It's only been a couple of years since the great filmmaker Sidney Lumet passed away and seven since his final feature graced our screens, but many of his works still influence modern works and are incredibly reflective of today's society. This is why it's not surprising that he's one of the filmmakers chosen for a retrospective this year at the Miami Beach Cinematheque. In partnership with the Miami Jewish Film Festival, the Lumet retrospective is part of the Masters of Jewish Cinema series, which began last year.
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Three of Lumet's iconic films will be shown for one-night-only throughout September, with each work featuring an introduction discussion by a special guest host. Of his 40 works, three might seem like a small amount. But as festival director Igor Shteyrenberg says, "We hope to celebrate Sidney Lumet's extraordinary career by shining a light on three of his most powerful films. It is an honor to be able to offer this small overview, as few filmmakers have captured the varied voices and textures of America with such cinematic style as Sidney Lumet."
The series kicks off with quite a bang, not solely with one of Lumet's films but with the documentary that accompanies it. On Thursday, September 4, the series begins with Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren's The Dog, a documentary on the late John Wojtowicz, whose attempted robbery of a Brooklyn bank was the inspiration for Sidney Lumet'sDog Day Afternoon. Needless to say, it comes accompanied with the 1975 film it inspired as part of a double feature.
Hans Morgenstern, writer for Independent Ethos and New Times, will host the double feature and is honored by the prospect of being asked for another speaking engagement, especially with a director like Lumet as the subject.
"It's a bold idea to look at a filmmaker who was Jewish but isn't known to address Jewish culture," Morgenstern says. "He was one of the greats of the '70s New Hollywood school because he was such a humanist. He had a profound awareness of the spirit in the disillusionment of the 1970s and was a fantastic actor's director, as many know from his work with Pacino in this film and into his later work with the likes of Philip Seymour Hoffmann."
The second film in the series, screening on Thursday, September 11, is the 1964 film, The Pawnbroker. The feature, which stars Rod Steiger as a German-Jewish Holocaust survivor who runs a pawnshop in East Harlem, will be hosted by acclaimed author David N. Meyer (The Bee Gees: The Biography, 20,000 Roads, and A Girl and A Gun: The Completely Guide to Film Noir).
And the closing film on Thursday, September 18, will be Lumet's 1976 film, Network, co-hosted by a set of film critics; Dim the House Lights and New Times writer Juan Barquin and Independent Ethos writer Ana Morgenstern.
Ana, who has previously hosted events at the Cinematheque, is excited about the film she will be discussing in the upcoming weeks. "Network is an iconic film that has parlayed its way into American culture, with one of the most quotable moments of cinema -- 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore' -- entering the language for a meaning that's at once satirical and true. Lumet's 1976 characterization of the inner workings of a TV network still rings true today, a testament of his skill as a director and insight into a business that at times runs just like a farce."
And that is exactly the reason why Sidney Lumet proves to be a perfect choice for the retrospective; these works may have been made decades ago, but each one is still resonants today. As Miami Beach Cinematheque's director Dana Keith says, "To present films from the past on the big screen is an important aspect of keeping these voices alive and relevant."
The Dog screens at 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 4, followed by Dog Day Afternoon at 9 p.m.; The Pawnbroker screens at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 11; Network screens at 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 18. Tickets cost $8-$11. Visit miamijewishfilmfestival.net or mbcinema.com.
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