Nine reasons to get excited about the UW-Cinematheque Fall 2015 calendar


I don’t know how it got to be mid-August already, but the long lines of college students at the Hilldale Target confirm it; fall is just around the corner.

By all means, savor those last humid drops of summer while you can. But don’t get too bummed out about autumn. First of all, you look great in that sweater from last year! And, secondly, it means a lot more good movies coming to Madison thanks to the just-announced UW-Cinematheque Fall 2015 calendar. Add in Spotlight Cinema at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, the programming at Union South’s Marquee Theatre, the Tales from Planet Earth Film Festival, the return of the Screening Room Calendar at Sundance Cinemas and all the Oscar contenders coming to theaters, and the fall harvest should be a bountiful one.

The Cinematheque calendar is looking incredibly strong, mixing premieres of new films I’d be hoping would get to Madison with classic films on 35mm, tributes to iconic directors and underseen filmmakers alike, and an array of special guests and presentations that would never appear on a Madison movie screen otherwise. All screenings are free, and take place in the 4070 Vilas Hall screening room, except some screenings in the Marquee and the Sunday Cinematheque at the Chazen series.

The full schedule is online at, but here are a smattering of reasons to get very excited about what’s in store:

More Orson — The Cinematheque’s yearlong centennial tribute to Kenosha native Orson Welles continues with several classics from the auteur, starting with the fall’s first screening, Welles’ 1948 rough-and-tumble version of “Macbeth” on Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. Later in the month, Welles scholar Joseph McBride will be in town to present an array of rare Welles footage in “Wellesiana” on Sept. 25, followed by Welles’ classic “The Magnificent Ambersons” on Sept. 26.

“When Marnie Was There” — The latest effort from Japan’s beloved animation house Studio Ghibli gets its only Madison showing on Sept. 5, with an English-dubbed screening at 2 p.m. and a subtitled edition at 7 p.m. The film follows the friendship between two girls, one of them hiding a secret.

Salute to Jean Gremillon — Considered one of the unappreciated legends of French cinema, Gremillon’s career started in the silent era and went through the German occupation, in which he never bowed to censorship in his films. The five-film series kicks off Sept. 12 with 1941’s “Remorques,” a wistful love story set during the occupation.

Sunday Cinematheque at the Chazen: 35mm Forever! — While the Cinematheque has incorporated digital projection to keep pace with the changing industry, the series has always prided itself on showing quality film prints as part of its repertoire. For the fall, the Chazen is being turned over entirely to the warmth of 35mm film, with screenings of classics ranging from “Dr. Strangelove” on Sept. 6 to George Cukor’s “Adam’s Rib” on Sept. 13 and Brian DePalma’s “Phantom of the Paradise” on Oct. 18.


“Tangerine” with filmmaker Sean Baker — I think the screening I’m most excited about on this schedule is the Oct. 24 screening of Baker’s wonderful film about two transgender prostitutes hunting down the boyfriend/pimp of one of them in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve. It’s funny, bawdy and poignant in the way of an old Hollywood movie, even though it stars people you rarely see in Hollywood films, and was shot on an iPhone 5. Baker will be here in person to talk about the making of the Sundance Film Festival sensation. My full review is here. 

The “Apu” trilogy — Simply one of the essential works of world cinema, Satyajit Ray’s 1950s trilogy looks at a poor Indian family in a remote region of Bengal, surviving with love and dignity. This is an unmissable chance to see it on the big screen in a restored digital print.

Tribute to Cy Endfield — I wasn’t at all familiar with the work of American director Endfield, and this six-film series will take audiences from his post-war noir period to the rugged adventure films (including “Zulu” with Michael Caine). Endfield biographer Brian Neve will be at the Cinematheque’s “Zulu” screening on Oct. 16 to talk about the filmmaker’s career.


Guy Maddin’s “The Forbidden Room” — The acclaimed Canadian director behind “My Winnipeg” and “Brand Upon the Brain!” really outdoes himself here, with a phantasmagorical salute to “lost” Hollywood films that’s like a series of Russian nesting dolls, with crazy plots about lumberjacks and pancake-eating sailors and banana vampires all overlapping into each other. The Dec. 12 screening is the only Madison screening of the film, which is wild and experimental and yet a completely accessible ode to film itself. My full review from its Sundance Film Festival premiere is here.

“Yellow Ticket” with live soundtrack — Expect something very special when the Cinematheque shows this 1918 silent film about a Jewish woman in Warsaw who yearns against the odds to study medicine. The rare screening will be presented with live music from Grammy-winning violinist and vocalist Alicia Svigals and virtuoso pianist Marilyn Lerner. It’s presented with the support of the Center for Eastern Europe and Central Asia (CREECA), the Center for Jewish Studies and The Anonymous Fund of the College of Letters & Science.


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