As Cornell Cinema announces its spring lineup of films and events, it’s also buoyed by a recent grant from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), from a fund to support the recovery of the nonprofit arts and culture sector.
Following New York State’s $105 million investment in the arts for fiscal year 2022, NYSCA has awarded more than $80 million since June 2021.
"The arts have long been a critical sector in our economy, and as we continue to rebuild a stronger New York; it's essential we do all we can to help this industry thrive once again," Governor Kathy Hochul said in announcing the awards. "These awardees represent the best of what New York's vibrant communities have to offer and with this funding in hand, they will be able to not only continue their creative and inspiring work, but help spur revitalization in their own backyard as well."
Cornell Cinema has received annual awards from NYSCA’s Electronic Media & Film Program since the mid-1980s, most recently a $15,000 award. “We were thrilled to receive news of our $25,000 grant,” said Mary Fessenden, director of Cornell Cinema. “The increase in funding is very much needed this year as our audience has not yet returned to its pre-pandemic level. The grant made it possible for us to offer close to our usual range and quality of programming this spring, for which we’re grateful.”
Cornell Cinema reopened for in-person screenings on Feb. 7, and again is offering an all-access pass for the entire season, at $10 for graduate students, $20 for undergrads and $30 for faculty, staff and community members. Highlights of the spring season include Italian legend Federico Fellini’s 1957 masterpiece "Nights of Cabiria," which will be offered in a new restoration and be shown the first weekend of March. The film concludes the series “Fellini, Masina, & Rota: The Early Years” detailing the partnership between Federico Fellini, actress Giuletta Masina and composer Nino Rota.
Of special note are two silent film events with live music. The Anvil Orchestra will perform with a 35mm film print of "Underworld" (1927), the film that launched the career of director Josef von Sternberg as well as the gangster film genre, on March 18. The film was recently cited as one of Japanese director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s ("Drive My Car") favorite films. The following week (March 24) world-renowned klezmer violinist Alicia Svigals and celebrated silent film pianist Donald Sosin will perform their original score for the satire "The City Without Jews" (1924), recently restored by Filmarchiv Austria. Directed by H.K. Breslauer, the film is based on the controversial 1922 novel by Hugo Bettauer about a Viennese-type city named Utopia that expels its Jews to solve its financial problems, only to experience rapid economic and cultural decline. Both events are cosponsored with the Cornell Council for the Arts, and the latter film is additionally cosponsored by the Jewish Studies Program.
Other highlights include “Experimental Landscapes,” a semester-long series that ties in with a new course Ruined Landscapes & the Visual Archive taught by Patricia Keller, associate professor of romance studies and comparative literature in the College of Arts & Sciences, who is introducing several of the films, and “Saturday Night Noir,” which will conclude with Billy Wilder’s seminal 1944 noir "Double Indemnity," offered in a 35mm film print.
Cornell Cinema has also been awarded a $2,200 Albertine Cinémathèque Festival grant to present a Francophone Film Festival in partnership with the Department of Romance Studies. Upcoming titles include two films that do double-duty in the series “Sub-Saharan Cinema,” co-sponsored with the Institute for African Development (IAD). IAD is organizing panel discussions to follow screenings of "Atlantics" (2019) from Senegal on March 2 and "Night of the Kings" (2020) from Ivory Coast on April 20.