The movie theater has always been a space of wonder and anxiety. Since the inception of the cinema, audiences have enjoyed the collective experience of viewing a film on the big screen, but fears of contagion and disease have undercut that pleasure since the cinema’s earliest years. In our current moment, closures of international festivals and competition with streaming platforms have significantly altered the film industry. The Carsey-Wolf Center’s “Big Screen” series at the Pollock Theater will explore this tension as we welcome cinemagoers back to the theater. The series will spotlight films made to be seen on the big screen, including works that are almost never seen in North America (Satyajit Ray), as well as classical Hollywood films (featuring Bette Davis) and early slapstick comedy (Buster Keaton and more). This series will recall those early cinemagoers who first marveled at early moving pictures or new technologies like Cinerama and CinemaScope, and invite conversations with scholars and filmmakers about their varied, personal, and unexpected experiences with the big screen.
Television has traditionally been understood through national frameworks, corresponding to national networks of television distribution. The Carsey-Wolf Center series “Global TV” explores the way some contemporary television programs and formats have become unmoored from their national contexts of production and distribution. The series will spotlight a number of recent shows that showcase this phenomenon, including a French heist caper, a South African vigilante thriller, and a crime drama set at the epicenter of political and social change in twenties Berlin; each of these shows both transcends and is rooted in its national context and culture. The events in the series will examine how and why a particular program might travel and take hold with an international audience, addressing questions about the role of contemporary streaming services and global flows of creative labor.
Borders are at once physical and imaginary, embedded on the ground, imposed upon populations, and played out across the sea. The Carsey-Wolf Center’s spring 2021 public programming series explores borders, borderlands, and frontiers as they are cinematically, politically, technologically, and archivally mediated. The series engages with a range of borders: the US-Mexico border, an ICE detention center in Florida, the aqueous borders across which migrants journey to Europe, and the changeable border that separates India and Bangladesh. The series interrogates different geographical terrains and forms of crossing and detainment in an effort to encourage viewers to embark on an intellectual journey of their own. Through films and media strategies that themselves traverse the boundaries between narrative and documentary, this series explores the messy, evolutionary character of all borders, approaching them as places—both embodied and discursive—where new social relations are worked out, and where emerging struggles become legible.
Throughout film history and across the globe, mediamakers have resisted social conventions and attracted the ire of governments and censorship boards. The Carsey-Wolf Center’s fall 2020 and winter 2021 virtual screening series will showcase films and TV shows considered politically, socially, culturally, and ideologically subversive. From mischievous caricatures to biting social critiques, the events in this series invite discussion of the efficacy of subversion and the historical contexts that have rendered these works subversive in the first place.
In winter 2020, the Carsey-Wolf Center will honor the legacy of its founding sponsors Marcy Carsey and Dick Wolf, whose work reshaped the modern television landscape. Our series celebrates some of the best in classic and contemporary shows. TV at the Pollock explores the evolution of television as a compelling storytelling medium, a vehicle for complex political expression, and a rapidly-changing media technology. Ranging from the traditional sitcom to recent dystopian drama, the series pulls great television out of the living room, onto the big screen, and into a communal conversation.
Cinema, in its essence, is a special effect. From the medium’s first days, filmmakers have used cutting edge-technologies, physical skill, and world-class craftsmanship to dazzle audiences and keep movies spectacular. The Carsey-Wolf Center’s fall 2019 series Special Effects invites audiences to explore the diverse history of special-effects cinema through a series of remarkable films, spanning Hollywood classics, CGI blockbusters, and previously unseen documentary footage. Expanding on traditional definitions of the term “special effects,” this series investigates the craft of special effects through iconic cinema makeup and costuming, digital image manipulation, practical stunts, and color film processing.
The Carsey-Wolf Center’s spring 2019 screening series will explore the international legacies of cinematic New Waves. Starting in Italy with Rome, Open City (1945), our series will include films from France, Cuba, China, and Iran. These selections highlight the New Waves’ stylistic and narrative experimentation, self-conscious rejection of inherited film conventions, and exploration of contemporary social and political issues. These films capture cinema at its most vital, responding to youth cultures, changing urban landscapes, and the destructive forces of globalization and war.
When the Beatles burst onto the musical scene in the early 1960s, they reflected the era’s great idealism and its frenzy of political protest and debate, producing music that would become synonymous with the decade itself. The CWC’s winter series Beatles Revolutions examines the ways in which the band was central to broader revolutions in music, culture, and politics. The series spans documentary, animation, and fictionalized versions of the Beatles’ lives, and will feature distinguished guests who have written about, toured with, and produced music for the Beatles.
Composed with the urgency and rage of youth, Frankenstein was published in 1818 when its author Mary Shelley was only eighteen years old. To honor the novel’s 200th anniversary and its enduring legacy, the CWC’s fall series is devoted to exploring multiple afterlives of the novel on film. The series will range from classical horror to science fiction to avant-garde experimentation, and will feature a recent biopic and a masterpiece of Spanish cinema. In our series, Frankenstein emerges as a complex tale about gender and sexuality, uncanny families and feminist rage; the films we will present plumb questions about creativity, personal tragedy and the relationship between life and death.
The CWC series “Women in Comedy” showcases the achievement of women in American film and television comedy. At a time when comedy across all media remains dominated by men, female comedians have achieved unprecedented visibility as artists, writers, producers, and performers. Women comedians have produced enduring works of humor as a means of self-expression, artistic innovation, and political intervention. The Carsey-Wolf Center aims to highlight some of the best of this work, and to feature in-depth discussions with guests that include scholars and participants in the creative process.
From the earliest days of cinema, screenwriters, directors, producers, and actors have taken up the challenge of translating Shakespeare’s plays to the screen. The Carsey-Wolf Center’s Shakespeare on Film series will address the ongoing romance between Shakespeare and film through screenings of classic adaptations by Laurence Olivier and Orson Welles as well as more contemporary films that position Shakespeare in global contexts.
Nearly a century ago, an unprecedented number of German exiles and immigrants working in the film industry left Europe for the United States. Lured by the resources of 1920s Hollywood and then pushed into exile by politics in 1930s Berlin, these filmmakers contributed some of the most influential films in the history of cinema. Focusing on the work of filmmakers who began their careers in Berlin and later worked in Hollywood, this series presents the latest restorations of their masterpieces in the state-of-the-art Pollock Theater with dynamic post-screening contributions from contemporary filmmakers, scholars, and artists.
While transgender issues have been represented on film for at least a decade, recent media work more fully engages the views and creative labor of transgender and gender-variant people. “Trans Media” at the Pollock Theater will showcase contemporary media work in television, narrative filmmaking, and critical documentary in an effort to explore the relationship between sexual orientation and gender identity outside of a rigid binary view of the world.
The Carsey-Wolf Center and the Pollock Theater are pleased to present a series of films dedicated to exploring the work of legendary director Alfred Hitchcock, whose career spanned two continents and more than six decades. “Expanded Hitchcock” will include classic Hitchcock films seen from a new angle, recently restored films, and a special screening of an early film with musical accompaniment.