Diner. 1982. USA. Written and directed by Barry Levinson

Featuring films drawn primarily from MoMA’s collection, the new Our Town series focuses on filmmakers whose work is rooted in or associated with a particular geographic area, and who continually draw artistic inspiration from that place.

Barry Levinson, John Waters, and Matthew Porterfield were all born and raised in the environs of Baltimore, Maryland, and that city and its diverse communities have formed the foundation of their respective cinematic visions. Yet Levinson’s characters, with their longing for cultural assimilation, and Porterfield’s haunted suburban denizens are nothing like the outrageous, gender-bending oddballs that populate Waters’s films. Levinson’s celebrated “Baltimore Series” traffics in an engaging sense of nostalgia; the spellbound youth in Porterfield’s films grapple with their inability to create social connections and inevitably fall into a state of isolation; and Waters’s riotous trailer parks and Hampden row houses are inhabited by lovable reprobates in towering beehive hairdos. All three filmmakers, however, share a sense of how the outsider is perceived within a specific community, where codes of conduct are deep-rooted. Deeply immersed in the cultures of their home city, these directors provide distinctive and resolutely personal glimpses of life in Baltimore.

Organized by Anne Morra, Associate Curator, Department of Film.

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