I’ve just finished teaching a Film Criticism Workshop at the University of Chicago with weekly screenings and seminars in October through mid-December 2019. In Fall 2020, I’ll be teaching a course (at the School of the Art Institute) and hosting a film series (at the Gene Siskel Film Series) devoted to Agnes Varda.
On November 22, Jim Sikora and Nile Southern filmed a lengthy interview with me for Nile’s forthcoming documentary about his father, Terry Southern.
I’ve worked in many capacities on my friend Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa’s first feature-length film (see above photos), recently completed, a personal essay about the Frank Lloyd Wright house in Florence, Alabama where I grew up, today a public museum — as camera assistant, as interviewee, and as advisor and consultant. It premiered in Chicago at the Gene Siskel Film Center on January 18 & 20, 2020. On January 24, ]I was present at its first European screening, at Zagreb’s Museum of Contemporary Art. In Zagreb I also participate in Tanja Vrvilo’s annual Movie Mutations event, followed by some events at Split’s Kinoklub being organized by Suncica Fradelic..
I taught a workshop on film criticism and Orson Welles at the Kinoklub in Split, Croatia on June 17-20 before attending Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna (June 21-30), and then spent six days in Paris (July 1-6) before returning to Chicago. I was back at the Kinoklub in late January and early February, 2020, and also attended Croatian events in Zagreb and Rijeka organized by Tanja Vrvilo before and afterwards, then continued to the U.K. to speak about Pere Portabella on a panel in Cambridge (February 13) and then more specifically lecture about his Warsaw Bridge at London’s Close-up on February 15. I also spoke about Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa’s Jerry and Me and A House is Not a Home: Wright or Wrong at Close-up a day later. I also lectured on Welles and Kiarostami at Hungary’s national film school in Budapest on February 4 and 5.
I’m delighted and honored to have worked as a consultant on the completion of Orson Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind, which premiered in early November 2018.
Early in 2018, a much-expanded and updated second edition of my book with Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa on Abbas Kiarostami was published.
On January 5, 2019, I promoted my book CINEMATIC ENCOUNTERS: INTERVIEWS AND DIALOGUES at the Seminary Coop Bookstore, and on January 28, I joined a panel discussion there to promote another book, UNWATCHABLE, which I contributed to. On February 20, I was there again to moderate an event with Adina Hoffman and her excellent new book about Ben Hecht in the Yale Jewish Lives series. On April 18, I gave a lecture on Welles at Clairemont College in southern California.
Since late January, I’ve been teaching a course about Orson Welles at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago that doubles as a weekly film series at the Gene Siskel Film Center. In Fall 2019, I’ll be teaching a film criticism seminar/workshop at the University of Chicago for both graduate students and undergraduates, a course that will involve reading as well as writing.
Volume 2 of my two-part collection Cinematic Encounters will be published in June 2019.
On September 27, I presented ” Dialogues with Daney: Conversations within and between texts” at a Serge Daney workshop in Paris organized by Pierre Eugene. And three days later, I lectured on DEAD MAN at Kinoklub Split in Croatia, where I also gave a lecture on films by Peter Thompson back in July (the latter of which was filmed as part of an experimental film project by Suncica Fradelic, who booked both lectures).
On February 23, 24, 26, and 27, I introduced four films by Nico Papatakis at the Walter Reade Theater in New York’s Lincoln Center — Les Abysses, The Shepherds of Disorder, The Photograph, and Walking a Tightrope, respectively.
On February 12, 2018, at the Siskel Film Center in Chicago, Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa and I led a discussion after a screening of Abbas Kiarostami’s final feature, 24 Frames.
I was recently interviewed in Los Angeles by TCM (specifically by Gary Freedman for a forthcoming Filmstruck documentary about Kiarostami), and, during the same short visit, interviewed by F.X. Feeney about James B. Harris and Stanley Kubrick for another forthcoming documentary.
I’ve scripted and appear in a short video essay about Béla Tarr, shot by Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa for BBC Persian and available here. We are making similar works about Carl Dreyer and Yasujiro Ozu.
I served on the jury of a new film festival held at Palo del Colle in southern Italy, CinePalium Fest and a festival devoted to Iranian features held in Dallas, both held in mid-November 2017. (By necessity, I had to do the latter work in absentia, from Chicago, via Vimeo links.)
On August 26, I introduced Julia Soltseva’s ravishing The Enchanted Desna (1964) in what may have been its belated North American premiere, screening in 70 mm at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens. This lyrical explosion about Alexander Dovzhenko’s childhood and subsequent wartime experience, realized by his widow, was Godard’s favorite film in 1965.
Twelve days later (September 7-17), I headed the Fipresci jury at the Toronto International Film Festival. And on October 5, via Skype, I was interviewed by Richard Porton for his course on film criticism at New York University.
I spent three weeks in Europe in early 2017 — arriving in Croatia on January 23 for the tenth annual Movie Mutations event organized by my friend Tanja Vrvilo, attending a program in Rijeka and then spent the next six days in Zagreb with Abel Ferrara and Bela Tarr, among many others. Then, after two days’ holiday in Paris over the weekend, I flew to Lisbon for a week of lectures about Erich von Stroheim with screenings at the Portuguese Cinematheque, followed by one more day in Zagreb before I flew back to Chicago. (One can access an interview I gave in Lisbon here; only the beginning and end of this is in Portuguese.)
Then, on February 19, at the Gene Siskel Film Center, I spoke about Abbas Kiarostami along with Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa. And returned to Europe in June and July for Il Cinema Ritrovato and a few days afterwards in Paris.
At the brand-new Harold Ramis Comedy Film School in Chicago, I lectured on PlayTime at 6 PM on September 2, 2016 And at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh on September 22, I spoke on the topic of “Digital Futures: Bringing the Analog Past to a Digital Age”.
Three film festivals that I attended in the latter part of 2016:
At CURTOCIRCUÍTO in Santiago de Compostela, Spain (October 3-9) I served on their jury and also taught a short course called “The Impossible Cinema”.
At the LISBON & ESTORIL FILM FESTIVAL (November 9-13) I discussed Godard in a panel discussion.
And at the MAR DEL PLATA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (November 18-27) I served on their main jury.
Earlier this summer, I served on the jury and taught a course at Filmadrid (June), lectured on Welles for a week at the Lisbon Cinematheque (June), attended Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna (June-July), lectured in Germany (in Potsdam and Frankfurt, July), and attended the Melbourne International Film Festival (July-August), where I served as a mentor on the Critics Campus, introduced a couple of screenings, and participated in a couple of panel discussions.
For the long-awaited digital releases of the restorations of both versions of Rivette’s Out 1, both coming out in late 2015/early 2016, I wrote a lengthy essay for Carlotta in France and the U.S. and was interviewed by Arrow Films in the U.K. for The Jacques Rivette Collection, which also reprinted a production piece about Duelle and Noroit that I cowrote with the late Gilbert Adair and the late Michael Graham. I also did a podcast with Peter Labuze about Out 1 in particular and my career in general for www.thecinephiliacs.net, which aired on November 16, and I’m writing an obituary of Rivette for the May 2016 issue of Artforum.
I’ve also written about Moana with sound for the March 2016 issue of Artforum, Son of Saul for the Chicago Reader in late January, and other recent pieces for the Film Comment blog (on John Gianvito’s Wake [Subic]), Fandor (on Mark Rappaport’s Debra Paget, For Example), Filmkrant, and an autobiographical piece about time and cinema for the Punto de Vista International Documentary Film Festival in Pamplona. I’ve also written short pieces for the releases of Johnny Guitar and Orson Welles’ Macbeth (both versions) for Olive Films.
In early February 2016. the Italian online magazine Filmidee published in its 15th issue a dossier on my work, including translations of three articles and an interview (the English translation of which can be found here).
From June 6 through June 11, 2016, I’ll be presenting a “personal” history of cinema, three hours per day, 10:30 am to 1:30 pm, at Filmadrid in Madrid, Spain, and in my remaining time I’ll be serving on the competition jury at the same festival. (From October 6 through 11, I’ll be doing a similar double duty at the Curtocircuíto International Film Festival in Santiago de Compostela.) The following week, June 14-18, I’ll be giving another series of lectures at the Lisbon Cinematheque on a particular director (which director is still being decided). On July 7, I’ll be lecturing on Varda’s Vagabond in Frankfurt. And in between these gigs in Portugal and Germany, I’ll be attending Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna, where I’ll serving again on their DVD jury.
I had a very enjoyable Skype interview with Whit Stillman about his first feature, Metropolitan, at the Gene Siskel Film Center at 3 pm on September 26. And on October 14, after a 7:30 pm screening of Cleo from 5 to 7 at Chicago’s Music Box, I interviewed Agnes Varda.
An hour-long conversation about Orson Welles with James Naremore and interviewer Douglas Storm, recorded for WHFB in Bloomington, Indiana last spring.
In late November, 2015, I served on the feature jury at the Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival, and shortly afterwards, following a visit with my brother Michael in London, Ehsan Khoshbakht and I presented a revised version of our short “jazz and film” series put together for Il Cinema Ritrovato in late June and early July at the Festival on Wheels in Ankara, Turkey. A few days later, in Istanbul, I was interviewed by the monthly film magazine Izliyorum for their February issue, introduced People on Sunday at the Silent Film festival, and participated in a panel there the following day.
In early September (September 4-12, 2015) I participated in an extended event devoted to Godard in Zabreb, the latest of Tanja Vrvilo’s annual events inspired and named after a book I co-edited with Adrian Martin, Movie Mutations. And in mid-October, I taught again at the Film.Factory in Sarajevo, my fourth two-week session there to date I made a video with Kevin Lee for Fandor about Orson Welles — one of many Welles centenary events I was involved with. And on April 20, I was interviewed by Greg Monro about Jerry Lewis for a French TV documentary about Lewis. On May 16-17, 2014, I had the pleasure of attending and participating in the 80th anniversary of the Orson Welles Theatre Festival in Woodstock, Illinois. In 2015, many Welles events were planned to celebrate his 100th birthday, and I participated in several of them: in the spring, the keynote address at the “It’s All True” documentary conference and film festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil and an event at the Arts Club of Chicago; also a Welles symposium at Indiana University in Bloomington (between April 29 and May 2), two more weekend events in Woodstock (May 8-9 and May 22-23, including a public interview with Oja Kodar on May 9 [see first photo below; one can access the interview here with the password “Woodstock”]), and a gathering at Cinetopia in Ann Arbor and Detroit (June 6-10). And in September, I spent three wonderful days with Oja and her sister Nina at the Villa Welles in Promosten, Croatia, my second visit there. And this came immediately after a week-long participation at an exciting week-long Godard event (or series of events) in Zagreb and Rijeka, Croatia, organized by the inexhaustible Tanja Vrvilo as her ninth annual Film Mutations festival. (See the third photo below, taken by Nicole Brenez, one of the participants.)
In Bologna, Alessandro Aniballi conducted a lengthy interview with me about Welles for his website Quinlan.it, and he posted it (in Italian only) on July 24. On May 30, 2015, at 2 PM, I lectured on Akira Kurosawa at the Edgewater Branch of the Chicago Public Library, 6000 N. Broadway.
On April 14, I gave the opening lecture at a conference devoted to Orson Welles’ non-fiction works, held at the Cinemateca Brasileira in São Paulo as part of the international documentary film festival named after Orson Welles’ first documentary, It’s All True. A video of this lecture can be accessed here. I served on the Young Cinema Competition Jury, headed by Mohsen Makhmalbaf, at the Hong Kong International Film Festival from March 23 through April 4, 2015, where I also spoke about Welles’s The Lady from Shanghai. With my London-based friend Ehsan Khoshbakht, I’m curating a short program, “Jazz Goes to the Movies,” at Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna (June 27–July 4, 2015), where I’ll also be serving again on the DVD jury. At the invitation of Guy Maddin (see above), I participated in three events in Winnipeg on March 9-11, 2015 — my first visit to that mythical city: a dialogue with Jonah Corne on “Cinema in the Age of the Internet” (March 9), an evening of clips and commentary (March 10), and a dialogue with Guy (March 12). On January 4, 2015, I interviewed Jonas Mekas at the Anthology Film Archives library for a documentary about Jonas that Jackie Raynal made for the French television series Cinéma, de notre temps. The photograph below, taken by Jackie’s assistant Cindi Rowell, is from the delightful lunch we had afterwards, nearby, at Lucien.
On February 21, 2015, I spoke at the Belcourt Theater’s Orson Welles retrospective in Nashville, and the following evening, I attended their Oscar party.
In early July, 2014, in Paris, I was interviewed by 26-year-old Lebanese filmmaker Joanna Tabet for three separate episodes in a forthcoming French TV series about genre films, about psychotic killers, robots, and aliens, due to be broadcast in late 2015. (My talking head wound up being included in the first and third of these.) And about a week earlier, in Bologna, I was interviewed and filmed by Lucie Králová — director of the fascinating 2007 documentary Lost Holiday (see photo below), winner of a prize for best documentary feature at Karlovy Vary — with a Czech crew about film heritage for a forthcoming documentary being made for Czech television in collaboration with the Czech National Film Archive in Prague. ***
Last fall (2014), from September 2 through mid-December, I taught a 14-week course at the School of the Art Institute that doubles as a Tuesday night film series for the public at the Gene Siskel Film Center, titled “The Unquiet American: Transgressive Comedies from the U.S.,” and based in part on a month-long series I programmed five years ago at the Austrian Film Museum and the Viennale, along with a book-length publication (see above). This included Hollywood, independent, and experimental films, starting with D’Arrast’s Laughter (1930) on September 2. On October 3, 2014, at 1:30 pm at the Toronto Lightbox, I was on a panel about Jean-Luc Godard, as part of the second half of the Lightbox’s massive Godard retrospective, along with Nicole Brenez, Daniel Morgan, and Murray Pomerance, and two days later, on October 5 at New York’s Museum of the Moving Image, I introduced Hou Hsiao-hsien’s seminal The Sandwich Man (1983) at 7:30 pm. Justin Bozung put together a podcast on Norman Mailer’s 1987 film Tough Guys Don’t Dance that is (hold on to your hats) nine hours long and in nine parts. I’m one of the people he interviewed extensively on it. I’m also writing an essay about the film for a forthcoming anthology about Mailer’s films that Justin is editing. From June 18 through the 23rd, 2014, I attended the Edinburgh International Film Festival, serving as one of the “mentors” to the Student Film Critics Jury (along with Dana Linssen and Derek Malcolm). From there I proceeded first to Paris (June 24-26), then to Il Cinema Ritrovato (June 27–July 5), and then back to Paris again (July 6-7).
I’m delighted that Béla Tarr invited me to work at his recently launched Filmfactory (which he prefers to to call a “workshop” rather than a school, with filmmaking “factory workers” from around the world) in Sarajevo twice in 2013 — from May 20 through 31, and from November 4 through 15 — with a focus on American independent cinema in the first visit and world cinema in the second. I returned there for two other two-week sessions on world cinema in September 14-26, 2014 and October 25 through November 6, 2015. (The second photo below was taken by Béla.)
The first of the above photos comes from a field trip in May many of us took to Tito’s Bunker Konjic, about an hour’s drive away; the second, of Tilda Swinton and Béla, was taken on June 4, shortly before I flew back to Chicago; and the three below were taken respectively in November at a Sarajevo jazz club called Monument, at FilmFactory’s new café, and at an MA student’s flat after an extracurricular screening and discussion of Daisies.
Once again, I served on the DVD jury at Il Cinema Retrovato in Bologna, held in 2013 from June 29 through July 6. (I’ll be attending again this year, from June 27 through July 5.) I didn’t discover until I arrived there that I was scheduled to give an hour-long “Lesson in Cinema” talk on July 5; fortunately, the festival’s artistic director, Peter von Bagh, offered to interview me, and the results have recently been posted here. (He subsequently printed a transcript of this discussion in his magazine Filmihullu: see below.) The previous year, I participated in a panel there with Girish Shambu and Miguel Marias on cinephilia (a video of which can be seen here), and, substituting for artistic director Peter von Bagh (who was regrettably absent that year due to illness), introduced a screening of TWILIGHT’S LAST GLEAMING. To the right is a photo taken by Ehsan Khoshbakht of the latter event, and below that is an earlier photo taken by me of one of the many enjoyable Bologna lunches, this one with Ehsan, Dave Kehr, Jackie Raynal, and Meredith Brody. During the same festival, I was briefly interviewed by Sam Roggen for a new Belgian online magazine. Mike White posted on December 4, 2013 a four-hour podcast about Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons, including (along with much else) a conversation with me about it. *** Along with A.O. Scott (The New York Times) and Richard Corliss (Time), I’m one of the three critical colleagues of Roger Ebert interviewed in Steve James’ new feature-length documentary about Roger, Life Itself, scheduled to be released in the summer of 2014. (The filming took place in the lobby of Chicago’s Music Box on December 19, 2012.)…My 1999 appearance on Roger’s TV show, along with three other Chicago film critics, which was devoted to Stanley Kubrick, shortly after Kubrick died, can be found here.
I was on the jury of the 23rd Message to Man Film Festival in St. Petersburg from September 21 through 28 — a jury headed by Mira Nair (whom I’m standing directly behind, at the opening night ceremony). The sec0nd photo comes from one of our wonderful lunches. I also gave a two-hour “master class” in film criticism at the University of Film & TV in St. Petersburg (which I’m standing in front of in the third photo) that was really a lively dialogue with about fifty students.
Thanks to a good many friends and colleagues both in Mexico City (at FICUNAM) and on the blogosphere (at Fandor, here, here, and here—and go here for a Romanian translation of the latter); on Take the “A” Train, here and here; and on Facebook, Twitter, and Indiewire), my 70th birthday was the happiest one I’ve ever had. (The first of the above links is to a twelve-and-a-half-minute video directed by Ignatiy Vishnevetsky and produced by Kevin B. Lee.) More specifically, I taught a nine-hour seminar on film criticism and history in a workshop being held during FICUNAM, February 25-27, 2013 and participated in something called a critic’s week at the same festival over the same three days; I’m delighted that two of my best friends (and fellow collaborators on our book Movie Mutations), Adrian Martin and Nicole Brenez, were also there. The photograph below, where I’m flanked by Gabe Klinger and FICUNAM’s director Eva Sangiorgi, and both of those above were taken at a surprise birthday party held for me.
On April 6, 2013 I lectured on Stroheim’s Greed at the St. Louis Humanities Festival. (To help promote this, Jim Tudor posted an interview with me here, and the Greed event itself has been preserved in an excellent video, about an hour long, with added illustrations.) And at the first annual Dick Wolf Penn Cinema Studies Conference, in Philadelphia on April 12, 2013, called “The End of Cinema and the Future of Cinema Studies,” I’ll be giving a presentation called “The Future of Cinema and the End of Cinema Studies“.
As part of a tribute to the late (and great) German film critic Frieda Grafe, I wrote an essay about Billy Wilder’s Avanti!, one of her favorite films, and introduced a screening of it at the Arsenal in Berlin on April 28. And my essay on Lubitsch and Wilder was recently translated into Portuguese for a Brazilian Wilder retrospective held in Sao Paulo.
I taught a three-day lecture course on Charlie Chaplin, concentrating basically on the features, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil (my first trip to that country) from August 16 through 18, 2012. That same month, I was interviewed by the Portuguese web site À Pala de Walsh, and an English version of their interview can be accessed here. Mid-December 2012: This interview was just awarded a prize in Lisbon for best interview in the 3rd Annual TCN Blog Awards.
After a few years’ absence in both cases, I attended both the Toronto film festival (September 6-16) and the Viennale (October 28 — November 7) in the fall of 2012, the latter as president of the FIPRESCI jury. (We gave our prize to Margaret, and a brief article of mine about it is now on FIPRESCI’s web site, along with a briefer account of the festival itself.) At the former, I introduced a screening of a restored version of Ritwik Ghatak’s The Cloud-Capped Star on September 10, and I’ve written some coverage of the latter for Film Comment, both for its web site (posted on November 17) and for the January-February 2013 issue, which also includes my article about Mark Cousins’ extended series The Story of Film.
From September 19 through November 14, 2012, I taught World Cinema of the 1960s on Wednesday evenings at the University of Chicago’s Graham School of Liberal and Professional Studies.
A few more Chicago gigs in 2012: On October 4, 6 PM, I introduced a screening of two films by Peter Thompson at Columbia College, and on October 7, 5 PM, I introduced a screening of Vera Chytilova’s DAISIES at the Siskel Film Center and led a discussion after the screening. I did the same thing at an 8:30 PM screening of YOU GOT TO MOVE, Lucy Massie Phenix and Veronica Selver’s documentary about Highlander Folk School, at Cinema Borealis on November 11. And I led a discussion after a 35mm screening of Full Metal Jacket at Facets Multimedia at 11 a.m. on Sunday, November 18. 2012.
Kevin B. Lee has made a short video of me walking and talking about Satantango, commissioned by Sight and Sound, that you can access here; more recently, in Fall 2014, we collaborated on a video about Rivette’s Out 1, Out 1 Solitaire, commissioned by the Melbourne International Film Festival, the second chapter in a series of videos. On September 18, 2012, Kevin began to post a roundtable discussion about Sight and Sound’s recently ten-best lists that I participated in, along with Nicole Brenez, David Jenkins, and Dan Sallitt. (For a second installment of this, go here.) More recently, I’ve contributed lists of “five favorite” films of 2012 for their January 2013 issue, and “five favorite DVDs” for their February 2013 issue.
On April 13, 2012, I spoke on a panel about “tastemaking” at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
On April 20, I introduced a 35-millimeter print of Edgar Morin and Jean Rouch’s CHRONICLE OF A SUMMER at Northwestern’s Block Films and lead a discussion after the screening.
On April 28-29, I attended a conference at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, “World Cinema, Global Networks,” and spoke on the second day about “Changing Definitions of Global Film Culture”. (Below is a photo from the closing-night party a few hours later, with Tami Williams, one of the co-organizers of the conference, along with Elena Gorfinkel and Patrice Petro.)
I attended the UR & VCR Symposium on French Film (March 26-28, 2012), and then stayed on in Richmond, Virginia (where I taught at VCU for two semesters in 2011-2012) to attend the French Film Festival from March 29 through April 1 — the 20th edition of this festival, and, I’m happy to say, the third year in a row that I attended.
A few days later, April 7-9, I returned to Nashville to speak at the Belcourt Theater, this time about Robert Bresson and AU HASARD BALTHAZAR on April 8, and on the following day to Jennifer Fay’s students at Vanderbilt.
Towards the end of October, 2011, I gave a couple of lengthy lectures in Brussels (October 27) and Gent (October 28). Videos of my two lectures (as well as an earlier lecture by Adrian Martin and a subsequent lecture by Jacques Rancière, both of them also lengthy) can be accessed here, on the website diagonal thoughts. Included in the first of my lectures is a 45-minute experimental film by Peter Bull (1978) that I “starred” in, The Two-Backed Beast, or The Critic Makes the Film. (Many thanks to Ehsan Khoshbakht for providing the above still from it, on his own web site. For more information about Ehsan’s groundbreaking work, go here; and for the opening sequence of The Two-Backed Beast, which runs for just under three minutes, go here.)
In the 80th issue of Trafic, entitled “20 ans, 20 films,” tied to its 20th anniversary, I have a new article about A.I. Artificial Intelligence, a film that I presented at Paris’s Centre Pompidou on January 12, 2012. (A friend who was present, Elly Eth, taped my introduction, which can be found here.) The same article, in English, appears in the Spring 2012 issue of Film Quarterly. Coincidentally, the Cinémathèque Française was launching a Steven Spielberg retrospective around the same time I was in Paris introducing A.I., and although I had neither the time nor the inclination to attend any of it during my week in Paris — my only visit to the Cinémathèque was to attend a program of mainly recent shorts by Jean-Marie Straub — this coincidence led to Cahiers du Cinéma’s Charlotte Garson interviewing me about Spielberg. This interview isn’t mentioned in their table of contents and isn’t available online, but it occupies page 19 of their February issue (no. 675).
Ten days later, on January 21, 2012, at 7 pm, I presented Anna Karina’s rarely screened first feature as a director, Vivre Ensemble/Living Together (1973) [see above still], at Toronto’s Lightbox, as part of a series celebrating the Cannes Film Festival’s La Semaine de la Critique. Seeing it again for the first time in almost four decades, I found it fascinating — very brave, very personal, and also very, very 1973, in quite illuminating ways.
On January 20, 2012, I also appeared on a panel about film criticism held at the Lightbox, along with local film critics Peter Howell and Liam Lacey and Positif critic Fabien Gaffez, all three fellow participants in the Semaine de la Critique series. This entire event can now be accessed on video, here.
On October 6, 2011, I flew to Bloomington to participate in an extended Pedro Costa event at Indiana University at which Pedro was present. (I was around for two days, about two-thirds of the event.)
At Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, I gave a couple of lectures on October 3, 2011, at the invitation of Linda Ehrlich — on Orson Welles (for a class of Linda’s), and Warsaw Bridge (at the Cleveland Cinematheque), after screening La Nuit du carrefour for a few people the previous day. Beginning on October 5, back in Chicago, I started teaching a course every Wednesday night at the University of Chicago’s Graham School of Liberal and Professional Studies, World Cinema of the 1940s, that lasted for eight consecutive weeks, starting with Christmas in July and ending with Spring in a Small Town.
I was president of the Kuxta/New Directors Award Jury at the San Sebastian International Film Festival (September 16-24, 2011), and you can probably get a good idea of how much my cojurors (Lucía Casani, Jessica Hausner, Paz Lázaro, and Un-Seong Yoo) and I enjoyed the experience from the above photo, taken at the closing-night party. (For a 16-minute interview with me taped at the festival, go here; for another interview, just under five minutes, go here.) I also wrote a long piece about Jacques Demy for the retrospective catalogue at that festival.
I was interviewed about my most recent book for a Santa Barbara FM radio station. The interview was broadcast on Sunday, February 20, 2011, at 1 pm Santa Barbara time, and I believe one can access the program here….More recently, Michael Guillen interviewed me for his blog, The Evening Class, as part of his ongoing project, “The Disposable and the Discontinuous: Bay Area Film Culture in Transition”. A longer and more general version of the interview has just [in August 2011] appeared in Film International, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 84-93.
Between February 24 and March 3, 2011, I served as president of the International Feature Film Competition Jury of a new film festival in Mexico City, FICUNAM (The National Autonomous University of Mexico International Film Festival). At the same event, I participated on a panel devoted to Rafi Pitts’ new Iranian feature, The Hunter, which I just wrote about for the Spring 2011 issue of Cinema Scope (see above).
Just after my return from Mexico, on March 5, I served on another panel, about film criticism, held at Washington’s National Gallery, along with Geary Peary and David Sterritt and Geary’s documentary about American film criticism, For the Love of Movies. One can listen to a podcast of this this event here.
On April 22 and 23, 2011, I attended a very enjoyable conference given at Northwestern University’s Block Museum in Evanston, “Illuminating the Shadows: Film Criticism in Focus,” where I participated in two panels and presented Allan Sekula and Noël Burch’s film The Forgotten Space to an appreciative audience on the second day — a film I’ve recently written about for Moving Image Source. (A Spanish translation of a slightly edited version of this article has also appeared in a booklet about the film.) All the panels at the conference, incidentally, can be accessed here.
On May at 5 pm, I appeared on a Filming Architecture panel at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago. On May 30, I spoke about Double Indemnity (both the novel and the film) at the Lightbox in Toronto.
I taught film at the art history department at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond during the fall 2010 and spring 2011 semesters. During fall semester, I taught a film theory and film criticism course for undergraduates and a film criticism workshop for graduate students; in the spring I taught World Cinema of the 1950s and World Cinema of the 1960s. On April 9, 2011 at 10:30 am, at the James River Film Festival in Richmond, I presented a free screening of Francoise Romand’s Mix-up, one of my favorite documentaries, to a very appreciative audience, and we had a good discussion about it afterwards.
On January 14, 2011 at 7 PM, at the University of Chicago’s Doc Films, Nathan Rabin and I introduced a screening of Elaine May’s Ishtar and then discussed the film afterwards, an event organized by the Seminary Co-op Bookstore in relation to our respective books, My Year of Flops and Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia.
Among my other trips over the past couple of years have been one to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. to appear on a panel after a screening of Hai Ninh’s lovely 1974 The Little Girl of Hanoi (a film so scarce that I can’t find a still on the Internet), one to Toronto (to speak on another panel, this one about my new book, at York University, and also attend a graduate seminar there, on October 6 and 7, 2010), one to Vienna (October 23-29) to attend the Viennale, and short visits to the tail end of the Savannah Film Festival (November 5-6), to speak about film criticism, and to the St. Louis International Film Festival (November 12-15), to head the jury for their New Filmmakers Forum.
With the help, initiative, and encouragement of my new colleagues Victoria Holly Frances Scott and Eric Han, I cofounded the Tih Minh Ciné-Club, an “informal group which met every Wednesday at 8:00 pm in The Cinema Studio, Room 520 on the 5th floor of the Pollak Building, 325 N Harrison Street, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond VA.” The first official program, on September 15, 2010, was Gertrud; others since then included Casa de Lava, Welcome, Mr. Marshall!, the uncensored version of Baby Face, Mr. Zhao, Paper Soldier, Johnny Guitar, A King in New York, A Tale of the Wind, Stars in My Crown, The Silence Before Bach, and Foolish Wives.
On the weekend of March 11-13, 2011, I was in Nashville speaking at a series of films about the South, specifically The Phenix City Story. And the same week, I did the cover story for the Nashville Scene about the series as a whole.
On July 22-25, 2010, I attended a very exciting and energetic Critics’ Week in Córdoba (Argentina), where, thanks to the help of my interpreters, I managed to participate in all the discussions despite my almost nonexistent Spanish. Below are (a) a photograph of Roger interviewing me for his local TV show, taken by Flavia de la Fuente, who has given very detailed and profusely illustrated daily reports of the weekend (in Spanish) here, at her and Quintín’s blog, and (b) a photo by Ciruja Di Pietro of my two-day seminar, where I’m flanked by my tireless interpreters, Quintín and DiegoLerer (go here for Diego’s own blog and account of the weekend, again in Spanish), who worked in relay. (At Quintín’s preceding two-day seminar, Roger and Diego also furnished me with a sentence-by-sentence rundown of virtually everything that was being said — a remarkable feat.) Gonzolo Maza from Chile, who had also planned to join us, regrettably had to cancel for personal reasons at the last moment.
On July 10, at a screening of Fahrenheit 451 held at Chicago’s Gene Siskel Film Center sponsored by Stop Smiling, Sam Weller and I conducted a brief but very enjoyable live interview with Ray Bradbury via Skype.
For my month-long series at the Austrian Film Museum in Fall 2009, “The Unquiet American: Transgressive Comedies from the U.S.,” which was also a sidebar at the Viennale later the same month, I held a press conference and spoke at some of the first programs in the series on October 5-9. I’m sorry that my teaching schedule in Scotland (see below) precluded attending the Viennale, but at least I was around to help launch the series beforehand. I prepared a book-length (184-page) bilingual catalogue for this retrospective, all of it written by me, with reprinted articles and capsules as well as new material, which is now available from both the Film Museum and the Viennale. (It can also be ordered from German Amazon here for about 20 Euros plus postage — a rather steep price, although this is a handsome, coffee-table-size volume.) And if you speak German and want to access an Austrian TV report about this retrospective, including an interview with me, you can do so here. (Richard Porton, one of the editors at Cineaste, was kind enough to cite this catalogue in Moving Image Source’s end-of-the-year feature.)
After less than a week of R & R back in Chicago, I flew back to Europe again to teach at the Centre for Film Studies at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, from October 19 through November 7, 2009. Apart from half a dozen classes I taught and/or lectures I gave there (see photos above, the second with Dina Iordinova, the director of their Film Studies program), I also gave lectures at the University of Kent in Canterbury on October 29 and at the University of Glasgow on November 4.
On December 1, 2009, I gave a lecture at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond similar to the ones I gave in the U.K. in St. Andrews, Canterbury, and Glasgow, and one I gave on the following day at Chicago’s Newberry Library.
On January 18-24, 2010, I attended the Tromsø International Film Festival, the largest film festival in Norway, where I introduced Peter von Bagh’s Helsinki, Forever (a film I selected), spoke about Orson Welles and on a panel about film festivals, and also spoke about film criticism to a gathering of Norwegian film critics.
For those who read French and might be interested, I was interviewed by the French weekly Les Inrockuptibles (also known as Les Inrocks) in 1997, and this interview is available here.
When I was still working at the Chicago Reader, I was interviewed for Citizen 3.0, a feature-length documentary about “copyright, creativity, and contemporary culture” by Leigh and Jason Moorfoot that can be accessed here.
I’m proud to be featured, along with many others, in the cast of a A Woman Apart, a documentary in progress by Larry Kamerman about my friend Jackie Raynal, a trailer for which can be seen here.
About a week before the fateful stolen election in Iran in June 2009, some film students in Tehran asked if they could interview me in Chicago via Skype, and here is a Tehran-based image of our encounter. Seated at my left is Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa, who was translating.