New Documentaries

Date Film Time
10/18 The Act of Killing 7:00 PM
11/9 Before You Know It 2:00 PM
11/14 Let the Fire Burn 7:00 PM
11/22 The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology 7:00 PM
Our focus on contemporary documentaries returns this fall with a diverse selection of brand new films, many with pronounced political perspectives, which shine a light on important historical and contemporary issues. The series commences with The Act of Killingan unorthodox and much-discussed documentary about Indonesia’s notorious 1960s death squads and those who committed the atrocities. Screening in November as part of Reeling: The Chicago LGBT International Film Festival, is the new documentary Before You Know It, about the lives of several LGBT elders, with the film’s director, PJ Raval, in person. Also in November is Let the Fire Burn, a riveting new documentary that explores the infamous bombing of the radical African American group MOVE’s headquarters by Philadelphia police in 1985. We conclude the series with the amusing yet always compelling views of philosopher Slavoj Žižek in Sophie Fiennes’ The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology, in which Žižek dissects everything from corporate coffee to Nazi aesthetics while incorporating dozens of film clips from Hollywood classics to illustrate his theories.

The Act of Killing

Friday, October 18, 2013 7:00 PM
(Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn, and Anonymous, 2013, Denmark/Norway/UK, DCP, 115 min.)
Hailed as a masterpiece by the Village Voice, The Act of Killing is a provocative and searing exploration of the moral consequences and psychic aftermath of genocide. The film features two members of Indonesia’s notorious 1960s death squads, responsible for the murders of thousands of people. They reenact their killings for the camera, recreating them as western, gangster, and musical scenes. Prideful boasting about their crimes leads to questioning about the morality of their actions, and possibly remorse. The Act of Killing blurs the lines between documentary and fiction, objective fact and subjective personal and cultural memory, and reality and illusion, finding its way to a more profound portrait of human nature. “Powerful, surreal, and frightening.”—Werner Herzog

Before You Know It

Saturday, November 9, 2013 2:00 PM
(PJ Raval, 2013, USA, video, 110 min.)

By documenting the lives of three very different gay men, Before You Know It explores the issues faced by seniors in the LGBT community. The facts are sobering, especially regarding unequal access to social services and health care, but director PJ Raval’s documentary focuses on how individuals and communities are working to lessen the systemic discrimination and create new models of support and affirmation. Through the lives of 70-something widower Dennis, who came out late in life and has embraced his crossdressing, LGBT activist Ty, who longs to marry his partner, and gay bar owner Robert we see that the fears, joys, and realities of aging are universal.

Co-Sponsored by the Senior Programs at Center on Halsted; the Department of Radio, TV, Film; Gender and Sexualities Studies; and The Sexualities Project at Northwestern (SPAN).

In person: Director PJ Raval. A panel discussion will follow the screening.

Special admission price will apply. No Block Cinema passes or vouchers. More information on this screening and a complete festival lineup can be found at:

Reeling Logo

Let the Fire Burn

Thursday, November 14, 2013 7:00 PM
(Jason Osder, 2013, USA, video, 95 min.)

First-time director Jason Osder’s riveting new documentary sheds light on the infamous bombing of the radical African American group MOVE’s headquarters by Philadelphia police in 1985. The bombing, and resulting fire, killed five children and six adults and destroyed an entire neighborhood. Through exclusive use of archival materials—court recordings, home movies, television broadcasts, etc.—Osder provides a comprehensive look at the tragedy, capturing the MOVE members’ political frustrations, the surrounding community’s wariness of them, and the impatience and confusion of authorities. Let the Fire Burn is a raw and vital film about the consequences of mutual mistrust and a powerful reminder of a fading pivotal moment in the striving for racial justice. 

The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology

Friday, November 22, 2013 7:00 PM
(Sophie Fiennes, 2013, UK/Ireland, DCP, 136 min.)

In this entertaining sequel to the critically acclaimed The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema (2006), the popular Slovene cultural critic and philosopher Slavoj Žižek again holds forth on his views in his own unmistakable and infectious style. In a series of episodes, he discourses on the nature, construction, and function of ideology, using examples from two dozen films (including The Sound of Music, Taxi Driver, West Side Story, Jaws, and Titanic) and expanding his investigation to encompass Coke, Kinder Eggs, Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” Starbucks, and politics and political ideology in the U.S., Great Britain, Nazi Germany, and Soviet Russia. Žižek provides an intellectual thrill ride that is stimulating and dizzying, but never boring.