F.I.L.M. Series

Scott MacDonald


Unless otherwise indicated, events are scheduled for Sunday afternoons at 2:00 in the Bradford Auditorium—Room 125, in the Kirner-Johnson Building


9/18:    The Sterile Cuckoo (1969), directed by Alan J. Pakula and starring Liza Minnelli; it’s the only commercial feature narrative film shot on and around the Hamilton Campus.

This poignant, bitter-sweet drama was adapted from the book of the same name by John Nichols (Hamilton ’62) and was the first film directed by Alan J. Pakula (To Kill a Mockingbird, All the President’s Men, Sophie’s Choice…). “Pookie” Adams was a breakthrough role for Minnelli, who was nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Cuckoo was also nominated for Best Music and—go figure!—Best Song). We’ll be showing the 16mm print donated to Hamilton by David Shepard (Hamilton ‘62), a leading figure in film preservation. Veterans of the Hamilton shoot will be present to share their memories.

Wondering how campus life felt back in the day? Here you go!


9/25:    Penny Lane, in person, with Nuts! (2016)

New Yorker, June 27th: “The astonishments of this documentary are as much in the telling as in the story told. The filmmaker Penny Lane [her real name!] latches on to an oddball of history—Dr. John Romulus Brinkley who, in Kansas in 1917, successfully treated impotence with goat-testicle implants—and follows his career through deep and distant strains of modern society. Soon famous, and with his treatment greatly in demand, Brinkley spread his surgical gospel—and built and operated the country’s most powerful radio station to do so. The medical establishment’s skepticism, the judicial consequences, and Brinkley’s audacious foray into electoral politics come into play as well; Lane builds a grandly picaresque tale about the power of celebrity in the age of modern media, and she tells it with diabolical glee. Her extraordinary archival research…respores the past to a vital immediacy.”


10/30:  Gustav Deutsch and Hanna Schimek present Shirley: Visions of Reality (2013)

For years Viennese artists Gustav Deutsch and Hanna Schimek studied the work and the biography of canonical American painter Edward Hopper in order to produce one of the more unusual and astonishing feature films of recent years: Shirley: Visions of Reality. Shirley is a cine-trompe l’oeil that brings a series of Hopper paintings to cinematic life. Using evocations of the lives of Hopper and his wife, painter Josephine Nivison (when she modeled for him, they sometimes called her “Shirley”), and a touch of influence from John Dos Passos’s epic trilogy, USA, create a decades long narrative about Shirley’s adjustments to changes in American culture from the late Twenties to the early Sixties.

If you know Hopper’s paintings, you may not believe your eyes!


11/6:    The Alloy Orchestra performs with Variety (1925), directed by E.A. Dupont

The Alloy Orchestra (The best in the world at accompanying silent film”—Roger Ebert) returns to present their new score for the classic German melodrama, Variety (aka Jealousy and Vaudeville), starring Emil Jannings and Lya de Putti, with cinematography by Karl Freund, directed by E.A. Dupont. “Director Dupont’s flashy tale of revenge, jealousy and murder made the entire world go mad for the unchained camera (courtesy of cinematographer Karl Freund) and the intense performance of Emil Jannings. Sliced to ribbons by the censors upon its initial release Variety has recently been restored… Variety has probably not looked this good since its original release nine decades ago—Fritzi Kramer, Movies Silently.

Alloy is Terry Donahue (accordion, musical saw, junk), Roger Miller (keyboards), and Ken Winokur (clarinet and percussion).


11/13:  Scott MacDonald presents “Film and Photography Looking at Each Other”

Cinema is the child of photography, and like all children its DNA reflects the DNA of its parent—though lived experience reveals a range of parent-child interrelationships. This program focuses on a set of films that depend upon still photography and in some instances explore the interrelationships between photography and cinematography. The program includes the influential classic sci-fi film La Jetée (1962) by Chris Marker, Disappearing Music for Face (1964) by Chieko Shiomi, (nostalgia) (1971) by Hollis Frampton, Production Stills (1970) by Morgan Fisher, and Pasadena Freeway Stills (1974) by Gary Beydler.  Total program, including discussion, 2 hours.


12/4:    Robb Moss, in person, with Containment (2015)

Deep beneath Carlsbad, New Mexico, lies the world’s only licensed, operating radioactive waste site. Savior of the town? Bulwark against global warming? Or a nuclear gamble for 10,000 years? Veteran documentary filmmaker Robb Moss teams up with scientist Peter Galison (Professor of the History of Science at Harvard, MacArthur and Guggenheim fellow) to explore America’s ongoing, but increasingly invisible issue with the disposition of nuclear waste. Moss is currently Chair of Harvard’s Department of Visual and Environmental Studies. He has made landmark personal documentaries (Riverdogs, The Same River Twice) and serves annually as creative advisor for Sundance Doc/Edit labs.