MMOCA Spotlight Cinema brings world cinema heavyweights to Madison


Was it only a few weeks ago that the only new movies we had to choose from were “Sinister 2” and “American Ultra”? Now that fall is underway, it’s an embarrassment of riches for the movie lover in Madison, from the Sundance Cinemas Screening Room series to the UW-Cinematheque fall series to the WUD films at Union South. And the big Oscar contenders are just starting to hit theaters.

Add to the list the Spotlight Cinema series at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. The series, programmed by Tom Yoshikami and Mike King, has been invaluable in bringing acclaimed new films to Madison that might not have gotten here by other means. This year’s eight-film series looks especially strong, including the new films by celebrated foreign directors Jafar Panahi, Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

The films all play Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. in the MMOCA Screening Room, 227 State St. They’re free for museum members and only $7 for non-members, and this is likely the only chance to catch them on the big screen.

Wednesday, Sept. 30: “Eden” — DJ Nick Nice should spin a post-show set after this dizzying drama set in the ’90s Parisian dance-club scene, following a Daft Punk-like duo through the ups and downs of fame and fortune.

Oct. 7: “Jafar Panahi’s Taxi” — Iranian director Panahi has been forbidden by his government for making films, but he has found ways around that. He shot a film in his apartment in “This is Not a Film,” and now he takes to the streets in a sort of “Tehran Taxicab Confessions,” posing as a cab driver and chatting with passengers who represent a cross section of Iranian society.

Oct. 14: “Peace Officer” — This fascinating documentary sounds like a thriller, as a sheriff who trained his county’s first SWAT team starts investigating the death of his own son-in-law at the hands of one of those tactical units, eventually coming to question the militarization of law enforcement.

Oct. 21: “Fidelio: Alice’s Odyssey” — This French film from the co-writer of Claire Denis’ “White Material” follows a woman who begins working as an engineer on an old cargo ship, having to prove her worth in a male world.


Oct. 28: “The Assassin” — I’m very excited to see the latest feature from master Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien. Known for his intimate, cryptic dramas,  Hso takes a sharp turn with this entry into the martial arts epic genre, which has been hailed as a masterpiece.

Nov. 4: “(T)ERROR” — I saw this amazing documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, and still can’t believe the filmmakers aren’t in FBI custody for this penetrating look inside the war on terror, as we watch a duplicitous Muslim informant looking for a big payday set up a seemingly innocent man.

Nov. 11: “The Wonders” — Alice Rohrwacher’s “Corpo Christi” was an absolute charmer, and she returns with this engaging tale of a father and daughter trying to save their beekeeping business by turning it into a reality show.

Nov. 18: “Cemetery of Splendor” — I heard raves from the just-concluded Toronto International Film Festival for the latest film from Weerasethakul (“Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives“), a typically resplendent fever dream about a group of soldiers with a mysterious sleeping sickness.


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