Film series: New 35mm Film Prints

image from the film DIVA
image: DIVA

Since the 2011 digital cinema inflection point, most cinemas around the world converted their exhibition equipment to digital projectors and scrapped their 35mm film projectors.

Not every theatre tossed out their film equipment though (we still have our beautiful Simplex projectors in our booth!), and for those lucky venues that can still exhibit film, there’s a wealth of material out there to screen. While viewing films on original release prints, free of any post facto “sweetening” of the image or interventionist tweaks by an older filmmaker looking to fix rookie mistakes, is ideal in order to see a movie as it was originally conceived and released (catch A Question of Silence to see one of these original release prints!), there is nothing quite like seeing a freshly struck film print.

The titles in this series are all screening on brand-new 35mm film prints, but they aren’t the only prints we’re screening! Almost every single week this semester you can catch something projected on celluloid here at Cornell Cinema!

The Conversation (1974) was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and stars Gene Hackman. Hidden bugs, wires, recording devices, and murder. A surveillance expert overhears a snippet of a conversation and becomes convinced that the two people he is observing are about to be murdered. The Conversation is an exploration of anxiety and paranoia with all the cinematic splendor of The Godfather (filmed just two years earlier by Coppola).  The Guardian calls it “A lonely, desperate, guilt-ridden masterpiece.” 

Vengeance is Mine (1984) is directed by Michael Roemer, known for his previous films Nothing but a Man (1964) and The Plot Against Harry (1989). Vengeance is Mine has been recently rereleased on 35mm with select showings around the country. The film traces the deeply rooted animosity between two sisters and their adopted mother in New England. Vulture exclaims that the film is a family drama whose “deep vein of emotional terror sneaks up on you.”

Diva, the 1981 film directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix, is filled with memorable chase scenes through the streets of Paris and is a key entry in the cinéma du look wave of films that also included French filmmakers Leos Carax and Luc Besson. Winner of several Cesar Awards including cinematography, Diva is a New Wave thriller that oozes style. A young mailman falls in love with the American opera singer he is recording illegally, and quickly finds himself ensnared in a web of criminal activity. Rolling Stone called it “divine madness” with a new way of looking at the world that celebrates the art of film making. 

Born in Flames: A groundbreaking feminist film from the early 1980s filmed by Lizzie Borden. A girl gang on bikes takes to the streets of New York to rid the city of misogyny and to resist governmental patriarchy. Despite its low production budget, Born in Flames is considered an important talking point for the period; it is filled with action and innovative camera work to address systemic inequality in American society.

Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s latest film, Memoria, stars Academy Award winning actress Tilda Swinton. Swinton’s character, Jessica Howard travels from Scotland to Colombia to visit her sister. During the journey her life is interrupted by a loud mysterious bang which open her to strange encounters between sight and sound in the South American jungle. Weerasethakul’s film creates an unsettling cinematic experience by experimenting with the relationships between noise, image, and space. Memoria explores the darkened interiors of Colombia’s landscape where the remnants of an unresolved past resonate sonically in archeological labs, modern construction sites, and rural waterways. The LA Times calls Memoria “one of the greatest movies you will see —or hear—in the theater this year.” 

The Devil, Probably (1977) directed by Robert Bresson follows the story of Charles, a disenchanted intellectual who decides suicide is the only relief from the world’s immorality. The New York Times praises Bresson’s master filmmaking and his ability to shape objects, people, and spaces into an alternative reality. This film contemplates the physical and intellectual decline of its age with astute precision and was initially banned in France as an incitement to teenage suicide. “[The Devil, Probably] has a purity of technique, an austere visual beauty, and a profundity and gravity that make it unique, for our time and the year when it was made, 1977.” (Chicago Tribune)

Related films

Scene from the film The Conversation

The Conversation


A scene from Vengeance is Mine

Vengeance is Mine


Scene from the film Diva



Scene from the film The Devil, Probably

The Devil, Probably