2018 Spring Cinema Series

Wednesday nights in the Carole L. Ellis Auditorium
SRJC Petaluma Campus, 680 Sonoma Mountain Parkway
Optional pre-film lecture at 6pm
Film screening at 7pm
Post-screening discussion until 10pm


Giuseppe Tornatore, 1988, Italy

The spring season opens with Giuseppe Tornatore’s beloved classic Cinema Paradiso, the story of a young Sicilian boy’s journey into the motion picture business and the historic movie house and projectionist that inspired him. This enchanting and beautifully designed film also chronicles our multi-generational love affair with movies and reminds us that even as times change, powerful storytelling will continue to resonate with the human heart. Winner of Best Foreign Language Film at the 1990 Academy Awards. 123 minutes.

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Martin McDonagh, 2017, USA

After months without a suspect in her daughter’s murder case, Mildred Hayes (Academy Award winner Frances McDormand) makes a bold move and confronts the town’s revered chief of police William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) with three controversial billboards. In a series of unexpected twists and turns, the town soon erupts in chaos as writer/director Martin McDonagh expertly navigates between dark comedy and searing drama. Winner of 4 Golden Globes including Best Motion Picture (Drama), Best Actress (McDormand), Best Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell), and Best Screenplay. Nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Actress, Supporting Actor, Screenplay, Editing, and Score. 115 minutes.

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Special Valentine’s Day Program
February 14: UNLEASHED

Finn Taylor, 2017, USA 

Romantic comedy mixes with magical realism in Finn Taylor’s immensely entertaining San Francisco-based indie hit. When a rare cosmic event turns App Designer Emma’s (Kate Miccuci) dog and cat into her two perfect guys, she is forced to reevaluate her outlook on dating, trust, and men. Packed with both laughs and surprises, the film plays with our conceptions of both gender and our furry friends. Winner of the Audience Award for Best US Independent Feature at the 2016 Mill Valley Film Festival. 96 minutes. Writer/director Finn Taylor will participate in an on-stage interview at 6pm and answer questions following the film.

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February 21: LADY BIRD

Greta Gerwig, 2017, USA 

In Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut, Christine “Lady Bird” MacPherson (Academy Award Winner Saoirse Ronan) is a high school senior from the “wrong side of the tracks.” She longs for adventure, sophistication, and opportunity, but finds none of that in her Sacramento Catholic high school. Lady Bird is an affecting look at the relationships that shape us, the beliefs that define us, and the unmatched beauty of a place called home. Winner of 2 Golden Globes including Best Motion Picture (Comedy) and Best Actress (Ronan). Nominated for 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Actress, Supporting Actress, Director, and Screenplay. 94 minutes.

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Guillermo del Toro, 2017, USA/Canada

Master storyteller Guillermo del Toro conjures up this strange adult fairy tale set against the backdrop of Cold War era America.  When lonely cleaning lady Elisa (Sally Hawkins) discovers a hidden injustice in a high-security government laboratory she is compelled to take action against all the odds. Part Beauty and the Beast, part Creature from the Black Lagoon, the film pays homage to the monster movies of yesteryear. Also starring Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer, and Richard Jenkins. Winner of 2 Golden Globes including Best Director and Best Original Score. Nominated for 13 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Director, Screenplay, Production Design, Cinematography, Editing, Sound, and Score. 123 minutes.

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Billy Wilder 1960, USA

Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon star in Billy Wilder’s 1960 comedy about C.C. Baxter, an ambitious office worker who consents to letting the management use his apartment for extramarital trysts. With love and money at stake, interests soon diverge forcing C.C. to reassess the bargain he made at the risk of losing it all. Nominated for ten Oscars, the film won Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Art Direction, and Editing. 125 minutes.

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March 14:  CITY OF GOD

Fernando Meirelles & Kátia Lund, 2002, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro is at once golden and gorgeous as well as brutal and cruel in this multi-generational tale of drugs, power, and survival. Based on actual events within the Rio slums and cast almost entirely with local non-actors, this powerful, fast-paced film earned four Academy Award nominations for writing, directing, editing, and art direction. 130 minutes.

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Ivo Marloh, 2017, Mongolia/South Africa

Each year dozens of international riders converge in Mongolia for the longest and toughest horse race in the world, the Mongol Derby. Riders travel 1000 kilometers on semi-wild horses through the harsh terrain of the Mongolian steppe, desert, and mountain ranges. Ivo Marloh’s compelling and exhilarating competition doc chronicles the excruciating toll it takes on its competitors as they embark on the most challenging and transformative experience of their lives. The film has picked up a number of top festival prizes both in US and abroad. 90 minutes. Writer/director Ivo Marloh will participate in an on-stage interview at 6pm and answer questions following the film.

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Nicolas Roeg, 1973, UK/Italy 

Grieving parents John and Laura Baxter (Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie) pursue work in Venice to assist in the restoration of an old church while recovering from the loss of their young daughter. But when hauntings and murder befall the city, Laura enlists the aid of a blind psychic to unlock hidden mysteries from the past. Gorgeously shot in the Venetian fog, the film is both a supernatural thriller and an eerie, unpredictable psychodrama. Winner of Best Cinematography at the British Academy Awards. 110 minutes. Film scholar Dr. Alessandro Pirolini will offer a special introduction to the film.

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Pat Collins, 2017, Ireland

Acclaimed filmmaker Pat Collins offers a stunningly original portrait of legendary Irish folk singer Joe Heaney in this beautifully designed black and white biopic. Blending traditional narrative episodes, historic documentary footage, and extraordinary musical performances, the film celebrates Irish working class traditions while exploring themes of history, music, and migration. The film is Ireland’s official entry to the Motion Picture Academy for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2018 Oscars. 104 minutes.

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Tod Browning, 1925 & 1927, USA

Sharing a predilection for weird and strange tales of obsessed and tormented outsiders, this Tod Browning and Lon Chaney double bill reflects the 10 extraordinary collaborations the duo made together between 1919 and 1929. In The Unholy Three, three disgruntled circus performers — a ventriloquist (Chaney), a strong man, and a dwarf — embark on a life of crime together. In The Unknown, we follow Alonzo (Chaney), an armless knife thrower, as he courts Nanon (Joan Crawford), his beautiful assistant and the daughter of the circus owner. Compelling, perverse, and made in an Expressionist style, the films are fascinating examples of silent suspense thrillers. The Unholy Three will screen at 6pm (86 minutes) and The Unknown will screen at 8pm (50 minutes). Each film will feature a short introduction with an intermission in between. Featuring live piano accompaniment by Frederick Hodges.

 April 25:  MOTHER!

Darren Aronofsky, 2017, USA

A couple’s relationship is tested when uninvited guests show up at their home and refuse to leave. In perhaps the most audacious and artistically ambitious film of the year, Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream) offers up this bold and wholly original allegory about love, devotion, and ultimate sacrifice. Enigmatic and intensely provocative, the film is a cacophony of images, sounds, and ideas that challenges its audience to work hard and endure. Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, and Michelle Pfeiffer. 121 minutes.

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David Lowery, 2017, USA

David Lowery’s haunting and hypnotic meditation on love, loss, and the enormity of existence follows a recently deceased, white-sheeted ghost who returns home to try to reconnect with his bereft wife. Unbound by time, but trapped in space and confined to silence, the ghost forces us to reflect on the meaning of existence in original and unexpected ways. An official selection of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, the film stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara. 86 min.

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Agnès Varda and JR, 2017, France

This charming and delightful documentary features master filmmaker Agnès Varda and French artist and photographer JR as they travel through rural France making public art with the local people. What emerges is a beautiful and heartfelt exploration of people, places, art, and the transitory nature of all things. Winner of the Best Documentary Prize at 2017 Cannes Film Festival and the People’s Choice Award at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. Nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 2018 Academy Awards. 89 minutes.

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Hal Ashby, 1971, USA

When Harold (Bud Cort), a teenager obsessed with death, meets 79-year-old Maude (Ruth Gordon) at a funeral, they embark on a friendship that will change Harold’s worldview forever. Featuring a memorable Cat Stevens score, this exquisitely designed dark comedy has become a cult sensation and exemplifies the best of 1970s cinema. 91 minutes.

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