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Sag Harbor Cinema Brings the Virtual to Life

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 17:04
"Notturno" portrays the lives of ordinary people amid the war zones of the Middle East.

Throughout the pandemic, the Sag Harbor Cinema has presented new releases and classic films through its Virtual Cinema streaming platform. Consistent with its mission to connect filmmakers with its audience, in October the cinema paired each of four films by the acclaimed documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman with a conversation with Mr. Wiseman.

"One of the great joys of our path towards the new Sag Harbor Cinema has been discovering how supportive filmmakers and artists in general are," said Giulia D'Agnolo Vallan, the cinema's artistic director. "Their in-person participation has made so many of our screenings special."

A new series of conversations, "Cinema Live," will feature interviews by Ms. Vallan with directors whose films can be accessed on the cinema's website during the coming weeks. The series will launch Sunday at 4:30 p.m. with a conversation between Ms. Vallan and Gianfranco Rosi, a noted Italian-American documentary filmmaker whose "Notturno" premiered in September at the Venice Film Festival.

Filmed over three years on the borders between Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria, and Lebanon, "Notturno" captures the everyday lives of people in the war zones of the Middle East. Mr. Rosi's project, according to Variety, is "to communicate the commonality of human experience even in acutely divided terrain." The presence of war is constant put peripheral, as in a romantic scene of a couple on a rooftop overlooking a city while sporadic gunfire can be heard in the distance.

Mr. Rosi won the Golden Lion at the 70th Venice Film Festival for "Sacro Gra" and the Golden Bear at the 66th Berlin Film Festival for his film "Fire at Sea," which was also nominated for an Oscar. "Notturno" will become available to stream starting tomorrow.

The Mexican filmmaker Fernanda Valadez, the director of "Identifying Features," will be Ms. Vallan's guest on Jan 31. The film, which won two awards at the Sundance Film Festival, is a drama about a middle-aged woman who loses contact with her son after he crosses the border into the United States to find work. While she is desperate to find news of him, her path crosses with Miguel, a young man who has been deported from the United States.

Of the film, her first feature, Ms. Valadez has said, "Although the story is basically a drama that deals with issues that I believe are relevant in Mexico -- violence, enforced disappearances, and migration -- I tried to give the film the sensation of a thriller." The film will be available for streaming on Friday, Jan. 29.

Pietro Marcello, an Italian director, will discuss his dramatic feature "Martin Eden" on Feb. 6. Adapted from a 1909 novel by Jack London, the story follows Martin, a self-taught proletarian with artistic aspirations, on a journey from working class toil to bourgeois success that proves more complicated than he could have imagined. The New York Times called the film "audacious and thrilling."

With only 10 feature films released over three decades, critics have already deemed Wong Kar Wai "one of the true masters of contemporary cinema."

The release on Virtual Cinema of "World of Wong Kar Wai," which includes seven of the Hong Kong director's best films, will be accompanied by a conversation on Feb. 14 between Ms. Vallan and John Powers, a critic at large for NPR and the author, with Mr. Wong, of the first book on the director's entire body of work. Mr. Wong's films are available from the cinema's website through Feb. 28.

A future program will feature a discussion with Ramin Bahrani, the Iranian-American writer, director, and producer of the soon-to-be-released feature film "The White Tiger," which is based on the novel by Aravind Adiga. All of the conversations will be recorded and will remain available through the cinema's website and social media channels.

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