Real Good for FREE: NYS Writers Institute’s Classic Film Series

February 5th, 2015, 10:00 am by Greg

In addition to the winter/spring semester’s worth of free readings by a wide variety of writers, the New York State Writers Institute also presents its Classic Film Series. Events are free and open to the public and located at UAlbany’s Page Hall.

The centerpiece of the NYS Writers Institute’s film series this spring will be the William A. Wellman Film Festival, a screening of five examples of the best work of legendary Hollywood director William A. Wellman, which display the remarkable range of styles and interests over the course of his long and prolific career. The series will culminate on Friday, May 1 with an appearance by the director’s son, William Wellman, Jr., who will read from and discuss his new biography of his father, “Wild Bill Wellman: Hollywood Rebel.”

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“LET THE FIRE BURN”
Friday (February 6), 7pm
Followed by a discussion with director Jason Osder
Directed by Jason Osder (United States, 2013, 88 minutes, b/w and color)
Starring Birdie Africa, Ramona Africa, Wilson Goode
This multiple award-winning documentary presents a history of the tragic conflict between the City of Philadelphia and the Black Liberation organization MOVE in the mid-1980s. The Variety reviewer said, “The brilliantly edited tapestry of actions and reactions exposes a pattern of prejudice and fear capable of infinitely repeating itself.”

“NIGHT CATCHES US”
Friday, February 13, 7pm
Followed by a discussion with director-screenwriter Tanya Hamilton and producer Ron Simons
Directed by Tanya Hamilton (United States, 2010, 90 minutes, color)
Starring Anthony Mackie, Kerry Washington, Jamara Griffin
A finalist for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, the film is a powerful evocation of the American inner city in 1976. A former Black Panther returns to his old Philadelphia neighborhood, where he confronts the unresolved problems of his past. Rolling Stone said, “Tanya Hamilton’s first feature as a director is something to cherish… She lets her mesmerizing movie sneak up on you and seep in until you feel it in your bones.”

“NOTHING SACRED” (as part of the WILLIAM A. WELLMAN FILM FESTIVAL)
Friday, February 20, 7:30pm
Directed by William A. Wellman (United States, 1937, 77 minutes, color)
Starring Carole Lombard, Fredric March, Charles Winninger
This beloved gem of the screwball comedy genre features the verbal fireworks of screenwriter Ben Hecht. A woman wrongly compensated by her employer for a misdiagnosed case of radium poisoning decides to accept the money anyway and spend it on one grand “last hurrah.” A reporter seeking a story comes along for the ride, and an epic battle of the sexes ensues.

“BEAU GESTE” (as part of the WILLIAM A. WELLMAN FILM FESTIVAL)
Friday, February 27, 7:30pm
Directed by William A. Wellman (United States, 1939, 112 minutes, b/w)
Starring Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, Robert Preston
In this all-time classic action-adventure film, three brothers under suspicion of theft run off to join the French Foreign Legion. At a remote desert fort in North Africa, they struggle to survive a siege in which they are hopelessly outnumbered. Variety praised the film for its “vigorous realism and spectacular sweep.”

“WUTHERING HEIGHTS”
Friday, March 6, 7:30pm
Directed by William Wyler (United States, 1939, 104 minutes, b/w)
Starring Merle Oberon, Laurence Olivier, David Niven
This adaptation of Emily Brontë’s tempestuous romance — one of the most enduring classics of English literature — received eight Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture in a year considered by many critics to be the most competitive in American film history.

“YELLOW SKY” (as part of the WILLIAM A. WELLMAN FILM FESTIVAL)
Friday, March 27, 7:30pm
Directed by William A. Wellman (United States, 1948, 98 minutes, b/w)
Starring Gregory Peck, Anne Baxter, Richard Widmark
In this highly original western shot in Death Valley, a prospector and his tomboy daughter attempt to protect their secret gold mine when six fugitive bank robbers appear on the scene. Lamar Trotti won a Writers Guild award for his screenplay, inspired by Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”

“MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING”
Friday, April 10, 7:30pm
Directed by Kenneth Branagh (United Kingdom/United States, 1993, 111 minutes, color)
Starring Emma Thompson, Keanu Reeves, Kenneth Branagh
Nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes, this production of Shakespeare’s dark comedy was hailed by The New York Times as “triumphantly romantic, comic and, most surprising of all, emotionally alive.”

“NOBODY KNOWS [DARE MO SHIRANAI]”
Friday, April 17, 7:30pm
Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda (Japan, 2004, 141 minutes, color, in Japanese with English subtitles)
Starring Yûya Yagira, Ayu Kitaura, Hiei Kimura
Barely into his teens, Yûya Yagira won the Best Actor award at Cannes for his portrayal of a boy who raises his young siblings in a Tokyo apartment after their mother abandons them. The Chicago Tribune called the film, “one of those special movies that can give us a new way of seeing.”

“WINGS” (as part of the WILLIAM A. WELLMAN FILM FESTIVAL)
Friday, April 24, 7:30pm
Directed by William A. Wellman (United States, 1927, 144 minutes, b/w, silent with live musical accompaniment by Mike Schiffer)
Starring Clara Bow, Charles “Buddy” Rogers, Richard Arlen
A former flying ace with the French Foreign Legion during World War I, director William Wellman used his familiarity with aviation to craft this silent film about two fighter pilots in love with the same woman. The first Oscar-winner for Best Picture – and the only silent to win an Oscar prior to “The Artist” in 2011 – the film dazzled contemporary audiences with its innovative flying footage and aerial combat scenes.

William Wellman, Jr., author and actor (as part of the WILLIAM A. WELLMAN FILM FESTIVAL)
Friday, May 1, 7:30pm
Reading and discussion on the work of film director William Wellman
William Wellman, Jr. is the author of “Wild Bill Wellman: Hollywood Rebel,” a biography of his father, director William A. Wellman, a giant of the motion picture industry from the Silent Era to the 1950s. Wellman’s 82 films include history’s first Academy Award winner for Best Picture, “Wings” (1927), as well as such iconic films as “A Star Is Born” (1937), “The Ox-Bow Incident” (1943) and “The High and the Mighty” (1954). Drawing on his father’s unpublished letters, diaries, notes and unfinished autobiography, the new book offers the first full portrait of the man. A notable character actor in his own right, Wellman Jr. is also the author of “The Man and His Wings,” about the making of his father’s silent masterpiece.

ADDITIONAL UPCOMING REAL GOOD FOR FREE EVENTS FOR 2015:

New York State Writers Institute’s Visiting Writers Series @ UAlbany, Albany, various days
Music at Noon @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, select Thursdays
Beat the Snow Winter Concert Series @ Schenectady Public Library, Schenectady, Sundays