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Bright Lights Film Series 2015

Free public screenings at the Bright Family Screening Room/Paramount Center; many include conversations with filmmakers

BOSTON, MA (January 7, 2015)—On Thursday, January 29, Emerson College’s Visual and Media Arts (VMA) Department kicks off the spring line-up for its Bright Lights Series—free film screenings open to the public. Many feature post-screening discussions with special guests including Peter Davis (The Selling of the Pentagon, Hearts and Minds); Will Lautzenheiser, Robin Berghaus (Stumped); and Vermin Supreme and Steve Onderick (Who Is Vermin Supreme? An Outsider Odyssey).

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 and Facebook page.

Bright Lights Series, Spring 2015:

Thursday, January 29: Out of Print
Julia Marchese | 86 minutes | USA, 2014
A documentary exploring the importance of revival cinema and 35mm exhibition seen through the lens of the patrons of the New Beverly Cinema, a unique and independent revival cinema in Los Angeles. Screening will include clips from The Dying of the Light (Peter Flynn) and The Orson Welles Complex (Garen Daly). A panel discussion with all three directors (Marchese, Flynn, and Daly) about the future of theatrical exhibition will follow the screening.

Tuesday, February 3: Schooling the World
Carol Black | 66 minutes | USA, 2010
Beautifully shot on location in the Buddhist culture of Ladakh in the northern Indian Himalayas, the film weaves the voices of Ladakhi people through a conversation between four carefully chosen original thinkers. The film examines the hidden assumption of cultural superiority behind education aid projects, which overtly aim to help children “escape” to a “better life,” despite mounting evidence of the environmental, social, and mental health costs of our own modern consumer lifestyles, from epidemic rates of childhood depression and substance abuse to pollution and climate change. A discussion with VMA Professor Claire Andrade-Watkins will follow the screening.

Thursday, February 5: Boyhood
Richard Linklater |165 minutes | USA, 2014
The joys and pitfalls of growing up are seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (Ellar Coltrane); his parents (Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke); and his sister (Lorelei Linklater). Vignettes, filmed with the same cast over the course of 12 years, capture family meals, road trips, birthday parties, graduations, and other important milestones.

Tuesday, February 10: Room 237
Rodney Ascher | 102 minutes | USA, 2012
Many movies lend themselves to dramatic interpretations, but none as rich and far ranging as Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. In LA filmmaker Rodney Ascher's Room 237, we hear from people who have developed far-reaching theories and believe they have decoded the hidden symbols and messages buried in the late director's film. Carefully examining The Shining inside out, and forward and backward, Room 237 is equal parts captivating, provocative, and pure pleasure. It gives voice to the fans and scholars who espouse these theories, reworking the film to match their ideas and intercutting it with layers of dreamlike imagery to illustrate their streams of consciousness. Sometimes outrageous, always engaging, the words of the interviewees are given full force by Ascher's compelling vision.

Thursday, February 12: Possible Distances—A program of recent motion picture excursions by Rob Todd
This selection of VMA professor Robert Todd’s work in 16mm film will include views of local paradises: Roadside Attractions: on a single city block, a quiet observer of life finds the mystic playground within the shadows; Short: dramatic windings to the surprising glory of summer; May I: a dance for the month of Maying: saying, displaying, straying, playing; Slow Rise: a day rises; followed by Over Water: a labyrinthine journey that unites and connects scattered pieces of an archaic architecture of water-related infrastructure in the Northeast, including piers, bridges, and canal locks.

Tuesday, February 17: The Year We Thought About Love
Ellen Brodsky | 68 minutes | USA, 2014
What happens when LGBTQ youth of color band together and dare to be “out” on stage to reveal their lives and their loves? The cast of True Colors OUT Youth Theater transforms their struggles into performance for social change. With wit, candor, and attitude, our cast of characters captivates audiences surprised to hear such stories in school settings. The Year We Thought About Love introduces a transgender teenager kicked out of her home, a devout Christian challenging his church’s homophobia, and a girl who dresses in masculine clothing even as she models dresses on the runway. Discussion with filmmaker Ellen Brodsky and True Colors troupe members will follow the screening.

Tuesday, February 24: Dar He: The Lynching of Emmett Till
Rob Underhill | 70 minutes | USA, 2012
Days after stepping off the train from Chicago, 14-year-old Emmett Till goes missing in Money, Mississippi. Later, the boy's mutilated body is found in a river. William Bradford Huie of Look magazine interviews the people of Money to get at the root of what happened. The two men acquitted for the boy's murder, Roy Bryant Jr. and J.W. Milam, agree to sit down to discuss the trial. Not a word had been uttered outside a courtroom by them or their kin, until now. Dar He: The Lynching of Emmett Till is the true story crafted from the public record: a transfixing, true dramatization of the historic interviews and events surrounding the murder that became a lightning rod for moral outrage and pivotal in inspiring a whole generation of young people to commit to social change in the 1950s. “His death was a spark that ignited the Civil Rights Movement in America,” said Ed Bradley, Emmy Award-winning journalist. Discussion with actor Mike Wiley will follow the screening.

Thursday, February 26: New England Graduate Media Symposium
Program running time: 100 minutes
For the second year, the symposium is themed “Gender, Technology, Media: Hypothetical Schematic” and will showcase projects and scholarships that explore the issues related to the interaction between technology and gender in contemporary media arts practices. This theme raises questions regarding the cultural and political representation of the human body, memories, and dreams through technology; the constantly changing gender theories that allow artists to build and destroy identity parameters according to different cultural contexts; and the multiple possibilities and limitations generated by technological developments in the media arts world. Discussion with selected New England Graduate Student media makers will follow the screening.

Tuesday, March 3: Joystick Warriors
A Media Education Foundation Production
Roger Sorkin | 56 minutes | USA, 2013
For years, there's been widespread speculation about the relationship between violent video games and violence in the real world. Joystick Warriors provides the clearest account yet of the latest research on this issue. Drawing on the insights of media scholars, military analysts, combat veterans, and gamers themselves, the film trains its sights on the wildly popular genre of first-person shooter games, exploring how the immersive experience they offer links up with the larger stories we tell ourselves as a culture about violence, militarism, guns, and manhood. Along the way, it examines the game industry's longstanding working relationship with the U.S. military and the American gun industry, and offers a riveting examination of the games themselves—showing how they work to sanitize, glamorize, and normalize violence while cultivating dangerously regressive attitudes and ideas about masculinity and militarism. Panel discussion about gaming will follow the screening.

Thursday, March 5: Balagan Film Series
In this contentious time for cinema, the Balagan Film Series carves a niche for the offbeat within Boston’s rich cultural scene, for fourteen years running. Screenings take at the Brattle Theatre (Cambridge, MA) and various local venues. Through the MFA Collaborative, the Bright Family Screening Room has become a new venue for Balagan Film Series.

Tuesday, March 17: Who Is Vermin Supreme? An Outsider Odyssey (Boston premiere)
Steve Onderick | 122 minutes | USA 2014
In the wake of Occupy Wall Street's impacts on American culture, Who Is Vermin Supreme? chronicles perennial satirical presidential candidate Vermin Supreme's eclectic 2012 campaign and provides a startling glimpse into some of the strangest and most inspiring elements of America's oft-ignored counterculture movements. With Jimmy McMillan of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party and manic-creative singer-songwriter Rob Potylo frequently at his side, Supreme makes use of unorthodox tactics and the power of comedy, poetry, and music to mount a one-of-a-kind surrealist presidential campaign. Confronting police brutality with wit and whimsicality at Chicago's NATO Summit protests, Supreme moves on to follow the steps of the American electoral process across the country, cleverly revealing its hypocrisies and interacting with many of its premier players along the way. Discussion with Vermin Supreme and filmmaker Steve Onderick will follow the screening.

Tuesday, March 24: Orphan Morphin:  Creative Plundering of the Archive
San Francisco filmmaker, curator, and archivist Craig Baldwin will be presenting a feature-length program of both old and new work, consummating in an expanded cinema performance. Baldwin will introduce sizeable excerpts from more than three titles in his filmography, in order to generate, in a sort of “Artist Talk” mode, an argument about the possible uses of archival footage. The arc will proceed from collage to collage-essay to collage-narrative, demonstrated by sections from his early, middle, and current filmmaking periods.

Thursday, March 26: Rocks in My Pockets
Signe Baumane | 88 minutes | USA/Latvia, 2014
In the new animated gem Rocks in My Pockets, Latvian-born artist and filmmaker Signe Baumane tells five fantastical tales based on the courageous women in her family and their battles with madness. With boundless imagination and a twisted sense of humor, she has created daring stories of art, romance, marriage, nature, business, and Eastern European upheaval—all in the fight for her own sanity. Employing a unique, beautifully textured combination of papier-mâché stop-motion and classic hand-drawn animation (with inspiration from Jan Svankmajer and Bill Plympton), Baumane has produced a poignant and often hilarious tale of mystery, mental health, redemption, and survival. Discussion with filmmaker Signe Baumane will follow the screening.

Tuesday, March 31: Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? An Animated Conversation with Noam Chomsky
Michel Gondry | 88 minutes | France, 2013
From Michel Gondry, the innovative director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep, comes this unique animated documentary on the life of controversial MIT professor, philosopher, linguist, anti-war activist, and political firebrand Noam Chomsky. Through complex, lively conversations with Chomsky and brilliant illustrations by Gondry himself, the film reveals the life and work of the father of modern linguistics while also exploring his theories on the emergence of language. The result is not only a dazzling, vital portrait of one of the foremost thinkers of modern times, but also a beautifully animated work of art. Discussion with filmmakers/VMA faculty who contributed to the production will follow the screening.

Thursday, April 2: It's All True Documentary Showcase, with special guest Peter Davis
A showcase of current Emerson undergraduate and graduate documentary shorts. Special guest for this year’s It’s All True Showcase is award-winning documentary filmmaker Peter Davis, whose 1971 film for CBS News, The Selling of the Pentagon, an investigation of U.S. Defense Department public relations, won the Peabody, Emmy, Polk, Ohio State, Saturday Review, and Writers Guild Awards. Davis's Hearts and Minds, a film about American military action in Vietnam, won the Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary for the year 1974, as well as France's Prix Georges-Sadoul. His subsequent project, the Middletown series for PBS, received ten Emmy nominations and two Emmys. Jack, a film he made with his son, the filmmaker Nick Davis, was nominated for two Emmys and won one in 1994. Davis has written three nonfiction books: Hometown (1982), Where Is Nicaragua? (1987), and If You Came This Way (1995). He has reported for The Nation magazine, for which he covered the U.S. War in Iraq. He has also written for Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, New York Woman, The Boston Globe, and The Los Angeles Times. (A screening of Davis's Hearts and Minds will take place on Wednesday, April 1).

Tuesday, April 7: Pride (co-sponsored by the Boston LGBT Film Festival)
Matthew Warchus | 120 minutes | UK, 2014
Pride is inspired by an extraordinary true story. It’s the summer of 1984, Margaret Thatcher is in power, and the National Union of Mineworkers is on strike, prompting a London-based group of gay and lesbian activists to raise money to support the strikers’ families. Initially rebuffed by the union, the group identifies a tiny mining village in Wales and sets off to make their donation in person. As the strike drags on, the two groups discover that standing together makes for the strongest union of all.

Thursday, April 9: Imitation Game
Morten Tyldum | 114 minutes | USA, 2014
Genius British logician and cryptologist Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) helps crack Germany's Enigma Code during World War II but is later prosecuted by his government for illegal homosexual acts.

Tuesday, April14: Frank
Lenny Abrahmson | 95 minutes | USA, 2014
Frank is an offbeat comedy about a young wannabe musician, Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), who finds himself out of his depth when he joins an avant-garde pop band led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank (Michael Fassbender), a musical genius who hides himself inside a large fake head, and his terrifying bandmate Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal). It is a fictional story loosely inspired by Frank Sidebottom, the persona of cult musician, and comedy legend Chris Sievey, as well as other outsider musicians like Daniel Johnston and Captain Beefheart.

Thursday, April 16: CitizenFour
Laura Poitras | 114 minutes | Germany, 2014
CitizenFour is a real life thriller, unfolding by the minute, giving audiences unprecedented access to filmmaker Laura Poitras’s and journalist Glenn Greenwald’s encounters with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong, as he hands over classified documents providing evidence of mass indiscriminate and illegal invasions of privacy by the National Security Agency (NSA). The film places you in the room with Poitras, Greenwald, and Snowden as they attempt to manage the media storm raging outside—forced to make quick decisions that will impact their lives and all of those around them.

Tuesday, April 21 Stumped
Robin Berghaus | 10 minutes | USA, 2014
Stumped is a documentary about the survival and physical rehabilitation of filmmaker Will Lautzenheiser who suddenly finds himself a quadruple amputee. It highlights the trials and triumphs of adapting to a world he never could have imagined, including his first stand-up comedy performance. Comedy set from Will Lautzenheiser and Q & A with Lautzenheiser and filmmaker Robin Berghaus will follow the screening.

About Emerson College          

Located in Boston, Massachusetts, opposite historic Boston Common and in the heart of the city’s Theatre District, Emerson is the only four-year private college in the United States devoted to teaching communication and the arts in a liberal arts context. The College has 3,750 undergraduates and 750 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, 14 NCAA teams, student publications, honor societies, television stations including the Emerson Channel, and WERS-FM, the nation’s highest rated student-run radio station. Emerson is internationally known for its study and internship programs in Los Angeles, Washington, DC, the Netherlands, China, and the Czech Republic. A new permanent facility on Sunset Boulevard for its LA-based program opened in January 2014. For more information, visit

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