Skip to main content

Block Cinema

Block Auditorium

The Block Museum is home to one of the region’s most innovative cinemas. Through its quarterly screening series “Block Cinema,” the museum offers a balanced and expansive program that presents film and other time-based media across genres, from classic to experimental, with a global perspective.

This free, in-house cinema is dedicated to providing Northwestern, the North Shore, and Chicago a quality venue for film and to highlighting the diversity of voices and practices in the media arts field. Post-screening discussions with a filmmaker or scholar, are a staple of the program, providing a unique opportunity for audiences to gain valuable context about the works and offering unique insights into the creative process. In keeping with the Museum’s commitment to presenting art across time, culture, and media, media art is a stable of the Block Museum’s exhibition program.

Films By Date

Apr197 PM

For All Mankind (1989)

This film is not a documentation of a single event or even the NASA program as a whole; it’s
a deeply moving celebration of mankind’s great adventure into space.
Apr257 PM

Spell Reel (2017)

Freedom fighter Amílcar Cabral commissioned a group of young filmmakers to document the independence movement in late 1960s Guinea-Bissau; lost for decades, their footage was recently restored.
May37 PM

...Is Never Done: Films on Gender and Labor

Block Cinema welcomes Channels: A Quarterly Film Series, organized by local film programmers Josh B. Mabe and Erin Nixon, to present its newest installment in response to Visual Pleasures: The Work and Play of Women’s Liberation.

May412:30 PM

A Bread Factory (2018)

Between tap-dancing techies, teenage journalists, and two-timing city councilmen, A Bread Factory captures the bittersweet reality of American public life with compassion and conviction.
May107 PM

Ishtar (1987) in 35mm

Shot by acclaimed cinematographer Vittorio Storaro on location in the Sahara, this film offers a comical, self-referential send-up of both American foreign policy and Hollywood exoticism.
May111 PM

The Waldheim Waltz (2018)

In 1985, the Austrian presidential campaign of former UN General Secretary Kurt Waldheim was disrupted by shocking allegations that the candidate had hidden the true extent of his participation in Nazi war crimes in Greece and Serbia. This film recounts revelations and denials through news reports and archival interviews.
May167 PM

The Area (2018)

This film follows the five-year odyssey of a South Side Chicago neighborhood, where more than 400 African-American families are being displaced by a multibillion-dollar freight company.

May177 PM

Rubber Coated Steel (2016) and Watching the Detectives (2017)

The two films in this program apply minimalist techniques to the forensic examination of sound and vision, deconstructing deceptive images of security.
May181 PM

Naila and the Uprising (2017)

This galvanizing 2017 documentary turns a spotlight on the role of Palestinian women in leading non-violent protests against the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank in the late 1980s.

May227 PM

Losing Ground (1982)

Collins tells the semi-autobiographical story of a college professor and her painter husband whose marriage is tested by his disregard for her career, flirtatious behavior on both sides, and jealousy as they summer away from the city.

May237 PM

Barbara Hammer: Mediated Sensuality

Since the late 1960s, lesbian experimental filmmaker Barbara Hammer has restlessly challenged the limits of the visible, crafting dozens of films that push against the formal, social, and sexual boundaries of cinema.
May247 PM

Barbara Hammer: Declarations of Identity

Our second program dedicated to Barbara Hammer’s pioneering work includes new prints of six films, including recent restorations of Sisters! (1973), Menses (1974), and Audience (1981).

May297 PM

Yeelen (1987)

A landmark in African cinema, Souleymane Cissé’s film is set in the Malian empire of the 13th century and depicts the quest of a young son across the West African landscape to confront his father, a tyrannical magician.
May307 PM

The Image You Missed (2018)

Taking place during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, Foreman’s poignant, brilliantly edited essay film raises difficult questions about the nature of family, representation, and activism both then and now.
May317 PM

Branco Sai, Preto Fica (White Out, Black In, 2014)

This hybrid film uses many genres and forms to interrogate the politics of Brazil. The tropes of dystopian science fiction are used to portray the real-life disparity between those who build the cities and those who get to live in them.
Jun57 PM

9 to 5 (1980)

This film remains a classic for many reasons: its top-tier cast, catchy theme, and the powerful way it blends comedy with a rallying cry for working women.
Jun67 PM

Waiting for Happiness (2002)

Set in a Mauritanian coastal town at the edge of the Sahara Desert, Waiting for Happiness elliptically explores the gateways between Africa and Europe, tradition and modernity, childhood and adulthood.

Jun127 PM

NU DOCS: Program 1 (2019)

Northwestern University’s MFA in Documentary Media Program is proud to present the thesis films of its fourth graduating class.

Jun137 PM

NU DOCS: Program 2 (2019)

Northwestern University’s MFA in Documentary Media Program is proud to present the thesis films of its fourth graduating class.

Jun147 PM

NU DOCS: Program 3 (2019)

Northwestern University’s MFA in Documentary Media Program is proud to present the thesis films of its fourth graduating class.

Film Series

Space Programs

Space Programs: Views of Earth Across the Iron Curtain

April 18 Through April 19
Seen from space, the Earth depicted in the legendary “Blue Marble” photograph suggested a planetary unity belied by the deep schism between East and West during the Cold War. Celebrating Earth Day on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, Block Cinema has brought together three breathtaking films by American, Polish and Armenian filmmakers that revist the conquest of space from across this once-unbridgeable divide.

Saharan Exchanges

Saharan Exchanges

April 10 Through June 6

One of the most distinctive and extreme environments in the world, the Sahara Desert has a fascinating cinematic history. While Western filmmakers have sought sublime spectacle among the dunes since the silent era, North African and sub-Saharan filmmakers have also used the desert as a backdrop for bold experiments in style and narrative. Programmed to complement the Block’s exhibition Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time, the diverse films in Saharan Exchanges prove that the vast expanses of the region cannot be exhausted by any single genre or perspective.


Visual Pleasures

Visual Pleasures: The Work and Play of Women’s Liberation

April 17 Through June 5

This year’s One Book One Northwestern selection, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, imagines how the hard-fought economic and sexual freedoms won by the women’s movement might be stripped away. The films in this series, co-presented with One Book, the Northwestern Women’s Center, and the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, manifest those freedoms in both form and content. Visual Pleasures encompasses both mainstream comedies of empowerment and experimental representations of desire through a distinctly female gaze, celebrating liberation through a spectrum of cinematic forms.


Personal Archives

Personal Archives, Political Memories: The Radical Past in Contemporary Documentary

April 25 Through May 30

As activists around the world revisit the successes and failures of earlier political movements, a new wave of documentaries and essay films have begun to look beyond official archives, recovering lost, forgotten, and unseen images to tell stories of struggle. Whether incorporating family photos, home movies, or decades-old documents of protest, the films in this series explore turbulent histories through a distinctly personal lens.