Focus Program: Playing Reality

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    Bringing the drama of documentary film center stage, the titles in this focus program creatively reimagine the concept of theatricality. The selection includes films that are centered around the performativity of language and voice; use re-enactment as a documentary film instrument; utilize the physical space of the theater; experiment with mise-en-scène; and more. More titles to be announced.

    Films in this section

    The Arbor

    • Clio Barnard
    • 2010

      In 1980, when Andrea Dunbar was only 18, her semi-autobiographical play, The Arbor, was performed in London. Director Clio Barnard made an impressive reconstruction of Dunbar’s short life, using the voices of people from her circle.

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      Every Little Thing

      • Nicolas Philibert
      • 1996

        A delightful feel-good predecessor to the classic Être et avoir. The camera follows staff and patients at a remarkable French psychiatric facility during rehearsals for the annual stage show—this year it’s an operetta.

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        The Fabulous Ones

        • Roberta Torre
        • 2022

          A group of fabulous trans women gather to honor their deceased friend Antonia in a way denied to her by her family, who buried Antonia in men’s clothes. Politics, pain and joie de vivre combine in this rousing and heartwarming tribute.

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          Little Dieter Needs to Fly

          • Werner Herzog
          • 1997

            Werner Herzog tells the life story of Dieter Dengler, raised in post-war Germany. His dream to become an American test pilot lands him in Vietnam, where he was shot down and captured by the Viet Cong on his very first mission.

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            The Man Who Couldn’t Leave

            • Singing CHEN
            • 2022

              This VR piece puts the viewer inside the penal colony where Taiwan imprisoned political prisoners in 1949. The now elderly A-Keun talks about hunger, boredom, the sense of time and his comrade who died in prison.

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              • Eduardo Coutinho
              • 2009

                The Brazilian theater group Galpão is in Moscow, working on their production of the Chekhov play Three Sisters. During rehearsals, filmmaker Coutinho captures the increasingly blurred boundaries between fiction and reality.

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                The Not Dead

                • Brian Hill
                • 2007

                  The gripping accounts of three British soldiers who served in violent conflicts and returned to an indifferent homeland with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Through poetry, their nightmarish experiences are elevated to a universal level.

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                  Notes for a Film

                  • Ignacio Agüero
                  • 2022

                    A playfully styled portrait loosely based on memoirs published in 1889, evoking recollections of an unspoiled Chile that reflect on the here and now. But the portrayal also sheds light on what has been lost through colonization and modernization.

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                    Salaam Cinema

                    • Mohsen Makhmalbaf
                    • 1995

                      A casting call in Iranian newspapers to find actors for a film on the centenary of cinema yields thousands of candidates. Makhmalbaf used the filmed auditions to create a comical look at a hidden part of Iranian culture.

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                      Theatre of War

                      • Lola Arias
                      • 2018

                        Visual artist and filmmaker Lola Arias brings a number of British and Argentine veterans of the Malvinas/Falklands War together in short, theatrical setups to confront their memories, each other and the war that binds them.

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                        The Hamlet Syndrome

                        • Elwira Niewiera, Piotr Rosolowski
                        • 2022

                          Theater maker Roza Sarkisian is united with five young Ukrainians to create a performance in which Shakespeare’s Hamlet and their reality come together. The depiction of this intense process is complemented by impressive portraits of the protagonists.

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                          Riotsville, USA

                          • Sierra Pettengill
                          • 2022

                            From the late 1960s, the US authorities’ response to social protest movements has increasingly tilted towards repression. This essay film shows the development through disconcerting archive material.

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                            • Ruth Beckermann
                            • 2022

                              A hundred men audition for the film version of a controversial pornographic novel. The filmmaker seats them on a casting couch and reverses the roles. Now the men are objectified, in this film packed with discomfort, disgust and lust.

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                              We’re Here to Try

                              • Jacopo Quadri, Greta De Lazzaris
                              • 2022

                                A theater documentary following a company through the turbulent creative process of a show in search of its script. Engulfed by the uncertainty of the present, the actors wind up disoriented and confused between their lives and the play taking shape.

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