Sands Films Tuesday Cinema Club February 2020

Sands Films Studios present Tuesday Cinema Club, a selection of international films with different themes each month. For times and bookings tickets on Eventbrite, click here

Sands films cinema Club Tuesday

Films of 1954

February is dedicated to films produced in 1954 with a selection of productions from famous directors Luis Buñuel, Federico Fellini and Herbert Biberman

Tuesday Cinema Club in February

8pm| Free, booking required

Directed by Federico Fellini | 108 mins


Many, perhaps most, of the world’s most beloved films revolve around children or childhood—or, as in the case of La strada, an innocent, childlike adult. It appears that a simple form of romanticism—romanticism as romance—is rooted in our most heartfelt experience. Even against our better judgment, we sometimes embrace the myth that the young and the innocent are the repository of our humanity.

In English, La strada means “the road.” Federico Fellini’s film—his finest, along with I vitelloni (1953) and Fellini Satyricon (1969)—conveys life on the road and the rootlessness of its three lonely main characters: Zampanò, a circus strongman; Gelsomina, his assistant; the tightrope acrobat called Il Matto, “The Fool.”

Worn and strange, their itinerant world finds one never at home, scarcely ever at rest. Encapsulating this world is an image early in the film. Zampanò has abandoned Gelsomina for a night’s pleasure. Sleepless, alone, she is on a dark, empty street down which, inexplicably, trots slowly a horse, riderless, saddleless, the sound of its hoofbeats, interrupting silence, a measured clock of the soul. This haunting epiphany creates a sense of time forlornly blending into vacant eternity. (It is the same kind of poetry that John Ford’s magnificent The Long Voyage Home (1940) achieves, especially at the end.) Sometimes in motion, sometimes dormant, wheels perform the same poetic function throughout La strada.

8pm| Free, booking required

Directed by Herbert Biberman | 94 mins

During opening credits, Esperanza is shown, outdoors in a miners’ residential camp, splitting wood for a boiling pot and boiling water. Post-credits, in the mine, a defective blasting fuse causes a near disaster. The new rule is that Mexican-Americans must work by themselves, denying them the precautions that have been extended to “Anglo” workers. Esperanza and her husband, Ramon, quarrel. Ramon insists workers’ safety must be the union’s priority, while Esperanza pleads for sanitation. When Ramon accuses her of selfishness, Esperanza replies, “If I think of myself it’s because you never think of me.”

     Seeking economic justice, Mexican-American workers went on strike, beginning in 1951, against the mining company Empire Zinc in Silver City, New Mexico. Salt of the Earth brings documentary realism to its fictional reconstruction of the event. Perhaps its most electrifying aspect, though, is its portrait of the womenfolk, who crash the barrier of Hispanic machismoin their parallel quest for marital and communal equality. They join their spouses in the strike, take over the picket line when necessary and endure consequent incarceration. Anything but a reductive “message movie” of the liberal sort that producer Stanley Kramer periodically discharged, this is a remarkably holistic account of a community’s multiple efforts toward equality.

     The film, befittingly, is also an exemplary blend of objective and subjective, documentary and fictional elements. Playing Ramon, union president, Juan Chacon really was President of Local 890 of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers, other members of which populate the cast. Blending perfectly with these, in the film’s central role, is superb Rosaura Revueltas, the Mexican actress who plays Esperanza.

    Salt of the Earth was made by a cooperative of blacklisted artists, among them writer Michael Wilson and director Herbert J. Biberman. 

8pm | Free, booking required

Directed by Keisuke Knoshita | 156 mins

Hideko Takamine, a Japanese child star who grew up to be a middling actress, plays Hisako Oishi, who teaches school in a rural island village beginning in the late 1920s, in Nijushi no hitomi, from Sakae Tsuboi’s novel. Written and directed by Keisuke Kinoshita, this soft, elegiac antiwar classic spans two decades, deriving its poignancy from the eventual deaths of students in World War II, the depth of affection that students retain for Oishi, and the aural punctuation of nostalgic melodies on the soundtrack, including ones familiar to Western audiences. Whether this last is a sly reference to the U.S. occupation of Japan following the war I cannot say. Oishi, one notes, wears Western clothes. Indeed, it is her modernity that initially draws resistance to her acceptance from the island’s inhabitants.

     Kinoshita’s films always somewhat disappoint, and this leisurely, very appealing one is no exception. Although Kinoshita applies a degree of restraint and, as a result, it isn’t mawkish, Twenty-Four Eyes is not immune to the label tearjerker. While its repetitiousness dulls its capacity to jerk all the tears it aims for, this sad film racks up a good many bull’s-eyes.

     Perhaps the film’s finest aspect is its translation into form and feeling of the idea of time’s passage. It always depresses me that so many Hollywood films whose story spans a number of years—an example: The Way We Were (Sydney Pollack, 1973)— convey no sense of this. It is sometimes difficult in the case of Kinoshita’s film to match up the faces of actors playing the same character at different stages; but, watching this film, one feels the flow of time and, with it, the irony that the process of education sometimes prepares people for death in war rather than productivity in life.

8pm | Free, booking required

Directed by Luis Buñuel | 90 mins

The film is set in modern Mexico City. It opens with an aerial panorama of the city and a voiceover narration that, we later realize, is meant to parody God, a recurrent target of ridicule for Buñuel, a Roman Catholic-turned-atheist. The narration focuses the viewer’s attention on Mexico City’s working class: “. . . Men and women press their simple everyday stories. Their words and actions are always directed towards the realization of a dream, a desire, an illusion.” It is implied, of course, that the one doing the “directing” is God himself. But the director of the film, working from a story and script by Luis Alcoriza, Juan de la Cabada, José Revueltas and Mauricio de la Serna, will tweak that proposition. He will do this by putting in charge of the main action two seemingly bumbling members of the working class.

  • Food is not allowed inside the cinema.
  • Please DO NOT book a seat if you are not sure of your availability. Seats are limited and each booking reduces the number of seats available to others. If you cannot attend, please cancel your reservation as soon as possible by going to “MY TICKETS” on the email from Eventbrite; this will release your seat to someone else
  • If the film is SOLD OUT, there will be an automated waiting list, which will contact you if/when a seat becomes available.
  • Upon leaving the cinema, please consider making a donation towards the running costs to support the cinema club. 

About Sands Films

Sands Films Studio is a film production facility servicing films and TV since 1975. The Studio is also home to The Rotherhithe Picture Research Library which is an educational charity providing a free visual reference library to designers and students. Since 2005 Sands Films Cinema Club has provided regular programmes of film screenings and live events with a non-commercial agenda of culture, education and politics. Most screenings are free and supported by donations, subscribers and shareholders. Visit Sands Films website to discover ways of getting involved with Sands Films.

Disclaimer: WISE16 cannot be held responsible for any event changes or cancellation. We strongly recommend to check with the organiser if you have any questions, especially for those events which require paying a fee.

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