image from the film Shiraz: A Romance of India
Cornell Cinema carries its long tradition of screening recent film restorations and rediscovered masterpieces into the virtual realm with this series of five films, beginning with the Czechoslovak sci-fi film Ikarie XB 1, a film that deeply influenced the look of Solaris and 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s a visionary adaptation of an early Stanisław Lem novel, about a group of astronauts headed to Alpha Centauri in search of alien life.
Here on Earth, the ravishing silent film Shiraz: A Romance of India, the story behind the creation of the Taj Mahal, was recently digitally restored by the British Film Institute and features a specially commissioned score by the Grammy Award-winning composer-sitar player Anoushka Shankar (daughter of Ravi Shankar).
La Strada won Federico Fellini his first Academy Award (and was the inaugural Best Foreign Language Film Award), and it screens here in a new digital restoration from The Film Foundation.
A furious howl of resistance against racist oppression, Mauritanian filmmaker Med Hondo’s Soleil Ô is a bitterly funny, stylistically explosive attack on Western capitalism and its legacy of colonialism. A starry-eyed immigrant leaves West Africa for Paris in search of a job and cultural enrichment, but soon discovers a hostile society in which his very presence elicits fear and resentment. Restored by the Cineteca di Bologna, the film experiments wildly with form, made with a revolutionary fervor that few films can match. “[T]hankfully, the beautiful digital restoration neither excessively sands down [Soleil Ô’s] low-budget edges nor otherwise slickens a work that sticks in the craw just as intended.” (Film Comment)
Feminist filmmaker Joyce Chopra’s debut feature Smooth Talk stars a teenaged Laura Dern as a rebellious girl whose summertime idyll of beach trips, mall hangouts, and innocent flirtations is shattered by an encounter with a mysterious stranger, played with menacing allure by Treat Williams. Though it was based on a Joyce Carol Oates short story and won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, prior to this re-release, Smooth Talk was quite difficult to see for a number of years. Cornell Cinema is thrilled to be able to offer this film and the others in this series to the Ithaca community.