A film for the mystery connoisseur

Nothing pulls at me like a good mystery.

You can easily catch me binge watching “Criminal Minds,” googling the facts behind the latest “Dateline NBC” or staying up all night reading the latest thriller, which is why I’m looking forward to the last film in our fall film series, The Unknown Girl.

The Belgian-French drama follows Jenny (Adele Haenel), a young doctor who leaves the clinic door unanswered, only to find out that the African woman found dead shortly after was the one ringing the bell. Driven by guilt and redemption, Jenny sets out to find out who the woman is and see to it that she is not forgotten.

Are you not intrigued? I sure hope so, because, in my humble, suspense-loving opinion, The Unknown Girl possesses at least three characteristics that make for a quality mystery.

It’s attention-grabbing. Great thrillers make it impossible to walk away right from the get-go. Fellow bookworms, it’s those books that invoke a high page-turning pace and healthy dose of obsession to know what happens next. In this case, the Dardenne brothers keep at their gripping undercurrents, begging audience members to go along on Jenny’s journey to find out who this woman is, what happened to her and why she was ringing the clinic’s bell in the first place.

There’s a stellar plot twist. I’m bothered when I figure things out early on and there are no “OMG!” moments. Please, throw me for a loop; give me a dose of humility when I think I know what comes next. Sure, we don’t know the plot twist in this film yet, but the preview alone begs for one. You have a doctor who, moments before the bell rings, tells her intern that “a doctor has to control his emotions,” and yet, days later, she’s making house calls, wondering into places she’d never dreamed of before, her emotions deeply driving her quest for the truth. That’s a solid start in my plot twist requirements.

You forget Adèle Haenel is acting. She’s too busy seeing the world as Jenny would.

You get a sense of purpose and closure. Not just as the viewer-turned investigator, but you want to see the characters reach a closing point. At the heart of this film is a dilemma for even the most dedicated do-gooder – at what point do you pull back to keep yourself from falling too deep? You see Jenny take on different hats to give this girl a voice, consumed by the thought she is to blame. You can only hope to see a closure to that. Plus, you’ll see the directors’ belief in humanity’s freedom to choose to do good, even as outside pressures say otherwise.

Ultimately, I want to be part of a mystery that stays with me even after it’s long done. Something that pulls at my heart and mind, which is something we hope to give you with all the Knick films we show. Something I’m confident The Unknown Girl has to offer.

The Unknown Girl is showing on Monday – Saturday, Nov. 6-11 at 7:30 p.m. Check out the trailer.

Tickets are $7 for regular admission and $6 for senior citizens, Hope College faculty/staff and children. Tickets will be sold at the door but are also available in advance at the Events and Conferences Office located downtown in the Anderson-Werkman Financial Center (100 E. Eighth St.). The office is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached at (616) 395-7890.

The Knickerbocker Theatre is located downtown Holland at 86 E. Eighth St.

Odille Parker
Hope College Events and Conferences Manager

Our 2017 Fall Film Series

Fall brings colors to the leaves, a chill in the air, and films to the Knick! Yes, the fall film series is off and running.

The Knickerbocker Theatre at Hope College is showing four films through November 11.

Maudi posterThe series opens with Maudie, an Irish-Canadian biographical romantic drama, through Saturday, Sept. 16. In Nova Scotia, Maud Lewis (Sally Hawkins), who suffers from severe arthritis, is hired as a housekeeper by reclusive local fish peddler Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke). Despite her crippled hands, Maud yearns to be independent and to live away from her overprotective family, but most of all she wants to create art. An unlikely romance blossoms between Maude and Everett as she hones her skills despite her pain and overcomes the physical challenge of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Eventually, she rises to become one of Canada’s premier folk artists, with paintings hanging in the White House. The film is in English. It has a running time of one hour and 55 minutes and is rated PG-13.

Past Life posterThe series will feature Past Life on Monday-Saturday, Sept. 18-23. The drama/thriller depicts the pilgrimage of two sisters — Sephi Milch (Joy Rieger), an introverted talented classical musician, and Nana (Nelly Tagar), a boisterous journalist — in the late 1970s as they unwind the shocking revelation of their father’s past during the Holocaust. Meanwhile, Selphi not only must struggle with the unraveling of her family history and its possible consequences but also must compete in a male-dominated profession as she seeks to be a classical composer. The film is in English, German, Hebrew and Polish with English subtitles. It has a running time of one hour and 49 minutes and is not rated.

The series will continue with The Trip to Spain on Monday-Saturday, Oct. 9-14. The comedy depicts the many changes and challenges faced in middle age. British comedians Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan once again come onto the big screen, touring their way through a variety of European cities during a week-long drive filled with sightseeing and taste-bud adventures leading them to epiphanies regarding history, fame, and fatherhood. This film is in English. It has a running time of one hour and 48 minutes and is not rated.

The series will end with The Unknown Girl on Monday-Saturday, Nov. 6-11. The Belgian-French drama is a searing saga of guilt and redemption. Young doctor Jenny (Adele Haenel) leaves the clinic door unanswered, and shortly after a young African woman is found dead by the side of the road. Consumed with guilt, Jenny embarks on a journey to discover who the woman was and to see to it that she is remembered. “The Unknown Girl” is both a gripping mystery and a profoundly human moral tale encompassing “no end of guilt, and just enough grace,” as said by the New York Times. The film is in French with subtitles. It has a running time of one hour and 53 minutes and is not rated.

Tickets for the individual films are $7 for regular admission and $6 for senior citizens, Hope College faculty and children. Tickets will be sold at the door but are also available in advance at the Events and Conferences Office located downtown in the Anderson-Werkman Financial Center (100 E. Eighth St.). The office is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached at (616) 395-7890.

The Knickerbocker Theatre is located in downtown Holland at 86 E. Eighth St.

One Night Only Series Focuses on Judy Garland

One Night Only Judy Garland Poster

By Tom Hoover
Guest blogger and film lover

I remember getting to stay up late to watch The Wizard of Oz when I was in elementary school and being more interested in Dorothy’s friends and her dog Toto than I was of this plucky, jittery girl from Kansas whose only skill seemed to be singing mopey songs and skipping around.  Years later I grew to appreciate Dorothy’s adventure with more understanding and I even grew to love that one particular “mopey song”  for the masterpiece of bittersweet longing that it is.

Wizard of Oz
Performing Somewhere Over the Rainbow

None of that awakening would have come about if it hadn’t been for Judy Garland’s Oscar winning performance as Dorothy.  She was so great in the role that generations of people have been won over to the tremendous talent that was Judy Garland solely on the strength of that singular performance.  Hundreds of singers have covered “Over the Rainbow” but none have achieved the impact and reach of Judy’s interpretation.  That song is forever hers. But Judy was much more than that song or that movie.  

Meet Me in St. Louis
The Trolley Song from Meet Me in St. Louis

Building upon The Wizard’s huge success, Judy was kept busy with making a series of MGM musicals throughout the 1940’s.  Two of her most successful films were Meet Me in St. Louis and Ziegfeld Follies.  Of these two, Meet Me in St. Louis was the one that had Judy truly transitioning from a younger studio phenom to a full-fledged adult star able to carry a film and bring in the box office numbers.  Meet Me in St. Louis produced some of Judy’s most beloved musical hits – “The Trolley Song,” “The Boy Next Door,” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”  Director and future husband, Vincent Minnelli was instrumental in crafting Judy’s look and performance in the film.  The picture is a wonderful tribute to Hollywood’s vision of a time gone by.  Judy’s voice was never better and her new look was full of wide-eyed vitality with just the right amount of worldliness.  Minnelli required the best from Judy and the results are a stunning performance from an actress almost unrecognizable from the naïve farm girl she portrayed in Wizard of Oz just a few years before. This film is my favorite among the MGM musicals with Judy in the cast.

Towards the end of the 1940’s the frantic pace of production, a series of short failed marriages, and Judy’s growing drug dependence took their heavy toll.  She was hospitalized several times for exhaustion and suffered a nervous breakdown.  Eventually, roles dried up and her contract with MGM was canceled. Going into the 1950’s, Judy drifted in and out of the public eye, occasionally appearing on TV variety shows.  She managed to re-invent herself as a stage singer which revived her career to the point where she was appearing on stages around the world to sold out crowds.  After a particularly successful run in Great Britain, Judy returned to Hollywood with her then husband, Sidney Luft to independently bankroll and produce a pet project – a musical re-make of A Star is Born, a Hollywood backstage story that closely mirrored Judy’s life at that time.  

A Star is Born
Garland and Mason in A Star is Born

I love this film more for the drama between Judy and James Mason than any of the musical elements (except for the wonderfully overwrought version of “The Man That Got Away” that Judy sings with gusto and loads of bawdy vibrato).  Judy’s honest, harrowing performance is the one time on film that we get close to anything that might be like the real Judy Garland. The film was a great critical success and audiences loved it.  There was even another Oscar nomination.  However, none of this positive press resulted in a big box office and the film ended up losing money.  Roles never materialized, the money disappeared and another of Judy’s marriages imploded.  Judy appeared in a few more small films but eventually returned to television appearances and the concert stage.

After a near death, Hepatitis scare at the end of the 1950’s, Judy bounced back once again with a one-off concert at Carnegie Hall in 1963 that was the musical sensation of the year.  The recording from the show went on to chart 13 weeks at number one on Billboard and garnered 4 Grammy awards including Album of the Year and Female Vocal of the Year.

Following the success of the Carnegie Hall concert, Judy re-made herself again by tapping into her vaudeville roots and taking to the stage singing in elaborate stage shows around the world.  She never returned to Hollywood and only appeared on television sporadically.  By late 1969, the years of relying upon medication to fuel her days caught up to her and in the words of her Wizard of Oz co-star, Ray Bolger (The Scarecrow) “She just plain wore out.”  Judy Garland passed away at the age of 47.

Judy Garland was one of the most unique, beloved and tragic stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood.  Her journey from child star to musical sensation to tragic early demise is a complete American Hollywood tale that is no scripted fantasy, but the real legacy left by one of the most massively talented entertainers the industry has ever seen.

Read our press release and visit the Knickerbocker Film Page.

Our 2017 Spring Film Series

The Schedule
May 15 – 20
 –  Whisky Galore
May 22 -26 ( Mon – Fri )  – After the Storm
May 30 – June 3 ( Tues- Sat ) –  Nise: The Heart of Madness
June 5 – 10 –  The Women’s Balcony

The Reasons
Springtime films. As we head into the summer blockbuster time, we present spring “betterbuster” films. What is the difference with our films?

1) Fewer large explosions than most movies (or television shows or commercials).
2) Not everyone speaks English (and we have the subtitles to prove it).
3) We think people can act with their clothes on.
4) Gore and gratuitous violence — not a necessity.
5) You’ll still be thinking about the film on the next day.
6) Our concessions are affordable and delicious (which has nothing to do with our film selections, but we think food and saving money is important).

The Preview

So we open with a film name that will surely get some attention on the marquee! Whisky Galore is a remake of a 1949 film that was based on a novel by Sir Compton Mackenzie. It tells the true story (with dramatic license) of what happens in the tiny Scottish island of Todday when the SS Politician runs aground with 264,000 bottles of malt whisky. And, since war rationing has left the island dry, in a manner of speaking, the local folks’ desire to help this ship is great indeed. It is a comedy and a romance (and we note that while not all comedies are romances, some argue that all romances are comedies) with English comedian Eddie Izzard in the lead role as  Captain Wagget, the officer responsible for making sure the whisky is accounted for.

You can watch the trailer here, but I also recommend this fun clip from the original film to get you in the mood for the new film. And, in case you are wondering, “whisky” is the Scottish spelling for what we call “whiskey.”

After the Storm brings us a film from a Japanese director popular in our office. Hirokazu Koreeda directed an office favorite, “Our Little Sister” as well as another film we liked and showed, “Still Walking.” Koreeda has the ability to present dramatic situations with a touch of humor, much like we (should) handle them in life. Hiroshi Abe (whom we saw in “Still Walking”) is a one-hit wonder author who spends his time making ends meet by working as a private detective, and making ends not meet by gambling. After his father dies, he realizes the importance of family and wants to reconnect with his young son, ex-wife, and his mother. Given his track record, he is not welcomed with open arms. But when he gets the chance to reconnect with his son, he does not want to let the opportunity slip by him. The trailer does a good job showing Koreeda’s mix of humor and drama.

And, then we get serious. Nise: The Heart of Madness is based on the real-life story of Dr. Nise de Silveira. Her entire life is a lesson in battling the odds, including being the only female graduate in her medical class. She shows up in the 1940s to work at the Rio de Janeiro psychiatric hospital, where she is given little respect since she is a woman. Undaunted, she turns the psychiatric world upside down with her demand for and success with treating the mentally ill in humane way. This is not a documentary, but a dramatic telling of this one time in her life. But, after seeing it, you’ll want to learn the history of this doctor who is highly regarded in Brazil and beyond for her work. Hey, she even has a stamp with her picture, and for nerdy stamp collectors like me, that is high praise. Watch the trailer here.

From there we go to another film featuring women fighting for some rights. However, this a bit more light! The Women’s Balcony is a comedy out of Israel where it has been a huge hit. A tragedy takes an Orthodox Jewish community’s rabbi out of the picture for a while. In his place a young rabbi with strong views shows up, and before we know it we have the classic battle of the sexes played out, complete with quotes for Jewish philosophers? A fast-moving, funny film — even the trailer works that way.

You can read the press release, watch the trailers, or visit the Knick website (and we’ll be listing our Family Film Series and next One Night Only series soon).

Derek Emerson
Director of Public Affairs and Events

Things to Come Redefines a Mid-Life Crisis

Upon first reading the summary for Things to Come, I had a sense of predictability.

Here we have Nathalie, a high-school philosophy teacher who seems to have all her ducks in a row. She has a job she’s passionate about, a happy marriage of 25 years, and two wonderful children who are growing up and fleeing the nest. Even if I stopped right there, your guess on what was coming next would be pretty accurate.

“I thought you’d love me forever,” says Nathalie, ruefully to her husband. “What an idiot.”

You guessed it – Nathalie’s world is thrown for a loop when her husband announces he is leaving her for another woman. I was rolling my eyes at this point. Hello! I’ve seen this plot before. Then, when director Mia Hansen-Love introduces Fabien, one of Nathalie’s favorite former students, my Hollywood-trained mind thought we had the entire movie figured out.

Think again.

As Amanda mentioned, the films we show at the Knickerbocker are not the mainstream, predictable movies many of us are used to. Foreign films, like Things to Come, don’t follow any kind of cookie cutter plot – they do their own thing, keeping viewers engaged with original content and story lines.

So no, we don’t see Nathalie meltdown, pursing a relationship with a younger man who reminds her of herself in her younger years. Instead, we see a woman of intellectual and emotional substance find new freedoms and understanding in her new life circumstances.

Honestly, how could you not appreciate Hansen-Love’s fresh perspective in this kind of crisis? Plus, the divorce isn’t the only turbulence in Nathalie’s life, but she faces each with grace and strength, concluding, “I am lucky to be fulfilled intellectually.” I truly value a character that is not unraveled when the things she assumed were certain are broken, but rather, remains rooted in her ideals and self-confidence.

Isabelle Huppert as Nathalie, with Roman Kolinka as Fabien.

There’s also something to be said about the teasingly-romantic, yet strictly platonic nature of Fabien and Nathalie’s relationship. I blame my Hollywood- accustomed mind once again for the half second where I hoped a romantic bond would develop between the two. Thankfully, I came to my senses and appreciated Fabien’s role in Nathalie’s new journey. It’s a friendship from one intellectual to another. More importantly, it’s a glimpse backwards for Nathalie, and a realization that she did not compromise her youthful ideas so much as matured into new ones.

Mia Hansen-Love redefines mid-life crisis in Things to Come. Nathalie remains rooted as a woman of mind and heart, avoiding the chance to slip back into her youthful ways and moving forward not by refilling the things that are void, but by understanding this new phase as another chance to live freely and confidently.

This French drama is lighthearted, thoughtful and surprising in a new way. Check out the official trailer and learn more about it on our press release.

The film is showing at 7:30pm from March 27-April 1.

Odille Parker
Event and Conference Manager

#GirlPower in The Eagle Huntress

My dad and me. He flew back from Singapore just to be there for “one of his proudest moments.”

Growing up with a dad who supported and encouraged every (reasonable) goal of mine, I completely relate to the bond between Aisholpan and her father. Much like my dad, Aisholpan’s father, Nurgaiv, believes in the power of hard work and determination – you  bet on yourself and you make it happen, knowing that he’ll always be in your corner.

This is especially true if you’re looking to be an eagle huntress…in a father-son-dominated tradition…the first in twelve generations, actually. Then you know he’s got his gear on and ready to do whatever it takes to help you succeed.

I’m obviously rallying hard behind The Eagle Huntress. Sure, the father-daughter duo angle tugs at my heart, but honestly, it’s the kind of story anyone can relate to.

Plus, could we pick a better film for Women’s History Month?!

Here we have a 13-year-old Aisholpan, facing off against 70 of the greatest Kazakh eagle hunters in Mongolia, riding deep into the mountains and enduring below-freezing temperatures and rigid landscapes to prove she’s a true eagle huntress. All the while, we’re celebrating the many amazing women throughout history and their contributions to society. (Cue applause).

Aisholpan and her father, Nurgaiv.

It’s easy to focus on the big names associated with this month, which is totally fine, because women like Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton and Rosa Parks deserve the praise for their push for change and their ultimate achievements. However, I don’t think you need to have your own Wikipedia page to be celebrated. Every girl and woman with the drive to change the status quo, however big or small, is a heroine to me.

And Aisholpan is one of those girls. She may not go down in the history books, but in her little piece of the world, she’s doing something pretty great. I’d compare Aisholpan’s efforts to a woman looking to play for an NFL team – it’s a male dominated field, the idea would be vehemently rejected by traditionalists and it would be an uphill battle. But who says a woman with the right skills and a healthy dose of determination couldn’t get there?  Let’s not forget Sarah Thomas, the first full-time NFL official #babysteps. Most wouldn’t define either woman’s feat as monumental, but yet, their paths pave the potential for major change.

Each eagle can only have one master, so you’ll see Aisholpan capture and train her own.

So to me, March is for celebrating any woman that put in the hard work to reach their goals, and The Eagle Huntress is a perfect way for us to do so here at the Knick. Granted, more went into choosing this film than the fact that it coincides with Women’s History Month, like Simon Nibblet’s out-of-this-world cinematography, but honestly, we’re also all about that #girlpower.

The optimist in me believes you’ll be inspired by Aisholpan’s story. Maybe you’ll be like Nurgaiv and my dad and continue to push your daughter (or son for that matter) to really go after their dreams. Or maybe, there’s an Aisholpan inside of you waiting to take off. No matter your story, I think there’s something we can all take away from Aisholpan’s ambition to make her dream come alive.

Come see The Eagle Huntress from March 13 – 18 at 7:30 p.m. Watch the official movie trailer and learn more about the film on our press release.

Odille Parker
Event and Conference Manager

5 Reasons Hope Students Should Attend Knick Movies

By Amanda Dort ’17

Amanda Dort

For the past three years, I’ve been working in the Hope College’s Events and Conferences Office writing press releases. If it was not for this job, I wouldn’t have known about the Knick movies in the first place. I’m so happy that isn’t the case because attending the Knick movies is one of my favorite activities to do on campus!

The Knick Film Series? Formally known as the “Knickerbocker Film Series,” the movies are part of the theatre’s “tradition of showing new, independent and foreign films for the West Michigan community.” What does this mean? This means that these movies are not only NEW, but are also not likely to show up at a mainstream theatre. These movies aren’t your predictable, fluffy rom-coms. The films shown as part of the Film Series are engaging and entertaining, while still being thought-provoking and educational.

There’s usually one movie per month during the academic year, and my best friends and I like to attend every one we can! These unpredictable movies’ endings aren’t the only thing that surprises me — what also surprises me is the lack of attendance by other Hope students like myself. This is why I’ve created this list of 5 reasons why you should attend the Knick movies.

  1. They’re free
    FREEEE! Although it’s not advertised in the press releases, the Knickerbocker Fall, Winter, and Spring Film Series is free for Hope College students! Just make sure to bring your Hope College ID to the ticket counter at the Knick, and you will be on your way to enjoying the film.
  2. They’re shown 6 times per week
    If there is a Knick movie playing during a certain week, then it is shown Monday-Saturday of that week. So whether you have a night class on Monday, a team meeting on Tuesday or plans with friends on Wednesday, you still have three more days to attend the Knick movie. All movies begin at 7:30 p.m. and serve as a very nice study break.
  3. They’re a great activity with friends.
    Like I said before, my friends and I love to go to these movies. Bring your friends and enjoy the films together! Plus, if you’re all Hope College students, no one has to pay for their ticket. And the concessions are inexpensive and good!
  4. They’re genuinely GOOD movies
    Some of my favorite movies previously shown include Loving, Our Little Sister, Mustang, and Phoenix. You know you’ve just seen a good movie if you’re still thinking about it the next day, and that is the case with movies shown in the Knickerbocker Film Series. The movies promote conversation and deeper thinking (if you’re into that stuff), but are still fluidly captivating and moving.
  5. They’re shown on-campus
    If you’re not aware already, the Knickerbocker Theatre is located on-campus (well, right on the edge and on 8th Street). There’s no car-pooling or fuel needed to attend a Knick movie. So go ahead, take one of the new crosswalks on Ninth St to Anderson-Werkman and walk through the first floor until you hit the Knick! You won’t regret it.

 

Now that you know about the movies and are aware of five great reasons why you should attend, I hope to see you there! There are still two more movies left in this semester’s Film Series. To stay updated on which movies are playing when, visit the Knickerbocker Film Series’ website, read the press releases on the Hope College News website or follow Hope College Events and Conferences on Facebook. See you soon!

Coming Up:
The Eagle Huntress  — March 13-18

Things to Come — March 27-April 1

The Salesman – Revenge, Forgiveness, and Arthur Miller

I have been a fan of Asghar Farhadi since we showed his Academy Award nominated film, A Separation, a couple of years ago.  The film’s powerful characters, compelling story, and intense drama reminded me of the power of film.  When we had the opportunity to book Farhadi’s latest film, The Salesman, I was quick to put it on the schedule.  And the film doesn’t disappoint.  The Salesman is nominated for the Best Foreign Film Academy Award and has already won over 80 awards from other films festivals.  

It is a powerful drama that on the surface is the story of a young couple whose peaceful lives are disrupted by a tragedy in Iran, but below the surface, The Salesman speaks to many themes much more complicated.  At its heart, the movie is a morality play which examines the power of revenge and forgiveness, as well as offering an honest and revealing look at society and culture in modern Iran. Adding another level to the film is Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, which is also a backdrop for the film.

The Salesman begins with a young couple, Emad and Rana, a teacher and his wife who are also starring in a production of Miller’s Death of a Salesman.  We first see them on stage in rehearsals for the play.  Then their normal life is interrupted and they are forced to find a new place to live.  Luckily a cast member has a vacancy in a place he rents and offers it to the couple.  What seems a stroke of good luck is actually where the problems begin.  Soon after they move in an incident happens — I won’t spoil anything — but it leaves Rana injured and Emad searching for the perpetrator.  Both of them struggle with how to deal with what has happened, but in very different ways.  As they try to come to terms the event and how it is affecting them, we see the increasing tension and distance start to appear in their relationship.  These changes seem most evident at the rehearsals for the production.  The play becomes the one place they actually communicate. As Emad’s quest for revenge builds, we are drawn into the differences between how he and his wife are dealing with this tragedy.  What follows leads us to a gripping and explosive final act.

The Salesman is filled with outstanding acting, but Shahab Hosseini (Emad) and Taraneh Alidoosti (Rana) present their characters with exceptional power and complexity.  And as they struggle to reach some sort of closure about what has happened, their performances become more and more compelling.  I can’t say that the production of Death of a Salesman and Emad’s role as Willie Loman parallels his emotional journey.  In fact, in many ways, he is the opposite of the character, but the production provides an outlet for the characters’ emotion, and it may be that Willie and Linda’s collapse in the play shadows the collapse of Rana and Emad’s life as well.  In the end, we are left with fewer answers than we want, but wiser for the journey.

The Salesman is in Persian with English subtitles and runs 2 hours and 5 minutes.

Read the press release.
Watch the trailer.

Erik Alberg
Technical Director for Events and Conferences Office

The Impact of Love (and “Loving”).

Richard and Mildred Loving (1966)

Their name is so perfect that if this was a fictional story, we would mark it down to poor writing. A couple named Loving fighting for the right to be recognized as a married couple. Married in Washington DC, but not allowed to live in their home state of Virginia. Jailed for their crime and banned from their home, they decide to fight back. This is not the 19th century. This is after the sweeping legislation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And, still, their love was illegal. It seems like a topic that was resolved so long ago, but it could have been my parents. In fact, it was my wife’s parents.

Evie and John Permesang 1962

John Permesang was a young soldier stationed in Panama when Evelia Rodriguez caught his eye. It is not surprising — she was a beautiful, outgoing young woman who made no secret that she hoped someday to marry an American. They were married in Panama in a civil ceremony by an Army Chaplain (and again later, at a church) and, whether they knew it or not, the marriage decided their fate in terms of where they could live. Because it was 1960 and although married by the U.S. government, they were not welcome everywhere in the United States. At the time of the marriage they had about 20 states to avoid, and John once commented that when they arrived in the U.S., the customs agent looked at Evelia and told John that they should go as far north as possible.

Evie and John Permesang at Kollen Park (late 1960s)

Fortunately, home was in Illinois and then in Michigan (Indiana was not a legal option). Only 12 states allowed interracial marriage prior to 1887, and Michigan was one of them. So they started in Chicago, returned to Panama long enough for my wife to be born, and then settled in Holland. They had four children, John worked his way through college and became a teacher, and he and Evie remained together until his death at the age of 58. But just because something is legal does not mean it is accepted. My wife talks of being caught between two cultures, called a “chocolate chip” by some kids. And what looks did John and Evie get when they went shopping at Meijer, a mixed couple in the midst of sameness? When he showed up to a party for teachers with a wife who did not look like him (or most of them), what did people think? What did this couple quietly endure and avoid in their simple desire to share their lives and raise a family?

In other words, the Lovings and the Permesangs are examples of many couples that simply refused to let their love be ruled by unfair laws. And because of people like them, we find a society where such laws can no longer exist. The Census Bureau says that opposite-sex, interracial or interethnic marriages increased by 28 percent from 2000 to 2010. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2008 such marriages in that year alone accounted for 12 percent of unions. Maybe all those couples should send a letter of thanks to the Lovings, Permesangs, and all the other couples who opted to change society instead of letting society change them.
Enjoy the movie!
Derek Emerson
Director of Public Affairs and Events

Our 2017 Winter Film Series

The marketing slogans are easy. “Films to Heat Up Your Winter.” “Four Ways to Beat Cabin Fever.” “Cold Weather, Hot Popcorn, Great Movies — The Perfect Mix.”

Those did not make the cut. Actually, we rarely have a catchy slogan as we think the films sell themselves. Our unofficial slogan for this next series of films is “the solid series” — a variety of films, all different, all strong.

Loving
Jan. 30- Feb. 4, 2017 — 7:30pm

loving_onesheetThis movie was named the number three film of the year by Time Magazine, despite the fact that it was out on limited release. This fictionalized drama is based on the true story of the incredibly named Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial married couple who took their battle to be legally recognized all the way to the Supreme Court. That it took until 1967 to have this happen makes the story even more amazing. The film is raking in award nominations and Manohla Dargis of The New York Times says “There are few movies that speak to the American moment as movingly — and with as much idealism — as Jeff Nichols’s Loving.”

Watch the preview.

The Salesman
Feb. 13-18, 2017 — 7:30pm

Here we offer an Iranian-French film by Academy-award winning directorthe salesman image Asghar Farhadi. (He won the Oscar for A Separation which we showed 2012).  An Iranian couple rehearsing for a performance in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” have to move to a new apartment. But the previous occupant’s past intercedes with their present, turning their lives inside out. Taking Best Actor and Best Screenplay awards at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, Farhadi’s latest film adds to his legacy. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian calls it “smart, ambitious…a well-crafted, valuable drama” and Deborah Young of The Hollywood Reporter says it “leaves the viewer tense and breathless.”
Watch the preview.

The Eagle Huntress
March 13-18, 2017 — 7:30pm

Just watch the preview and dare to miss this movie! The cinematography alone makes this a big-screen must, but the story of 13-year-old Aisholpan working to become the first female eagle hunter in twelve generations just adds to acclaimed documentary. This has the big themes — coming of age, women’s (girl’s) rights, the beauty of nature, the clash of ancient traditions and modern life, and, a glimpse into a culture few of us know. Receiving rave reviews, both the Los Angeles Times and New York Times named it a “Critic’s Pick,” with the NY Times saying it is “Thrilling! A movie that expands your sense of what is possible.”

Watch the preview.

Things to Come
March 27-April 1, 2017 — 7:30pm

Her husband is leaving her for another woman, her mother dies, and her professional life as a philosopher is in turmoil. Well, this sounds like a crazy comedy or a French film. And the winner is…French film! This unlikely plot line has a 100% rating by over 70 critics on Rotten Tomatoes and stars the incomparable Isabelle Huppert as the woman who decides not to fold under the challenges, but instead reinvent her life. Time Magazine says “Huppert is extraordinary—she reveals everything even when you think she’s showing nothing—and she’s the perfect actress, right now, for Hansen-Løve’s (director) fine-grained perceptiveness.” Time Out calls it “warm, thoughtful, surprising.”
Watch the preview.

We think you’ll agree that this is an incredible line up of films, likely to be heard about for years to come. We’ll feature each of these individually on the blog shortly before we show them, but please check out the trailers. And, tell your friends! You are the best advertisement we have for our unique film series. Thank you for supporting us and great films.

 

Derek Emerson
Hope College Director of Public Affairs and Events