Japanese dancer and choreographer Akiko Kitamura’s Cross Transit has been traveling across the world, and it pulls in to Japan Society this week for two shows, on Friday and Saturday. The seventy-five-minute work is a collaboration between Kitamura, Amrita Performing Arts Center, and Cambodian photographer Kim Hak, with performers from Japan and Cambodia — Kitamura, Ippei Shiba, Yuka Seike, Yuki Nishiyama, Llon Kawai, and Chy Ratana — moving in front of a wall of white boxes onto which their shadows are cast and Hak’s deeply personal photographs and video, capturing a Cambodia that is fading from memory, are projected in a collage-like, fragmented manner. The piece also includes text by Hak, with costumes by Tomoko Inamura, lighting by Yuji Sekiguchi, sound design by Hiroaki Yokoyama, and set design and projections by Akihiko Kaneko. Kitamura (Enact Frames of Pleasure, Ghostly Round), the founder of the Leni-Basso dance company, spent time in Phnom Penh studying Cambodian movement, spiritual rituals, and martial arts and participated in workshops with Hak; Kitamura, who was last at Japan Society for the world premiere of TranSenses in January 2017, has also collaborated with Indonesian artists on To Belong in her quest to incorporate a wide range of Asian artistic styles into her movement language and to bring countries together through cultural exchange. The March 22 performance will be followed by a meet-the-artists reception, while the March 23 show will be followed by an artist Q&A.
The second annual What the Fest!? is a five-day extravaganza of crazy films that will have you muttering out loud, “What the f!?” Held at IFC Center, the festival opens March 20 with the world premiere of indie horror maestro Larry Fessenden’s creepy Depraved, a modern-day Frankenstein tale set in New York City. Fessenden, who has made such underground faves as Habit, Wendigo, and The Last Winter, will participate in a postscreening Q&A with producers Jenn Wexler and Chadd Harbold and cast members, while the video presentation Frankenstein Origins will precede the movie. That same night, the New York City premiere of Crazy Pictures’ Swedish thriller The Unthinkable will be preceded by Sydney Clara Brafman’s one-minute short The Only Thing I Love More Than You Is Ranch Dressing and a Q&A with Professor Anna Maria Bounds about the coming New York apocalypse.
Among the other bizarro highlights are Pollyanna McIntosh’s Darlin’, preceded with a tribute to late horror writer Jack Ketchum by Douglas E. Winter; Shinichiro Ueda’s One Cut of the Dead, followed by a panel discussion on making zombie flicks; Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe’s suburban comedy Greener Grass; the panel discussion “Female Trouble: Fearless Women Leading the Way in Horror, Fantasy, and Suspense,” with Meredith Alloway, Roxanne Benjamin, Emma Tammi, and Wexler; the American premiere of Peter Brunner’s To the Night, starring Caleb Landry Jones; Zack Lipovsky and Adam B. Stein’s Freaks, starring Emile Hirsch; and Chinese master Zhang Yimou’s Shadow, preceded by a talk with stuntwomen Kimmy Suzuki and Ai Ikeda. Oh, as part of the festival special focus “Satan Is Your Friend,” there’s also the world premiere of the restoration of Ray Laurent’s 1970 documentary, Satanis: The Devil’s Mass, which will do a lot more than just have you repeating, “What the f?!,” and New York Asian Film Festival cofounder Grady Hendrix will be on hand to present his latest book, We Sold Our Souls, with a talk and signing. Like we said, WTF?!
CURATOR’S CHOICE SCREENING: LA HAINE (HATE) (Mathieu Kassovitz, 1995)
BAMcinématek, BAM Rose Cinemas
30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Pl. & St. Felix St.
Wednesday, March 20, 7:30
Series runs March 20-28
BAM and Triple Canopy, the New York–based online magazine, have teamed up to present the provocative film series “On Resentment,” which kicks off March 20 at 7:30 with Mathieu Kassovitz’s incendiary 1995 stunner, La haine, inspired by the real-life stories of Makome M’Bowole and Malik Oussekine, two young men who were killed by police in 1993 and 1986, respectively. Kassovitz’s second feature film (following Métisse), La haine, which means “hate,” is set in the immediate aftermath of Paris riots as three friends —the Jewish Vinz (Vincent Cassel), the Afro-French Hubert (Hubert Koundé), and the Arab Saïd (Saïd Taghmaoui) — spend about twenty hours wandering the mean streets of their banlieue (suburban projects) and Paris, causing minor mayhem as they encounter skinheads, stop off for some wine at an art opening, try to get into a hot club, and, over and over, become embroiled with the police.
The disaffected youths are fed up with a system that continues to treat them as outsiders, assuming they are criminals. Hubert wants to get out of the banlieue through hard work, but he keeps running into obstacles that are out of his control; at one point, when something goes wrong, he closes his eyes as if he can wish it away. Saïd is an immature schemer who thinks he can slide out of any untoward situation, especially with the help of his much more grounded older brother. But Vinz is a significant problem; one of their friends, Abdel (Abdel Ahmed Ghili), was arrested at the riots and has been severely injured while in police custody. Vinz has sworn to kill a policeman if Abdel dies, something that becomes more possible when he picks up a gun an officer dropped. “I’m fuckin’ sick of the goddam system!” Vinz proclaims, filled with resentment. The three young men pass by a few signs that say “The World Is Yours,” a reference to Scarface, but that seems far out of reach for them.
Photographed in gritty black-and-white by Pierre Aïm and edited with a caged fury by Kassovitz and Scott Stevenson, La haine is electrifying cinema, a powder keg of a film ready to explode at any second. The time is shown onscreen before each scene, going from 10:38 to 06:00, like a ticking time bomb. The film has a documentary-like quality, complete with actual news footage of riots and violence. Kassovitz shows up as a skinhead, while his father, director and writer Peter Kassovitz, is a patron at the art gallery. The soundtrack features songs by French hip-hoppers Assassin; Cassel’s brother, Mathias Crochon, is a member of the group. And look for French star Vincent Lindon’s riotous cameo as a very drunk man.
Several times Vinz appears to be looking straight into the camera, pointing his gun accusingly at the audience; his complete disdain for all types of authority is reckless and dangerous but also understandable, and Kassovitz is extending that rage beyond the screen. In fact, during the November 2005 riots in France, people looked to Kassovitz for a response, and the writer-actor-director eventually got into a blog battle with Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy, who would later become prime minister. Kassovitz wrote, “As much as I would like to distance myself from politics, it is difficult to remain distant in the face of the depravations of politicians. And when these depravations draw the hate of all youth, I have to restrain myself from encouraging the rioters.” Sarkozy replied, “You seem to be acquainted with the suburbs well enough to know, deep inside you, that the situation has been tense there for many years and that the unrest is deep-rooted. Your film La haine, shot in 1995, already showed this unease that right-wing and left-wing governments had to deal with, with varying results. To claim this crisis is down to the Minister of the Interior’s sayings and doings is yet another way of missing the point. I attributed this to an untimely and quick-tempered reaction.”
The BAM/Triple Canopy series is a nine-day program of films that focus on the concept of resentment as it applies to politics, identity, and representation, asking such questions as “How can resentment be reclaimed by those who are used to fits of anger and bitterness being called unproductive, petty, selfish, even pathological?” and “Can — and must — resentment be useful?” The Curator’s Choice screening of La haine will be followed by a discussion with artist and writer Maryam Monalisa Gharavi, series programmer Ashley Clark, and Triple Canopy editor Emily Wang, who cowrote the TC article “A Note on Resentment” with Shen Goodman, which states, “We’re proposing to hold on to resentment not so much as a means of plotting the downfall of our enemies — though why not, it is the resentment issue — but as a starting point for thinking and making and belonging. . . . Who, if anyone, has a right to be resentful? How can resentment be useful? (Must resentment be useful?)” And of course, the film is relevant yet again in light of the Yellow Vest protests held earlier this year in Paris and the many people of color shot by police or who die in custody under questionable, controversial circumstances here in America. The series continues through March 28 with such other films as Haskell Wexler’s Medium Cool, Michelangelo Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point, Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation, Lindsay Anderson’s If . . . , and John Akomfrah’s Handsworth Songs.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago returns to the Joyce for the first time in four years with an exciting two-week season of two fab programs. From March 6 to 10, the company, which celebrated its fortieth anniversary last year, will put its own spin on Ohad Naharin’s Batsheva favorite, Decadance, an evolving greatest-hits-like presentation featuring excerpts from multiple works. Decadance/Chicago consists of nearly two hours of sections from such Naharin pieces as Minus 16, Virus, Three, George and Zalman, Max, Anaphase, and Seder. There will be a Curtain Chat at the March 7 performance. From March 12 to 17, HSDC brings a trio of works by Canadian choreographer and Kidd Pivot founder Crystal Pite, A Picture of You Falling, The Other You, and Grace Engine, all with music by Owen Belton. HSDC is led by artistic director Glenn Edgerton; the members of the company are Craig D. Black Jr., Jacqueline Burnett, Rena Butler, Alicia Delgadillo, Kellie Epperheimer, Michael Gross, Elliot Hammans, Alysia Johnson, Myles Lavallee, Adrienne Lipson, Florian Lochner, Ana Lopez, Andrew Murdock, David Schultz, Kevin J. Shannon, and Connie Shiau. Tickets are going fast, so you best not wait if you want to catch this hot troupe in action.
“It is not enough to refrain from publishing fake news . . . accuracy is to a newspaper what virtue is to a woman,” Joseph Pulitzer, voiced by a thickly Hungarian-accented Liev Schreiber, says in Oren Rudavsky’s Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People, opening March 1 at the Quad. Made for PBS’s American Masters series, the documentary, narrated by Adam Driver, gets off to a slow start, with numerous talking heads, wearisome reenactments, and modern-day B-roll shots. There’s some fascinating information about Pulitzer, who was born in Hungary in 1847, came to America penniless to fight in the Civil War, and eventually built a publishing empire that made him extremely wealthy even as he still fought aggressively for the poor, the disenfranchised, the overlooked, the underrepresented. Of course, Rudavsky (A Life Apart: Hasidism in America) — who directed the film, wrote it with Robert Seidman and editor Ramon Rivera Moret, and produced it with Seidman and Andrea Miller — had limited pictorial resources for the first half of Pulitzer’s life, before photography became more mainstream and before Pulitzer bought and ran the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the New York World.
Thus, the second half of the film is significantly better, as Rudavsky explores Pulitzer’s battles with William Randolph Hearst, which led to the concept of “yellow journalism,” then with President Theodore Roosevelt over possible corruption involving the Panama Canal deal, and finally with his health, as he loses his eyesight but continues to run his paper. The fight with Hearst over circulation numbers and who can get the most sensationalistic stories first is downright exciting, evoking the current 24/7 news cycle on social media, while elements of the Roosevelt scandal are echoed today by President Donald Trump’s relationship with the press. Among those celebrating Pulitzer, who was a firm believer in justice and was not afraid to stand up and defend it loudly, is novelist Nicholson Baker, who acquired and preserved many issues of the World and reviews several of them on camera, turning the pages as if examining priceless treasures, which in many ways they are. The voice cast also features Lauren Ambrose as Kate Davis, Rachel Brosnahan as Nellie Bly, Hugh Dancy as Alleyne Ireland, Billy Magnussen as Hearst, and Tim Blake Nelson as Roosevelt. Rudavsky will be at the Quad for Q&As following the 6:55 screenings March 1 and 2 and after the 3:05 show March 3.
333 East 47th St. at First Ave.
February 28 - March 2, $40, 7:30
Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo Puppet Theater rolls into Japan Society this week with its unique brand of storytelling, led by fifth grand master Koryu Nishikawa V. Moving large puppets on a three-wheeled dolly, the company will present two female-centric programs, one consisting of Yugao, Date Musume Koi Higanoko, and Tsuri On’na, the other Yugao, Date Musume Koi Higanoko, and Kuzunoha; Yugao is a new work by Nishikawa V based on a story from The Tale of Genji. Each show will be preceded by a lecture by Dr. Claudia Orenstein of Hunter College; opening night will be followed by a reception with the artists. The works will be performed by Ryuji Nishikawa V, Ryusha Nishikawa, Ryuki Nishikawa, Ryukei Nishikawa, and Yoshiteru Nishikawa, led by Nishikawa V, with gidayu chanter Koshiko Takemoto and live shamisen music by Sansuzu Tsuruzawa and Yaya Tsuruzawa. In addition, there will be a “Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo Performance and Workshop” for students on Friday and a “Master Class on Kuruma Ningyo Puppetry” on Saturday and Sunday. And on March 10, Nishikawa V will be at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for Family Afternoon — Pens & Poems for children ages twelve and under with an adult.