Anthology Film Archives


July 14 – August 1

The word ‘biopic’ strikes well-founded fear into the heart of many serious filmgoers, calling to mind the steady stream of bloated, big-budget, hare-brained films produced in Hollywood and elsewhere that delight in recruiting glamorous movie-stars to impersonate various famous or infamous figures whose lives are shoehorned into a depressingly prefab, reductive mold. The biopic is one of the most ubiquitous and perennial of cinematic genres, but it has developed conventions that are spectacularly ill-suited to conveying the messiness, the complexity, and the essential, ultimately impenetrable mystery of a real human life. But it doesn’t have to be thus.
Though always overshadowed by the GANDHIs, CAPOTEs, and WALK THE LINEs of the world, there is a glorious alternative tradition of films that have experimented with more sophisticated, evocative, and visionary ways of conveying the essence of a human life, of capturing a particular figure’s sensibility or exploring the significance of their experience. This summer Anthology presents an eclectic selection of these innovative, experimental, and just plain far-out biographical films (‘anti-biopics’, for lack of a better term). Roughly divided into two halves (films about pre-20th- and 20th-century figures), the series features films about artists, philosophers, scientists, world leaders, and saints, made by filmmakers as varied as Roberto Rossellini, Andy Warhol, Ken Russell, Derek Jarman, Robert Altman, and Alexander Sokurov. And as a very special supplementary program, in September we will be presenting Hans-Jürgen Syberberg’s remarkable and rarely-screened “German trilogy”, featuring the monumental HITLER: A FILM FROM GERMANY (aka OUR HITLER).
Prepare to be educated and dazzled all at once!
Special thanks to Mark Rappaport, Paul Schrader, Brian Belovarac & Sarah Finklea (Janus Films), Jonathan Howell (New Yorker Films), Laurence Berbon (Tamasa Distribution), Delphine Selles-Alvarez (Cultural Services of the French Embassy), Benjamin Crossley-Marra (Zeitgeist Films), Paul Ginsburg (Universal Pictures), Gary Palmucci (Kino International), Ken Eisen (Shadow Distribution), Mark McElhatten, Anne Morra, Mary Keene & Kitty Cleary (MoMA), Stephen Lu (Asian Media Access), Cristina Prado & Alejandro Díaz (Instituto Mexicano de Cinematografía), Aldo Sánchez Ramírez & Sebastian Mitre (Mexican Cultural Institute), Frida Maceira (Tequila Gang/Salamandra Producciones), Alejandra Menache Hernandez & Jaime Aguilar Alvarez Gonzalez (Fundación Televisa), Carlos Gutiérrez (Cinema Tropical), Matthew Seig (Sandcastle 5 Productions), Todd Wiener & Steven Hill (UCLA Film & Television Archive), Marilee Womack (Warner Bros), and Bradley Eros.

< Back to Series