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Mary Pickford Theater

Current Film Schedule: October - December 2008

Monday evenings at 7:00 p.m., Mary Pickford Theater, James Madison Building. No tickets required, but seating is limited. Reservations may be made one week before each screening by calling 202-707-5677 between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Reserved seats must be claimed at least 10 minutes before show time, after which standbys will admitted. Programs subject to change without notice.

Friday, October 31 (7:00 pm)

Apparition of the Eternal Church (2006). A film by Paul Festa. (DVD)

Paul Festa’s 58-minute film captures the responses of 31 authors, musicians, filmmakers and dancers to Olivier Messiaen’s monumental organ work. The documentary subjects "put Messiaen’s project to the test," writes Festa. "Is it possible to portray, through time-bound, invisible sound, the spiritual, the architectural, the eternal? The result is a collective interpretation improvising its way through an aeshetic landscape defined by violent contradictions. Resolution abuts eternity, eroticism, ascetisim, spiritual ecstasy, physical torture. Together, the music and its interpreters conjure something like what Willim Blake famously called the marriage of heaven and hell."

Monday, November 17 (7:00 pm)

Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Fall at the Nation’s Library

Curated by Norman Middleton, Music Division

Heartland Reggae (1980). Dir James P. Lewis. With Natty Garfield, Bob Marley, Jacob Miller, Ras Lee Morris, Judy Mowatt, Lloyd Parkes, Peter Tosh, Junior Tucker, and U-Roy. (90 min, 16mm)

A documentary of the One Love Peace Concert held in Kingston, Jamaica in 1978. In addition to the music, this film features the return to Jamaica of Bob Marley after a sixteen-month hiatus following an attempt on his life. Filmed live in Jamaica in 1977 and 1978. Also included are several sequences in which the Rastafarian lifestyle and philosophy are discussed; considered to be the definitive reggae film.

Monday, November 24 (7:00 pm)

Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Fall at the Nation’s Library: Frank Zappa Mini-Film Festival

Uncle Meat (1987) Written and directed by Frank Zappa. (100 min, VHS)

You’ll need a chicken to watch it! With Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, this off-beat melange of fiction, home movies and concert footage, tells the story of Uncle Meat (Don Preston–aka Dom DeWilde & Biff Debris–was Zappa’s keyboard player) who is trying to write a hit song but sometimes changes into a monster. Zappa could not find a backer, so the film sat unreleased until 1987. The concert footage was taken at the Mothers 1968 Royal Albert Hall show. Linda Ronstadt has a cameo.

Monday, December 1 (7:00 pm)

Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Fall at the Nation’s Library: Frank Zappa Mini-Film Festival

The Amazing Mr. Bickford (1987). Dir Bruce Bickford and Frank Zappa. (60 min, VHS)

Frank Zappa could not resist Bruce Bickford’s fascinating claymation and Zappa’s music–conducted by Pierre Boulez and Kent Nagano no less!–combined with Bickford’s characters, make for a dazzling, violent, politically incorrect romp. This maze-like, surreal world explodes in nightmarish images patiently elaborated with plasticine and the stop-motion technique.


Does Humor Belong in Music? (1985) Written and directed by Frank Zappa. (57 min, VHS).

Whether or not you're a fan of Zappa's music, philosophy, or looks, you'll like this live performance of his 1984 band captured live in NYC. The video quality is superb, since Zappa got his hands on some of the first digital video recording equipment available at that time. Performance-wise, this was arguably the best ensemble of artists he'd ever assembled, and both the performance and the music are superb. Really great concert footage from a band that knows how to give it their all. If you've listened to some of Zappa's live recordings before (such as the 'You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore' series), this video allows you to really see the band in action. For Zappa fans, this is a must. For fans of rock concert videos, you can't go wrong here.

Monday, December 8 (7:00 pm)

Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Fall at the Nation’s Library: Frank Zappa Mini-Film Festival

200 Motels (1971). (98 min, 35mm)

Frank Zappa once said, "Touring makes you crazy." Directed by Tony Palmer, Charles Swenson, and Frank Zappa, the film was conceived while the Mothers of Invention were on tour and is a combination of live action and animation. The story, interspersed with performances by the Mothers and the Royal Symphony Orchestra, is a tale of life on the road. The band members’ main concerns are the search for groupies and the desire to get paid. In addition to the Mothers of Invention, the cast also features Theodore Bikel, Keith Moon, Pamela Des Barres, and Ringo Starr.

Tuesday, December 9 (7:00 pm)

A Labyrinth of Time (2006). (DVD)

Frank Scheffer’s brilliant documentary illuminates Elliott Carter’s musical development and projects his compositions in time, in a journey led by the composer himself. Beautiful pictures of the city of New York, of which Carter is a lifetimem citizen, are used as metaphors, building a juxtaposition of Carter’s music and its reflection on our democratic society.

Monday, December 15 (7:00 pm)

Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Fall at the Nation’s Library

Stop Making Sense (1984). Dir Jonathan Demme. With David Byrne, Alex Weir, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth, Bernie Worrell, Chris Frantz, Steven Scales, Lynn Mabry, Ednah Holt. (88 min, 35mm)

Expertly filmed and edited performance of a Talking Heads concert (over three nights) featuring leadsinger David Byrne. Everything works --the music, the lighting and the special effects.

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  October 23, 2008
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