Schnitzer Cinema starts Oct. 7

Press release courtesy JSMA

The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art announces a new program, Schnitzer Cinema, an on-going film series held on the first Wednesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. this fall.

Schnitzer Cinema will be held on Wednesdays, October 7; November 4; and December 2, 2009. Featuring films related to the exhibition, "Faster Than a Speeding Bullet: The Art of the Superhero," Schnitzer Cinema will showcase the rarely screened films "Confessions of a Superhero," "Danger Diabolik," and "Mister Freedom." Each film will be preceded by a classic Max Fleischer Superman cartoon and a surprise short subject and an introduction by the curator or guest speaker.

Curated by Richard Herskowitz, film curator from the Houston Cinema Arts Society and faculty with the University of Oregon's Arts and Administration program, the film series is designed to showcase unique movies that complement the exhibition and give visitors a first-time opportunity to view the films.

"I wanted to steer clear of the Hollywood superhero films that everyone knows," says Herskowitz. "I searched for less familiar independent and foreign films that were artistically adventurous and that had interesting and original points of view about the meaning of superheroes. "

Beginning on October 7, 2009 at 5:30 p.m., Schnitzer Cinema presents, "Confessions of a Superhero." The film, directed by Matthew Ogens, follows Chris Dennis the ostensible son of actress Sandy Dennis, a Christopher Reeve lookalike (if you squint) and Hollywood Boulevard's reigning Superman impersonator, along with his costumed colleagues Batman and Wonder Woman pretenders. We learn that Wonder Woman was a mid-western homecoming queen, Batman struggles with his anger, while Superman's psyche is consumed by the Man of Steel.

Herskowitz will conduct a live Skype dialogue with director Matthew Ogens following the screening. Ogens' film has been critically acclaimed since its 2007 premiere at South by Southwest and is richly suggestive in its exploration of contemporary American identity, popular culture, and fandom. Additional live dialogues with directors are being planned for future events in the Schnitzer Cinema series.

"Danger Diabolik," will be the feature film on November 4, 2009. "Danger: Diabolik," is a neglected 1960s classic by Italian director Mario Bava and may be the best superhero (actually, supervillain) film ever made. Its translation of comic book aesthetics to cinema, as comics artist Stephen R. Bissette has argued, has never been bettered. John Phillip Law plays the masked thief who steals and torments the Italian government, represented by the policeman Ginko (Michel Piccoli). The film is scored by Ennio Morricone.

On December 2, 2009, Schnitzer Cinema closes it fall series with "Mister Freedom." William Klein, the renowned fashion and street photographer, is also a film director of note and an American expatriate living in Paris. In 1969, he directed "Mister Freedom," a brightly colored satire of American imperialism and international cluelessness. The self-important superhero Mr. Freedom, joining forces with femme fatale Marie-Madeleine (played by Delphine Seyrig), heads to France to rob, beat and kill representatives of the French Anti-Freedom (FAF) organization and anyone else who disagrees with him. The film, with its implicit critique of then-French President Charles de Gaulle and sympathy with radical students, got into some trouble with the French censors.

Schnitzer Cinema, at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon complements "Faster Than a Speeding Bullet: The Art of the Superhero," on view through January 3, 2010. The exhibition features rare and valuable works by some of the most admired artists in the history of superhero comics, gathered from private collections from across the country. The exhibition breaks new ground in its critical evaluation of the artistic and cultural importance of this particular comic book genre.

Guest-curated by Ben Saunders, a professor of English at the University of Oregon, "Faster Than A Speeding Bullet" explores the imaginative world of some of the most compelling fantasy figures to emerge from twentieth-century popular culture – the superheroes of American comic books.

"Faster Than a Speeding Bullet: The Art of the Superhero" is sponsored by the Coeta and Donald Barker Foundation, The William C. Mitchell Estate, and JSMA members. Community partners: Imagine Graphics and Image King Signs. Media Partners: Eugene Magazine and KLCC 89.7 FM.

About the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

The University of Oregon's Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is a premier Pacific Northwest visual arts center for exhibitions and collections of historic and contemporary art based in a major university setting. The JSMA features significant collections galleries devoted to Russian Icons and art from China, Japan, Korea, America and elsewhere as well as changing exhibition galleries. The JSMA is one of six museums in Oregon accredited by the American Association of Museums.

The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is located on the University of Oregon campus at 1430 Johnson Lane. Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays through Sundays. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for senior citizens. Free admission is given to ages 18 and under, JSMA members, college students with ID, and University of Oregon faculty, staff and students. For information, contact the JSMA, 541-346-3027