ArtsScreen

With its 12th season, Calgary Cinematheque continues to get conversations started with film experiences for all

There are people who use the word “fall” and those who use the word “autumn.”

And many equate that with those who use the words “films” or “movies” and those who choose “cinema.”

People think one is inherently more high-brow (read: pretentious), while the other is more, well, relatable and approachable.

It’s that kind of pre-, possibly, misconception that Jennifer Cecconi, president of the Calgary Cinematheque Society, thinks the organization has had to battle in bringing some of the most challenging, interesting, exciting, smart and, yes, entertaining films to the city’s screens over the past 12 years.

“Because we’re known as the Cinematheque, people think, ‘Oh well, it’s really intellectual,’ and not all of the films are to be honest. I mean, heck, Duck Soup is not necessarily an intellectual film,” she says jokingly about that brilliant, 1933 Marx Brothers’ classic screens as Cinematheque’s “seasonal celebration film,” Dec. 20 at the Globe Cinema.

It’s one of several one-offs and special presentations dotted throughout Cinematheque’s 2018/19 schedule, which kicked off in October and stretches into April, with most taking place on Thursday nights.

Much of the rest of the season is programmed under four main series categories: the Masters series, Focus series, Spotlight and Contemporary World Cinema.

This year’s Masters features the films of British auteur Ken Russell, and has already seen screenings of Women In Love and The Devils, with other films to come being Altered States (Nov. 8 at The Plaza), Mahler (Nov. 15 at the Globe Cinema) and Tommy (Dec. 6 at the Globe).

“Some people love him, some people hate him,” says Cecconi, “but his films are always a conversation starter.”

On the Focus side of things, this year they’ve chosen to spotlight musicals from around the world, including some from such countries as Hong Kong, Egypt, Japan and Indonesia.

“Our Focus on world musicals is anything but Hollywood or Bollywood,” she says. “And I love musicals so I’m really excited to see these films …

“It’s quite the mix and very different genres, each and every one of them.”

That series kicks off Nov. 22 with a Plaza screening of Hong Kong filmmaker Johnnie To’s acclaimed 2015 film Office, starring Chow Yun-fat and Sylvia Chang.

The Spotlight this year is on actor Isabelle Huppert and features screenings of films from her almost 50-year career, including Loulou (Jan. 24, 2019 at the Globe), The Piano Teacher (Feb. 14, 2019, Globe), Abuse of Weakness (Feb. 21, 2019, Plaza), The Lacemaker (March 7, 2019, Plaza), Tip Top (March 14, 2019, Globe) and La Ceremonie (March 21, 2019, Globe).

The final series is the catch-all Contemporary World category, which, will be fully announced in the coming weeks, and they’re “the latest films from around the world that played Cannes or Berlin” Cecconi says.

The first one shown on Nov. 1 was Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof’s A Man of Integrity.

“We finalized our titles literally a month ago, so it’s as fresh as fresh can be. Some of them are quite challenging and some of them — well, they’re all spectacular, to be honest,” she says and laughs

Outside of the main series, there are, again, one-offs and even a mini Library Screening series, which will feature four free films at the new Central Library, including a special Remembrance Day event Sunday, Nov. 11 which will see a showing of the 1930 picture All Quiet on the Western Front.

American filmmaker Lewis Milestone’s Academy Award-winning Best Picture and Director work, which was also banned by the Nazi government, is regarded as one of the most influential war films.

“Each of those films have a lecture before them, just a little 10- or 15-minute talk,” she says of the series, acknowledging she has the honours on Sunday due to the fact that she studied military history and taught it when she was an educator.

“It’s merging my passions — my actual master’s degree is on the impact of Hollywood history on students’ understanding of history, so that’s what I’ll be talking about the impact of film on collective memory.”

Cecconi hopes the screening will, like any other the organization does, cause further discussion and conversation, while at the same time being true to Cinematheque’s real purpose — making filmgoing a unique yet accessible communal experience that may open your eyes and mind to films, movies and cinema that you couldn’t get elsewhere.

“All of the films we’re bringing are ones you can’t generally rent on iTunes or watch on Netflix or are going to come to a major cinema,” she says.

“For us, our drive is to not just curate spectacular cinema, but to also expose people to film that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to connect with.”

Calgary Cinematheque Society’s current season runs until April. For tickets and the complete schedule of events, please go to http://calgarycinema.org/schedule/.

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