We are the professors, students, filmmakers, screenwriters, and cinéphiles at MSU who gather weekly in the course FLM 200 to watch and discuss good films. In the spirit of the Cinémathèque française and the generation of film critics and French New Wave directors it inspired, our collective abides by the principle that good film writing and good filmmaking (and just plain good living) begin with serious film watching.
In film, as in life, symbols are often shorthand. The great thing is that symbols are quick and easy. The not so great thing is that symbols are quick and easy. But filmmakers have always shaped ever evolving film language to wonderfully complicate such shorthand. They often mesmerize us with something akin to cinematic hieroglyphics. For signs & symbols that are not flat stereotypes, trying to figure them out is the thing. The sign? The symbol? The movie? What does it mean?
Blindspotting (dir. Carlos Lopez Estrada, 2018)
Presented by Tama Hamilton-Wray
Collin must make it through his final three days of probation for a chance at a new beginning in his Oakland, Calif., neighborhood. His bond with his volatile best friend soon gets tested when Collin sees a police officer shoot a suspect in the back during a chase through the streets. Things soon come to a head when the buddies attend a party at the upscale home of a young and wealthy tech entrepreneur.
Le franc (dir. Djibril Diop Mambety, 1994) & Pumzi (dir. Wanuri Kahiu, 2008)
Presented by Ken Harrow
In Senegal, poverty-stricken musician Marigo (Dieye Ma Dieye) buys a lottery ticket after his landlady (Aminta Fall) confiscates his instruments in exchange for unpaid rent money and a dwarf (Demba Ba) supplies him with some supposedly lucky digits. Marigo then glues the ticket to his door, hoping to show the landlady that he may have money one day. It’s a winning ticket, though, and now Marigo has to remove his door and carry it for miles in order to claim his fortune.
Pumzi is a Kenyan science-fiction short film written and directed by Wanuri Kahiu. It was screened at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival as part of its New African Cinema program.
The World of Piri Thomas (dir. Gordon Parks, 1968)
Presented by Yomaira Figueroa
Gordon Parks along with writer and poet, Piri Thomas, lead us on a journey through New York City’s Spanish Harlem. Parks guides our eyes through El Barrio, while Thomas reads from his best-selling memoir, “Down These Mean Streets.” These sights and sounds record the grim and crumbling life of the neighborhood and its inhabitants, but also provide a glimmer of hope for “survival and triumph over the ghetto.”
Run Lola Run (dir. Tom Twyker, 1999)
Presented by Bill Vincent
In this visually and conceptually impressive film, two-bit Berlin criminal Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu) delivers some smuggled loot for his boss, Ronnie (Heino Ferch), but accidentally leaves the 100,000 mark payment in a subway car. Given 20 minutes to come up with the money, he calls his girlfriend, Lola (Franka Potente), who sprints through the streets of the city to try to beg the money out of her bank manager father (Herbert Knaup) and get to Manni before he does something desperate.
Birds of Passage (dir. Ciro Guerra & Isabela Cristina Gallego Lozano, 2018)
Presented by Miguel Cabaña in conjunction with the MSU Latinx Film Festival
The origins of the Colombian drug trade, as seen through eyes of an indigenous Wayuu family that becomes involved in the booming business of selling marijuana to American youth in the 1970s. When greed, passion and honour collide, a fratricidal war breaks out and puts their lives, culture and ancestral traditions at stake.
Arrival (dir. Denis Vulleneuve, 2016)
Presented by Justus Nieland
Linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) leads an elite team of investigators when gigantic spaceships touch down in 12 locations around the world. As nations teeter on the verge of global war, Banks and her crew must race against time to find a way to communicate with the extraterrestrial visitors. Hoping to unravel the mystery, she takes a chance that could threaten her life and quite possibly all of mankind.
Shirkers (dir. Sandi Tan, 2018)
Presented by Cristóbal Martinez
In 1992 teenager Sandi Tan shoots Singapore’s first road movie with her enigmatic American mentor, Georges, who then absconded with all of the footage. The 16 mm film is recovered 20 years later, sending Tan, who is now a novelist living in Los Angeles, on a personal odyssey in search of Georges’ footprints.
Get Out (dir. Jordan Peele, 2017)
Presented by Lamar Johnson
Now that Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy and Dean. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined.
The World (dir. Jia Zhangke, 2004)
Presented by Kaveh Askari
At the Beijing World Park, a theme park that displays small versions of famous world monuments, one of the performers, Tao (Zhao Tao), is dating a guard named Taisheng (Taisheng Chen). However, they have a difficult bond, full of jealousy and miscommunication. While Tao forms friendships with other performers, Taisheng develops a fascination with Qun (Yi-qun Wang), a woman trying to join her husband in France. Despite their differences, Tao and Taisheng attempt to continue their relationship.
Rafiki (dir. Wanuri Kahiu, 2018)
Presented by Rosalind Galt and Karl Schoonover
Kena and Ziki live very different lives in Nairobi. Kena works in her father’s shop and awaits the start of nursing school, while Ziki passes the days hanging out with her friends and making up dance routines. Their paths cross when their fathers run against each other for seats in the County Assembly, and they find themselves drawn to each other. Soon their interest grows to affection and the girls find ways to love each other despite the ever-watching gaze of the neighborhood.
Dry Kisses Only (dir. Kaucyila Brooke & Jane Cottis, 1990)
Presented by Sarah Panuska
Through manipulated film clips, the hilarious commentary of Theory Woman and interviews with the Lesbian on the Street, this marvelous film explores the lesbian subtext of classical films—the dry kisses of the film’s title. Hollywood movies are re-edited to find the truth behind the relationships between the heroine and the “other woman.” Dykella and Dykenna chew over lesbian vampire stereotypes. And gossip columnist Lady Manilla Lively gives the inside scoop on lesbians in today’s Hollywood. DRY KISSES ONLY tells a story at once obvious and long-overdue, affirming the validity of lesbian readings of popular culture and the tenuous truths of gossip.
Cure (dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 1997)
Presented by Joshua Yumibe
Cure is part atmospheric crime film and part philosophical meditation. Detective Takabe (Koji Yakusho) is tracking a series of identical murders, committed under the same bizarre circumstances. Nothing seems to connect the murders and Takabe becomes increasingly frustrated.
Fast Color (dir. Julie Hart, 2018)
Presented by Bria Harper
Hunted by mysterious forces, a young woman who has supernatural abilities must go on the run when her powers are discovered. With nowhere else to go, she flees back to her family and the farmhouse she abandoned long ago. There, while being pursued by the local sheriff, she begins to mend the broken relationships with her mother and daughter and learns that the power she needed was inside her all along.
4/23 MSU Student Film Showcase
Presented by Pete Johnston
A celebration of the best MSU student films from the year.