New Documentaries: Block Museum - Northwestern University
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New Documentaries

New Documentaries

Event Details

Date & Time:

Thu March 3, 2016 - Fri March 4, 2016


The Block Museum of Art
40 Arts Circle Drive
Evanston, IL 60208


Open to the public


Concluding the winter calendar are two remarkable new documentaries from Portugal and China—both top prize winners at the 2015 Chicago International Film Festival—that quietly observe the lives of rural subsistence farmers (Volta à Terra) and coal miners (In the Underground). Both films present the dignity of their subjects and the very different fragilities of their working lives.


Volta à Terra

Thursday, March 3, 2016 7:00 PM
(Joáo Pedro Plácido, 2014, Portugal, DCP, 78 min.)

A community of subsistence farmers in a mountainous village of northern Portugal is endangered. The younger generation is leaving the village for cities and there is a lack of interest in what is seen as an antiquated pursuit. Caught between the evocation of the past and their uncertain future, the film follows the 49 inhabitants of this rural community through four seasons. Among them is António, a former emigrant who fulfilled his dream of returning home, who prepares the village festivities for the coming summer, and Daniel, young shepherd who dreams of love at dusk. Winner of the Gold Hugo award for best documentary at the 2015 Chicago International Film Festival.

Introduced by João Pedro Queiroga, Graduate student MFA Documentary Media


In the Underground

Friday, March 4, 2016 7:00 PM
(Song Zhantao, 2015, China, digital, 91 min.)

An observational portrait of Chinese workers deep inside the subterranean darkness of a coalmine, In the Underground creates a space for the viewer to experience the workaday stresses of life both above and below the earth’s surface. Events seem to unfold naturally as the film’s immersive cinematography and score underscore the claustrophobic and dire working conditions inside the mine. Above ground, the miners struggle to balance family life and values with the very real economic demands that keep them returning to the coal mine. In the Underground is a quiet, yet extremely powerful look at the very personal toll of industrialization on a small community. Winner of the Silver Hugo award for best documentary at the 2015 Chicago International Film Festival.

Introduced by Corey Byrnes, Department of Asian Languages and Culture, and Keith Woodhouse, Department of History.

Contact The Block Museum of Art for more information: (847) 491-4000 or email us at