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July 9, 2015  |  Film
MoMA’s Department of Film at 80: An Unprecedented Vision

Iris Barry and John Abbott, 1935. Photo by Lewis Jacobs

Iris Barry and John Abbott, 1935. Photo by Lewis Jacobs

How does one map out the scope, purpose, and practice of something that had never existed before? That might be the question Iris Barry and John E. Abbott asked themselves as they were drafting “An Outline of a Project for Founding the Film Library of The Museum of Modern Art” (1935). Read more

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June 5, 2015  |  Film
MoMA’s Department of Film at 80: Commencement
July 1935 signing of the document establishing the MoMA Film Library. From left: John Abbott, Iris Barry, John Hay Whitney (seated), A. Conger Goodyear, Nelson A. Rockefeller

July 1935 signing of the document establishing the MoMA Film Library. From left: John Abbott, Iris Barry, John Hay Whitney (seated), A. Conger Goodyear, Nelson A. Rockefeller

Long before The Museum of Modern Art Department of Film was so named, it was called the Film Library. The entity to be known as the Film Library was officially announced on June 27, 1935, and on July 2 The Museum of Modern Art Film Library Corporation was formalized with documents signed by trustees A. Conger Goodyear, John Hay Whitney, and Nelson A. Rockefeller. Read more

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April 17, 2015  |  Film
Shezad Dawood’s Piercing Brightness
Production still from Piercing Brightness. 2013. Directed by Shezad Dawood. Courtesy of UBIK Productions Ltd. The image features Halo, an artwork by John Kennedy, commissioned by Mid Pennine Arts

Production still from Piercing Brightness. 2013. Directed by Shezad Dawood. Courtesy of UBIK Productions Ltd. The image features Halo, an artwork by John Kennedy, commissioned by Mid Pennine Arts

A sense of place pervades the work of British artist Shezad Dawood, but we’re not talking about your picture-postcard nostalgia. Dawood’s first feature film, Piercing Brightness, is at the surface a stylized science-fiction tale, but it could equally be read as a public artwork of sorts. Read more

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April 16, 2015  |  Film
Hamilton MacFadden, Who?

The discovery of new artists and the rediscovery of established ones are key components of curatorial work. An exhilarating part of curatorial work is the ability to be something of a cultural archeologist and bring to the fore an artist whose work has been consigned to the past due to changing critical taste, shifts in technology, and the demands of motion picture economics. As a longtime Fox Films contract director, Hamilton MacFadden (American, 1901–1977) is indeed worthy of thoughtful rediscovery. Read more

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March 19, 2015  |  Film
New Directors/New Films 2015: New Poetics, New Films
San Siro. 2014. Italy. Directed by Yuri Ancarani

San Siro. 2014. Italy. Directed by Yuri Ancarani

At its core, New Directors/New Films celebrates the unexpected and cutting-edge in movie making, and the 16 short films in this year’s festival offer plenty of excitement about the future of the medium.

A notable amount of these short films experiment with modes of storytelling, at times eschewing dialogue-driven narratives altogether. Read more

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March 5, 2015  |  Film
William K. Howard’s Don’t Bet on Women

I’ve recently discovered a sassy feature that has been in the MoMA collection for more than 40 years. Don’t Bet on Women, a drawing-room comedy produced by the Fox Film Corp. in 1931, encompasses all of the risqué behaviors, modes of dress, suggestive situations, and freewheeling alcohol consumption that the Motion Picture Production Code hoped to curtail. Read more

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February 11, 2015  |  Film
Documentary Fortnight 2015: Everyday Hauntings
Around the World in 50 Concerts. 2014. Netherlands. Directed by Heddy Honigmann. Courtesy of Cobos Films

Around the World in 50 Concerts. 2014. Netherlands. Directed by Heddy Honigmann. Courtesy of Cobos Films

The selections in this year’s Documentary Fortnight: MoMA’s International Festival of Nonfiction Film and Media (February 13 through 27) cast an intriguing look at life using a range of storytelling approaches—poetic, hybrid, observational, and dramatic. Many of these films, which center, at their core, on stories of human resourcefulness, are haunted by the concerns of our age: environmental disasters, wars, austere immigration and economic policies, urban and rural overdevelopment, and the repetition and ellipses of history. Read more

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January 9, 2015  |  Film
The Contenders: Abderrahmane Sissako’s Timbuktu
Timbuktu. 2014. France/Mauritania. Directed by Abderrahmane Sissako. Courtesy of Cohen Media Group

Timbuktu. 2014. France/Mauritania. Directed by Abderrahmane Sissako. Courtesy of Cohen Media Group

Alongside Citizenfour, Timbuktu might be the most urgently topical film of the year, but unlike Citizenfour, Timbuktu is not a documentary. This narrative film, the latest by Malian auteur Abderrahmane Sissako, was inspired by a 2012 entry in a local Malian newspaper about a couple being stoned to death for having children out of wedlock. Sissako’s interlocking stories of Timbuktu residents bring texture to tragically frequent headlines chronicling the rise and bloody tactics of foreign jihadists on the African continent. Read more

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January 7, 2015  |  Collection & Exhibitions, Film
Popcorn Allowed: Matisse Goes to the Movies

It’s a dream job: my role in marketing and communications at MoMA is to get the public excited by telling stories about our exhibitions and programs. It’s also a fast-moving and fluid media environment; we need to constantly experiment with new ways of telling those stories, and test new channels for connecting with an audience that has many options for enjoying art and culture. Read more

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December 30, 2014  |  Film
The Contenders: Paul W. S. Anderson’s Pompeii
Pompeii. 2014. Canada/Germany/USA. Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson. Image courtesy of Sony Pictures/Photofest

Pompeii. 2014. Canada/Germany/USA. Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson. Image courtesy of Sony Pictures/Photofest

Paul W. S. Anderson’s Pompeii is the very model of the kind of movie usually dismissed from contention during awards season. It’s a genre piece, pure and simple, directed with great skill and efficiency but innocent of any desire to impress Oscar voters with flashy performances or profound moral lessons. Read more