into versions of their father. With the triumvirate fractured, Jonah, who is the youngest, becomes increasingly aware of his desperate need to escape. Driven to the edge, Jonah embraces an imagined world all his own. Discussion with director Jeremiah Zagar (‘03) moderated by assistant professor Maria Agui Carter to follow. LGBTQ, POC, EC
Tuesday, April 9th
Crime + Punishment
Co-presented as part of the It’s All True documentary showcase with the Roxbury International Film Festival and the Boston Asian American Film Festival
Directed by Stephen Maing, documentary, 115 minutes, USA, 2018.
Amidst a landmark class action lawsuit over illegal policing quotas, Crime + Punishment chronicles the remarkable efforts and struggles of a group of black and Latino whistleblower cops and the young minorities they are pressured to arrest and summons in New York City. A highly intimate and cinematic experience with unprecedented access, Crime + Punishment examines the United States' most powerful police department through the brave endeavors of a group of active duty officers and one unforgettable private investigator who risk their careers and safety to bring light to harmful policing practices which have plagued the precincts and streets of New York City for decades. Discussion with director Stephen Maing to follow. POC, SJ
Thursday April, 11th
The Truth About Killer Robots
Co-presented with the Points North Institute
Directed by Maxim Pozdorovkin, documentary, 83 minutes, USA, English and other languages with subtitles, 2018.
An eerie, eye-opening work of science nonfiction, The Truth About Killer Robots considers several automation cases, from a factory in Germany to a bomb-carrying police droid in Dallas, raising questions of accountability and morality. Exploring the provocative viewpoints of engineers, journalists and philosophers, the film goes beyond sensational deaths to examine more subtle but pervasive ways that robots affect humanity. Discussion with director Maxim Pozdorovkin to follow. SJ, I
Tuesday, April 16th
On Her Shoulders
Co-presented by the United Nations association of Greater Boston, the Center for Women's Health and Human Rights at Suffolk University and the Boston Women’s Film Festival and the Independent Film Festival of Boston
Directed by Alexandria Bombach, documentary, 95 minutes, USA, Arabic and English with English subtitles, 2018.
Twenty-three-year-old Nadia Murad’s life is a dizzying array of exhausting undertakings—from giving testimony before the U.N. to visiting refugee camps to soul-bearing media interviews and one-on-one meetings with top government officials. With deep compassion and a formal precision and elegance that matches Nadia’s calm and steely demeanor, filmmaker Alexandria Bombach follows this strong-willed young woman, who survived the 2014 genocide of the Yazidis in Northern Iraq and escaped the hands of ISIS to become a relentless beacon of hope for her people, even when at times she longs to lay aside this monumental burden and simply have an ordinary life. Discussion led by Amy Agigian, founder and director of the Center for Women's Health and Human Rights at Suffolk University to follow. W, POC, SJ, I
Thursday, April 18th
The Feeling of Being Watched
Co-presented with the Boston Palestine Film Festival, the Points North Institute and the Globedocs Film Festival
Directed by Assia Boundaoui, documentary, 87 minutes, USA, English and Arabic with English subtitles, 2018.
In the Arab-American neighborhood outside of Chicago where director Assia Boundaoui grew up, most of her neighbors think they have been under surveillance for over a decade. While investigating their experiences, Assia uncovers tens of thousands of pages of FBI documents that prove her hometown was the subject of one of the largest counterterrorism investigations ever conducted in the U.S. before 9/11, code-named “Operation Vulgar Betrayal.” With unprecedented access, The Feeling of Being Watched weaves the personal and the political as it follows the filmmaker’s examination of why her community fell under blanket government surveillance. Assia struggles to disrupt the government secrecy shrouding what happened and takes the FBI to federal court to compel them to make the records they collected about her community public. Discussion led by Fatema Ahmad, deputy director of the Muslim Justice League. POC, W, SJ
Tuesday, April 23rd
Co-presented with the Boston Jewish Film Festival
Directed by Nina Paley, comedy/drama/musical, 78 minutes, USA, 2018.
Loosely following a traditional Passover Seder, events from the Book of Exodus are retold by Moses, Aharon, the Angel of Death, Jesus, and the director’s own father. But there’s another side to this story: that of the Goddess, humankind’s original deity. Seder-Masochism resurrects the Great Mother in a tragic struggle against the forces of Patriarchy. Discussion with director Nina Paley to follow. F, W,
Thursday, April 25th
If Beale Street Could Talk
Co-presented with the Roxbury International Film Festival
Directed by Barry Jenkins, drama, 119 minutes, USA, 2018.
Set in early-1970s Harlem, If Beale Street Could Talk is a timeless and moving love story of both a couple's unbreakable bond and the African-American family's empowering embrace, as told through the eyes of 19-year-old Tish Rivers. A daughter and wife-to-be, Tish vividly recalls the passion, respect and trust that have connected her and her artist fiancé Alonzo Hunt, who goes by the nickname Fonny. Friends since childhood, the devoted couple dream of a future together but their plans are derailed when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit. Discussion with Assistant professor Kim McLarin to follow. POC, SJ, F
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