SAN FRANCISCO, CA (September 13, 2016)—The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) and the San Francisco Film Society (SFFS) announce the launch of Modern Cinema, a new film series, comprising three seasons annually, exploring the dynamic relationships between the past and present of cinema as one of the modern era’s essential visual art forms. The collaboration kicks off in October with the inaugural season, dedicated to legendary preservationists and exhibitors/distributors the Criterion Collection and Janus Films, accompanied by a retrospective of films by contemporary Thai master director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, who will be present to introduce his work and give an artist talk. All screenings and talks take place in the newly renovated Phyllis Wattis Theater at SFMOMA, and several programs will feature special introductions by notable Bay Area figures.
“A museum of modern art is incomplete without cinema,” said Dominic Willsdon, Leanne and George Roberts Curator of Education and Public Practice at SFMOMA, “because the histories of film, painting, design and photography are so intertwined, but also because cinema, as much as other visual art, has illuminated our collective experience of the modern world.”
“This major new partnership will ensure that the history of cinema will be consistently celebrated in a beautiful, state-of-the-art San Francisco cinema, inspiring a new generation of enthusiastic and informed filmgoers,” said SF Film Society Executive Director Noah Cowan. “It has been a great privilege to work with the team at SFMOMA to bring this ambitious project to fruition—and great fun too, as this playful first program suggests.”
Modern Cinema seeks to highlight the ongoing dialogue between the critically acclaimed filmmakers of today—particularly those showcased in contemporary visual culture—and the great masters of cinema’s past, in an attempt to shine a light on the historical continuity and ongoing impact of this most modern of art forms.
For this inaugural program, the Film Society and SFMOMA pay tribute to an institution that has become synonymous with the very best of international art cinema. Founded in 1984, the Criterion Collection and its sister company Janus Films have championed filmmakers and films that have made a significant impact on critics, audiences and artists alike. The result is a canon of works that bring the defining moments of cinema to a wide audience. Building on the Mel Novikoff Award tribute to Janus/Criterion at the recent San Francisco International Film Festival, Modern Cinema will present a diverse international cross-section of films from their remarkable catalog of classics. The films selected for the three weekends of season one center around the theme of haunting, including films whose power has “haunted” other filmmakers; the work of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, whose films are haunted by ghosts of cinema past and their own characters who move between past or present; and the final weekend of subtle psychological horror with films that haunt us all—ghost stories, explorations of the spirit and studies in fantasy from around the world.
Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, whose video installation Phantoms of Nabua is featured in the exhibition Film as Place, on view at SFMOMA September 10 through October 30, draws on this rich history of filmmaking. His work, which often features ghostlike characters caught between states of life and death, repurposes elements from a broad swath of modern film culture to make his much-celebrated feature films, experimental shorts, and ambitious installation projects.