Note: Most educational documentaries are listed with the daily Events.
Every Wed. through May 8: “America’s Music: A Film History of Our Popular Music from Blues to Bluegrass to Broadway.” A weekly series of film screenings, followed by discussion led by U-M musicology professor Mark Clague. Part of a Tribeca Film Institute project (see May 10 Events listing). 6:30-8:30 p.m. May 1: Latin Music USA, Episode One: Bridges (Daniel McCabe, 2009), an exploration of the development of Afro-Cuban jazz and mambo in New York City dance halls and nightclubs, and an excerpt from From Mambo to Hip-Hop: A South Bronx Tale (Henry Chalfant, 2006) that explores the origins of hip-hop as a conscious alternative to gang culture. May 8: A Space for Music, a Seat for Everyone: 100 Years of UMS Performance in Hill Auditorium (Sophia Cruz & Anna Prushinskaya, 2013), a new documentary that draws on concert recordings, news articles, and anecdotal interviews.
May 3: “Alois Nebel” (Tomás Lunák, 2011). Named Best Animated Film at the 2012 European Film Awards, this film noir-style tale traces the haunted memories of a troubled Czechoslovakian train dispatcher haunted by his WWII experiences. Czech, subtitles. The program opens with the Oscar-nominated animated short The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (Brandon Oldenburg & William Joyce, 2011), an adaptation of Joyce’s humorous, poignant allegory--inspired in equal parts by Buster Keaton, The Wizard of Oz, and Hurricane Katrina--about people who devote their lives to books and books who return the favor. Also, between films, a set by the local acoustic pop-folk band Cash Harrison & the Terrible Decisions. 6:30-8:30 p.m.
May 22: “Martin Luther King, Jr: A Historical Perspective” (Thomas Friedman, 1994). Award-winning documentary about MLK’s life and career. Also, Performance Network staff are on hand to introduce its current production The Mountaintop (see May 2 Events listing), Katori Hall’s new play set in MLK’s hotel room on the eve of his assassination. 7-8:15 p.m.
Every Mon.:“Movie Matinee,” with films TBA. FREE. 12:30-3 p.m.
May 4: “May the Fourth Be with You.” Screening of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (George Lucas, 1997), a rereleased edition of the original Star Wars.
May 18: “Spiritual Cinema.” Screening of a feature film or several shorts TBA with spiritual themes. Followed by discussion.
May 31: “Brother Sun, Sister Moon” (Franco Zeffirelli, 1972) Biopic about St. Francis. The soundtrack features songs by Donovan. Followed by discussion.
May 5: “Life in Stills” (Tamar Tal, 2011) and “Numbered” (Dana Doron & Uriel Sinai, 2012). Documentary double feature. Life in Stills is about the relationship between a 96-year-old Israeli woman and her grandson as they struggle to rescue from demolition her photo shop, which contains nearly one million negatives documenting Israel’s beginnings, and Numbered is about Auschwitz survivors and the relationship they have with the tattooed number on their arms. Hebrew, subtitles. 2 p.m. “Hava Nagila: The Movie” (Robert Grossman, 2012). Documentary about the history of this ubiquitous Jewish folk song that traces its around-the-world journey from the Ukraine to Israel, the Catskills, and YouTube. Interviews with Harry Belafonte, Leonard Nimoy, Connie Francis, and Glen Campbell, as well as performances of the song by Belafonte, Francis, Danny Kaye, Bob Dylan, Lena Horne, Regina Spektor, and Chubby Checker. 8 p.m.
May 6: “BESA: The Promise” (Rachel Goslins, 2012). Documentary about the families, mostly Muslim, who helped save Jewish families in Nazi-occupied Albania. English & Arabic, subtitles. Followed by a talk by Indiana University linguistics & anthropology professor Frances Trix, winner of the Albanian American National Association Lifetime Achievement Award. 2 p.m. “A Bottle in the Gaza Sea” (Thierry Binisti, 2011). Adaptation of Valerie Zenatti’s award-winning novel about the email-nurtured romance that blossoms between a 17-year-old French girl whose family has settled in Jerusalem and a 20-year-old Palestinian. French, Hebrew, English, & Arabic; subtitles. 5 p.m. “The Flat” (Arnon Goldfinger, 2012). Documentary about the director’s discovery, as he cleans out the Tel Aviv flat of his deceased grandparents--both immigrants from Nazi Germany--of a bizarre commemorative coin that points to a complicated and shocking story. English & Arabic, subtitles. 8 p.m.
May 7: “A.K.A. Doc Pomus” (William Hechter & Peter Miller, 2012). Documentary about the life and career of the Brooklyn-born songwriter. Paralyzed with polio as a child, he reinvented himself first as a blues singer and then as the creator (usually with melodist Mort Shuman) of a string of early rock ’n’ roll classics, from “A Teenager in Love” and “Save the Last Dance for Me” to “This Magic Moment” and “Little Sister.” Followed by a talk by local Jewish Cultural Society educator Larry Kuperman, a lecturer on Jews in rock ’n’ roll. 2 p.m. “Yossi” (Eytan Fox, 2012). This sequel to Yossi & Jagger finds the Israeli army physician reminiscing about the love of his life, a fellow Israeli army officer who died 10 years earlier, when he encounters a group of young officers, one of whom reignites his romantic feelings. Hebrew, subtitles. 5 p.m. “The Day I Saw Your Heart” (Jennifer Devoldere, 2011). Comic drama about a 60-year-old man, expecting a baby with his young wife, who tries to repair his relationship with his 2 grown daughters. French, subtitles. 8 p.m.
May 8: “Incessant Visions” (Duki Dror, 2011). Documentary about the life and work of the influential German Jewish Expressionist architect Erich Mendelsohn. Followed by a talk by U-M Dearborn art history lecturer Jennifer Perlove. 2 p.m. “God’s Neighbors” (Meny Yaesh, 2012). Drama about 3 Breslov Hasidic men who force their beliefs--sometimes violently--on others. When the group’s leader falls in love he suffers a crisis of faith and must choose between his feelings and his friends. Hebrew, subtitles. 5 p.m. “The Other Son” (Lorraine Levy, 2012). Drama about 2 young men, one Israeli and one Palestinian, who discover they were switched at birth. Followed by a talk by local psychoanalyst and child development specialist Michael Singer. French, Hebrew, & Arabic; subtitles. 8 p.m.
May 9: “Kaddish for a Friend” (Leo Khasin, 2012). Drama, set in a working-class neighborhood in Berlin, about the unlikely friendship that develops between a feisty elderly Russian Jew and a Palestinian teenager whose family has migrated to Germany from a refugee camp in Lebanon. German, Arabic, Hebrew, & Russian; subtitles. 2 p.m. “Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story” (Jonathan Gruber & Ari Daniel Pinchot, 2012). Drama about the personal life of the elite Israeli commander who died fighting to rescue hostages at Entebbe in July 1976. 5 p.m. “The Ballad of the Weeping Spring” (Benny Toraty, 2012). Stylized homage to spaghetti westerns and samurai epics that tells the story of a man living like a hermit in the wake of a terrible accident who, in order to grant the wish of a dying friend, reunites his legendary Mizrahi band for a final concert. Hebrew, subtitles. 8 p.m.
Apr. 26-May 2: “The Company You Keep” (Robert Redford, 2012). Thriller about a former Weather Underground activist who goes on the run from a journalist. Stars Robert Redford.
May 1, 2, & 4: “To the Wonder” (Terrence Malick, 2012). Drama about an American who falls in love on a trip to Paris and asks the woman and her daughter to accompany him back to Oklahoma, where an old flame complicates his new relationship. Stars Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, & Javier Bardem.
May 4-8: “Upstream Color” (Shane Carruth, 2013). Romantic sci-fi thriller about a woman who’s drugged by a small-time thief and unknowingly drawn into the life cycle of a mysterious microscopic organism where she meets a man in a similar quandary.
May 10-16: “From up on Poppy Hill” (Goro Miyazaki, 2011). Hand-drawn animated Japanese film about a group of teens who try to save their school’s clubhouse from being demolished before the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
May 19-23: “Ginger and Rosa” (Sally Potter, 2012). Drama set in 1962 London about two teenage girls whose lifelong friendship is shattered by the clash of desire and the determination to survive. Stars Elle Fanning, Christina Hendricks, & Annette Bening.
May 19-23: “Starbuck” (Ken Scott, 2011). Poignant comedy about a fortysomething slacker who finds out he’s the biological father of 533 children, 142 of whom have filed a class-action lawsuit to reveal the true identity of the sperm donor known only as Starbuck. French & Spanish, subtitles.
May 24: “Kon-Tiki” (Joachim Ronning & Espen Sandberg, 2012). Historical drama about Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdal’s 4,300-mile voyage across the Pacific on a balsa wood raft in 1947. English & Norwegian, subtitles.
May 30: “Transforming Loss” (Judith Burdick, 2013). Documentary about the grief journeys of 6 families who coped with devastating losses through helping others. Advance tickets available at ticketweb.com. 7 p.m.
May 14: "A Space for Music, A Seat for Everyone” (Sophia Kruz & Anna Prushinskaya, 2013). Documentary about the history of Hill Auditorium, built in 1913.
May 14: “The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies” (Ray Dennis Steckler, 1964). Trashy low-budget monster musical that’s regularly celebrated as one of the worst films ever made.