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Young Ahmed
e353e7ec-992a-4aa7-b3f5-40fd9f1967b9.png Wednesday March 11th, 2020
Passing-of-the-Third-Floor-Back.jpg?sha=01f5ea4e4f7174fc
Berthold Viertel 1935 90 min 35mm
6:10pm

In The Passing of the Third Floor Back, Conrad Veidt brings his piercing gaze to the ludicrously ill-fitting role of a christlike magical mystery man determined to bring out the best in a group of spoiled Brits. His earnest voice sells the role well enough, but those eyes threaten to turn every moment into the opening shock of a murder sequence. Perhaps lost in Veidt’s stare, director Berthold Viertel loses control of the film’s tone, skidding from gothic romance to treacly uplift to violent suspense with chaotic, pleasing results. Alma Reville, who as editor and script supervisor was the backbone of Alfred Hitchcock’s filmography, provides a witty adaptation that nearly succeeds in transcending the meager source material, a short story and play by Jerome K. Jerome.

In a microcosmic boarding house live a maid on release from the workhouse, a bitter proto-goth “on the wrong side of 30,” a downtrodden bourgeois family betting on an arranged marriage to reverse their sliding fortunes, a gifted pianist and a money-grubbing capitalist. Each is unidimensional but vividly drawn, suiting the film’s proverbial pretensions. When Veidt reserves the non-descript accommodations of the title, the household is charmed by the vaguely continental man of means. He shocks everyone’s social sensibilities by treating the maid (Rene Ray) with respect while they cluck about the inherent criminality of her caste. The Stranger’s guilelessness is seemingly intended as Gump-level innocence, but his wide-eyed mien would better suit a vampire or alien struggling to mimic human behavior.

The film establishes a moral dichotomy in the figures of Veidt and the sleazy businessman played by Frank Cellier. The latter has been promised the hand of the beautiful Vivian, “The British Bombshell” Anna Lee, who’s in love with a penniless architect. The marriage will restore the fortunes of Vivian’s family at the expense of her happiness. Disturbed by this sidelining of love in favor of money, Veidt hypnotizes (again those eyes!) her during the engagement dinner and she flees into the arms of her paramor. He similarly inspires the aging goth to look on the sunny side and the pianist to pursue classical rather than crass jazz tunes. Cellier spots The Stranger’s meddling and the two are set on a collision course for the poor souls of the boarding house, who are of course proxies for the rest of us. It will come as no surprise that the forces of greed are no match for humanity’s innate goodness. That our champion himself comes off as a deep-pocketed creep adds a disturbing layer to the eternal struggle.

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Screenings
Strange Days
Kathryn Bigelow 1995 146 min
Leaving the 20th Century
Max Almy 1982 10 min
7:30pm
Jorge Sanjinés 1971 90 min
7:00pm
Sergio Giral 1979 84 min
9:00pm
Corneliu Porumboiu 2019 97 min DCP
12:30pm 2:30pm 4:30pm 7:00pm 9:10pm
Diao Yinan 2019 113 min DCP
12:30pm 2:40pm 4:55pm 7:15pm 9:30pm
Ken Loach 2019 100 min DCP
12:30pm 2:30pm 4:50pm 7:00pm 9:10pm
Alfred Hitchcock 1950 110 min DCP
12:30pm
Andre De Toth 1944 90 min. min 35mm
2:40pm
Alfred Hitchcock 1937 83 min. min 35mm
4:30pm
Berthold Viertel 1935 90 min 35mm
6:10pm
Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles 2019 130 min
12:45pm 3:30pm 6:15pm 9:00pm
Corneliu Porumboiu 2019 97 min
1:00pm 3:00pm 5:00pm 7:00pm
Lucie Borleteau 2019 100 min
New York Premiere
1:45pm
Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche 2019 96 min
U.S. Premiere
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Bruno Dumont 2019 137 min
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Bong Joon-ho 2019 131 min
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Nicolas Pariser 2019 103 min
New York Premiere
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Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles 2019 130 min DCP
* Q&A with directors Kleber Medonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles.
6:45pm*
Hayao Miyazaki 1997 135 min DCP
12:30pm
Fruit Chan 1997 108 min DCP
New 4K Restoration
1:15pm 3:45pm 6:15pm 8:45pm
Charles Laughton 1955 92 min 35mm
3:30pm
Ridley Scott 1982/2007 117 min DCP
10:00pm
H. Sauper 2020 108 min DCP
Opening Night Film of First Look Festival
* With director Hubert Sauper and producer Martin Marquet in person + reception
8:00pm*
James Schneider and Paul Bishow 2019 90 min DCP
Post-screening panel discussion with special guests, including two legendary guitarists hailing from the early D.C. punk scene: Brian Baker (Minor Threat, Bad Religion, Dag Nasty, Government Issue) and Michael Hampton (SOA, Faith, Embrace, Rites of Spring), plus and other guests TBA.
7:00pm
Jan Komasa 2019 116 minutes min DCP
12:00pm 2:20pm 4:45pm 7:15pm 9:40pm
Levan Akin 2019 113 min DCP
12:15pm 2:40pm 5:00pm 7:20pm 9:40pm
D.W. Young 2019 99 min DCP
* Q&A with book dealer Adam Weinberger ("Pawn Stars", Adam Weinberger Rare Books) and book dealer David Bergman with Producer Dan Wechsler
12:15pm 2:30pm 4:45pm 7:00pm* 9:20pm
Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne 2019 84 min DCP
12:30pm 5:00pm 9:30pm
Horace Jenkins 1982 90 min DCP
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Bruno Barreto 1976 118 min DCP
* Q&A with Sônia Braga
7:00pm*
Sande N. Johnsen 1966 72 min Digital Video
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Joseph P. Marwa 1965 65 min Digital Video
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