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UW Cinematheque cements its status as Madison’s premier moviegoing hub

The campus program commences its winter-spring 2023 calendar on January 26 with Jerzy Skolimowski’s Eo.
An image collage of four films the UW Cinematheque is presenting this spring semester. Clockwise from top left: "Eo" (2022), "Cooley High" (1975), "Él" or "This Strange Passion" (1953), and "Los Conductos" (2020).
An image collage of four films the UW Cinematheque is presenting this spring semester. Clockwise from top left: “Eo” (2022), “Cooley High” (1975), “Él” or “This Strange Passion” (1953), and “Los Conductos” (2020).

The campus program commences its winter-spring 2023 calendar on January 26 with Jerzy Skolimowski’s Eo.

In last November’s Giving Tuesday appeal, UW Cinematheque Director Of Programming Jim Healy touted how the campus program has “maintained its status as the place to discover new works of international cinema and classics of film history.”

The closure of two Madison movie theaters over the past 11 months—Market Square (or Silver Cinemas) and AMC Madison 6—has only made UW Cinematheque more of a destination; and in September 2022, they responded by launching a Thursday premiere series devoted to new international, documentary, and art-house work from around the world.

This persists in 2023, as the Cinematheque does their part to bring many films on critics’ best-of 2022 lists (by renowned distributors like Janus Films, A24, Celluloid Dreams, Neon, and Grasshopper) to a theatrical setting (at 4070 Vilas Hall), if only for a single night. This includes the donkey fable and Balthazar heir apparent Eo, which kicks off this season on Thursday, January 26, at 7 p.m., followed by Charlotte Wells’ buzzed-about Aftersun on February 2, then Jafar Panahi’s docufiction No Bears on February 9, Alice Diop’s legal drama Saint Omer on February 16, and Albert Serra’s avant-political thriller Pacifiction on February 23.

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The focus on recent world cinema also extends into Cinematheque’s annual collaboration with UW-Madison’s department of Latin American, Caribbean & Iberian Studies (LACIS) in the form of a winter Friday “festival.” This year, all the selections exclusively stem from the current decade, and begin on January 27 with the Javier Bardem satirical vehicle The Good Boss (from Spain). The subsequent titles are vérité-inspired crime drama La Civil (Mexico/Belgium/Romania) on February 3, social revolution documentary My Imaginary Country (Chile) on February 10, and psychological drama Los Conductos (Colombia) on February 17.

In keeping with recent dedication to classic martial arts entertainment that really geared up with last year’s March (madness) marathon These Fists Break Bricks, Cinematheque is once again eager to sate audiences’ tastes with two 1990s Jackie Chan sequels—Drunken Master II (1994) on Friday, April 21, and the rare international cut of Police Story III: Supercop (1992) on the following Friday, April 28.

While all the aforementioned films are being digitally projected on DCP, Cinematheque also has you covered if the old film-stock standard is your passion. Several 35mm screenings are peppered throughout the semester’s lineup, but maybe most notably include two titanic heist films by Michael Mann in early April: the more noir-leaning Thief (1981) on April 1 and the oft-imitated screen-legend face-off in Heat (1995) on April 8.

The Chazen Museum Of Art is also home to a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee series that calls attention to Milwaukee’s own Michael Schultz, who most famously directed Cooley High (1975), which screens on January 29. But Schultz also made a plethora of comedies throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and Cinematheque programmers have selected two of those—Car Wash (1976) and Livin’ Large (1991). His series wraps with the Blaxploitation/Bruceploitation fantasy The Last Dragon (1985) on April 30, perhaps a nod to last year’s late-night screening of the mixed martial arts absurdity that is The Dragon Lives Again (1977).

Fans of experimental film also have reason to celebrate with a February 24 in-person appearance by New York-based octogenarian Larry Gottheim (who last visited Madison in September 2019 with six films, debuting Knot/Not). Here, he will present the 27-minute Entanglement, a new film that just premiered at the Light Matter Film Festival, and the 42-minute Chants And Dances For Hand (2017). Both films “survey the boundary between natural process and human agency, offering varied perceptions of deceptively simple subjects,” Jim Healy writes.

Less than a week prior, on February 19, Cinematheque will pay tribute to Italian filmmaker Paolo Gioli, who died last January. The eight-film suite, curated by Professor of Italian Patrick Rumble, will be presented on 16mm at the Chazen (a rarity for Cinematheque). The program spans Gioli’s career from Traces Of Traces (1969) to Natura Obscura (2013).

For a complete list of events, including a trio of ’50s flicks by Hugo Fregonese in March, Luis Buñuel’s 1953 black comedy-thriller Él (a.k.a. This Strange Passion) on March 18, a special 3-D screening of the noir Man In The Dark (1953) on February 11, visit cinema.wisc.edu/series. Everything is free and open to the public.

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