Spring break for some, but film school ain’t entirely out — academic symposia are picking up the slack. Wednesday, March 31, Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race holds a day-long tribute to superstar Mario Montez — a performer who first appeared in Jack Smith’s 1963 Flaming Creatures and went on to grace a number of Warhol films during the Factory’s mid ’60s Silver Age. An assortment of art historians, film studies folk, Spanish culture professors, and performance artists will be discussing this “disruptive tenant in the legacy of Queer New York,” a gorgeous gender-blurred madcap who Smith astutely recognized could always enlist the audience’s sympathy. Two short films — Warhol’s Mario Banana II (1964) and José Rodriguez Soltero’s Lupe (1966) — are scheduled, as well as a conversation with the star, who may or may not be in character. The event is free, but reservations are required — e-mail Theresa Hernandez at email@example.com.
Tomorrow evening (March 26), the Black Cine Now conference, organized by NYU’s Institute of African American Affairs and addressing the 21st Century crisis of the black new wave, kicks off at the Cantor Film Center (36 East 8th Street). The who’s-who roster of speakers include academics Clyde Taylor, Manthia Diawara, Ed Guerrero, and Mia Mask; culture critics Michele Wallace and Stanley Crouch; and documentary filmmaker Sam Pollard. Sunday features a full day of well-stocked panel discussions on black stardom, black directors, gender representation and new directions in black cinema. Find the schedule and list of participants here. The event is free and open to the public; RSVP at 212-998-IAAA (4222).
Also this weekend, March 27 and 28, John Jay College of Criminal Justice (899 10th Avenue) hosts the American premiere of Lukaš Přibyl’s four-part documentary Forgotten Transports, concerning the Nazi deportation of Czech Jews. Přibyl will be on hand, along with some of his subjects — all over 90. Other screenings include Marion Wiesel’s short documentary, Children of the Night (1999) and, ending the event Sunday at 8, a rare screening of Czech filmmaker Alfred Radok’s 1949 feature Distant Journey — made in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust and still the most haunting and artful fiction film on the subject.
Meanwhile, held over at Film Forum through March 30, is Felix Moeller’s documentary Harlan: In the Shadow of ‘Jew Süss’, an analysis of the notorious Nazi propaganda film and its effect on the family of the filmmaker Veit Harlan which raises so many questions on the effect of motion pictures on people’s lives it is almost a symposium in itself.
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