Brooklyn, NY—From Thursday, February 14 through Thursday, February 21, BAM presents Programmers’ Notebook: On Love, the first in a new recurring series in which BAM’s film programming team responds to a thought-provoking theme. This wide-ranging survey presents some of cinema’s most perceptive portraits of this fundamental emotion in all of its disparate forms—romantic, familial, fraternal, self-love, love of nature, love as passion, love as pain, and everything in between.
The series opens on Valentine’s Day with Gina Prince-Bythewood’s celebrated debut feature, Love & Basketball (2000), in which Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps’ passion for the game is rivaled only by their passion for each other. The series’ panoramic view of romantic love includes Pedro Almodóvar’s noir and melodrama-drenched Russian nesting doll of storytelling, gender identity, and desire Bad Education (2004); the independent classic Nothing But a Man (Roemer, 1964), shot during the tumultuous summer of 1963, in which a black railroad worker’s growing radicalism threatens his relationship with a preacher’s daughter; and Wim Wenders’ dreamily poetic road movie Paris, Texas (1984). It will also include Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s rigorously stylized Sirkian masterpiece Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974); season 1, episode 6 of Pose, “Love is the Message” (2018)—Janet Mock’s directorial debut—in which ball emcee Billy Porter confronts his boyfriend’s death and his own HIV positive status; and Paul Thomas Anderson’s instant-classic of couture, masochism, and mushrooms Phantom Thread (2017). Dee Rees’s Fort Greene-set breakout debut about a teenage lesbian’s first love and family struggles, Pariah (2011), will screen alongside the short To Be Free, directed by Pariah star Adepero Oduye; Oduye will appear for a post-screening discussion, moderated by The New York Times’ Jazmine Hughes.
On Love also explores the bonds of familial love and friendship, including A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), in which robot boy Haley Joel Osment longs for a mother’s love; John Cassavetes’ searing, masterful portrait of a brother and sister (played by Cassavetes and wife Gena Rowlands), Love Streams (1984); Late Spring (1949), a delicate father-daughter story by the great chronicler of family relations Yasujiro Ozu; and Claudia Weill’s frank, funny, and keenly observant New York classic of best friendship Girlfriends (1978).
Representations of love extend beyond the interpersonal to include awed love of nature in Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro (1988); the parallel acts of devotion of women searching for victims of the Pinochet regime and the filmmaker’s own fascinated wonder at the night sky in Chilean documentarian Patricio Guzmán’s Nostalgia for the Light (2010); and a Brazilian Formula 1 champion’s single-minded dedication to racing in Asif Kapadia’s documentary Senna (2010).
On Love kicks off the new Programmers’ Notebook series, an ongoing project collaboratively programmed by Associate Vice President of Film Gina Duncan, Senior Repertory and Specialty Film Programmer Ashley Clark, Repertory and Specialty Film Programmer Jesse Trussell, and Repertory and Specialty Film Programs Coordinator Natalie Erazo. Centered on a single unifying theme, the series will present a broad range of films and offer insight into the programming process. Below, the programmers elaborate on some of their selections for this series.
Nothing But a Man—reportedly Malcolm X’s favorite film—is genuinely stunning; I can’t think of another drama that so beautifully maps the intricacies of a blossoming relationship against a backdrop of social hardship.
— Ashley Clark, Senior Repertory and Specialty Film Programmer
Ozu’s profound empathy always trended towards melancholy and his work was never so alive with quiet pain as in Late Spring, one of the hardest edged and most insightful looks at the bond between parents and children that I’ve ever seen.
— Jesse Trussell, Repertory and Specialty Film Programmer
At once an exploration of the aftermath of political trauma, and a journey through wider philosophical musings, Nostalgia for the Light’s biggest strength is that it does not shy away from being both dreamy and tough, and gets at the complexities of the human experience.
— Natalie Erazo, Coordinator, Repertory and Specialty Film Programs
Sports documentaries are love stories. What else would you call a passionate, all-consuming, and unrelenting pursuit of something intangible yet deeply fulfilling? Senna is the purest example this—an affecting portrait of what it means to give yourself so fully to something that you and it become one.
— Gina Duncan, Associate Vice President, Film