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Thanks to Henri Langlois: A Centennial Tribute

June 11, 2015 - July 26, 2015


The French film archivist and cinephile Henri Langlois (1914–1977) is a heroic and colorful figure in the history of cinema. As the cofounder of La Cinémathèque française in Paris and as a champion of film culture, he inspired the international cinematheque movement. Indeed, Langlois’s visits to Berkeley in the 1960s and 1970s greatly informed the vision of the Pacific Film Archive, particularly the way our institution exhibits, collects, and makes information about film history available to the public. Today, BAM/PFA’s film department remains true to that original model inspired by Henri Langlois, over forty years ago.

Summer 2015 brings a period of change for our film programs at BAM/PFA. This is our final season in the temporary PFA Theater, which we have occupied since 2000. What could be a more fitting tribute at this time of transition than this series, which celebrates aesthetic achievements in cinema, featuring many films that Langlois helped save for future generations of viewers? This eclectic series presents works that contributed to the development of French silent cinema as well as some by Langlois’s favorite auteurs (Tod Browning, Ernst Lubitsch, Jean Renoir, Erich von Stroheim). Langlois advocated for a cinema that explores the aesthetic possibility of film language and the use of cinema as a means of resistance, principles that we continue to champion as we move ahead into our future.

Susan Oxtoby, Senior Film Curator

Thursday, June 11, 2015
7:30 p.m. Henri Langlois Centennial Tribute: Opening Program
Introduced by Sheldon Renan and Tom Luddy. Judith Rosenberg on piano. A collection of shorts on the legendary Langlois, as well as the 1918 Italian short La Tosca, a lost film found by Langlois in the BAM/PFA Collection. Titles include Langlois (1970), Chit Chat with Henri Langlois (1975), and La Cinémathèque française (1962). (94 mins)

Friday, June 12, 2015
7:00 p.m. Dimitri Kirsanoff & Nadia Sibirskaïa Collaborations
Dmitri Kirsanoff (France, 1924/1928). Imported Prints! Judith Rosenberg on piano. Two rare works from the great silent-era director Dimitri Kirsanoff: the evocative portrait of two young sisters, Ménilmontant, and Autumn Mists, a short about a melancholy soul. (54 mins)

Saturday, June 13, 2015
6:30 p.m. Forbidden Paradise
Ernst Lubitsch (US, 1924). Imported Print! Judith Rosenberg on piano. Lubitsch teams with his favorite muse, the great actress Pola Negri, for this comedy inspired by the amorous intrigue surrounding Catherine the Great of Russia. Adolphe Menjou costars. (78 mins)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015
7:30 p.m. Lumière d'été
Jean Grémillon (France, 1943). Imported Print! A remote mountain inn is the setting for a class-crossed love affair split between working class and idle rich. Coscripted by Jacques Prévert, it is acclaimed as one of the greatest French films made during the German Occupation. Followed by excerpts from Parlons cinema—à propos du cinéma dans la résistance. (120 mins)

Friday, June 19, 2015
7:00 p.m. The Steel Beast
Willy Otto Zielke (Germany, 1935). Imported Print! Commissioned to celebrate the anniversary of a rail line in 1935, this film by great German photographer Willy Otto Zielke is a daring collage of abstractions, rhythms, and historical commentary, and was immediately banned by the Nazis. (75 mins)

Friday, June 26, 2015
7:00 p.m. Early Films by Abel Gance
Abel Gance (France, 1915/1916). 35mm Restored Prints! Judith Rosenberg on piano. Two early and rare shorts, The Madness of Doctor Tube and The Deadly Gases, that demonstrate the fledgling skills of the director who would later make one of the silent era’s greatest epics, Napoleon. (83 mins)

Friday, July 3, 2015
7:00 p.m. The Unknown
Tod Browning (US, 1927). Judith Rosenberg on piano. A circus performer has his arms amputated to satisfy his lover’s strange desires in Tod Browning’s shocking tale of madness and love, starring Lon Chaney and Joan Crawford. (66 mins)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015
7:30 p.m. Nana
Jean Renoir (France, 1926). Imported Print! Judith Rosenberg on piano. An actress turns courtesan to make ends meet during Europe’s decadent Second Empire in Renoir’s first full-length vehicle for his wife, Catherine Hessling. Renoir: “My first film worth talking about.” (150 mins)

Saturday, July 11, 2015
6:30 p.m. Prix de beauté
Augusto Genina (France, 1930). Imported Print! Judith Rosenberg on piano. The last major role for silent-era beauty Louise Brooks (Pandora’s Box) was as a Parisian typist who wins a beauty contest and a movie contract, only to face the violent disapproval of her husband. (108 mins)

Saturday, July 18, 2015
6:30 p.m. La chienne
Jean Renoir (France, 1931). Imported Print! Michel Simon is an unhappily married middle-aged bank clerk whose only passion in life is painting, until he becomes obsessed with a prostitute. Remade by Fritz Lang as Scarlet Street, Renoir’s original is infused with a sadomasochistic sexuality that is both heightened and tempered by Renoir's camera. (100 mins)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015
7:30 p.m. Foolish Wives
Erich von Stroheim (US, 1922) Judith Rosenberg on piano. Monte Carlo provides the suitably decadent setting for von Stroheim’s look at money, temptation, and marriage. “Never was a film more revolutionary” (Langlois). (108 mins)

Friday, July 24, 2015
8:50 p.m. Queen Kelly
Erich von Stroheim (US, 1931). In a debauched Central European kingdom, a mad queen must wed a notorious libertine, who instead falls for a young nun (Gloria Swanson). One of the most infamous unfinished film maudits in history, and praised as Erich von Stroheim’s masterpiece. (74 mins)

Sunday, July 26, 2015
5:00 p.m. Georges Méliès Shorts
Georges Méliès (France, 1897–1906). Digital Restorations! Judith Rosenberg on piano. The genius shorts of the father of cinema, many hand-painted and restored by La Cinémathèque française in 2013 with the Éclair Group. (58 mins)

Based on Grâce à Henri Langlois, a touring exhibition originated by La Cinémathèque française (Paris), curated by Samantha Leroy. Our deepest thanks to Director General Serge Toubiana and the staff of La Cinémathèque française, who have made available many archival prints and digital restorations for this centennial tribute. BAM/PFA also wishes to thank the French Cultural Services San Francisco, Les Films du Jeudi, SNC, and Kathy Brew.